Losing the Horror of Sin

Do Not Get Lost in Gehenna

By Fr. James Farfaglia,

“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10: 28)

What is Gehenna?  The word Gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, meaning “Valley of Hinnom.” This valley, south of Jerusalem was where some of the ancient Israelites sacrificed their children to the Canaanite false god Molech.  In later years, Gehenna continued to be an unclean place used for burning trash from the city of Jerusalem.

The Gehenna Valley was thus a place of burning sewage, burning flesh, and garbage.  Maggots and worms crept through the garbage and sewage.  The smell from the smoke was strong and nauseating.   It was a place that was utterly filthy, disgusting and repulsive to the senses.

Gehenna presented such a vivid image, that Jesus used it as a depiction of hell: a place of eternal torment where the fires never ended and the worms never stopped crawling.[i]

“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

Who are the people that are not afraid to die so that they do not lose their soul in hell for all eternity?

These are the martyrs.  There are millions of them throughout the history of Catholicism.

Some are very young and some are older.

They all died under cruel and terrifying circumstances.

Here is the story of a young girl, a child, who preferred to die rather than to commit a mortal sin.

She was only eleven years old. 

Maria Goretti (October 16, 1890 – July 6, 1902) is an Italian virgin-martyr. and she is one of the youngest canonized saints.

She was born on the eastern side of Italy to a farming family, but increased poverty forced the family to move to the western side of the country when she was only six.

Her father died from malaria when she was nine, and they had to share a house with another family, the Serenellis, in order to survive.

The Serenelli family was what we would call today a very dysfunctional family. Alessandro Serenelli, the young man who attacked Maria was part of a terrible mess.

Giovanni, his father, was an alcoholic and his mother died in a psychiatric hospital when he was only a few months old, apparently after trying to drown Alessandro when he was a newborn. Alessandro’s brother was interned in a psychiatric hospital where he died.

On July 5, 1902, eleven-year-old Maria was sitting on the outside steps of her home, sewing one of Alessandro’s shirts and watching Teresa, her baby sister, while Alessandro was threshing beans in the barnyard. Knowing she would be alone, he returned to the house and threatened her with a knife if she did not do what he said; he was intending to rape her.

She would not submit, however, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and warning him that he would go to hell.  She desperately fought to stop him. She kept screaming, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!” He first choked her, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times.  She tried to reach the door, but he stopped her by stabbing her three more times before running away.

Teresa, the little baby, awoke with the noise and started crying, and when her mother and Alessandro’s father came to check on her, they found Maria on the floor bleeding and took her to the nearest hospital.

She underwent surgery, but her injuries were beyond anything that the doctors could do.

Halfway through the surgery, she woke up. She insisted that it stay that way. The pharmacist said to her, “Maria, think of me in Paradise.” She looked at him and said, “Well, who knows, which of us is going to be there first?” “You, Maria,” he replied. “Then I will gladly think of you,” she said. She also expressed concern for her mother’s welfare.

The following day, 24 hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for Alessandro and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, she died of her injuries, while looking at a picture of the Virgin Mary and clutching a cross to her chest.

The wounds penetrated the throat, with lesions of the pericardium, the heart, the lungs and the diaphragm. Surgeons were surprised that the girl was still alive.

In a dying deposition, in the presence of the Chief of Police, Maria told her mother of Serenelli’s sexual harassment, and of two previous attempts made to rape her. She was afraid to reveal this earlier since she was threatened with death.

Alessandro was promptly arrested, convicted, and jailed. After three years he repented, and when eventually released from prison, he visited her mother begging forgiveness, which she readily granted. He later became a lay brother in a monastery, eventually dying peacefully in 1970. Maria Goretti was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1947, and canonized in 1950 by the same Pope.  Maria’s mother and Alessandro were present at both ceremonies.[ii]

Lost the Horror of Sin

My dear friends, we live in a culture where we have lost the sense of sin.  We have lost the horror of sin.  This is true because we have lost the sense of who God is.

These tragic loses has caused many Catholics to neglect or even forget about the importance of the Sacrament of Confession.

Let us, once again, remember some basic teachings of our Catholic Faith.

What is sin?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us a concise definition. “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law” (CCC #1849).

Scripture tells us that actual sin is divided into two classifications: mortal sin and venial sin. “There is a sin that leads to death…” (1 John 5:16).  “Every kind of wickedness is sin, but not all sin leads to death” (1John 5:17).

