Father Jacques Hamel Beheaded by ISIS Militants During Mass
Fr. Jacques Hamel Had a Target on His Back
By Fr. Christopher Pietraszko:
Any priest has a target on his back the moment he is ordained. This target is present for both spiritual and political reasons. We notice that in various cultures one of the first laws decreed by a fascist-like state is to prohibit priests from publically wearing any clerical attire. This is because the priest is a powerful symbol to the people of the conscience that ought to be directed towards faith in God. The visible priest in his own subtle way of witnessing walks the streets reminding people that there is a higher authority than the state, and if it ever contradicts that higher authority, it is worth contradicting. Therefore, fascist states who predicate their ideology of placing themselves above all other authorities naturally enter into a conflict with the priest.
Spiritually, priests are also under attack because if one priest’s pastoral vision and spirituality can be corrupted so can the many that follow him. Therefore Powers and Principalities (fallen angels) seek to attack Christ’s priests in order to mislead masses of people.
With the death of a Father Jacques Hamel in the face of Islamic Terrorism we should call to mind another truth – that priests enter into this ministry with a willingness to be a target. Although we might look at a martyrdom as a tragedy, which it certainly is, we also look at it as a cross that a saint bore victoriously. To be selected for the crown of martyrdom is no easy task, but it is something that every Christian is called to be willing to do, and first amongst them, the Christian-leadership.
Fr. Jacques Hamel laid down his life
With that in mind, we must not look at this 84 year old French-priest as a vulnerable person – although he was – but rather as a man who was selected by God to courageously lay down his life for love of Christ. Not for an ideology, not for politics, but out of reciprocity for the Sacrifice of Christ, and to unite it to the Cross out of love and sacrifice for those whom he served. A priest’s martyrdom is one way in which a priest has in fact fulfilled his own vocation – and therefore, while his death must be mourned, his virtue must be celebrated. How else do we also not rip the rug from under the feet of our persecutors than by triumphing at a saints death with which they just helped make.
By Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, Statement Regarding Catholics in Public Office
Tim Kaine fully Supports Abortion
The Catholic Church makes its position very clear as it pertains to the protection of human life, social justice initiatives, and the importance of family life. From the very beginning, Catholic teaching informs us that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death. The right to life is a fundamental, human right for the unborn and any law denying the unborn the right to life is unequivocally unjust.
Legislative issues pertaining to these matters are advocated on behalf of myself and Bishop Loverde, of the Diocese of Arlington, before the Virginia General Assembly, U.S. Congress, and with state and federal agencies and administrations through the Virginia Catholic Conference, a public policy advocacy organization. Through this organization, elected officials in Virginia are aware of the Church’s positions on such important issues.
We continue to maintain an open communication with public officials who make on-going decisions impacting critical, moral and social issues. This is a responsibility I take seriously, along with my brother bishops, to reach out to public leaders to explain Catholic principles and encourage them to protect human life and dignity in all decisions they make.
We always pray for our Catholic leaders that they make the right choice, act in the best judgment and in good conscience, knowing the values and teachings of the Catholic Church.
It is the duty of all Catholics, no matter their profession, to decide through an upright and informed conscience as to their worthiness to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Most Rev. Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland – The Catholic Sentinel:
I hope our readers will pardon a little wading into the Code of Canon Law, the system of law that governs the Catholic Church. I can’t help it — after all, I am a trained canon lawyer! Jesus teaches us in the Gospel that the two greatest commandments are love of God and love of neighbor, for sure.
But what is the greatest love we show for God and neighbor? Is it not to see as many people as possible, including ourselves, come to know the love and mercy of God and be with him one day forever in heaven?
The Church’s Code of Canon Law contains 1,752 laws covering everything from the structural organization of the Church as the people of God, the teaching of the Faith, the sacramental life of the Church, the administration of the material goods of the Church, and even penal and procedural law. But lest any of us (especially canon lawyers) forget the purpose of all of this body of law, the very last law (or “canon”) states that the “salvation of souls”, which must always be the supreme law of the Church, must be kept before our eyes.
The Salvation of Souls.
