Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Church's Deepest Nature


Just today the pope released a new motu proprio (document written on his own initiative--something he saw was needed). It is titled Intima Ecclesiae Natura (The Church's Deepest Nature): De Caritate Ministrada (On the Service of Charity).

Photo Credit: Whispers in the Loggia
It basically explains the bishop as the head of all Catholic charitable activity in his diocese.

Of note, I thought four particular sections stood out:
Art. 9§3: It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.
Basically, it's the bishop's job to make sure that "Catholic" charities don't propose anti-Catholic teachings. (By anti-Catholic, I mean anything that goes against the Church's teachings.) An elephant in the room here is Catholics for a Free Choice who promote abortion, yet claim to be Catholic.
Art. 10§3: In particular, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching. Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.
Again, it's the bishop's job to make sure that anti-Catholic groups aren't funding Catholic charities. Another elephant in the room here is the group Faith in Public Life, which is supported by George Soros, who has links to many anti-Catholic agendas.

It is also the bishop's job to make sure that Catholic charities don't accept money for anti-Catholic uses.
Art. 2§2: A charitable agency may use the name "Catholic" only with the written consent of the competent authority, as laid down by canon 300 CIC.' 
Art. 11: The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name "Catholic" and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge.
The first one is mostly a reminder of Canon Law 300. The second one is implied but now makes explicit that the bishop should inform his flock when a "Catholic" charity doesn't follow Catholic principles, and to strip them of their Catholic name--something many bishops have failed to do for quite a while with certain "Catholic" groups.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

4 Thoughts on Meatless Fridays


Cardinal Dolan
Photo Credit: archny.org
Recently, Cardinal Dolan addressed his fellow American bishops, suggesting that we bring back the mandatory meatless Fridays. Previously in the Church, every Friday (not just each Lenten Friday) was a day on which we were required to abstain from warm-blooded meat. That's why restaurants offer fish specials on Fridays. In fact, that rule is still in tact, with one small exception . . .

Each conference of bishops has the ability to change the particular penances for their flock. The US bishops decided to allow US Catholics to substitute another penance of equal value on non-Lenten Fridays. Over time, this has degenerated into a complete lack of observance of any penance on the part of most American Catholics--predominantly out of ignorance, not rebellion.

Yes, Catholics are required to do some penance every Friday to honor Christ's sacrifice on Good Friday. The normal penance is abstaining from warm-blooded meat. Currently, outside of Lent, American Catholics may substitute that with a different but relatively similar level of penance (mortification, prayer, and/or almsgiving). That being said, here are 4 thoughts on meatless Fridays that came up in a discussion on Facebook today:

1. How is eating cold-blooded meat a penance?
Personally, I'd rather eat a steak than ANY cold-blooded meat (though a good case may be made for crab or lobster), so giving up warm-blooded meat is a penance (sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, depending on the alternatives).

2. Do people actually do this?
I observe it almost every Friday of the year, and there are many other Catholics who understand the disciplines of our Church and follow them. By far, however, the majority of Catholics are ignorant of our own disciplines (and our doctrines for that matter). When I do occasionally eat warm-blooded meat on non-Lenten Fridays, I substitute with some other penance. It becomes tough because even though I have worked at Catholic schools and parishes for the last 8 years, most of them have their special luncheons on Fridays, at which they often forget to offer a fish option (which is just endemic to contemporary American Catholicism's ignorance of its own disciplines). Sometimes I avoid the entree, or sometimes I simply offer up a different penance that day.

3. Abstaining from warm-blooded meat isn’t that tough. How is it a penance?
We're not called to some horrible gut-wrenching act of impossibility--just an extra penance (mortification, prayer, and/or almsgiving) to honor and unite with Christ's suffering and death for us. Holy Mother Church only asks for a small penance, not something huge (though we may indeed make a bigger penance).

4. What if sushi or lobster is a treat for me?
If sushi or lobster isn't very penitential for you, then eat something else. Whether or not it is very difficult for you, intentionally abstaining from warm-blooded meat is the universal observance to remember Christ's sacrifice. The fact that you remember Our Lord, and offer your penance to Him, and honor the authority of His Bride is more important than sushi, tuna, or cheese pizza. Of course, the greater the difficulty the greater the act of love as your sacrifice is willingly united to His sacrifice on the cross.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Bible, Heaven, and the Saints

Here are the latest Beauty of Truth podcast episodes (an internet talk show I'm co-hosting with Cristobal Almanza).

