All posts by techdecisions

Sin (part 1 of 4)

In her doctrine (teaching) on the nature of humans, the Catholic Church holds the middle ground as true between two opposing theories, that humans are both body AND soul. That is NOT splitting the difference. The Church’s one mission is Truth. He is Truth. And, typically, the Truth is found between extremes, typically. Heresies tend toward one extreme or the other, as is typical of heresies.

We don’t have a souls. We are souls and have bodies, imago Dei, made in the image and likeness of God, Himself; from and through which each person receives their inestimable value and divinely given dignity, without qualification.

Through original sin, we lost our original justice/righteousness. We lost immortality and our original innocence having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We, justly, earned suffering, death, ignorance and lust; ignorance and lust often leading to suffering and death.

By the disobedience of our original parents, sin entered the world.

CCC 1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods…. It has been defined [by St Augustine] as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”

CCC 1850 Sin is an offense against God…. Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,” knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to the contempt of God.”

Sin is social

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, Pope John Paul. II says that the “mystery of sin”

“is composed of [a] twofold wound which the sinner opens in himself and in his relationship with his neighbor. Therefore one can speak of personal and social sin: From one point of view, every sin is personal; from another point of view, every sin is social insofar as and because it also has social repercussions.”

All sin is social, says John Paul II, in this regard: It wounds our relationship with our neighbor. No man is an island.

This does not mean that sin is not personal at all; and it does not mean that “external factors” in a society are to blame for a person’s sins. That would be a misreading. The pope is clear in pointing that out.

“Sin, in the proper sense, is always a personal act, since it is an act of freedom on the part of an individual person and not properly of a group or community. This individual may be conditioned, incited and influenced by numerous and powerful external factors. He may also be subjected to tendencies, defects and habits linked with his personal condition. In not a few cases such external and internal factors may attenuate, to a greater or lesser degree, the person’s freedom and therefore his responsibility and guilt. But it is a truth of faith, also confirmed by our experience and reason, that the human person is free. This truth cannot be disregarded in order to place the blame for individuals’ sins on external factors such as structures, systems or other people.”

That is important. Only an individual can be responsible for sin. “Social sin” does not mean that society sins, or that society bears the burden of guilt. What it does mean is that every sin, to one degree or another, has a consequence for others.

“To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s sin in some way affects others.”

To sin is to wound not only yourself but a brother or a sister. It puts you out of right relationship with God, out of right relationship with yourself, and also out of right relationship with other human beings (who are themselves the image of God). In that way, all sin wounds the Christ in your brother or sister.

The pope expands on this thought:

“Consequently one can speak of a communion of sin, whereby a soul that lowers itself through sin drags down with itself the church and, in some way, the whole world. In other words, there is no sin, not even the most intimate and secret one, the most strictly individual one, that exclusively concerns the person committing it. With greater or lesser violence, with greater or lesser harm, every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family. According to this first meaning of the term, every sin can undoubtedly be considered as social sin.”

It is not just “society,” in the secular sense, that is wounded by each sin, but the society of the Church itself. The Body of Christ also bears the wound. Even to that extent alone, all sin is “social”, and tragic, and devastating in its effects.

It is important to work to change laws. But changing laws will be, in John Paul II’s words, “ultimately vain and ineffective” unless we also convert souls.

Love,
Matthew

Non-denominational Evangelical discovers the Catholic Church, Married & Muddled (Part 5 of 6)


-please click on the image for greater detail


-by Keith Albert Little, “The Cordial Catholic” (@cordialcatholic)

Quashing Quibbles

I had held preconceived notions about the Catholic Church. However, they were largely unintentional, and they were quickly quashed as I began to read.

Why do Catholic call priests “father,” when Jesus said to call no man “father”? Well, if Jesus meant that literally, what do I call my Dad? And what about the verse where Jesus Himself calls Abraham our “father”?

Why do Catholics pray to saints? They don’t as if the saints are God. But they do believe that after a Christian dies, he is still part of the Body of Christ, and we can continue to pray for each other, to Christ, after we die. It’s either this, or Christ hasn’t conquered death.

Don’t Catholics worship Mary? No. They venerate her, putting her in a place of importance because she’s clearly prefigured in the Old Testament. She is the new Ark of the Covenant and the New Eve. As one of His last acts on the cross, Jesus tells us that she is our “mother” (John 19:25–27).

In the light of good Catholic teaching and an actual reading of what Catholics believe, my objections and misconceptions seemed juvenile. And I felt lazy, silly, for never having tried to understand what Catholics believed before. Now, as I began to get a better grasp, I was astounded at what I was learning.