Mortal sin is forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance. All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession…” (CCC #1456).

Just like all the other sacraments of the Church, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession.  The Church has always understood the Scriptural reference for the Sacrament of Confession to be John 20: 22-23: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

What an immense gift we have been given!  The Sacrament of Confession is an enormous source of interior peace.  The priest raises his hand, and then with a blessing pronounces those amazing words: I absolve you from your sins.  At that moment, we know that God has heard our cry for forgiveness, and we have been pardoned of our sins.  “God, who is rich in mercy…” (Ephesians 2: 4).

There is a direct relationship between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession.

Saint Paul speaks to us about this essential relationship in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 23-32.  Let us consider the entire text.

“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment; but since we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

The Sacrament of the Eucharist is one of the sacraments of the living.  We need to be free from mortal sin before we receive Holy Communion.  If we receive the Eucharist while we are in the state of mortal sin, we are committing a sacrilege.  “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

That act of receiving the Eucharist with a bad conscience has a direct influence on our physical health.  “That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.” 

Sexual sin is not the only sin, but like for the Corinthians of old, it is certainly the battle of our times.

Adultery, fornication, masturbation, addiction to pornography, contraception, sterilization and abortion are real life struggles for many Catholics.

Relativism has convinced a lot of Catholics that there is no longer any need to go to confession for these sins before they receive the Eucharist.

It is possible to live the virtue of chastity in an unchaste world.  We have to make a decision to change and to live the Gospel with greater authenticity.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 16-17).

We experience God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Confession.  It is there that we acknowledge who we are: limited, weak and sinful creatures in need of redemption.  It is there that God forgives us of any and all of our sins.

Everyone is welcome to the Catholic Church, but let Jesus liberate you from sin.  No one who has ever met Jesus has remained the same.

And now let us pray:

Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God’s grace, did not hesitate even at the age of eleven to shed your blood and sacrifice your life to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially all young people, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of you , and may we one day enjoy with you the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

 

[i] https://www.gotquestions.org/Gehenna.html

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Goretti

 

Relativizing Sexual Pronouns: A Passive form of Hatred

By Fr. Chris Pietraszko, Fr. Pietraszko’s Corner

“The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created” since believing we have “absolute power over our own bodies” might lead to the belief that “we enjoy absolute power over creation.”
– Pope Francis

As a child I always enjoyed playing RPG games.  Role-playing-games offer us a world of our own making, and often an opportunity to “create a character” as we would prefer them to be.  In the fantasy genre, you not only had the opportunity to pick your gender, but you could also choose a race, your hair-colour, your skills, your class, et cetera.  This world of self-creation is of course attractive but it is also an illusion – a game, but not a reality.  The issue of transenderism today is not totally unlike this, except that an RPG game can be turned off, but for those experiencing gender dysphoria, their affective preference remains, and can weigh heavily upon them.  Their subjective experience is not trivial like a game, but such affective inclinations are also not grounded in an ontological reality, either.  Today however, instead of helping others find self-acceptance in the context of reality, psychologists are entering into their patient’s own delusion or dysphoria, thereby doing harm.

It is my philosophical view that today the world has now erased that line between preference and reality – and no longer bothers to make such a distinction. Even within the scientific field where once transgenderism was considered gender-dysphoria, now it is merely a matter of catering to the person’s subjective/affective preferences and allowing them to dominate or violently impose themselves upon reality.

Bishop Robert Barron has discussed this as nothing more than a recapitulation of the early heresy of Gnosticism, which ascribes to the view that one has a type of “knowledge” that does not necessarily manifest within concrete reality.  In other words, “mind over matter.”  Instead of reality informing us on what the truth is, our mind dictates to the matter what the truth is – and as a result one can slice and dice at our own world in order to conform it to our own affective preferences.

