The Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is one rooted in what philosophers call natural law, but also illuminated by divine revelation. This means that the Church understands her teaching to be grounded in those truths that unaided human reason can affirm about the nature and purpose of human sexuality, but that what God has revealed in both Sacred Scripture and Tradition on the matter provides additional light.
How can we not think, in this context, of the task of a Bishop in our own time? The humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the Church of every age, will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who cling to what seems certain. Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves. “Those who fear the Lord will not be timid”, says the Book of Sirach (34:16). The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates.
This is the sign of the Church always, the Sign of Blood
Seven years were my people without my presence;
Seven years of misery and pain.
Seven years a mendicant on foreign charity I lingered abroad:
Seven years is no brevity.
I shall not get those seven years back again.
Never again, you must make no doubt,
Shall the sea run between the shepherd and his fold.
It is not I who insult the King,
And there is higher than I or the King.
It is not I, Becket from Cheapside,
It is not against me, Becket, that you strive.
It is not Becket who pronounces doom,
I am here.
No traitor to the King.
I am a priest,
Ready to suffer with my blood.
This is the sign of the Church always,
The sign of blood.
His blood given to buy my life,
My blood given to pay for His death.
My death for His death.
For my Lord I am now ready to die,
That His Church may have peace and liberty.
Our yearly post in honor of Saint Thomas Becket.
Posted by New Catholic at 12/29/2012 02:00:00 AM
In the last several months I’ve been discussing the problems Catholics face dealing with public life today. The recent election underlined some of them. The bishops and others made their pitch about threats to the family and the freedom of the Church, the Democrats stood firm, and most Americans—including most self-identified Catholics—voted for the Democrats. Not only does the world care very little for Catholic concerns, but it seems that Catholics acting as citizens care little for them as well.
Propers, Mass of the Fourth Sunday in Advent: Introit
I The Characteristics of Modernism
i)The Ends of Marriage 3.
ii)The Holy Mass
c)The Nature of Obscurantism
II The Consequences of Modernism
When I used to be a math tutor, I helped elementary school students who were struggling with arithmetic. As a physicist, I was knee deep in very difficult and advanced mathematics and realizing that some children had difficulty with addition and subtraction initially took me aback. Basic arithmetic had become so familiar to me that it took some time to figure out how to teach and explain it. I took it so much for granted that I forgot how odd it must seem to a child coming across it for the first time.
In a similar way, we could look at today’s “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” question: “What does the word ‘Incarnation’ mean?” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the Church calls ‘Incarnation’ the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it.”(CCC 461) While this is not easy language it is something that most Catholics are used to hearing and may not think twice about. When we realize that most of the disagreements in the first five centuries of the Church revolved around this doctrine, we may be surprised. What, exactly, is the big deal? In these arguments, the big deal was our salvation.
In these dark days in which the power of secular fundamentalism appears to be on the rise and in which religious freedom seems to be imperiled, it is easy for Christians to become despondent. The clouds of radical relativism seem to obscure the light of objective truth and it can be difficult to discern any silver lining to help us illumine the future with hope.
In such gloomy times the example of the martyrs can be encouraging. Those who laid down their lives for Christ and His Church in worse times than ours are beacons of light, dispelling the darkness with their baptism of blood. “Upon such sacrifices,” King Lear tells his soon to be martyred daughter Cordelia, “The gods themselves throw incense.”
In a recent article in HPR, I stressed the need in the Church for adult formation. 1 Of course, the leadership of the Church knows the need very well! But, the inconvenient truth is that there is widespread neglect in following through on the well-documented magisterial recognition of that need. The many wonderful documents that teach the rightful priority of adult formation don’t seem to make it down to the pews. That, however, was the subject of the first article: we need adult formation in the faith!
In this article, I hope to stress a simple but essential prerequisite to that needed formation. Without this one thing, all the formal education in the faith will remain merely on the surface of the person. Is that so bad? Yes, it is. God sees the heart, and wants to pour his life and his love and his truth into human minds and hearts. God seeks to gather human persons—mind, will, body—into blessed communion with him.
In today’s world a bowl of pottage might be more likened to an Obama-phone, Obama-care, free contraceptives and welfare checks. However, one’s soul is ethereal and you cannot hold it in your hand or deposit it in the bank. So it seems a profitable trade for our 21st century neighbors as Esau’s dreadful decision did to him. I guess it’s the old bird in the hand vs. the two in the bush syndrome.
However, the world is a Godless place and I suppose to some extent it always was and always will be. The Church has had its ups and downs as well, being filled with zealous believers in one age and being bereft of any semblance of a vital and life-giving faith in another. Somehow, a remnant is always left to revitalize the faith in a future age and the Barque of Peter lumbers on, laden with the heavy burdens and baggage of many who have walked Her corridors; leaving their baggage of unrepentant sins and lost lives within Her holds – lives lived in complete disobedience of the faith but confident that they would be saved by their claim of having been physically onboard.
