Search

Heavenly Train Ride

Smile, you’re about to begin the best ride of your life!

Speak to the Rock

horseshoe-bend-1630528_960_720

Do you remember that part of Salvation History where the Israelites wandered through the desert after a miraculous delivery from Egypt?  Three years they had been wandering,

“And the Lord spoke to Moses.  Take the rod, and assemble the people together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak to the rock before them, and it shall yield waters.”  –Numbers 20:7

As Scripture informs us, Moses disobeyed and he was punished.  His punishment was that he would not live to see the Promised Land.

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”  –Number 20:12

Let us stop for a moment to consider the consequences we might experience when we disobey God.  Though Moses entered heaven, as known through his presence during Christ’s Transfiguration, along with Elisha, he was punished.

St. Paul tells us that the rock that followed the Israelites in the desert was Christ, i.e. the rock was a typology for Christ. [1]

“They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”  –1 Corinthians 10:4

The rock in the desert speaks of the relationship God had with Israelites in the Old Testament, from whom life-saving water flowed.  Where is Christ for the Israelites, the people of God, today?  Where is the Body of Christ, where is this rock?

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  –Mathew 16:18

The Church is the Body of Christ, the rock that gives us life-saving water in the desert.  And, though many have argued this, Peter was the head of the Church that our Lord first assembled.[2]  Certainly, St. Peter’s name, the first Bishop of Rome, appears in the New Testament 195 times, followed by St. John with 48.  All the Apostles acknowledged Peter’s authority from the start of the Church.  Peter’s authority as the head of the Church is supported through numerous Scripture versus, many of which have been highlighted in Keven Vost’s book, “Memorize the Reasons!”[3]

Now, if Moses was deserving of punishment because he struck the rock instead of speaking to it, as our Lord had instructed him, how will Christians ministers of today, who have separated from the authority Christ established through St. Peter, be punished when they neglect his instructions on how the life-saving waters are to be brought forth from the rock?  Are they not prophets who teach as Moses taught?

Our Lord said, ““Take, eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  The Eucharist, His Body and Blood, is celebrated as He intended in the Catholic Church.

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  –John 4:24

Had he only been speaking symbolically about the fountain that flows from Him, quenching every thirst, about our need to consume His flesh and drink His blood, just as the Israelites were instructed to consume the Passover Lamb before their delivery from Egypt, would as many followers have left Him, as described in John 6:66?  If He were only speaking symbolically, would we ever have had a Eucharistic Miracle with blood type and DNA that matches from miracle to miracle, though separated by 1300 years?[4]

Consider the commentary found in Douay-Rheims on this subject of our faith,

12 “You have not believed”… The fault of Moses and Aaron, on this occasion, was a certain   diffidence and weakness of faith; not doubting of God’s power or veracity; but apprehending the unworthiness of that rebellious and incredulous people, and therefore speaking with some ambiguity.

We’re all unworthy to receive Him, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  We are unworthy to have Him die for us to pay the debt due to our sin.  And yet, He did die for each one of us.  He did will that we consume Him, thereby being united more closely to Him than we can imagine, which is exactly what Satan doesn’t want.  His will is our union, with Him and one another; knowing this is the responsibility of every prophet, of every follower of Him and the Apostles He selected, of every Moses who leads through the wasteland.

Let us no longer have the divisions we have today, let us unite together as He intended, acknowledging His Real Presence in the Eucharist.  Let us acknowledge Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium.  Let us be untied in the Communion of Saints, in acknowledging Mary as the Queen Mother, our Mother, the new Ark of the Covenant, the New Eve, who, in perfect union and conformity to the Will of God, crushes the head of the serpent.  Let us accept the reality of Purgatory, the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation through confession to those who’ve been ordained to the priesthood, the seven deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, and the authority of the pope with respect to matters concerning faith and morals, just as Our Lord intends.  As leaders, let’s avoid the punishment that might await us for not following His Words as He intends –let’s enter the Promised Land together!

[1] A type is an OT foreshadowing of an NT fulfillment.

[2] Akin, Jimmy.  Is St. Peter the Rock on which Jesus built His Church?  JimmyAkin.com.  Online.  http://jimmyakin.com/2012/10/is-st-peter-the-rock-on-which-jesus-built-his-church.html

[3] Vost, Kevin.  Memorize the Reasons: Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory.  Catholic Answers.  28 September 2013.  Print.

[4] Fitzgerald, Ryan.  Eucharistic Miracles Confirm Real Presence of Jesus Christ.  Church Militant.  April 24, 2016.  Online.  http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/eucharistic-miracles-confirm-real-presence-of-jesus-christ

The Priesthood of All Believers

Last_Supper_Dara_Hardy2/13/17

The other day I heard a sermon preached by James MacDonald, a well-known evangelical Christian whose sermons are broadcast all over the United States by radio.  This particular sermon was focused on the importance of the Sabbath, of keeping one day of the week set aside for rest.  As you may have already read, I’ve often experienced the blessings that coincide with keeping the Sabbath, having been an active part of a Seventh Day Adventist community.  At any rate, in his sermon he discussed in detail how beneficial a day of rest can be for our spiritual and physical health, how we’re designed for this, how even though we may sleep extra hours, we can still feel chronically fatigued if we’re always acting like a busy-body.

He also mentioned what he referred to as a Protestant doctrine, namely, the priesthood of all believers.  He went on to indirectly criticize Catholics in stating how we don’t need to call anyone father, referring to the practice of Catholic priests being addressed as father.  As someone who’d identify as Catholic, I’ve felt the need to address his concerns. 

First off, I want to say that I have a lot of respect for Mr. MacDonald and the work he’s doing.  Anyone who listens to him quickly discovers how often he has feasted upon the Word of God, expressing it so passionately.  He’s helped many come, or return, to Christ.  Nonetheless, his advocation of a doctrine concerning the priesthood of all believers as something distinct from Catholics is heretical, i.e. it lacks fullness of truth –there is nothing in the Catholic church that explicitly denies this priesthood.  Rather, the Church acknowledges that some within the Church have been chosen to carry on a special ministry that not everyone is automatically able or equipped to perform, or at least as effectively when considering how those who have chosen celibacy, such as a Roman Catholic Priest, can be more available and fully present in order to help others and serve the community.  And, as most good fathers know, having children can be very demanding –fathers can readily find a schedule too full for other things.  Nonetheless, the Catechism explicitly states that the laity should participate in Christ’s priestly office, as well as prophetic and kingly.[1] 

With respect to the priesthood of all believers, Scripture informs us in the Book of Hebrews that through Christ we can confidently enter the Holy of Holies, the holiest place in the temple, in all Israelite worship, where only the High Priest could enter once per year.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  –Hebrews 10:19-22

In accordance with the priestly prescriptions given to Aaron for the Levitical priesthood in the book of Leviticus, the High Priest would sprinkle the blood of the bull that had been sacrificed on the altar of incense on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).  Then, after burning incense to create a veil of smoke, the priest would then sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the mercy seat itself. 

“The ark of the covenant, the chest containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten  Commandments, was the most sacred object of the tabernacle and later in the temple in Jerusalem, where it was placed in an inner area called the Holy of Holies. Also within the ark were the golden pot of manna, such as was provided by God in the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16:4) and Aaron’s almond rod (Numbers 17:1-13). On top of the ark was a lid called the mercy seat on which rested the cloud or visible symbol of the divine presence.”[2]

“God said that He would appear in the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:2); hence, the need for the veil. There exists a barrier between man and God. The holiness of God could not be accessed by anyone but the high priest, and then only once a year. God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil” (Habakkuk 1:13), and He can tolerate no sin. The veil and the elaborate rituals undertaken by the priest were a reminder that man could not carelessly or irreverently enter God’s awesome presence. Before the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring sacrificial blood with him to make atonement for sins (Exodus 28; Hebrews 9:7).”[3]

The sprinkling of the blood of the bull on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies was in atonement for the sins of the people of Israel.  As Christians, we know that Jesus, as the Son of God, was the perfect offering, or sacrifice, for sin.  The Levitical priesthood was superseded by Jesus and His perfect offering, His own blood poured out over Himself.  What love He has for us and how earnestly He desires to free us from the effects of sin, death itself! 

Following His life, death and resurrection, as His followers, we’re all called to this ministry, and we do this by interceding for others, acknowledging the goodness of the gift we ourselves have received –we pray that God will bestow this gift on others and that they’ll be willing to receive it.  There is no greater gift than the Merciful Blood of Jesus in atonement for our sins. 

Christ’s entire life was an offering for His people.  He calls us to be like Him.  We’re all called to be like Christ in serving and praying for others, loving them as we love ourselves.  Therefore, we all participate in Christ’s priestly ministry through our prayers and acts of service –becoming the priesthood of all believers.  There should be no distinction among followers of Christ, whether Protestant or Catholic, because all who pray for others and make offerings, whether corporal or spiritual works of mercy, serve in a priestly ministry and mediate as Christ mediates.  Christ is the first mediator, others follow, striving to be like Him, to be Christ-like, Christian. 

Now some may fall into error in believing that because we too can mediate as Christ mediates, that takes away from Christ’s preeminent role as the first mediator.  This is like saying that one surgeon is more effective than a team performing the surgery together.  While this may be true, depending on the competency of the other surgeons or nurses, all those entrusted to such surgery are going to work together in such a way that the surgery is more likely to be effective and efficient through collective cooperation.  The co-surgeons Christ Jesus entrusted first were the Apostles.  The Apostles then appointed others through ordination to serve likewise.  However, it is fine to give all credit to the principle surgeon, and in the sense of Christ Jesus, since all things came into being through Him (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16), to suggest that another should receive more praise, respect or acclamation would simply be foolish.   

With respect to the holy men and women who followed Christ perfectly in life and who’ve since passed from this life, from the very beginning of the Church, followers have rightly believed that these men and women who’ve lived these exceptionally holy lives enter right into heaven after death.  Thus, they are more capable of mediating for others by being more directly in the presence of God –many miracles have resulted because of a request for their intercession, confirming this reality.  To deny the reality of these miracles in the history of the Church is like denying the sunrise.  But this is not to say that we can’t mediate effectively for each other on this side of life, it is simply saying that those who are on the other side, fully in the presence of God, are even more effective.  This knowledge comprises the Communion of Saints, a doctrine rightly upheld in the Catholic faith, but deteriorating in protestant communities.  Why would God will that latter-day followers be denied the truth of this reality?  Quite simply, He wouldn’t.    

With respect to the Roman Catholic priesthood, just as God first designated Aaron as a priest through the Levitical priesthood, He designated a new priesthood in the order of Malchizedek, who was the first to offer bread and wine.  This offering, or sacrifice (poiein[4] in Greek) of Malchizedek, foreshadows the sacrifice Christ offered at the Last supper, where he took bread, blessed it, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Christ Jesus is Himself the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed (Exodus 12; John 1:29).  The Apostles rightly preserved these instructions through Sacred Tradition from the beginning of the Church, and the Roman Catholic Priest rightly performs them during the Mass, when he blesses the bread and wine as it becomes Christ’s Body and Blood, a process called transubstantiation, i.e. the conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration, only the appearance of bread and wine remaining.  Numerous Eucharistic miracles have confirmed the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic; more than 136 of these miracles have been cataloged by Carlo Acutis, who is now being considered for canonization.[5]  

The function that the Roman Catholic Priest performs does not take away from the priesthood of all believers.  Moreover, St. Paul has stated that not all members in the Body of Christ perform the same works or have the same gifts.[6]  Thus, neither are all called to the form of priesthood that a Roman Catholic Priest observes.  However, all believers can make a priestly offering of His Body and Blood, uniting in the Spirit of Christ’s perfect atonement, by reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet… “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in atonement for my sins and the sins of the whole world.”  This prayer was given to St. Faustina Kowalska after she received visions detailing God’s unfailing love and mercy.[7]  This prayer reiterates one of the many ways that the laity are “marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them.  For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit –indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born –all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”[8]   

As a Catholic, as one who has been joyfully and fruitfully involved in various protestant communities, I’m confident that one of the clearest examples we have of Christ’s work being accomplished today is through the Roman Catholic Priest, who leads one or more parishes.  Certainly, most of the Sacraments, the means through which the grace of God is made visible, are performed through that same priest, e.g. Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharistic transubstantiation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Matrimony.  Conversely, ministers within various protestant communities also aim to enact these visible manifestations of God’s grace.  However, they do so having broken away from the authority that Christ Jesus gave to the Apostles (Matthew 18:18), particularly St. Peter, the first pope (Matthew 16:18), for ordering His Church, following instead the examples given through the Protestant Reformation in the wake of Martin Luther’s accusations.  Perhaps the most remarkable example of this division is that where communion services are celebrated in protestant communities, they are celebrated only symbolically.  This opposes Christ’s words (John 6:54-57; Matthew 26:26) and the Sacred Tradition that has been passed down from the Apostles since the beginning of the Church (2 Thessalonians 2:15), not to mention the many Eucharistic miracles that have confirmed His real presence.  

