By Fr. Connor Danstrom:
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.”
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.
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What is True Freedom and Justice?
Here is our second most popular framed art we are selling. Did you see the others?
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.
“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, 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.
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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
Sacred Image Framed Art Extravaganza Sale
Offer Ends Friday, July 10th
Dear Courageous Priest follower and lover of all things sacred,
It is with great excitement that we present to you our Courageous Priest Sacred Image Framed Art Extravaganza Sale. We created this opportunity from your response to our Sacred Heart Special event, which was a huge success. We know that the price of the Sacred Heart portraits were high for most. The simple fact was we were selling a Cathederal grade portrait. Sadly, at $300 to $660, that leaves most of us not being able to purchase one. Trust me, I feel your pain. So, we decided to do something about it. After receiving many requests for a portrait for the “average Joe,” we were able to work out a unique deal with our supplier. Here is the deal, which closes this July 10th.
We have 7 sacred images, pictured below, which come as a fine art print under premium clear glass with a professional grade frame. Simple and easy. Just click on the links below the images to order. To order by check or money order, please call 573-735-2002. All International orders must call or email me at [email protected] me for a shipping quote.
We love to give away extra goodies. It is the free bonuses that elevates this to “Extravaganza.”
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A member shares in three novenas of Masses and 30 additional Masses every month–a total of 57 Masses monthly. This comes to an astounding total of 3420 Mass intentions dedicated to you! Members also share in other Masses offered for them and in the daily prayers and Masses of the Vincentian community in the western United States. A member shares in all the grace benefits of membership for a period of 5 years. Of infinite spiritual value.
FREE Bonus # 2 – $11 to $50, For the next 10 days only we are taking $11 to $50 off the retail price. Scouring the internet we found this sacred art to have a big price range. Any where from $110 to $150, without including the cost of shipping. Honestly, if you add shipping the total savings would be closer to $35 to $95.
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Total Estimated Value of your FREE Heavenly Bonuses comes to $36 to $95 (depending on how you shop or value things). This does not include the 3420 masses you will share with other who purchase today.
All Sacred Fine Art Images are $99
Queen of Angels 14 by 22
L’Innocence 12 by 24
For God So Loved the World 16 by 20
Our Lady of Guadalupe 14 by 22
Our Lady of Good Counsel 16 by 20
Song of the Angels 16 by 20
The Last Supper 12 by 24
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May God, who is rich in Mercy, bless you on this feast day of the Precious Blood,
Co-founder, Courageous Priest
P.S. The offer closes Wednesday July 10th at Midnight Eastern Time. Please check out the bonuses.
P.P.S. Honestly, the frame will be great we guarantee it!
Announcing the Courageous Priest Sacred Image Framed Art Extravaganza: We just finished with our Sacred Heart Special event, which was a huge success. Thank you so very much. Now, I know that the price of the Sacred Heart portraits were high for most. The simple fact was we were selling a Cathederal grade portrait. Sadly, at $300 to $660, that leaves most of us not being able to purchase. Trust me, I feel your pain. So, we decided to do something about it. After receiving many request for a portrait for the “average Joe,” we were able to work out a deal with our supplier.Starting this Wednesday on the Feast of the Precious Blood, the Courageous Priest family run apostolate will be having a huge Sacred Image Framed Art Extravaganza. We will be offering seven sacred images to adorn your home. The sacred images include:
- For God so Loved the World, Sacred Heart
- Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Queen of Angels
- Song of the Angels
- Last Supper
- Our Lady of Good Counsel
We are very excited! See you tomorrow. And remember, don’t let this nation cause you lose your peace. God wins!
Strong Statements from Our Bishops
by Paul Bois, Church Militant
Archbishop Robert Carlson
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday that declared so-called same-sex “marriage” a constitutional right, multiple bishops have since voiced their opinions. While many have been forthright in their condemnation of the Supreme Court’s defenseless ruling, some have offered highly ambiguous statements, painting a strange moral equivalency between the faithful and faithless.
Immediately after the ruling, the USCCB issued its strongest statement yet, calling it a “tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us.” They also exclaimed that the definition of marriage will never change, regardless of what nine elected justices on the Supreme Court tell us.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia offered no concessions, saying that “the mistakes of the Court change nothing about the nature of men and women, and the truth of God’s Word. The task now for believers is to form our own families even more deeply in the love of God, and to rebuild a healthy marriage culture, one marriage at a time, from the debris of today’s decision.”
Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis proclaimed the Supreme Court’s decision “does not alter the unassailable truth that marriage is, and always will be, the life-long, life-giving union of one man and one woman.”
The Colorado Conference of Catholic Bishops collectively condemned the ruling to redefine marriage as “gravely unjust” and that “no court, no law, and no amount of political correctness or wishful thinking can really change what marriage is.”
“The days, weeks, months and years ahead will require courage, strength and prayer,” the bishops said. “All people of good will must remain united in defense of marriage between one man and one woman, while bearing witness to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.”
In line with Colorado, the Iowa bishops said the ruling “saddens us” while comparing its injustice toRoe v. Wade in 1973. Similar statements were offered from the conferences of Ohio, Michigan andNebraska.
by Catherine Harmon, Catholic World Report
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, released the following statement about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage:
Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.
The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.
Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.
I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.
Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.
Across the US, Catholic bishops have released statements on the historic ruling. Below are links to statements of individual bishops as well as several statewide bishops’ conferences (did we miss your bishop’s statement? Leave a link in the comments and we’ll include it in this post). [Updated]
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, New Orleans
Bishop Michael Burbidge, Raleigh, North Carolina
Archbishop Robert Carlson, St. Louis
Archbishop Charles Chaput, Philadelphia
Archbishop Paul Coakley, Oklahoma City
Bishops of the Colorado Catholic Conference
Bishop Robert Cunningham, Syracuse
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Galveston-Houston
Bishop Kevin Farrell, Dallas
Bishop John Folda, Fargo, North Dakota
Bishop Daniel Flores, Brownsville, Texas
Archbishop José Gomez, Los Angeles
Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Atlanta
Bishop Robert Guglielmone, Charleston
Bishops of Iowa
Bishop Michael Jarrell, Lafayette, Louisiana
Bishop David Kagan, Bismarck, North Dakota
Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Milwaukee
Archbishop William Lori, Baltimore
Bishop Richard Malone, Buffalo
Bishop Robert McElroy, San Diego
Bishop Patrick McGrath, San Jose
Bishops of the Michigan Catholic Conference
Bishop Robert Morlino, Madison
Bishop William Murphy, Rockville Centre, New York
Bishops of the Nebraska Catholic Conference
Bishops of the Catholic Conference of Ohio
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Boston
Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Springfield, Illinois
Bishop Glen John Provost, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, Albany
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, Cincinnati
Bishop Edward Slattery, Tulsa
Bishop Joseph Strickland, Tyler, Texas
Bishop Joe Vásquez, Austin
Bishops of the Virginia Catholic Conference
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Miami
Archbishop John Wester, Santa Fe
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington
Bishop David Zubik, Pittsburgh
Catherine Harmon [email protected]
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.
“It is a sad truth that in many places the Mass has
become something akin to a show or entertainment.”
by Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton, S.T.L.:
There is a value to mystery in human life. We naturally enjoy it as kids: telling tales and stories; kids love Easter egg hunts. But somehow as we age we treat these things as just games, even though most of us still enjoy watching children enjoy such things. Mystery sparks creativity and artistry. Mystery is also a value in the life of faith. After all, we walk by faith and not by sight (cf. 2 Cor. 5:7). Mystery means we do not delude ourselves into thinking that we first fully understand God and then we follow Him. We do not delude ourselves into thinking that obedience is authentic when we act as if God’s ways must first be submitted to our judgment. No, it is we who are under judgment, not God. Obedience is not obedience where we think God’s ways must first be understood by us.
The Mystery of Parables
Jesus teaches in parables. Parables engage the hearer differently than does the communication of mere facts as teaching. Parables cause the hearer to wrestle and to search and to learn more later after the parable is concluded. Parables begin to feed the heart and the mind, but they leave one hungry and thirsty enough that you keep searching and wrestling. This is because parables permit and engage mystery. The gospel says, “With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.” Was Jesus wanting to leave people in the dark? Why do the disciples get to hear everything explained clearly, but the average listener does not? Are those who are average listeners at a disadvantage when it comes to salvation? Is saving teaching being kept from them, from us?
