July 31, 2015

If You Only Read One Commentary About This Summer's Planned Parenthood Scandal Read This One

Kirsten Powers is a pro-life Democrat commentator who writes weekly for USA TODAY and is author of the upcoming The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. Her latest column "Crush Planned Parenthood" is a must read for anyone who cares about human dignity and the pro-life cause. Powers writes:
Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards apologized last week for the uncompassionate tone her senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola, used to explain the process by which she harvests aborted body parts to be provided for medical research.
Nucatola had been caught on an undercover video talking to anti-abortion activists posing as representatives of a biological tissue procurement company. The abortion doctor said, “I’d say a lot of people want liver,” and “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.” Explaining how she could perform later-term abortions to aid the harvesting of such intact organs, she said, “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
A second undercover video released Tuesday shows another Planned Parenthood official talking about using a "less crunchy" way to perform abortions while preserving salable fetal tissue.
This is stomach-turning stuff. But the problem here is not one of tone. It’s the crushing. It’s the organ harvesting of  fetuses that abortion-rights activists want us to believe have no more moral value than a fingernail. It’s the lie that these are not human beings worthy of protection. There is no nice way to talk about this. As my friend and former Obama White House staffer Michael Wear tweeted, "It should bother us as a society that we have use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them."...
Ms. Powers goes on to say that arguments by Cecile Richards and others that the videos in question are heavily edited are demonstrably false. The concluding line of her article should be tweeted and retweeted ad infinitum. Read the rest here.

Vatican Skeptical About Close Encounters with Aliens. No Jesus 2.0

(For more on the question of a second Jesus should intelligent life be found elsewhere see video at end of post.) 
The bible is not a scientific book. If we look for scientific responses to our questions in the bible, we are making a mistake.
— Fr. José Funes, S.J.

According to an article by Agence France-Presse out this morning, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, Fr. José Funes, is skeptical about the existence of rational alien beings and insists in any case, there is no "second Messiah". Via AFP:
The recent discovery of an Earth twin has boosted chances there is intelligent life on other planets. But while Pope Francis's telescope scans the starlit skies, the Vatican is skeptical of ever meeting Mr. Spock.
On a leafy hilltop near the papal summer home of Castel Gandolfo sits the Vatican's Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world, where planetary scientists mix the study of meteorites and the Big Bang theory with theology.
Boasting a prestigious research center at the University of Arizona in the United States, the institute has never shied away from asking whether there could be life on other planets and is thrilled with the discovery of an "Earth 2.0".
(Father) Funes, who has a degree in theology and a doctorate in astronomy, would not be drawn on whether the Vatican would send out space missionaries to convert alien life-forms to Christianity if extra-terrestrial life was found elsewhere.
What is clear, he says, is that while God may have created aliens and planets similar to Earth, there can be no second Jesus.
"The discovery of intelligent life does not mean there's another Jesus," he insisted, because "the incarnation of the son of God is a unique event in the history of humanity, of the Universe". ...

"The discovery of intelligent life doesn't mean that there is another Jesus."

The Culture of Death Personified: What Nazi Doctors and Planned Parenthood Have in Common

July 30, 2015

Thought of the Day — G.K. Chesterton Refutes a Popular Indictment Against Catholics and Catholicism

Many of the Church’s detractors criticize her in light of adherents who don’t “walk the walk.” When encountering such comments, we should remember this quote by G.K. Chesterton:
Most Christians fail to fulfill the Christian ideal. This bitter and bracing fact cannot be too much insisted upon in this and every other moral question. But, perhaps, it might be suggested that this failure is not so much the failure of Christians in connection with the Christian ideal as the failure of any men in connection with any ideal. That Christians are not always Christian is obvious; neither are Liberals always liberal, nor Socialists always social, nor Humanitarians always kind, nor Rationalists always rational, nor are gentlemen always gentle, nor do working men always work. If people are especially horrified at the failure of Christian practice, it must be an indirect compliment to the Christian creed.
 — G.K. Chesterton

July 29, 2015

July's Blog of Note: Convert Journal

July’s blog of note is Convert Journal. Described as “One guy's journey in the Catholic Church”, since January 2010, George Sipe has chronicled his conversion to and exploration of Catholicism — providing insightful, informative observations along the way. A life-long, single denomination Protestant, Sipe was surprised to find himself becoming a Catholic. From the blog:
There are many wonderful Catholic convert stories in print and on the web. This is mine and maybe some part of it will resonate with you. You may have a nagging feeling something is missing in your life. Your church might be changing along a path that does not feel right. Perhaps you wonder what Catholics really believe. I am glad you are here and happy, even if it is just the two of us reading it. …
Convert Journal is a treasure trove of information for the curious and the convert. Even lifelong Catholics, well versed in their faith will gain valuable new understanding from the essays and achieved information contained therein. The site features audio, videos, book reviews, and numerous posts on assorted topics of interest relating to the Church and contemporary society among others. Additionally, Convert Journal hosts New Evangelists Monthly, an informal, dynamic, crowd-sourced “meta-magazine” showcasing the best posts faithful Catholic bloggers publish each month. There you will find many different, but faithfully Catholic viewpoints and perspectives. If you are a blogger who is faithful to the Magisterium, please consider contributing.

Whether you are a cradle Catholic, a convert, or someone in search of the truth, Convert Journal is well worth your time. Visit today and make it a part of your blog reading regimen.

July 28, 2015

Two Powerful Pro-Life Videos That Show the Travesty of Abortion

The following videos from the secular media are forceful, articulate presentations of the pro-life position.

In a July 20 Fox News Special Report, Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume “laid bare the essentially brutal nature of abortion.” His denouncement of the abortion industry followed the July 14 release of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials coldly discussing the selling of fetal body parts while eating lunch.

A compelling debate between GOP candidate Carly Fiorina and Jess McIntosh from Emily's List, on Fox News Sunday (7-26-2015), hosted by Chris Wallace. The discussion on abortion begins at 2:55.

July 27, 2015

Words of Wisdom as a Catholic Mass is Held to Counter Detroit Satan Statue

(Article continues below)

God's words of wisdom are found in Sacred Scripture. He tells us that;

In the face of this... 
Statue of demon idol
We should remember this.
Driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness,
Christ triumphs over Satan... CCC §566

Hundreds of people attended Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Detroit on Saturday to protest the debut of an 8 1/2-foot-tall bronze satanic goat statue which depicts the demon idol Baphomet.

According to the associated press, the group behind the display, Satanic Temple, installed the statue Saturday at a Detroit location known only to ticket holders. The unveiling was driven underground due to a large public backlash. Hundreds had lined up earlier to get the tickets as Christian protesters rallied nearby.

The initial plan for the statue was to publicly erect it next to a Ten Commandments monument located at the Oklahoma state capitol before Oklahoma’s Supreme Court banned religious displays on capitol grounds. (Oklahoma's governor challenged this ruling, allowing the Ten Commandments monument to remain for now.)

God is with Us Always

Militant atheists and secular humanist activists are continuing their assault on public expressions of Christian belief. Such attacks will only escalate in the years to come. Whatever evils befall us, God remains sovereign of the universe and Jesus is still it's King at whose name every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and those under the earth. Satan may have his day, but in the fullness of time, even Satan will prostrate himself in obedience to Christ. In the words of our Savior, "Do not be Afraid!"

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

In English

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

In Latin

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen

July 25, 2015

Christ and the Feeding of the 5,000

This Sunday's gospel story from John, the feeding of the 5,000, is the only miracle (besides the Resurrection) recounted in all four gospels. As such, its significance cannot be overstated. It portrays Jesus as the new Moses who will lead fallen humanity to salvation. When the miracle of the multiplication of loaves is told in the Gospel of John, it is related to the manna in the wilderness. The connection between Moses and Jesus, the manna and the miraculous bread is undeniable.

Given the absence of a Last Supper narrative in John’s Gospel, the feeding of the 5,000, is a kind of corporate Eucharist. Upon hearing of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew privately by boat somewhere near Bethsaida. Christ’s healing ministry and preaching had made him renowned. Consequently, large crowds followed him. When Jesus landed and saw them, he was filled with compassion and healed their sick. As evening fell, the disciples came to Jesus saying, "This is a remote place, and it's getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." The disciples were thinking in human terms about the people’s hunger. Jesus’ reply, "Give them some food yourselves." must have seemed nonsensical. Consider also that the number 5,000 excludes women and children. The real total to be fed was between 10,000 – 20,000.

The disciples find a young boy with five loaves and two fish. These they give to Jesus who takes the loaves and fish, gives thanks, (In the Septuagint the Greek word for "thanks" used here is eucharistia, meaning of thanksgiving, or praise for the wondrous works of God. The word "Eucharist" is a transliteration of the Greek.) and presents them to the disciples to distribute among the people. When they had had their fill, Jesus said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

The miracle of the multiplication of loaves is unequivocally about the Eucharist. At Mass we bring the fruits of human labors, bread and wine, in conjunction with the offering of our ordinary lives to the altar. Through the invocation of the Holy Spirit this offering is miraculously transformed into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church Fathers on the Feeding of the Multitude
He multiplied in his hands the five loaves, just as he produces harvest out of a few grains. There was a power in the hands of Christ; and those five loaves were, as it were, seeds, not indeed committed to the earth, but multiplied by him who made the earth.
— Augustine 
For although the Lord had the power to supply wine to those feasting, independently of any created substance, and to fill with food those who were hungry, he did not adopt this course; but, taking the loaves which the earth had produced, and giving thanks, and on the other occasion making water wine, he satisfied those who were reclining (at table), and gave drink to those who had been invited to the marriage; showing that the God who made the earth, and commanded it to bring forth fruit, who established the waters, and brought forth the fountains, was he who in these last times bestowed upon mankind, by his Son, the blessing of food and the favor of drink: the incomprehensible [acting thus] by means of the comprehensible, and the invisible by the visible; since there is none beyond him, but he exists in the bosom of the Father.
— Irenaeus 
He called his disciples, and asked what quantity of food they had with them. But they said that they had five loaves and two fishes in a wallet. . . . He himself broke the bread in pieces, and divided the flesh of the fishes, and in his hands both of them were increased. And when he had ordered the disciples to set them before the people, 5,000 men were satisfied, and moreover 12 baskets were filled from the fragments which remained. What can be more wonderful, either in narration or in action?
— Lactantius 
The feeding of the multitudes in the desert by Christ is worthy of all admiration. But it is also profitable in another way. We can plainly see that these new miracles are in harmony with those of ancient times. They are the acts of one and the same power. He rained manna in the desert upon the Israelites. He gave them bread from heaven. "Man did eat angels’ food," according to the words of praise in the Psalms. But look! He has again abundantly supplied food to those who needed food in the desert. He brought it down, as it were, from heaven. Multiplying that small amount of food many times and feeding so large a multitude, so to speak, with nothing, is like that first miracle.
— Cyril of Alexandria
He (multiplies loaves) not only once but also a second time, in order that we should know his strength. This strength by which he feeds the multitudes when he wishes and without bread finds its source in his divinity. He does this in order to bring them to believe that he himself is the one who earlier had fed Israel for 40 years in the wilderness. And Jesus not only fed them with a few loaves of bread, but he even produced a surplus of seven baskets, so that he might be shown as incomparably surpassing Elijah, who himself also caused a multiplication of the widow’s small quantity of oil and flour.
 — Theodore of Heraclea

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 26, 2015, Year B

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Director, La Salette Shrine
Enfield, NH

 Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and
distributed them... John 6:11
(Click here for today’s readings)

How much food can you buy for $11,600.00? Maybe 1,365 small pepperoni pizzas. Not enough. Or about 2,900 hamburgers. Not enough. Or about 1,900 rotisserie chickens. Still not enough.

Not enough, according to the Apostle Philip, to feed the large crowd that was following Jesus. "Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little," he says. Assuming today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, times 8 hours a day, times 5 days a week, times 40 weeks, you get $11,600.00.  Not enough to feed this crowd.

This feeding of the multitude is one of the few events that is recorded in all four Gospels. In each case the text specifies five thousand men, and Matthew even notes that this number does not include women and children. The point in each Gospel is that what is on hand, the "supply" in economic terms, can’t possibly meet the need, or the "demand."

It’s no secret that we can easily feel this way in the face of the great tragedies that so often dominate the news, caused by the violence of nature or of persons. "What can I do?" we ask, powerlessly.

Is it enough to say, "Leave it all in the Lord’s hands"? Well, yes and no. Yes, "in the Lord’s hands" is the right place to leave all that troubles us. But no, that is not all we place in the Lord’s hands. What do I have that I can place in his hands, that he can then "multiply"? After all, Jesus started with the bread that was brought to him.

In some cases that means actually giving ourselves. In the late 1750’s a priest named Charles de l’Epée, on his way to visit a parishioner, said hello to two little girls. They did not respond. At first he thought they were being rude, but then discovered that they were deaf. In that moment, he knew he had to do something for them. He began to develop ways of teaching them and in 1760 he founded a free school for deaf children, whether poor or rich, and worked out a more sophisticated system of sign language than was already in use. He had two goals, equally important: first to teach them to communicate, by signs and later through writing; and second, to teach them about God and Jesus and their Catholic faith.

He had already put his entire life in God’s hands as a priest, but a chance encounter prompted him to respond in a specific way to a specific need and so allow the Lord to "feed" a new "multitude."

In other cases, perhaps most, what we place in God’s hands is not and cannot be so all-encompassing. Many people of faith volunteer time and talents and treasure, in what is usually called "stewardship," according to their freedom, ability and means.

What underlies all this is ultimately one thing. St. Paul spells it out: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.

"Now wait just a minute!" you exclaim. "That’s not one thing. That’s seven things." Well, as I said above, yes and no. Yes, if you count them as distinct items on a list, they are seven. But no, if you focus on the unity of the Church that they describe.

I have found this "list" referred to as the "seven unities." A little like the Trinity, where God is one and God is three, so the many dimensions of our Christian life are fundamentally one reality.

It is this relationship with the one body-Spirit-hope-Lord-faith-baptism-God and Father that moves us to desire to respond to others’ needs. How we put that in the Lord’s hands will vary immensely, and so will the wonders, the "signs," as John calls them, that the Lord will accomplish with what we give him to work with. Most often we will never know how or what, but we may have absolute confidence that nothing placed in his hands is ever wasted.

Sometimes, all we can offer is prayer. It is good then to remember the words of the great poet Tennyson: "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."

Do what we can, small or great. Give what we can, little or much. Leave the rest in the Lord’s hands.

July 24, 2015

Being Catholic in an Age of Challenge

I want to draw your attention to the recent pastoral letter by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D. C., Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge. There is a strong animus today against what we believe and our right to follow our faith convictions as Catholics. Cardinal Wuerl's letter is an excellent reflection on our freedom to be followers of Christ and some of the challenges of our age as we live and share our faith.

After Obergefell: The Church and the "New Normal"

George Weigel discusses the way forward for the Catholic Church in light of the Supreme Court's perilous Obergefell v. Hodges decision. In "The Church and the 'New Normal'" (The Catholic Difference,  June 26, 2015) he outlines seven thoughts:
(1) The Supreme Court of the United States [SCOTUS] has rendered a decision that puts the Court at odds with the Constitution, with reason, and with biblical religion.
(2) SCOTUS has gotten it wrong before. It got it wrong on race in Dred Scott and it repeated the mistake in  Plessy vs. Ferguson (which upheld segregated public facilities). It got it wrong by concocting a constitutional “right” to abortion-on-demand in Roe vs. Wade and doubled-down on that mistake by getting it wrong on abortion again in Casey vs. Planned Parenthood. Now SCOTUS has gotten it wrong on marriage. ...
(3) The marriage battle was lost in the culture long before it was lost in the courts. The foundations of our culture have eroded; now, the New Normal insists that literally everything is plastic, malleable, and subject to acts of human will. The result is a moment of profound moral incoherence in which understandings of human nature and human happiness that have stood the test of experience for millennia are being discarded as mere rubbish – and those who resist trashing the moral patrimony of humanity are dismissed as irrational bigots, religious fanatics, or both. ... 
(4) The Catholic Church in the United States bears its share of responsibility for this incoherence. It was clear sixty years ago that the old mainline Protestant cultural hegemony was fading, that an alternative cultural foundation for American democracy was necessary, and that a new cadre of citizen-leaders, capable of articulating the moral truths on which the American democratic experiment rests, had to be raised up... 
Read the rest here.

July 23, 2015

USCCB on the First Amendment Defense Act

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has published a PDF explaining the First Amendment Defense Act. It answers questions about the act and its necessity, such as:

What would the First Amendment Defense Act do?

The First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802, S. 1598) would bar the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their religious beliefs or moral convictions that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. The Act provides broad protections against adverse federal actions directed toward individuals and organizations that act on such beliefs.

What are some examples of how such individuals and organizations would be protected?

The Act would prohibit the federal government from denying or revoking a nonprofit entity’s tax-exempt status. It would also prohibit the federal government from denying or excluding an individual or organization from a federal grant, contract, or employment. Indeed, the Act would bar any discrimination by the federal government against individuals or organizations based upon their religious belief or moral convictions that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. The Act would also require the federal government to consider accredited any entity that failed to be accredited because of a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.

Who would the Act protect?

Importantly, the First Amendment Defense Act would protect a wide array of persons, including individuals and organizations – both for-profits and non-profits – regardless of whether or not they are religiously affiliated. Thus, business owners as well as faith communities would be protected.

Why is the First Amendment Defense Act needed?

The Act is needed because of growing intolerance toward religiously-minded individuals and organizations who want to live by their conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. There are increasing reports of individuals and organizations holding such beliefs being targeted for discrimination by state governments. This bill would prevent the federal government from engaging in similar discrimination.

NYT Magazine: "Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?" and a Work of Mercy in Response

Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine includes the article "Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?" by Eliza Griswold. It is worth your time albeit, prepare to be heartbroken. ISIS and other extremist movements across the region are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no relief in sight. It is nothing short of a holocaust. According to Pope Francis, "There are more Christian martyrs today than ever."  

You can help Christians suffering under the persecution of militant Islam in the Middle East and throughout the world.

Nasarean.org was founded by Father Benedict Kiely, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Stowe, Vermont in the Diocese of Burlington, and supported by the people and businesses there to help, in some small way, Christians suffering under the persecution of militant Islam throughout the world. This is a conflict that has been going on for centuries - and it will not end until the final victory of Christ.

Father Kiely was so concerned about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East that he started a website — www.nasarean.org — making available bracelets, lapel pins and zipper hooks with the Arabic letter designating “Nazarene,” which the Islamic State put on the homes of Christians to mark them for ostracization, harassment, and death. The letter has become a symbol of solidarity with Christians who have been driven out of their homes.

All proceeds from the items sold will go to the efforts of Aid to the Church in Need to help Christians in the region. Says Fr. Kiely, “I decided that the best thing to do would be to have all the money we raise from this project go directly to one charity with ‘boots on the ground.’ Aid to the Church in Need is well-positioned to ensure that those in need will receive the help they need.” 

You can show solidarity with, pray for and actively support Christians suffering under militant Islam. Please visit nasarean.org and contribute to this most noble cause by selecting from among their products or making a donation. 

Like them on Facebook, visit their blog, spread the word on social networks, and by word of mouth.

"Nazarenes at Home and Abroad," National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez Interview of Fr. Kiely

EWTN: World Over - 2014-09-25 – Aiding Christians in Iraq, Fr. Benedict Keily with Raymond Arroyo

Icon of the 21 Coptic Christian Martyrs 
who have been officially recognized as Saints by the Coptic Church.

July 22, 2015

A Prayer to Defund Planned Parenthood

Elizabeth exclaimed unto Mary:
"Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb."
Luke 1:42
Father Frank Pavone of Priest for Life told a Washington D.C. radio show that America and Planned Parenthood should brace for a video a week for the next five or six weeks exposing the ongoing trafficking in fetal body parts.
This is the first time that anyone from the inside of the investigation has hinted at what is to come, and that is an all-summer-long mirror showing America to itself and how many have become complacent with the underlying issue of abortion on demand.
Please recite this prayer to defund Planned Parenthood and for our nation to experience the renewal of human dignity, from conception until natural death, based on The Gospel of Life.

Prayer to Defund Planned Parenthood

Lord of Life and Truth,
Your Providence guides the course of history.
You have conquered death
And have made us the People of Life.
You call us to fight the evil of abortion
And the forces that promote it.
We therefore ask you to grant wisdom and mercy to our nation.
Give our government leaders the courage
To put an end to the funding
Of the largest abortion business in the world.
Give all of us the courage to insist
That public funding only be used
For the protection and promotion of life
Rather than for its destruction.
Give us hopeful hearts and joyful spirits
As we continue to proclaim, celebrate, and serve
The Gospel of Life.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

July 21, 2015

The Three Criteria of Moral Acts

Human beings are moral actors because, as persons, we have the capacity to make choices.  A person has an intellect with which to know and a will with which to choose.  As a result, a person is always a "someone," never a "something." Animals are incapable of sin. Their intellects are governed by instinct and they do not have free will. Only persons can freely choose and act out their choices.

We must weigh three criteria when judging a moral act good or bad:
  1. The act itself
  2. The person’s subjective motive
  3. The circumstances under which the act occurs
Every moral act consists of three criteria: the objective act (what we do), the subjective intention (why we act), and the situation or circumstances in which we act (where, when, how, etc.).

For an act to be morally good, what we do (the act itself), must be objectively good. Some acts are always wrong because they are intrinsically evil (i.e. the killing of innocents, torture, and rape).

The goal or intention is the subjective criterion of the moral act. For an action to be morally good, one's intention must be good. If our motivation is to do something for a bad intention— even something that is good, our action is immoral. The end does not justify the means.

Finally, the conditions under which an act occurs is a factor in considering whether an action is moral. For a husband to make love to his wife at a time when it is medically dangers to do so — and thus threaten her life — would be an example of a morally illicit act. Sexual congress between husband and wife, while normally a good thing, is rendered morally bad by virtue of the circumstances.

In weighing the three criteria, the act, the intention, and the situation must all be good in order for the act to be moral. Two out of three isn't good enough. You can't do the right thing for the wrong reasons. You can't do the wrong thing for the right reasons.  

Variously throughout history have existed alternate moral systems. Popular at the time of Christ, Legalism was a strict adherence to rules. You were good if you obeyed them. You were bad if you didn't.

More common in our time, subjectivism is the notion that as long as you are sincere, as long as you are loving, than your actions are noble. The only thing that matters is feelings.

Most common, Relativism is the idea that there are no moral absolutes. Everything is relative. Consequently, no idea is superior to any other. Morality is simply a matter of weighing factors.

The Christian vision of human morality is diametrically opposed to the legalism of the Pharisees, the subjectivism of hippies and the relativism of secular humanists. Jesus speaks of good and evil, vice and virtue, compassion and conversion. He tells us in no uncertain terms that we will be judged according to our actions. We must love selflessly and live honorably, "even unto death". Love enables courage and self-donation without asking the cost. In the process, faith replaces fallacy, sinners become saints, and what's fallen is redeemed.

Values clarification — that is too say, deciding who to throw overboard in a hypothetical survival situation where you are strained at sea in a boat with dwindling resources — is a poor substitute for knowing the mind of Christ and living his call to love.    

Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods

This is evil personified!

(via The Center for Medical Progress)

A second undercover video shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Directors’ Council President, Dr. Mary Gatter, haggling over payments for intact fetal specimens and offering to use a “less crunchy technique” to get more intact body parts.

It is similar to last week’s viral video showing PPFA Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola admitting to using partial-birth abortions to get intact parts and suggesting a price range of $30 to $100 per specimen.

Gatter is a senior official within Planned Parenthood and is President of the Medical Directors’ Council, the central committee of all Planned Parenthood affiliate medical directors.

July 20, 2015

Thought of the Day — Pope Saint John Paul II on Gay "Marriage"

It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this (gay marriage) is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.
— Pope Saint John Paul II 

5 Powerful Videos in Defense of Marriage

Fr. Barron on the SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Ruling 

Ryan Anderson: The Marriage Debate

Fr. Barron on Gay Marriage and the Breakdown of Moral Argument

How Can Catholics Approach the Topic of Same-Sex "Marriage"?

Made for Each Other

July 18, 2015

Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 19, 2015, Year B

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Director, La Salette Shrine
Enfield, NH

(Click here for today’s readings)

The heart of Jesus, we are told, was moved with pity for the crowd, “for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” There are various ways for such a situation to occur.

Nowadays, the obvious and literal case described in the Gospel is found when there are simply no shepherds to tend to the sheep. One thinks immediately of mission lands where one or two missionaries travel almost constantly in hopes of visiting each community two or three times a year. We can forget that in many parts of our own country, less than 150 years ago, that was the reality as well, with many rural areas served by “circuit priests.”