The heart of liturgical worship is the Mass. Just as the redemptive work of Jesus reached its culminating point on Calvary by His death on the Cross, so too, the liturgical action, which continues His work in the world, has its climax in the Mass, which renews and perpetuates on our alters the Sacrifice of the Cross.  Jesus has willed that the precious fruits of redemption, which He merited on Calvary for the whole human race, be applied and transmitted to each of the faithful in a particular way by their participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  This fountain of grace which Jesus opened on Calvary continues to pour over our altars; all the faithful are obliged to approach it at least once a week by attending Sunday Mass, but we may approach it even daily, each time we are present at the Holy Sacrifice. Holy mass is truly the “fountain of life.”  By offering and immolating Himself continually on our altars, Jesus repeats to us, “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7, 37).

“The August sacrifice of the altar,” says the encyclical Mediator Dei, “is not merely a commemoration of the Passion and death of Christ, but is a true and proper sacrifice, in which, by immolating Himself in an unbloody manner, the Great High Priest renews His previous act on the Cross.”  The Victim is the same, so is the Priest; nothing but the manner of offering is different –bloody on the Cross, unbloody on the altar.  If we do not see in the Mass, as Mary did on Calvary, the torn Body of Christ and the Blood flowing from His wounds, we do have, by virtue of the Consecration, the real presence of this Body and Blood.  Moreover, as this divine presence becomes actualized under two distinct species, the bloody death on Calvary is mystically renewed by the real separation of the Body and Blood of the Savior.[9]

 

Now it may be true that many priests are living unholy lives, living without charity, wherein ministers from other communities would seem more suited to perform sacramental functions. History has many examples of imperfect priests, and ministers, who have caused scandal and wounded the image of the Bride of Christ.  In such cases, the priest, or minister, should be removed from office, and many practices are now in place to prevent such abuses of authority throughout Christendom.  Nonetheless, even though a president of the United States may be the most corrupt citizen, for as long as they remain in office, they can perform the functions of it.  Thus, even though a priest may be serving as a head of a parish while living in sin, the sacramental functions they perform are still valid by virtue of the office they hold within the Church. 

As mentioned earlier, a Roman Catholic priest is celibate.  This enables him to be more fully present and available to the people of God, just as Christ was to His people.  This freedom enables the priest to have more time to perform works of mercy, whether corporal, such as feeding the hungry, or spiritual, such as spreading the Good News, whether through counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant or admonishing sinners.  Addressing such a priest as Father, or a sister who serves Him in a similar way through a consecrated life, potentially being called Mother, are terms of endearment.  Indeed, these brothers and sisters are worthy of our extra respect because of their sacrifice, and our use of these terms of endearment shouldn’t be a stumbling block any more than referring to a physician as a doctor should be.  Do not good physicians also serve in a fatherly role, and is not the title “doctor,” a title of respect and honor?  How much more important are those who address spiritual illnesses that infect us and jeopardize our opportunity for eternal life? 

When Christ instructed someone not to call any man Rabbi, father or Master (Matt 23:8-10), he intended to convey that God should be the ultimate source for authority in our lives, to Him alone must we answer in the end.  Similarly, consider Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s discourse on the matter during a homily given on 3/14/17 through EWTN:

“And the title of father… this was something used because the word, the terminology for a sect within the Pharisee movement, was to use the word House.  A House was a sect.  So there was the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel.  These were the two great teachers at the time of Christ and Gamaliel belonged to the House of Hillel.  And, these two houses argued a fair amount between themselves on various points.  And, the head of the house was therefore the father.  And what Christ is warning about in a Palestinian-Jewish context is that you don’t go around starting new sects.  You don’t go around starting new religions where you get to be your own pope, for yourself and everybody else.  One pope is enough, we don’t want another.  And, starting your own sect and your own denomination, well that’s not what Christ wants.

The oneness of the Father, notice how He says that, you have one Father in heaven.  Later in the Last Supper discourse in John 17, Jesus says keep them one by your name Father.  Calling God Our Father and recognizing Him as our One Father, this is meant to be a source of unity so that they may know that the Father sent Jesus.  And that kind of division in the church is what Christ is speaking against with this title.  That’s why later on when St Paul writes to the Corinthians, in 1st Corinthians 4:15, you have only one father, it is I who begot you, by my preaching of the gospel.  There’s no problem in the Greek world with calling the leaders father, Paul insists on it.  St. John writing to people in Asia Minor also said there’s a group of men that he calls fathers in Chapter 2 verse 12 and following, in his first epistle.  So, they don’t have a problem with that.  But what Christ has a problem with is those who would start other sects, with men who call themselves fathers of that new sect, because then that focuses the attention on their brand-new insight, their new movement, their new idea, their new theology.  We don’t do that.  These are the things that flow from human pride.  And Christ wants all of us [to be faithful]; we are here because we have chosen to be faithful to Christ.  But we have to remember the old adage, the higher we climb in the spiritual life, the higher the devil climbs after us.” [10]

 

Thus, Jesus didn’t intend that children cease from calling their dad, father or papa.  Likewise, ordained priests and consecrated religious sisters who serve in fatherly and motherly roles may rightly be referred to as father or mother.  Are they the ultimate source of authority, are they God?  Surely not.  If they’re corrupt, should we respect and follow them?  Certainly not.  And, this situation can apply to earthly parents as well.  Moreover, in such cases, children can be removed from their parents by organizations like Child Protective Services.        

We know that Christ chose certain men to be disciples, to be co-surgeons in the work of restoring broken hearts.  We know that he calls all followers to love Him first and foremost, and others as ourselves.  Through the Holy Spirit, we enter His ministry of healing hearts, becoming co-mediators in the priesthood of all believers through our prayers and works of mercy, whether spiritual or corporal.  However, while on this side of eternity, some are more visible and active while serving in this capacity by virtue of their sacrifices and desire to serve in a special way, some of these we may refer to as father or brother, sister or mother.  And yet, the reality of this situation does not mean that others are less important or cannot become as visible and active in this capacity while not performing the same offering and presenting the same gifts.  However, we ought to respect those that have been ordained, who follow His example of celibacy, adhering to the leadership authority of those He appointed first, as well as the right succession of those who followed, nearly two millennia ago. 

 

[1] The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Paragraph 4. CHRIST’S FAITHFUL –HIERARCHY, LAITY, CONSECRATED LIFE.  Online.  http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2A.HTM

[2] What is the mercy seat?  GotQuestions.org.  Online.  https://www.gotquestions.org/mercy-seat.html

[3] What was the Holy of Holies?  GotQuestions.org.  Online.  https://www.gotquestions.org/Holy-of-Holies.html

[4] Evert, Jason.  Is the Mass a Sacrifice.  Catholic Answers.  March 14, 2016.  Online.  https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/is-the-mass-a-sacrifice

[5] Cassandra, Adam.  Young Creator of ‘Eucharistic Miracles’ Exhibit Can Be a Role Model for Students.  The Cardinal Newman Society.  December 9th, 2016.  Online.  https://cardinalnewmansociety.org/young-creator-eucharistic-miracles-exhibit-can-role-model-students/

[6] Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

[7] The Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  EWTN.  Online.  http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/Mercy/dmmap.htm

[8] The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Paragraph 4. CHRIST’S FAITHFUL –HIERARCHY, LAITY, CONSECRATED LIFE.  Section 901.  Online.  http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2A.HTM

[9] Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.  Divine Intimacy.  Print.  Baronius Press Ltd.  London, 2008. Pg. 478.

[10] Today’s Homily.  Daily Catholic Mass -2017-03-14 -Fr. Mitch.  EWTN.  Online.  http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/video.asp

The Glorious Sabbath of February 27th, 2010 

I awoke around 7am, my stiffened neck refusing to rise an inch after yesterday’s three-hour drive in a 4×4 truck, the cold morning pushing me deeper into soft cotton blankets, the sunshine bending its way through the beige folds of my apartment window blinds. I knew the moment I awoke that a glorious Sabbath was on its way, despite the butterflies bouncing around in my stomach.

‘More rest, need more rest!’

It was all my mind could conjure up. I turned on my side and snuggled deeper into the folds of the blankets, wondering if the dream was true.

I had never dreamt of the president before, even though I’ve said many prayers on his behalf and for our country.

For an instant, I passed over him. He was sitting in what seemed like the front of a classroom. His thoughts became apparent to me: “I can’t take this anymore. I don’t even know how she’s doing.”

What did it mean? I couldn’t help thinking about what kind of pressures the president must be working under, 16 hour days and probably barely able to keep up with family as the father he’d hoped to be. Was it Sasha? Was he wondering how she was doing in her schoolwork?

After snoozing for another hour I finally clambered out of my cotton nest, the excitement of the day stronger than the cold stale air of my apartment, air that lingered with the foul aroma of yesterday’s garbage, garbage that should have been taken out before leaving for work, work that left me an hour short of rest and in a hurry.

Out and into the kitchen I sauntered, wandering from there to my office, debating whether to start my computer and read email or find something to eat, slumping down into my black ergonomic chair then standing up again and heading for the kitchen, the desire to eat eventually outweighing all other concerns. With eyes still puffy I reached into the pantry closet digging for an orange box of high fiber almond-cluster cereal, delicious and healthy. It was baked in sugar and packed with crunch, a crunch that could only be softened by cold and creamy milk, whether hazelnut, almond, soy or dairy.

I sauntered back into my office. Picking up the choir music I sat down in front of my computer and crunched away, reading the words for today’s performance, “Wade in the water. Wade in the water. Wade in the water.”

I started my computer and launched my Facebook account, inspired by a new activity post, “God’s gonna trouble the wadda ya’ll!”  Crunch, crunch, crunch.

It wasn’t until later in the day I realized just how literally the water had been troubled, though this time, not in a good way and probably not by God –the seventh largest earthquake in quake history had affected Chili and already taken at least 200 lives.

Spending a good 50 minutes rehearsing I finally convinced myself it’d be better to show up and sing imperfectly than to not show up at all. My friends apparently agreed, showing up one by one and piling into the couch room of the rustic brick church.  We barely had time to run through all three songs: “Were you there?” “Wade in the Water,” and “Dry Bones.”

The jitters seized us, our warm-up went terribly.  We were off key, out of tune, too high, too low, the wrong beat, the wrong time… close to a total disaster and far from encouraging.  The only thing that seemed to go right was the closing prayer.  It was a fitting prayer, fitting because it testified not only to the unknown moments that lie ahead through our tenuous voices, but to the theme of our music selections, the theme of black history month.  No matter how hard the struggles we face, through thick and thin, highs and lows, freedom and slavery, slavery that once stained a nation before its civil war and its Martin Luther King, slavery that still exists today in our ‘modern’ times, whether behind closed doors, nearby or across oceans, we will shine, shine for Him.

It was ten-till-eleven when we marched confidently from the couch room into the brightly lit sanctuary, our heads held high, our smiling red lips and bright shining eyes complementing our neatly pressed red, white and black outfits. First were the announcements then beautiful hymnal praises followed by baby dedications, children’s stories, garden prayers, tithes and offerings, special music performances, prayers for evangelism as well as upcoming conferences.  Then there more beautiful hymns and at last, introductions to our first performance.

The tensions swelled, our small talk and whispers to each other seemed punctuated by clandestine bursts of excitement as though we were newlyweds about to spend our first romantic evening together.

