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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Philippine president caves in on contraception as a cure-all

He should read these prophetic words from Humanae Vitae, and ask himself if this is his vision for his people. All he needs to do is look at the enlightened countries who embrace contraceptives to verify the truth in these warnings:
 Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

From excommunication to canonization

So there's this interesting segment of Blessed Mary MacKillop's history: she and others of her order were apparently excommunicated wrongfully, and if ABC News has it right, it was for exposing a sexually abusive priest. Of course, the ABC news linked to muddles this up a bit: the title says she was excommunicated, then Father Gardiner (who advocated for Blessed Mary MacKillop's cause) says it wasn't an actual excommunication in fact or law, then the article says it was an excommunication in fact, that had to be lifted by the bishop who declared it. I wonder what Father Gardiner meant by his statement though.

The cynics will have a field day with this one, of course, but I have to point out something odd about this. Surely the Church new about this matter, yet went ahead with beatifying her and deciding now to canonize her as a saint (17th Oct). I think there are positive lessons to be drawn here. First, bishops can get it wrong; even the Apostles did, but that didn't stop Jesus from giving them authority. Two, to the faithful (such as Blessed Mary MacKillop), even wrong bishops must be obeyed. Remember Jesus saying that the Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses, and should thus be obeyed. I always thought this meant to keep the order and God himself will sort things out (as He might have concerning St. Mary MacKillop, five months into her excommunication). Three, to the faithful again, even if the Church has her share of wrong and sinful leaders, she is not to be abandoned -- there is all the more reason to come to her aid. Never in St. Paul's exhortations did he advocate schism. In fact, he condemned it.

And the most wonderful part of this story: she was excommunicated wrongfully, and now she is to be canonized Australia's first saint. Some would assert, with no small glee, that she was a rebel, but do they really want to say that? A rebel seeks to overthrow and to divide: is that who Mary MacKillop was? Is that why she's being canonized in October?

[Updated 7 Oct 2010: Oops. That's what I get for trusting ABC Online.]

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Euthanasia: mercy for whom?

David Sh├╝tz hits the nail on the head about what euthanasia can be about. And given that it is up for legislation (at least the process has been initiated), it certainly is something to talk about.

Sunday Mass attendance still declining?

Pews get even emptier in the US, according to this blog from Deacon Greg Kandra. The trend may not be the same in other parts of the world (Africa, for example), but it's certainly not something to take lightly. One lukewarm Catholic is quoted as saying "I do see the value in it, but it's just not for me right now" and, regarding Catholicism, "I don't feel aligned with it any more." That's probably true for a lot of Catholics. I put the emphasis on some of those quotes because they do reveal a lot about relativism, don't they? One of the comments pointed out, "If young people aren't going to Mass, could it be because it wasn't treated as important by their parents?" Indeed.

Another comment begins "I'm convinced the answer is TRUTH. People are starved for it.." Not the vague waffling that tries to accommodate any interpretation so that it isn't confronting (which makes it bland, no more salt). What was it that Papa Benedetto said during his recent tour in Britain?

 "A Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power. .. the Church does not seek to be attractive in and of herself, but must be transparent for Jesus Christ.. for the great figure of Christ and the great truth that he has brought to humanity. .."
(Visit Sentire Cum Ecclesia for a longer quote.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

UK judge says that divorcing parents can damage children

Talk about an understatement. Marriage isn't easy, and is certainly harder in some cases compared to others. But barring the exceptional case of violent altercations or abuse, it's hard to prove the point that divorce solves everything, or even most things. It probably does no good to the children (except, as said, for those exceptional cases). I once heard someone on Catholic Answers ask rhetorically, when the parents give up on their marriage and effectively abandon their daily crosses, guess who has to pick them up instead?

The Patriarchal Family in History

Probably horrible words to read for some, but Christopher Dawson makes a cogent case. Read it to believe it (or not).

Ex nihilo: fides

I hope I got that Latin right: out of atheism, Jennifer Fullwiler both receives that wonderful gift, faith.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not to forget the missus

So I enthuse to my wife about this podcast from Catholic Answers Live entitled "Husbands, Love Your Wives!" with guest Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (a really gifted preacher). So I turn it up for her. Two minutes in, I ask "are you listening to this?" Nope.

I guess that sort of thing should be seen and not heard. :-)

From the mouth of babes and children

Nothing like kids to keep one's feet on the ground. For instance, after remarking about the empty box of chips that I never got to sample, Francis (7) offers me his hand, covered in crumbs, "you can have this!" Er, no. So Patrick (9) then shook the remaining crumbs from the box onto a small dish for me. Perspective...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Gracious God

In 2 Peter 3:13-14, we are reminded of our hope, and to do our best to remain spotless for God, whose patience is our opportunity to be saved. But we know it isn't easy. However, as we are called, so are we gifted, and no giver of gifts is like God. In Ezekiel 36:24-28, the fullness of his graciousness is described. He frees his people, gives them a new heart and spirit each. He replaces hearts of stone with hearts of flesh -- which is not fundamentally evil, being a creation of God. He makes us his people, teaches us to live in holy peace with his statutes and ordinances, and He becomes our God. NB: These readings come from today's morning prayer with the Liturgy of the Hours.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Of life and of death

Just a thought that I'd like to record somewhere (though I haven't the time to develop it now): it is likely that the underpinning for the Catholic doctrines on the morality of artificial contraception can be traced to (and probably beyond) that for the fifth commandment. How so? Well, it is the Lord who gives life, and it is therefore an arrogant act for one of his creatures to control one's life (or death). This needs some nuanced thought, of course, particularly when one is dying and resuscitation is futile because there is no hope of prolonging life in some way. In terms of human conception and artificial contraception, I think it's fairly straightforward. Not that every marital act must be fertile, but that if a marital act is fertile, only God may decide whether this act results in conception or not. Does this make sense? It is 1:21 am after all..

Fad atheism and where's the debate?

Funny, but it does present a challenge. Only one thing to do: test all things, hold fast to what is good. Maybe they don't want to go beyond the entertaining polemics, but we can't stoop to that level. Of course, when testing all things, we do need to be prudent and prepared.
[Thanks to Patrick Madrid for this one.]