Category Archives: Culture of Life

The Culture of Death is alive & well

I am in training to be a hospice volunteer here in Madison in a secular hospice, but there are Catholics and others in need served by this hospice. And, I can tell you, based on our in-class discussions, the Culture of Death is alive and well. Kyrie Eleison.

What a dark place emotionally and spiritually, but what a beautiful facility! Only the BEST money can buy!  What a Hell of hopelessness! My secular classmates laugh heartily at the notion of not having been near or in a church in decades.  Whistling (or, laughing) past the graveyard?  

They dismiss and poo-poo my polite, respectful encouragements towards the dignity of human life, at all stages, in all cases, even as the corpses, literally, and family members of the deceased process past us?  It is a policy in this hospice, the procession of the dead, in respectful silence.  NO “Jesus talk”, obviously, but we Mcs of a certain persuasion smell Catholic, now don’t we? 1600 years, so far. Not a bad run, huh. Deo gratias.

My classmates insist on their own selfishness, literally, to want to die, to speed death, to hasten the end, anything but suffering, even as a, maybe the most powerful, lasting witness to the still living.  They suggest as rhetorical the exercise question, “I want to die!” Really? My first impression to this statement would never be to interpret such a query as rhetorical? Answering a question with a question is, generally, considered rude, unless you’re Irish, except here it is recommended practice for patients. The mental gymnastics, the fraud, really, the lying, logical dishonesty they propose to justify their supposed positions leaves the Christian mind boggled and dismayed.

The training materials contrast spirituality with religion. They clearly state religion is man-made. I wonder how God feels about that? And spirituality is the cool, right, natural choice. In fact it sounds like good old pagan Animism to me. Judging is never ok? Not even when a DUI blows a red light in a busy intersection? No, right judgment is a requirement of living, a life-skill in all areas of life, deciding aright, every day, consistently; and, hence, the need, the absolute requirement for a well-formed, and informed conscience. It’s dismissal is superficial, logical fraud, when too, too convenient. Dishonest. Their intellectual incoherence gives me a headache. The word “chaplain” has been banned from this institution’s vocabulary. Instead, there are “Grief Counselors”. I prefer “Joy Messengers”, myself, as in Easter joy.

I understand the natural aversion to suffering, truly.  It is hard to be in this environment as a believer in the Resurrection, literally; as an Easter-man.  But, I am certain this is EXACTLY where I am supposed to be, no matter the cost.

The term “culture of death” is frequently tossed around in Catholic conversation. It has such a striking sound to it and describes so succinctly the attitudes of secular culture, that it has been picked up and used by the general population in recent years. While we may use the term and feel confident that it conveys our thoughts, we should pause a minute and define what the term actually encompasses.

Where did the Term “Culture of Death” Originate?

The actual term “Culture of Death” first entered common use after Pope John Paul II mentioned it several times in the 1993 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae. Evangelium Vitae was one of the timeliest and influential writings John Paul II produced during his pontificate. Evangelium Vitae is Latin for “the Gospel of Life”. In this encyclical, John Paul II wrote about the intrinsic value of every human life, which must be welcomed and loved from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Here is a quote from this great encyclical:

“This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

John Paul II may have developed the phrases “Culture of Life” and “Culture of Death” from the Didache, a first or second century text of the Church. The Didache explains the “Way of Life” and the “Way of Death”.

What does “Culture of Death” Mean?

The Culture of Death is a very broad term, which describes evil behavior. In the Old Testament, the pagan neighbors of the Israelites constantly, ritually sacrificed their own children. Sound familiar? It goes beyond the mere evil acts, however. In the deepest sense, it describes the attraction our culture has with sin, lust, and death; similar to the blood-lust of the ancient Romans, no? Our culture not only permits, but promotes abortion, euthanasia, murder, revenge, suicide (assisted or otherwise), war, capital punishment, contraception, human cloning, human sterilization, embryonic stem cell and fetal research, In Vitro Fertilization, homosexuality, promiscuity, infidelity, and divorce.

These proclivities lead to the destruction of life and its natural origins; the family. They devalue human life, leading to an explosion of all types of sins. When we do not value human life, we do not value people. This leads us to sin by harming ourselves and others since we do not see the face of God in others. Here is what the Didache says about the “Way of Death”:

“And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and full of curse: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rapines, false witnessings, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing requital, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him that made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him that is in want, afflicting him that is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these.”