Another term for all of this could be existentialism.  Existentialism ascribes to the view that things of themselves do not have any intrinsic worth or even a definition or nature.  Rather, man has the capacity to create for himself his own definition, simply by willing it.  This type of philosophy is predominantly expressed by Mr. Nietzsche. Nietzsche believed that terms such as “good” and “evil” were merely social constructs, typically proclaimed to be “objective” by the powerful as a way of allowing the state or Church to impose its own “will” upon the people.  However, this notion of “objectivity” was merely itself a social-construct, having absolutely no real value.  For Nietzsche, in order to become enlightened man had to transcend the concepts of good and evil, and decide for himself right from wrong.  The man who could accomplish this was termed the “Superman.”Nietzsche187a

Often what is true of the individual is true of the social momentum within a movement.  When there is an objective reality to morality, there is a specific way to think and argue a point.  However, when one proposes a view that is only elicited by personal preference or an affective inclination there is no real ground to develop an argument.  Therefore those who seek to impose their own will, which is not grounded in logical discourse (that of itself appeals to the logos, or objective reality), only can do so with violence or logical fallacies (sophistry).  What means, therefore, does such a group have to impose its own affective preference upon the society it belongs to?  The answer is simply violence.  It has been a long-time view of classical philosophers that those who begin to personally attack others or interpret arguments as personal attacks, they have already lost the argument.

Recently there has been an increase in not only seeking what are considered “rights,” but imposing this way of thinking upon others, without an argument.  There is nothing objectively wrong with imposing upon a society laws which safe-guard the rights that belong to individuals, but those rights need to be grounded in something more than consensus and individual preference.  Rather, the rights should be grounded upon rational discourse and logical assessment of what reality for itself says about what it means to be a human person.

What I would suggest however is that society’s approach to logic and preference is disingenuous.  Rarely will you find a person who is willing to admit that they reject objectivity in every sense of its possible meaning.   This conclusively means that the good instinct to cling to reason over gnostic preference still remains within man – except man offers himself an exception when his preference or inclination would have to be sacrificed to spirituality subsist within reality/reason.  That is a common-plight – we all have moments where reality is challenging, and love demands of us to let go of our preferences and immediate desires for the good of another.  A parent who hears a child crying is objectively in need of their parents, and despite the fact that the parent would rather rest, he or she gets up to care for that child.  A good parent does not define the reality of their children’s need, subordinating to what is comfortable to them – they know that the needs of their child remains nonetheless the same, regardless of whether they return to sleep.

hard-thinkingRationalization, however is a common-tendency within the human person, when reality clashes against our preference for what is not real (an illusion). Rationalization often can be done by an individual, but when he clashes his views against a society, it can become more difficult to maintain the weak arguments that are constructed not from reason but from preference.  As a result he can attempt to lie, deceive, and convince others of his views in order to gain their own consensus.  Once he has their approval he reinforces the rationalization and subjectively begins to convince himself that what is an illusion is actually a reality, even though deep-down he knows otherwise.

When a Christian community continues to boast of what the truth is, what the objective criteria is, it naturally creates and fosters conflict.  And this naturally wounds others for many reasons.  One of the reasons could be a misapplication of the argument.  For instance, often the narrative within the LGBT is that Christians view those who experience a same-sex attraction are automatically going to hell.  Therefore, when Christians speak about the subject, the natural responses for such individuals to take offense, and therefore to not realistically entertain or even discern the logic in such arguments.  There is a fear and dread at the prospect of being condemned so arbitrarily.  However, with the exception of a few forms of Christianity, this simply is not a true narrative of Christianity.  Catholicism for instance speaks about the acts of homosexuality as being gravely sinful, but does not suggest that if a person has a same-sex attraction they are “de-facto” condemned to hell.  People are held accountable for choices, not for things that they did not choose, such as a sexual orientation.

These false-narratives often foster or compound a victim-culture.  This does not diminish the fact that many are factually victims of discrimination, which the Church also condemns, and rightfully so.  But in replacement of an argument, appealing to being a victim often is nothing more than a recapitulation of the logical fallacy of an “appeal to emotion” whereby an argument is shut down, not because it lacks merit, but because it doesn’t make another person feel good.  I once encountered a religious leader who wanted to share wisdom from his diseased mother, wisdom she offered on her death bed.  However, what his mother said was not wise, but to voice disagreement with her view would have seemed insensitive – and therefore he was able to facilitate within the venue he offered an argument that everyone was timid to disagree with publically.

Please do not misunderstand this point to imply that we should not be concerned with those who subjectively perceive themselves to be victims.  If a person truly believes this, even if it is not grounded in an objective experience, they are nonetheless still wounded, and wounded as a result of the false-narrative.