Here was a Church that claimed authority not to only collect the books of the Bible together, but to interpret them as well. A Church which claimed unity under the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. A Church which drew a straight line from the first Apostles to the bishops of today, claiming an authoritative link to the very words of Christ, who said, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

Suddenly, a Catholic Church came into focus that I had no idea existed — a Church which taught that the elements of Communion actually become the Body and Blood of Christ because, I learned, that’s what Jesus says in the Gospel of John (chapter 6). For all our “literal reading” of the Bible, we’d missed one of the most literal parts. Jesus says we have to “eat” His flesh, and when His followers throw up their hands in disgust, He becomes even more graphic, explaining that we have to “gnaw” His flesh! Then, when many of His followers walk away, declaring it a difficult teaching, He does nothing to stop them. Instead of clarifying for His disciples, as He’s often pictured doing, He simply asks, “Do you want to leave, too?”

Even more shocking is the evidence from the early Church Fathers. As a relatively well-educated Evangelical, I’d always been taught to treat my Bible as if it had fallen into my hands directly from its writers’ pens, as if the years between the texts being written and their arriving on my bookshelf simply didn’t exist. But they do exist, and in that time period, lots of important things were being written. Of particular interest are the early Church Fathers. Many of these Church Fathers lived immediately after the Apostles and had important things to say, vital perspectives on the development of the Christian Church.

Shockingly, these early Church Fathers were completely Catholic.

In the Fathers writings, we see ample evidence to believe that they understood Communion as Catholics do today, as the real Body and Blood of Jesus. We find appeals to the Bishop of Rome, lending significant credence to the position of Pope, the successor of Peter, even in the infant Church. We find widespread use of relics, prayers for the dead, and prayers to deceased Christians. We find a particular veneration of Mary, an understanding of infant baptism, and even a version of a worship service which looks shockingly similar to our modern-day Mass.

To my complete surprise, the early Church was Catholic.”

Love,
Matthew

Hell


(Ed. THAT is scary. Run away from any human who says that. That is not an offer of love. That is a lie. Born out of some pathological unsatisfied sinful need. Satan is the Prince of Lies. Secondly, consider the source, outside of the demonic origin of that statement. A sinful human, even a demonically possessed one, or just pyschopathic one is lying when they say they can do that as a consequence of some failure of action on the part of another. Then, consider God. When God speaks, it happens. God has merely to think it. It happens. Consider the loving, merciful Creator of everything, Who created out of pure love. We bring nothing to God by our existence. God brings everything to us by our existence. God lives in perfect beatitude. God needs nothing. Desires nothing, least of all us or our love. We OWE God, not the reverse. We OWE God because He brought us into being and maintains us in being by His very thought. If God stopped thinking about us, even for an instant, poof! No creation. The fact we remain in existence is proof of God’s perpetual love. Indifference, poof! To be separated from God, now, in an existential way, is Hell. To be separated from God, source of all hope, all light, all goodness, all life, all beatitude, etc. eternally is the very definition of Hell.

How do we know Hell, or Heaven for that matter, exist?  Jesus.  Mt 25:31-46.  Lk 16:19-31.  God will give you what you ask for. If it’s eternity without Him, well…)

“‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are My ways unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?” -Ezek 18:29


-by Karlo Broussard

“Obviously, the meme is meant to express the alleged incompatibility between the Christian doctrine of hell and its belief that God is all-good. How can God be all-good and all-loving, so the argument goes, and at the same time will that someone experience eternal torment?

There are two possible reasons why someone might think that God and hell are incompatible. One is that punishment itself is a bad thing. And if that were the case, then surely an all-good God wouldn’t punish someone.

The other possible hang-up is the eternal nature of hell.

They may say, “Okay, I can accept punishment as consistent with God’s goodness, but I can’t accept eternal punishment. That seems unjust and therefore contrary to God’s goodness.”

There are two objections here, so let’s deal with each in turn.

Let’s take the first objection from punishment.

Privation as natural punishment

Our first line of response is that the punishment of hell is primarily the privation of the ultimate joy that every human being longs for, which is a natural consequence that flows from a person’s rejection of God as their ultimate end, the source of all joy (see CCC 1057).

As St. Augustine taught, our hearts are made for God and they are restless until they rest in Him (The Confessions, book 1).

If a person chooses to separate himself from God for eternity, the state of restlessness or misery (Ed. euphemism) is simply a natural consequence. The torment follows from the way God has made human nature.

Consider these two scenarios.

Suppose a father tells his son, “If you want to go to the movies, then you have to clean your room,” and the son chooses not to clean his room. The result of his choice is that he doesn’t get to go to the movies. He throws a fit. His “pain,” the deprivation of not seeing a movie, is a consequence of his choice. But notice that the connection between the consequence and the choice is not natural. The father imposes it.

Contrast this with the scenario of an individual who intentionally puts a plastic bag over his head and is asphyxiated. The painful effect of death is a natural consequence of stopping his supply of oxygen. It belongs to his nature that he needs oxygen to live. If he doesn’t have oxygen, then he doesn’t have life.  (Ed.  Good example, however, when religious discussions start throwing around the word “natures”, check your philosophy.  It means so much more, metaphysically, then we mean when we say “it’s all natural!”  Distant cousins in meaning, but not the same.  There’s more to it.  Mr. Broussard is providing the non-philotechnical kiddie example.)