Love, & unswerving commitment to LIFE, always! No matter the cost!
Matthew

Sexual orientation & gender identity: what does the science say?

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“Washington D.C., Aug 27, 2016 / 07:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For most young people who experience feelings of gender dysphoria, the experience is in fact temporary, and a non-heterosexual orientation is not as fixed as sometimes claimed, a new overview of the relevant research says.

“Only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood,” said the report, published in The New Atlantis Journal.

As many as 80 percent of men who reported same-sex attraction as adolescents no longer do so as adults. There were “similar but less striking” results for women. The idea of innate sexual orientation is “not supported by scientific evidence,” the report said.

Titled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” the report reviews various research studies to examine claims about sexuality and gender.

It was authored by Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, Ph.D., a biostatistician and epidemiologist now a scholar in residence at Johns Hopkins University; and by Dr. Paul R. McHugh, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University.
The report considers various claims like the basis and permanence of gender identity and sexual orientation.

It found there is a lack of scientific evidence for claims that gender identity is an innate property “independent of biological sex.” Scientific evidence also does not support claims that a person might be “a man trapped in a woman’s body.”

Gender identity problems can arise for someone with Intersex conditions, where a person has ambiguous biological sex due to genetic abnormalities.

However, brain structure comparison of transgender and non-transgender individuals show only “weak correlations” between brain structure and cross-gender identification. These correlations are not evidence that this identity has a basis in the biology of the brain.

Similarly, sexual orientation’s neurological basis can be overstated. Against the “born that way” claim, the report authors write: “While there is evidence that biological factors such as genes and hormones are associated with sexual behaviors and attractions, there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation.”

The report also considered sexuality, mental health, and social factors.

Non-heterosexuals are two to three times as likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

The authors weighed the evidence that non-heterosexual attractions, desires and behaviors may increase the risk of suffering sex abuse, or that sexual abuse may cause non-heterosexual attractions, desires and behaviors. They said that more research is needed before claiming a link between sex abuse and non-heterosexual attractions.

Non-heterosexuals do face elevated risk of adverse health and mental health outcomes. They are estimated to have a 1.5 times higher risk of anxiety and substance abuse than the heterosexual population. They face double the risk of depression and 2.5 times higher risk of suicide.

The transgender population, recently estimated to make up 0.6 percent of the total population, suffers a lifetime suicide attempt rate of 41 percent, compared to 5 percent of the overall population.
There is “limited, inconsistent and incomplete” evidence that social stressors like discrimination and stigma “contribute to the elevated risk of poor mental health outcomes for non-heterosexual and transgender populations.”

The report said clinicians and policymakers should not assume that models focused on social stressors offer a complete explanation for these health differences.

“Just as it does a disservice to non-heterosexual subpopulations to ignore or downplay the statistically higher risks of negative mental health outcomes they face, so it does them a disservice to misattribute the causes of these elevated risks, or to ignore other potential factors that may be at work.”

Adults who undergo sex reassignment surgeries continue to show a high risk in mental health, being about 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and 19 times more likely to die by suicide compared to a control group.

Regarding therapies for children that delay puberty or modify sex characteristics of adolescents, there is “little scientific evidence” for their therapeutic value, the report said.

At the same time, “some children may have improved psychological well-being if they are encouraged and supported in their cross-gender identification.”

“There is no evidence that all children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior should be encouraged to become transgender,” the report added.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Holy Week: loving life as Jesus does…

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-by Nic Davidson and his wife joined the Church in ’08 after growing up in the Assemblies of God.

“I love life.

I enjoy being alive. I am not oblivious to the great gifts that God and others have given me. At least once a day, I get a small wave of giddiness at being allowed to receive the next breath or do some mundane act. So, I do love life.

I just wish I loved it more.

I rarely appreciate the magnitude of existing. I have so forgotten what a singular privilege it is to have a heartbeat that I let my heart settle. I settle down, like silt. I settle for less–less than I was made for. I settle scores–scores and scores of wrongdoings. I receive 23,000 breaths a day, all gifts, all miracles of biology, physics, and spirit, and what do I do with them? Occasionally, something true, good, and beautiful, but most often, something drab, gray, and short-tempered, aimed at the ones I’m supposed to love.