Applying everything I have said before now I would like to apply to the whole question of pronouns being relativized to cater to the preferences or affective inclinations, specifically for those who decide for themselves what their pronoun ought to be.  Specifically transgenderism.  In this regard, an argument can be made that the Canadian government has passed a bill which will necessarily interpret those who do not cooperate with this relativistic philosophical system of pronoun-assignment as a form of hate.  But I would argue to the contrary.  While it may cause pain to a person to know that someone disagrees with them on a subject as sensitive as this, it does not denote hatred.

What we have, in an objective world that insists upon its own ordering subordinate to consensus and individual preference is a consensual hallucination.  When a voice speaks to the contrary it comes at a great cost.  When St. Thomas More did not compromise on his faith toward Henry VIII, he, as a friend to the King did not endorse the rationalized course of behaviour that he wanted to have validated.  As a result he was imprisoned and eventually killed.  In this regard, I would say that a healthy Christianity is not one that compromises with the government or the mob or the powerful, but rather the one that is willing to be imprisoned with Christ and St. Paul and all the saints before us. Selling out Christ for 30 pieces of silver is perhaps just another recapitulation of the dark-side of the gospel that continues to be re-echoed to this day and is found in God’s providence, but this doesn’t denote that we ought to find it favourable or even cooperate with it.  As a Church we need to resist this way of living.  Of course, one needn’t even appeal to matters of faith to understand why morally speaking one should not subordinate pronouns to cater to the preferences of others.  While it might be considered in some cases to avoid offending someone, we must not see this as the supreme good of a healthy relationship.  If reality is itself what is offensive, than it is truth that is unjustly offended by those who promote such an illusion.decisions

Furthermore, for a person to passively reject their own ontological configuration as a man or woman is to passively hate themselves.  The irony here, therefore is that hatred is actually being endorsed by the government, on behalf of those who would prefer they were a different sex than what they truly are.  One, as a Christian or a man or woman of philosophical logic, cannot cooperate with such an illusion precisely for reasons of love.  When one fosters the illusion that truth is always subordinated to our own personal preferences there is no limit to what this type of thinking can accomplish.  At this point in time, man knows he does not existentially dictate to himself that his eyes are for the purpose of seeing, or that his ears are for the purpose of hearing.  These are truths grounded in the very anatomy of the body.  Yet, in our civilization, when it comes to matters of sexual organs these are relativized even though biologically we know better.  This inconsistency must be attributed to the fact that remaining in the truth of this, with an affect that does not line-up with the nature of the body (for whatever reason) requires integrity to nonetheless subsist, spiritually, in truth.  For such an individual, subsisting in this type of truth would likely require sacrifice, and that sacrifice is painful and uncomfortable. Nonetheless, to subsist in reality is what permits one to have any authentic (truthful) experience of joy and interior freedom.  Man is not a beast.  Beasts get “fixed” because they cannot control themselves, whereas mankind also gets “fixed” because he begins to resemble less of an intelligent being, and rather one controlled by impulses.  Why else do we have people turning into a stampede, killing other humans in a shopping mall on Black-Friday?

St. Thomas Aquinas defines pride as a problem precisely because man clings to his own fallible judgment that is enslaved to his impulses and affective preferences rather than what is true.  Pride is therefore an exaltation of our own will and intellect beyond what is actually reasonable:  beyond what is good or evil.  What Nietzsche espoused was nothing new, in fact, it was already written about in the book of Genesis when discussing man not having the prerogative to decide for themselves good from evil (eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil).  The humble disposition that requires self-mastery and interior strength is not to subordinate reason to our preferences, truth to our subjectivity, but rather to examine reality and allow ourselves to discover it, rather than invent an illusion and coerce others to follow it.

Therefore, I cannot cooperate with any notion of referring to a person to another gender than what they are objectively – precisely because who they are, as an ontological reality is worth loving, even if they cannot. This is the type of love that offends, and actually makes love seem like something that is desirable to crucify.  Yet, it must be done anyways – because if no one loves such individuals, who will?  The whole culture, collectively wants us to mutually hate each other, and label it as love.  We consider legalizing prostitution as a liberation of women (and men), and yet all it is, is the commodification of one’s sexuality – reducing their dignity to something that can be sold.   Our culture really has, in many ways turned away from love, while nonetheless nominally labeling hatred as love, and love as hatred.  In a purely subjectivist society, this is possible – anything is possible, except truth.  Truth is not something merely exterior to the individual, the individual themselves is a truth, is a reality.  That reality is made up of matter and soul – and that individual must be loved as who they are – not in a gnostic way, but ontologically (who they objectively are).

Shocking! A Pornography Homily

Fr. Hamilton, Apologizes to Parishioners for Failing to Address Pornography Epidemic

Action Item: At Fr. Hamilton’s encouragement, please read this article with your son.  Statistics show your son is already exposed or needs the positive reinforcement from his parents to grow in virtue.  As Father said, “It is serious sin that needs to be confessed immediately, and especially before coming forward to receive Holy Communion.” Don’t be afraid, take courage.  Your son’s salvation is at stake.

Action Item #2: Your priest has full permission to use this homily as his own without crediting Fr. Hamilton.  Please go and encourage your pastor to give this homily.  Father Hamilton has received many thank you’s for this courageous homily.

By Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton,
Sollemnitas Corpus Christi
Dt. 8:2-3, 14b-16a; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; Jn. 6:51-58
18 June 2017 (Father’s Day)

Stop Pornography

Pornography, it becomes enslaving.

I want to begin today with a brief prayer. If you are so inclined you can close your eyes and ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit. “Lord Jesus Christ, we pray that You would cover us, our families, and all of our possessions with Your love and the power of Your Most Precious Blood. Bind and drive out from among us any spirits who are opposed to Your Kingdom. Soften our hearts and heal our wounds so that we may receive Your Word today. Surround all of us with Your heavenly Angels, Saints, the strong arms of St. Joseph, and the mantle of Our Blessed Mother. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Consider this hypothetical situation: What if we all knew that some defect in the water pipes of this church was resulting in harmful exposure to a high percentage of parishioners and running the high likelihood of serious physical health risks and even death… and we did nothing? We said nothing. I take it you would think that is crazy and irresponsible. You might even sue or demand the Pastor and other parish staff be replaced. We have basically that very situation, but in the area of spiritual health. And most people hear almost nothing about it from pulpits. Little is said or done to battle the crisis which is at epidemic proportions.

Today I want to discuss a topic that impacts many men and women across many age categories. While the impact is broad, it does seem true that this spiritual health risk seems to have a more significant hold on men and boys. Since the male susceptibility to this challenge is so high I am intentionally using Father’s Day to treat this topic and to call men in particular to battle, to better health of soul, and to better fulfill the role of protector for their family. Of course, I want to be sensitive to younger ears among us, but at the same time it could be irresponsible for me to be vague. Thus, I am going to speak this word one time so that no one can doubt what I am treating today, but after that I will use other language so as to limit exposure to younger ears. I think it is necessary to speak on the topic of the pervasive presence and use of pornography in our society.

All indications are that this is a widespread problem in our society, made ever more broad by easy access and free content through the internet. I have made some general reference to this topic in other homilies but this is, I believe, the first time in eighteen years as a priest that I have given this topic direct focus. Thus, I first want to apologize to you on this Father’s Day for failing to devote attention to this earlier in a clear, courageous, and manly way as your spiritual father. That is a failure and a weakness on my part because I should have been more resolved to protect my flock, just as you dads must do for yourself and for your families. Today that failure ends.

The statistics are alarming.

  • Studies indicate that 73% of kids are exposed to explicit material before the age of 18. 42% of kids first view it before the age of 13.
  • The average age of first exposure to explicit images on the internet is 11 years old.
  • The largest consumers of this material on the internet are kids ages 12 to 17.
  • 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women say they are regular users of this material.
  • And with access to the digital world on our smartphones it is alarming that 1 in 5 mobile phone searches is for explicit material.

At younger and younger ages kids are spending significant amounts of time online daily. One study found that nearly 70% of kids ages 2 to 5 can operate a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their own shoes.1 Together with this, studies show that only 1/3 of parents set up parental controls and monitor their children’s online activity. In addition, 41% of American teens agree that their parents have no idea what they are doing online.2  No one is immune from this invasion and the problem exists in Christian homes as it does in other homes. I don’t want to be misunderstood as if the problem doesn’t exist among girls and women too. However, boys and men fall prey to this at significantly higher rates. In all categories of statistics measuring things like type of content viewed, age of first exposure, and frequency of use, boys and men outpace girls and women by large percentage margins. One study indicated that the strongest predictor of use of explicit material is simply being male.