We climbed to the top of the stage, uncoordinated, each from a nearly different direction. As we took our places the sanctuary fell completely silent.  Our breathing was the only sound, breaths that hoped to keep up with our racing hearts and still have enough left over to sing.

Our eyes fixated on our conductor, her face overflowing with amazement, confidence and a bit of fear, fear as though last night’s nightmare was about to become a reality –a swoop of her hand and we break into the wrong song!

One, two, swoop… ‘Werrrre Youuuu Therrrrre?’

We broke out triumphantly, on key and resounding.  The flood of our harmony filled every part of the sanctuary like a raging river bursting over its banks, swelled from torrential rains over mountains and valleys. Sweet to the last drop we carried on with jovial expressions, swaying back and forth, our hands open and raised proudly at chest level as they held the precious words and notes of our first song.

“Were you there? Were you there?”

We finished feeling confident and secure, impressed that our hard work and dedication paid off so handsomely.  We exited the stage and took our seats.

Our first song was followed by one of the most eloquent and symbolic speeches I’ve ever heard, every word rang out triumphantly, blooming with simple truth and beauty like a gorgeous lily in a fertile earthen field.

“Amen!  Amen!!”

Joyful exclamations sprang from the audience like hungry hands across a banquet table filled with colorful, decadent foods. Even the birds outside seemed tuned in as they broke forth with songs of their own, complementing various dishes along the way… ‘Freedom! Freedom through Christ!’ they seemed to chirp.

Once again we took our places on stage.  Thankfully, the beauty of our voices as we sang ‘Wade in the Water’ was no less magnificent than its flowery introduction. Though a difficult piece with a few strenuous moments to the summit, it proved a surmountable mountain.  And yet, with only a second or two away from the apex, our voices fell out of tune.

Our blunder so near the end shook our audience with surprise, upsetting the gleeful ambience.  Alas, after a coordinated ascent marked with pulsating staccatos like properly spaced pegs guiding us further upward, snapping rhythmically into place, supporting our bodies as they cleaved to the rocks and each other should the arduous climb prove too difficult, we reached the pinnacle, out of sync but safe at last.  Our ears were left feeling hungry, a hunger as though the last bite of a delicious meal had been swiped-away by an amateur waiter.

Alas, spirits quickly brightened as dessert was on the way!

Following a candid and insightful preparatory speech by a fellow choir member, the vanguard of our young adult ministry, we took our places on stage for the last time. Once again, the sanctuary fell silent.  Our eyes fixated exclusively on our conductor as we waited for the signal, the signal that was going to initiate the story of Ezekiel’s summon by the spirit of the Lord to bring life to dry bones, bones that formed the very body of Israel during a time of false worship and confusion, confusion over how it all began and who was responsible for this thing called life, life that in its finest image formed the reflection of its own creator, life that had left the body leaving nothing behind except dry bones.

The shadow of death had vanished from the valley, our song lifted splendidly to our Creator, our hearts pouring out every ounce of feeling we could put into it, the audience answering with applause and “Amen!”  “Amen!”

Life filled the body.

We’d done it! We’d completed our program and achieved personal bests!  We stuck together over the preceding weeks, setting aside time to rehearse and rehearse, laughing until our sides hurt on several occasions, arguing over sequence and tempo, colors and locations, pulling through, sometimes few in number, sometimes dry, wading and wading, constantly lifted by His grace and kindness as we crossed the finish line.

Oh how wonderful were the hours that followed, filled with feasting, laughter and prayer!  There were meatballs made with nuts, oats and parsley and covered in creamy mushroom gravies, spicy pastas accentuated by textured soy-protein chicken pieces, fresh salads, veggie burgers, cheddar creamy potatoes twice baked, mini chocolate and vanilla lemon cheese cakes, rice pudding with toasted coconut and even caramel chocolate chip cookies that somehow survived the rehearsal and Bible study the night before. There were naps and snores followed by strolling around fields burgeoning with dark green shades of alfalfa, our laughter combining with the sun’s golden rays through a gentle breeze.  Finally, we closed the Sabbath together with more laughter, music and prayer.

And yet, this Sabbath-rooted stream of consciousness wasn’t over yet.  To finish things off we headed to a bonfire where we’d enjoy veggie dogs, chili, jalapeño cornbread, freshly baked cookies and brownies topped thickly with chocolate fudge icing.

The flames danced high into the night.  Embers broke free with a crackle, sending redish-orange trajectories to and fro.  The full moon seemed to carry them even higher as it crept in and out behind feathery clouds that at one point seemed to form finger bones, finger bones connected to a hand bone. Then the weary hand stretched outward in a curved motion as though backhanding the moon, pushing her aside as though saying ‘You’re not worthy of worship!’

Slowly the nimbus-like fingers and hands formed arms and a torso, the torso connected to a waist and hips, hips connected to legs and feet and before long this creature spoke. At first it was just a whisper as sprinkles dotted our freshly combed and curled strands of hair, sliding down our necks and raising the hairs on our arms. We didn’t listen, carrying on with laughter and conversation.

Eventually the old man stopped whispering and fell asleep, snoring loudly.  Sprinkles turned to drops that seemed to fall faster and faster.  Coats and vests became saturated. Curls went flat and freshly combed hair went wild as disheveled strands fell left and right.  The old man turned out to be a blessing as we clambered into the warm house.

Embers in the fireplace seemed to smile sinisterly, their sparkling orange colors now the only supply capable of satisfying the demands of thirsty eyes, as though they knew their outdoor competition was being snuffed out, smothered by the old man.

Conversations quickly ebbed and flowed and rumors of games floated from one side of the room to the other. Much to the chagrin of many weary hands, a clearing was made near the fireplace for a game of Slapjack.  The children, uncontained with enthusiasm, quickly slid between the cracks of adult knees and hips, finding themselves perched at the card table, starring back into each other’s smiling faces as the adults looked around with amazement and expressions of ‘What just happened to our game?’ Laughter poured out in all directions. Before long a separate game of Attack Uno was set-up for the youngsters who were no less enthused and bewildered as colorful cards were laid out in front of them. Although the laughter of the adults poured out at various times much louder than that of the kiddos, their little faces teemed with just as much joy and excitement.

The minutes rolled away, forming a mist that seemed to hover over the close of the evening. One game finished, another started. Conversations ebbed and flowed and before long groans of laughter turned to yawns and weary eyes.  Soon came cordial goodbyes, followed by hugs, smiles and waves.

An effervescent Sabbath had taken its course, wadding through waters brimming with love and hope, atop mountains that had once looked way too daunting, through valleys reminiscent of darker days, yet with wayward paths over the horizon.  It was a truly amazing day, bubbling like a spring that tickled our hearts and souls, encouraging our minds yet leaving us satisfied.  It was a hallowed day, foreshadowing a way to deeper and deeper intimacy with our Creator through appreciating His creation, a preordained day, restful and shared, equally and alike.
My country tis of thee,
God blessed us joyfully,
may He bless our president,
and all those,
great and small,
forever yearning to bring us,
closer and closer,
higher and higher!
May He bless all nations joined together against tyranny, abuse and oppression! May voices and flags representing freedom and respect for basic human rights rise higher and higher and fly forevermore!

May He bless those being affected by earthquakes and tsunami’s, those who have lost or are now losing loved ones, and especially, those who have yet to know Him and be welcomed into His loving arms!
All glory be to His holy name. Amen.
joyful
Photo Source[i]

Great Negro Spiritual by Whitney Phipps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNuQbJst4Lk

[i] Published June 8 2011 at 340 x 498 in Famous Fathers.  President Obama with his daughters, Malia and Sasha.  Uptown: Luxury, Lifestyle & Living.  Online.  http://uptownmagazine.com/2011/06/famous-fathers/u-s-presidential-candidate-obama-shares-a-moment-with-his-daughters-during-a-picnic-in-fort-wayne-2/

Kingdom Living

“Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.”   –Acts 4:32
Given today’s advancements in technology, it’s easier for us to dispose our possessions for the benefit of others.  Through pictures, videos and brief histories, we can present the things we own so that others may benefit from them.

Over the years I’ve collected many things.  I enjoy shopping at yard sales and thrift stores, and stores like Costco and Walmart… I’m a sucker for a good deal!  I also grew up in the country, where having space to store things wasn’t ever a problem.  It’s amazing how cheap land can be in some of these areas!

I wouldn’t consider myself a hoarder.  When I think of that, I think of someone who’s struggling with slothfulness, who has many things disorganized and in cramped spaces.  And yet, it’s easy to be a squirrel and store up many nuts.  Perhaps the freedom that comes from dispossessing our possessions can be more fully realized through Kingdom Living, through a willingness to share what we have with others.  It would be yet another antidote to consumerism and an opportunity for new or better friendships.  It might also help us make more informed decisions about the products we buy and whether they’re made in an ethical way.

Of course, many people who have close friendships already have a generous attitude and would lend something they have to someone else who could use it for some period of time.  In some cases, trust is necessary, like when it is a new friend whom one doesn’t know as well, because if the friendship severs, you may never get your stuff back.  There is no perfect way to avoid this, and it is best to be optimistic in trusting someone rather than assume otherwise, an aspect of the Golden Rule, unless you have good reason not to.  However, technology also affords us a means to make more informed decisions about whom we may trust, and correspondingly, opportunities for more friendships and an ability to share or borrow things we might find useful.

A couple years ago, while moving from one place to another, I decided to make a list of things I’ve collected, storing these items in labeled bins.  In some cases, I took photos of the items so I’d have a better listing.  Currently, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be a good idea to share this list with others, people I trust who may want to borrow something useful or interesting, even if it’s just something that sits on a shelf and adds a sense of joy from having, and even if only for a time.  It could serve as a nice reminder of a friendship too!

In a larger sense, assuming there was a good place where trust could more readily be established through learning about someone’s character, such as PureHeartCulture.org, I could share this list with everyone there, or at least those whom I’m disposed to trust based on shared values and/or service.  This would be a nice step forward in Kingdom Living!  And, perhaps a fun way for adult “show and tell.”  Wouldn’t you agree?

sharing-sketch-jpg-pagespeed-ce-skaoyk3adp

“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”  –Acts 2:43-47

 

Image source: https://less.works/less/framework/introduction.html

The Morality of Oral Sex

Do young men often fantasize about having oral sex?  According to a study of 1,516 men between 18 and 77 years old, with an average age of 30, the most common sexual fantasy involves oral sex.  87.6% of the men studied responded that they have this fantasy.[1]

Oral sex has traditionally been esteemed as sodomy.  Sodomy was treated as a felony in every state prior to 1962.  In 1779, Thomas Jefferson wrote a law in Virginia which contained a punishment of castration for men who engage in sodomy, which he intended to be a liberalization of the laws in Virginia at that time.[2]  Certainly castration is a lesser punishment than the death penalty.  Around 1962, punishment involved a lengthy term of imprisonment and/or hard labor.

One of the advantageous of holding such behavior in disdain, regardless of any inherent truth involved with classifying it as fundamentally immoral, is the greater ease with which one can maintain chaste thoughts; when one regards such behavior with disdain, there is one less avenue for the mind to be carried away with by and by.  Is it easy to be held captive by lustful thoughts?  If so, would not cultivating an attitude of disdain for such behavior help to prevent the mind from being carried away so easily?

For a moment, let’s assume that it is true that such behavior is immoral.  This would mean the laws of our society have become increasingly tolerant of immoral behavior.  Let’s also assume that one is bound to be more healthy and sane when they embrace truth.  Similarly, as with many lies wherein basic truths are lacking, or where there are half-truths, a.k.a. heresies, one is bound to be healthier and saner when they embrace the fullness of the truth.