I love others.

I love my family, of course, and I also love to encounter a new face on a plane as we’re forced to cram our cramped thighs down next to each other for two hours. I often can’t help but grin like a fool at a random passerby, just because I catch a glimpse of his or her grandeur. So, I do love others.

I just wish I loved them more.

I do love them enough to care about the wrongs and ills that plague them–abortion, euthanasia, war, sex slavery, porn, divorce, refugees, and abuse; but I want to love them more, enough to care about their taxes, best friends, worst enemies, “likes,” and “unfriends.” I want to care about the gas station attendant more than I care about getting home to relax or moving on to the next thing.

I love this point in my life.

I am thankful for the endless times God’s hand–sometimes seen, sometimes unseen–has slalomed me through my days in order to bring me to this moment, complete with a family that loves me and a job that energizes me. I can’t think of any other time in my life that I would want to trade out for this one. So, I do love my “now”.

I just wish I loved it more.

I wish I were sublimely glad that I’m here on this planet, so my weeks and years could avoid boiling down to wishing I were elsewhere. I forget how to receive my minutes as a gift, so I feel cheated and wounded when someone takes an extra second of “my” time. I forget how to give, so everything feels like taking.

All said and done, I wish I were more like Christ. I wish I could encounter each person with the firm care that He does. Jesus, our Lover and our Leader, experienced the entire spectrum of human emotion, intellect, and will, and throughout each second, He loved. Every time He reprimanded someone or pushed their table over or was angry, He was, with each breath and each action, still deeply and eternally in love with that soul, still as compassionate as the times He healed, encouraged, and brought back to life.

I want to love and live like that.

I want to get angry at people in the right way, because I am, first, in love with them like Christ is in love with them. I want to see that they are good beings, so that I can truly look out for their well-being. I want to see the light of God within them to the point that I almost have to squint.

I want to love life so much that I’m willing to die.

I want to hold human existence in high enough esteem that I see the beauty and power in setting it down as a gift for others. I don’t want to be so busy saying “this is mine” that I miss out on the joy in saying “I got this for you.” I want to see and believe that loving someone else will always entail carrying them, but that it’s less like the weight of an unwanted hitchhiker and much and much more like giving a piggyback ride to a child or the weight of a spouse in the marriage bed.

In fact, the weight of human life is always, always good, even if it means nails, thorns, and tombs. Why? Because the pain brings redemption, the wounds turn to scars, and the tomb remains empty!

So, maybe I don’t love enough.

I don’t love the fact that life exists. I don’t love myself or others the way I was made to. I might not, at this moment, be climbing the heights of love that I was created for, but I do know that it was His love that brought me safe thus-far and that if He begins something, He’s faithful to complete it. In fact, that’s the beautiful message of this gospel of life (evangelium vitae)–that our seemingly feeble attempts at love, our lackluster stutter steps not only make Him proud, but that His strength is most evident in my weakness.

I may run slowly, but it will always be His mercy that finishes the race.”

Love, and loving life! His will be done! His Kingdom come!
Matthew

Psychiatry & Catholicism: Part 4, The Sanctity of Life

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2280 Everyone is responsible for his/her life before God Who has given it to them. It is God Who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for His honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of. (2258)

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. (2212)

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. (1735)

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. (1037)

-Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2000, (2nd Ed., p. 550). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

We commend them, all the departed, and ourselves to the infinite mercy of God.

“A sense of God as the creator and author of life is necessary for understanding and appreciating these doctrines and moral teachings. The Catechism begins this section with an affirmation of our responsibility before God for our own life, which is a gift from God. This responsibility is grounded in our human freedom, another gift we have been given as rational, spiritual creatures. Our happiness and salvation hinge on the good use of our freedom. In order to be saved and to become holy, we must respond to and cooperate with sanctifying grace. We freely act as stewards, not as full owners or dispensers, of the life God has entrusted to us. To attempt to dispose with this life on our own terms is to act wrongly and irresponsibly, as though God did not create or redeem us.

By faith in God’s revelation, we know that we are persons created in His image and likeness. Even apart from the supernatural gift of faith, our human reason can perceive that God is the source of life and that we have a natural inclination to preserve and perpetuate our own life. This universal human inclination is inscribed in our biological constitution: the fundamental will to survival underlies many features of human psychology and be-havior. One feature that indicates how serious and unhealthy severe depression can be is the fact that it so often inclines a person toward suicide — an objectively disordered, unnatural, and irrational act. Aside from other considerations, this feature of depression should be sufficient for the depressed person to seek immediate medical, psychological, and spiritual assistance.

