Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Catechism’

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.  Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:8-14

Yesterday, we attended the Confirmation of the oldest son of a family with whom our family is close. It struck me during Mass that this passage from the second reading applies very aptly to the young people; indeed to all of us.  This entire chapter of Ephesians gives good instruction on the importance of right thinking.  In our modern context, it is a sure shield against moral relativism.

Pray for our Confirmation recipients.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Many babies died to get this picture.

 

***

And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar:  And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.   Genesis 11: 3-4

 ***

“Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Council

 

IVF.  In vitro fertilization, also called artificial insemination.  The joining of an egg and sperm in a laboratory, creation of life in a test tube.  For some, it is a miracle.  They wonder at the majesty and brilliance of the medical profession, the advances man has made and exclaim what good man can do.  They forget, ignore, or willfully deny that man can do no good without God for God is the source of all good.  Our civilization is baking the bricks of our own technological Tower of Babel, and when we reach the top, when the medical community solves the riddle of life, we won’t need God anymore.  We’ll be like gods ourselves.

What a comforting thought. 

“After all,” we tell ourselves, “isn’t it God’s fault that there is poverty, want, ignorance, war, injustice, death and decay?  Isn’t it God who ignores our prayers and denies us what we desire, fails us in our wants, frustrates our right to have what we want when we want it?”  Well then, let’s not rely upon God.  His plan wasn’t very good and we can make a much better one.  Let us then make our own path.  Take the painful situation of infertility, of an absence of our own flesh and blood children.  Who is God to deny us our right to bear children?  I am entitled to have children, when and how I like, and it is not God placeto deny me, nor yours to judge me.  Like Lot’s daughters, we conspire, “Let us go into our doctors’ houses and lie with them so that we may have children.”

From UK‘s Daily Mail comes this priceless story of a 58 year old single woman who through IVF now has twins.  That’s her in the picture above, holding one of the children.  This story exemplifies all that is wrong with the western society’s brave new world of medical and technological advances.  Without moral grounding, you get this sort of thing.  To sum up the story, 58 year old Carole Hobson, a lawyer, decided that now that she was in her 50s, she wanted a child.  She admits never wanting one before.  Her boyfriend of eleven years felt differently.  So she ditched him and started her quest to get her some kids.  This involved an egg from India, sperm from Scandinavia, 5 rounds of IVF treatments, one abortion, £20,000, a team of National Health Service medical staff (paid for by British taxpayers), the birth of twins and the hiring of a fulltime nanny.   So single senior citizen gets her brand new kiddies with national healthcare, goes back to work and drops off the longed-for children with the college student who is going to raise them.  Sounds like a very happy ending, right?

Actually, interestingly, tellingly….no.

In one of those twists that reminds us who is God and who is not, mother Carole Hobson is overwhelmed and full of regret.  As the newsreporter writes–

Carole, sleep-deprived, pole-axed by the reality of caring for baby twins and anxious for their still fragile health, appears to illustrate perfectly the proverb: ‘Be careful what you wish for . . . you might just get it.’

But it’s early days yet and, to be fair to Carole, she looks far less frazzled than I’d expected, given the demands of twins. She seems to be  incredibly well and has a calm, loving commitment to her babies — but it’s hard to detect any sign of euphoria.

….

She was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital as an emergency on December 17, suffering from pre-eclampsia and a winter respiratory virus. The decision to deliver the twins was made on Christmas Eve after Carole’s liver and kidneys started to fail.

‘Half an hour before the Caesarean, I was shown around the neo-natal unit where the twins would be taken after their birth and that’s when I sobbed my heart out, thinking: “What on earth have I done?” ’ says Carole.

‘I was crying for my babies and what they might have to go through to survive. That’s when the enormity of the situation hit me and I doubted whether I’d done the right thing.’

No, she didn’t do the right thing.  She did a very selfish thing and has brought those children into a life in which there is no father or mother, their legal mother may die before they even come of age and her plan is for nannies to raise them.  Those poor kids.  And I note that it is a funny time for her to wonder what her babies have to do to survive, given all that they had done to survive up to this point.  She had been pregnant with triplets but chose one to murder in the womb.  That’s called “a selective abortion” and is so frequent in IVF pregnancies that not having one or more abortions is rare.  So both of these twins had already survived one of her choices.   And these babies were born on her 5th round of IVF, meaning that literally 20-30 babies had already died prior to their arrival.  So dozens of dead babies preceded these tiny twins in life. 

What drives a person to such lengths?  Well, selfishness mostly.  It sounds to me as if Carole is greatly in need of love, a relationship with God and forgiveness, as her life decisions seem to be on a path of increasing destructiveness.