The sound gets a lot better starting in episode 3. We fixed some of the recording issues.

Episode 2: What's up with the Bible?
Episode 3: Where is Heaven, and How do I Get There?
Episode 4: Why are the Saints important?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Freedom

Randall Smith just posted an article over at The Catholic Thing, entitled Freedom from Catholicism, in which he poses the question:
"Why is it that 'freedom' for ['tolerant'] people is always freedom from Catholicism? The freedom to be fully and authentically Catholic rarely shows up on the radar screen of such 'tolerant' souls."
I don't mean this to be an antagonistic post (though the article itself expresses a bit of frustration), but I think Smith poses an honest question. There are various "tolerant" voices today calling for "freedom." The quest for freedom in itself is a good thing, but there is a strange consistency in that what they call "freedom" is always something anti-Catholic. They readily attack the Catholic Church's stance on contraception, marriage, or even the fact that we simply believe in God. Because of these beliefs, we are labeled "bigots," "intolerant," etc. Someone on Facebook just a couple of days ago called those of us who support traditional marriage "racists." I couldn't help but cock an eyebrow at that one. It's funny how most of the news media and so many people can call for tolerance, yet they vilify anyone who holds to the whole of Catholic doctrine. All of this is couched in the language that one will be "free" if one turns against the Church.

I can't help but see the funny paradox. Smith cites multiple situations in which someone was calling for freedom because the Church teaches the use of contraception is morally wrong. A mother refused to attend her daughter's wedding because her daughter wouldn't use contraception. So here we see the paradox: The mother thinks the daughter will be freed by the use of contraception, yet contraception is the vice from which the daughter wants to be free. Contraception is a vice because it traps the user into an objectification of the other: sex for pleasure instead of sex as a full gift of self to the other. Contraception prevents the couple from fully giving themselves (including their fertility) to each other in self-donation. It disrupts the marital act, disassociating it from one of its natural ends (procreation), thereby altering the act and so preventing the fullness of the other end for which the act was designed (union of the couple).

The mother has been so blinded and trapped by the contraceptive culture and the contraceptive mentality that she (as well as the above voices) can only see contraception as a freedom from a perceived evil. But one must ask what this evil is. Many won't be able to say. Other will give vague answers that the evil is "the Catholic Church," or "repression," or "male dominance," etc. Really, that from which a couple is freeing themselves is responsibility, family, and a more self-sacrificial love of each other. All three of which are goods. The wool has been pulled over the eyes of so many. They are being told that they will be free, but they do not understand that they are being "freed' from good things, while being entrapped into vices. This same can be said for the other areas.

The above paradox is indicative of the greater problem throughout the world: people are calling for freedom from good things because they think that their particular vices will be the goods for which they long. This has the devil's fingerprints all over it: the father of lies has convinced these people that things which would truly be good for them are entrapping while these vices are "freeing." He particularly hates the Catholic Church because it refuses to cave into these lies. In order to fight against God and His Church, the enemy tries to convince these people that the Catholic Church is the source of all evil today, so they must be "free" from these "evil constraints." The people rail against the Church, but the Church remains strong, simply holding to its roots and proposing a better way to the people.

The pressure against the Church by various media outlets, politicians, etc. has gotten to the point that in some ways it becomes difficult to live the Catholic life. The most obvious threat to that is the HHS mandate, which forces Catholic business owners to pay for insurance programs that must include coverage for contraception. We are seeing a movement in our country against the freedom to be Catholic.

I encourage you to read the Church's doctrines and see why we believe what we believe about certain things. There are some great websites out there that will help you understand more:
Hopefully you will come to see that the Catholic Church is the one promoting the most free lifestyle possible because She promotes freedom from vice and not freedom from goods. That is true freedom. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beauty of Truth Podcast


Recently, my friend Cristobal Almanza approached me, asking if I was interested in starting a podcast in which he and I would explain elements of the Catholic faith. I thought it was a great idea.