It doesn’t take much intellect to reason out the type of age we live in at present. The world is always in shambles but the Church too has had far better days and it will again in the future. It is the ancient cycle of sin, sorrow, despair, renewed faith, God’s Mercy, and redemption. Of course, followed by another fall and once more the cycle begins again. It has been going on for countless ages and the Old Testament is full of this ever repeating history of mankind.
I totally agree with Cardinal Ratzinger’s response which he made before becoming Pope. When asked about the health of the Church, he responded that it was just fine but that the number of people in the Church is much smaller than people think. It seems that we always have a “remnant” Church but in some times we have a larger remnant than in others. So in times like these we find far more individuals who would trade their souls for a bowl of pottage than at other more happy times.
What are some of the signs (in no particular order) that we might see in a Church that is more in tune to the world than to Her supernatural end?
This past Sunday I was treated to a honky-tonk piano medley as I approached the altar to receive the Bread of Life: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. If you can imagine the scene in an old western with a gent, usually sporting a pork pie hat and a pair of dealer sleeve bands, seen playing dance hall music, you have come very close to envisioning what we had to endure at Mass. It was like sashaying up to the bar in an old time saloon to get a shot of rye and a pickled pig’s foot. There was nothing spiritual about the experience but it doesn’t seem to bother those in attendance at all. That might be a sign.
Before the final blessing we were also treated by a bevy of parishioners who wanted to tell everyone present about their birthdays, their anniversaries and achievements to a resounding applause from all who were present. I thought we were at a political rally, giving thanks and tribute to our best contributors. Perhaps that was another sign.
How about the myriad of priests who make it sound like it is easy to get to heaven: we just need to be good to one another and keep doing what we are doing and all will be fine. It’s a very positive message and very uplifting to the crowds. However, that just doesn’t square with the teachings of the Church or the Bible. So where is the teachings and condemnation of sin that was a staple of Church teaching some 60 years ago? When was the last time they confronted people with the hard sins to speak of: contraception, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion and the like? Has a pastor ever condemned governments that enslave people through socialism, Marxism or communism and given the teachings of our Popes that refuted them? Silence from the pulpit, our diocesan bishops and the USCCB are almost deafening. As humorous as are the old ads in Oxford Review that spoke of Father Flapdoodle and his silly antics, we see these priests all over the place and they are, in my opinion, a sign of the times.
When was the last time the priest spoke to the congregation concerning our belief in transubstantiation? It is unfortunate that since the Second Vatican Council, which never mentions the word in any of the documents, only makes reference to Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in terms of the Real Presence. Now that doesn’t sound that bad does it? Unfortunately, in our ecumenical talks with other faiths we see that others, who do not believe in transubstantiation, also speak of belief in the Real Presence as well. Is this a point of agreement? Those who believe in trans-finalization, consubstantiation, trans-signification and the nebulous, “we think God is somehow present with us when we receive communion” also call it the Real Presence: but is it the same Real Presence we speak of? Are we clear when speaking to these people or are we only trying to make things look as if we have agreement when what we truly have is a disagreement on a defined doctrine of the faith? This might qualify as a sign as well.
How about the following:
- Homosexual Marriage
- Pre-marital Sex
- Extra-marital Sex
- Homosexual Adoptions
These are just a few of the ‘accepted norms’ or issues that will soon be accepted by a plurality of society. I think these are definitely a sign that society has already gone over the moral bankruptcy cliff.
There is not, I think much difference, to moral and fiscal bankruptcy: they each have very similar traits.
In fiscal bankruptcy, through greed and excesses in spending, we find ourselves in bankruptcy court and forced to abide by their advice and amend our spending habits. Often we must make an effort to repay our debts. So there is a way forward.
Now see how similar that is to our own moral bankruptcy. You first have to recognize that you are morally bankrupt though this is hard for anyone to believe of themselves. Their sins blind their eyes to right and wrong. Once recognized, we have ‘bankruptcy court’ called the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can express our sorrow, receive forgiveness and seek a way to repay those whom we have wronged. We also have a way forward – thanks to God and the Sacraments of His Church.
Though we may be smug at the moment with our versions of Esau’s pottage, one may awake as did Esau to see that our entire inheritance has been squandered and that there is nothing left for us or our heritage. We have fiddled away while Rome was burning and are left bereft of our worldly goods. Sadly for those whose eyes were fixated upon the goods of this world, they stand a good chance, living in the midst of moral bankruptcy, of losing their eternal inheritance and birthright as well; the only gift that does not corrode over time. In my opinion, not such a good trade afterall.
There are many lingering questions in the aftermath of the recent elections here in America. Among them is the role that the Church does or should play in giving Catholics direction on how to vote. What should the clergy say? How far should they go? When are voter guides too specific and when are they not specific enough? Is it enough for the Church to preach principles and let Catholics connect the dots?
And, even if one concludes that the Church should not endorse or exclude particular Candidates by name, what about specific issues? Should the Church in such cases also preach only principles or should the Church specifically ask or direct Catholic to vote “No” on “Proposition ##” and “Yes” on “Proposition ##.” Is that going too far? When?