By Anne-Marie Hughes
SASKATOON – At a Theology on Tap session Nov. 14 in Saskatoon,
speaker Leah Perrault assured her audience that she would get to the
interesting part of her talk entitled “What does God have to do with (doing)
it?” but only after looking at some Vatican II documents.
“I know some of you are feeling tricked right now,” joked Perrault.
Those gathered soon captured Perrault's infectious enthusiasm for taking
intellectual theology and speaking it in a layperson's terms with insight into
everyday concerns and challenges.
“Recently, having been invited to talk about sexuality in light of
the Second Vatican Council, I found the key not in Gaudium et Spes on marriage, but in Sacrosanctum Concilliu, the document on the sacred liturgy,”
In that document, the council called lay people to “full, conscious
and active participation,” she noted.
“We are supposed to be doing something, rather than just spectators. We
see this in the new, large and central baptismal fonts that we can step in and
get more than just our feet wet. By extension, I think then, that we are
supposed to be fully, consciously and actively participating in our lives,”
“We are meant, as followers of Jesus, to be fully conscious and
deeply invested in our lives,” she said. “We are meant to be fully
participating in our sex lives. Society around us can make a game out of sex.
It can become sport or conquest, or reduced to just making me feeling good,” said Perrault. “In a world where sitcoms highlight
the joy of promiscuity and disappointment of marital sexuality, we are called
to a full, conscious, and active participation in the gift of sexuality and sex
Director of Pastoral Services for the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Saskatoon, Perrault is co-author with Brett Salkeld of: How Far Can We Go? A
Catholic Guide to Sex and Dating. Her most recent book is Theology of the
Body for Every Body. With a master’s in pastoral theology and a background
in youth ministry, Perrault is a well-known speaker who addresses the topic of
Catholic teachings about sexuality and how to practically live those teachings.
“I wanted people to have more then what we had in the past which was often just
'don’t have sex until you are married',” explained Perrault.
Perrault laughed when talking about the hushed tones in which some
people have asked her and her husband Marc about being ‘one of those couples’
who waited until they were married to have sex.
“We need to talk about what people are saying ‘yes’ to by waiting,
and not just what they are saying ‘no’ to. You are saying ‘yes’ to something
else. ‘Yes’ to getting to know each other without any of the potential
consequences of pregnancy or STD's, ‘yes’ to a time when our lives could be
more about us individually, saying ‘yes ‘to time to grow,” she said. “We said
‘yes’ to knowing our relationship could stand the test of time. If there was a
time when we weren't able to have sex, we knew it would be hard, but we knew
that our relationship had already weathered a time when we weren’t having sex.”
Perrault pointed out that sex is only one of the ways we show love
in a relationship.
“Perhaps the most important way we know that sex is not the only or
most significant way to give of ourselves is because Jesus himself gave the
most important profound gift of spousal giving in history – on the cross. Jesus
pours himself out completely: not in the bedroom with a spouse, but on the
cross for the whole world,” she explained. “So the measure of our self-giving –
whether it’s in sex or doing laundry or in working hard at school – is the
question: does the gift I am giving make me more like Jesus and invite others
to do likewise?”
Sex in the secular world is often seen as existing outside of
religious life, but Perrault pointed out that we are called to bring all of
ourselves into our Christian life.
“Jesus said ‘put down your nets and follow me.’ What does God have
to do with doing it? As much as God has
to do with everything. That’s the thing about discipleship; once God has called
you, no one area of your life gets left behind. We don't just get to hold onto
this one point of our lives. We don't get to say God, you can everything, but
not my sex,” she said.
“As disciples we must be convinced that our lives are holy,”
explained Perrault. “The way we date or the way we are married is affected by
whether we see our lives as holy ground. When we see our lives as holy we walk
Theology on Tap is aimed at young adults, 19-35, and includes guest
speakers and discussion about theology and spirituality in a relaxed pub
atmosphere. This was the third talk of this year’s series, based on a Year of
Faith theme. Speakers in past months have included Blake Sittler giving an
overview the Catholic Church and faith and how it is being practiced in Canada,
and Bishop Donald Bolen speaking about Faith and Creativity.
Theology on Tap is jointly organized by the Youth Ministry offices
of the Diocese and the Eparchy of Saskatoon and Thomas More College Campus