Our first episode ("Why is the Church so bossy?") is now available on Austin Catholic New Media: http://www.austincnm.com/index.php/2012/07/beauty-of-truth-podcast-episode-1-why-is-the-church-so-bossy/

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Holy Communion

Here is a link to the audio from a talk I gave a while back, while I was the Director of Faith Formation at a parish.  It was for the parents and their children who were about to receive Holy Communion for the first time. While preparing for this talk, I was inspired by the thought of St. Francis Xavier, preaching with crucifix in hand. In my talk, I did just that. I took the large crucifix off the wall, and held it aloft at various points in the talk. (When I refer to "this" in my talk, I'm holding the crucifix.)

[Silly Blogger doesn't host audio files, so I had to put the file on my Google Drive and link it. You'll have to download it to hear the talk.]

St. Francis Xavier


The text below is the handout that I gave to the audience. You can follow along as you listen.





BALTIMORE CATECHISM
LESSON 22: ON THE HOLY EUCHARIST
238. Q. What is the Holy Eucharist?
A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.
  • See John 6: 35-59
  • Do I recognize that the Eucharist is Jesus?
    • We will never completely understand it.
    • Do I try to understand it better?
  • Parents, ask your kids: “Do I do a good job of reminding you that the Eucharist is Jesus and not just a symbol of Jesus (a piece of bread)?”
  • What can I do to remind myself (and the people around me) that the Eucharist is Jesus (God) Himself?
239. Q. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died.
240. Q. Who were present when our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist?
A. When our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist the twelve Apostles were present.
241. Q. How did our Lord institute the Holy Eucharist?
A. Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist by taking bread, blessing, breaking, and giving to His Apostles, saying: Take this all of you and eat it. This is My body; and then by taking the cup of wine, blessing and giving it, saying to them: Take this all of you and drink it. This is My blood which shall be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of Me.
242. Q. What happened when our Lord said, This is My body; this is My blood?
A. When our Lord said, This is My body, the substance of the bread was changed into the substance of His body; when He said, This is My blood, and the substance of the wine was changed into the substance of His blood.
  • When God speaks, things happen.
  • “‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)
  • “This is my body”; and it is His body.
244. Q. Did anything remain of the bread and wine after their substance had been changed into the substance of the body and blood of our Lord?
A. After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into the substance of the body and blood of our Lord there remained only the appearances of bread and wine.
  • Do I struggle with this?
    • If so, that’s okay.
    • We all struggle at least a little bit.
    • (see John 6:68) St. Peter believed because Jesus said so, not because he understood how Jesus was going to give them His flesh.
  • Do I try to learn more so that I can understand it better?
  • They are no longer bread and wine—it is improper to call them merely bread and wine because they are God.
  • Parents, ask your kids: “As you prepare to receive Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time, is it difficult for you to understand that at Mass the bread becomes Jesus?”
    • Parents, is there anything you can do to help your kids understand this better?
245. Q. What do you mean by the appearances of bread and wine?
A. By the appearances of bread and wine I mean the figure, the color, the taste, and whatever appears to the senses.
246. Q. What is this change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord called?
A. This change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord is called Transubstantiation.
243. Q. Is Jesus Christ whole and entire both under the form of bread and under the form of wine?
A. Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the form of bread and under the form of wine.
  • Every crumb is all of Jesus (not just a part of Him).
  • Every drop is all of Jesus.
  • Do I treat every crumb/drop as God Himself?
352. Q. How was Our Lord able to change bread and wine into His body and blood?
A. Our Lord was able to change bread and wine into His body and blood by His almighty power.
  • All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)
  • God can do it
248. Q. Does this change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continue to be made in the Church?
A. This change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continues to be made in the Church by Jesus Christ through the ministry of His priests.
  • No priest, no Eucharist
249. Q. When did Christ give His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood?
A. Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood when He said to the Apostles, Do this in memory of Me.
  • “Do this” = “Offer this sacrifice,” not simply “eat a meal.”
250. Q. How do the priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ?
A. The priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through the words of consecration in the Mass, which are the words of Christ: This is My body; this is My blood.
  • They say the words that Jesus taught them to say & Jesus works through them
    • Happens by God’s power, not the priest’s
    • Validly ordained priests are the only ones who can do this.
356. Why does Christ give us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist?
Christ gives us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist:
  1. to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross;
  2. to be received by the faithful in Holy Communion;
  3. to remain ever on our altars as the proof of His love for us, and to be worshiped by us.
LESSON 24: ON THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS
262. Q. When and where are the bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Christ?
A. The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ at the Consecration in the Mass.
  • “This is my body . . . This is my blood.”
  • Jesus speaks through them and makes the change happen.
263. Q. What is the Mass?
A. The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.
  • The Sacrifice of the Mass is offered at millions of Catholic churches around the world every day.
  • “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)
358. What is a sacrifice?
A. A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to acknowledge that He is the Creator of all things. 
359. Who is the principal priest in every Mass?
The principal priest in every Mass is Jesus Christ, who offers to His heavenly Father, through the ministry of His ordained priest, His body and blood which were sacrificed on the cross.