The Catechism explains that suicide is contrary to love in three ways. First, it is contrary to love of God, for the reasons just described. Second, according to the natural moral law, it is contrary to a proper love of self, also for reasons just described. Appropriate love of self includes the desire and intent to preserve one’s own life, even in the midst of suffering or hardship. Third, suicide is contrary to love of neighbor. Even if we are suffering, we continue to have obligations toward our family, nation, and society. Anyone who has tried to comfort loved ones in the wake of a suicide can see clearly the unimaginable suffering that suicide causes for those left behind. Grieving after a suicide, as discussed in the last section of this chapter, is tremendously painful and almost unbearable.”

-Kheriaty, Aaron; Cihak, Fr. John (2012-10-23). Catholic Guide to Depression (pp. 100-101). Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.

Love, prayers, life,
Matthew

“Conscience is a window to Truth.” – Rev. Wojciech Giertych, OP, Theologian for the Papal Household

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ROME, November 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Conscience is a window to truth, according to the pope’s theologian. And an act of conscience is an act of reason, not something to be confused with feelings.

Father Wojciech Giertych, Theologian for the Papal Household, aka Master of the Sacred Palace, sat down with LifeSiteNews during the final week of the Vatican’s Synod on the Family to discuss some of the issues considered during the international gathering of bishops called to address challenges to the family.

Father Giertych did not take part in the synod, and he was therefore not privy to any of the closed discussion occurring there, nor was he able to speak to specific synod developments.

However, the one on-call theologian for the pope, Father Giertych is a valuable resource on the Church’s teaching. And he was able to offer clarity on some of the moral areas discussed so widely at the synod.

Given the underlying question of conscience during the synod gathering, LifeSiteNews asked Father Giertych about the prevalent indifference to sin in society and its implications. He concurred that there is an absence of a sense of sin today in many parts of the world, with the effects carrying over into real consequences for people’s lives.

“If the perception of moral truth is unclear, then people are lost,” Father Giertych said. “People aren’t quite sure what is right and what is wrong.”

Following this, conscience is now often cited to allow permission for people to act on their impulses and desires, without regard for sin or consequence.

Specific to the synod, a term that received attention was “inviolability of conscience,” which seeks to establish an individual’s personal conscience as paramount, without necessarily first defining conscience.

Father Giertych told LifeSiteNews that we have to be careful in what we mean by the term “conscience.”

“Conscience is the act of practical reason,” he stated.

“Many people identify conscience with feelings,” said Father Giertych. “Feelings are secondary; conscience is a window to truth. … The conscience has to be formed to see the truth.”

We should not identify our conscience with our feelings, he continued. Rather, we have to go to the truth of the matter. And application of conscience is not an arbitrary thing.

“The idea of a subjective conscience, that I invent my moral principles as I go along – this is absurd. This is absolutely wrong.”
“You have to perceive the truth of the matter,” stated Father Giertych, “by reason.” This means taking all factors involved into account.

There are three specific criteria that determine an individual’s perception of the truth related to an act of conscience, Father Giertych told LifeSiteNews. These are the intention, the object of the act, and the circumstances. “If one is missing, then the whole act is inappropriate.”

The truth of an act of conscience can vary according those criteria.

One example he explained was the question of whether a doctor should amputate a patient’s limb. This is an extremely serious thing, and it would not be appropriate to take the limb in a medical setting where it could be saved. However, it is another matter entirely if leaving the limb will kill the patient.

Father Giertych clarified that while the conditions that establish the criteria surrounding an act of conscience can vary, the definition of conscience and its application do not.

“The idea of a subjective conscience, that I invent my moral principles as I go along – this is absurd. This is absolutely wrong,” he told LifeSiteNews.

The concept of conscience permeated much of the synod discussions, as it directly relates to the moral issues debated there.

Among the most hotly disputed matters was that of Holy Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

Father Giertych revisited for LifeSiteNews the fundamental question of who should present him- or herself for the Eucharist.