How often do we hear this language in the Church today? Not very often, I am afraid. And yet that is the very mission of the Church! To emphasize this very point, the Catechsim of the Catholic Church (# 776), quoting the Second Vatican Council, states: “As sacrament, the Church is Christ’s instrument. ‘She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all,’ ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ by which Christ is ‘at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God’s love for men.’ The Church ‘is the visible plan of God’s love for humanity,’ because God desires ‘that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit.’”
We are in Danger
Why am I emphasizing this point, you may ask? Because I sincerely think that we are in danger of losing our focus in fulfilling the mission that Christ has entrusted to all of us in the Church. Our ultimate mission is to bring as many people as possible into the one People of God, to incorporate them into the one Body of Christ, and be built up as the temple of God, animated by the Holy Spirit. The gift of eternal salvation is the greatest gift God has given to us, a gift that was purchased at a great price, the blood of his only begotten Son.
Jesus began his public ministry by boldly proclaiming, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” His last words to the Apostles of his Church before his Ascension were, “Go forth and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The message is clear. Repent, believe, go forth and baptize. The essential mission is spiritual, focused on bringing people to life in Christ.
The Danger of Losing the Gift of Salvation
Throughout the Gospels Jesus speaks of the dangers of losing the gift of salvation, missing the moment of his redemption, and risking eternal punishment by rejecting the offer God has given us in the death and resurrection of his Son. One of Jesus’ most startling statements is: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
It seems our current environment cultivates the opposite view. Our culture seems to tell us that the way to life is easy and wide, and most people find it, while to find the road to destruction is narrow and hard, and really very few people end up there. I go by our blessed Lord’s words.
Part of the reason I think that we are in danger of losing the essential and primary message of salvation of souls is based on how I see many people defining what it means to be a good Catholic. Many people have reduced being a good and faithful Catholic to being nice, tolerant and doing good works. They think if we do service projects for the poor and needy, and don’t make any judgments about human behavior and sin, then we are fulfilling the Gospel mandate.
While it is a good and even essential thing that a disciple of Jesus care for the poor and seek justice for the oppressed in this world, there is so much more to the message of redemption in Jesus Christ. We must follow the Ten Commandments, avoid sin, and repent and seek forgiveness when we fail. Our eternal salvation depends on all these things, as Jesus himself taught. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
God’s mercy extends to all of us when we have sinned and repented. There is no limit to this mercy. It is infinite. But we must seek it. If we say we are not sinners and are not in need of God’s mercy, we make God a liar. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:5-10)
True mercy goes beyond justice. But mercy does not oppose justice. Our mission is, only by the grace of God, to seek the salvation of our souls, and to bring as many with us to Heaven as we can, again only as God uses us as his instruments of grace and mercy. The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls.
An Associated Press story that ran in the State Journal-Register July 7 is misleading in saying that Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput in Philadelphia “is closing the door opened by Pope Francis to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion, saying the faithful in his archdiocese can only do so if they abstain from sex and live ‘as brother and sister.'”
As I explained in my statement about the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis on April 8, the date it was issued, “There are no changes to canon law or church doctrine introduced in this document.” I addressed this conclusion in greater detail in my column in our diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Times, on May 1, explaining that in-flight press conferences on an airplane, apostolic exhortations and footnotes “by their very nature are not vehicles for introducing or amending legislative texts or making dogmatic pronouncements.”
The Bible clearly teaches about the proper disposition to receive Holy Communion in the First Letter to the Corinthians, where Saint Paul wrote, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (1 Cor 11:27-29). This biblical teaching is reflected in canons 915-916 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.
All Serious Sins Must Be Confessed
Thus, the Philadelphia guidelines issued by Archbishop Chaput are certainly correct when they say, “Every Catholic, not only the divorced and civilly-remarried, must sacramentally confess all serious sins of which he or she is aware, with a firm purpose to change, before receiving the Eucharist. . . . With divorced and civilly-remarried persons, Church teaching requires them to refrain from sexual intimacy. This applies even if they must (for the care of their children) continue to live under one roof. Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly-remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist.”
This applies not only in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but also here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, as it does elsewhere in the Church.