  • See Hebrews 7-8
265. Q. Is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross.
  • The cross is made present on the altar.
  • We are participating in the Heavenly liturgy (the worship going on in Heaven).
    • Earth and Heaven meet at every altar during Mass
    • All the angels and saints are present
360. Why is the Mass the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross?
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ.
  • At Mass, I am present at Jesus’ crucifixion. Do I recognize this?
267. Q. What were the ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered?
A. The ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered were:
• To honor and glorify God; [as Creator & Lord – to Adore Him]
• To thank Him for all the graces bestowed on the whole world;
• To satisfy God's justice for the sins of men;
• To obtain all graces and blessings.
  • Jesus’ sacrifice is of the greatest merit--the only way to properly do any of these.
    • Jesus’ sacrifice is the best thing to offer as adoration (worshipping God)
    • Jesus’ sacrifice is the best thing to offer as thanksgiving
    • Jesus’ sacrifice is the only thing that can pay the debt of our sins
    • Jesus’ sacrifice is the greatest thing by which we can ask for graces
268. Q. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass?
A. Yes; the manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the Cross Christ really shed His blood and was really slain; in the Mass there is no real shedding of blood nor real death, because Christ can die no more; but the sacrifice of the Mass, through the separate consecration of the bread and the wine, represents His death on the Cross.
269. Q. How should we assist at Mass?
A. We should assist at Mass with great interior recollection and piety and with every outward mark of respect and devotion.
  • This is how we participate at Mass
    • Interior recollection
    • Uniting with the priest as he offers the sacrifice
  • “Every outward mark of respect and devotion”
    • Actions: genuflecting, bowing, making the sign of the Cross, etc.
    • Postures: standing, sitting, kneeling, etc.
    • Etiquette: being silent, paying attention, dressing up modestly, etc.
  • When I am at Mass, do I unite with the priest as he offers the sacrifice?
    • Kids, you can do this now. You don’t need to receive Communion to unite with the sacrifice.
    • Parents, what can you do to help your children better understand the sacrifice both now as they prepare for 1st Communion and after as they grow and are more fully able to understand?
270. Q. What is the best manner of [participating in] Mass?
A. The best manner of [participating in] Mass is to offer it to God with the priest for the same purpose for which it is said (Q.267), to meditate on Christ's sufferings and death, and to receive Holy Communion.
364a. How can we best unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice?
A. We can best unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice by joining in mind and heart with Christ, the principal Priest and Victim, by following the Mass in a missal, and by reciting or chanting the responses.
LESSON 23: ON THE ENDS FOR WHICH THE HOLY EUCHARIST WAS INSTITUTED
251. Q. [What are the effects of the Eucharist?]
A. The Holy Eucharist:
  • Unites us to God Himself
    • Nourishes our soul with God’s life
  • Increases sanctifying grace and all virtues in our soul
  • Decreases our evil inclinations
  • Is a pledge of everlasting life
  • Prepares our bodies for a glorious resurrection
  • Continues the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.
252. Q. How are we united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist?
A. We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy Communion.
366. What is Holy Communion?
A. Holy Communion is the receiving of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
  • “He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I abide in him.” (John 6:57)
254. Q. What is necessary to make a good Communion?
A. To make a good Communion it is necessary to:
  • be in the state of sanctifying grace (have no mortal sin on your soul)
  • have a right intention (see Q.251)
  • obey the laws of fasting. (See Q. 257.)
255. Q. Does he who receives Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ?
A. He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege.
  • “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27)
256. Q. Is it enough to be free from mortal sin to receive Plentifully the graces of Holy Communion?
A. To receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion it is not enough to be free from mortal sin, but we should be free from all affection to venial sin, and should make acts of faith, hope, and love.
257. Q. What is the fast necessary for Holy Communion?
A. The fast necessary for Holy Communion is to abstain from all food, beverages, and alcoholic drinks for one hour before Holy Communion. Water may be taken at any time. The sick may take food, non-alcoholic drinks, and any medicine up to Communion time.
258. Q. Is any one ever allowed to receive Holy Communion when not fasting?
A. Any one in danger of death is allowed to receive Holy Communion when not fasting or when it is necessary to save the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury.
259. Q. When are we bound to receive Holy Communion?
A. We are bound to receive Holy Communion, under pain of mortal sin, during the Easter time and when in danger of death.
  • Once during the 50 days of the Easter Season each year is the only time we have to receive Holy Communion
  • We still have to participate in Mass every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation
377. Why is it well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily?
A. It is well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily, because this intimate union with Jesus Christ, the Source of all holiness and the Giver of all graces, is the greatest aid to a holy life.
  • “And they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
  • How am I growing in holiness?
    • Frequent Communion is the greatest aid to a holy life
    • Is there any way that I can reasonably make it to Mass more often while still performing the duties of my state in life?
374. What should we do after Holy Communion?
A. After Holy Communion we should spend some time adoring Our Lord, thanking Him, renewing our promises of love and of obedience to Him, and asking Him for blessings for ourselves and others.
378. How should we show our gratitude to Our Lord for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist?
A. We should show our gratitude to Our Lord for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist by visiting Him often, by reverence in church, by assisting every day at Mass when this is possible, by attending parish devotions, and by being present at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's Wrong With Condoms