“What is truth?” you might ask in a sarcastic tone, as if to say there is no absolute truth.  Interestingly, that is the same question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus as He was on trial for blasphemy, for claiming to be God, a crime punishable by death according to Jewish law.  Thus, Pontius Pilate is the patron of relativism, that there is no absolute truth.  In contrast, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

In order to bolster the truth of the statement that sodomy is immoral and that such behavior should be held with disdain, consider it in the context of the addictive and harmful nature of pornography.  Awhile back Newsweek published an article entitled, “The Sex Addiction Epidemic,”

“…compulsive sexual behavior, also called hypersexual disorder, can systematically destroy a person’s life much as addictions to alcohol or drugs can. And it’s affecting an increasing number of Americans, say psychiatrists and addiction experts. “It’s a national epidemic,” says Steven Luff, coauthor of Pure Eyes: A Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity and leader of the X3LA sexual-addiction recovery groups in Hollywood.” [3]

One man’s experience further elucidates the nature of the struggle,

“Friendships suffered, and he felt “pathetic” about his sexual urgency. The worst part, he says, was that his sex drive ultimately changed “what I think is normal,” as his tolerance grew for increasingly hard-core forms of pornography. “It really is like that monster you can’t ever fulfill,” says Harper, 30, who has avoided dating for the past eight months and attends a recovery group. “Both with the porn and the sex, something will be good for a while and then you have to move on to other stuff. The worst thing is, toward the end, I was looking at pretend incest porn. And I was like, ‘Why is something like that turning me on?!’”

As a single person hoping to embrace the virtue of chastity, not only for a healthier, saner and self-controlled mind, but for the sake of the cross of Christ as it relates to personal struggles and those involved with being an active source for truth in the world, consider that a more productive disposition and a greater respect and love for oneself and others ensues as one views sodomy with disdain.

How about in the context of marriage?

It is natural for one to want to please their spouse.  In the midst of attraction and excitement, why not let anything go, even if it may seem demeaning or naturally unattractive outside the context of sexual excitement?  What I mean by naturally unattractive is that it is not natural for a person to put their nose near the exit of another person’s bowels –we generally stay a safe distance from there.  However, in the context of sexual arousal, it may seem natural and fitting to perform oral acts of sexual intimacy, even as a way of saying ‘I love you so much I’ll go down there and use my mouth in ways I ordinarily wouldn’t so that you may be pleased all the more.’  Who would disagree that such an act is not good intentioned?

However, in order for an act to be moral, it must satisfy three elements: 1) the objective act (what we do); 2) the subjective goal or intention (why we do the act); and 3) the concrete situation or circumstances in which we perform the act.

“All three aspects must be good –the objective act, the subjective intention, and the circumstances –in order to have a morally good act.”[4]

The Holy Spirit has inspired the Apostles to teach that in order for a sexual act to be moral, it must be marital, unitive and procreative.  It must be all three.  Thus, in addition to not being directly procreative, if we consider oral sex ordinarily unnatural, except in the context of sexual arousal involving intense feelings of attraction and an overwhelming desire to please the other, we may also agree that,

“Unnatural sexual acts are not truly unitive (even if there is a type of mere physical union) because this is not the type of union intended by God for marriage.”[5]

Arguably, many married couples engage in oral sex.  Arguably, there is a unitive element inherent to such acts.  Since the act itself cannot directly be procreative, which it must be in order to be moral according to the requirements above, the question can then become one of context… is this behavior necessary as part of an overall procreative act?

Without giving this question further consideration, are there negative consequences that couples don’t foresee when engaging in such behavior?  For example, might this create enmity between them in their ordinary day-to-day interactions?  Might such behavior cause one to demean the other or develop a pattern or mindset of “using” them rather than truly appreciating them?  Conversely, how might such an act impair romance?  Similarly, could the act impair an element of tenderness that would otherwise occur during normal intercourse?  How about tenderness during day-to-day interactions?

Consider the following question:

  1. In the post-revolutionary world, sex is easier than ever while _____ is nowhere to be found.

A. Pornography
B. Divorce
C. Dissatisfaction
D. Romance
E. None of the above

“Romance is a tenderness, a caring, a “sacredness” to the physical and emotional behavior between a couple. Sex between the spouses is one of the natural ends of romance.  This end is thwarted by pornography and a contraceptive mindset because sex becomes “safe” in this mentality, but sex is inherently wild and creative by nature, procreation being an aspect of that.”[6]

According to Christopher West in his book “Good News about Sex & Marriage,”

“There’s nothing that singles out the genitals as being “unkissable” as part of a husband and wife’s foreplay to intercourse.  The term “oral sex,” however, most often refers to an act in which orgasm is sought and achieved apart from an act of intercourse.  Indeed, many couples consider such behavior a desirable alternative to normal intercourse. And, yes, this is wrong, even for married couples – though the clarification made above regarding female orgasm is applicable here as well: It’s not objectively wrong if the wife achieves climax as a result of oral stimulation, so long as it’s within the context of a completed act of intercourse.”

Conversely, according to Alice von Hildebrandt,

“Having acquainted myself (reluctantly) with Popcak’s Holy Sex, I do not believe it merits the extravagant praise West grants it. I do know that my husband would never write such a review. For one thing, he would have strongly objected to the book’s graphic, explicit nature, which West mistakenly sees as “boldness” rather than vulgarity. For another, Dietrich would have vigorously opposed Popcak’s so-called “one rule”—that married couples “may do whatever they wish,” as long as they don’t use contraception, “both feel loved and respected,” and the marital act culminates within the woman. (p. 193). As another reviewer commented, this reduces marital love to a lowest common denominator, where “everything else can be left to the judgment of each couple. A variety of sexual positions, oral sex, sexual toys, and role playing are all judged permissible as long as couples follow the ‘one rule.'” (Catholicbookreviews.org, 2008)

“These ideas would have struck Dietrich von Hildebrand as abhorrent. It is precisely because the marital bed is sacred that one should approach acts within it with enormous reverence. Degrading and perverse sexual behavior– even it is it done by a married couple, who do not practice contraception– should be condemned, as an assault on human dignity. The “pornification” of marriage should be resisted as vigorously as the pornification of our culture.”

“I cannot describe what Dietrich thought of pornography: the very word triggered an expression of horror on his noble face. The same thing is true of sodomy. He had such a sense for the dignity of human persons that any posture, which sins against this dignity, was repulsive to him. It is in this context, that we should judge Popcak’s shocking suggestion (p. 248) that “as Christopher West has noted in his book, Good News About Sex and Marriage, there is nothing technically forbidding a couple from engaging” in sodomy (provided the husband culminates the normal sex act within his wife); and that, while he discourages the practice of marital sodomy, “nevertheless, following Augustine’s dictum and in the absence of greater clarification from the Church, couples are free to exercise prudential judgment” in this regard.”

“That a Catholic author would cite “Augustine’s dictum” (presumably the much-misinterpreted “Love, and do what you will”) as a justification for sodomy would have broken my husband’s heart. Furthermore, the fact that an act is not formally condemned does not entitle us to believe that it is right or good. When Cain murdered his brother, he was not disobeying a formal order from God, but he knew he was committing a grave moral evil — against the Natural Law — already written on mankind’s heart. Similarly, petri dish “conception” is an abomination in and by itself, even though it is not in the Ten Commandments. It is against the dignity of a person to be “made” in a laboratory. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mathew 11: 15)

“In this context, it is important for couples to avoid what Canon Jacques Leclerc calls “any corruption of love” in the marital bed. He writes: “There are many who believe that once they are married, they may do whatever they like.” But “they do not understand,” he continues, that “the search for every means of increasing pleasure can be a perversion.” He cautions: “Now, there are even among the most Christian young people many who know nothing of the moral aspect of the problem and have only the rudimentary idea that everything is forbidden outside marriage, but that within marriage everything is allowed. It is thus a good thing to remember that the morality of conjugal relations does not allow that pleasure should be sought by every means, but calls for a sexual life that is at the same time healthy, simple and normal.” (Marriage: A Great Sacrament, 1951, p. 88). These are sentiments which my husband, Dietrich von Hildebrand, would have thoroughly approved.”
According to St. Thomas Aquinas:

“And since the man who is too ardent a lover of his wife acts counter to the good of marriage if he uses her indecently, although he be not unfaithful, he may in a sense be called an adulterer; and even more so than he that is too ardent a lover of another woman.”[7]

In this sense, St. Thomas is referring to viewing and treating one’s spouse as an object for sexual desire, rather than a person.  This type of objectification, common to lustfulness, is contrary to the tenderness and respect with which spouses should treat one another.  St. Thomas goes on to say,

“Lastly comes the sin of not observing the right manner of copulation, which is more grievous if the abuse regards the ‘vas’ than if it affects the manner of copulation in respect of other circumstances.”[8]

When a person views their spouse as an object of sexual desire, rather than as a person, they’re more likely to treat them inappropriately.  St. Thomas addresses this when referring to abuse wherein other body orifices are used as a “vas,” or vessel, for sexual acts.

St. Paul informs us that we should keep the bedroom clean and undefiled.  Does oral sex promote a disposition of temperance, modesty and a reverence for intimacy in the context of its innate nature to lead to life, as our loving Father has intended?

Are couples more prone to view one another shamefully the next morning in comparison to more reserved acts of intimacy?  If not, could there be a kind of numbness hindering spiritual growth?

Do traditional forms of intimacy promote greater appreciation and tenderness for one’s partner, not only during the act itself but the next morning and throughout the rest of the week?  Is the duration of the act likely to last longer when these other alternative forms of intimacy are not practiced, if not in the immediate sense, after a routine has been established, potentially creating greater fulfillment?  Could any of the suffering or sacrifice involved in living without these forms of intimacy better dispose the soul towards salvation?

In closing, please also consider the following article written by the highly esteemed Monica Breaux, a Catholic social worker and PhD who has spent more than 15 years collecting research that validates the wisdom of the Catholic vision of sexuality.

ON MARITAL CHASTITY

Published March 2, 2006 in The Catholic Sun as Humanly Possible column

Making good sexual choices in our lives (part 1)

Once upon a time there was a young man who felt called to the priesthood. He struggled against the same temptations to sexual sin that every young man must face in spiritual combat. With the help of grace, he lived in holiness. He prayed, volunteered in the church and served God lovingly in his work. He entered the seminary, but within a few years he left because he fell in love and married a young woman. They were virgins on their wedding day and remained faithful to each other, just as they had promised in their marriage vows.

The man believed that impure thoughts were sinful, so when he was tempted to indulge in sexual fantasy, he distracted himself with prayerful service to his family and church. He maintained “custody of the eyes” as he had been taught, which means he simply looked away from things that caused sexual arousal. He prayed with his wife each day for God’s grace to avoid sin by resisting temptations. Their marriage did not include contraception, abortion, pornography, masturbation, adultery, or fantasy affairs with other people. His wife felt desirable and well loved by him.

They accepted their fertility as a good gift from God, so they practiced Natural Family Planning. Their lovemaking was always open to God’s will and they welcomed each child He sent. When they discerned in prayer to abstain from sex during fertile times to space their children, they returned to the joys of courtship that they had known prior to marriage. Having a monthly courtship (by abstaining from sex) and honeymoon period (by returning to sexual loving) kept their romance alive and well. They had children and grandchildren and recently she died. Her last words were, “Honey, I love you much.” He responded, “Sweetie, you were my only girl.” The man’s name is Vernon Broussard and he is well known in Louisiana where he serves God lovingly. Sexual expression faithful to God’s design is humanly possible.

God invites us into a life of sexual purity that allows us to love fully and naturally and also satisfies the deepest longing of our hearts to be truly loved as we are. When we reject the purpose of our maleness or our femaleness, we reject God’s plan. When we reject our fertility or any aspect of our bodies, we reject God’s gift. Why do we insult God who designed human beings and human sexual desires? Will we eventually choose one flower in the world as the best one, fixate ourselves on it, and then try to make them all look like that? Until we thank God for the design of our own body, we will never feel loved and accepted by another person.

Every day we make sexual choices. Before we make behavior choices, we first make choices in our minds that shape our own desires. When a thought pops in our head, we have free will to distract ourselves with other thoughts or behaviors. Choosing our thoughts is how we form our habits of desire. Our sexual appetite can be formed to desire any person or thing.  Indulging in sexual fantasy connects our sexual appetite to unreal people and unreal situations. Sexual fantasy interferes with our ability to enjoy real life people and situations and it can lead to addiction.

In the Alcoholics Anonymous program, people learn to call another person (sponsor), go to a meeting, or use slogans or reading materials to distract themselves from destructive ideas that lead to loss of self-control. Repeating new ideas helps to alter our brain and helps to form new habits. Changing the brain by changing what we think about, in order to change what we desire and what we do, is the basis of therapy. We are not victims of our sexual appetite.