Similarly, it belongs to human nature for a person to be united to God in order to have complete and perfect happiness. If he’s not united to God, then no happiness and only misery.

Why would it be contrary to God’s goodness to allow human nature to function according to the design He created? If God decides to create something with a particular nature, then it belongs to his goodness to treat that thing according to its nature.

God made humans to be in union with Him for an eternity (Ed. out of love, never necessity). Therefore, if anyone chooses to reject such union (free will) and end up separated from God for an eternity, which is the essence of hell (CCC 1033), his misery would be the natural result given his nature. And there is nothing contrary to God’s goodness to allow nature to take its course-whether it takes it in free will, we, to choose it in beatitude with God in Heaven or misery without Him in hell.”

Love,
Matthew

Catholics ONLY WORSHIP GOD!!!!!!!! – dulia, hyperdulia, honor, veneration vs latria, adoration, worship

Americans honor Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy, etc. We have monuments to them. We visit their tombs.  We prize, we even donate to the Smithsonian, things that they wore, touched, owned.  We visit the gifts shops associated with visits to places important to them or their lives and buy items, souvenirs, mementos, pictures of them.  We tell stories of our trips of doing so with pride. We leave flowers and candles there, or put our souvenirs out in our homes that remind us of them for all to see.  We even leave cards, teddy bears, flowers, balloons, and candles at sites of tragedy, to express our sympathy, or we send them to others for the same reason, or to express joy or gratitude, or maybe just to win their favor.

Granted the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints are a little better connected, politically. So, we might ask their help with the Big Guy, seeing as it’s all about relationships, and, as I said, they are pretty well connected. We ask our friends and neighbors to pray for us, or they offer to in times of challenge. So, why not those even better connected than they, assumedly. That’s IT!!!! The rest is just artwork.

Those who accuse Catholics of worshipping anything other than God are hypocrites, obviously. Did ‘I’ say that? 🙂

-by Kathy Schiffer

“Repeat after me: Catholics do not worship Mary.

Catholics do not worship Mary.

Catholics do not worship Mary.

I mention this because that scurrilous claim has turned up several times recently in my comment boxes. The accusation has shown up in response to various posts, tossed in by some well-meaning, God-fearing Christian who wants to protect society from the Catholic Church.

In his or her mind, prayer to the Mother of God is the ultimate evidence of apostasy: The Bible clearly says that we should have no false gods, and by gosh (he thinks), praying to Mary is just off-the-charts idolatry. Why, doesn’t Exodus 34:14 mean ANYTHING to you?

Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Exodus 34:14 (NIV)

So let’s talk about it.

The Catholic Church teaches that God alone is worthy of worship. However, there are those among us who, because of their heroic virtue, are deserving of acclaim and honor.

This is true in everyday society. A best-selling author, an actor, an athlete, a favorite teacher–all, by virtue of their excellence in a field of endeavor, earn your acclaim and respect.

So, too, in the spiritual realm: We hold in high regard those who, by their virtuous lives, have demonstrated how to better love God and our fellow man. We call those virtuous people whose lives we admire, and who are now in heaven with Christ, “saints.” And Mary, Jesus’ mother, is even more deserving of our admiration and praise.

The Church teaches that there are three types of honor which are due to those who are holy:

Dulia. This is the honor and recognition which we accord to the saints. Perhaps they died as martyrs rather than deny God; or they worked great miracles, since their friendship with God meant that He granted their prayers for healing or restoration; or they simply, as Therese of Lisieux, lived holiness in their own “little way.”
Hyperdulia. This is, to put it simply, lots and lots of dulia. This is the very special honor we accord to Mary, the Mother of God.  Latria. This is true worship, and is given only to God.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, writing in his Summa Theologiae (II-II, q. 103, a. 4; III, q. 25, a. 5), explained:

“In more technical terms used by the Tradition to draw this important distinction, devotion to Mary belongs to the veneration of dulia, or the homage and honor owed to the saints, both angelic and human in heaven, and not to latria, or the adoration and worship that can be given only to the Triune God and the Son incarnate. Because of her unique relationship to Christ in salvation history, however, the special degree of devotion due to Mary has traditionally been called hyperdulia. While latria is owed to her Son by reason of unity of His divine and human natures in the Person of the Word made flesh, hyperdulia is due to Mary as truly His Mother.”

One of Catholicism’s most frequently uttered prayers is the Hail Mary. But is this idolatry? No–it’s Scripture.

The words are drawn from the greeting in Luke 1:28, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

And from Luke 1:42, the words spoken by Mary’s cousin Elizabeth:

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…

So no, Catholics don’t worship Mary. In our prayer, we ask Mary to intercede for us with her Son. And He will listen because, as James 5:16 tells us,

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

But did you ever meet someone who really doesn’t understand the important difference in how we pray to God and how we pray to Mary and the saints?