Marc Barnes
(Photo from patheos.com)
A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook by Marc Barnes (AKA "Bad Catholic"--who's actually a good Catholic blogger) titled The Secret is Out, introducing his new website that is devoted to promoting the good of sex the way God intended it (no contracepting-strings attached).


An interlocutor responded:
I'm not gonna lie some of this sounds fine and a lot of it sounds ridiculous. Condoms don't help stop the spread of HIV? C'mon!

Seeing that he didn't get the facts by following the link in the original article, I posted the linked article with the stats about how condoms don't help with HIV/AIDS:

Casey Truelove [Name], check this out: http://www.1flesh.org/argument_page/condoms-aids/

www.1flesh.org
Well, according to the UN AIDS council, condoms have a 10% failure rate in their...





He came back with the following:
I think it's kinda obvious that condoms aren't going to be effective if people don't use them/use them properly

Seeing this, I ran through a couple of options in my head:

  • Maybe he was in a hurry and didn't really read the article.
  • Maybe he is too biased to be able to read the article rationally.
  • Maybe he only skimmed or read the first couple of lines and made a knee-jerk reaction.
  • Maybe he's not capable of comprehending what the article stated.
  • etc.

In any case, he obviously had not read (or hadn't comprehended) the entirety of the article. Hoping for the best, I assumed that he just made some sort of mistake in digesting the article, so I set about trying to explain what Barnes was conveying:
Casey Truelove 
It's not JUST the misuse of condoms, as the article explains. It's BOTH the ineffectiveness of condoms themselves, AND the dual negative of the mentality that comes along with using condoms: 1) demeaning the conjugal act from a husband and wife bodily expressing the renewal of their marriage vows to a simple recreational activity, and 2) a false sense of security that often (as the article's stats point out) lulls the user into a familiar laxity and subsequent misuse. So, you see, it's not just that people aren't using them, or aren't using them properly. It's the hard stat-based fact (as the article amply conveys) that they're obviously not working. Yes, as the article points out, condoms MIGHT happen work in any given instance (failure rate aside), but because of the mentality that comes along with their use, they don't work in the overall big picture.