Our Sex-Saturated Culture
Catholics in these circumstances thus have a free choice: if they persist in sexual activity outside of valid marriage, they must refrain from taking Holy Communion; if they wish to receive Holy Communion, they must refrain from sexual activity outside of valid marriage. The latter may seem impossible to those steeped in our sex-saturated culture, but “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki leads the Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
We saw a rare victory in the international battle for truth and religious freedom. You may have heard that Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, archbishop of Valencia in Spain, had been threatened with legal action following a controversial homily he gave some months ago. Check it out here. Cardinal Charged With Hate Crimes! In the homily, he criticized the extremely aggressive and overreaching “gay empire” that is attacking the family. He called Catholics to vigilance and prayer, calling for a defense of the family.
Attacking the bishop
As if only to prove him right, homosexual activists brought charges against Cardinal Cañizares for giving the homily. He was in a Catholic Church speaking to Catholics, yet he cannot (to listen to these activists) be allowed to defend Church teaching on marriage and challenge those who, well, threaten anyone who dare raise a voice in opposition.
We’re well past the point of “You can’t make this stuff up.” You don’t have to. The sense of entitlement the “gay empire” (to use the cardinal’s term) has to silence all opposition is limitless and is becoming totalitarian. They’ve had too many successes in just such cases, so it is heartening to see a victory for sanity.
Threatened with three years in prison, Cardinal Cañizares prevailed when a Spanish judge threw out the charges, finding truthfully enough that in the controversial homily in question, he was exercising his right to free speech and had no criminal intent or appeal to hatred or violence.
We have discussed many times in Spirit & Life how radical gender ideology has infected many institutions here and around the world, bringing its corrosive anti-reality and anti-God worldview to corners once thought immune to politics. Since the LGBT movement cannot defend its views with reason, it must appeal with raw emotion and project its own hatred onto its opponents and remove their rights to free speech, and increasingly, to any public endeavor whatsoever.
Bishops Standing Together
So to do what Cardinal Cañizares did takes courage and leadership, traits he shares with Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla, who also hails from Valencia but is now bishop of Alcala de Henares, Spain. HLI awarded Bishop Reig Pla the Cardinal von Galen award in 2013 for his courage in defending Christ and His Church. Spain has seen many hardships over the years, but with leaders like this they have greater hope.
Bishops should dedicate themselves to their apostolic office as witness of Christ before all men. They should not only look after those who already follow the Prince of Pastors but should also wholeheartedly devote themselves to those who have strayed in any way from the path of truth or are ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His saving mercy until finally all men walk “in all goodness and justice and truth (Eph. 5:9)”(Christus Dominus n. 11).
There are many good bishops out there, and we need to acknowledge their courage when we see it. All of our beloved shepherds deserve our love and prayers, and frankly deserve encouragement when they step into the breach and really lead in a difficult time.
Sometimes the attack comes from inside
This is especially true since there is so much to confuse the faithful coming from bishops. Last week we heard a bishop insist that the Church is somehow responsible for attacks on persons who identify as LGBT, repeating a key talking point of those who attack the Church unjustly and are trying to change her teaching on sexuality. This is truly disgraceful and deserves clear condemnation-when the Church is already under attack from powerful sexual radicals it is devastating to have a shepherd of the Church give aid and comfort to the enemy.
Yet, just when some are tempted to despair by such betrayals, we hear from Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez an eloquent defense of the Church’s teaching that life is the most important among many issues that concern Catholics in the public square. He has been a leader on many social justice issues for the Church, particularly on immigration, yet he knows that while some issues admit of a variety of solutions for faithful Catholics, life deserves a complete and unqualified defense in law, which is sorely lacking in the US and around the world today. And it is so for the exact same reason that a poor migrant family deserves our help: because every human person is made in the image of God, and deserves to live the life he already has been given as a gift.