One of the realities of this topic is that a person, through no fault of his or her own, can be exposed to this material quite innocently. A misspelled word in a search engine can lead to exposure and that can place a hook in a person. If we aren’t careful first exposure develops into repeated curiosity and that develops into habitual use that impedes healthy human development and spiritual development. First exposure happened easily enough when I was a kid, but we must admit that with the dawn of the internet it happens much more easily and frequently now, and it comes directly into your home. First exposure to explicit material now happens in the room next door where your child is on the computer, tablet, or smartphone.

It Cannot Be Ignored

This is a matter that cannot be ignored in the parish, in your family life, or in each person’s examination of conscience. We can’t be silent while souls are being ensnared and the risk of hell increases. Use of this explicit material makes its users spiritually crippled and deadened. It is serious sin that needs to be confessed immediately, and especially before coming forward to receive Holy Communion. It becomes enslaving. It negatively impacts personal discipline, dating, marriage, and even the ability of a young person to trust a call from God to priesthood or to a religious vocation.

I hope I don’t cause rash judgment or awkward situations here, but given the statistics on use of explicit material: Parents, you should likely just assume that your child has been exposed, and that your middle school and high school aged child may already have a habit of use. You must speak with them. You must first treat this issue in your own life with serious resolve. You must take measures to control and eliminate the entry points for this material into your home. Use internet locks and filters and even have everyone in the house turn in all cellular and internet devices each evening where they remain locked in the parents’ bedroom until morning. Men, dear brothers in the faith: You especially need to take such measures to protect yourselves, your wives, and your children. We need to live courageously this aspect of fatherhood as protector in our homes.

Don’t Be Shamed

As the spiritual father here I want to set the tone for our response to this moral epidemic by saying that in the spiritual family of this parish, no one is permitted to shame anyone else about this struggle. The devil knows what he is doing in trafficking this filth. Anyone who is struggling needs to know they are loved, they are supported, and that they are called to true and authentic human relationships. Jesus gives us the example from the woman caught in adultery who easily could have been shamed. Instead, he says: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (Jn. 8:11). So, in this parish, I am opening this topic for conversation and I am asking you to continue it in your home and with your family. Opening this to conversation can allow healing to take place.

This is because in talking openly and honestly we will draw each other, spouses and children, into more authentic relationships that, together with confession, prayer, struggle, and acts of penance, will result in lessening the grip of false virtual “relationships”. Anyone struggling needs to be prudent, but opening this matter – not to everyone – but to a trusted friend can offer accountability in the battle. I want you to know that there are in fact people who do not use explicit material. The battle is possible. Victory is already with Christ Jesus. And others in this parish will be ready to stand with you as you engage in battle. It is time to reject the devil’s message that tells you to keep this matter hidden. Kept hidden in the darkness, he increases his power over you. In the light, he flees.

Furthermore, we are also going to confess this matter with humility and honesty each and every time there is a fall and a sin. God is ready to meet you in this struggle and He is already loving you as you hear this invitation to confession. He loves you and He wants you to have a deeper relationship with Him. In the bulletin this weekend there are some resources grouped together to go along with this topic. You can follow the links provided and get more information and resources for help in the battle for purity. Remember too that my homilies are recorded and available as a podcast on the parish website (http://www.stmonica-edmond.org/_blog/podcast). The text is also posted on the website (http://www.stmonica-edmond.org/_blog/Homilies_and_Remarks). It may be helpful to listen to this message again or to pass it along to others you know. As spiritual father I want to give some clear directions. These directions can be followed by anyone, but on this Father’s Day I want to issue a special call to the men of our parish to engage in this battle and to step up with fellow brothers to be evermore the protectors and the spiritual heads of our families that we are called to be.

  • Therefore, I want every man in this parish to learn how to pray the Rosary to invoke Mary in this battle. She brought us her Son who crushed the serpent’s head. Her intercession is powerful. Resources to learn the Rosary can be found through the parish office or online. Pray it in your home with your family. I would like more and more men to volunteer to lead the Rosary before the start of each weekend Mass.
  • Reverent worship is a weapon in the battle and so, in addition to faithful attention at Holy Mass, I ask each of you to sign up for a Holy Hour of Adoration in our chapel, or to share an hour with your family, or with another friend. Come receive blessing in the Lord’s Real Presence and train your eyes to look upon the Holy One in our midst.
  • Men, I encourage you to invoke St. Joseph in this battle and to ask his help to see in him a great example of what it means to be a man of faith, a man of strength, and a man of purity in the family.
  • Don’t forget the value of using Sacred Scripture, taking on practices like fasting, and using blessed objects like Holy Water or religious medals.
  • Finally, make regular use of confession and take the steps necessary to find an accountability partner.