“Every individual before he receives Holy Communion has to see that he receives the Communion worthily, believing this is the body and blood the soul and the divinity of Jesus Christ given under the species of bread and wine,” he said, “and that the individual is in a state of grace. That means that individual is not aware of having committed mortal sin.”

When someone is in a state of grave sin, Father Giertych said, he must be absolved of his sin before presenting himself for Communion.

“If that is the case, then it’s required to go to Confession and be absolved of the sin,” he stated.

A perfect conversion is necessary for worthiness to receive Communion, the papal theologian continued, and that means a conversion toward God and an aversion to sin.

The same can be said of any temptation, Father Giertych explained, as it is in the case of Catholics living objectively in a situation that is contrary to the moral truth.

No one is owed Communion; rather, it is a gift from the Lord to be given proper regard and handling.

“The graces of God we receive as a gift from God,” said Father Giertych, “and so we have to persist in an attitude of gratitude. … Whereas if we approach the gifts of God with our list of demands, it destroys the purity of our relationship with God. So any sort of sense of entitlement is incorrect. It’s inappropriate.”

“The teaching of St. Paul is clear,” the theologian explained: “we have to be worthy to receive the Eucharist, we cannot receive it unworthily, and affirmation of sin makes a person unworthy.”

When asked about the idea often expressed that Communion is not a prize for the perfect, but medicine for the sick, Father Giertych clarified that this does not negate the elements necessary to be worthy of receiving Communion.

“The sacraments are a nourishment,” he said, “but they’re nourishment that has to be received in truth, and in the pure relationship of gratitude towards God, and in the recognition of the light that God has given us.”

“The graces of God we receive as a gift from God, and so we have to persist in an attitude of gratitude.”

Father Giertych pointed out that the Commandments and moral teaching transmitted in the Church are also a gift, and that one must accept all of the gifts God gives to properly accept any.

“We receive Jesus not only on the sacraments, but also in the teaching that accompanies the sacraments,” he said.

And Father Giertych dismisses the idea of a supermarket approach, saying, “You enter the supermarket: ‘I want this, no, I don’t want that. … But in our relationship with God, we cannot impose upon God our own list of demands. ‘I want these graces, I don’t want those other graces…’ If we are pure in our relationship to God, we accept them all.”

To the argument that the Church must adapt Her teaching to align with society’s standards today, Father Giertych counters that today is not at all different from any other time in that no justification exists to allow the Church’s principles to be compromised.

It’s not a novelty that times change and the Church would face new challenges, he told LifeSiteNews.

The Church had to invent certain practical ways to help people to live the fullness of the Gospel in the past, he said, but the fullness of the Gospel has not changed.

“Human nature, the sacraments, divine grace, what we receive from Christ and the identity of the Church, the mission of the Church has not changed. [T]he principles have not changed; human nature has not changed. And the guidance that God gave us ultimately in the Word made flesh, in Christ, that does not change.”

Regarding the concept discussed during the synod of Church decentralization, Father Giertych was quick to correct a misconception that the Vatican controls everything. He said the term decentralization refers to government.

He also clarified that the Church has always defended the concept of subsidiarity – the idea that it’s always best to handle things on the local level whenever possible.

“The local bishop should address his individual diocese’s problems by applying the Gospel, Church teaching, and tradition.”
But the idea that any doctrinal matters could be managed at the diocesan level is wrong, he said, as it is not the local bishop’s place to do so.

Individual bishops must handle issues in their respective dioceses, but only within the confines of upholding Church teaching. A bishop cannot decide doctrinal issues because he hasn’t the authority, as the Church’s teaching comes from the Church and therefore cannot be changed.

“The local bishop should address his individual diocese’s problems,” said Father Giertych, “by applying the Gospel, Church teaching, and tradition.”

Love,
Matthew

Good vs Evil vs Relativism: the ends never justify the means. Never. Ever. Ever. Never.

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“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.” – G.K. Chesterton

Here in Wisconsin, our legislature is debating the ban on sale of aborted fetal tissue, enflamed by the recent Planned Parenthood expose’ videos.  The dean of the medical school of the University of Wisconsin and a couple legislators have argued against this ban citing the benefits of medical research.  Clearly, I note, they are not catechized in Catholic teaching.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
PART THREE
LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION ONE
MAN’S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

CHAPTER ONE
THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

ARTICLE 4
THE MORALITY OF HUMAN ACTS

1749 Freedom makes man a moral subject. When he acts deliberately, man is, so to speak, the father of his acts. Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil.

