Memorare to St. Joseph

Daily prayer for the Synod on the Family:

Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power I fly unto you and beg your protection. Despise not O Guardian of the Redeemer my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me.
Amen.

Priests We Follow

Recent Comments

  • tg: There has been such silence from the Vatican on this topic and so called homosexual marriage. All we...
  • Gloria: Happy Feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney! Love the Cure of Ars and want everyone to learn more...
  • Violet VinZant: I am so pleased to hear that Cardinal Burke will be at A Planned Parenthood facility to protest....
  • Br. Christopher Sale B.P.P.: In Hollywood the killing of Cecil the Lion is all the outrage. Where is the outrage from these stars...
  • Frances: Praise God! The Mass is our most potent prayer in offering Jesus to the Father. This...
  • Mariann: Yet, again, Bishop Paprocki provides his flock with clarity on the issue of PP. May all Bishops...
  • Marco: Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give...
  • Paul: wonderful comment Adam, couldn't agree with you more brother !
  • Paul: Bee, i couldnt agree with you more ! thanks for the wonderful comment.
  • Paul: Are you kidding me? What in the world is wrong with holding hands during the Our Father...

Bishop Paprocki: Planned Parenthood Selling Body Parts

Bishop Paprocki on Planned Parenthood videos: “We should be shocked and appalled at this moral depravity”

Recently, the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos and documentation showing how people at the highest levels of Planned Parenthood are negotiating the sale of body parts and adjusting the way they perform abortions so that the body parts are more accessible. New undercover footage shows Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, describing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted fetuses, and admitting she uses partial-birth abortions to supply intact body parts. In the video, Nucatola is at a business lunch casually sipping a glass of red wine with actors posing as buyers from a human biologics company. As head of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Services Department, Nucatola has overseen medical practice at all Planned Parenthood locations since 2009. She also trains new Planned Parenthood abortion doctors and performs abortions herself at Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles.

___________

 

 Please watch his video and listen carefully to his words:   Email subscribers please click here to watch video.

How anyone can watch what Planned Parenthood does in its clinics and not be disgusted and heart-broken is quite beyond me. Let us join our prayers to those of Bishop Paprocki.

Discover the 3 Forms of Slavery Holding Americans Hostage

The Slavery to Sin

by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV – Fr. Broom’s Blog:

Physical slavery is one thing, but there is an even more serious slavery—it is the slavery to sin. Jesus Himself calls sin slavery. Sin can make us true slaves to moral evil; and this is the worse form of slavery.

St. John the Baptist was made a slave of imprisonment under the wicked King Herod. However, the Baptist experienced the true freedom of the sons of God. Even though King Herod experienced exterior freedom, interiorly he was a true slave of his disordered passions and sin—lust, greed, gluttony, and insecurity.

In the United States we boast of the freedom that we experience, especially on the 4th of July by blowing off fire-works, admiring fire-rockets and guzzling down beer barrels! But do we really experience the true freedom that Jesus came to give us, the freedom of the sons and daughters of God?

What might be one of the major obstacles to freedom and the major form of slavery? Anybody who utilizes simple reason will quickly be brought to the conclusion: the Capital sin of lust. The flagrant, pervasive and universally promoted promiscuity in the realm of sexuality must be touted as the modern binding force of slavery far and wide.

The expressions of sexual promiscuity are many, but for sake of brevity we will mention only three. First, it must be stated that all that God created was good, is good and always will be good. However, the problem is in the abuse of the goods of creation. One of the most exalted gifts of God’s creation is the proper use of human sexuality. The expression of human sexuality has its plan, purpose and divine blessing only in this context: a man and woman sacramentally married and in their conjugal union being open to the possibility of life, or procreation—that is to say, being ready to collaborate with God in bringing forth new life into existence. Man and woman provide the material reality; God infuses the immortal soul! Let us now proceed to list three of the modern slaveries in the field of lust and the abuse of human sexuality.

  1. SAME-SEX UNIONS. Even though the Supreme Court has recently approved and legalized the union of the same sexes and calling it marriage, it is not in the eyes of God. Even though you call a banana an apple, still the banana is a banana. The Government might call same-sex unions marriage, but it is not and it will never be. Why? God has told us! Listen! “God created them male and female and for this reason and man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife. What God has united let no man rent asunder.” Then God gave the first order to the man and woman: “Increase and multiply.”—in other words, have children! The acceptance, the promotion and practice of sodomy is wrong and it always will be morally reprehensible!
  2. PLAGUE OF PORN. Honestly we must admit it: we live in a pornographic society. On almost every corner we turn we are bumping into the crude but all pervasive reality of pornography. In a certain sense, we can use this powerful but so true image: we are being surrounded by a pack of ravenous wolves (pornography) that is intent on devouring us. Indeed if we do not take extreme measures this ravenous wolf can grip on to us, bite into us and rip us apart—the way wolves do to their prey. It would be more than safe to say that pornography is the number one addiction in the United States as well as in other countries. Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton made an incredible prophecy more than two hundred years ago. She said that a black box would enter into the homes and families in the United States and ruin numberless families. Could it be that this prophecy of the insidious and poisonous “Black box” is both the television as well as the Internet connected to the “Black box” of the Computer, what to do you think?
  3. TRIAL-MARRIAGES/FREE-UNIONS/COHABITATION. It is all but a plague today among many so-called Catholics, Christians, to start off their life together by simply living together, free-union, “Shacking out” as they used to say in the 60’s! This expression of sexual promiscuity is becoming so common, pervasive and relevant to the modern world that believers, even practicing Catholics, are becoming desensitized to this immoral phenomena. The reasons behind this are multiple, but all immoral! Many say that they have to try it out to see if it works; others say that we have to see if we have good chemistry; still others, say that they do not want to take such a serious step of getting married in the Church and to make a wrong decision. In the mean time they are more than willing to offend God, live in mortal sin on a permanent basis, give bad example, better yet, give scandal to their children and to pave their way to the loss of their immortal souls for all eternity.

In conclusion, let us lift up our minds, hearts, souls and desires in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the holy and chaste Saint Joseph. Let us beg them fervently for ourselves, our family members as well as the whole world for the grace to be free from the slaveries of the present world, especially the all-prevalent slavery of lust. Let us beg both Our Lady through her most pure and Immaculate Heart and the most pure heart of Saint Joseph for the grace to live out this challenging but freeing Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8) If done we will not be slaves, but truly free sons and daughters of our heavenly Father!

