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Posts Tagged ‘Magesterium’

Light of the World

I’m very saddened, but unfortunately not surprised, to see the liberal media bandwagon spinning and twisting the Pope’s comments on condoms.  The reality is the Church continues to rightfully teach that the use of artificial contraception in any form is dangerous due to the “de-humanizing” such practices have on human sexuality – and by extension the human person.  Despite the “spin” on the Pope’s comments by the liberal media and progressive liberal “Catholics,” nothing has changed in Church teaching.  Neither the Church, nor the Pope, approves the use of condoms or other artificial conception in any case.

First, one must understand, as many do not, that the Pope is allowed to express personal opinion on any matter he wishes – just as we all have that right.  Despite what some think, Catholicism does not hold that whatever the Pope says is automatically “official” teaching of the Church.  The Doctrine of Papal Infallibility only applies to teachings related to faith and morals, and even then, it must be specifically and clearly invoked.  Most people don’t know that the popes have very, very rarely exercised this authority, despite their voluminous writings from audiences, homilies, letters, etc.  To make an infallible statement on the teachings of Jesus Christ is a very serious process and never something done in mere casual conversation with a reporter.  In this situation, namely an extended interview with a reporter, the Pope’s comments are personal opinion, not “official” Church teaching.  Even so, again despite the “spin” put on his words, what the Pope said is consistent with Church teaching and actually shows tremendous charity on his part.

Second, most people, including many Catholics, completely fail to understand Church teaching on human sexuality.  Briefly, the Church teaches that since God is infinite love and created everything out of His infinite love, all His creation is good.   It is actually a very old heresy going back to the early days of Christianity to claim the body and sex are somehow “bad” or inherently evil.  We must also understand God created not because He had to create, but because He wanted to create out of His free will and His infinite love – which again reinforces the very goodness of His creation.

When it comes to humans, not only are we part of the goodness of God’s creation, we are even more special since we are created in His image.  How are we taught to treat gifts of great value, like a special family heirloom?  We’re taught to treat it with great care as a sign of respect to the giver of that gift – we honor the person by cherishing the gift he or she gave us.  Our humanity, which includes our sexuality, is the greatest gift we can ever receive, for it is only because of that gift that we exist.  Therefore if we truly desire to love, honor and serve the Lord, we must treat His gift, our humanity, with the absolute greatest respect.  Consequently, we must refrain from doing things which “dehumanizes” or goes against the nature of humanity – which includes things like promiscuous sex, unmarried sex, engaging in homosexual acts, abortion, artificial means to prevent the gift of human life and so forth.  All these things work to destroy our human nature – we need only look to today’s society for abundant proof of this fact.

Pope Benedict XVI, as anyone who reads his writings comes to know, is a very intelligent, scholarly and intellectual person.  While on one hand, this is very good as one can gain very deep insights by reading his work, on the other hand his is not writing which lends itself to the short sound-bites so many rely on as their sole source of information today.  As we see in this situation, one comment in a book-length interview, before the book is even released, is taken out of context and twisted to mean something else.  A society fed on nothing but sound-bites eats it up and never bothers to discover the truth for themselves.

All the headlines completely ignore this line from the Pope’s comments: “[The Church] does not regard it [use of condoms] as a real or moral solution.”  Saying it’s not “a real or moral” solution means it is not the right choice, not an “acceptable” choice and not a moral choice – in other words, it is bad and immoral.  If one bothers to read the Pope in context, he makes it clear up front that he does not approve of condom use by anyone.

However, and here’s where the charity I mentioned comes into play, the Pope goes on to say that if someone infected with a STD uses a condom to prevent disease transmission that fact (again, while not the right choice or moral choice) might indicate the beginning of a proper understanding of human sexuality in that person.  He’s really saying the first step to fixing your problem is the recognition you have a problem in the first place.  If we never recognize we have a problem, especially a moral problem, we can never begin taking steps to resolve that problem.  Only if we begin taking personal responsibility for our actions can we begin moving into the light of understanding and Truth.