On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we celebrate our faith that in holiness and purity Jesus gives us His true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as the food for our journey to salvation. In this battle for purity where easy temptation offers the ability to be a consumer of someone else’s body, we need to respond by preparing ourselves to consume Jesus’ flesh with always greater reverence so that we remain in him. Jesus shows us the characteristic of sacrificial love, which is part of human love and the meaning of the human body. “This is my Body.” We hear those words of Jesus at each and every Holy Mass. May they be our constant reminder to say “no” to those whose flesh is exposed for profit and instead to submit ourselves to the flesh of Jesus Christ that saves us!

1. Smith, J.R. 2011, January. Kids are learning computer skills before life skills. AVG Official Blogs, http://blogs.avg.com/uncategorized/kids-learning-computer-skills-before-life-skills/.
2. Symantec, 2008, February 13. Parents, get a clue! Norton Online Living Report reveals what your cyber-savvy children know that you don’t. http://www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article. jsp?prid=20080213_01.
3. Gustavo Mesch, “Social bonds and Internet pornographic exposure among adolescents.” Journal of Adolescence 32 (2009): 601-618.

Archbishop Chaput: “Our Adversary is the Devil”

Sympathy for the Devil

By Archbishop Charles Chaput, Catholic Philly:

“Never forget, when you hear the progress of the Enlightenment being praised, that the devil’s cleverest ploy is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist.”
— Charles Baudelaire

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

Leszek Kolakowski was an unusual man of letters. A fierce critic of the Church as a young man, he was a leading Marxist philosopher in Poland until he asked too many awkward questions about Soviet life under Stalin and got exiled to the West.  He went on to become a fan of John Paul II and one of the great scholars of the last century.

Exactly 30 years ago, Kolakowski gave a lecture at Harvard entitled “The Devil in History.” Early in the talk, the mood in the room became restless. Many of the listeners knew Kolakowski’s work. They knew he could be playful and that he had a wicked sense of irony. But they couldn’t figure out where he was going with his lecture.

Present that day were the historians Tony Judt and Timothy Garton Ash. About 10 minutes into the talk, Ash leaned over to Judt and whispered incredulously: “I’ve got it. He really is talking about the devil.” And in fact, he was.[1]

 It was a moment when the little bigotries of our intellectual class were laid bare.  Apart from Judt and Ash, the audience was baffled that an urbane public intellectual, fluent in five languages, could really believe in “religious nonsense” like the devil and original sin. But that’s precisely what Kolakowski did believe.  And he said so again and again in his various works:

An example: “The devil is part of our experience. Our generation has seen enough of it for the message to be taken extremely seriously.”[2]

And: “Evil is continuous throughout human experience. The point is not how to make one immune to it, but under what conditions one may identify and restrain the devil.”[3]

And: “When a culture loses its sacred sense, it loses all sense.”[4]

Kolakowski saw that we can’t fully understand our culture unless we take the devil seriously.  The devil and evil are constants at work in human history and in the struggles of every human soul.  And note that Kolakowski (unlike some of our own Catholic leaders who should know better) was not using the word “devil” as a symbol of the darkness in our own hearts, or a metaphor for the bad things that happen in the world.

He was talking about the spiritual being Jesus called “the evil one” and “the father of lies” — the fallen angel who works tirelessly to thwart God’s mission and Christ’s work of salvation.

This is why the evangelization of culture is always, in some sense, a call to spiritual warfare. We’re in a struggle for souls. Our adversary is the devil. And while Satan is not God’s equal and doomed to final defeat, he can do bitter harm in human affairs. The first Christians knew this. We find their awareness written on nearly every page of the New Testament.

The modern world makes it hard to believe in the devil. But it treats Jesus Christ the same way. And that’s the point. Medieval theologians understood this quite well. They had an expression in Latin: Nullus diabolus, nullus redemptor.[5] No devil, no Redeemer. Without the devil, it’s very hard to explain why Jesus needed to come into the world to suffer and die for us. What exactly did he redeem us from?

 The devil, more than anyone, appreciates this irony, i.e., that we can’t fully understand the mission of Jesus without him. And he exploits this to his full advantage. He knows that consigning him to myth inevitably sets in motion our same treatment of God.

So what’s the point of my column this week?