Are You Following the Wrong Shepherd ?

The Danger of  “Using Secular and Cultural Forms of Knowledge to
Guide our Lives Instead of the Bible or the Teachings of the Church”

By Father Daniel E. Doctor:

Jesus was moved with pity when He saw the large crowd because “they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Most of us are not shepherds, or have not been around sheep.  So, we have no way of knowing what sheep are like when there is no shepherd.  First off, they are easily confused if they can’t find the shepherd.  They scatter, they do not form one group, they are frightened, unsure. Sheep will eat all most anything and they get into everything. They follow anything that makes noise or any shiny thing that attracts them. They are easy prey for any predator because they like to
follow whatever leads them.  They are one of the dumbest farm animals, which gets them into all kinds of trouble and danger. They have such a bond with their shepherd, that if He is gone for long the sheep can become sick and even die.

Are You Following the Good Shepherd?

Jesus sees us behaving the same way. We are confused and are scared easily.  We don’t form a single group.  We are easily distracted,  behave foolishly, and can easily fall prey to sinful behaviors and evil influences.

Jesus understood that good and caring shepherds have been gone from Israel for too long. The sheep, His people Israel, are sick in their sin; unhealthy spiritually because of their immorality so much so some have become so sick in their evil behavior they are in danger of a spiritual death and are incapable of a good moral act.  Christ, is the Chief Shepherd, and all who follow Him have life. When Christ, the Good Shepherd, is near, the sheep grow in holiness and develop in the virtues. They become healthy and holy. They bear much fruit. They love in word and deed. They worship in Spirit and in Truth.

Pope Francis, has a wonderful observation about our culture, in his new encyclical, Laudato Si, (“C”) “Nature is filled with words of love,” he said, “but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearance? Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turn leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them”(p164/#224) be it morality or ethics, the environment, or other people.  All who are members of Christ’s flock are to be like minded so we, like Christ, do not offer false philosophies (like relativism, individualism and materialism) as means to solve our world’s problems; or offer
different lifestyle (like living together outside of marriage, or same sex unions) to indulge our depraved human passions.

 

His Church is not a Democracy

We offer nothing that is contrary to our Lord or His teachings because we realize that Christ’s flock, His Church is not a democracy. The Good Shepherd is our monarch, our King, our Lord only His opinions, His behaviors, His teachings, His virtues matter to us. Therefore, Pope Francis, as a Good Shepherd too, directs us to “continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything” (p85/#113). Christ’s Church, passed down to us from the Apostles, followed the Divine Shepherd where He leads which is away from things that can harm us. “We, [the church],” says Pope Francis, “were not faithful to the treasures of wisdom which we have been called to protect and preserve”(p147/#200). We are so busy that we sometimes don’t fully think or understand – what we are doing is harmful, or immoral, or wrong. We just do, because we want to, without ever thinking of the consequences to ourselves or others, or the world around us.

This is how and why we are like sheep because we have rejected Christ and His ways of doing things. We use secular and cultural forms of knowledge to guide our lives instead of the bible –
or the teachings of the Church found in the Catechism.  And in that, we prove to be much more “neo-pagans” than Roman Catholic.  This “neo-pagan” cultural belief system no matter how conscious or unconscious  leads us down the road to reject any and all objective truths about God, ourselves, our world, and our place in it.

 

The Church Needs to Get With the Times?

Pope Francis continued to explain this in his encyclical, “when we excluded God from our lives or replace Him with our own ego, [we then] think that our subjective feeling can define what is right or what is wrong.” Truly, the problem in our thinking arises when we think the Church, with all its moral laws is too controlling, backwards, or old fashion, and the Church does not relate to me and my everyday situation or my particular circumstances. The Church needs to get with the times, and adapt to the new ways of thinking.

G.K. Chesterton observed the truth of the matter when he wrote, “the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, (but that the Christian ideal) has been found difficult; and left untried.”
The really sad thing is, we Catholics go through life wondering what it would be like to be a Saint. We question, is it truly possible to become God’s holy sons and daughters in a way that is defined by His closest friends? This kind of a “grace filled life” is open to us but we have to choose it.

 

A Decision Must be Made

We have to make a definitive decision. We have to follow the Good Shepherd and His Vicar on earth, and admit to ourselves that we don’t know the way, and we have lied to ourselves for so long, we have become blind to the truth and its consequences. We have to admit that mortal and deadly sins exist and we are capable of committing them because of our inability to control ourselves. We have to admit that following after our own emotions and appetites has in the end made us more tired, and more hungry, and less joyful.
“These feelings of instability and uncertainty” said Pope Francis, while quoting St. Pope John Paul II, become, “a seed for collective selfishness.” Pope Francis explained, “when people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume.”  This unchecked greed becomes an “addiction” or as Pope Francis observes, an obsession.  “Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction,” because we have forgotten the simple truth that only God can fill the empty void and restlessness that is within us. Material objects, “things”, cannot replace or fulfill our relationship with God or the
others around us (p150/#204).

Haven’t we grown tired of living in a way that does not fulfill us, or bring us lasting happiness, or make us better people? Aren’t we tired of the guilt and the shame, being confused and afraid of what’s next? Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, prophetically stated in the 1920’s, “modern society is sinking into the sufferings caused by human passions and is moving away from every ideal of love and peace. As Catholics, we must bring that breath of goodness which can only come from faith in Christ.”

This means we have to choose Christ, because He is our Shepherd . . . we have to choose to have faith in Him, to trust Him and His ways, to love Him more than we fear of the world, follow Him more than the shiny material objects that capture and bind us in our hearts and souls. Pope Francis offers us some guidance, “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we
have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” Therefore, He forcefully warns the world, “We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty” (p151/#205).

Christ Jesus, Our Lord, knows what is best for us.  He created us and has given us good shepherds to help us on our way to finding His truth and His life. For in God alone, do our human desire and needs find completion. For we must imitate our shepherd Jesus Christ in all things until He is fully and perfectly formed in us. This is why, Pope Francis in his latest encyclical, has the courage to say, “Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on a new path to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true, and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to His grace at work deep in our hearts” (ibid).

