Workshops about love

Agnieszka Bugala talks to Reverend Monsignor Stanislaw Orzechowski, the famous 'Orzech'.

AGNIESZKA BUGALA: - Orzech, can one succeed to encourage young people to refrain from premarital sex when they are being bombarded by sexuality nowadays?

FR STANISLAW ORZECHOWSKI: - Actually many people ask if this makes sense and finds none. Even young believers ask 'Why should I do that?' Such an attitude often leads to the decision to live together. And this leads to refusing absolution. Why? Because it is living like a married couple but actually they are not married. Then they very often regret that they have made such a decision, especially when they do not get married although they have lived together. Then the disillusion is so big that it influences the whole life of a young person.

- Because he or she was not the only one?

- Yes, indeed. Various things can happen in such a relationship. I tell girls 'be careful' because woman's heart cannot love someone half-way or three-fourths. She loves wholeheartedly and if love fails, if he, in spite of a big intimacy, leaves she suffers much. If her sensitivity is normal she needs ca. 2-3 years to 'recover' from that love.

- Orzech, you have been a chaplain for students for almost 40 years and you have organised meetings with fiancées. What do you tell those who prepare themselves to get married?

- I deal with those who have been caught by love. And Lord God wants me to serve them before their marriage. That's why I think that I am to give a positive image of chastity. Engagement is the time to learn the language of love. This is the way to learn dialogue needed for the whole marital life through the workshops about the language of love. And I do not only mean the verbal language. All things speak: passing sugar is giving some message. And what about looking at one's eyes, touching? One must learn to do these things; nobody is born with that art. This is the time to get to know each other and accept the ABC of love, and to see that sex is towards the end of the alphabet, the letter 'W'.

- What about if someone begins with sex? We know this happens...

- Young people use such an intensive means of expression and then all other means, proper to use during engagement, will not be sufficient. They still want these intensive emotions, which sex gives. And this is some natural consequence but also a trap. By definition sexual intercourse belongs to marriage. When you begin with sex you neglect other ways to express your love, and in fact you have no change to learn the whole alphabet to express your feelings. Since sex dominates, makes all other things less attractive. But does sex express love or does it fulfil certain needs? It varies. Even very young people differentiate between sex and love and they separate love and sex. This is very dangerous! Love goes one way and sex can have nothing to do with it. Such thinking can be the result of other phenomena but actually this is making use of another person and not expressing your feelings and accepting his/her feelings.

- What do you do then?

- When I prepare young people for marriage I try to show them God's wonderful idea concerning marriage. Here I am thankful to Pope Benedict XVI for his encyclical 'Deus caritas est', for his lecture on love. After twenty ages of certain antagonism between 'eros' and 'agape' the Pope has connected these two in the whole human being who is created and called to love.

- Are young people interested in this? After all they have learnt to set the limits...

- Young people listen eagerly to that because this is the answer to the question that is in human beings, the question that people are not often aware of. This is one thing in you - do not separate, wait. You, young man, are whole, complete. If you still want to give one thing without the other, I mean sex outside of marital love, you will tear out what is one whole, and that's why it hurts afterwards. This is the perfect moment to show that chastity is not virtue for virtue's sake.

- You have said that today it is more difficult for the youth... But this does not justify their premarital sex.

- Of course, we cannot forget where the ceiling is and where the floor is because we will have everything upside down. Our concern is man, his/her preparation for love, expressed throughout his/her whole life. You need to be delicate and clear but stability and prayer are also needed.

- What can the Church do today?

- Before Easter we completed a pre-marriage Course with the largest number of couples: 148. Married couples help the fiancées during Dialogues of the Engaged Couples. Their witness concerns chastity before wedding. The young people want to listen to witnesses. Their arguments appeal to them. After hearing such testimonies even those couples who have already taken certain steps come and say, 'We still have some time before our wedding and we want to live that time in a different way. We are withdrawing.' It is worth presenting these arguments in pastoral ministry. In spite of difficulties the Church can neither change her stand nor can thunder. The Church must work out a model of pastoral ministry suitable for the times in which we live: chastity? Absolutely necessary. But not using the words: you must not do anything.

- Why?

- Because love needs communication and the body is its tool. However, when I encourage people to endure chastity and when I show them its value. I tell about the principles of behaviour during this time: is that what you are doing done in the name of emotions and love? Do your gestures express love? And do you want to observe God's law? Young couples have to think about that and if they conclude that they want to observe God's law they should make some effort to set limits to this non-verbal communication.

- And where is the limit?

- This is a very personal and individual problem. But it can always be set for every concrete couple. A chaplain must be watchful and lead young people in a right way. There cannot be any cliché here. Some couples should be curbed and some see sin where there is no sin. But one cannot learn to walk without falling. Before a young man learns to control himself, to curb his emotions and sexual reactions, he needs time. He can fail, he can fall many times. But if a couple decides to obey God's law and in spite of their weaknesses they keep their promise and want to endure, the decision is valuable, and they should get support. The beauty of a river is in its banks. One should fight for these banks together with young people. If there are no banks there can be some dangerous overflow area. Our hidden emotions must have banks. The time of our youth, the time to learn how to love, lets us strengthen and support these banks. This is what I teach. Sometimes a river overflows and I can see this honey blaze in the eyes. It happened. So what? Start from the beginning. This is enormous dynamism, it is hard to keep but one must build walls around it not to get drowned and not to let anyone get drowned.

"Pokolenie" 2/2007

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: