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Monday 4 May 2015

Spurning Knowledge

Several months ago, I was speaking with a highly intelligent cab driver in another state, who noted that people were getting too touchy about everything. He is a Christian, a convert from Islam, who told me that he could no longer talk about any topics in the cab, as the vast majority of people he drove on long trips which was my case, would take offense at any political, religious, or moral topic.

His ability to reason was part of his conversion.

We discussed this phenomenon and decided that there exists a huge difference in generations regarding the ability to discuss something or even, to be corrected.

This fine man of about forty-something noted that few could stand being challenged in their ideas, and that many people were full of demons, unexplained hang-ups on certain topics, which ended conversations.

As a mature Christian, coming from a background where nothing could be discussed in open conversations concerning his former faith, he noted that opinions seemed more important than truth to people, and agendas clouded people's minds about wanting to find out the truth.

Yesterday, a friend of mine, Mr. B., told me the same thing, which reminded me of this former discussion. He said that in some discussions, one touches demons in the souls of others, who then cannot respond rationally.

Mr. B. said that when one brings up a topic and someone is stuck in an agenda and refuses to listen to rational discourse, that person falls back into opinion, rather than reasonable openness. For example, if a person is a practicing homosexual and one wants to discuss the possibility of this lifestyle being unnatural or even against the natural law of God, there seems to be a strong resistance to even be open to the truth. There can be no discussion. Why?

All topics should be able to be discussed, and logic should be the common ground for discussions. But, here is the problem according to my two friends above-no one has been taught in the past twenty or so years to really look at various points of view about a subject and few people believe in absolute truth.

In addition, most people do not want to break out of their own fairy tale land of comfort in order to pursue the truth. Sloth is the name of the game.

Another friend said exactly the same thing as Mr. B. Ms. K reminded me that when we were in school, we learned to do research by using the library card catalogs and journals. We had to use research skills to find out sources for our papers. We could not use merely our own unsubstantiated feelings or opinions. The instructors in our various subjects, whether history, English, or the sciences, even in high school, demanded that we get experts and peer-reviewed articles to substantiate our viewpoints.

Now, everyone thinks they are entitled to uneducated guesses, or just their own viewpoints without any recourse to study or reading.

Too many young people refuse, for example, to look up articles on line on the Catholic positions, including the various sites which present the encyclicals, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
There is no excuses for ignorance if one is online, yet ignorance remains. Why?

It seems that we are witnessing a large portion of society who just do not want to admit that their worlds of completely made-up, false comfort may be coming to an end. Too many people do not want to face the truth about moral or religious issues.

This type of chosen ignorance is not the same as involuntary or invincible ignorance. When information is available and people do not avail themselves of this information, only two conclusions may be reached and these are that sloth makes them lazy, or that lust makes them complacent.

Sloth is one of the greatest sins of the new group of people who refuse to read or study unless they absolutely are forced to do so. The idea of learning for the joy of learning seems to be fading in our society. And, when asked to move out of their comfort zones of prejudices and agendas, these people refuse to admit that they will not read, study or discuss.

What is going on? When I was a student, we sat around as kids for hours discussing life, the universe and everything. We had discussions on math, science, history, literature, movies, music, art and so on. Is this happening anywhere?

Religious discussions seemed very popular when I was in high school, with Lutheran kids wanting to share their ideas with the Methodists and the Catholics and so on. No kids talked about money or shopping, as those topics were boring. We were idea kids, and we wanted to learn about what made each other religious or non-religious. We wanted to know.

Now, as my cab driver stated, one cannot even bring up interesting topics without getting the lazy answers from the “I don't know and I don't want to find out” types, or from the “This is too hard, and I want to avoid confrontation” types, or the “I take offense as to what you are saying” types.

But, discussion is not always confrontation. In fact, the give and take of discussion should be exciting. It should be, primarily, the sharing and the mutual discovery of Truth. Ah, but there is the rub.

Do people really want to find out the truth about anything, themselves, others, the state of the world, the state of wars, and so on?

Too many young people are chasing after false dreams of various versions of the so-called American Dream, which no longer exists in reality. Too many young people really want only lives of things, including treating people as things. Too many only want comforts and not challenges.

When a civilization loses the desire for knowledge, it is dead, not decaying, but dead.

It is a fact that this younger generation is not as intelligent as the previous ones. Father Ripperger calls this devolution-that we are as humans getting more and more stupid. Why?

Sin is the answer. Sin makes one stupid. Sin makes one stop asking the basic questions of life, like “Why am I here?” or “What if the goal of a human being's life?” When a people stop asking or seeking after the meanings of things or of systems, it means they have chosen lust, greed, vanity, pride, avarice, hatred, sloth over Truth. Sin deadens the imagination and fills the soul with trivia.

My cabby friend noted that people got upset about everything, were hyper-touchy because they did not want to be challenged about life.

Guess what? We are all about to be challenged as never before...when the dollar explodes, when there is war which entails a draft, when persecution of the Catholic Church becomes enshrined in law, many people will be challenged to leave their comfort zones of the denial of absolute truth.

Knowledge is there for the taking. We live in an era where more knowledge has been available to the common man and woman than ever before. What took years of hard research and work to find can be found with one Google entry. Nothing is arcane, or few things are.

There is no excuse for ignorance. For those who want to remain ignorant of God's ways, His plan for salvation, His hierarchy of morals and laws, the days are coming when they will have to make a choice, with or without knowledge.

I refuse to spoon-feed. I never did as a teacher. I taught my students how to do research, and most importantly, how to think. I taught them how to discuss rationally important questions. They left my classes changed because I challenged them to leave the comfortable areas of opinion and laziness. They grew up, as learning how to think marks the boy from the man, the girl from the woman.

Teaching people who do not want to learn how to think can be a real difficulty. But, God has a way of doing that. It is called tribulation. The trials of the Hebrew People in the Old Testament were punishment for sin, but also wake-up calls to think through the messages of repentance proclaimed over and over by the prophets, most of whom were murdered by their own people.

The prophets were killed because people did not want to listen and think about their sins.

To repent, one must stop and think, reflect, learn, be willing to learn more about one's self and God.

Without self-knowledge and knowledge of God, one is doomed to stupidity cocooned in pride.

I pity the young ones who have never learned how to think. I suggest a long retreat with the guidance of St. Ignatius and the examination of Scripture and one's own life.

But, those who are content with trivia and content with agendas will not step out into unknown territory, which is what the spiritual world is.

Those who are willing to step out of their fanciful lives of comfort will find God, as He is Truth and He wants to be found. Those who do not, sadly, will perish and never live in the glory to which God has called each one of us, the glory of knowing God, Who is Love.

There are many reasons why people do not want to learn-pride being the first reason. Sloth, as I noted above, another. Today, I was watching a manager in a shop get upset because she had trained a person to do something, a simple task, and that person just did not do what she was told. Did she not listen? Was she not capable of understanding? This manager has gone through many, many employees in her shop and she cannot find “suitable people”. Why?

I thought about this and realized that all the young people she had hired and fired over the past two months, all about the ages between 18-28, had never learned three basic things-the first being obedience. They just did not know how to follow orders and obey, because no one had ever demanded that they obey anyone from little on.

The second reason is that these young people never had to take responsibility for any job at home. They never had to “do” anything, had no standards to meet in school, had no real challenges of meeting someone's expectations. The third reason is that they had never learned to think through a problem from the beginning to the end, even a simple one. They simply had to be told over and over what to do, as in spoon-feeding, not having to figure something out on their own.

I pity this manager, but she and others in charge of personnel, who have told me that they cannot find “suitable help”, have a problem on their hands which is huge-the devolution of the human being to the point where these young people simply cannot think. I saw one young man leave work yesterday and he yelled at a driver in front of his car, who was going slowly in order to find a street behind the shop. This young man was completely out of control of his emotions. The other driver was being careful and this young man was so impatient to leave, he could not control his outburst, which was totally unjustified. I witnessed all this from the sidewalk.

Living in the emotions rather than reason spells decay for a culture. This young man will not make it in the world, as he cannot keep his negative emotions to himself. He cannot reason his feelings into order. He will be the next one fired from the shop, as he irritates customers.

So, what we have is a young man who cannot control himself, who does not care about those around him, who cannot live in a society where manners and decorum when waiting on customers is necessary for the smooth running of a shop.

I have seen the coming and going of at least twelve employees in two months. Are there so many young people who cannot learn, cannot control themselves, and who take offense easily? My cabby friend would just shake his head and say, “Told you so.”

Yes, I am getting to gradualism-Three

So, how is St. John Paul II against the heresy of gradualism, which denies free will and grace?

Here, he is clear that marriage is a decision which demands the virtue of faith, given to all in baptism. In this grace, we all become prophets to the truth. We, through our lay lives in marriage, strengthen the Church and evangelize the unbelieving.

Again, God does not ask the impossible, and we all are given the theological virtue of faith, which like all the virtues, is made perfect in practice.

Do gradualists think the saint's words are mere poetry? Do they not believe this infallible document themselves? Have they never experienced the growth of faith through suffering in their own lives?

Maybe, maybe not...The entire point of gradualism is that people should be allowed the sacrilege of receiving Christ while they are in sin, instead of following the teaching of sacrifice and suffering put forward by St. John Paul II and others.

At the time of the wedding vow, faith is operative in both couples, unless there is an impediment, which only the Church can decide. In that moment, the couple agrees not only to love each other and subsequent offspring, but to evangelize through the sacrament and to build up the Church through their real, total love. They enter into the love of God Himself.

To throw this away, and worse, to turn against this sublime teaching mocks God, and God will not be mocked.

As a sharer in the life and mission of the church, which listens to the word of God with reverence and proclaims it confidently,[120] the Christian family fulfills its prophetic role by welcoming and announcing the word of God: It thus becomes more and more each day a believing and evangelizing community.
Christian spouses and parents are required to offer "the obedience of faith."[121] They are called upon to welcome the word of the Lord, which reveals to them the marvelous news--the good news--of their conjugal and family life sanctified and made a source of sanctity by Christ himself. Only in faith can they discover and admire with joyful gratitude the dignity to which God has deigned to raise marriage and the family, making them a sign and meeting place of the loving covenant between God and man, between Jesus Christ and his bride, the church.
The very preparation for Christian marriage is itself a journey of faith. It is a special opportunity for the engaged to rediscover and deepen the faith received in baptism and nourished by their Christian upbringing. In this way they come to recognize and freely accept their vocation to follow Christ and to serve the kingdom of God in the married state.
The celebration of the sacrament of marriage is the basic moment of the faith of the couple. This sacrament, in essence, is the proclamation in the church of the good news concerning married love. It is the word of God that "reveals" and "fulfills" the wise and loving plan of God for the married couple, giving them a mysterious and real share in the very love with which God himself loves humanity. Since the sacramental celebration of marriage is itself a proclamation of the word of God, it must also be a "profession of faith" within and with the church, as a community of believers, on the part of all those who in different ways participate in its celebration.

Marriage is not just between two people to control lust. The witness of marriage in the Church transcends the sub-human and brings people to a chance for perfection.

This profession of faith demands that it be prolonged in the life of the married couple and of the family. God, who called the couple to marriage, continues to call them in marriage.[122] In and through the events, problems, difficulties and circumstances of everyday life, God comes to them, revealing and presenting the concrete "demands" of their sharing in the love of Christ for his church in the particular family, social and ecclesial situation in which they find themselves.
The discovery of and obedience to the plan of God on the part of the conjugal and family community must take place in "togetherness," through the human experience of love between husband and wife, between parents and children, lived in the spirit of Christ.
Thus the little domestic church, like the greater church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelized: hence its duty regarding permanent education in the faith.
52. To the extent in which the Christian family accepts the Gospel and matures in faith, it becomes an evangelizing community. Let us listen again to Paul VI: "The family, like the church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized.

Here we are back to my theme yesterday, that we are all called to evangelize and no one is left out of this command, not even the mother at home, or the dad at work.

We HAVE the grace to stay married and to be married in Christ. We are given that grace and we only have to agree to living in that grace.

This apostolic mission of the family is rooted in baptism and receives from the grace of the sacrament of marriage new strength to transmit the faith, to sanctify and transform our present society according to God's plan.
Particularly today the Christian family has a special vocation to witness to the paschal covenant of Christ by constantly radiating the joy of love and the certainty of the hope for which it must give account: "The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come."[125]

Remember how I wrote yesterday that I had a missionary heart? All who are married are given that for their children and for the parish, the entire Church.

It should not be forgotten that the service rendered by Christian spouses and parents to the Gospel is essentially an ecclesial service. It has its place within the context of the whole church as an evangelized and evangelizing community. Insofar as the ministry of evangelization and catechesis of the church of the home is rooted in and derives from the one mission of the church and is ordained to the upbuilding of the one body of Christ,[128] it must remain in intimate communion and collaborate responsibly with all the other evangelizing and catechetical activities present and at work in the ecclesial community at the diocesan and parochial levels.
54. Evangelization, urged on within by irrepressible missionary zeal, is characterized by a universality without boundaries. It is the response to Christ's explicit and unequivocal command: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation."[129]

Anything less is not the individual or couple living out their baptismal calls.

The Christian family's faith and evangelizing mission also possesses this Catholic missionary inspiration. The sacrament of marriage takes up and reproposes the task of defending and spreading the faith, a task that has its roots in baptism and confirmation,[130] and makes Christian married couples and parents witnesses of Christ "to the end of the earth,"[131] missionaries, in the true and proper sense, of love and life.
A form of missionary activity can be exercised even within the family. This happens when some member of the family does not have the faith or does not practice it with consistency. In such a case the other members must give him or her a living witness of their own faith in order to encourage and support him or her along the path toward full acceptance of Christ the savior.[132]
Animated in its own inner life by missionary zeal, the church of the home is also called to be a luminous sign of the presence of Christ and of his love for those who are "far away," for families who do not yet believe and for those Christian families who no longer live in accordance with the faith that they once received. The Christian family is called to enlighten "by its example and its witness those who seek the truth. "[133]
Just as at the dawn of Christianity Aquila and Priscilla were presented as a missionary couple,[134] so today the church shows forth her perennial newness and fruitfulness by the presence of Christian couples and families who dedicate at least a part of their lives to working in missionary territories, proclaiming the Gospel and doing service to their fellow man in the love of Jesus Christ.
Christian families offer a special contribution to the missionary cause of the church by fostering missionary vocations among their sons and daughters[135] and, more generally, "by training their children from childhood to recognize God's love for all people."[136]

Do some of the fathers in the synod not get it that marriage sanctifies? Adultery leads to perdition. Period. How is it that they think that those in mortal sin, according to Divine Law and the mystery of the sacrament, can receive grace? They cannot, and, in fact, insult God by putting their sin in His Face, as it were. Again, those who insists on this position cannot understand the freedom of will we all have, and grace, given to all.

56. The sacrament of marriage is the specific source and original means of sanctification for Christian married couples and families. It takes up again and makes specific the sanctifying grace of baptism. By virtue of the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, of which the spouses are made part in a new way by marriage, conjugal love is purified and made holy: "This love the Lord has judged worthy of special gifts, healing, perfecting and exalting gifts of grace and of charity."[138]

So we become saints in marriage. Yes, this is possible, with free will choosing real love through grace.

The gift of Jesus Christ is not exhausted in the actual celebration of the sacrament of marriage, but rather accompanies the married couple throughout their lives. This fact is explicitly recalled by the Second Vatican Council when it says that Jesus Christ "abides with them so that just as he loved the church and handed himself over on her behalf, the spouses may love each other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-bestowal...For this reason, Christian spouses have a special sacrament by which they are fortified and receive a kind of consecration in the duties and dignity of their state. By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfill their conjugal and family obligations they are penetrated with the spirit of Christ, who fills their whole lives with faith, hope and charity. Thus they increasingly advance toward their own perfection as well as toward their mutual sanctification, and hence contribute jointly to the glory of God."[139]
Christian spouses and parents are included in the universal call to sanctity. For them this call is specified by the sacrament they have celebrated and is carried out concretely in the realities proper to their conjugal and family life.[140] This gives rise to the grace and requirement of an authentic and profound conjugal and family spirituality that draws its inspiration from the themes of creation, covenant, cross, resurrection and sign, which were stressed more than once by the synod.
Christian marriage, like the other sacraments, "whose purpose is to sanctify people, to build up the body of Christ, and finally, to give worship to God,"[141] is in itself a liturgical action glorifying God in Jesus Christ and in the church. By celebrating it, Christian spouses profess their gratitude to God for the sublime gift bestowed on them of being able to live in their married and family lives the very love of God for people and that of the Lord Jesus for the church, his bride.

And if people fail, we have the sacrament of confession. One does not have to dump the conjugal relationship. One can forgive, one can ask forgiveness.

 An essential and permanent part of the Christian family's sanctifying role consists in accepting the call to conversion that the Gospel addresses to all Christians, who do not always remain faithful to the "newness" of the baptism that constitutes them "saints." The Christian family too is sometimes unfaithful to the law of baptismal grace and holiness proclaimed anew in the sacrament of marriage.
Repentance and mutual pardon within the bosom of the Christian family, so much a part of daily life, receive their specific sacramental expression in Christian penance. In the encyclical Humanae Vitae, Paul VI wrote of married couples: "And if sin should still keep its hold over them, let them not be discouraged, but rather have recourse with humble perseverance to the mercy of God, which is abundantly poured forth in the sacrament of penance."[146]

There is much in this encyclical on children, the family and preparation for marriage, but I am going to skip to these next selections.

And here the Pope-Saint addresses priest directly:

Priests and deacons, when they have received timely and serious preparation for this apostolate, must unceasingly act toward families as fathers, brothers, pastors and teachers, assisting them with the means of grace and enlightening them with the light of truth. Their teaching and advice must therefore always be in full harmony with the authentic magisterium of the church, in such a way as to help the people of God to gain a correct sense of the faith to be subsequently applied to practical life. Such fidelity to the magisterium will also enable priests to make every effort to be united in their judgments in order to avoid troubling the consciences of the faithful.

In the church, the pastors and the laity share in the prophetic mission of Christ: The laity do so by witnessing to the faith by their words and by their Christian lives; the pastors do so by distinguishing in that witness what is the expression of genuine faith from what is less in harmony with the light of faith; the family, as a Christian community, does so through its special sharing and witness of faith.

and again....the synod referred to here is the one in 1981
. ...the church cannot ignore the time of old age with all its positive and negative aspects. In old age married love, which has been increasingly purified and ennobled by long and unbroken fidelity, can be deepened. There is the opportunity of offering to others in a new form the kindness and the wisdom gathered over the years and what energies remain. But there is also the burden of loneliness, more often psychological and emotional rather than physical, which results from abandonment or neglect on the part of children and relations. There is also suffering caused by ill-health, by the gradual loss of strength, by the humiliation of having to depend on others, by the sorrow of feeling that one is perhaps a burden to one's loved ones, and by the approach of the end of life. These are the circumstances in which, as the synod fathers suggested, it is easier to help people understand and live the lofty aspects of the spirituality of marriage and the family, aspects which take their inspiration from the value of Christ's cross and resurrection, the source of sanctification and profound happiness in daily life, in the light of the great eschatological realities of eternal life.
In all these different situations let prayer, the source of light and strength and the nourishment of Christian hope, never be neglected.