In exercising their duty of teaching — which is conspicuous among the principal duties of bishops — they should announce the Gospel of Christ to men, calling them to a faith in the power of the Spirit or confirming them in a living faith. They should expound the whole mystery of Christ to them, namely, those truths the ignorance of which is ignorance of Christ. At the same time they should point out the divinely revealed way to give glory to God and thereby to attain to eternal happiness. (Christus Dominus n. 12)
Giving glory to God
Cardinal Cañizares and Archbishop Gomez are two of many within the Church doing the right thing by opposing the threat of gender ideology, and by pointing to the truth in Our Lord. So many in the Church are indifferent, which is almost an understandable tragedy given the many years of poor catechesis and compromise with a culture that is falling apart. We pray for the conversion of these brothers and sisters also, as the choices are made clearer by the hostility of the surrounding culture and a core group of faithful Catholics who remain strong and joyful. We pray every day that they will choose Christ and His Church and leave the untruths behind. We pray this for ourselves as well, since we don’t presume to have every answer. We just strive in love and truth to be faithful in small and large things.
Our shepherds and priests desperately need the prayers of the faithful. We need the strength to give ourselves anew to Christ through His Church every day. We can’t do it without your prayers.
Thank you for praying for me and for all priests and bishops, and for standing strong in the fight for life and family with us.
On occasion, I’m asked: “By whose authority can you say the Eucharistic Prayer facing the same direction as the congregation? What Pope said you could do this?”
Up until about 1965, this was a well established practice of the Church. If you were to ask a priest before the 70’s why he did not celebrate Mass ad orientem, he would have looked at you as if you had two heads. Offering the Eucharistic Prayer versus populum (facing the people) is more of an aberration to the sacred rite. It was something never envisioned by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, but one imposed by faulty historical analysis by Liturgists who desired to make our Mass more appealing to Protestants.
So, back to some authoritative source as for the practice of ad orientem worship. The custom in itself is authoritative. Mass was celebrated facing the east (ad orientem) for over 1,900 years. The eastern rites of the Catholic Church, along with our brethren in the Orthodox Church have never deviated from this ancient and venerable tradition.
Aside from this long standing practice, the very ritual of the Roman Rite, known as the Roman Missal assumes that priests are offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ad orientem.
Rubrics are directions in Liturgical books on how the service is to be conducted. The word rubrics comes from the Latin word rubrica meaning red. There are two color types in the Roman Missal, red and black. Red informs the priest what he must do and black, what he must say.
Let me quote directly from the rubrics in the Roman Missal.
“The Priest and the faithful, standing, sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, while the Priest, facing the people, says: In the name of the Father…”
“The Priest, standing at the altar, takes the paten with the bread and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice.”
“Standing at the middle of the altar, facing the people … he says: Prayer, brethren , that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.”
“The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds: The peace of the Lord be with you always.”
“The Priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud: Behold the Lamb of God…”
“The Priest, facing the altar, says quietly: May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life. And he reverently consumes the Body of Christ.”
“Then, standing at the altar or at the chair and facing the people, with hands joined, the Priest says: Let us pray.”
After the collect:
“The Priest, facing the people and extending his hands, says: The Lord be with you. … May almighty God bless you…”
A close reading of the rubrics of the Roman Missal clearly assumes the priest is facing the altar, except for the Liturgy of the Word, and those times where it reads “facing the people,” or “turned towards the people.”
Following the directives of the Roman Missal is the only authority a priest needs to celebrate Mass ad orientem. The rubrics and long standing tradition are the authoritative voice of the Church.
Jesus is often called, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The word the Scriptures use is really not adequately translated in English as simply, “good.” The word really means, “honorable, worthy, noble,” or, “so excellent in every way that its goodness is itself beautiful.”
The Gospel John (Jn 10:11-18) points out that the shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep; he is honorable, worthy, and noble in his bravery — even laying down his own life for the sheep. And toward the end of that Gospel passage, Jesus says, “No one takes my life from me, I lay down my life, and I take it up again.”
The shepherd is indeed a brave shepherd. And so, in some ways, as the years go by, I hope that we start to call this, “Brave Shepherd Sunday,” for the bravery of the shepherd is one of the key virtues focused upon that help us to call him, “good.”
Priest Unifies and Calls Flock to Holiness
The priest must do what is necessary to build unity in the flock and to call the flock to holiness, so that he himself might receive a “good account before the fearsome judgment seat of Christ,” when the time comes. It is only in doing his best for everybody else’s holiness that the priest can do the best for himself. And to do that today it takes bravery.
When we look for candidates to the priesthood and as we pray for vocations, we are looking for men who are brave in their willingness to seek holiness, to speak the truth, to lay down their lives. There is no place in the priesthood today for “wimpish-ness.” There is no place for an attitude that just wants to please people, no matter what they think and no matter what they want. Today the priest has to stand up and be brave, preaching the Truth with love. He has to be willing to be unpopular. And if it comes to it, he has to be open to martyrdom.
That’s what happened to St. Peter. In the first reading from this past Sunday, St. Peter is seen professing, “there is no other name given to men by which they will be saved. Jesus Christ is the only savior of the world (Acts 4:12)!” If someone says that today, they get in trouble. And so it’s more politically expedient not to say things like that. But the Truth is the Truth — Jesus Christ is the only savior of the world; and apart from Jesus Christ, there can be no salvation for anyone. It’s what Peter said, as witnessed in the Acts of the Apostles, and it’s no wonder that he got crucified for it in the end — for to say this is unpopular. But Peter was brave (even to the point of trying to make his crucifixion worse than the Lord’s by choosing to be crucified upside-down).
In John’s Gospel, “what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2).” We will see Him as He is — the only Savior of the world. That’s why it says in the Book of Revelation that in the end, “every eye will see Him — even of those who pierced Him.” This too is part of the bravery of the priest.
The person of the priest is in the person of Jesus and so imbedded in Him, that with Christ and like Christ he lives a life of celibacy. Our world has no use for celibacy and is at the point where it thinks that nobody can live without free access to sex. To take on a life that is a statement to the contrary is bravery.
Our world is in such a state that even the government wants to make sure that everybody — perhaps even little girls — have access, free of charge, to artificial contraception and they call it “preventive services.” Preventive medicine is medicine that protects someone from an illness (like a vaccination against the flu). What disease does artificial contraception protect a woman from? Pregnancy? Our government would have us think that pregnancy is a disease, and that instead of finding fulfillment in her motherhood, a woman must have the absolute freedom to turn against her motherhood — as if the fruits of being a mother were a disease.
Bravery Means Standing Up for Moral Truth
It’s time for all of us to be brave in admitting what the moral truth is about artificial contraception. It’s not a time to by shy, retiring, and politically correct. Sometimes people come up to me and say, “in my parish it’s not permitted to talk about that.” How sad. Where is the sign of the brave shepherd?
It is precisely the gift from God of celibacy that holds the priest so tightly to Christ. The priest is bravely laying down his life, and living completely for the next world, in which there is “no marrying or giving in marriage (Mt 22:30),” no matter what consequences might befall him in this world. The priest is called to stand up in the truth, like a brave shepherd.
I taught college for 11 years, and I still enjoy very much working with young people. And young people want to be challenged to be brave. If they are not challenged to be brave, they say, “well I can think about other things to do with my life. I’m not going to give up my whole life, and even give up marriage in order to be mediocre. I’ll go for excellence someplace else.” They want to reach out for that bravery, and one of the ways we promote vocations is by telling them that we expect bravery in our priests. It takes much bravery to live out joyfully the life of priestly celibacy, the best way to prove to the world that God exists.
Vocations are increasing in number every year, thank God, and thanks to your good prayers, and now is the time for you to demand bravery in the priesthood. Because nothing less than that will bring Christ’s Church through the hard times to come.
Thank you for reading this. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop. Slight editing.
Three times in his speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Cardinal Sarah described gender ideology as “demonic.” More recently, Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Coakley used the same word addressing the issue. So did Bishop Paprocki of Springfield regarding gay marriage. A strong word, to be sure. But most people misunderstand why. Some take “demonic” for mere hyperbole. Something is not just bad, but really, really bad. Others see it as rash judgment of opponents – literally demonizing them. Still others take it as just an overstatement by religious fanatics, who are unhinged anyway.