God desires all men to be saved (cf. 1 Tm. 2:4). The Father sent His Son on that very mission. Thus, we need to reject at the start any notion that somehow God came and has withheld teaching that is necessary for our salvation. In ancient times, cults sprung up that would claim secret knowledge for only the insiders, knowledge that would mean the average person was on the outside, lacking in gifts of grace and lacking even in salvation. The Church has always rejected such ideas. It is true that the gospels show that Jesus spoke in parables and explained things plainly only to his most intimate band. Furthermore, we must recall, that even while speaking in parables, Jesus was in fact revealing, not hiding, the saving truths of God’s kingdom. Whatever may have remained hidden in parables was soon to be revealed.
The Catholic Church Proclaims Clearly What We Need to be Saved
Once the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, Jesus’ closest followers, the ones charged with teaching in his Name, received the gifts they needed to proclaim with clarity, conviction, and power the truths mankind needs to be saved. Thus, we need not labor under any false idea that somehow Jesus hides saving truth from his hearers or from us now centuries later. No, the apostolic Church went out – and still goes out – to proclaim clearly what we need to be saved. The Catholic Church has always held an appreciation both for intellect, the use of the mind, and for mystery, the humble admission that we cannot and will not understand all things of the universe and certainly not all things of God.
To be clear, our intellect is a gift from God mirroring His own intellect, and where our intellect can plumb the depths of the world around us and the revealed truths of salvation then, yes, we should seek to understand these things as best we can. In so doing, we honor our Creator who gave us this gift and who has made us in His image and likeness. However, we must also avoid the arrogance that acts as if we can understand everything, or that acts as if we are owed an explanation of all things, or that expects that the ways of God must first makes full sense to us before we will step forward and follow into His kingdom. Ours is a religion of the head, but not before it is a religion of the heart, for it is the love of God for us that has first established all we believe and seek to understand. Mystery is good for us. It is part of a natural and full human life. It engages our higher powers of thought, creativity, and artistry. Furthermore, mystery is part and parcel of being a person of faith. All the more, in a world that makes the error of thinking it must understand and control everything before it believes, we need to be comfortable with mystery. In fact, our permission of mystery in life can be a great service to draw others to an authentic faith.
2 Vital Ways Mystery Needs to be Put into Practice
There are two areas where mystery is important and needs to be appreciated in Christian life. The first is in our individual prayer. I hope you have had experience where God has done something unexpected in prayer. You come to prayer with things on your mind. You say prayers. You come before the Lord in adoration. You wait in silence. And some inspiration comes to you that you did not initiate and that you can only explain as a true religious experience. This is mystery. You can’t explain it rationally, but it is real. And it is perhaps most notable when the way God moves surprises you and answers your prayers in a way you did not foresee. In fact, His answer may often not be what you were asking, but the answer shows you a deeper need and a deeper request that you weren’t necessarily aware was even there. I find this type of experience with mystery most especially when I use the Scriptures to pray and when I observe silence in prayer. The Scriptures are God’s word, His communication to us. Those words are rich in meaning. And they have meaning beyond the literal written word on the page. Silence trains us to withstand distraction and to listen to how God speaks. Silence gives God room to act in ways that are deeper than we may expect. This is mystery and we need to cultivate an appreciation for mystery in prayer. Prayer is not simply saying my prayers and checking them off a list, as if prayer is only my activity. Rather, prayer is an encounter with God. We need to give Him silence and room to act.
The Mass has been Largely Stripped of Mystery
Finally, mystery needs to be cultivated in our corporate, public worship, the Sacred Liturgy, most especially in the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is supposed to communicate mystery. We come to the Holy Mass to encounter God and His love. But we do not understand all of His ways nor can we anticipate all that His grace will do for us here when we listen to His word, when we worship reverently, and when we receive the Holy Eucharist worthily. In an entirely unique way the Sacred Liturgy immerses us in mystery to encounter God. One of the challenges resulting from the exercise of certain options in the Holy Mass these past several decades is that the Holy Mass has been largely stripped of mystery. Mass almost exclusively in the language of the people and
Mass said facing the people has created an expectation of the Mass that is not consistent with our history. The expectation is that we must understand everything going on if it is to be of value. Certainly, the Church doesn’t think this and never intended to communicate this. But you see this negative development frequently.
The Sad Truth. . .
It is a sad truth that in many places the Mass has become something akin to a show or entertainment. Decisions made in planning the Mass tend to show an excessive emphasis on what makes sense to us, what we can understand and appreciate. In this we are robbed of the proper place of mystery. I try mightily not to succumb to such pressures, which can be quite a challenge when the very set up of the sanctuary lends itself easily to considering the Mass as a stage where the priest faces out and gives a performance. In the face of this trend we must always seek to connect ourselves to what is beyond us, to our large liturgical history and practice, and ultimately we must seek to connect ourselves to God Himself who is the only reason for our common gatherings. It is He Who is addressed and Who is our focus when we worship at Holy Mass.
Mystery engages us and leaves us hungry for more. In this, we employ our gifts to seek the Lord ever more. God does not overwhelm us. Rather, He seeks to draw us to Him by love. Mystery permits this. Jesus employed the mystery of parables to reveal God’s kingdom. We need not fear that he is hiding salvation from us. Rather, in faith, we should permit mystery in life and in faith. It engages our higher powers. And in prayer and at Holy Mass, mystery sets the stage for a personal encounter with God that we cannot fully comprehend but that should inspire us to seek Him always more.
The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley:
The recent media fascination with the “transition” of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn has highlighted the tragic confusion about gender and sexual difference in society today. Rooted in both natural law and divine revelation, our Catholic teaching affirms that men and women are equal and different. Together they are created in the image and likeness of God. Man and woman are designed by God in relation to one another to form a conjugal union that brings forth children. The consequences of this affirmation are far-reaching.
Sexual difference is essential to marriage and child rearing. Our bodies matter. We don’t just have a body. We are a body. Without this basis in sexual difference and complementarity, there is no limit to what “marriage” could mean.
Perhaps by the time this issue of the Sooner Catholic is published, and certainly by the end of June, the Supreme Court will have issued its ruling on two crucial questions dealing with the very definition of marriage. The questions the court is addressing ask whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a “marriage” between two people of the same sex, and whether the same amendment requires a state to recognize same sex “marriages,” which were lawfully licensed and performed in another state.
No matter how the court rules, it cannot change what marriage really is. Marriage by its nature remains the union of one man and one woman. It is a natural institution that predates and precedes governments and government regulation.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
Every society has acknowledged that the sexual union of man and woman matters because it creates the next generation. While Jesus elevated Christian marriage to a sacrament, the complementarity of the sexes and the natural meaning of marriage can be known through reason even without appealing to Scripture.
Governments have long maintained an interest in protecting and preserving marriage. Society needs an institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, and marriage is the only institution that does this. Every child has a mother and father and deserves to be loved and raised by them. Certainly, there are many circumstances that can hinder and prevent this, but marriage has always been the primary way that society protects this right of children to be raised by both a mother and a father. Both matter. Both are irreplaceable. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. A child should not be deliberately deprived of either one. There are certainly wonderful single parents and others who make great sacrifices to raise children. They deserve our respect and support. But, every society ought to affirm each child’s basic natural right to come from and be raised in a loving home formed by his or her own mother and father joined together in a stable marriage.
Law is a teacher. A redefinition of marriage in the law teaches that one sex is interchangeable with another, and that either mother or father is dispensable as a parent. This ignores the wisdom of millennia of lived experience. It teaches that marriage is whatever consenting adults say it is and that these adults have a “right” to children they did not conceive. This is not only false, but it fails to take into account what is good for the child. Affirming the tried and true definition of marriage denies no one their basic rights. Rather it affirms the equal dignity and complementarity of men and women, and safeguards the rights of children.
Advocates for so-called “marriage equality” claim that the traditional definition of marriage unjustly discriminates against homosexual persons. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. But treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Protecting marriage is a matter of justice.
In addition to the devastating effect that a redefinition of marriage would have on children, there also are far-reaching religious freedom issues at stake.
It would change literally thousands of laws all at once. Marriage redefinition would immediately set the Church’s teaching and witness concerning the meaning and sanctity of marriage in opposition to the law of the land. This would result in countless conflicts between the state and religious institutions and individuals who adhere to the teaching of their faith and the judgment of their consciences.