Yes, I am getting to gradualism--2

St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio explains exactly the situation we see today, in 2015. He quotes the truly prophetic document, Humanae Vitae.

"The spouses participate in it as spouses, together, as a couple, so that the first and immediate effect of marriage (res et sacramentum) is not supernatural grace itself, but the Christian conjugal bond, a typically Christian communion of two persons because it represents the mystery of Christ's incarnation and the mystery of his covenant. The content of participation in Christ's life is also specific: Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter--appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility (cf. Humanae Vitae, 9). In a word, it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values."[33]
14. According to the plan of God, marriage is the foundation of the wider community of the family, since the very institution of marriage and conjugal love is ordained to the procreation and education of children, in whom it finds its crowning.

Where is this emphasis on purity in the words of some synod members? Have they forgotten that God always gives one grace sufficient to the task at hand-always? God never asks the impossible, which means that some of the false leaders in the synod have little faith, or simply, do not believe in grace.

And, as Pope Paul VI predicted, once marriage is undermined in a society, the Kingdom of God is damaged by compromise and laxity, or worse, serious sin. And, virginity is only understandable in the light of holy marriage as well. If human sexuality is denigrated in marriage, so, too, it is in celibacy.

When marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist; when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven loses its meaning.
Rightly indeed does St. John Chrysostom say: "Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be particularly good. It is something better than what is admitted to be good that is the most excellent good."

And, hey, where is the example the married should expect from the holy celibates? Or have they left the path of celibacy themselves so that they no longer understand real love? If so, I personally feel sorry for them-what they are missing is the Love of the Bridegroom, Christ Himself.

Christian couples therefore have the right to expect from celibate persons a good example and a witness of fidelity to their vocation until death. Just as fidelity at times becomes difficult for married people and requires sacrifice, mortification and self-denial, the same can happen to celibate persons, and their fidelity, even in the trials that may occur, should strengthen the fidelity of married couples

Self-knowledge, THIS IS THE KEY.

Every man and woman in the world knows that adultery is a great evil to individuals, to children, to society. Self-knowledge allows one to be honest about one's sins. We all have to face our sins. All.

And without love in the world as an example for us all, we fall back into fear and self-conceit.

The inner principle of that task, its permanent power and its final goal, is love: Without love the family is not a community of persons and, in the same way, without love the family cannot live, grow and perfect itself as a community of persons. What I wrote in the encyclical Redemptor Hominis applies primarily and especially within the family as such: "Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.

Love can be seen in suffering. I see this daily, in myself, in those I love who are experiencing great pain either physically or mentally, in those who have lost a spouse to death or abandonment. Suffering does not deny love, Never....and it is only in the true sacrament of marriage that the Holy Spirit resides, not in false marriages of convenience or comfort. He will not be present unless those who underwent such a free choice contrary to God's Plan allow themselves to suffer in a new way of abstinence and even breaking-up for the sake of God.

What has been forgotten in the Synod is that love for God trumps all over loves, and that we cannot truly love another outside of love for God.

This conjugal communion sinks its roots in the natural complementarity that exists between man and woman and is nurtured through the personal willingness of the spouses to share their entire life project, what they have and what they are: For this reason such communion is the fruit and the sign of a profoundly human need. But in the Lord Christ God takes up this human need, confirms it, purifies it and elevates it, leading it to perfection through the sacrament of matrimony: the Holy Spirit who is poured out in the sacramental celebration offers Christian couples the gift of a new communion of love that is the living and real image of that unique unity which makes of the church the indivisible mystical body of the Lord Jesus.