We have to step back and ask ourselves "why not?" Why doesn't contraception help with AIDS, or unwanted pregnancy, or divorce, or . . . [insert sex-based problem in our society]? Simply: it doesn't fix the people. Because all forms contraception change the nature of what is being expressed by the people's bodies, it fundamentally changes the act. Because a contracepted act is not the act by which a husband and wife bodily express their full, mutual, sacrificial donation of self to the other, yet it mimics the true marital act so closely, it becomes a lie with the body. Just as in any lie there are elements of truth, so in a contracepted act, it's surface APPEARS like the truths expressed in the marital act. Inside, however, is a holding back from full self-gift ("I give you all of me EXCEPT my fertility.") in this way the act's nature must include at least a small admixture (if not greater) of taking the other for one's own pleasure. This fails to build the virtue of chastity (expressing the sexuality proper to one's state in life) = a married person sleeps only with his/her spouse; a single person waits to get married, and then sleep only with his/her spouse = monogamy. Chastity/monogamy takes discipline--it is a virtue (a good habit).

As a habit, it is something we practice our way into perfecting--we discipline ourselves to be able to always choose the good. It takes great effort to fight the many temptations against chastity (both of the body and of the mind). Simply giving in to the temptations doesn't fix anything. There's no free lunch--someone can't just stick something on his/herself or take some pill and magically make everything better. Giving in to the temptation breaks down the good habit and forms a bad one (a vice). The vice here is lust (the taking of the other for pleasure)--this taking instead of fully giving can happen both physically and mentally (among single people and even within a marriage). With vices (bad habits) often come natural consequences (AIDS, HPV, a ton of other STDs, unfulfilling love life, using of one's significant other for pleasure, hostility toward one's significant other, infidelity, etc.). This is why, in the article, Marc Barnes points us to monogamy as the answer. He's pushing us on toward virtue. He's showing us the way to grow in perfection, to become better versions of ourselves. He's offering the only solution that will actually work. It's the one that takes effort/discipline, but it's the one that is fulfilling because it is the way that acts in accord with the nature of man and the nature of the marital act.


We have to step back and ask ourselves "why not?" Why doesn't contraception help with AIDS, or unwanted pregnancy, or divorce, or . . . [insert sex-based problem in our society]? Simply: it doesn't fix the people. Because all forms contraception change the nature of what is being expressed by the people's bodies, it fundamentally changes the act. Because a contracepted act is not the act by which a husband and wife bodily express their full, mutual, sacrificial donation of self to the other, yet it mimics the true marital act so closely, it becomes a lie with the body. Just as in any lie there are elements of truth, so in a contracepted act, it's surface APPEARS like the truths expressed in the marital act. Inside, however, is a holding back from full self-gift ("I give you all of me EXCEPT my fertility.") in this way the act's nature must include at least a small admixture (if not greater) of taking the other for one's own pleasure. This fails to build the virtue of chastity (expressing the sexuality proper to one's state in life) = a married person sleeps only with his/her spouse; a single person waits to get married, and then sleep only with his/her spouse = monogamy. Chastity/monogamy takes discipline--it is a virtue (a good habit).


As a habit, it is something we practice our way into perfecting--we discipline ourselves to be able to always choose the good. It takes great effort to fight the many temptations against chastity (both of the body and of the mind). Simply giving in to the temptations doesn't fix anything. There's no free lunch--someone can't just stick something on his/herself or take some pill and magically make everything better. Giving in to the temptation breaks down the good habit and forms a bad one (a vice). The vice here is lust (the taking of the other for pleasure)--this taking instead of fully giving can happen both physically and mentally (among single people and even within a marriage). With vices (bad habits) often come natural consequences (AIDS, HPV, a ton of other STDs, unfulfilling love life, using of one's significant other for pleasure, hostility toward one's significant other, infidelity, etc.). This is why, in the article, Marc Barnes points us to monogamy as the answer. He's pushing us on toward virtue. He's showing us the way to grow in perfection, to become better versions of ourselves. He's offering the only solution that will actually work. It's the one that takes effort/discipline, but it's the one that is fulfilling because it is the way that acts in accord with the nature of man and the nature of the marital act.
I hope this has helped all of you better understand why the Catholic Church teaches against contraception, and promotes the view of human sexuality that is aimed at the perfection of man and the fullest/most-truthful expression of self-gift.
  • Do you have any ways that help explain this concept well/better? Please leave them in the combox.
  • Do you have any questions about this concept? Please comment, I'll try to answer the best I can.
Good-natured (AKA "non-trolling") feedback is always welcome.