I. THE SOURCES OF MORALITY

1750 The morality of human acts depends on:

– the object chosen;

– the end in view or the intention;

– the circumstances of the action.

The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the “sources,” or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts.

1751 The object chosen is a good toward which the will deliberately directs itself. It is the matter of a human act. The object chosen morally specifies the act of the will, insofar as reason recognizes and judges it to be or not to be in conformity with the true good. Objective norms of morality express the rational order of good and evil, attested to by conscience.

1752 In contrast to the object, the intention resides in the acting subject. Because it lies at the voluntary source of an action and determines it by its end, intention is an element essential to the moral evaluation of an action. The end is the first goal of the intention and indicates the purpose pursued in the action. The intention is a movement of the will toward the end: it is concerned with the goal of the activity. It aims at the good anticipated from the action undertaken. Intention is not limited to directing individual actions, but can guide several actions toward one and the same purpose; it can orient one’s whole life toward its ultimate end. For example, a service done with the end of helping one’s neighbor can at the same time be inspired by the love of God as the ultimate end of all our actions. One and the same action can also be inspired by several intentions, such as performing a service in order to obtain a favor or to boast about it.

1753 A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation. On the other hand, an added bad intention (such as vainglory) makes an act evil that, in and of itself, can be good (such as almsgiving).39

1754 The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent’s responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death). Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.

II. GOOD ACTS AND EVIL ACTS

1755 A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting “in order to be seen by men”).

The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts – such as fornication – that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.

1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

IN BRIEF

1757 The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the three “sources” of the morality of human acts.

1758 The object chosen morally specifies the act of willing accordingly as reason recognizes and judges it good or evil.

1759 “An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means.

1760 A morally good act requires the goodness of its object, of its end, and of its circumstances together.

1761 There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.”

USCCB

Love,
Matthew

Sodomy vs divorce: lesser of two evils?

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-by Rev Dominic Legge, OP

“Thomas Reese, writing about gay marriage in the National Catholic Reporter, argues that the Catholic bishops of the United States should “admit defeat and move on.” They’ve done this before, he claims: Think of “their predecessors who opposed legalizing divorce but lost,” and who then “accepted divorce” in practice if not in theory—for example, by hiring divorcées. “Today, Catholic institutions rarely fire people when they get divorced and remarried,” and the divorced and remarried “get spousal benefits.” “No one is scandalized by this,” he writes.

This is like saying: “The patient has been taking this poison for years, getting sicker and weaker—so let’s triple the dose.” The argument is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Further, there are manifold reasons why gay marriage is a different and greater threat than divorce, and why acquiescing in it would gravely damage the Church. Here are four.

1.  First, virtually no one celebrates divorce or regards it as a positive good. There is no “Divorced Pride” parade. At most, some think of it like abortion rights: a tragedy and an evil when it happens, but a necessary escape hatch. No one is clamoring for prelates to praise divorce. In contrast, gay marriage is trumpeted as a positive good, and the Church will be shown no mercy by its advocates until bishops, too, march in the parade. We should have no illusions about the way cultural forces (and, soon, legal coercion) will aim to compel the Church not only to be silent on gay marriage, but to praise it and to integrate it into the Church’s life—or else.

2.  Second, while divorce negates an important element of marriage, it doesn’t change the kind of relationship we’re speaking about. With divorce, we recognize that the old bond should have endured, but didn’t. A new legal act is needed to sunder what was joined. But even in this, we still grasp the nature of the bond itself: between a man and a woman, of a kind that generates children, implying permanence, if only for the good of the kids. Gay marriage undermines true marriage in a different and much more dangerous way: It hollows out its very essence, applying the word to something else entirely, a relationship that itself has no potential to generate children, and so cannot itself (without help from the law or from outsiders) form a family. Gay marriage makes it increasingly hard even to talk about what is essential to true marriage. To accept gay marriage as a genuine expression of marriage—and to treat it as such in the parish office, even if we could then keep it out of the parish church—would be vastly more destructive than accepting divorce (which has been bad). It changes the very essence of the institution.

3.  Third, divorce and remarriage is often hidden from view. One often doesn’t know if someone was divorced years ago—and it’s even more rare to know whether there was an annulment. Gay marriage is obviously different, and the threat of scandal is much greater.