Outside of life in the Holy Spirit, there is no life, only death. And the dignity of a man and a woman is seriously compromised by divorce and remarriage without the annulment of the Church. We see this clearly in false man-made religions which think polygamy is OK.

God loves each one of us too much for such a half-love, or quarter-love instead of total love.

I am reminded of a powerful scene in the newer movie on Anna of Siam, not the musical, where the king finally comes to realize what it means to love one woman. In this scene, he dances with Anna and admits that one woman can suffice a man, if that man truly loves. True love comes with total love.

The gift of the spirit is a commandment of life for Christian spouses and at the same time a stimulating impulse so that every day they may progress toward an ever richer union with each other on all levels--of the body, of the character, of the heart, of the intelligence and will, of the soul[47] --revealing in this way to the church and to the world the new communion of love, given by the grace of Christ.
Such a communion is radically contradicted by polygamy: This, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women, who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive. As the Second Vatican Council writes: "Firmly established by the Lord, the unity of marriage will radiate from the equal personal dignity of husband and wife, a dignity acknowledged by mutual and total love."

This paragraph is so powerful, I hardly know how to unpack it. That love is unity, you have read on this blog regarding the pursuit of perfection. But, St. John Paul II really experienced God's union, or he would not have been able to write this passage below. The Catholic couple reveals Christ to us. How beautiful.

Christ renews the first plan that the creator inscribed in the hearts of man and woman, and in the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony offers "a new heart": thus the couples are not only able to overcome "hardness of heart,"[51] but also, and above all, they are able to share the full and definitive love of Christ, the new and eternal covenant made flesh. Just as the Lord Jesus is the "faithful witness,"[52] the "yes" of the promises of God[53] and thus the supreme realization of the unconditional faithfulness with which God loves his people, so Christian couples are called to participate truly in the irrevocable indissolubility that binds Christ to the church, his bride, loved by him to the end.[54]

The gift of the sacrament is at the same time a vocation and commandment for the Christian spouses, that they may remain faithful to each other forever, beyond every trial and difficulty, in generous obedience to the holy will of the Lord: "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."[55]

We daily see religions which do not hold the spiritual or physical equality of women in marriage.

Here is the Pope on this....

In creating the human race "male and female,"[64] God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person. God then manifests the dignity of women in the highest form possible, by assuming human flesh from the Virgin Mary, whom the church honors as the mother of God, calling her the new Eve and presenting her as the model of redeemed woman. The sensitive respect of Jesus toward the women that he called to his following and his friendship, his appearing on Easter morning to a woman before the other disciples, the mission entrusted to women to carry the good news of the resurrection to the apostles--these are all signs that confirm the special esteem of the Lord Jesus for women. The apostle Paul will say: "In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith . . . There is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."[65]

And here...

Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife: "You are not her master," writes St. Ambrose, "but her husband; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife.... Reciprocate her attentiveness to you and be grateful to her for her love."[69] With his wife a man should live "a very special form of personal friendship."[70] As for the Christian, he is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, manifesting toward his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the church.[71]

So, you are thinking, what has this to do with gradualism?

Here we go...individuals want to blame God for their sins. They want to deny both their own freedom to choose sin or holiness, and they want to change the teaching of the Church to accommodate this lie. But, the Church did not make up all these beautiful thoughts and rules of guidance for a holy life. God did and He entrusted His Church to share these truths.

The second lie is the denial of grace, which I have written about here on this blog under the tag grace and synod.

St. John Paul II again....

In the field of conjugal morality the church is teacher and mother and acts as such.
As teacher, she never tires of proclaiming the moral norm that must guide the responsible transmission of life. The church is in no way the author or the arbiter of this norm. In obedience to the truth which is Christ, whose image is reflected in the nature and dignity of the human person, the church interprets the moral norm and proposes it to all people of good will without concealing its demands of radicalness and perfection.

And is it hard to be holy, to give in total love?  Yes, yes, yes....Love is in the will. 