Many dioceses seem to be reverting to that condition. In the Archdiocese of Boston, for example, there were so many priests 50 years ago that none of them could reasonably expect to be named a pastor before his 25th anniversary of ordination, if ever. Today, even after having to merge and close parishes, the Cardinal does not have a single “spare” priest that he can move from one place to another without creating a void.

The case described in the first reading is, unfortunately, not without its counterpart today. “Shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock” have perhaps always been among us, but the spotlight has been on them for a couple of decades, and rightly so. I am reminded of a series of scenarios presented in the book of Deuteronomy, each concluding: “Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.” I pray that the publicity surrounding abusive priests will accomplish that goal.

Let me make one thing clear, however. An “unpopular shepherd” is not necessarily a “wicked shepherd.” In fact, if you look at the history of the clergy abuse scandals, most of the abusers were very popular.

Pope Francis is generally more popular than his predecessor was. That is mostly a matter of personality and style, and can’t be helped. And just as Pope John XXIII was called “Good Pope John,” without implying anything negative about Piux XII, so we need to know that what we like or dislike in any shepherd is only that and nothing more. It says more about us than about him.

Who knows? Perhaps there are a few “perfect” priests in the world. Most have made truly awful mistakes at one time or another, and some seem not to care about the negative impact they may have on their parishioners. But I am also aware of priests who, simply because people didn’t like them, or disagreed with a decision they made, have been maligned most abominably.

This too is an evil that should be purged from our midst. Otherwise it creates yet another kind of situation of “sheep without a shepherd,” in which the shepherd is rejected by the sheep. Just last year, a powerful and complex film, Calvary, depicted a priest in Ireland who has to deal with the indifference, mockery, animosity and even hatred and threats of the people he is there to serve. It is very painful to watch.

The ideal shepherd is of course the one described in the 23rd Psalm. He refreshes, guides along right paths, encourages, feeds, comforts, gives a sense of security. That shepherd is the Lord, who is the model for all shepherds.

St. Paul uses very different language to express the same reality. He says that Jesus is “our peace,” and that he “broke down the dividing wall of enmity.” In this context a “wicked shepherd” would be one that is divisive and a “good shepherd” would be a reconciler, a peacemaker.

In one of the weekday Gospels this past week, Jesus told his apostles, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” But this comes at the end of a long discourse in which Jesus makes it clear what he expects of his apostles. Their responsibility is great. I often think we priests will have a lot to answer for.

A couple of notes to conclude. First, the “shepherds” condemned by the prophet Jeremiah were what we could today call leaders of “Church and State.” In the world of the Old Testament, there was no such distinction. Shepherds were all those whose responsibility was to guide and protect God’s people, whether Kings or Priests. This is especially true of David. In Psalm 78 we read that God “chose David his servant, took him from the sheepfold. From tending sheep God brought him, to shepherd Jacob, his people, Israel, his heritage. He shepherded them with a pure heart; with skilled hands he guided them.”

Second, although I have spoken of shepherds in the sense of ordained clergy, we absolutely must recognize that there are very many other shepherds in the Church, women and men, laity and religious, who are often in a better position than clergy to “guide and protect.” Some are or have been very visible, like Mother Teresa, others work quietly in the background. Either way, the “flock” would be lost without them.

The shepherding ministry, whether lay or ordained, is beautiful, even noble. All who are called to it are rightly expected to carry it out faithfully and lovingly, after the manner of the 23rd Psalm.

July 17, 2015

Pro-Choice Feminists Support "Woman-on-Woman Violence"

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is the author of several books including Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics. Below are excerpts from his article "Roe v. Wade: Four Decades of Tragedy," (The American Spectator, 15 January 2013).
Roe v. Wade, perhaps the most ostentatiously unconstitutional of many dubious Supreme Court decisions purporting to interpret the Constitution, was issued 40 years ago. Rather than settle the abortion issue, the justices triggered a bitter political conflict which continues unabated. 
Roe represents tragedy. An unwanted pregnancy can cause serious, sometimes overwhelming, problems. Moreover, there are few more personal decisions than to terminate a pregnancy. Liberty and life seemingly come into sharp conflict.
But abortion is not a just another "choice." Rather, it is a flight from responsibility. Abortion is a response to choice, that is, the decision to have sex. Other than rape, sex is voluntary. Sometimes the result is an unwanted baby.
The question then is what to do? What is a person’s responsibility for the earlier choice freely exercised? Abortion has become a leading means to avoid taking responsibility for the life created. ...
... Whether the critical moment is conception or implantation, thus starts a process which, if not interrupted, results in a human being. The physical differences between a fetus, a baby, and a child, though real, do not affect the moral worth of the individual created. No one should be aborted without serious, if not overwhelming, justification.
There is one when the mother’s life is at stake. But not because someone would prefer not to have a baby at a particular time. The claim that abortion is an absolute right even when the pregnancy results from voluntary sex sacrifices life for convenience. For instance, last year blogger Allison Benedikt waxed eloquent in defending the right to kill one’s baby because one is a newlywed and not yet "ready for kids," a "single woman who wants to focus on her career," or "the mother of two who is not in the market for number three." All of these would be good reasons to eschew sex. Certainly they justify using birth control. And they create an understandable desire not to be pregnant. But they are not good reasons to eliminate a life, especially with adoption as an alternative.
Yet there is at least one worse reason to abort a baby: sex selection. You want a kid. But you want a kid of a particular sex, usually male. Unfortunately, even with modern technology it’s hard to guarantee the result. No problem, argued Benedikt, who warned her pro-abortion allies against feeling guilty. Just kill the (mostly) female babies. After all, "these are fetuses with female or male genitals -- not little girls and little boys."...
But abortion supporters still are stuck with sex selection abortion. No matter that sex discrimination is widely thought to be bad. If abortion is an absolute right, then the reason doesn’t matter, even if the purpose is to kill baby girls.
The problem isn’t theoretical. The child-gender ratio in India, which recently has been convulsed in outrage over a murderous gang rape, "is at its most lopsided in 50 years," reported the Washington Post earlier this month. Some of the lowest ratios of females to males occur in cities and provinces populated by the growing middle class. Observed the Post: "a growing number of couples opt to abort female fetuses or neglect infant girls in their desperation for sons."
China may pose an even greater problem. The age-old preference for boys -- who provide farm labor and carry the family name -- has been aggravated by the Maoist regime’s "one-child" policy. Although that restriction has been relaxed, China now has a dramatically malformed age and sex structure. Normal is 105 boys to 100 girls; in some provinces the ratio climbs above 130. A deadly preference for males also is found in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, and Taiwan. All told, Mara Hvistendahl, author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, estimates that Asia lacks 160 million women who otherwise would be alive.
A similar phenomenon is evident in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Some immigrant-heavy Canadian provinces exhibit a similar pattern, as do America’s ethnic Chinese, Indian, and Korean populations. Indeed, Kohm argued that "Sex selection abortion, or sex preselection as it may also be labeled, is rapidly becoming an acceptable family planning alternative for Americans."
Kohm went on to call the practice "woman-on-woman violence." If it is a woman’s choice to have an abortion, then sex selection abortion usually means women (adults) killing women (babies). That is, complained Kohm, women "insist on putting self desire for a child of a certain sex above common good to all women by aborting female fetuses."...

The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

I draw your attention to a noble, informative contribution to the cultural debate surrounding gay "marriage" from Fr. John Hollowell and Blackstone films. The short documentary "The Third Way", was released last year. It presents the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality which rejects both anti-gay bigotry and the unqualified endorsement of homosexual activity.

Featured in the film are first-hand testimonies from faithful Catholics who struggle with same sex attraction. Take 30 minutes to watch this documentary. It is well worth your time.


July 16, 2015

14 Shocking Quotes from Margaret Sanger the Founder of Planned Parenthood

Lauded by some as a woman of valor, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, made numerous disreputable statements about race, birth control and abortion. An avowed eugenicist, Sanger was strident and contemptuous in promoting her racist ideals.

Planned Parenthood continues to lionize Sanger despite the historical record and Ms. Sanger's prejudiced worldview as illustrated by her own words. (Video below)
The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.
From Sanger's Woman and the New Race, ch. 6: "The Wickedness of Creating Large Families." 
(We should) apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.
"Plan for Peace" from Birth Control Review (April 1932, pp. 107-108) 
(The most penetrating thinkers) are coming to see that a qualitative factor as opposed to a quantitative one is of primary importance in dealing with the great masses of humanity.
In Pivot of Civilization, 1922, Margaret Sanger explains her eugenic philosophy in which only "quality" people should be allowed to live.
We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities.  The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.
Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. See also Linda Gordon’s Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.
A woman’s duty: To look the whole world in the face with a go-to-hell look in the eyes… to speak and act in defiance of convention.
The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1 
Give dysgenic groups (those with “bad genes”) in our population their choice of segregation or (compulsory) sterilization.
April 1932 Birth Control Review, pg. 108
Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.
Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.
Such parents swell the pathetic ranks of the unemployed. Feeble-mindedness perpetuates itself from the ranks of those who are blandly indifferent to their racial responsibilities. And it is largely this type of humanity we are now drawing upon to populate our world for the generations to come. In this orgy of multiplying and replenishing the earth, this type is pari passu multiplying and perpetuating those direst evils in which we must, if civilization is to survive, extirpate by the very roots.
The Need for Birth Control in America (quoted by Angela Franks.)
Women of the working class, especially wage workers, should not have more than two children at most. The average working man can support no more and and the average working woman can take care of no more in decent fashion.
"Family Limitation," eighth edition revised, 1918
I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered.
 An Autobiography, Margaret Sanger's autobiography, page 366
Birth control is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defective.
 From Sanger's Women and the New Race
Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies… and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit…
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.
 "America Needs a Code for Babies," 27 Mar 1934

 "But for my view, I believe that there should be no more babies."

"The greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world."

God Help Us

The following quote by Michelle Malkin from her article "The wine-sipping butchers of Planned Parenthood," says it all:
What kind of country do we live in where law-abiding businesses are fined, threatened and demonized for refusing to bake gay wedding cakes, but barbaric baby butchers are hailed by feminists, Hollywood and a president who asked God to “bless” them? 
God help us.

July 15, 2015

Answers to 10 Questions About Marriage Every Catholic Should Know

The Meaning of Marriage & Sexual Difference

1. Marriage: What’s a good starting point? 

To understand what marriage is, the best place to start is with the human person. After all, marriage is a unique relationship between two specific persons, one man and one woman. We must ask, “What does it mean to be a human person, as a man or as a woman?” First, men and women are created in the image of God (see Gen 1:27). This means that they have great dignity and worth. Also, since “God is love,” (1 Jn 4:8) each person – created in God’s image – finds his or her fulfillment by loving others. Second, men and women are body-persons. The body – male or female – is an essential part of being human. Gender is not an afterthought or a mere social construct. The body shapes what it means to love as a human person. To sum up, when we think about marriage, we must think about who the human person is – created with great dignity, and called to love as a body-person, male or female.

2. Where does marriage come from?

“God himself is the author of marriage” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 48). When God created human persons in his own image, as male and female, he placed in their hearts the desire, and the task, to love – to give themselves totally to another person. Marriage is one of two ways someone can make a total self-gift (the other is virginity, devoting oneself entirely to God) (see Familiaris Consortio, no. 11). Marriage is not something thought up by human society or by any religion – rather, it springs from who the human person is, as male and female, and society and religion affirm and reinforce it. The truth of marriage is therefore accessible to everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. Both faith and reason speak to the true meaning of marriage.

3. What is marriage?

Marriage is the lifelong partnership of mutual and exclusive fidelity between a man and a woman ordered by its very nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children (see  Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1601; Code of Canon Law, can. 1055.1; GS, no. 48). The bond of marriage is indissoluble – that is, it lasts “until death do us part.” At the heart of married love is the total gift of self that husband and wife freely offer to each other. Because of their sexual difference, husband and wife can truly become “one flesh” and can give to each other “the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love” (FC, no. 14).

Marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman is a sacrament. This means that the bond between husband and wife is a visible sign of the sacrificial love of Christ for his Church. As a sacrament, marriage gives spouses the grace they need to love each other generously, in imitation of Christ.

4. Why can’t marriage be “redefined” to include two men or two women?

The word “marriage” isn’t simply a label that can be attached to different types of relationships. Instead, “marriage” reflects a deep reality – the reality of the unique, fruitful, lifelong union that is only possible between a man and a woman. Just as oxygen and hydrogen are essential to water, sexual difference is essential to marriage. The attempt to “redefine” marriage to include two persons of the same sex denies the reality of what marriage is. It is as impossible as trying to “redefine” water to include oxygen and nitrogen.

5. What is sexual difference?

Sexual difference is the difference of man to woman and woman to man. It affects a person at every level of his or her existence: genetically, biologically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Sexual difference is an irreducible difference. It is unlike any other difference we experience, because it – and only it – allows for the total personal union between husband and wife that is at the heart of marriage. The difference between men and women is for the sake of their union with each other. It is what makes spousal union possible.

6. Isn’t marriage just about love and commitment between two people?

Of course love and commitment are important for marriage – as they are for many relationships. But marriage is unique because the commitment it calls for is better described as communion, where “the two become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Only a man and a woman in marriage can become a “one flesh” communion. The unity of husband and wife is so intimate that from it can come a “third,” the child – a new life to be welcomed and raised in love. No other relationship, no matter how loving or committed, can have this unique form of commitment – communion – that exists in marriage, between a husband and a wife.

7. Why does a person’s gender matter for marriage?

Gender matters for marriage because the body matters for love. My body is not simply “the shape of my skin.” Instead, my identity as a person (my “I”) is inseparable from the reality of my body – I am a body-person. As John Paul II said, the body reveals the person. It is a deeply personal reality, not just a biological fact (see Theology of the Body, sec. 9.4). The body is “taken up” into every human action, including the most important task of all: loving. Loving as a human person means loving as a man or as a woman. Marriage, the “primary form” of human love (GS, no. 12), necessarily involves the reality of men and women as body-persons. Marriage is intrinsically opposite-sex. To “write off” the body, and gender, as unimportant to marriage means treating the body as inconsequential or, at best, as an object or tool to be used according to one’s pleasure, instead of as an essential – and beautiful – aspect of being human and loving as a human person. Such a write-off would ignore the very essence of what marriage is.

8. How is the love between a husband and a wife irreducibly unique?

The love between a husband and a wife involves a free, total, and faithful mutual gift of self that not only expresses love, but also opens the spouses to receive the gift of a child. No other human interaction on earth is like this. This is why sexual intimacy is reserved for married love – marriage is the only context wherein sex between a man and a woman can speak the true language of self-gift. On the other hand, sexual behavior between two men or two women can never arrive at the oneness experienced between husband and wife, nor can these acts be life-giving. In fact, it is impossible for two persons of the same sex to make a total gift of self to each other as a husband and a wife do, bodily and personally. For this reason, such sexual behavior is harmful and always wrong, as it is incapable of authentically expressing conjugal love – love which by its nature includes the capacity to give oneself fully to the other and to receive the other precisely as gift in a total communion of mind, body and spirit. Therefore, no relationship between two persons of the same sex can ever be held up as equal or analogous to the relationship between husband and wife.

9. What is complementarity?

“Complementarity” refers to the unique – and fruitful – relationship between men and women. Both men and women are created in the image of God. Both have great dignity and worth. But equality does not mean “sameness”: a man is not a woman, and a woman is not a man. Instead, “male and female are distinct bodily ways of being human, of being open to God and to one another” (Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, p. 10). Because men and women are “complementary,” they bring different gifts to a relationship. In marriage, the complementarity of husband and wife is expressed very clearly in the act of conjugal love, having children, and fathering and mothering –actions that call for the collaboration – and unique gifts – of husband and wife.

10. Why does the Catholic Church care so much about marriage?

The Catholic Church cares about marriage because marriage is a fundamental good in itself and foundational to human existence and flourishing. Following the example of Jesus, the Church cares about the whole person, and all people. Marriage (or the lack thereof) affects everyone. Today, people all over the world are suffering because of the breakdown of the family – divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, and so on. Marriage is never just a “private” issue; it has public significance and public consequences. One only has to think of the connection between fatherless families and young men in jail to know that this is true. In addition, the proposal to “redefine” marriage to include two men or two women is really a proposal to “redefine” the human person, causing a forgetfulness of what it means to be a man or a woman. This is a basic injustice to men and women, children, and fathers and mothers. Marriage is truly one of the most important social justice issues of our time.

For more visit marriageuniqueforareason.org

July 14, 2015

Saint Augustine on the Three Goods of Marriage

In his treatise De bono coniugali (Of the Good of Marriage) St. Augustine answers two competing views of matrimony. The Manicheans, to whom his treatise was largely addressed, saw the created material world as debased and corrupt. Human souls were spirits trapped within the created order (i.e. the body). The enlightened must free the soul and thus achieve beatitude by rejecting the material order and its sins of the flesh. Marriage and reproduction were manifestly evil.

The legal statutes of pagan Rome viewed marriage differently. According to such laws, the institution of marriage was primarily for protecting the assets and interests of the elites. Through matrimony, upper class citizens united their interests, reproduced, and bequeathed their wealth to the next generation. Marriage existed for the creation of households that served the economic, political, and dynastic concerns of the state. It was not for any other purpose and could, following the proper formalities, be dissolved.

St. Augustine developed his theory on the goods of marriage with both aforementioned schools of thought in mind. Synthesizing Sacred Scripture with elements of Stoic philosophy, he based his analysis on his vision of human persons. "Every human person," St. Augustine stated, "… by virtue of human nature, has a kind of sociability." Friendship was a natural state of affairs among human beings and marriage was its highest expression. St. Augustine explained that the first instance "of this natural human society" was the sexual union of man and woman. Referencing the act of creation, St. Augustine observed that, God did not make man and woman to be strangers. Rather, creating woman from the side of the man, God affirmed the power of their enduring bond in holy matrimony. St. Augustine asserted that "the marriage of man and woman is something good," and dedicated the remainder of his inquiry to exploring why.

While procreation is noble in and of itself, it is not the sole good of marriage. According to St. Augustine, the three goods ("bona") of marriage are permanence, fidelity, and openness to offspring. Therefore, marriage properly understood is the conjugal union of a man and woman for life, of exclusive and mutual fidelity, for the procreation and education of children. Augustine writes:
Let these nuptial goods be the objects of our love: offspring, fidelity, the unbreakable bond... Let these nuptial goods be praised in marriage by him who wishes to extol the nuptial institution“ (The three "bona" are essential properties which distinguish the marital covenant from any other type of relationship between two persons.) This is the goodness ("bonum") of marriage, from which it takes its glory: offspring, chaste fidelity, unbreakable bond...