If some Catholics fail to follow the Church’s teaching on these matters it certainly doesn’t impinge on the teaching of the Church. (Ed. For instance, a Catholic-esque heresy which has arisen lately, they do with some frequency, as do all other heresies, or they make a comeback, is Santa Muerte. The Catholic Church does EVERYTHING in its power to dissuade and condemn this false and evil icon.} It merely means that some in the Church are uncatechized and not understanding or practicing what the Church teaches.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Love,
Matthew

Non-denominational Evangelical discovers the Catholic Church, Married & Muddled (Part 4 of 6)


-please click on the image for greater detail


-by Keith Albert Little, “The Cordial Catholic” (@cordialcatholic)

“In the meantime, life took over. Maria and I got married; we bought a house, and she changed careers. The family church we’d been attending, the outgrowth of the student church where we first met, moved in to share a space with an aging Lutheran congregation. Suddenly being in a building meant for worship, as opposed to our old space in a community center, meant we were suddenly much more “traditional.”

There was an altar, although we didn’t use it, and stained glass. There were an organ and pews, and we’d even occasionally see the Lutheran pastor, at the very end of our service. He wore a Roman collar and vestments. Suddenly, my simmering interest in tradition ignited.

Around this time, too, the issue of the meaning and mandate of Christian marriage began to be widely discussed in the Protestant world, with battle lines and hot debates quickly forming. On the topic of marriage, I needed to figure out where I stood, and I wanted to base my beliefs on the Bible. Our little church community was largely undecided, leaving it up to each individual’s own theology. But I didn’t know mine; I hadn’t given it much thought. When I began to dig into the Bible, into commentaries and literature written by everyone from respected theologians to practicing homosexuals, I realized that no one had a clear answer, and nothing made much sense.

Everyone, as far as I could tell, claimed to base their perspective on the Bible, and no one agreed. It was our youth group debate all over again. We could all use the same proof texts and somehow come to widely differing conclusions. With the youth group, it was something as fundamental as how God saved our souls. Now, it was a different question but just as fundamental. The stakes were high, and the answers were equally murky.

How was it that we could all look at the same Scripture and come up with different ideas? How could this be the system for understanding our faith as God intended it? Why was knowing how to follow Christ so confusing? I didn’t get it. There was something flawed in the way we used the Bible and the way we understood our faith.

Once again, I decided to do some digging.

Later on in my journey towards the Catholic Church, I came across a quote by G.K. Chesterton in his book The Catholic Church and Conversion that really hit home. I’ll paraphrase by saying that once you decide to be “fair” to the Catholic Church, you can’t help but convert. In other words, once a person decides to truly dig into the teachings of the Church in a fair, honest, and open way, it inevitably ends in conversion. You can’t help but become Catholic. I’d liken this to a mouse trap, but in this case, the “mouse” lives!

So anyway, I decided I needed to be “fair” to the Catholic Church. After all, I’d learned enough about Catholics from skirting around the edges to know that they believed some fundamentally different things from what I believed, and if they were the same Church that put together the Bible, then they must, I reasoned, still have some claim to authority. I decided that I needed to know exactly what Catholics believed, from authentic Catholic sources.

First, I found a list of books tailor-made for non-Catholic Christians. It included works by Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, and Thomas Howard, as well as some introductory theology by Frank Sheed. It was like turning on a faucet full blast!

To begin with, I had no idea what Catholics actually believed, and hearing about Catholic doctrine, tradition, and beliefs from actual practicing Catholics felt like drawing in a great big mouthful of air after realizing I’d been holding my breath. What I was reading was eye-opening.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

God & earthquakes


-by Br Michael Solomon, OP

“The call to follow Jesus throughout the Gospels always involves Jesus calling an individual out of his or her old life and into a new life. This new life involves being a disciple of Christ, which means being with him and following the master wherever he goes. After Jesus ascends into heaven, the question is, how does someone follow if Jesus is not physically present?

This question is answered throughout the Acts of the Apostles and the other epistles. The Holy Spirit, the fruit of the love of the Father and the Son, is the one who makes Christ present to all people. In Acts 16:25-40, the Philippian jailer has been tasked with keeping Paul and Silas imprisoned, because they are dangerous men and should not be allowed to talk to the people; however, an earthquake hits, and it is so violent that it breaks the chains of Paul and Silas and flings the doors of the prison wide open. The jailer thinks that he has failed in his task and that he must now do the honorable thing and kill himself rather than face humiliation. To the shock of the jailer, Paul calls out saying that they have not left the prison.

This is the moment of theophany, that is, the moment that God makes known His presence. We know this because the jailer, prior to the earthquake, is unmoved or at best indifferent to St. Paul and his God. Post earthquake, we find the jailer trembling with fear, not at the earthquake, but at Paul and Silas who still remain in the jail cell. The jailer’s next move is even more striking because he asks an unexpected question. “What must I do to be saved?” He asks this not from fear of his superiors, but from a special grace.