But it is one and the same church that is both teacher and mother. And so the church never ceases to exhort and encourage all to resolve whatever conjugal difficulties may arise without ever falsifying or compromising the truth: She is convinced that there can be no true contradiction between the divine law on transmitting life and that on fostering authentic married love.[91] Accordingly, the concrete pedagogy of the church must always remain linked with her doctrine and never be separated from it. With the same conviction as my predecessor, I therefore repeat: "To diminish in no way the saving teaching of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls."[92]
On the other hand, authentic ecclesial pedagogy displays its realism and wisdom only by making a tenacious and courageous effort to create and uphold all the human conditions--psychological, moral and spiritual--indispensable for understanding and living the moral value and norm.
There is no doubt that these conditions must include persistence and patience, humility and strength of mind, filial trust in God and in his grace, and frequent recourse to prayer and to the sacraments of the eucharist and of reconciliation.[93] Thus strengthened, Christian husbands and wives will be able to keep alive their awareness of the unique influence that the grace of the sacrament of marriage has on every aspect of married life including, therefore, their sexuality: The gift of the Spirit, accepted and responded to by husband and wife, helps them to live their human sexuality in accordance with God's plan and as a sign of the unitive and fruitful love of Christ for his church.

What the synod fathers of a certain bent, and bent is the word, are forgetting is that evil moves governments not to support marriage and children. Too many governments have passed laws contrary to both natural and revealed law.

Yes, it is hard to be happily and comfortably married today. But, that is because, primarily. societies have fallen into the hands of the enemies of marriage. JPII is too aware of this...

...the church openly and strongly defends the rights of the family against the intolerable usurpations of society and the state. In particular the synod fathers mentioned the following rights of the family: --The right to exist and progress as a family, that is to say, the right of every human being, even if he or she is poor, to found a family and to have adequate means to support it;
--The right to exercise its responsibility regarding the transmission of life and to educate children;
--The right to the intimacy of conjugal and family life;
--The right to the stability of the bond and of the institution of marriage;
--The right to believe in and profess one's faith and to propagate it;
--The right to bring up children in accordance with the family's own traditions and religious and cultural values, with the necessary instruments, means and institutions;
--The right, especially of the poor and the sick, to obtain physical, social, political and economic security;
--The right to housing suitable for living family life in a proper way;
--The right to expression and to representation, either directly or through associations, before the economic, social and cultural public authorities and lower authorities;
--The right to form associations with other families and institutions in order to fulfill the family's role suitably and expeditiously;
--The right to protect minors by adequate institutions and legislation from harmful drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;
--The right to wholesome recreation of a kind that also fosters family values;
--The right of the elderly to a worthy life and a worthy death;
--The right to emigrate as a family in search of a better life.[112]

Satan and individual sin attack marriage, but the solution is not to change the institution, but one's interior life.

Sin is our choice in following the easy ways out of suffering, and I would state that most sin if not all, is an attempt to avoid sacrifice and suffering.

Gradualists believe not only in the two lies above, the denial of free will, and the denial of grace, but in the connection between the building of the Kingdom of God on earth and marriage. Gradualists do not seem to have Faith. They have lost the ability to think like Christ, like the Church, in believing that with grace all things are possible. ALL. And less some people think I write out of ignorance of suffering in marriage, let me assure them this is not so. I learned to accept grace and love in the will. I learned Love. And love gives life.

The Christian family also builds up the kingdom of God in history through the everyday realities that concern and distinguish its state of life. It is thus in the love between husband and wife and between the members of the family--a love lived out in all its extraordinary richness of values and demands: totality, oneness, fidelity and fruitfulness"[118]--that the Christian family's participation in the prophetic, priestly and kingly mission of Jesus Christ and of his church finds expression and realization. Therefore, love and life constitute the nucleus of the saving mission of the Christian family in the church and for the church.

And, yes, there will be one more on this subject....later on today...