 

[1] Orwig, Jessica.  What Men Fantasize About.  Business Insider.  14 November 2014.  Online.  http://www.businessinsider.com/normal-male-sexual-fantasies-2014-11

[2] Wikipedia contributors. “Sodomy laws in the United States.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Jul. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.

[3] Chris Lee.  The Sex Addiction Epidemic.  New Week.  25 November 2011.  Print / Online.  http://www.newsweek.com/sex-addiction-epidemic-66289

[4] United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, July 2006, p. 311-312.

[5] Conte, Ronald L. Jr.  Unnatural Sexual Acts as Marital Foreplay.  11 July 2012.  Online. http://www.catechism.cc/articles/marital-foreplay.htm

[6] Culture Quiz.  Online.  LifeisSacred.net.  http://lifeissacred.net/Culture-Quiz-.html

[7] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 154, article 8

[8] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 154, article 12

 

199p8b0fjtd3djpg (1)

Source: http://io9.gizmodo.com/a-map-of-the-weirdest-sex-laws-in-the-united-states-1485053434

Why, of course I pray to statues. Psyche!

Pope prays in front of statue of Our Lady of Fatima during Marian vigil at Vatican
Pope Francis prays in front of the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima during a Marian vigil in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 12. The statue was brought from Portugal for a weekend of Marian events culminating in Pope Francis entrusting the world to Mary. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (Oct. 14, 2013) See POPE-FATIMA Oct. 14, 2013.

 

After Saturday evening Mass, I found it necessary to leave my car on the side of the road and take a ride from a total stranger.  She was very polite, though at first as I began to get out of my car, hoping to indicate I was in need of help, she drove right past.  About a minute later she came rolling back.  Turns out she was having a bad day and decided just to drive on by.  But, as she later stated, she wasn’t going to let that stop her from helping someone in need.

She was on her way back from a yard sale.  A close friend had recently passed away and she was in the process of cleaning out her home.  After a minute of shifting various books and other items to the back seat, we were traveling down the road steeped in a conversation.

I mentioned that I was on my way home after Mass.  She said she was a Christian but had two older siblings who received their first communion.  She had attended my Parish before, for quite some time, and also for weddings and funerals.  Seeing that I’m always happy to share my faith for its potential to help enliven another, and knowing we were getting close to home, though we always are, I decided to share how praying the rosary has often helped me through tough times.

She replied, “Oh that’s right, you guys pray to statues right?”

“Well, not exactly.”

I tried to explain that we believe Mary is in heaven, RIGHT NOW, how very blessed she is to be the mother of our Lord, too blessed to be left behind… so to speak.

“I know but that’s what you guys do, right?”

So, I began to talk about the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest object in Jewish history, the vessel the Israelites used in order to carry:
1.) the stone tablets of the Law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai
2.) the bread from heaven that nourished the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after leaving Egypt and
3.) the rod of Aaron that had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds, signifying Aaron’s position as the first High Priest of the Israelites, as explained in the 17th chapter of the Book of Numbers.

God gave detailed instructions on the Ark’s construction; it had to be made from acacia wood (supposedly incorruptible) and plated inside and outside with pure gold.  It had to be kept free from all impurity and profanation.  So holy was the Ark of the Covenant that God struck a man named Uzzah dead because he dared to touch it (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

I then began to talk about how the Ark foreshadowed Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, the vessel chosen by God to bring the Word made Flesh into the world, God Himself in the person of the Son.

Surely if I could get her to understand that she would understand how holy Mary is and how it wouldn’t be fitting for her to be anywhere but in heaven right now.  Once she understood that, surely she wouldn’t believe I was merely praying to a statue any more than someone holding Scripture while praying to God is praying to the ink on the page –God is a living, triune being, not ink on a page; Mary is a living person, not a statue.  And yet, Scripture helps us to understand who God is, just as a statue of a loving mother holding her son in her arms, nourishing Him, helps us to understand Mary.

I wish I had a copy of “My Ideal: Jesus Son of Mary,” by Fr Emil Neubert, S.M. –I would have read the following passage to her, entitled Contemplate and Admire:

JESUS:
Contemplate now what my filial love has inspired Me to do for My Mother.

  1. From all eternity I thought of her and loved her, for from all eternity I saw in her My future Mother.
    I thought of her when creating the heavens and the angels; I thought of her as I formed the earth and the human race.
    I thought of her as I pronounced sentence against your first parents; I thought of her as I revealed Myself to the ancient patriarchs and prophets.
  1. Out of love I heaped privileges upon her, each of which exceeds the greatest of My bounties towards other creatures. I exempted her from laws to which the whole human race is subject: her alone did I make Immaculate in her Conception, free from all concupiscence, unsullied by any imperfection, more full of grace than all the angels and Saints, Mother of God and ever a Virgin, glorified in her body, even as I was, before the general Resurrection.
  2. Although I came on earth to redeem the human race, I gave thirty years of My life to Mary alone and three years to the rest of humanity.
  3. Nor was I content to have her share My privileges and live in intimacy with Me; I willed that she should also have a part in the very mission which My Father had entrusted to Me. I, the Redeemer, determined that she should be the Co-Redemptrix with Me, and that everything which I merited for the Salvation of the world because it was strictly due to Me, she should merit too because it was supremely fitting.
  4. I also willed that she should be associated with me even in Heaven. I willed that, as I am an advocate with the Father, she should likewise be an advocate with Me, in order to distribute all graces to men, because she cooperated with Me in gaining them.  For, in Heaven even as on earth, I am her Son, and I am infinitely happy to reward her liberally for all that she formerly suffered and did in love for Me.
  5. Listen further: I live in the Church; that is, in My Mystical Body directed by My Spirit. What the Church does is really done by Me; what the Church does for My Mother, is really being done for her by Me.  Think of all the veneration and love the Church has shown her: the defense and proclamation of her privileges, the institution of feasts and devotions in her honor, the approval of confraternities and religious societies destined to serve her.  Think over the piety of the Church’s children; of the Saints, who were all so devoted to My Mother; of fervent souls, who are drawn more and more to honor her in a special way; of the ordinary faithful themselves, who are so watchful over her honor, so clear-minded in recognizing her privileges (sometimes even more so than learned men), so enthusiastic the moment there is question of giving her some special mark of affection.  What is all that if not a grand and yet quite imperfect manifestation of My own incomparable filial love toward My Mother?
    To all that the Church Militant has done and will do for Mary down to the end time, add what the Church Triumphant does for her throughout eternity; for I live even more in the Saints of Heaven than I do in the faithful on earth.  Imagine the gratitude, respect and love which the blessed unceasingly manifest to their Queen and Mother, to whom they owe their eternal felicity.  In them and by them, remember it is always I who honor and love My Mother.
  6. Pass in review these proofs of My filial love; delve into them, sound their depths, try to understand all you can about them, and notice that what you cannot understand surpasses infinitely anything you will ever understand of them. Then, say to yourself that it is this infinite filial love which I wish you to share.

 

But I didn’t have it with me.  And besides, the conversation shifted to how she thought she knew my mother and father.  Apparently she had been in a car accident and believed my mother was the one who would come to her home to provide support and counseling.  That is a very kind and motherly thing to do –that is exactly what Mary does for us when we ask for her intercession!  But, I digress.  She was correct in recognizing my father as a counselor, but that my mom had done that sort of work as well was news to me, that and that they often rode a motorcycle together.

As we pulled into the driveway, I invited her inside.  Surely my mom would appreciate seeing her again if all she’s said is true.

As it turns, she had my parents confused with another couple.

After kind greetings and apologies for a misunderstanding, I walked her back to her big red truck.  With the engine running and her foot on the brake, I tried to finish where I left off.  I told her that if she researched the Kings in Scripture, she’d eventually discover the special role their mothers had.  Jesus descended from King David –the kings of Judah, who were from David’s lineage, prefigure Jesus’ kingship.  Accordingly, the wife of the king of Judah was not the queen, the queen was the king’s mother.  She was known as the Queen Mother and had great honor and authority in the kingdom.

“The title Gebirah (Gebira), meaning “Great Lady” or “Queen Mother” was a royal title and an office which was bestowed upon the mothers of the Kings of Israel, but limited to those Queens who were mothers of kings in the line of King David.  When the monarchy divided into the two kingdoms of Judah in the south and Israel in the north, the institution of the Gebirah was not practiced in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  The Northern Kingdom was ruled by 9 ruling houses (dynasties) but Judah continued to be ruled by the House of David. The Hebrew word, gebirah, is found fifteen times in the Old Testament.

Sacred Scripture indicates that the Gebirah assumed a throne alongside her son [see 1 Kings 2:19] and exercised her role as counselor [2 Chronicles 22:3] and intercessor to the king [1 Kings 2:13-21.  In times of conquest both the king and his mother represented royal power and both were deposed [2 Kings 24:12].  The Gebirah was clearly the most important woman in the Kingdom of Judah; a king had many wives, but only one mother.  The Gebirah of the eternal Davidic Kingdom of Jesus Christ is Mary of Nazareth.  Upon her Assumption into heaven Her Son placed her in her well-deserved place beside His throne as mother of the King of kings.  She appears in this role in Revelation 12:1 ‘clothed with the sun and standing on the moon.’  As Christ’s mother she reflects His light just as the moon reflects the light of the sun and she calls all her children in the family of the Church to follow her Son and to do, as she advised the servants at the wedding at Cana, ‘whatever He tells you.’ [John 2:5].[1]

She was very kind in listening to me for as long as she did.  Thankfully, you’ve gotten a much more detailed account of what I’d hoped to share with her.  Perhaps this is no mere coincidence.  Moreover, as stated in “Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness,” by Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J., “Nothing happens in the universe without God willing and allowing it.”

The following day, I attended Mass again (this time to serve in the choir).  Afterwards, I went to visit her at the yard-sale she was hosting.  I told the deacon about the encounter and he suggested I visit the bookstore to see if there were any apologetic works I might share with her, in defense of Mary’s honored position within the Church.  I took two pamphlets on the rosary (one was in Spanish), and a beautiful green rosary.  When I arrived, she was pleased to see me and introduced me to her sister (the one who had received her First Communion).  She kindly accepted the pamphlets and rosary and I stepped away to search for something useful.  As I admired several nice tools, one of which was a finely crafted rock hammer, probably used in the mine, I overheard her sister instructing her on how to pray the rosary.  Now that’s awesome!

There are other Scriptural foundations for Mary as our spiritual mother, referred to as typology.  I would encourage anyone hoping to enrich their life with her graces to research the evidence supporting her intercessory ability for you, i.e. her love for you, right here, right now.

 

Here are some additional resources worth considering:

Venerable Fulton J Sheen –The Blessed Virgin Mary –The Woman I Love[2]

Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain and Defend Mary[3]

Top 15 Catholic Books About Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus[4]

 

REFERENCES

[1] The Blessed Virgin Mary: Queen Mother of the New Davidic Kingdom.  Agape Bible Study.  Online.  http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/mary%20the%20queen%20mother%20of%20the%20new%20davidic%20kingdom.htm

[2] Sensus Fidelium.  Venerable Fulton J Sheen –The Blessed Virgin Mary –the Woman I Love.  YouTube.  1 Jan 2013.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG5-RSevDBI

[3] Fr. Chacon, Frank; Burnham, Jim.   Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain and Defend Mary.  San Juan Catholic Seminars. Farmington, NM. 2012.

[4] Armstrong, Dave.  Top 15 Catholic Books About Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus.  Online.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/39E7YWPDY0H2K

 

Image Source:

https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/should-roman-catholics-be-using-statues-to-pray-to-mary-or-dead-saints/

A Unifying Perspective on the Body of Christ

body-of-christ

 

 

Growth in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth is defined not so much by church membership among those who desire to love God with their whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and others as themselves, but in how we grow as individuals in Christian virtue.