How do we explain such a striking change? Simply put, it is the Holy Spirit who moves the jailer’s heart and later allows him to respond with faith in Jesus, which is what Paul says he must to do be saved. The earthquake itself, in one sense, is a symbol portraying the power of the Holy Spirit that breaks into the jailer’s life and shatters his unbelief. In another sense, the earthquake indicates God’s divine providence working through natural events in order to keep the mission of Paul and Silas going, and to transform the heart of the jailer and all of his household.

In the end, we can say that the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the earthquake; God’s power is at once terrifying and glorious. While we may not always have an earthquake-like experience of God in our own lives, the Holy Spirit still works great things in the deep recesses of our souls. Our response, like that of the jailer, ought to be not only fear and trembling, but also docility and obedience to God’s divine providence in our lives. To follow Jesus then, means to respond to the movements of the Holy Spirit and to have faith in the knowledge that Jesus is imminently near and present at every moment. The grace of this knowledge shatters our unbelief and calls us out of our old life.”

Love,
Matthew

Talking to children about “gender fluidity”

“One of my sons attends a large public high school where it is not uncommon to see kids in various states of “gender fluidity”—but not simply in the sense of “feminine” boys and tomboy girls as I saw back in my large public high school in the 1980s. No, these kids are either formally “transitioning,” or else experimenting with opposite sex alter-egos, both of which have become trendy and faddish.

As parents, we are often lulled by a misguided compassion that keeps us from sharing the truth, even in a loving way. If your compassion (or fear) leads you to silence about or sympathy for sin, you could be unwittingly playing into the hands of a culture that denies truth and risks the eternal fate of so many souls.

Kids do not need wishy-washiness. They need us to graciously, firmly, stand up for the truth.

Remember the words of St. Paul, who hoped that “we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him Who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:14-15). Your gracious confidence in these discussions is paramount, so ask the Holy Spirit to give you plenty of it! After all, Jesus said “Ask and it will be given to you!” (Matt 7:7).

He Said, She Said?

The use of pronouns used for people who identify as transgender can be a source of conflict in the culture and at school. Your teen might be caught up in a discussion about a transgender celebrity, or have a biologically male classmate who now has a female appearance, a new name, and demands to be addressed with “she” and “her.”

Ironically, these pronoun battles present an opportunity for Catholics to “turn the tables” on critics and point out how they are imposing their morality on us. After all, it’s one thing for a person to claim to be transgender, but quite another to force others to go along with this claim against their will, even requiring Catholics to speak words they don’t believe.

If your teen gets cornered on this subject, or even challenges you on it, return to first principles: It’s wrong to lie. Additionally, a lie becomes more serious when it is spoken about something significant. This shifts the focus from your child (or you) to the real issue. Here’s how this might play out:

Tom: Why do you keep saying [man who claims he’s a woman] is a he? That’s really hurtful!

Mary: I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but please see where I’m coming from. It’s wrong to lie, and if I say [man who claims he’s a woman] is a woman, that would make me a liar.

Tom: But it’s not a lie! If she says she is a woman then she is a woman.

Mary: Wait, are you saying that merely saying or believing you’re a woman makes you a woman? Why should I believe that? Can a person change his race or his species in the same way?

Tom: Well, it’s her own sense of self that matters!

Mary: But that still doesn’t make it true. There’s no evidence, in science or in anything we can measure, that “gender” exists except in the imagination. Morally, I am not allowed to lie for anyone. I hope you can respect that my faith requires me to be honest and speak only what is true.

What’s in a name?

I don’t think it’s a big deal to refer to this person by a new, preferred name. Some girls have “male” names and some boys have “female” names. But incorrectly using sex-specific pronouns like “he” and “she” in order to accommodate someone’s feelings forces us to lie. Lying is not only a sin, but in this case it denies another person’s God-given dignity and God’s created order.

(Ed. I wrote to the book publisher/authors the following. “as a Catholic who no longer teaches in a government school, I can tell you the student who objects will be summarily “executed” academically. Before the truth argument, I would humbly submit to the authors objective statements about objective dangers that cause physical harm, even death, would be harder for all opposed to summarily dismiss, if the student is given the unexpectable privilege of defending themselves.

From experience, government schools go to great effort to conceal what exactly they are teaching to students by preventing any evidence, save the deeply awkward and impressionable minds of their children and their memories, to wander home after school, even if inquired with about school by parents. Parents, in general, are equally disabled from contesting heresy, biblical or moral.

I might offer arguments and their distaste by all, generally, in being equivocated. Take the argument from morality, terribly important, to mortality, terribly objective, unnuanced, and undeniably permanent.

-Accidents (unintentional injuries), homicide, suicide, cancer, and heart disease. Accidents account for nearly one-half of all teenage deaths.
-As a category of accidents, motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of death to teenagers, representing over one-third of all deaths.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db37.htm

“You can go 120 mph and not wear a selt belt if that’s your true self.  Everyone will support your choice.  It’s ALL about YOU!!”
“Living is a lifestyle choice. Whatever you want. It’s all about YOU!”
“I can handle a baby at sixteen!”
“I’ll NEVER change my mind! Nothing ever will!, etc.