It is natural for the human heart to accept demands, even difficult ones, in the name of love for an ideal, and above all in the name of love for a person.
 — Pope St. John Paul II
1. Offspring: The (potential) fruitfulness of the union (procreativity or openness to having children: the "bonum prolis", or the "good" of offspring). The fruitfulness of the conjugal union fulfills man's and woman's longing for self-perpetuation and for the perpetuation, in offspring, of the conjugal love between them. "A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment" (CCC 2366). The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.

2. Fidelity: The exclusive fidelity of the marital relationship (one man with one woman: the ("bonum fidei") Many people today are suspicious of an exclusive relationship. And yet everyone wants to be someone very special in someone else's eyes. Hence arises the good or value of the "bonum fidei", the commitment to a faithful and exclusive love in marriage. The person who does not wish to "belong" to someone else (in a mutual "belonging") consigns himself or herself to perpetual isolation and loneliness. The Lord says in no uncertain terms: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: "Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto him and none else." The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse.

3. Permanence: The permanence of the relationship (the unbreakable character or indissolubility of the marital bond: the ("bonum sacramenti") Many people today are suspicious of binding themselves for ever. And nevertheless that is what love aspires after: "I'll love you for always". "Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement 'until further notice'..." (CCC 1646). When there is acceptance of a permanent bond of love, one enjoys the goodness of knowing one is entering a stable home or haven, that one's "belonging" to another - and that other's belonging to one - is for keeps. People want this, and while they know that it will require sacrifices, it should be natural for them to sense that the sacrifices are worth it.

July 13, 2015

An Impossible Right: Why 'Same-Sex Marriage' is Wrongheaded

A Conversation on Same Sex "Marriage" with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco

Orthodox priest, Father Josiah Trenham, interviews His Excellency, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, one of America's most articulate champions of marriage and most persuasive opponent of so-called "Same-Sex Marriage." In this 30+ minute interview Archbishop Cordileone thoroughly goes on the record to explain the genesis of the movement for "Same-Sex Marriage" and exposes why the quest for redefining marriage is so destructive to the health and well-being of marriage and American society.

Patristic Nectar Publications (PNP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing spiritual edification and formal Orthodox Christian catechesis. It publishes the teachings of the Church as expressed by the Holy Fathers through a vast array of patristic audio books and lecture series, spreading the wealth of Sacred Tradition to the modern-day media culture. PNP is distinctive in the fidelity of its publications to the mind of the Church, and the freedom in the publications from personal opinions and theological fads.

Nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers.

To learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications, visit their website.

July 11, 2015

Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 12, 2015, Year B

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Director, La Salette Shrine
Enfield, NH

Photo of Eight-burst Nebula, Courtney Seligman 
(Click here for today’s readings)

One of the members of my La Salette religious community is Father Joe, who just turned 87. We get together often for an afternoon of “tea and computer.” He tells me what, in his insatiable curiosity, he needs to know, and I look it up on my laptop. But the first thing is always a visit to NASA’s website, APOD, i.e. “Astronomy Picture of the Day.” Fr. Joe loves science.

Not rarely we find something like this (from June 7, 2015). “The Eight-Burst Nebula… originated in the outer layers of a star like our Sun… Neither the unusual shape of the surrounding cooler shell nor the structure and placements of the cool filamentary dust lanes… are well understood.” At which point Fr. Joe will say: “In other words, they haven’t got a clue!”

We are meant to understand. That’s why we have a mind. Even children eventually come to realize that “because I’m the Mommy” isn’t a proper answer to “Why?” Things need to make sense, and there are few things more calculated to disturb our peace of mind than not understanding what is happening in our lives. The last answer we want to hear to our questioning is: “It’s a mystery.”

Today my attention has been captured, taken hostage, if you will, even to the exclusion of the Gospel, by a phrase in St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “In all wisdom and insight, he [God] has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor.” St. Paul often uses the word “mystery,” seventeen times in seven Letters, six times in Ephesians alone.

Usually we say that “mystery” means that we can never fully understand, that we can always go deeper into what is classically known as the “Cloud of Unknowing.”

Some people think science and religion are in conflict, that we have to choose between them. But science and religion have something very important in common. They are both fascinated with mystery.

Science is drawn to mystery. It analyzes, it explains, with the ultimate expectation of eliminating the mystery.

Religion is drawn to mystery for its own sake. Mystery is “made known” or “revealed” as mystery. Yes, theologians and biblical scholars also analyze and explain, but their goal is not to eliminate but illuminate, to help us see the wonder of it all.

It’s not unlike the distinction between prose and poetry. Both can be beautiful, both can be straightforward or “mysterious.” But poetry has the ability to illuminate the truth it expresses in ways that prose simply cannot. When e.e. cummings wrote, “i am a little church(no great cathedral)” and “i am not sorry when sun and rain make april,” he was saying things that could certainly be expressed in prose, but in a way that captures the imagination and takes it well beyond the communication of information, into the realm of… well, mystery.

In the Mass we speak of the “sacred mysteries.” Originally that meant the “secrets,” in particular the rituals practiced by Christians. In the early days of Christianity there were various “mystery religions” in the Roman Empire, and what they had in common was that outsiders were excluded from participation in and even knowledge of their rites. They were like what today we would call “secret societies.” Even in the Knights of Columbus—not a secret society—the “ceremonials” are never to be divulged to non-members.

The term “sacred mysteries” no longer has that exclusive sense, except insofar as, for example, those present who are not Catholic may not (with few exceptions) receive Communion. But for us Catholics, it means precisely that through the Liturgy of the Eucharistic we are admitted into God’s presence in a mysterious way, a way that used commonly to be expressed by the word “ineffable,” usually rendered in modern English as “beyond all telling.”

In a very specific, non-biblical context the Greek word for mystery can be translated as “the heart of the matter.” This brings to mind St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, where we read: “And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries… but do not have love, I am nothing.”

The same anonymous English author who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing in the late 1300s also wrote The Book of Privy Counseling. Here he writes, “And so I urge you, go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest."

Mystery and the “sacred mysteries” are not about understanding. They are an invitation to experience, to enter into the heart of the matter.

As mentioned at the beginning, people can get annoyed when the best answer we can give to the deeper questions of life or faith is: “It’s a mystery.” They look at you as if to say, “What kind of explanation is that?”

Actually, it’s a good one.