This is why I have always advocated for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and even the construction of an Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at my previous parish . . . dedicated to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.  Because after 51 years of being a Catholic, 11 years of Catholic higher education and 9 years of priesthood, I have come to know, like Giorgio, and Pope Francis, as well as a whole host of other Saints, that the only thing that can truly help us (as individuals; as a parish; as well as citizens in this country) to truly grow deeper in our faith, the moral virtues, and Christian holiness (is and has always been) the daily reception of His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion and Adoration of His Lasting presence, with us in this, the Sacrament of His Love.

As Pope Francis explained, “The Eucharist is the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life, an act of cosmic love” (p171/#236). Something we are called to be a part of…for Christ, our Good Shepherd, is present is this wonderful Sacrament, calling to us, searching for us, longing for us to accompany Him.  For only God suffices.  Only God loves us right through . . . and therefore, He is the only way, the only truth, that leads us, His sheep, to everlasting life.

Pets, Heaven, and Marriage

The Danger of Lifting Pets to the Dignity of the Human Person.

By Fr. Chris Pietraszko, Diocesan Spirituality:

Usually when you want to stir the pot as a priest you begin by discussing issues such as contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, or any sexual and moral issue. That is what I thought, until  I made mention of what I had learned about the difference between pets and human souls in my Thomistic Philosophy Class during Seminary formation. It might interest you to know that Thomistic Philosophy (the study of St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought) is the only philosophy mandated by Rome to be taught to those preparing for the priesthood. According to Vatican I, Thomistic Philosophy is considered the perennial philosophy of the Church. This of course does not mean that this particular brand of philosophy is dogmatized, but rather it is your typical “go-to” place when we want to discuss the systematic nature of theology in the Church.dogcreation

What I’ve noticed in our culture today is an inordinate love of pets. People gravely wounded by loneliness have turned to pets to fill the gap. But we must return to the book of Genesis to examine why this is disordered. We remember that Adam had been given all the animals on the earth as a gift, and he had the freedom to name each one. Yet, despite naming all of them, he discovered that they didn’t really fulfill him. Therefore, despite being in a good relationship with all of nature, man was still found to be alone and in isolation. Man lacked communion with another, and animals simply didn’t fill that deep gap within his own being. God had created man and woman with a degree of incompleteness. Therefore God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” So God created for Adam, woman. St. John Paul II explains that “Adam” prior to Eve represented all of humanity, and the creation of woman in Eve represents the creation of both sexes. Woman being presented as being created last also means that she is God’s master-piece.

When Adam awoke from his sleep (a sort of ‘going-out-of-being’) he found Eve and discovered her to finally fill (to some degree) that gap within his own heart and soul. “Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” At last, amongst all the earth, man had found his true companion. That hunger, that desire for communion, for affection and love, was now properly ordered in human-relationships.

When Adam, then followed the command of God to “Be fruitful and multiply,” they did not bear dogs and cats as children, but rather Cain and Abel. God’s command to have children was related to the conjugal act of erotic love between man and woman. Therefore the need for communion not only extended to the spouse, but also to the creation of a community with children. It is therefore in the nature of man and woman to desire a communion of love that bears the fruit of new life.

What happens when we don’t fill our natural needs? We sometimes go about trying to fill them in an unnatural or inordinate or unreasonable manner. The sad thing about this is, this hunger is the most fundamental gift that each of us have within ourselves, and it does not merely point towards children and a spouse, but it ultimately points towards God. Married couples discover quickly that after the Honeymoon, life is not entirely fulfilled. In other words, marriage acts as a foretaste of what a relationship with God is all about. A foretaste does not entirely satisfy our longing, but gives us a preview that inflames or awakens our hunger even more.

Noisy worldThe danger is, if our hunger is inflamed but we do not know where to order it, we will go about turning a foretaste into a gluttonous feast. Theologically speaking, we will turn an icon into an idol. Husbands and wives who possess each other without respecting each other’s freedom is precisely an example of this. It leads to a self-centred vacuum where each person becomes a black hole that seeks to suck the life and goodness out of others, and it is an infinite thing. Because man seeks God, who is infinite, as man unreasonably seeks his happiness in what is finite, it becomes addictive and never-ending. Nothing ever truly satisfies, and because man stops looking up towards heaven, he continues to search the earth to fulfill his need for infinity with what is finite. He will discover, hopefully that this is a pointless endeavour.

As a celibate male, I realize this in a more phenomenological way than merely theological and dialectical. The desire for communion is not “finally” answered through a sacred relationship with a wife. Rather, my heart is zealously pointed towards a complete and uncompromising thirst for God alone. I do not want the sign, I want the Trinity to burn within my Soul, the true spouse of my soul. It is not that I dismiss woman, but I see her as a gift who points me towards something that I hunger for even more deeply: the one to whom she was created in the Image and Likeness of: God.

This is, finally, why there is no marriage (human-marriage) in heaven, as Jesus explains. For each soul is married to God, who is capable of giving each of us the fullness of His attention. Some married couples have a difficult time with this, because they claim that their human spouse will be the most important relationship they have in heaven. But I have to remind them, their spouse on earth, while a gift from God, is merely a foretaste of the husband you will have for your own soul in heaven. Who would dare to replace God as husband?  Can they outdo Him in love?  We the Church, His Bride, are engaged at Baptism to God in heaven, and we hope our death is our wedding day and consummation with Him.

What happens, though when we fall into darkness about God and the hunger within ourselves? That hunger is so profound it motivates all of our actions. And this must be the reason why topics pertaining to sex often bring out all the world’s venom. Reconsider St. John the Baptist who had his head chopped off because of the Gospel he preached. Consider St. Thomas More! Don’t we get it? If our happiness and desire for total fulfillment is challenged, the spirit of murder rises up within ourselves to meet what is preventing us from filling that vacuum within ourselves.

Another way of putting it is, when we seek finite realities as our fulfillment:  both humans and creatures and things, to fill our wounded, hungering heart as the ultimate fulfillment we seek, we become competitive with each other. With finite-resources being limited, it is impossible for us not to become competitive. If God, however is our resource/source of happiness, then there is no need for competition, because there is enough of Him to go around to everyone. God therefore finally resolves the reason for all conflict, when He is placed as our ultimate goal and the food that we truly hunger for: for man does not hunger for bread alone.Nun Cross

What I have witnessed in people who call pets their children is a desire to create a fantasy that numbs the very real pain of loneliness that comes natural to them. Those who love their pets inordinately will actually say, (and I have witnessed it first hand) that if their pets are not in heaven, they do not want to go there. They have traded in God for a pet.  But what they loved in their Pet is already in God, infinitely, and thus fail to realize that the pet is an even smaller foretaste, but still nonetheless a foretaste of God’s good nature.

Whether or not pets are in heaven, along with their tapeworms, it should be a trivial question if our hunger is rightly ordered. Do not get me wrong: I love animals. I am a dog-person. I will get down on my knees and play with a dog, howl with the dog, and let the dog lick my face for hours. In fact, I even had a mystical experience with a dog – as weird as that sounds. I remember a time when I was very broken as a teen during a retreat. I left the prayer group in sobbing tears, and sat outside. Randomly a dog came up to me, and sat beside me. God gave me the supernatural grace to realize that it was not the dog who was loving me, but God was loving me, symbolically through the dog. It was a type of knowledge you receive by grace, not by mere reasoning.  If this is the type of relationship we have with nature, then it is healthy.  But if it is perverted by the idea that the actual pet is our happiness and necessary for our happiness, then we might consider going to adoration more.

Today we confuse the affection that exists in animals for love, they lift dogs and cats, therefore to the dignity of the human person. Please:  don’t buy into the notion that the Church hasn’t dogmatically claimed whether or not animals have the same type of soul as humans. The practice of the Church to baptize only human beings speaks for itself, and not once has any theological statement claimed that Christ died for the sins of Pepper, my deceased childhood dog. People want to believe their pets love them, because they are too burdened by the fact that their non-existent spouse doesn’t love them, because he or she doesn’t exist. The illusion of love in a pet makes the pain go away. But it’s an illusion. And one that I have witnessed will be defended at the cost of ostracizing a priest on Facebook.  Feeling that hunger is really what makes us good Christians if we allow it to become zeal for God.

What needs to happen, and this is coming from a man burning with desire for communion, is to learn to live in the pain of pleading“waiting” for that infinite love of God to be received. If our call is the single life, we should look at this as a gift that sets us on fire like a rocket towards heaven. Order your desire for love, your feelings of loneliness towards your ultimate end: God. Do not look at marriage as your ultimate fulfillment, but a means to arrive at your ultimate destination: marriage with God.

Love Your Pets

Love your pets, but love them not as a human being: love them as a very small picture of what God is like infinitely. Love humans even more, but again, don’t love them as you would Love God. Don’t make pets or humans into an idol: make God your object of worship.

The Art of Being Christ Like Toward Persons with Same-Sex Attraction

“The Sexual Revolution is Bearing its Rotten Fruit.”

by Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton, S.T.L.,

“The Sexual Revolution is Bearing its Rotten Fruit.”

God has created this world. Since it bears the marks of the Divine Artist creation is basically good. The basic goodness of creation remains true even when creatures possessing freedom (like angels and men) choose to sin and choose to live apart from the natural design of the Creator. And when sin entered in and brought death and condemnation the Divine Artist entered the very work of His hands by taking on our flesh in the Incarnation. In Jesus Christ, God has entered this world. He has entered this world to bring Good News. And since God Himself has seen fit to do this, we must view our life with God as a gift that is given not just for ourselves, but for others. For those whose vocation is to be disciples in the secular world (that’s you and I), we must view our faith as a call to engage this world as missionaries with Good News, just as God Himself has done!

Christian Attitude Toward Persons with Same-Sex Attraction

With this brief summary of salvation history and this summary of the call of Christian disciples as a background, I want to comment on the recent narrow decision of the United States Supreme Court alleging a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. As with all difficult topics I want first to speak words of friendship, respect, mercy, and authentic love to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. It is the teaching of Christ, and therefore the teaching of his obedient Church, that homosexual activity is immoral. It is immoral because it is not consistent with the Natural Law as reflected in the design of nature and the design of sexual reproduction made by God. It is immoral because, no matter how deeply same-sex attractions may be felt, such activity is not consistent with true human flourishing and the promotion of the common good.

The very constitution of our bodies reveals we are not made for homosexual activity. Furthermore, homosexual activity by its very nature ends with itself. It does not radiate outward as heterosexual activity is supposed to do and thus homosexual activity does not create society or promote its common good. That being said, we Christians are called to support and respect with authentic love the struggles and legitimate aspirations of our friends who have same-sex attraction. Anymore, many of us know someone who identifies as gay among our family, friends, or acquaintances. They need our love. And we need to love them in the name of Jesus. Authentic Christianity, while being crystal clear about the immorality of homosexual actions, does not simply collapse same-sex attractions or inclinations into the same category as homosexual actions. Thus, the fact of someone’s same-sex attractions does not make that person any more a sinner than the rest of us. It does present such persons with unique and sensitive struggles. So, we need to aid our friends who struggle with this. A person’s sexual attractions and desires are very strong movements within a person. By virtue of being so pervasive or comprehensive within the person, such attractions feel “normal” or “natural” to the person. This is likely also the case even if those attractions aren’t healthy or in accord with the Natural Law, as in the case with same-sex attractions.

A person’s sexual identity, even when that identity is somehow faulty, is very strong and deeply pervasive for that person. Perhaps that can give us extra cause to have compassion for those who experience same-sex attractions and who must deal frequently, perhaps daily, with deep feelings within themselves that, if acted upon, would lead to unholy and immoral expression. A disciple of Jesus should not support crass or unjust attitudes toward those with such struggles. If a person with same sex attractions is honestly struggling to heal and to lead a chaste life then we should have utmost respect for him or her. They fit in among us just like the rest of us sinners who had better be honestly struggling to lead lives consistent with Jesus’ gospel.

The Nature of Marriage Cannot Be Changed by Mankind

The recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), however erroneous, while it may establish man-made law, does not in fact change what marriage itself is. The decisions of judges, politicians, or voters cannot change what marriage is by its very nature. Man’s law did not make or establish marriage because marriage was well in place from God’s making it. It predates governments. A judge could decide that some law permits that an apple is now an orange, but that does not in fact make it so. Marriage is still what is has always been. It cannot be changed by man’s willing it. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the decisions of a court cannot change the moral law. Years ago the Court decided that abortion was legal. But that
does not make it moral. Abortion never has been, is not now, and never will be moral. The same is true with homosexual activity and gay marriage. What we have in the SCOTUS decision is, quite frankly, the legalization of self-delusion. It is delusional to claim that marriage and sexual relations are a constitutional right of self-determination and that the persons are interchangeable: a man and a woman, or two women, or two men. That is not what marriage is. Courts could indicate that a free American has a Constitutional right to hold his breath underwater for three hours… but that doesn’t make it work and it doesn’t mean that there won’t be moral and physical consequences.

Signs of Societal Decay

We have become a society that has lost the ability to reason, to think. We have the faculty to do it but it has become in us like an unused muscle. Many people now base most decisions on feelings and allow most thought processes to be governed by feelings. As such we grasp on to precious little information, often devoid of facts based in reality, and we easily jump to conclusions that are not sound and that rest on the shifty surface of a relativistic morality and a standard that is purely personal, changing with each individual. Many people arrive at conclusions based more on gut reactions or on a certain sentimentality that obscures the truth where we suspect it might make someone feel badly. This way of arriving at conclusions is going to plunge us headlong into still further moral and societal decay.

Another aspect of this tragic decision rests on the fact that law serves society as a type of teacher. Law literally legitimizes things. That’s the root of ‘legitimate,’ the Latin ‘legis,’ for ‘law.’ And for many people, they easily jump from legally legitimate to morally legitimate. I grieve for the many souls who are wounded or weakened by a struggle with same-sex attraction and who may now more easily enter homosexual relationships and even simulate marriage because they long for acceptance or a feeling of “normality.” This law is not a service to them. It promotes the error of thinking that what is legal is automatically moral. And this law teaches the youngest among us the lie that marriage can be something it is not. This will impact us for generations.

Christian Hope

Righteous anger is appropriate in response to the SCOTUS decision. I am angered that our country is literally standing in defiance to God, mocking how He established marriage as a covenantal sign of His life and love for us, and creating an idol in place of true marriage. We deserve His wrath. He will likely let us taste the consequences of this action. Furthermore, I am angered for how this decision will mislead countless millions of souls and place them in serious risk of Hell. True love doesn’t win where we are complicit or silent as people run to embrace very grave sin. But, as Christians, we cannot remain in fear, sadness, or despair. Disciples of Jesus have an irreplaceable hope founded on God’s presence among us in this world. It is easy to think that God is present when things seem to be going well. Good things and good times seem like blessings. Yet, when we no longer feel such confidence, that does not mean God is absent. Recall that God is with us in the storms. Jesus is in that boat tossed about by furious waves. He is our anchor. He warned us that struggle, false charges, and persecution would come. But he added that he is with us through the Holy Spirit who will instruct us how to be his witnesses. That God is with us changes everything and it gives hope. How so? Because Jesus Christ has conquered sin, death, the world, and the devil. We must never forget this!

The Reality of Societal Landscape

Fr. Stephen V. Hamilton

The path to today has been paved for many decades now. The sexual revolution is bearing its rotten fruit. One key moment when marriage became warped was the development and wide spread use of artificial contraception. With contraception marriage then became more exclusively about the adults and less about children. In the affirmation of so-called gay marriage we are now seeing the consequences of just how much marriage can be NOT about children. We need to be sober in admitting that those supporting gay marriage have defeated us in the mechanisms of society. They have the money and the megaphone on their side. They are the establishment forces of government, media, lobbyists, entertainment, and education. Meanwhile the Church and her members have been asleep. We who have Good News have been silent for too long. We have been more like Israel in the Bible who, as it interacted with other peoples and kingdoms, didn’t want to stand out as God’s unique people, but wanted to fit in and to appear as everyone else. We Christians have done the same. We are supposed to be in the world as its soul and leavening agent. But we are not supposed to be of the world. We have largely forgotten that. We think the prediction of rejection, division, persecution, and martyrdom because of faith in Christ is some religious story or some apostolic nostalgia. NO! It is the mark of a disciple in every age because a disciple must embrace the Cross. We are long past the notion that persecution won’t be coming our way. We are now moving full throttle toward it.

I have zero confidence in the thinly veiled lies of our authorities who promise that people who object to gay marriage because of moral convictions will be respected. First of all, there are already plenty of accounts of Christian business owners being fined and driven out of business for refusing to participate in gay weddings. And if that weren’t enough proof, and with all due respect to the Office of the Presidency, the lighting up of the White House as a rainbow the night the Supreme Court decision became public was a juvenile stunt that gives me no confidence in promises of tolerance. That was not the act of people with a measured hand or with respect for others.

Christians have not been the light and the salt we are called to be. In fact, the vast majority of Christians have, knowingly or not, adopted some or all of the values promoted by the sexual revolution. Christians are just as guilty of pre-marital sex, rampant cohabitation before marriage, divorce and re-marriage (without annulment), use of pornography, and almost universal use of contraception. And Christians have even supported homosexual activity. Added to that has been the spiritual malpractice of shepherds and leaders among Christians who have remained silent or ambiguous in the face of all of this. Such silence came from bishops, priests, and deacons but also from catechists, school teachers, and parents and grandparents who also occupy roles of evangelizing the souls entrusted to them.

Curious Victory for Christians

It may take time – sometimes a painfully long time – but people who choose ungodly ways often find themselves coming to a moment of truth. In such moments, Jesus and his Gospel are seen with new power and attraction. People long for fulfillment. The things of this world won’t provide that. We are called to serve as the counter sign. But we ourselves must be convinced of the gospel and the fulfillment that comes from Jesus. The gospel cannot just be words on a page; it must be written in our lives. We are called to be the living pages of Jesus’ gospel. Oddly enough, as disturbing as the SCOTUS decision is, there may be a significant victory for Christians. In time this decision may wake more of us up.  Remember the Prophet Amos was chased away because his message from God was inconvenient to the king. To be a disciple of Jesus is to speak words that call each person away from sin and towards God. And this message puts one in opposition to the powers that be.

In the gospel Jesus summons the apostles and sends them out with the mandate of his authority. This mandate remains in the Church and it is a service to the world that needs to hear Jesus’ voice and his teaching. Notice the type of radical dedication Jesus expects of the apostles as they carry his message: “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.” This gives us a lesson too. As disciples we are called to proclaim Jesus to others. We need a radical dedication to Jesus and his message. We cannot be dependent on anything but Jesus alone. We will not find security by dependence upon money or power or acclaim or popularity or by fitting in with the prevailing thought of our times. We will not find security by dependence on government entity or the whim of popular opinion. Only Jesus can be our focus.

While the SCOTUS decision is troubling perhaps what is good is that we can finally get a wake up call to see how much society has abandoned moral foundations. Our curious victory, as I am calling it, is that we now have an invitation to be who we are supposed to be. We have a golden opportunity to be more countercultural: namely, to be called apart for God and called to challenge our world to return to godly order. This is nothing new in Christian history. In fact, our time to share the gospel – the New Evangelization – is looking more and more like the original time of evangelization when the Church faced and converted the Roman Empire. Even though it required the shedding of blood, it was a victory for Jesus, much like his own passage from death to the victory of the resurrection.

When you want to focus on despair, remember instead that in the face of fierce opposition, the first Christians went out with confidence and joy because Jesus and his gospel were their only treasures. St. Paul could be filled with confidence and joy even as he soberly accounted the vast number of his hardships for Jesus. He went to places like Corinth – known for sexual debauchery of all kinds – and he proclaimed the Good News that we are temples of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19) whose very bodies are meant to honor God. Our world needs us to fulfill our mission as disciples of Jesus. Jesus has already won the ultimate victory. No matter how many little victories or defeats must still transpire in this life – the final victory of the Cross and resurrection is already established. We have work to do. Every time you see a rainbow flag you have a reminder of that. Fear not! With the Archangel Gabriel we say: “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Lk. 1:37). And with St. Paul: “If God is for us, who is against us? …  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31, 35, 37-39).

 

Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton, S.T.L.
Vocations Director
Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

To My Gay Friends: I Love You!

Why is eating shrimp alright and gay marriage not?

 

by Fr. Casey Jones, Podcast- Into the Deep:

Ok, here is the basic premise that is floating around: The bible says homosexual activity is a sin, but it also says that eating certain foods (or using certain fabrics, or working on the Sabbath, or cutting your hair, or shaving, or anything else in the Levitical code) is also a sin. So, all of you backward-thinking Christians should lighten up. You pick and choose what you want. You follow your own version of the bible. So, stop “hating”, and embrace gay marriage since you make up the rules as you go along anyway.

Please know this is intended in love and in letting people know the truth about what the Sacred Scriptures and the Church teach about homosexuality, because, frankly I am tired of the memes and comments about the bible and homosexuality that are strawmen, constructed under poor logic with false premises whose aim seems to be only to ridicule.

Fr. Casey Jones

Fr. Casey Jones

Before I begin, let me make some opening comments.

First of all, to all my gay friends out there: I love you. I can’t tell you how much I love you. I will never know the trials and prejudices that you have had to endure. This is not hate, but clarification. You know this, but I just want to say it. I say it because: one, it’s true and two, I need everyone else to know that I love you. The catechism of the Catholic Church says it well: “[Homosexual persons] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” (CCC 2358)

In that vein, secondly, I say: God loves you too. In fact, no matter who is reading this, I can assure you of God’s radical love for you and that he has a plan for your salvation. This is true of each and every one of you. Know that I love you all very much. I am selective of my Facebook friends.

Thirdly, no one group of people has a monopoly on sin. Many of my friends are living lives apart from Gods plan. I pray for you. I never preach at you. I never condemn. I try to present God’s love as an invitation, not as an imposition. You all know where I stand on the moral issues you know that I am a priest. You know that the Church teaches with the authority of Christ that certain moral actions are sins unto death and that these include sexual sins such as fornication (sex outside of marriage), adultery (sex with someone who is married, including those separated by a civil divorce, contraception, and anything else that takes God’s gift of sexual love outside of its context, which is both unitive and procreative, ends that are inseparable.

Fourth, please do not comment about me forcing my beliefs on anyone, this is intended as a presentation of what the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality in light of Scripture, not an argument for or against civil homosexual marriage. That is a debate for another place and time.
Fifth, please do not come back at me with misplaced quotes from Pope Francis. Pope Francis upholds the teaching of the Church. Like him, (and for that matter, Jesus) I do not judge someone for an inclination, for an orientation that is not a choice made in freedom, but actions (be they hetero or homosexual) are choices. I do not judge anyone’s soul. That is for God, not me. But I can and, as a priest and a follower of Christ, should make judgments on objective moral actions.

Lastly, I do welcome honest and sincere questions in charity if they are on topic and fall into the parameters set above. Again, the topic is the Bible and Homosexuality.

Why is eating shrimp alright and gay marriage not?

In regard to the ceremonial and dietary laws of the Old Testament (the latter generally being related to the former), these were abrogated by the sacrifice of Christ. They aren’t necessary anymore. Christ has fulfilled the old law, it has passed away. It is not necessary to make sin offerings anymore. Christ came to fulfill it and to perfect these. They are done. He addresses this himself:

“Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him…Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on. (Mark 7:14-19)

In this Jesus declares all food to be clean. The same issue is addressed later in the Acts of the Apostles where Peter is given a vision in which he is told that there is no longer clean or unclean food, but that he is free to eat all; a message which he spoke to the Church. Just as Christ today guides his church in the person of Peter’s successor. (See Acts 11:1-18)

As the Catechism puts it: “Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation . . . What comes out of a man is what defiles a man.” For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts” and further “In presenting with divine authority the definitive interpretation of the Law, Jesus found himself confronted by certain teachers of the Law who did not accept his interpretation of the Law, guaranteed though it was by the divine signs that accompanied it. This was the case especially with the Sabbath laws, for he recalls often with rabbinical arguments, that the Sabbath rest is not violated by serving God and neighbor, which his own healings did.” (CCC 582)

Jesus also abrogated ceremonial laws about the Sabbath:

“Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:1-8)

Jesus was clear that he fulfilled the ceremony of the Old law, and therefore abrogated these aspects. In fact, large portions of St. Paul’s writings in the New Testament are spent dealing with this issue. He speaks quite a bit on why we don’t keep Jewish feats, why we don’t necessarily circumcise male children, why we are not bound to these ceremonial laws, because Christ, the perfect Sacrifice has fulfilled them.

 

This is not the case with the moral laws.

These are eternal. In fact, Jesus typically holds us to even higher moral standards. Jesus demonstrates this several times in the Sermon on the Mount, when he uses the formula: “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you” for example: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38)

One of these actually happens to address marriage:

“Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, [πορνεία, a Greek word that is hard to translate into English whose exact meaning remains an enigma] makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31)

And another: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5: 27) So, Jesus does not abrogate the moral Law, particularly the laws about marriage and Chasity. In fact, he holds us to an even higher standard that was acceptable before.

He specifies this again in Matthew 19:4-9:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity,[ πορνεία] and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.” Thus Jesus establishes that marriage is an insolvable unity between a man and a woman. He does not permit divorce.

Scripture also makes it clear that, as I said before, taking God’s gift of sexuality out of context is a grave offense.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals [literally ‘sodomites’ i.e. those who participate in the actions, not those who have the orientation] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Again, St. Paul makes the point that there is no one group who has a monopoly on sin, but that life in Christ entails putting sin behind us.

The same sentiment is found in the book of revelation: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8) Again, fornication is sex outside of marriage.

Now, you may want to say “A-ha! If you would ‘let’ gay people get married than it wouldn’t be a sin.”

The problem is that from the beginning, the scriptures point that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Yes, there were concessions made for polygamy and other circumstances, but Jesus ended that when he brought the law to perfection, (See Matthew 19 above). So to someone who reads scripture honestly, saying “gay marriage” is like saying “square circle”. It is not this way because the bible or the Church says it is so. The scriptures and the Church say it is so, because it is so.

All of this being said, We as a Church, I feel, have a long way to go in reaching out to the LBGT community. I think it can be done in love. I know several people who identify as homosexual who are living chastely, even some in domestic partnerships, who follow the moral teachings of the Church. It’s not easy, just like it isn’t easy for the hetro couple who cannot perform the martial act for health reasons that arise during the marriage.

As the Catechism states “Homosexual persons are called to chastity [glossed as ‘The moral virtue which, under the cardinal virtue of temperance, provides for the successful integration of sexuality within the person leading to the inner unity of the bodily and spiritual being]. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” (CCC 2359)

We all have the things we struggle with as far as an inclination to sin, thank God I am not judged on my inclinations, nor on the actions of which I have repented, but by God’s grace we all are called to be holy.

This again, was an attempt to explain what many people see as a contradiction. I hope that it was successful. Boundaries being set, questions/discussion is encouraged. God bless you all.

Slight editing.

Prophet: Speaking the Unpopular Truth

By  Fr. Connor Danstrom, Three Dogs North:

What does it mean to be a prophet?

What does it mean to be a prophet? Gay Unions.

The prophet Ezekiel, called by God and inspired by the Holy Spirit, to call on the rebellious people of Israel, who have lost their way and gone to worship other gods, to return with their whole hearts to the true God.  We find Jesus preaching at his home synagogue in Nazareth, where the people are astonished that he dares to speak with authority about the Scriptures. Jesus replies to them with the famous dictum: “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.”

 

Prophet’s Mission

The mission of the prophet, which is the mission of every single baptized Christian, is to speak the truth, in season and out of season. What Ezekiel’s life shows us, what Jesus shows us, is that the rebellious house of Israel is rarely glad to hear what the prophet has to say. Prophets don’t make a lot of friends, and the only throne that people ever put Jesus on for all his talk of loving one’s enemies was the one they nailed him to on Good Friday.

 

A Prophet’s Message is Not Their Own

But prophets speak the truth anyway, because they have been seized by the Spirit of God. Their message is not their own. It comes from an authority outside of themselves that they do not control. Prophets don’t tell people their opinions, they proclaim God’s message to his people.

Our country celebrates its 239th birthday this year, and although she has had her share of struggles and falls throughout those years, God has blessed the United States with a long tradition of ensuring freedom and justice for all people who have come to call her home.

 

What is True Freedom and Justice?

Regardless of your opinion of the Supreme Court ruling late last week on same-sex marriage, I believe that it should give us all pause to think and reflect on exactly what “freedom and justice” really mean, and what they have come to mean for many people in recent decades. I realize that this issue, in all likelihood, touches very close to home, either in your own life or in the life of someone you love. That is why, before I point out what I believe to be some of the mistaken, even dangerous conclusions contained in the 103 page Supreme Court decision, there are two important points that I must mention first.

 

It’s Not Our Job to Judge Sinners

The first is that the Catholic Church does not teach that homosexual persons are sinful. The truth is that there is really no such thing as a “sinful person”, only “sinful actions”. People who commit sinful actions are known as “sinners”, and I am the first among them. My job as a priest and as a Christian is not to judge sinners, but to forgive them and to love them. Although many members of the Church may have judged homosexual persons, or even hated or feared them, the Church herself does not judge them, nor does it condemn them. The Catechism puts it this way: “[People with same sex attraction] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (2358)

The second point is this: We believe that the meaning of marriage is written into our bodies. Sexual difference is not an arbitrary feature like where we were born or what color hair we have. It is essential to who we are, how we give and receive love, and how new life is born out of that love. Marriage is and has always been the conjugal friendship of a man and woman who make a lifelong commitment to one another and to the children that God gives them as the fruit of their relationship. This marriage existed long before there was such a thing as the Supreme Court. It even existed before the Catholic Church. We have no power to change the meaning of marriage any more than we have the power to change the laws of gravity, however much we may feel it is just or compassionate to do so.

 

I Am Not a Bigot

I believe that is possible to believe both of those things at the same time. I believe that we Catholics can speak with love about a teaching that has caused many to feel wounded, ostracized, and excluded. I believe that I am not a bigot, even though I believe a truth about marriage that the Supreme Court claims denies certain people a fundamental human right; a truth that allegedly “disparage[s] their choices and diminish[es] their personhood.” (19)

I remember when I was six years old, my mother became pregnant with my little sister. Until that point I had always been the youngest, and it had never occurred to me to ask where babies came from. Now I was curious, so I asked my mom. To this day I remember her response: “After two people get married, the woman starts to get pregnant and have babies.” I asked her, “So before they get married, the woman can’t get pregnant?” She said, “No, because then the baby wouldn’t have a dad.”

Maybe it sounds quaint and outdated, but I’m honestly amazed how long I was satisfied with that answer. To me the connection between marriage, children, and family was absolutely clear, because I saw it all around me. Families were made of a mom and a dad, and whatever children God chose to give them. That view of the family has changed.

Now I don’t mean to disparage in any way the many single parents who struggle and work heroically so that their children can have what they need to succeed and move forward in life. Nor do I want to demean the many same-sex couples who provide a loving home for their children. As a matter of fact, one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court case was a female couple from Michigan who had adopted several special needs children who were abandoned at the hospital where they work. They want to get married so their children have the security and stability of belonging to two married parents. These are good people. There is no doubt about that. But that doesn’t change the fact that what used to be clear to everyone – that marriage is first and foremost about creating and caring for a family – is no longer clear.