She described to me the extraordinary lengths she went to in order to achieve her goal, batting away any criticism of her quest for late, single motherhood with clear-headed logic and well-rehearsed argument.

She explained how it wasn’t until her late 40s and early 50s that — having lacked all maternal instinct in her 20s or 30s, while she forged her career — she came to bitterly regret her childlessness.

Her then partner of 11 years, a geologist, was not keen on the idea, so Carole decided to go ahead alone, effectively sacrificing their relationship on the altar of motherhood.

In pursuit of doctors who would help her, Carole travelled from Kent to the Ukraine, back to London, to Cyprus and finally to a fertility clinic in India — which treats women up to the age of 63 — where her fifth attempt at IVF proved successful.

‘I felt incomplete without a child,’ she said, explaining that she went to India because of shortage of egg donors elsewhere.

‘I want to seize every opportunity that medical science can offer me, as a woman. Some people might accuse me of being selfish or going against nature, but isn’t it going against nature to perform transplants or heart surgery? I’m no more selfish than any other woman who wants a family.’

Sin is like this.  We get embroiled in a few sins and before you know it, we have lost our relationship with God.  We may search to replace Him even.  I think that’s what happened here, with the helpful assistance of the Tower-building medical community.  Why didn’t someone say no?  Cause medical professionals are builders not moralists or ethicists.

So let’s review Catholic moral teaching:

Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personal identity. Furthermore, it offends the common vocation of the spouses who are called to fatherhood and motherhood: it objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity; it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood and responsibility for upbringing. Such damage to the personal relationships within the family has repercussions on civil society: what threatens the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder and injustice in the whole of social life. These reasons lead to a negative moral judgment concerning heterologous artificial fertilization: consequently fertilization of a married woman with the sperm of a donor different from her husband and fertilization with the husband’s sperm of an ovum not coming from his wife are morally illicit. Furthermore, the artificial fertilization of a woman who is unmarried or a widow, whoever the donor may be, cannot be morally justified. (italics in original)

Why does the Church teach this?  Is it because she is out of touch?  Is it because she is run by a bunch of old guys who have no idea what desire feels like?  Is it because God hates us and wants us to be disappointed, frustrated and miserable?  No.  No. No.  It is because of love.  God will show us the path to life.

The Church’s Magisterium does not intervene on the basis of a particular competence in the area of the experimental sciences; but having taken account of the data of research and technology, it intends to put forward, by virtue of its evangelical mission and apostolic duty, the moral teaching corresponding to the dignity of the person and to his or her integral vocation. It intends to do so by expounding the criteria of moral judgment as regards the applications of scientific research and technology, especially in relation to human life and its beginnings. These criteria are the respect, defence and promotion of man, his “primary and fundamental right” to life, his dignity as a person who is endowed with a spiritual soul and with moral responsibility and who is called to beatific communion with God. The Church’s intervention in this field is inspired also by the Love which she owes to man, helping him to recognize and respect his rights and duties. This love draws from the fount of Christ’s love: as she contemplates the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the Church also comes to understand the “mystery of man”;  by proclaiming the Gospel of salvation, she reveals to man his dignity and invites him to discover fully the truth of his own being. Thus the Church once more puts forward the divine law in order to accomplish the work of truth and liberation. For it is out of goodness – in order to indicate the path of life – that God gives human beings his commandments and the grace to observe them: and it is likewise out of goodness – in order to help them persevere along the same path – that God always offers to everyone his forgiveness. Christ has compassion on our weaknesses: he is our Creator and Redeemer. May his spirit open men’s hearts to the gift of God’s peace and to an understanding of his precepts.  (footnotes removed) (emphasis mine)Introduction to INSTRUCTION ON RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE IN ITS ORIGIN AND ON THE DIGNITY OF PROCREATION REPLIES TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Christ our Creator and Redeemer has compassion for us and God forgives.  I am praying that this mother who is realizing the repercussions of her monumental decision, will find in her disappointment, fear and difficulty that God loves her and her children and wants her to choose Him from now on.  This is a moment that could change this woman’s life.  We all have these moments and we know as believers that God takes the fruits of our selfish decisions and works His plan through it.

Read the full Daily Mail article here.

Read Full Post »

One of my favorite biblical scholars and an all-around good guy has been awarded (finally! *cough cough*) his doctorateMichael Barber of Reasons for Faith, The Sacred Page and JP the Great University is now Dr. Michael Barber

My heartiest (and real) congratulations and imaginary slaps on the back to Michael, his wife and his family! I raise a pretend glass of the finest French champagne (hey, it’s my daydream) to you!