Extreme, or not, I realize, however to engage in conversation about the more easily deniable, due to the vagaries of the human mind, the extreme is, at times, needed to pique the conscience into a reasonable conversation regarding the latter.”)

Identity or Reality?

When a person has a body dysphoria unrelated to sex or “gender,” everyone understands that the person needs help. When an anorexic looks in the mirror, she might see someone who is obese, even if she weighs much less than everyone else her age. We don’t tell that girl, “That’s right, you are overweight, and we will help you lose the weight that’s right for you.”

Instead we say, “What you perceive yourself to be, well, that isn’t you. In reality, you are dangerously underweight, and because we love you, we aren’t going to help you harm yourself.” That is the loving response.

What about people who think they are a different race or ethnicity? In 2015, the head of the Spokane NAACP, Rachel Dolezal, was discovered to have two white parents. While the organization for black Americans does have white leaders, some of its members claim Dolezal misled them into thinking she was black. Forced to resign from her position, Dolezal still claims she is black, even though her genetics say otherwise. She says, “I feel like the idea of being trans-black would be much more accurate than ‘I’m white.’ Because you know, I’m not white.”

You can see the irony that if Dolezal had claimed she was a black man, then her “progressive” critics would have said she was only half right. Yet, how can we tell a person she’s wrong about her sincere sense of her racial identity, but right about her sense of gender identity—when both exist only in the imagination? There is no logic to saying we affirm your “sense” of being a man, but we condemn your “sense” of being black. Your teens will see the contradiction here.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

May 24 – Relics, elevatio corporis, & fragrance of Resurrection


Arca di San Domenico, please click on the image for greater detail.

Dominican breviary: “In accordance with his wishes, St Dominic was buried ‘beneath the feet of his brethren’ in the church of St Nicholas of the Vineyards, Bologna. (Keeping with this, Dominicans have been traditionally been buried under main, ground floor hallways of Dominican priories, and those living lined the hallways of their priories after Evening Prayer to sing the DeProfundis.). Many of the sick avowed that they had been healed of their infirmities at his tomb; the brethren however were loath to recognise these miracles and accept votive offerings.”

On May 24, the Dominican Order celebrates the translation of the relics of St. Dominic. That is, we remember the day in 1233 when, during a General Chapter of the Order in Bologna, the interred body of St. Dominic was moved in order to allow the faithful to honor him more easily. More than 300 friars were present to celebrate this important day. In one of his letters, Bl. Jordan of Saxony, describes the event:

“But then the wonderful day came for the translation of the relics of one who was an illustrious doctor in his lifetime. Present were the venerable Archbishop of Ravenna, surrounded by bishops and a large number of prelates, as well as by a vast multitude of people of different languages who gave remarkable witness to their devotion. Present also was the Bolognese militia, which would not let this holy body, that they considered to be in their safekeeping, be snatched from them. As for the brethren, they were anxious: although they had nothing to fear, they were seized with misgivings lest the body of Saint Dominic, which had lain in a mean tomb exposed to water and heat for such a long period of time, should be found eaten with worms and giving off a foul odor in the same way that might be expected with other corpses, thus destroying the devotion of the people for so great a man. Nonetheless the bishops approached devoutly. The stone that was firmly cemented to the sepulcher was removed with instruments of iron. Within the tomb was a wooden coffin, just as it had been placed there by the venerable Pope Gregory when he was bishop of Ostia. The body had been buried there, and a small hole remained in the top of the coffin.

The upper part of the coffin was moved a little bit. As soon as the stone was taken away, the body gave forth a wonderful odor through the opening; its sweetness astonished those present, and they were filled with wonder at this strange occurrence. Everyone shed tears of joy, and fear and hope rose in all hearts. We ourselves also smelled the sweetness of this perfume, and we bear witness to what we have seen and smelt. Eager with love, we remained devotedly near the body of Dominic for a long time, and we were unable to sate ourselves with this great sweetness. If one touched the body with a hand or a belt or some other object, the odor immediately attached itself to it for a long period of time.

The body was carried to the marble sepulcher where it would rest—it and the perfume that it poured forth. This marvelous aroma which the holy body emitted was evidence to all how much the saint had truly been the good odor of Christ”.


-by Br Ireneus Dunleavy, OP

Why relics?

It’s a natural instinct to keep meaningful tokens. Anyone who has lost loved ones knows the impact of an old photo, a handwritten letter, or a crackling recorded message. In a way, the ones we have lost become present. Emotion rises along with memories and love’s affection. An old book, jewelry, an article of clothing … we keep these things as mementos. With the saints, however, we not only keep things of the person, but we also keep the body of the person.