4.  Fourth, it is not true that no one is scandalized when church institutions hire divorced and remarried people. Reese’s argument implies that no one will be shocked if we have divorced sacristans (or gay-married parish receptionists), since everyone understands that it’s just the world we live in. But scandal, as Jesus spoke about it, is not a psychological shock. It is rather a skandalon, a stumbling block to others who will then be tempted to sin. “It is impossible that stumbling blocks should not come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck . . .” (Luke 17:1–2). Is it plausible to claim that widespread acceptance of divorce has not contributed to more divorce? The effect will be even more powerful with gay marriage. If the Church accepts the new cultural and legal norms on gay marriage in its institutional life, even if not in its worship, it will say (especially to the “little ones” Jesus was talking about) that gay marriage is no big deal. Even today, it is a grave scandal when a Catholic teacher gets divorced and shows up at school with a new last name. Every kid in the school knows it. It teaches a lesson more powerful than any textbook. Accepting gay marriage would do much more damage.  (Ed.  I realize Fr Legge is speaking in hypotheticals as a form of intellectual charity as if the option were real for Catholics.  It is not.)

Yes, we may have lost the battle in civil law about the civil definition of marriage. That is all the more reason that the Church must now speak ever more clearly and firmly about the truth of marriage, or her “little ones” will soon weaken and fall. That would be the true scandal.”

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Love,
Matthew

Coming Out as Catholic

“TOO MANY CHRISTIANS, NOT ENOUGH LIONS!” -the (In)Tolerati

CV-Love-Wins-Email-580x350

AdWeek, a widely-read secular industry journal slammed the video with an article entitled “Gay Marriage Opponents Act Like an Oppressed Minority in Catholic Group’s Despicable Ad.”

In the midst of vile, hate-filled comments (ironically tagged #LoveWins) many readers rose up in defense of the ad, accusing AdWeek of the very intolerance the video warns against. Once their hypocrisy was revealed, AdWeek removed “Despicable” from the title and changed much of the copy.

See below for a running list of sites that have posted the video:

MSNBC wrote about the viral ad with commendable neutrality, saying “Many point to last year’s ouster of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich as a sign of an increasingly intolerant climate for those with traditional views about marriage.” “Same-sex marriage opponents ‘come out’ in new video.

Slate writes: “Here are some Catholics who feel oppressed by same-sex marriage

GQ Magazine reports: “Absurd Catholic Video Presents Bigots as the Victims of Marriage Equality

BuzzFeed contacted CV President Brian Burch for comments, says: “This Video is Letting Catholics Know That It Gets Better Now That the US Has Marriage Equality

PerezHilton.com says: “These Brave Souls Came Out As Anti-Gay ON VIDEO — You Won’t Believe What Brings Tears To Their Eyes!

Legal Insurrection comes to the ad’s defense: Ad Week has “a hilariously self-awareless fit….Without realizing it Ad Week proved Catholic Vote’s point. Well done, Ad Week. Well done.”

Fast Company reports: “Least Creative Thing of the Day: Catholic Group Plays the Victim in Anti-Gay Marriage Ad

Blue Nation Review writes: “Ridiculous Video Shows Americans ‘Coming Out’ As Anti-Gay

Chicks on the Right blog exposes the hypocrisy in the comments posted on the video: “The Love In #LoveWins Doesn’t Extend To Christians Voicing Their Religious Beliefs. As If We Thought It Would.

Next Magazine reports: “Don’t Feel Sorry for These Anti-Gay Douches

Patheos’ Friendly Atheist channel posted: “A Hilarious Response to CatholicVote’s Anti-Gay Marriage Video

Refinery 29 described video: “Insane Anti-Marriage-Equality Ad Parodies Coming-Out Videos

The Young Turks devoted an entire segment of their show to mocking the ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFt9WuseoJo&feature=youtu.be

Gawker struggled to find a creative way to bash the ad, but they tried anyway with article and hokey video entitled “We Fixed That Awful Homophobic Coming Out Video.”

Huffington Post covered the ad under the crude title: “B*got vs. F@ggot

Huffington Post thought it so egregious, they tried another article: “Why I Can’t Stop Watching that Absurd Anti-Gay Marriage PSA.

Love,
Matthew