A person who is catholic (where catholic is used in its original Greek sense, i.e. unified) seeks to build the Kingdom of God on earth through being a visible witness through charity.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  –John 13:34-35

Thus, the extent that we show love for one another is the extent that we make the Kingdom of God visible on earth.  However, sin, or vice, as opposed to virtue, sets itself against the practice of love towards God and one another.  Therefore, how unified we are, is based on how we grow in Christian virtue, rather than membership in one denomination or another, or how well we know or adhere to the doctrinal tenets that define that denomination, except to the extent that those doctrines help us grow in virtue.

Similarly, the works or fruit that a person produces in pursuing Christian virtue and avoiding sin may be sweeter from one denomination to another, even though they adhere to doctrines another may consider erroneous, and vice versa.  Nonetheless, the extent we are unified corresponds to how well we practice virtue as opposed to our unity through shared doctrine and more or less membership.  The caveat to this is that some doctrines, and correspondingly, denominations, can foster greater virtue.

Consider for a moment the Sacrament of Penance, a.k.a. confession in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.  If a person is struggling with a certain vice, say inappropriate thoughts, pornography and self-abuse, but does not seek help from another, the likelihood that they’ll continue struggling is higher than someone who holds themselves accountable through another.  If the vice causes them shame, the fact that they’re accountable for the activity to another helps them overcome it.  How often do inappropriate fantasies and self-abuse ultimately lead to fornication?  How likely is someone with self-control going to be faithful in marriage versus someone who has not developed it?

Also, consider the power of reciting the rosary in strengthening belief in God’s work throughout salvation history, in heaven, and for men who struggle with seeing the personhood and dignity of woman, which is not a difficult thing to struggle with in a culture permeated by an attitude of sexual permissiveness.  In light of these things, how much more likely will we be in establishing a culture of life, where the birth rate far exceeds the death rate, where programs like Medicare and Social Security can continue working?

Now church history suggests that unity of doctrine within the body of believers, from a doctrinal standpoint, is often unrealized.  One would think that those doctrines that foster virtue are readily embraced over others that don’t, thus helping to unify the Body of Christ.  Sadly, we’re often more concerned with how happy we are and how well we’re integrating into a new community, than with how well the doctrines embodied in the community help us to grow, especially since such growth can involve suffering.  However, it is still the fruit and good works that we produce as believers that are either sweet or rotten; the doctrines of our denomination, in most cases, do not determine this, except to the extent we live them out and they are more efficient in fostering growth in Christian virtue.

Note that the first universal evangelical call is,

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”  –Mark 1:15

Before there can be growth in virtue, there must be repentance.  Before growth in belief, repentance.  And, since it is impossible to please God without faith, it is impossible to approach Him without a contrite spirit, with humility and repentance.  This is our part, our leg work, in entering into salvation.

Vice and sin cloud our judgment, so much so that we cannot believe in the Gospel.  In this sense, the gift of faith is truly a gift; it is not something we can choose like we might choose a flavor of ice cream, except, perhaps, to the extent that we are repentant, that we turn out hearts toward God and pursue righteousness and piety.  Of course, this involves knowing Him, for you cannot abide with someone you love if you don’t know them.  Thus, our desire to love Him and others as He has loved us, according to His call, determines our sweetness and our unity within His body.

As plants grow towards light, we should always gravitate towards a greater understanding of truth and the beatific vision. Albeit, God works with each of us uniquely, given our differences of family upbringing, ethnicity, environment, genetics and so forth.  This contributes to the mystery that allows us to practice charity and humility, right now, being unified in His body, in spite of doctrinal differences.

 

Mrs. Clinton vs. Mr. Trump

636008268690117515-clintontrump

Like a boxing match, in this political climate, punches are being thrown… a left hook in the form a past failure, a right uppercut from something said way back when.

Ultimately, one candidate will prevail as the winner; the other will face some degree of humiliation.  Imagine earning such a degree… no university can grant it; what courage these two have, and the many who’ve run the race with them.  Who wants to receive so much attention and be simultaneously loved and hated by so many?

Nonetheless, the punches will only be as strong as the weight “we the people” give them.  Hundreds of punches have been thrown… which will land?  Will they result in a K.O.?

In choosing a candidate, both having failures, as everyone does, though few will ever have them so publicly paraded, which failures indicate an inferior ability to lead?  Setting all the political issues aside, if but for a moment, which candidate has shown the strongest work ethic?  How have they performed in the roles they’ve played?  Looking at their Curriculum Vitae, which one shows the most promise as a potential employee?

While running for office, you can say whatever you want to attract a certain number of voters.  While sizing up these contenders, can you discern whether their motive stems from a true conviction, rooted in some higher principle?  If so, is there one principle that shines forth above the rest?

Is not the primary role of our government to preserve and defend our God given rights… rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Of these three, have they already been arranged in order of importance, providentially?  What exceptions do the candidates make, if any?  If neither defend these rights in total, should the compromise one makes suggest they’re a better candidate than the one who compromises more or dismisses the issue altogether?   If so, what is the principle underlying their decision?  Assuming both candidates desire to defend these rights equally, and in order of importance, do their words match up with their deeds?  If so, what remains to determine the better candidate?

What about their family?  What values are represented?  Is not the family the nucleus of society?  What can we gleam about the character of these candidates based on their family life?  Do they stick to their commitments even when the going gets tough, even in the midst of infidelity?  How do they view the opposite sex with respect to authentic masculinity and femininity?  Do they lead by exemplifying good character?  Are either candidates using or addicted to controlled substances?  Or, do they say or do things suggesting they’re going through periods of euphoria or are out of touch with reality or basic human suffering?  Do they show empathy?

If another war begins, which is best going to rally the allies and persuade the enemy towards peace?  What principles will guide that leader?  Which candidate is going to uphold and defend standards of human decency in the midst warfare?  Is not the use of torture reprehensible?  Has either shown some degree of love for the enemy, a love that might limit the use of dishonorable technology, technologies that can kill with little regard for civilian life or fail to uphold the traditional means through which men gain valor and show courage?

Putting aside all levity, which can you trust?  If you believe that neither are trustworthy, what can you do but pray and work for something better?  Perhaps a new system of government in the United States that replaces the office of the president would be appropriate, a system with greater subsidiarity, where collective votes of several entities from each state determine matters of national importance, in cooperation with Congress and the Supreme Court?

 

Image source:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/06/07/analysis-primaries-clinton-trump-three-tasks-president/85396090/

Reforming Public Education

PublicSchools2

In light of the importance of a good relationship between children and their parents, it makes sense for parents who aren’t able to home school to send their children to schools that teach, or reinforce, that children should honor their parents.  Many religious-oriented schools incorporate this teaching, and in the case of Judaism and Christianity, through the 10 commandments.  In the latter, obedience and respect towards one’s parents are more firmly rooted in the well-articulated knowledge that cultivating such an attitude leads one closer to God and to heaven.

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.
–Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

Public schools, on the other hand, which have gravitated away from teaching that there is a Supreme Being as the cause and center of creation, and towards naturalism, may aspire to, or understand and esteem, the value of teaching children to honor their parents, but lack a framework for instilling such values, at least one that is beyond the naturally evident advantages, i.e. a continued source of food, clothing and shelter.

Generally, public schools serve the public by teaching skills in reading, writing, history, arithmetic, science and applied science / technology, skills that help to prepare a person for a variety of jobs or a trade, such as carpentry or data entry, or even a career, such as a professor, physician or lawyer.  However, with this orientation, education that explores culture and religion, or the classical humanities that assist in the formation of virtue, is weak to non-existent.

Simultaneously, esteem for the vocation of motherhood, whether through teaching resourcefulness, culinary arts or how to best nurture and raise children, as had been the case for women in the early 20th century, is less prevalent today, less appreciated.[1][2] Part of the reason for this change has involved an increasingly strong orientation towards urban lifestyle.

“The smith Hughes vocational act of 1917 pledged federal funds to public school homemaking programs. This vocational act defined homemaking as an unpaid vocation, and for many years, the secondary education homemaking programs receive special funding as a separate line item within the vocational budget. This level of funding allowed for funds to go directly to homemaking programs at the local level with no state reallocation of the money.

…Each renewal of the Smith-Hughes act and subsequent vocational acts brought new mandates for vocational homemaking programs. In the second half of the 20th century, the federal vocational mandates began to recommend and then insist that the home economics and family and consumer sciences programs train students more for careers and less for homemaking. This trend reflected the changes in society and the need for everyone to develop job skills.

As the first decade of the 21st century comes to an end, the new career and technical education act is the Carl Perkins act. In home economics and family and consumer sciences, the curriculum interprets the act by emphasizing career paths and outcomes. The programs continue the trend toward career development and away from homemaking.  Many state curricula utilize the national family and consumer sciences standards developed in 1998.”[3]

Correspondingly, in contrast with an urban lifestyle, the freedom through financial savings that can be realized through living in rural areas, areas where land is fairly inexpensive, are less realized.  Such settings could allow a young family to own a small hobby farm or be part of a cooperative farm.  Environments such as this can aid in contemplation and appreciation for creation and the Creator, environments often less stressful.  Additionally, because it’s generally less expensive to raise a large family in a rural setting, where family values are often stronger, as parents age, children might be more willing and able to care for their parents.  Nonetheless, even if placement in a nursing home is eventually necessary to address advanced caretaking needs, it’s more likely that parents will be able to stay at home longer.  This scenario often helps to alleviate loneliness and depression, a situation that may otherwise explain why antidepressants are currently the second most prescribed class of medications in the US.[4]

Currently, the public education system is permeated with the tenets of naturalism. Naturalism is synonymous with scientism or positivism, belief systems that entail viewing the scientific method as the sole means of understanding and discovering truth and reality.  These systems reject philosophical or religious truth.  This is perhaps because they cannot be verified with repeatability under a microscope, through a telescope, NMR machine, etc.  And yet, such beliefs fail to measure up to their own tenets, as one of the fundamental prerequisites required for such a world view, though rarely articulated, is that rocks, gasses and chemical liquids will eventually organize logically, allowing the formation of life.  Since no such postulate has ever been observed or repeated in a lab, the prevailing counterargument is that one only needs more time, whether millions or billions of years, to make the impossible possible.  Thus, assessment of beliefs or theories in secular schools that challenge the idea of an existence made through apparent scientific impossibilities (something from nothing), and random chance or mutations leading to more sophisticated life forms, i.e. evolution of one species to another through survival of the fittest mechanisms, is absent.

As noted by CreationToday.org,

“Some say the [US] government interceded in the teaching of evolution in the schools because the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik in 1957, and Americans felt threatened that the United States might lose the race into space.  It was thought that the Soviets were teaching more math and science, including evolution (considered “science”), to further their space program and other technology.  The reaction was to load up the number of words on evolution in the textbooks; after 1963, the amount of content declined due to no new information available on the topic –typical of a knee-jerk reaction—lots of bluster at first, fizzling down to nothing!

Dr. Kent Hovind of Creation Science Evangelism, a former science teacher for 15 years, author and developer of numerous YouTube videos, says in his Creation Seminar:

Evolution believes that these five major events took place without God:

  1. Time, space and matter came into existence by themselves
  2. Planets and stars formed from space dust
  3. Matter created life by itself
  4. Early life forms learned to reproduce themselves
  5. Major changes occurred between these diverse life forms (i.e., fish changed to amphibians, amphibians changed to reptiles, and reptiles changed to birds and mammals).[5]

Arguably, those who are exposed exclusively to the teachings of naturalism, are robbed of opportunities to explore other explanations behind reality and the origins of life.  Sadly, when those so sheltered are exposed to knowledge surrounding the Word made Flesh, which probably occurs for most around Christmas and Easter, that time of year when most of the world celebrates Him who was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, they’re more inclined to conclude they’ve encountered a myth, not accepting or understanding that our reality remains mysterious, i.e. matter doesn’t originate from nothing, nor does it organize itself logically into living things of its own accord, even if given trillions times exponentially trillions of years.