Unfortunately, in all the media “spin,” we completely fail to grasp the Pope’s real message, a message applicable to all of us.  For far from being an affirmation of condom use, the Pope’s message is actually an affirmation of hope.  The hope we should all share as Christians that even the greatest sinner will eventually recognize his sins, open his heart to God, beg forgiveness and redemption and thereby gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  That is the Pope’s real message.  The headlines should actually proclaim:

“Pope says Hope of Redemption Possible for even the Greatest of Sinners”

Here are some links which further expound on the Pope’s true message:

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2010/11/excerpt-pope-benedict-xvi-discusses-condoms-and-the-spread-of-hiv.html

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2010/11/what-does-the-holy-father-really-say-about-condoms-in-the-new-book-janet-e-smith.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/11/the_pope_condoms_and_confusion.html

http://www.jimmyakin.org/2010/11/new-developments-on-the-pope-and-condoms.html

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The Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Penance are arguably the three most important Sacraments in the life of the Church.  Without these three Sacraments, according to Jesus, it’s impossible to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Baptism makes us adopted children of God and ushers us into His family.  The Sacrament of Penance removes the stain of sin, thereby allowing us to die in a state of grace worthy of a life in heaven. The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist gives us new life through the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet, we cannot approach the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist if we are in a state of sin; in sin we quite literally cut ourselves off from the Body of Christ. To find life in Christ, we simply must have ready access to the Sacrament of Penance.

Jesus is quite clear – if we die in a state of mortal sin, we’re out, all the way out.  Once we depart this life, there are no “second chances.”  There is no do-over.  We die and our soul receives final, eternal judgment.  To this, consider as well how easy it is for one to fall into mortal sin in today’s “anything goes” secular society which routinely promotes absolute perversion as “good.”  Perhaps more than any other time in history, temptation abounds.

While it’s not wise since it generally arises from being over-scrupulous, there is no theological barrier of which I’m aware that would prevent someone who doesn’t regularly partake in the Eucharist (but attends Mass) from gaining admission into Heaven (provided of course the person satisfies the Precepts of the Church which includes receiving the Eucharist at least once a year during Easter).  Yet, we very clearly risk non-admission into the Kingdom of Heaven by forgoing the Sacrament of Penance – not to mention the additional sinfulness of receiving the Eucharist while in a state of sin, especially mortal sin.

Give all this, why is Sacrament of Penance the least available and least promoted of the Sacraments?  If the parishioners are lucky, the average “Catholic” church today offers the Sacrament of Penance for perhaps thirty minutes in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.  Oh, sure, these churches often claim it’s available anytime – by advance appointment only, please.

Multiple “performances” of the liturgy are available all weekend with morning, matinee and evening shows all designed to work around your busy schedule – no advance reservation required, walk-ins welcome.  If you’re lucky, along with an ad-libbing MC (formerly known as a priest), in some cases, they might even throw in some clowns or “liturgical dances” for your “theological” entertainment.  But need someone to hear your confession?  Not likely.  Besides, once you do get in for your face-to-face wrap session (after all, Confessionals with partitions are so pre-Vatican II) with Father Friendly, he’ll probably tell you your sins aren’t really considered sins anymore, so don’t worry, be happy!

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

These churches often defend this lack of access to the Sacrament of Penance by claiming not many people show up on Saturday anyways, so it’d be a waste of time to offer it more often.  The majority of Catholics today suffer under pitiful “catechesis” inspired by the false “Spirit of Vatican II” – a “spirit” completely unsupported by the actual documents of Vatican II.  The average pew sitter is woefully misinformed about the Truths of the Faith.  Is it any wonder they’re not showing up at the confessional – especially when it’s in the middle of Saturday afternoon, which is the one day most families actually get some time in today’s hectic world to spend time together?  Frankly, I’m surprised anyone shows up at all.

However, I believe the movie line applies here, “Build it and they will come.”  Offer the Sacrament of Penance on a regular, accessible basis, teach the faithful about its importance and they will come, for if they truly desire salvation and unity with the Lord, they must come.

Every Mass offered by priests of SSPX and FSSP, to give but two examples, offer the Sacrament of Penance before the Mass – in addition to offering it at other times as well.  Quite a novel concept – the faithful show up at the church, participate in the Sacrament of Penance and then actively participate in the Mass with clean souls!  The Sacrament of Penance is offered on a regular, accessible basis and all the faithful participate.  Why is this process so difficult for regular “Catholic” parishes (or “communities” or “worship spaces” or whatever they’re calling themselves today) to implement? [Note: SSPX is mentioned here as an example to show that even a group with questionable standing in the Church at least understands the great importance of access to the Sacrament of Penance.]