The 25th session of Trent’s second decree teaches us why the bodies of saints are different. Relics of bone, hair, and even blood once belonged to bodies possessing a two-fold dignity: (1) being living members of the Body of Christ and (2) being temples of the Holy Spirit. The council states that, through venerating these relics, God bestows gifts on men. Additionally, those who oppose this teaching, “the Church has already long since condemned.”

This condemnation is not found among Dominicans. Today the Order of Preachers celebrates the Translation of Holy Father Dominic. ‘Translation’ is an unfortunate translation. The Latin, elevatio corporis, brings forth the transcendent quality of this feast. We don’t celebrate a horizontal change of word for word moving from tongue to tongue. Rather, we celebrate the vertical change of the profane to the holy. On this day in 1233, St. Dominic’s remains were elevated, celebrated, and laid to rest in the Arca di San Domenico—the exquisite sarcophagus complete in 1267.

Though the brethren lifted St. Dominic from the tomb, it was God who elevated the body of St. Dominic. Our Father in heaven honored our Holy Father Dominic by a miracle (ST III.6). The moment the stone slab covering the coffin was split, the broken seal emitted an indescribable, sweet fragrance. So potent was the smell that those who touched its source, St. Dominic’s bones, themselves began to emit the aroma. Martha feared the stench of Lazarus’ four days in the tomb (Jn 11:38–44), but the friars rejoiced in the sweet-smelling oblation of St. Dominic’s 11 years in the tomb.

The relics of St. Dominic, like all other relics, remind us of not only the saint but the One the saint served. By this miracle, through his lowly servant St. Dominic, God makes real the words of St. Paul:

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. (2 Cor 2:15–16)

Smells, like a mother’s perfume, conjure the deepest memories we have of a person. The smell of St. Dominic works in an analogous way, but with an important difference. The brothers would not have been reminded of the old smell of the perspiring friar. They would have been reminded of the Resurrection. Christ by dying and rising has transformed the decay of death into the fragrance of eternal life. Relics do not just remind us of a life lived, but a life living.“

“Thou didst breath fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath and now do I sigh for Thee.” -St Augustine

Love, life, & LIFE to come!!
Matthew

Explaining abortion to children

“After her children had gone to sleep one night, pro-life author Jean Garton was finishing a presentation on abortion that included a picture of a baby aborted at 10 weeks. She narrates what happened next:

Suddenly I heard, rather than saw, another person near me. At the sound of a sharp intake of breath, I turned to find that my youngest son, then a sleepy, rumpled three-year-old, had unexpectedly and silently entered the room. His small voice was filled with great sadness as he asked, “Who broke the baby?”

Explaining abortion to a young child is an awful, horrifying thing to do. In our home, this explanation is necessary because of our involvement with crisis pregnancy centers and diocesan pro-life activities. Our kids start to hear the word “abortion” at a fairly young age, and so at a certain point I must tell them, gently, the meaning of the word.

Explaining the Unthinkable

It’s dreadfully surreal when a mother first exposes the concept of abortion to her child. I usually take a deep breath and say, “Sometimes mommies or daddies don’t want their babies, and they pay a doctor to take the baby out too soon.” Obviously, this is simplistic and not the full range of scenarios, but it leads to the next question: “But what happens to the baby?” Your honest answer: “It’s very sad Honey, but the baby dies.”

So far, each of my children has had the same reaction: disbelief, confusion, denial, and alarm. “How could anyone do that?” they ask, recoiling. “Who forces a mommy to do that?” “Why would a doctor do that to a little baby?”

Children are naturally pro-life, and they really get the horror of it.

You don’t have to paint a picture or get graphic. The idea of someone deliberately killing a baby in his mother’s womb is so foreign to small children as to be absurd, nonsensical, insane. Their little minds sense the disorder and evil immediately, and they reject it.

After our little ones experience that initial shock, we must be sure to remind them about God’s mercy and about our duty love both the babies and their mothers. You might say something like this:

“I know! It’s so sad that someone would do this. Some mommies think they can’t take care of the baby and others don’t even think it is a baby, because people have lied to them about that. But lots of mommies feel terrible later, because deep down they know that what they did was wrong. But guess what? God loves us and he always wants to help us, even if we do something really bad. So let’s pray for the mommies, daddies, and doctors who do this, because God and those little babies want to see all of them in Heaven one day.”

A Light in the Darkness

When I explain abortion to my children, it feels like I’m taking their innocence away from them. After all, once a child understands that our nation not only allows but celebrates the murder of children nestled in their mothers’ wombs, just as they or their siblings had been nestled so recently, how could they not be affected to their core? But it’s important to balance the darkness of abortion with the light of God’s truth.