 

Supreme Court’s Errant Message

The best evidence of this is Justice Anthony Kennedy’s own majority opinion. In it he gives us the modern vision of marriage. He says, “From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignityto all persons, without regard to their station in life. … Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.” (3)

Later on he quotes the Supreme Court of Massachussets, which said, ““[Marriage] fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection…and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’smomentous acts of self-definition.” (13)

As far as I can see, there are two major problems with Justice Kennedy’s argument, which is not so much legal as it is philosophical and theological. The first problem is that marriage is not at all about satisfying our “basic human needs”, nor is it “essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.” If it were, us priests would be in big trouble, as would the roughly 100 million unmarried adults in this country. And ask anyone who has been married for over five years, particularly if they have children, if marriage is satisfying their needs. I would venture to guess that most would tell you that marriage has done just the opposite. It has forced them to sacrifice their needs in order to satisfy the needs of others. Marriage is not, as the Supreme Court claims, about “self-definition”; it is about self-donation.

But the truly dangerous conclusion of Justice Kennedy’s argument isn’t just this enshrinement of the me-centered worldview. It is what he says just before. “The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons.” According to Kennedy, we unmarried people are not only failing to have our most basic human needs met; not only are our most profound hopes and aspirations being thwarted; but we are actually being denied our dignity. Now I am not a lawyer or a politician, but as far as I know, this is the first time the government of our country has ever claimed it had the power to give a person dignity. As a matter of fact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Biblical Christianity that was its foundation, claimed that dignity was something that was given to us by our Creator. Human dignity can be violated or disrespected, but it can never be taken away. No government, no institution, no person on the face of the planet has the power to give or take away the dignity of a person who has been made in the image and likeness of God.

 

We Need Prophets

This is ultimately why we need prophets perhaps now more than ever. The Catholic Church will not change its teaching on the fundamental meaning and purpose of marriage. But the Supreme Court of the United States alleges that that teaching denies a large number of our brothers and sisters a basic human right. According to Justice Kennedy, in holding that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, a mother and a father, the Catholic Church denies certain people their dignity.

It’s a lie. Don’t believe it.

I’ll tell you the truth. This is God’s message, which he sent to us through his only Son and that he continues to speak to us through his Church. Every person – married, single, gay, straight, man, woman, child, black, white, priest, deacon, layperson, citizen, undocumented, disabled, elderly – You have dignity. You are loved. You are welcome here. You are not alone.

The reason we need prophets right now is that there are people suffering, and they are being offered false hope. The Supreme Court, and the millions who support its decision, are asking marriage to do something it’s completely incapable of doing. One of the most astounding claims that Justice Kennedy makes in his decision is that “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.” (14) I’m telling you that this is not true. Ask the widow who is spending her first Christmas without her husband if marriage has taken away her loneliness. Marriage cannot do this, because marriage is not a person. Marriage is not a solution to a problem. The only real answer to the universal fear that we are alone in the world is Jesus Christ.

Marriage is a great good, perhaps one of the greatest goods, but it cannot keep a lonely person company. It cannot cut through the silence of grief and loss to give our souls peace. It cannot comfort the widow and the orphan. It cannot restore our dignity. It cannot even cure the wounds inflicted by years of hatred and mistreatment, often caused by those closest to us, simply because of who we love. Only Jesus can do these things, and only if we trust in Him. Only if we stop trying sum up a person’s identity with an unending series of letters, and instead live in to our identity as sons and daughters of God; only if we stop offering vain hopes of government-regulated “dignity” and accept the true dignity we receive as God’s beloved children; only if we repent of our own sinfulness and stop judging the sins of other people, will we receive the healing and unity our country desperately needs. Amen.

Slight Editing

Bishop Strickland: No Same-Sex Marriages on Catholic Grounds

“No Member of the Clergy or any Person Acting as Employee of the Church
may in any way Participate in the Solemnization or Consecration of
Same-Sex Marriages” Bishop Joseph Strickland

Bishop Joseph Strickand’s Letter:

On the morning of June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-4 decision establishing the legal right of two individuals of the same sex to legally marry in all 50 states. By doing so, the Court has acted in contradiction to their duty to promote the common good, especially what is good for families. I join with the Bishops of the United States in calling this decision a “tragic error.”

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, Tyler Diocese

Let me unambiguously state at the outset that this extremely unfortunate decision by our government is unjust and immoral, and it is our duty to clearly and emphatically oppose it.  In spite of the decision by the Supreme Court, there are absolutely no grounds for considering unions between two persons of the same sex to be in any way similar to God’s plan for marriage and the family. Regardless of this decision, what God has revealed and what the Church therefore holds to be true about marriage has not changed and is unchangeable.

Marriage is not just a relationship between human beings that is based on emotions and feelings. Rather, our Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Traditions tell us that God established true marriage with its own special nature and purpose, namely the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.

While taking a strong stand for marriage is the duty of all who call themselves Christian, every type of unjust discrimination against those with homosexual tendencies should be avoided. We must treat these individuals with loving kindness and respect based on their dignity as human persons. Christ rejects no one, but he calls all of us to be converted from our sinful inclinations and follow the truth He has revealed to us. Nevertheless, our continued commitment to the pastoral care of homosexual persons cannot and will not lead in any way to the condoning of homosexual behavior or our acceptance of the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

While some of us may have family members who have same-sex attraction, and there are even some who are members of our local churches, this decision to require the legal recognition of so-called marriage between homosexual persons should in no way lead us to believe that the living out of this orientation or the solemnizing of relationships between two persons of the same sex is a morally acceptable option.

We know that unjust laws and other measures contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience, thus we must now exercise our right to conscientious objection against this interpretation of our law which is contrary to the common good and the true understanding of marriage.

Given this and recognizing my responsibility and moral authority as the shepherd of this Church of Tyler, I will shortly issue a decree in this Diocese establishing, as particular law, that no member of the clergy or any person acting as employee of the Church may in any way participate in the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages, and that no Catholic facilities or properties, including churches, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or any places dedicated or consecrated, or use for Catholic worship, may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages.

Finally, I call on the Catholic faithful to turn in prayer to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, asking their intercession for our nation that all of us may come to a greater understanding of the beauty, truth and goodness that is found in marriage as revealed to us by our Savior.

Given at the Diocesan Chancery
On the 26th day of June
Friday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen

Most Reverend Joseph E. Strickland
Bishop of Tyler