God bless you,
Casey

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome Home, Leah

If you had asked me a few weeks ago who Leah Libresco was, I wouldn't have been able to distinguish her from Eve, but I have recently found out that Leah blogs over at Patheos under the moniker of Unequally Yoked. Up until recently, her subtitle read: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend, but just over a week ago, Leah's post was titled: This is my last post for the Patheos Atheist Portal. Leah announced that she has entered the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the preparation for adults to enter the Catholic Church. Her blog subtitle now reads: A geeky convert picks fights in good faith.
Leah's Banner on Patheos


Welcome home, Leah! May God continue to bless your journey!


P.S.
Sorry I've been inactive for so long, everyone. Things have been crazy. Hopefully, I will be able to get back to posting a little more often.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Austin Catholic New Media

Hey! This is Mrs. Truelove. :) Casey is making mango ice cream right now, and wanted to let you know that I am the most beautiful woman in the world! Bahahahaa!

No. Actually, he wanted me to hop onto his blog while he's busy with the ice cream and let you know that he has started writing for Austin Catholic New Media. His first post, Marriage and Saltwater, was just put up today.

This doesn't mean he is discontinuing this blog, but occasionally he'll be posting over there as well. He hasn't been posting as much on here lately because, well, life happens. I'm sure you all know how that goes. Once school ends, I believe he plans on writing more frequently.

Don't forget to go check out his newest post!

God bless!
Mrs. Truelove


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Helping A Vocation

Many of you have probably heard of a "vocation crisis" in the US. That depends on how you read the numbers. You see, the religious orders who are dissenting from Catholic Church teaching, or lacking a complete presentation of the Church's doctrine, are falling apart. Yet, look at the orders who solidly teach the Catholic faith, undiluted and full of life. They're bursting at the seams!

Krista (far right) and her two sisters
A good friend of mine, Krista Hall, is discerning the call to religious life with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN. She is a very solid Catholic, who studied at Franciscan University in Steubenville, and she is entering a very solid Catholic order. She has one drawback right now: finances. Like many of our contemporaries, Krista labors under the burden of various debts. Sisters don't make money, so Krista needs to try to pay off debt before heading into the convent in August.

I post this as an appeal. If you want to do something great for God and His Church, here is an opportunity: support a budding possible vocation. A) pray for Krista and B) if you are able, send money to Krista, giving her the opportunity to discern at the convent without having debt hanging over her head.

Feel free to contact Krista before August at the following address:
Krista Hall
100 North Star Street
Carrollton, OH 44615
If you have any additional questions, you can contact me casey(dot)truelove(at)gmail(dot)com.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rallying the Troops

Fr. Z. posted today about how the USCCB stated that Catholic bloggers
. . . have a critical role in this great struggle for religious liberty. We call upon them to use their skills and talents in defense of our first freedom.
He noted that the Vatican recently held a special conference for Catholic bloggers, and he asked fellow Catholic bloggers to call the USCCB to do the same.

Religious liberty (particularly the ability to be Catholic in the public square) is under great attack in the US--by forces both within and without.

The HHS mandate has been an open shot against the Church in what has been a mounting assault of subtle attacks:

We Catholics make up about 24% of the US. I am not alone in seeing these acts as "poking the sleeping giant." Fr. John Hollowell recently posted a YouTube video in response to Planned Parenthood (who seem to be in cahoots with the current administration), and at the end, he quoted Tolkien: "The board is set, the pieces are moving. We come to it at last--the great battle of our age."

Along these lines, I cannot help but see Fr. Z's call for a US Catholic blogger summit to be like the summons to the great Council of Elrond at Rivendell, bringing together parties who (as Fr. Z pointed out) at times may have had their own disputes. Regardless, now they all unite under the same banner for the sake of the good of all mankind.

There is work to be done--both in prayer and in action. Let us set about doing them both, and working together to fight the oppression that is slowly trying to strangle the life of Catholics in America and abroad.