Consider the following insights given by Fr. Charles Arminjon, author of “The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life,” a book described by St. Theresa of Lisieux, a.k.a. “The Little Flower,” as “…one of the greatest graces of my life.”:

The materialistic, atheistic science of our century, the sort that is propagated in magazines, taught from most official rostrums, and given credence by the mainstream of present-day anti-Christian opinion, persists in regarding the order and perfection of the universe merely as a result of chance. It affirms that matter is eternal… Denying creation, it could not logically admit that the world can have an end. According to this false science, the present universe will always subsist, or, if it becomes progressively better, this will be solely through the effect of man’s genius, the increasing impulse given to the arts and industrial achievements, the varied combination and play of fluids and elements, decomposing and reconstituting themselves to give birth to new forms – in short, by the application and activation of the innumerable and still unknown forces that nature conceals in her bosom; forces that, by themselves, are capable of surging forward into limitless and indefinite growth; and, just as the worm, in perfecting itself, turned into a quadruped, from quadruped to two-footed creature, from two footed creature to man, in the same way, man, with the aid of science, will one day attain the pinnacle of his sovereignty. He will conquer time and space, make himself wings in order to propel himself toward the stars, and explore the wonders of the constellations. In the eyes of the atheistic science, paradise and eternal life, as conceived by Christians, are an allegory and a myth. Progress is the last end, the law and foundation of the life of man, the final point and aim where all his thoughts and aspirations should converge. Let man courageously cast aside the bonds and darkness of superstition and of oppressive outdated beliefs; let him have faith in himself alone, and, in a more or less proximate future, he will be invested within unlimited, unrestrained kingship over the elements and creation.

If a person is free to believe in naturalism, they should also be free to believe the counterargument, i.e. Intelligent Design.  And yet, how can they believe that if they’re taught nothing about it?  Thus, there is an injustice taking place in our public education system.

Truly, life is the most sophisticated example of organized matter; human beings are the apex of that logical organization –made in the image of God.  Perhaps the second best example is a computer; everyone knows computers don’t assemble themselves.

Interestingly, naturalism is the predominant world view enshrined in Freemasonry, as discussed by Bro. Charles Madden in “Freemasonry: Mankind’s Hidden Enemy.”[6]  The philosophic orientation of freemasonry, of naturalism, views all religions as man-made, which in the case of Christianity, more readily implies that the Word, or Logos, never became flesh in a literal and tangible way in the person of Jesus, the Christ.  Therefore, naturalism is consistent with the spirit of the anti-Christ, i.e. the Logos never became flesh and blood.  This spirit is alive and well in today’s secular schools.

Consider now the First Amendment of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” [7]

Has this not been reversed in that access to knowledge of the Word made Flesh is absent?

The first amendment was intended to prevent the state from recognizing any denomination as superior to another, i.e. the establishment clause, which was primarily in response to the marriage of church and state found in Great Britain through Anglicanism.  Moreover, it was intended to preserve the free exercise of faith, i.e. the free exercise clause, unless such expression causes harm to another person.

The separation of church and state is a phrase that has been taken out of context and often used to justify exclusion of faith-based cultural activities in functions or activities that are in some way associated with government.  We can find the phrase in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, where he responded to a concerned Baptist minister, assuring him that no infringement by the state would occur towards his freedom of worship, stating there is a “wall of separation between church and state.” [8]

Arguably, public schools, as institutions of education, are representative of places where a person can explore ideas and evaluate their validity.  The deliberate exclusion of religious activities and access to religious knowledge at public schools is not supported by the constitution, but, as stated earlier, is an injustice, especially to those who, as loyal tax payers, desire that their children have access to such knowledge.  Such access violates neither the establishment clause, providing a fair presentation of religious faiths or denominations, and their associated teachings, are available, nor the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, providing students and teachers are free to exercise their faith through prayer and worship.  Conversely, prohibiting students from praying at school would violate the free exercise clause, providing such prayers do not disrupt other students while in class or studying.

Since Sacred Scripture, i.e. the fullness of revelation, as completed in the New Testament, which was the most influential religious text in the minds of the Founding Fathers,[9] does not support violence as a means to an end, but does support separation of church and state as institutions, though not necessarily as positive sources of influence towards one another, e.g. instilment of moral values and protection of human rights, it should be easy to recognize its preeminence in the classroom, not only because the majority of tax payers approve it, but because it helps establish the framework for inalienable human rights, rights endowed by a Creator, the foundation for the Declaration of Independence.

Sadly, legislative changes have slowly resulted in the federal government prohibiting the rights of individuals and the state.  For example, in a case before the Supreme Court in 1947, Everson vs. Board of Education, the court ruled,

“The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between Church and State, that wall must be kept high and impregnable.  We could not approve the slightest breech.”

Again, a wall of separation between Church and State was never stated or implied in the First Amendment of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.  However, the Federal government has an implied obligation to preserve the Union.  This obligation surfaced most notably when the federal government overrode the legislative activities of southern states after the Civil War.  As Tim Staples discusses in his DVD, “Catholics and the Culture War,” ‘the 13th Amendment was not sufficient to prohibit southern states from passing laws that denied emancipated slaves certain rights, including property ownership.’ [10]  Therefore, the 14th Amendment was passed, stating,

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”[11]

This executive function set a precedent for the federal government in overriding state laws.  However, when such power is exercised, it suggests a superior role of the federal government in establishing the laws, and potentially, the culture of a state, thus concentrating power.  Nonetheless, when federal laws or mandates impede the expression of religious faith, the federal government, in accordance with the 1st Amendment, and Divine Law, oversteps its jurisdiction, unless however, such expression results in harm to another.

Perhaps the best examples of the federal government overstepping its jurisdiction occurred when the Affordable Care Act, containing the HHS Mandate, was upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional on June 27th, 2012. This HHS Mandate requires that those who believe in the sacredness of life from the moment of conception, a potentially religious belief, should abandon that belief in order to comply with the mandate, thereby providing products or services that result in the termination of a pregnancy.  Arguably, this is not providing healthcare in the form of saving human life, but rather, is complicit in destroying it.  Thankfully, after a myriad of legal battles, the ability of some businesses and non-profit organizations to uphold such a belief while operating their business or organization, has been restored.

If Christian values are the foundation of western culture, as argued by Harvard professor Christopher Dawson in his book, “The Crises of Western Education,” how can that culture triumph over naturalism unless there is freedom to learn Christian values, especially during an adolescent age, when the formation and practice of virtue is so important?

In discussing a second renaissance that took place in the Italian cities of the mid-15th century, which resembled the city states of ancient Greece in their intense political life, artistic impulse and keenness of intellectual interests, Dawson writes,

“Hellenism brought back into higher education the aesthetic and moral elements which had been lost in the scientific disputations of the schoolman, although it survived on the vernacular level in the courtly culture.  Now the humanists learnt from Xonephon and Plato and Isocrates that education was an art which should aim at the harmonious development of every side of human nature, physical, moral and intellectual. Thus they gained an awareness of the unlimited possibilities of the enrichment of personal life by art and literature and social intercourse.

It was in the light of these ideas that the tradition of humanist education developed, and for more than a century from the beginning of the 15th century to the middle of the 16th, there was more thinking and writing on educational subjects and then at any time since the great age of Hellenic culture.  But though this movement was inspired by an intense devotion to classical culture it was not conscious of any disloyalty to the Christian tradition. The great humanist educators, like Leonardo Bruni, Guarino of Verona, Vittorino da Feltre, P. P. Vergerio and Mafio Vegio were themselves devout Christians who wished to unite the intellectual and aesthetic culture of Hellenism with the spiritual ideals of Christianity. This Christian aspect of the Renaissance culture has been seriously underestimated by the 19th-century historians of Renaissance culture, and especially by the greatest of them, Jacob Burckhardt, and this has evoked a somewhat exaggerated reaction on the part of modern writers like Conrad Burdock and G. Toffanin.

Perhaps the most moderate and just statement is that of an English educationalist scholar, the late W. H. Woodward, who made a special study of the educational aspects of humanism. “It cannot be too strongly affirmed,” he writes, “that a close acquaintance with the actual work of Vittorino and Guarino, and with the aims of Vergerius and Vegio, reveals a sincerity of religious conviction which permeates all their educational practice. Vittorino’s great achievement was to affect a reconciliation between the Christian life and humanist ideals; in this he was followed by other masters, though rarely with the same unfaltering consistency.  It is a fair description of the motive underlying Vittorino’s method that he regarded Humanist education as the training for Christian citizenship. He himself took a leading part in the religious teaching of the school; and by addresses, by private conversations, and above all by his own example, he brought the full force of his personal character to bear upon his pupils in the critical years of their life. He expressly encouraged a sense of responsibility towards the poor and suffering and never forgot his civic obligation, and its religious sanction.” [12]

Again, as stated earlier, since Sacred Scripture, i.e. the fullness of revelation, as completed in the New Testament, which was the most influential religious text in the minds of the Founding Fathers,[13] does not support violence as a means to an end, but does support separation of church and state as institutions, though not necessarily as positive sources of influence toward one another, e.g. instilment of moral values and protection of human rights, it should be easy to recognize its preeminence in the classroom, not only because the majority of tax payers approve it, but because it helps establish the framework for inalienable human rights, rights endowed by a Creator, the foundation for the Declaration of Independence.

In the Introduction to Dawson’s work, Glen W. Olson writes,

“The American fourth, contemporary, age, has more realized the idea of higher education for all that has any country in the world. Although an elite system of education can resist conforming to the society around it, a democratic system cannot, and in the American context inevitably education became oriented toward technology and vocationalism. Dawson thought a great question looming over his fourth, cosmopolitan, urban, age was whether America could continue to develop in that direction it had been, with urban life ever more separated from rural, and this urban life exorbitantly consuming natural resources in a life of “luxury for all.”  Could a land in which autonomy and freedom are chief virtues, take up the burdens of history and see itself as, like all the others, implicated in Original Sin?[14]

…Dawson saw the study of Christian culture to be primarily sociological and historical in character and does not equate it with reading a list of Christian classics, though such would be read. The goal is to understand the process by which a culture and its institutions are built-up.[15]

…Dawson insisted that the function of any educational system was to create a common world of moral and intellectual values, a common memory which helped a given culture maintain itself.  To say that such a common educational tradition has no larger disappeared is to say that our culture is under threat of dissolution. What is today called multiculturalism, that is, the idea that a society can be built around a plurality of cultures, with no single one of them dominating, presumably for Dawson would be a prescription for cultural disintegration, and one question is whether in any respect he would be wrong.”[16]

The Christian faith is self-affirming.  Thus, when we come to accept that God as love, such belief empowers us as individuals, enabling us to accept suffering for its redemptive value, as love often involves sacrifice and suffering, helping us to forgive, helping to create a society where the intrinsic rights of others are respected and preserved.  Conversely, accepting that we cannot control the laws of nature in our ordinary human state of being, no one wants to serve a master who is inconsistent, who kills others or takes from them according to whim or caprice.  In fact, few would esteem, let alone adore such a master unless forced to do so out of fear of punishment or death.  Rather, we want a master who is merciful, so that when we do something wrong, we can hope for their patience and understanding rather than severe punishment, though such may be appropriate.

Therefore, any nation that has freedom of religion whereby the Christian faith may be freely taught about, is a nation that puts the individual needs of its people first, endowing its people with a self-affirming faith.  In contrast, a “me-first” nation, which does not allow freedom of religion so that Christianity may be freely taught, has become so, given this age of technology, as a result of previous leaders who sought to suppress Christian missionaries due to concerns about losing their position in society.  For example, consider a society steeped in belief in a caste system, where those who have much are believed to have been favored and deserving of what they have while those who are poor or infirmed deserve to be, and nothing should be done to change their state because they’ve done something to deserve it.  To teach Christianity is to empower every person as a child of God who is loved, loved by a merciful parent who regularly forgives wrongdoing, who is no more or less deserving than another to enjoy good things, to have opportunity… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness / right to own property.  Moreover, to be a Christian means to strive towards the ideal to put others before oneself, to ensure that their needs have been met even before oneself.  In this sense, you can begin to understand why many nations oppose freedom of religion with respect to Christianity –those in positions of power stand to suffer greater loss, whether the strain of a guilty conscience or perhaps the uprising of people in the face of gross injustices committed against basic human rights.  However, if Christianity cannot be freely taught, and human rights are not violated, the people of a given nation are not as likely to revolt, not knowing what they are missing, perhaps accepting that the material universe is all that is real, though often confronted with spiritual realities and interpersonal connections that point to the existence of the soul, realities that that don’t make sense if everything is simply material, guided by chance.