Read Full Post »

On the blog of The New Theological Movement was this gem revolving around some of my favorite-est things:  St. Michael the Archangel, the importance of humility and the beautiful, intricate symmetry of Sacred Scripture.  As an added bonus, it includes the prayer to St. Michael which I have right over there >>> in my side items. 

Read it and enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Even much of the visible Catholic Church itself has defected from its duty of evangelizing, which begins with transmitting Catholic teaching to children. Ignorance of Catholic doctrine in the “American Church” is now both a scandal and a terrible tragedy.

Joseph Sobran in an article on why the world still hates Christ and his teaching, commenting on the state of catechism in the Church, particularly in America.  I think he sums it up well. 

No wonder Catholics can’t defend their faith; in large part, we don’t know it and we cringe when it’s said aloud.  I have commented before on my own (lack of) catechism before (like here). 

Read the whole article for food for thought.

Read Full Post »

The Gospel for today is another unique story, the story of the adulterous woman found only in John.  Scholars speculate that this story was a later edition to the text as it does not seem very Johannine, and may have been written by same author of Luke – Acts.  The Church believes it to be inspired scripture and it remains one of the most popular stories in all the Bible.

while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle.  They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So what do you say?”  They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.   But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.  And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.  Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”   John 8:1-11

Our friend Fr. Jon at Redemptorist Preacher takes an in-depth look at the underlying drama to the story; after all, this was a trap being laid for Jesus, one of several instances in the Gospel in which he is challenged by Jewish leaders with a seemingly no-win situation (e.g. the question of paying Roman taxes).  Here the trap is that while Mosaic law (religious) required adulterers to be stoned to death, Roman law (civil) forbade any private capital punishment.  Should Jesus heed the Hebrew law of his ancestors or obey the might of the Roman authorities?   Either way he answers could lead to his own death.  The scribes and Pharisees chose a very visible, crowded venue to challenge him.  How fraught the situation, and how humiliating for this woman, who likely may have been dragged there immediately after being found in flagrante delicto. 

My Sunday to Sunday nonsensical weekly just wanted to discuss the inherent sexual bias of the story and bemoan that women are still being kept down by The Man.  You know, the Church and the Pope and mean guys everywhere.  Blessedly, our Bible study leader decided to scrap the Gospel reflections from the Sunday to Sunday and instead spend the entire time leading our own discussion, which was enlightening and uplifting.  I confess that I disliked this story for a long time.  In my opinion, it was used in an anti-Christian way for far too long, and is the go-to verse for moral relativists everywhere.  But I am so glad that I had this week to study and reflect on it.  I have a whole new appreciation for the complexity of this Gospel.  

Our Bible study was wonderful, too.  We dwelt on Jesus’ silence, his remarkable silence.  In reflecting on our discussion, it occurs to me that this possibly throwaway story shows us the way to be Christians, as Jesus role models the virtues we should aspire to: 

  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Prudence
  • Courage
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Love

Everyone discussing this Gospel account sooner or later uses it to point to Jesus’ non-judgment and that oftentimes becomes the sole takeaway from it.  “Jesus said he didn’t judge the woman and neither should we.”  This (I think) is an incorrect lesson for us, or at least not the sole lesson.  Jesus does not condemn the adulteress, but I think he does judge the woman.  In so doing, he actually shows us how to judge.  Never does Jesus tell her she is not a sinner and not guilty of her crime.  In fact, he forgives her and instructs her to turn from her path of sin – “go and sin no more.”   See that?  He did not simply say, “Go on, beat it!”  He did not say, “well then, clearly you are not guilty.” 

Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”  

The condemnation of the crowd would have been her stoning, her loss of earthly life.  Jesus does not condemn her and in so doing, he presages our Reconciliation sacrament.  Jesus’ pardon refers to her eternal condemnation.  Jesus frees her; he is her savior just as we know he is ours.  He came to free us from our sins.  But inherent in this act of compassion, and mercy is his act of divine justice.  The woman must not sin anymore. 

And what does that mean, “sin no more”?  We know by the Catechism that we are all sinners and fall short of the grace of God.  Is the woman, and are we, required to “sin no more”?  How can we take on such a burden?  What is Jesus telling us?