Endeavoring to do my part,
Casey

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The SS ERGORP


The other day, I read an article on Creative Minority Report about the recent ad in the NYT, titled "IT'S TIME TO QUIT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. (Open Letter to 'Liberal' and 'Nominal' Catholics.)" It was created by the "Freedom From Religion Foundation," so you can probably imagine the attacks it tried to use: the same old straw men (the Church is against women, behind-the-times, etc.--the same recycled garbage that basically every liberal media venue tries to blindly lob at the Church).

Later, I read a good response over on The Passionate Paradox, calling all anti-Catholics to take a look at responsible sexuality.

The whole time, I couldn't help but think that there was something funny about this call for people who don't agree with the Church to leave Her. Personally, I find it silly that people who don't agree with the Catholic Church call themselves "Catholic" in the first place. Yes, there is a place for those who have a difficulty accepting certain teachings, and struggle with them while recognizing that the Church has the authority to teach what it teaches--that's totally fine. On the other hand, to claim to be a Catholic while outright rejecting what the Church teaches (and worse, to tell others that the Church "no longer teaches" whatever doctrine one rejects) has never made sense to me. Why would someone who rejects Catholic Church teaching want to be a Catholic? Someone suggested to me the other day that maybe these people think they can ride the coattails of the Church into heaven or something.

The silliness of people who reject the Church making a big deal about leaving the Church made me think of an analogy for which I drew this cartoon:
(Click to Enlarge)


The Church has often been called the "Barque of Peter" (see NAVIS PETRI above).  She is sailing off toward Heaven, but some of Her members have decided they love Earth too much to let go, so they're trying to head back. They're too attached to money, sexual immorality, and/or power, and they're not willing to part with them, so they try to get the Church to change course by constructing a tug boat and attempting to drag the Church back to earth (see the SS ERGORP above). They try with all their might to get the Church to be "progressive" ("SS ERGORP" backwards is PROGRESS)--to be "with the times." The Church, however, is timeless, and recognizes that these things aren't truly good for people. She has one mission: get souls to Heaven. She is set on Her course, and will not be deterred by fleeting temporal pleasures. With the wind of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2) in Her sails, She will not be stopped--not even the gates of Hades will prevail against Her (Mt 16:18). Consequently, the SS ERGORP will eventually realize that they cannot change the Church, so they must decide: detach or join. They must either leave because they don't agree, or fully join themselves to the Church by recognizing that the Church is wiser than each of us, because She is the safeguard of the God's Revelation. They must also realize that they will never change the Church because Her official teachings will never change. That's how She safeguards what God has handed on--She doesn't let it get changed.

So now we are at a junction in history where many may leave the Church. That's okay. In fact it will be like the pruning of a plant--removing the branches and leaves that are deterring the flourishing of the whole. Pope Benedict XVI has been talking about a "smaller Church" for a while now (that link will lead you to an excerpt of a book that was originally published in 1969). 33 years ago he could already predict this exodus of the lukewarm (and we know what happens to the lukewarm--Rev 3:15-16). He foresaw a smaller, but "crystalized and clarified" Church.

Think about this: what if every 'Liberal' and 'Nominal' Catholic actually did go to a religion that agreed with his/her beliefs? How much better would Catholic education be once it was rid of all of the false teachers? How much better would people know what the Church really teaches, and not what the "Catholic experts" that the media digs up say? Sure, we may get ridiculed by that same media. Sure, we may no longer be 25% of the US population--or 1/7 of the world population. That's not necessarily bad--the Church will be purified and people receive the truths of the Church without all the voices of dissenting "Catholics" trying to confuse them. In the long run, perhaps it would actually allow more people to come to know the truths of Catholicism and draw more souls to Heaven. That, after all, is the goal: as many souls to Heaven as possible, not as many people calling themselves "Catholic" as possible.

And what for those who leave? Are they eternally doomed? Of course not! Was Peter eternally domed when he denied Jesus? The same is the case for anyone who has betrayed God. He must not take the path of Judas and think God will not forgive him. He must take the path of Peter and, when he realizes his mistake, receive the Lord's forgiveness.

The Church will always have open doors, anyone may come in and become a Catholic, but that involves a change on the part of the person, not the Church. If one is to become a Catholic (or return to Catholicism), one must be willing to conform himself to the Church. One should never seek to conform the Church to himself. That, after all, is how this whole topic began.

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