Here are three concepts that refute the pro-abortion mindset (and many other evils) that you can and should instill in even your smallest children:

The Beauty of Human Life: This is the easiest (and most fun) way to teach your children to be pro-life. There are lots of great videos on the Internet that show human development in the womb through 3-dimensional ultrasounds, computer graphics, and even high definition videos shot from inside the uterus with a tiny camera. Another fun thing is to borrow a fetal model display from a pro-life organization and let your children hold, and love on, these tiny model babies. And here is a “guessing game” that will delight your children and stick with them forever: Pull out the children’s Bible and have them tell you how many people were at the Visitation (Luke 1:39-44). They may guess two, but then they will see that there were four! Mary, Elizabeth, Jesus, and John!

The Equal Dignity of Human Beings: I remember reading a pro-life author who described what happened when his seven-year-old saw a double amputee. She whispered to her father that the man had no legs, but then she said to him, drawing on the lessons he taught her, “But he is still just as valuable as everyone else!” Teach your children early that our dignity and value as human beings is the same no matter how smart, strong, or old we are—or aren’t. And of course, as they say in that children’s classic, Horton Hears a Who: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Good Ends Don’t Justify Evil Means: The most basic principle of the natural law and Christian morality is, “Do good, avoid evil.” Unfortunately, some people think that it’s okay to do “what is necessary” to achieve a good end, even if the means of getting there is evil (e.g., a college student maintains the good of education through the evil means of aborting her unintended pregnancy).

Always remind your children that, if they have a problem, they must never do something wrong—even a little wrong—in order to solve it. When they are small, this might take the form of letting someone else play with a toy instead of using their fists to get it back. As they get bigger, they will grow in virtue and learn a lesson many adults don’t understand: It is always better to suffer evil and be hurt than to inflict evil and be the one who hurts others. One of my favorite quotes is from St. Thomas Aquinas: “Pain or sorrow for that which is truly evil cannot be the greatest evil: for there is something worse, namely, either not to reckon as evil that which is really evil, or not to reject it.”

Finally, explain to your children that many people have changed their hearts on the issue of abortion, including women and men who have procured them, and including abortionists themselves! Some of them even fight against abortion similar to the way that St. Paul, who used to murder Christians, went on to become one of the greatest Christians of all time! Let them know that even though the world can be an unfair and even scary place, God is bigger than the world because He created it. God’s Son Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble; but don’t be afraid, I have overcome the world!” (cf. John 16:33).”

Love & Life,
Matthew

I AM the Way!!

I LOVE St Thomas; yes, his incredulity. But, moreso, his crankiness. He is very easy to imagine as that ONE in any group who is THE negative Nel, apologies to all Nels out there, Bob Bummers, Debbie Downers, etc. He whines. He complains. WHAT a ray of JOY & LIGHT in a group, no?

Were it up to the Apostles, they would surely have thrown Thomas in a well or over a cliff, or whatever it took to get RID of him!!! Imagine waking up to hear, listen to Thomas complain, whine, albeit unrecorded, each morning!!! A REAL upper!!!!

If it weren’t for the miracles and Jesus, it would be a horrible existence to have to live with Thomas. His family must have been GLAD to get rid of him!!! Yet, the Boss, Jesus, knows him, loves him, calls hims, gives him, knowing Thomas, special status. Jesus KNEW Thomas would be the one to openly doubt after the Resurrection.

Some of the Apostles, the ingenues, the younger ones, John, may have believed right off the bat due to their youthful naivete’, or sincerely; but the older, more sodden with experience ones, understandably, were thinking what Thomas said out loud, and took the easy way out to let Thomas do it. See, there’s the rub. The annoying one also always does a great service. He gets to do unpopular work of asking the uncomfortable questions, to the benefit of the group. That is likely why any group keeps them around, to provide that good service despite being annoying.

Jn 11:16


-by Br Isidore Rice, OP

“Where I AM going you know the way.”
Thomas said to Him,
“Master, we do not know where You are going;
how can we know the way?” (John 14:4-5)

“Here Thomas denies the two things that our Lord affirmed.” St. Thomas Aquinas’ first take on his namesake’s question finds St. Thomas the Apostle contradicting the Lord. Whatever St. Thomas the Apostle’s weaknesses, he at least had no trouble speaking his mind.

Jesus claims that Thomas knows the way. Thomas audaciously responds that he doesn’t. His reasoning is as flawless as that of Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

But lest we think that the disciple has bested the master, Aquinas reconciles Jesus and Thomas’ conflicting claims, stating that “both statements are true: for it is true that [the apostles] knew, yet they did not know that they knew.” The apostles know the way because they know Jesus, Who is the way. They know the destination because they know Jesus, Who is the truth and the life. “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

Our destination is God. A life GPS set to anywhere else or to nowhere in particular will not lead us there. It is not an easy thing to go to God and see Him face to face. “No one has ever seen God” (John 1:18a). But there is one way: “The only Son, God, Who is in the bosom of the Father, has made Him known” (John 1:18b).

It took St. Thomas a while to understand. The same boldness that urged him to object that he did not know the way would later specify the way he could come to belief: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). St. Thomas came to believe not only in the resurrection of Jesus, but also that Jesus is Himself the way and the goal: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Love,
Matthew