In order to be absolved of our sins, in order for God’s merciful forgiveness to be ours, we must convert our hearts.  We must renounce the sin in which we find ourselves and we must earnestly intend to not persist in it.  How many of us understand that?  We ask for God’s forgiveness but have we truly renounced our sin within our heart of hearts?  Do we walk into our confession hardened to Jesus’ words?  We know from Revelation and from Pauline letters that we may not persist in our sins, and that Jesus WILL come again to judge the living and the dead.  Our acts on earth will be weighed in the balance.  So we must repent now, and that means to renounce our sins and promise to do better.

So how are we to judge if we should not condemn?  We know that only God knows the secrets of our hearts, and only He has perfect justice and mercy.  We must trust to His justice.  But as Christians, we are called upon to lead our fallen brothers and sisters back to the path, and correct one another in a spirit of love and gentleness.  In good faith, can we allow those entrusted to our care to persist in their sin?  I think we cannot.  Adultery, premarital sex, gossiping, sloth, illegal business practices, addictions, whatever the moral failing, this Gospel is not telling us it is none of our business.  It is showing us the way to intervene as a Christ follower should:  take time to reflect in silence and humility, maybe get down in the dirt a bit to fully understand the situation, see all sides, when finally necessary to speak, do so calmly, temperately and fairly, do not offer condemnation but rather love, forgiveness and a hope for reconciliation, make it clear to the sinner that Christ expects their metanoia.

Our sins are so hard to renounce, our hearts slow to convert.  Speaking the truth in charity and gentleness must be matched by our own humility, our understanding of our own failures.  We have a faith that goes beyond following an established set of rules.  Our faith requires us to devote our time, energy, intellect and spirit in a constant conversion away from ourselves and over to God.

Our God is so awesome!

Pray with me: 

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been in conversations with my Protestant friends lately, particular one young evangelical I love.  I’ve been trying to get them to read the Bible.  Does that sound funny?  It strikes me as being not a little ironic, for the Catholic mom to be urging young Evangelicals to read the Bible.  They all own one…I’m just not sure how much actual reading goes on.  If you don’t count the apps that send a little out-of-context verses to their phone or the daily Scripture passage widget on their high-tech church websites (because we are evangelizing through the media, you know), I’m not sure they actually ever read the Bible. 

So, here we have Christians who genuinely love Jesus, profess a great faith, who ardently defend sola scriptura, and who do not read the Bible

So what is forming the faith of these youngsters?  What understanding do they have of their beliefs?  of Christianity and their own particular denomination / sect / bible church?  Well, where they are getting their religious beliefs from seem to be mostly two-fold:

  1. Church services which are a lengthy sermon (usually not much theology there) and worship music
  2. Contemporary Christian Music and … uh…more worship music

So the majority of the doctrinal teaching for many Protestant youth (and most Evangelical kids) is — as far as I can tell — worship music.   And today’s worship music either lacks doctrine or (in a surprising number of instances) contains bad doctrine.  There, I said it.  Modern Christian worship music is bad theology.  I used to think it was sort of repetitious and bland, saccharine and, um..repetitious.  Then I began to think more deeply about it and realized that actually, the music oftens conveys a bad theology.  It’s leading our Christian youth and young people down a bad path.  (I know I’ve promised the post about the dangers of the rising popular Christian music industry a gazillion times.  This is still not that post.  Sorry!)

The above tirade is my rambling way of introducing the real subject of this post, which is that our protesting Protestant brethren are still trying to bring Catholic practices into their Protestant lives.  It’s funny really. 

Here are three articles in this month’s Christianity Today:

COVER PACKAGE
Practically Theological
How churches are teaching doctrine—and finding eager participants.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey | posted 3/15/2010 09:33AM

COVER PACKAGE
The Lost Art Of Catechesis
It’s a tried and true way of teaching, among other things, Christian doctrine.
J. I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett | posted 3/12/2010 10:31AM

COVER STORY
The Mind Under Grace
Why a heady dose of doctrine is crucial to spiritual formation.
Darren C. Marks | posted 3/12/2010 10:30AM

Although I’m being facetitious in my introductory comments, I want to make sure that I make it clear that I am actually very relieved to see that CT is tackling the problem of the lack of doctrinal teaching among Protestant Christians, particularly in the Evangelical movement.  I actually know one Christian young man who does not seem to understand that we believe in a Triune God.  Yes, yes, we need to love God, we need to burn for Him.  But we also need to know God.  Faith AND Reason.  If I hear one more time, “isn’t it really all about loving Jesus?” or “let’s not get hung up on non-salvation issues” or “it’s about Jesus NOT religion“, I’m going to throw my copy of the Catechism at their head.  All that love and fervor, yet no real understanding of the credos of their faith just leads to heresies and Joel Osteen. 

Yeah, I know — Go work on my big post I keep promising.  Meh.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »