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Wednesday 12 December 2012

Heads up from Fr. Ray Blakes's Blog

Statement on the government response to the same sex marriage consultation

Bishops Conference of England and Wales 

'The meaning of marriage matters. It derives that meaning from its function as the foundation of the family. The union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support and open to procreation has over the centuries formed a stable unit we call the family.
Marriage is the enduring public recognition of this commitment and has been rightly recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection. The government has chosen to ignore the views of over 600,000 people who signed a petition calling for the current definition of marriage to stay, and we are told legislation to change the definition of marriage will now come to Parliament. We strongly oppose such a Bill.
Furthermore, the process by which this has happened can only be described as shambolic. There was no electoral mandate in any manifesto; no mention in the Queen’s speech; no serious or thorough consultation through a Green or White paper, and a constant shifting of policy before even the government response to the consultation was published today.
We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill.'

Thomas Aquinas in the Present Age of Nice

My generation was raised with more manners than the present youth. We knew how to act in various social settings. We were kind and considerate to the old and very young, women and babies.  But, we also knew when to speak clearly about truth and nonsense. Perfection does not come to those who are squeamish. I suggest a good look at this, unfortunately grainy take, from Jesus of Nazareth.

I published this article in January of this year, on the 9th, under the same title; and I am posting it again. It was part of the beginning of the series on Perfection.

I taught college in the late 70s and 80s, was a stay at home mom for many years, and went back into the classroom in the late 90s, until 2010. In a period of eleven years, the difference in the ability of the students to make decisions struck me as apocalyptic. Since 1996, when I re-entered academia, until 2010, when I left the classroom, my observations included the fact that my students has no moral framework from which to decide right or wrong. The heresy of relativism had changed two generations of minds, so that the rational ability to chose virtue over pleasure, depravity, sin was gone. Without reason, none of us can be truly virtuous. Thomas Aquinas in his sections on virtue in the Summa, notes that, natural reason perfected leads to virtue. Virtue cannot be developed or lived without the perfection of natural reason. Intellectual and moral virtues assumes, as we know in the teaching of the Catholic Church, an ability to reason, set usually at the age of seven. At that age, traditionally, children begin to establish a perception of good and evil, virtue and vice, which allows them to chose. Now, the passions come into play here, but that is not the emphasis of this post.

If a child is being raised in complete relativism, with no basis for judgement, such as the Ten Commandments, the Laws of the Church, the conscience will lack that reasonable ability which can be perfected. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the virtues and the life of virtue?

Knowledge leads to action, unless one lives in the knee-jerk world of the passions unbridled. Knowledge is partly built upon natural law, a concept denied by our Post-Modernist atheists and Christians. Revelation, that is the Old and New Testaments, builds on natural law, and the Tradition of the Catholic Church builds on Revelation. Reason is capable of absorbing these teachings, as we are rational beings. The monkey wrench in the machine is this "nice" attitude that all "values" are equal and that passions may be followed without rules-anarchy of the mind and will.

My former students on the whole did not have parents who raised them with any consequences or rules. Most of them were making up rules for relationships and life goals as they went along. Poor things. Like the Existentialist who sees life as pain because there is no meaning unless one creates that meaning, these young people just lurch from one idea of popular Post-Modernist narcissism to the next.

Our present Pope is the Pope of Reason, and he has written and spoken of the rational aspect of humanity, and the beauty of the overlap of reason and Faith-the pillars of the formation of a moral framework, leading to the perfection of reason, which is virtue.

Many arguments on line have been criticized for not being nice, or lacking tact.

My generation was raised with manners, but we never used this word "tact"to criticize strong feelings regarding heaven, hell, or the four last things.

Some Millenials do not want to hear the Truth unless is comes in a nice package. Here are a few quotations upon which to meditate for my young friends. I do not address you, but your teachers and priests in these phrases; consider the world in which we live and listen carefully. This is God speaking.

Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean. Matthew 23:26

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness. Matt. 23:27

Peer Pressure and Lot's Wife

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town. --Matthew 10:14-15
Halite in Death Valley similar to the area of Sodom and Gomorrah--thanks to Wiki

Many commentators of the Bible in year's past have stated that Lot's wife was punished for desiring her old life. She was missing her friends, house, grieving for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some commentators state that she died from a lack of faith. She had to look.

 That Lot's wife was instantly turned into a pillar of salt means that she lost her salvation.

I think she was taken up by what we call peer pressure. What do I mean?

Let me start with analogous situations and a disclaimer. I was not ever attracted to the group or the gangs. I was a leader in college, and I was not attracted to peer pressure even in high school. Maybe it is because I am an INTJ. Maybe it was a grace. Maybe, like all in my family, I was so independent minded that to run with the crowd was never an option. Also, as a Catholic adult, I have had to stand up for my faith many, many times in many different venues. I am not afraid.

However, Lot's wife has intrigued me, as she was the only one in her family to look back. Lot and his daughters continued to follow the Angel to safety. One alone looked back.

Curiosity is a morbid feature, perhaps, of this true story from the Scriptures. But, why would a grown woman mourn over the justice of God on the day of ruin? Her mind and heart had been corrupted by the people with whom she lived.

She looked back in a false compassion, a false sense of sorrow. Now, this sounds harsh to those younger than myself. But, one must walk away from evil and peers who would bring you evil if you have spoken to them about the Truth and they refuse to listen. Why?

The Pillar of Lot's Wife in 
Your own soul is at stake.

Perhaps it is because so many young people do not come from large families and crave acceptance. Maybe only children or children with one other sibling feel the need for companionship to the point of giving in on their own morals and values.

America is a comformist society. But, the signs have been that the Millenials are less comformist. I have not seen this, in fact, the opposite. They conform in a different way-virtually, on line. And, they are reticent to discuss contentious subjects with each other. They do not want to rock the boat, as it were.

And, because of bad catechesis, too many do not know nor do they want to know the Faith.

Lot's wife was not converted. She did not think like God. She was conformed to Sodom and Gomorrah. That is the message of "looking back".

In Luke 17:32, Christ is speaking of the Day of the Lord, and He refers to Lot's Wife. He used her as an example of one who was damned. And, her sin could be that she longed to be with her friends, rather than with God's Truth.

Thoughts on Idolatry

This is a hard thing to write, but write it I must. I was listening to Venerable Fulton J. Sheen on Mary and, by extension, the Church as the Bride of Christ. The saint stated clearly that one of the reasons that a woman cannot be a priest is the reality of Christ, as Man, giving life to the Church and the Church receiving it as a Bride. His imagery was striking.

Those of us who know the symbolism and truth of the relationship between Christ and His Church know it is one of love. St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his great sermons on the Bride in the Song of Songs, notes that the Church is Christ's Bride.

Many of the so-called womynpriests are also liberals in other ways. The Anglican Church, which has accepted womnypriests since 1992 also accepts gay men and women as priests. There is a gender confusion based on a huge misunderstanding of the relationship of Christ as Groom to Church as Bride.

How many women who want to be priests are also pro-gay, pro-lesbian? Is there a connection between  the sin of homosexual acts and the horrible misunderstanding of the priesthood? Could it be that the blurring of the gender of Christ, the God-Man, is part of the confusion of sin?

I think so.

In a Church which cannot accept Christ as God Incarnated as a Man and as priest who are alter Christus, is there not an acceptance of same-sex marriage?

 The two are connected in the pysches of those who want to make the Church in their own image and likeness. The photo is of two lesbian priests who got "married" last year at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass. attended by 400 people. One is dean in a divinity school.

That is the goal of both the gay agenda and the push for womynpriests-to remake the Church into an image of confusion and sin, rather than love and beauty.

When we try and make God into our image and likeness, we are committing the sin of idolatry, the sin against the first commandment. That fact that it is the first commandment, I am the Lord Thy God, thou  shalt not have strange gods before Me, means it is the most important and the commandment underlining all the others.

Homosexual and lesbians acts are idolatry, as one is only loving one's self as mirrored in another person, rather than loving the other; the other is the other gender.

I think that it is not an accident that the womynpriest movement and the movement for gay and lesbian rights overlap in the churches which are departing from the Gospels. I think these are psychologically and philosophically connected.

He shall gather the lambs with His arms..........

Advent Meditation on the Good Shepherd from Tuesday's reading.

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs
with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are
with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and
He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He
is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
(Matthew 11:28-29)

The timing of vocations

Talking with a priest last week and a young person this week on the importance of timing in discerning vocations, let me share with you some thoughts.

Firstly, a young person who does not have a clear idea of whether God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life, should discern this before they get into courtship.

Now, I do not believe in dating for entertainment. Dating is for finding a mate. And, a better word would be courtship. This is an old idea revived by many of us home schooling parents in the 1980s and 1990s, which now is a happy topic on Catholic radio, to which I do not have access, but so people tell me.

One does not date in order to discern a vocation. That is bad advice if one receives that from a priest.

If one has a strong attraction to the priesthood or religious life, a young person should seek out the vocations director of a diocese or the head of the monastery or convent in one's area and discern by looking and staying.

Secondly, if one has a vocation, it is wrong to lead someone of the opposite sex astray by dating. This is deceitful. Now, I had a friend a long time ago who had a vocation to the priesthood and wanted to go to concerts and stuff and wanted a safe friend with whom to go. I was it. I had no intentions of getting married and as we had a mutual understanding, it was fine. If a person knows themselves well enough, then this may be ok but I would not recommend it.

Go out with friends of the same gender, in groups; but do not get into exclusive dating

Thirdly, there is a timing for discerning vocations and I am convinced of this. I have seen this over and over. Sometimes vocations are lost through procrastinations and hemming and hawing-not taking the risk or even foolish fear of family reactions.

There is a time when God knocks at the door and asks someone to follow Him totally. If you are a young person and feel this could be true in your case, but you are hesitant, hesitate no longer.  God stands at the door and knocks but we all have free will.

If you follow this blog, you all know I recently lived in a monastery for two months discerning a late vocation. I had to do this. I had to put a niggling idea to rest one way or the other. Thankfully, God helped me discern that He wanted me, one in the world, but two, having a life of meditation and contemplation in the world.

This is hard but not impossible. God makes all things possible.

Fourthly, if you are a young person and you are not discerning and do not know, do so. Your entire life of happiness and peace is at stake.

Fifthly, it would be very wrong for a young person to know they have a religious vocation or a call to the priesthood and date. It would be equally wrong for someone to sense that the person they like has a call and date that person. Be a real friend and help them by encouraging them to get a spiritual director and figure it all out now!

Lastly, if your parents are against you following a vocation, think clearly. They may be wrong, or they may be right. But, 50% of the priests ordained in 2010 in America, said that they had no support from their families--on the contrary.

Be careful and be holy. Listen to the Holy Spirit and do not run away from God.

Our Mother, pray for us

The Metaphysics of Love--Repeat of Perfection Series continued

Reading St. John of the Cross again, at a older age, makes me realize that the world today conspires to separate the middle-aged from their true vocation in life. At a certain stage, I would say between 55-60, to begin with an arbitrary set of five years, the older person's life changes from being concerned with the outward life, such as making money, buying a house, getting married, raising a family, taking care of parents, etc. to a slower paced yet infinitely important time of life. This is the time for the development of the interior life. Without this time, a person does not reach the perfection necessary to avoid purgatory, nor does that person come into the union with God, which is possible for all.

In my mini-series on perfection, Garrigou-Lagrange repeats that all Catholics are called to this higher call of oneness with God. This call, as I have described on this blog before now, is for the many, not the few.

In the time of middle-age, the pursuit of the active, exterior life should melt away into an inner energy of the building of the interior life. Now,in this day and age of financial unrest, many middle-aged people, including myself, find that we must keep working longer than we thought, as pensions have been cut, or have disappeared entirely. The restless pursuit of the necessary, food, lodging and so on, must continue later than the baby-boomers planned. This is a serious threat to our interior growth, so important for learning and obtaining love.

The society is against us, with the false, siren call of early retirement or incessant travelling. In fact, a financial crisis may help some people my age simply stay at home, and read, pray or wow, even study their Faith.

The restlessness of youth must be supplanted by a time of reflection and withdrawal from the world. If this does not happen, the Catholic cannot grow.

Being involved in parish duties is fine, but unless there is the awareness that the interior life is like a plant which needs tending on a daily basis, the spiritual life will wither and die in the spiritual life, there is no status quo--only going forward or going back.

My advice is to simplify. Husbands and wives in the empty nest, help each other pray and meditate. If one must work, the other must help that one to time and energy for this interior life. This must be considered a priority.

The metaphysics of love demands that we are purified by active and passive transformation. We can cooperate with God in the active purification, by giving time and energy to prayer and study.

As I have said before here, we need to cooperate with grace, and God only comes to those who ask Him to come. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit is given to all Catholics in the sacraments of the Church. But, the Holy Spirit will not work against our will. Actively, we seek God. Then, passively, we receive His gifts, His Love. But, this takes focus, the focus of the interior life.

to be continued.....

St. Benedict Labre, thank you

One of my personal patrons is St. Benedict Labre. The most beautiful nun in my school was named after him, but she left before final vows. I think of her today and Dear Benedict.

Here is where he is buried, the Chapel of Santa Maria dei Monti in Rome 

And here is an amazing list of his beliefs:

Thirty useful sentiments of the St Benedict Joseph Labre, drawn from the history of his life.
  1. By the grace of God we can do everything. We can remain unhurt in the midst of the fire, like the three holy youths in the furnace of Babylon.
  2. Everything may be done by the help of God, provided we have a sincere goodwill.
  3. To communicate through obedience is better and more pleasing to God, than to abstain from it through humility.
  4. It is never allowable to use or keep anything when we know it has been stolen.
  5. It is never lawful to tell a lie; we ought always to speak the truth, whatever it may cost us.
  6. We offend God, because we do not know his greatness.
  7. He who knows what God is, studies to avoid sin.
  8. The want of proper examination, true contrition, and a firm purpose of amendment, is the cause of bad confessions, and of the ruin of souls.
  9. In this world we are all in a valley of tears. Our consolation is not here; we shall have it eternally in Paradise, if we suffer tribulations on earth.
  10. God afflicts us because he loves us; and it is very pleasing to him, when in our afflictions he sees us abandon ourselves to his paternal care.
  11. Where fraternal charity is concerned, everything should be sacrificed.
  12. Those only are to be called poor and unhappy, who are in hell, who have lost God for eternity, not those who are poor on earth.
  13. However much we suffer for the love of Jesus Crucified, it is but little.
  14. Let him who seeks true humility, employ two means: mental prayer, meditating on the greatness of God, and his own nothingness; vocal prayer, asking it of God, through the merits of Jesus and Mary.
  15. By talking and irreverence in churches, we show disrespect to Almighty God in his own house.
  16. Acts of irreverence in churches are sins which greatly displease God; they horrify the angels, and do great harm to the soul.
  17. If there were only one person to be condemned, each should fear to be that one.
  18. We should often meditate on the pains of hell, in order to abhor mortal sin, which casts us into it for all eternity; and think of the small number of the elect, that we may live in fear.
  19. The Providence of God is never wanting to him who confides in God as he ought.
  20. With regard to corporal provision, we should not think of a future day, according to the advice of our blessed Redeemer: "Be not solicitous for the morrow." God who provides for today, will also provide for tomorrow.
    Particular sentiments concerning true poverty, which the Servant of God wonderfully loved and practised.
  21. The poor should live by alms.
  22. A little suffices for the support of the body; what is superfluous, will only serve to furnish the worms with a greater feast.
  23. A poor man does not seek a bed in order to sleep, he throws himself down anywhere.
  24. Conveniences are not for the poor.
  25. Poor people should not use a loaf; they should be content with fragments.
  26. The poor should not carry money in their travels.
  27. The poor should not eat dainties.
  28. The poor should not be well clad.
  29. The poor should not drink wine: it is not necessary; water suffices to appease thirst.
[Antonio Maria Coltraro (d. 1797), The Life of the Venerable Servant of God, Benedict Joseph Labre. (Oratorian series: "The Saints and Servants of God.") London. Thomas Richardson and Son. 1850. pp.354-56.]