Why, fathers and bishops, do so many of you insist on denying, or at least making very inconvenient, access to the Sacrament of Penance?  Sacred Scripture teaches that you are responsible for the souls of the faithful.  With responsibility comes accountability: You will be held to a higher standard than the un-ordained laity.  Stand up and follow many of your Holy Brethren by breathing new life into the Sacrament of Penance and leading the faithful into active participation in this live-saving and life-giving gift of God.

Ave Maria!

+JMJ

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St. Luke (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Month of the Most Holy Rosary

Sunday, October 17 – 21th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Ignatius of Antioch (107), Bishop, Martyr (New)

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1690), Virgin, Religious (Traditional)

Monday, October 18

St. Luke (84), Evangelist, Martyr, Patron of Doctors, Painter and Sculptors (New, Tradiational)

Tuesday, October 19

Sts. John de Brebeuf, Isaac, Jogues, Priests and Companions (1642, 1646, 1648, 1649), “The North American Martyrs,” Secondary Patrons of Canada (New)

St. Peter of Alcantara (1562), Priest, Religious (Tradiational)

Wednesday, October 20

St. Paul of the Cross (1775), Priest, Founder of the Passionists (New)

St. John of Kanty (John Cantius) (1473), Priest, Patron of Poland (Traditional)

St. Irene (653), Virgin, Martyr (Historical)

Bl. Adeline (1125), Abbot (Historical)

Thursday, October 21

St. Hilarion (371), Abbot (Traditional)

St. Ursula and Her 11,000 Companions (4th c.), Virgins, Martyrs (Tradiational)

St. Cilinia (Celine) (458), Mother of St. Remi (Historical)

Bl. James of Strepar (1409), Bishop (Historical)

Friday, October 22

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

St. Mary Salome (1st c.), Mother of the Apostles James and John, Daughter of St. Mary of Cleophas (Historical)

Saturday, October 23

St. John of Capistrano (1456), Priest, Patron of Jurists (New)

St. Anthony Mary Claret (1870), Bishop of Cuba, Founder of the Claretians (Traditional)

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Edward the Confessor (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Month of the Most Holy Rosary

Sunday, October 10 – 20th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Francis Borgia (1572), Priest, Religious, Patron of Portugal (Traditional)

St. Ghislain (Gislenus) (680), Abbot (Historical)

Monday, October 11

The Divine Maternity of Our Lord (Traditional)

St. Firminus (543), Bishop (Historical)

Tuesday, October 12

St. Wilfrid (709), Bishop of York (Historical)

Our Lady of the Pillar (36) (Historical)

Wednesday, October 13

St. Edward the Confessor (1066), King and Patron of England (Traditional)

St. Gerald of Aurillac (909), Patron of Bachelors and the Handicapped (Historical)

Thursday, October 14

St. Callistus I (222), Pope, Martyr (New, Traditional)

Friday, October 15

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila) (1582), Virgin, Religious, Doctor of the Church, Reformer of Carmel, Patroness of Headache Sufferers (New, Traditional)

Saturday, October 16

St. Hedwig (1243), Widow, Religious (New, Traditional)

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1690), Virgin (New)

St. Gerard Majella (1755), Religious, Patron of Expectant Mothers (Historical)

St. Gall (635), Priest, Religious (Historical)

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The Temptation of Christ (Scheffer, 1854. Image: Wikipedia)

One of the fundamental causes of all our problems today, particularly in respect to dissent from the Magisterium of the Church, has to do with asking the wrong question.

When we encounter one of God’s teachings we don’t like or don’t understand, our secularized, self-centered society has taught us to ask:

“What’s wrong with the Church that they don’t get it?”

The “it” in this case being secular society’s philosophy of anything goes as long as it makes you feel good.

The question we should actually ask in these situations is:

“What’s wrong with me that I don’t get it?”

The “it” in this case being God’s plan for the eternal salvation of our souls.

True happiness and true freedom come only when we freely submit our will to the will of God.

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt 26:39)

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Monsignor Charles Pope posted an excellent piece on the Archdiocese of Washington blog entitled “The Politician and the ‘Private’ Sin: Christine O’Donnell Runs Afoul of the ‘New Morality.’”  Msgr. Pope uses the “controversy” generated by recent airing of old video showing O’Donnell denouncing masturbation as a springboard for a discussion of the Catholic view of sexuality and masturbation.  Please follow the link above and read his full article.  Msgr. Pope’s teaching is spot-on and delivered with excellent pastoral care and wisdom.