With regards to freedom to teach religion in public schools, no religion should be suppressed if a sufficient number of parent’s desire to have such material taught to their children, providing such a religion does not inspire bias or hatred of others, especially through ignorance or unfounded prejudice.  However, since America’s cultural heritage rests with the Christian faith, it is fitting that the availablility to learn about Salvation History from a Judeo-Christian perspective is available at every school.  In this way, it helps to balance truth when “truth” has been maligned through various heresies, i.e. half-truths about God, about Him being love.  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also.”

And yet, no child should be forced to learn these truths, rather, it would be a voluntary choice.   Furthermore, no parent should be able to prevent his or her child from learning about Christianity while attending a public school in a nation such as America, a nation that can attribute its values and cultural heritage to this God of love.

Currently, in modern secular schools, instead of exploring and potentially accepting the truth of the Word made Flesh, the one event in western history that has overshadowed the definition of western history itself, i.e. B.C. to A.D., it’s treated as a kind of fable, on the same plane as unicorns and fairies.  And yet, St. Peter addresses this reductionist tendency directly when he states,

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  –2nd Peter 1:16-21

Because of the influence of naturalism in America, public schools fail to teach or explore the existence of an eternal human soul, as Plato taught.[17]  This situation is in spite of evidence supporting an afterlife, evidence that has been well documented through “near-death” experiences, experiences which involve clinical death for a period of time.  During these times of clinical death, i.e. no pulse or signs of brain activity, a person is “separated” from their body.  After those who’ve had these experiences have been resuscitated, they’re able to describe things they’d have no way of knowing, e.g. characteristics of things in other rooms of the hospital or someone who’s blind being able to describe what it’s like to see for the first time.  Fr. Robert Spitzer, author of “New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions from Contemporary Physics and Philosophy,” has done an excellent job compiling research of near death experiences, research conducted by MD’s and Ph.D.’s, and sharing it on his website: Magiscenter.com.[18]

Likewise, because of the influence of naturalism in public schools, there is no presentation of evidence supporting an “Unmoved Mover,” as Aristotle taught [19], a.k.a. Intelligent Designer or Creator, regardless of whether the majority of tax payers supporting such schools believe there is a Creator, believing that reality more than one suggesting a purely random existence arising by and through itself.

Furthermore, even though the cellular machinery necessary for a fully functioning organism can’t come together of its own accord, especially with the level of informational organization contained in RNA/DNA, as has been eloquently discussed by Stephen Meyer in his book, “Signature in the Cell,”[20] little room is given for young adults to explore the reality of a Creator.  Correspondingly, many children in these environments lack motivation for learning, as well as skills for the cultivation for virtue, which could lead to eternal life, because much of what they learn fails to stretch beyond natural limits.  Moreover, what is the point of prayer if all that is real is what I can directly observe or see?

Public schools have little basis for teaching the principle that one should honor their parents because they’re not able to teach it in the greater context of Salvation History.  Thus, young minds aren’t as likely to embrace such a principle, minds so often occupied by mainstream cultural influences and a variety of entertainment options.  Furthermore, the false conflict between faith and science taints the perceived value of faith, leading to poor intellectual formation.  Conversely,

“The top three scientists of the modern era, Newton, Maxwell and Einstein, all said the reason they did physics was to get to the beauty and intelligibility of God.”[21]

Other notable scientists who believed in God include Nicholas Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel, William Thomson Kelvin and Max Planck.[22]

Conversely, with scientism can come an attitude of arrogance, of being stubborn and unteachable in other areas, such as philosophic or religious truth.  And yet, Jesus taught about the tendency to become intellectually prideful when associating the inquisitive and teachable nature of children with greatness,

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

However, the coed environment of public schools can inhibit mental concentration, a result of sexual tensions between adolescent men and women.  Coed classes can also negate a healthy respect for vocational differences, i.e. motherhood.  This latter orientation can undermine homemaking skills for women, skills leading to the noble and worthy vocation of motherhood.  Similarly, public education systems have no collective or cultural basis for esteeming motherhood and the sanctity of marriage.  Therefore, during the transformation from adolescence to adulthood, public schools are often left promoting sexual experimentation conjoined with contraception, whether through direct encouragement or an absence of morally sound teaching on the nuptial meaning of the body concerning the nature of man and women, especially with reference to the Creator’s plan for marriage and family and how it correlates with Christ and His Bride, namely the Church, as has been eloquently discussed by St. Pope John Paul in “Theology of the Body.”[23]  Additionally, Richard Wetzel, M.D., has done an excellent job of discussing the importance of sex education in light of traditional wisdom through his book, “Sexual Wisdom: A Guide for Parents, Young Adults, Educators and Physicians.”[24]

With respect to direct encouragement, “sex education” often contributes to viewing the use of contraception as a cultural norm, paying little if any attention to the 9% typical use failure rate of hormonal contraception and its close correlation with the number of abortions occurring each year, e.g. as estimated 971,032 “unwanted” children conceived in 2010[25] based on a typical use failure rate of 9%, with 765,651 medical and surgical abortions reported that same year to the CDC,[26] not to mention the social and psychological risks of premarital sex, as thoroughly discussed by Dr. Wetzel.

Truly, showing respect for one’s parents can help one learn how to show respect for others who are older or in positions of authority.  Such a practice fosters an attitude of humility, a virtue most often enacted through child-parent relationships, a virtue essential for family life and success in the job market.  Moreover, once a person learns to practice humility, they can more easily orient themselves towards the humility that God desires when we place ourselves in His presence during prayer and worship.

The practice of humility, indeed such an education, first begins in the home.  Disciplinary measures enacted by a parent, whether through time-outs or swats on the butt, which are more likely for boys than girls, help to correct what is lacking in a positive attitude towards obedience that would prevent the need for discipline in the first place.  Unfortunately, todays schools often have little means for discipline when parents do not themselves discipline their children.  As a child, I knew that if I misbehaved while in elementary school, the principle, Mr. Mosly, would dish out a few swats on my rear with his wooden paddle.

In difficult cases of misbehavior, children are often sent home.  When this occurs, without parental correction, little growth, if any, will arise.  Rather, such an outcome can simply lead to a child having more free time, suggesting that misbehavior that leads to suspension from school is a simple solution to not wanting to go to school in the first place, making it all the more likely that the child will drop out.  When a parent neglects to discipline their child, it makes sense that the community, through the social institutions in place, can help do so, helping to prevent other reactive forms of discipline, e.g. incarceration.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
–Frederick Douglass

For the child who learns to love God, reinforcement for cultivating a positive attitude towards honoring one’s parents often takes place during prayer.  This kind of prayer serves as an excellent example of our free will in practice, as well as the execution of reason, two of the sweetest gifts God has given mankind –Free Will because true prayer is more often internal and private, and Reason because a child more readily understands that living in harmony with their parent(s) is better than living at odds, unless there is clear misconduct on the part of the parent.

Prayer is often the leg-work involved with embracing the right attitude, not to mention the help that such prayer results in when heard by those heavenly resources from whom grace is requested!  Sweet Jesus, may your reality become mine!

Accordingly, if a public school in a free, and predominantly Christ-centered, town, city, county, state, or nation, teaches that God and love are synonymous, even though proof of love does not exist (and therefore cannot be taught through naturalism), at least not concretely, i.e. only through its absence, e.g. in children who are purposefully neglected, it would be easier to teach children to honor their parents through the 10 Commandments, since they’re oriented towards love, towards peace and harmony.  Accordingly, St. John informs us, “God is love.”

Perhaps the best example of this love occurs when we cultivate love for our enemies.

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
–Matthew 5:43-48

A child who learns to practice humility can more readily see the value of obedience and discipline.   Such a child is more likely to succeed in life and more likely to find true love, even God’s sacrificial, agapic love!

Arguably, children who do not have loving parents are best provided for through an orphanage where holy men and women act as family members, where they already go by the name Brother or Sister, Father or Mother.  However, the state seems to have taken over the care of children.  Thus, when these services are organized through the state, where the primary incentive for employees can be seen as a paycheck, though certainly that is not always the case, children are more likely to be neglected in receiving the kind of love they’re made for, i.e. to share and develop in families, even, in light of the teachings of the Christian faith, in the Body of Christ.

Imagine how many more men and women might answer a call to Religious Life if they knew they’d have the privilege of spending a significant amount of their time with children, who are naturally so wonderful they can warm the coldest heart or transform the intellect of a steadfast atheist, as was the case for Jennifer Fulwiler, author of “Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It!”[27]

 

 

[1] Hilary Dowdle.  “Bring Back Home Economics in Schools! Cooking and nutrition skills are crucial to a happy, healthy life. So why don’t schools teach them?”  Cookinglight.com.  http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/school-home-economics

[2] Arlene D. Holzman.  “What’s Taught in Schools”  The New York Times.  12 September 1982.  Online.

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/09/12/nyregion/l-what-s-taught-in-schools-144650.html    (Last accessed 1/21/16)

[3] Kridgel, Craig.  Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2010. Print.  (pg. 370)

[4] Kathlyn Stone.  “The Most Prescribed Medications by Drug Class.  About.com.  16 December 2014
http://pharma.about.com/od/Sales_and_Marketing/a/The-Most-Prescribed-Medications-By-Drug-Class.htm  (Last

accessed

[5] Eric Hovind, et al. “Teaching Evolution: Indoctrination as Education.”  Creation Today.  CreationToday.org.
8 September 2010.  http://creationtoday.org/teaching-evolution-indoctrination-as-education/

[6] Madden, Charles.  Freemasonry: Mankind’s Hidden Enemy. Rockford, Il. Tan Books and Publishers, 1995. Print. (pg. 3)

[7] “The Constitution of the United States,” Amendment 1.

[8] The American Heritage Series with Historian David Barton. David Barton. Aledo: Bridgestone.  29 June 2009.  DVD.  Disc 4: Church, State & The Real 1st Amendment.

[9] The American Heritage Series with Historian David Barton. David Barton. Aledo: Bridgestone.  29 June 2009.  DVD.  Disc 2: The Faith of our Founding Fathers.

[10] Staples, Tim.  Catholics and the Culture War.  San Diego: Catholic Answers. 2012. DVD.

[11] “The Constitution of the United States,” Amendment 14, Section 1.

[12] Dawson, Christopher.  The Crises of Western Education.  New York: Sheed and Ward, 1961. Print. p.24-35

[13] Ibid. Disc 2: The Faith of our Founding Fathers.

[14] Ibid. p. xv

[15] Ibid. p. xvii

[16] Ibid. p. xix

[17] Wikipedia contributors.  Phaedo. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.  26, December 2015.  https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Phaedo&oldid=696920669

[18] Fr. Robert Spitzer.  Life After Death and Near Death Expericnes.  Magis Center.  http://www.magiscenter.com/life-after-death-and-near-death-experiences  (Last accessed 1-23-16)

[19] Wikipedia contributors.  Unmoved Mover.  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.  8, January 2016.  https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Unmoved_mover&oldid=698774320

[20] Meyer, Stephen.  Signature in the Cell.  New York: HarperCollins Publishers.  23 June 2009.

[21] EWTN News, 11 February 2016. Interview with Anthony Rizzi circumscribing the discovery of gravity waves.  Broadcast.

[22] Famous Scientists Who Believed in God.  God and Science.  Online.  http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html

[23] John Paul II.  The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan.  Boston: Pauline Books & Media. 1997. Print

[24] Wetzel, Richard, MD.  Sexual Wisdom: A Guide for Parents, Young Adults, Educators and Physicians.  Huntington Beach: Sex Education for Advanced Beginners.  1998.  Print.

[25] Life is Sacred.  LifeisSacred.net  2010 Breast Cancer Incidence per Year per Age Group with Respect to OC Usage.  29 September 15.  Online.  http://lifeissacred.net/2010-breast-cancer-incidence-per-year-per-age-group-with-respect-to-oral-contraceptive-use-9-29-15.pdf   (Last accessed 1-23-16)

[26] Pazol, Karen, et al.  Abortion Surveillance –United States, 2010.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  29 November 2013.  Online.  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6208a1.htm

[27] Fulwiler, Jennifer.  “Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It!    Ignatius Press.  29 April 2014.  Print.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