But “demonic” is a sober and sobering assessment of the thought behind gender ideology. It’s not a judgment of people’s intentions. It doesn’t mean that those who endorse gender ideology are demonic or possessed. It means, rather, that the reasoning and results of that philosophy – no matter how innocently held – line up with the desires, tactics, and resentments of “Old Scratch” himself.
The Devil’s Basic Lie
Gender ideology repeats the basic lie of the evil one: “You will be like gods.” (Gen 3:5) Of course, this lie lurks behind every temptation. Every sin comes from that prideful desire to supplant God. But in the arena of human sexuality, it has greater gravity.
God creates; man is created. God brings into being; man receives his being. Gender ideology proposes something else: that we are our own creators. In one of his last (and perhaps most important) addresses, Pope Benedict noted:
The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. . . . But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. . . .the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being.
And if we find our bodies not in keeping with what we have determined ourselves to be, then we alter them accordingly. Against this, Pope Francis counsels: “Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place accepting it and respecting it as it was created.” (AL, 56)
The Devil Hates the Body
There’s also demonic hatred of the body. C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters chronicles the demonic resentment of God’s favoring us “hairless bipeds. . .[animals] begotten in a bed.” Why this hatred? Perhaps because the human body and soul are one. The soul, having so much in common with the angelic nature, is one with the body, having so much in common with animal nature. The devil takes this union as a personal offense. He (as we all experience) seeks to undo it – to divide us from our own flesh, to pit body and soul against each other. He masterfully leads us to worship the body one moment and abhor it the next. Death – the separation of body and soul – was, of course, his greatest victory.
There’s also the fact that the Word became flesh. God’s great act of generosity toward us embodied souls simply aggravates the devil’s envy. The Son of God assumed a human nature, including a human body. He saved us not only in, but through that Body. Why should this dignity be given to us, so inferior to the seraphim, and not to him, the highest of angels?
Fallen man is always at odds with his body. Christianity seeks to heal that division. Gender ideology seeks to codify it. The latter rests on the principle that there is no real relationship between body and soul. So absolute is their division that a person can be physically one thing and spiritually another.
The Devil Hates Procreation
Closely linked to this is the demonic hatred of procreation. The devil cannot procreate. But man does. Man and woman cooperate with God in bringing a new human person into being. The devil is envious because God is generous. Of course, gender ideology rejects the complementarity of male and female – and what their union accomplishes.
The Lord takes up natural truths – body, marriage, and family – and uses them as the template and means for His salvific work. He is the Word made flesh, the Bridegroom, the Son of Joseph and Mary, Who makes us members of God’s family. We grasp the significance of Jesus’ offering His Body on the Cross and in the Eucharist precisely because we know the body has significance. The permanent, faithful, and life-giving union of husband and wife enables us to grasp what it means that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride.
The loss of these natural truths, therefore, inhibits our ability to understand the supernatural and grasp salvation. If the human body has no intrinsic meaning – if it tells us nothing about ourselves and can be adjusted as we see fit – then how can we appreciate the words, “This is my Body”?
The Devil Hates the Supernatural
If we have no lived experience of the complementarity of man and woman, of bridegroom and bride, then we are at a loss for understanding Christ the Bridegroom dying for His Bride. And neither can we grasp the meaning of God as Father, God as Son, the Church as Mother, etc. It’s in the devil’s interest to deprive of us of these natural signs of the supernatural.
Of course, these demonic tendencies have not popped up all of a sudden. They are his usual tactics. We have seen them conspicuously at work in the sexual revolution, in contraception, abortion, and IVF. Gender ideology rests upon these and promotes them to a new degree.
Recognition of the demonic is perhaps helpful. But it should also prompt us to an examination of conscience – to see how we ourselves have fallen for his tricks: by our little acts of prideful self-exaltation (which is really self-creation), by our own disdain or mistreatment of the body (our own and those of others), by our own unchastity (which demeans the power of procreation), by our damaging of how others can come to God.
Some of us may glimpse the demonic in gender ideology. But we all must repent for how we have personally yielded to it.
“This column first appeared on the website The Catholic Thing (www.thecatholicthing.org). Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.Reprinted with permission.” Slight editing.