So much hangs in the balance. What can we do? We can pray and we can fast for the protection of marriage and religious liberty. We can become advocates for marriage by our own witness to its sanctity and goodness. We can talk about the truth of marriage with patience and kindness and understanding. Who could have imagined that such common sense wisdom would become so counter-cultural in our time?
By Fr. Peter Carota:
We all know that we are weak. Our enemies: the demons, the flesh and the world are at our sides continuously. So, we need help to stay in God’s grace and out of sin. Here are 10 suggestions to practice to stop sinning, stay out of sin and to grow in holiness.
1) Prayer. Pray anyway and anyhow that will keep you from sinning. All day long, we attempt to shoot arrows of communications with God no matter if we are working, eating, driving, sitting, kneeling or talking. It is a constant attempt to keep all we do in union with God. We also need to develop a habit of prayer that automatically comes into action as soon as we are being tempted.
2) Mortification of the body. Instead of always giving what the body wants, food, rest, comfort, music, sweets, pleasure, we need to have some mortification of what it wants every day in small ways. Fasting and abstinence are important disciplines that train the will to say no to the body and yes to God.
3) Availing to God’s Graces. Frequent confessions and Holy Communion give graces and strength to weak souls and wills. In confession be very humble, sorrowful and honest as to the gravity of your sins even if it is embarrassing to say. Never hold anything back.
4) Devotion to the Virgin Mary. Mary is the mediatrix of all graces coming from God. If we run to her in times of temptation, “No one has ever invoked her in his necessity without being heard” (St. Bernard). She is virginal purity and wants to help us stay pure. Say Hail Marys until the strong temptation passes. It may literally take hundreds a day, but it is worth it.
5) Avoid the Occasion of Sin. What ever leads up to the sinning must be avoided like the plague. The time, the way and the place are all to be cautiously considered and avoided if they lead to sinning. Anyone who talks about sin, shows sin or encourages sin is your enemy, not your friend. St. Jerome said: “Remember that a woman (Eve) drove out the inhabitants of paradise, and that you are not holier than David, stronger than Samson, or wiser than Solomon, who all fell by evil intercourse.”
6) Custody of the Eyes. Pious Job made a covenant with his eyes that he would not so much as look at a virgin. Our eyes lead to thoughts that then can lead to actions. Look away from what will cause lust.
7) Keep busy. Many saints made vows to never live in idleness. That is a great idea and allows one to do great things with one’s life. “Idle hands are the devils workshop”.
8) Hell. Remember the consequences of past sins and the possibility of being damned forever for these sins. Meditate on the reality of death, judgement, heaven or hell. Go over in detail the torture of hell for the instantaneous pleasures obtained through sin.
9) Avoid Depression. Remember how sad the separation from God feels after sinning. Remember the guilt the shame and sadness caused by these sins. Would you like the whole world to be watching you sin? God, Mary, your guarding angel are watching every detail. And in the second coming of Jesus, all will be made public.
10) Help other people to stop sinning. As we try to save our own souls with God’s help, we must also live to save others souls. It is easier to live a good life if we are helping others live holier lives to. Be prophets today to tell people sin is still sin and they offend and crucify Our Lord.
May God, Mary and all the saints be our example of a pure and holy life. We are so fortunate to be traditional Catholics and to have all this help from God to live pure lives.
Hat tip: Fr. Richard Heilman, Roman Catholic Man
“Whenever you feel guilty, even if it is because you have consciously committed a sin, a serious sin, something you have kept doing many, many times, never let the devil deceive you by allowing him to discourage you. Whenever you feel guilty, offer all your guilt to the Immaculate, without analyzing it or examining it, as something that belongs to her…
My beloved, may every fall, even if it is serious and habitual sin, always become for us a small step toward a higher degree of perfection.
In fact, the only reason why the Immaculate permits us to fall is to cure us from our self-conceit, from our pride, to make us humble and thus make us docile to the divine graces.
The devil, instead, tries to inject in us discouragement and internal depression in those circumstances, which is, in fact, nothing else than our pride surfacing again.
If we knew the depth of our poverty, we would not be at all surprised by our falls, but rather astonished, and we would thank God, after sinning, for not allowing us to fall even deeper and still more frequently.” -St. Maximilian Kolbe