I’m firmly convinced one of the greatest causes for a negative reaction against the Catholic Church today and for producing dissent from Church teaching by many “Catholics” is the very “closeness” of the Church herself.  Because the Church is so “familiar,” many people believe they’re complete experts on what the Church teaches based on nothing more than their own opinions and hearsay, particularly “Catholics” who vaguely recall Sister So-and-so (often a feminist dissenter – such as in my “Catholic” grade school) saying something about something in grade school Catechism class during the 1970s or 1980s.  Yet, what they think the Church teaches has little to no connection to her actual teaching.  Sexuality is a prime example.

Most people, and far too many “Catholics,” believe the Church teaches that anything connected with the body or with sex is “evil” and “dirty” – and that we should feel “guilty” for having any sort of “sinful” thought or feeling about sex.  This is pure rubbish!  Nothing could be further from the truth regarding actual Church teaching on human sexuality and the human body.

The Church has consistently taught that because Jesus was fully divine and fully human (two natures in one person), the human body is not inherently “dirty” or “evil.”  Any teaching to the contrary is heresy – and in fact the Church has fought many heresies founded upon the notion of the human body as “dirty” or “evil” since the days the early Church.  God would not have become fully human if He viewed our bodies and our sexuality as “dirty” and “evil.”  Instead, He gave us our bodies and everything associated with them, including our sexuality, as a gift of His free will.  Therefore, the Church has always held the body, and sexuality by connection, are wonderfully beautiful gifts from God.

The Church teaches that, as a gift from God, we should treat our sexuality with the utmost reverence and respect as we’d treat any other great gift given us by someone who cares deeply about us (and no one cares more about us than God).  As part of caring for and treasuring this gift, we should keep it oriented towards its divine purpose – the physical union of man and woman in marriage to produce children.  We don’t like to hear it today, but orienting our sexuality towards any other purpose goes against its nature and against God’s intention.

Instead of treating our sexuality with such respect, many of us discard it to the dung heap.  In a perverse twist of reality, our secular society claims this dung heap is “good” while Church teaching (which is the message of God and not man) is “bad.”  Secular society completely objectifies sexuality.  We are consistently taught, particularly through pornography, to treat people as nothing more than sexual objects for our self-centered sexual pleasure – including even our own bodies.  We’re taught to not worry about the true purpose of sexuality (little lone its beauty) by using contraceptives, and if those don’t work, “eliminating” the “accidental” “product” of a sexual encounter “gone wrong.”  After all, as Barack Obama believes, we wouldn’t want to “punish” anyone with a baby for a “mistake.”

We’ve truly become blind people wondering around in the dark eating from the trash heap while believing it’s a gourmet meal.  God offers us true light, true vision and a Heavenly banquet, yet we refuse His offer, believing we know better than Him the purpose of our humanity and sexuality.  The Church offers a guiding hand to help lead us blind souls into the light, yet we slap it away.  Why have we allowed Satan and his demons to blind us so?

It’s not a new problem.  It’s actually a very old and very simple problem.  From the time of Adam and Eve, humans have acted like unruly children by “playing God” and thinking they know better what’s best for them than the Father.  The solution is likewise abundantly simple.  We must submit our wills to the will of God.  We must trust that the Father does know what’s best for us.  Only in this decision do we find true freedom and authentic expression of our humanity and sexuality.

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Capharnaum Synagogue

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

The Liturgy today alludes to the ordinations of Ember Saturday.  Christ is our Savior, and the Priests of the Church are made rich in Him.  The Church is blessed abundantly in and through our Lord Jesus Christ

Collect

Dirigat corda nostra, quaesumus, Domine, tuae miserationis operatio: quia tibi sine te placer non possumus.  Per Dominum nostrum.

Let the exercise of Thy compassion, we beseech Thee, O Lord, direct our hearts: for without Thee we are not able to please Thee.  Through our Lord.

Epistle (1 Cor. 1:4-8)

The Priests have been “blessed in Christ our Lord with all manner of riches, both of utterance and knowledge.”  Let us give thanks to God.

Brethren, I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Jesus Christ, that in all things you are made rich for Him in all utterance and in all knowledge, as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel (Mt. 9:1-8)

Healing of the man sick of the palsy at Capharnaum.  The Priests have received the power to heal souls, to pardon sinners.

At that time, Jesus entering into a boat, passed over the water and came into His own city.  And behold they brought Him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee.  And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth.  And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?  Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say: Arise and walk?  But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then said He to the man sick of palsy): Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house.  And he arose, and went into his house.  And the multitude seeing it feared, and glorified God Who had given such power to men.

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