Jeffrey Russell, who wrote a remarkable four-volume history of the devil, noted that the Faust character is the most popular subject in Western paintings, poems, novels, operas, cantatas and films after the characters of Jesus, Mary and the devil himself.[6] That should tell us something. Who is Faust? He’s the man of letters who sells his soul to the devil on the promise that the devil will show him the secrets of the universe.

Faust is the “type” of a certain species of modern man; a certain kind of artist, scientist and philosopher. Faust doesn’t come to God’s creation as a seeker after truth, beauty, and meaning. He comes impatient to know, the better to control and dominate, with a delusion of his own entitlement, as if such knowledge should be his birthright. A prisoner of his own vanity, Faust would rather barter away his soul than humble himself before God.

There’s a lesson in Faust for our lives and for our culture. Without faith there can be no understanding, no knowledge, no wisdom. We need both faith and reason to penetrate the mysteries of creation and the mysteries of our own lives.

That’s true for individuals, and it’s true for nations. A culture that has a command of reason and the byproducts of reason — science and technology — but lacks faith has made a Faustian bargain with the (very real) devil that can only lead to despair and self-destruction. Such a culture has gained the world with its wealth, power and material success. But it has forfeited its soul.

***

[1] Tony Judt, “Leszek Kolakowski (1927-2009),” New York Review of Books, September 24, 2009

[2] Leszek Kolakowski, My Correct Views on Everything (South Bend, IN, St. Augustine’s Press, 2005), 133

[3] Ibid., 128

[4] Ibid., 271

[5] Jeffrey Burton Russell, Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World (Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1986), 33.

[6] Ibid., 58

Proud Parenting, a Pro-LGBT Blog, Endorses Jefferson City Diocese as a Pioneer

Bishop Gaydos’ Diocese is the Leader of LGBT Incusion

The following comes from Proud Parenting, a pro-LGBT blog.

Bishop Gaydos

“The Catholic diocese in Jefferson City, Missouri is a pioneer among other U.S. dioceses when it comes to crafting guidance on inclusion of students from families headed by LGBT parents. The diocese oversees 37 Catholic elementary schools and three high schools, with about 7,000 students in communities throughout Central Missouri.

“We probably are in the lead,” Sister Elizabeth Young, the diocese’s superintendent of Catholic schools, remarked how she views the diocese as a forerunner among other U.S. dioceses when it comes to crafting guidance on inclusion of students from families headed by LGBT, unmarried or divorced parents.

The diocese’s guidance, titled “A Pastoral Process of Accompaniment and Dialogue: Addressing Children and Youth in Relation to Gender Concerns and Non-traditional Families,” was presented May 9 to priests who have schools in their parishes, then on May 11 to the principals of those schools.”


In an “internal document only” letter, Bp. Gaydos endorses the “development and presentation” of this program. He further claims the program “promotes our Catholic moral teaching and supports the role of the pastor to act in the best interests of the people of his parish.”

Stay up to date at 30 Pieces of Silver.

Here is a copy of the internal document.

 

Please stop what you are doing right now and contact Bishop John R. Gaydos; Mr. John DeLaporte, Coordinator of Youth Ministry; Sr. Elizabeth Youngs, SCL, Superintendent of Catholic Schools; Fr. Joseph Corel; Sr. Julie Brandt, SSND, Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools:

Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City
2207 West Main Street
P.O. BOX 104900
Jefferson City, MO 65110-4900

(573) 635-9127

We also strongly encourage you to contact the metropolitan,  Archbishop Robert J. Carlson:

Cardinal Rigali Center
20 Archbishop May Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63119

and

Archbishop Christophe Pierre
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America
3339 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008

Evangelizing Priest Goes Viral

Fr. David Jenuwine Evangelizing at a Music Festival

By Mary Rezac, EWTN News:

“I think too often we get tied up in planning, planning, planning. But when the Spirit moves, go with Him! No excuses.”What’s a good way to reach a lot of young people all at once?

Plant yourself at an entrance of a popular music festival with a sign, some free stuff, and a smile.

That’s what Catholic priest Fr. David Jenuwine did last weekend, at BottleRock Napa, a three-day music festival with roughly 30,000 in attendance.

His sign read simply: Catholic priest. Blessings, Prayers, Confessions, Answers.

Fr. Jenuwine, parochial vicar at St. Apollinaris Parish in Napa, California, told CNA that he had been trying to brainstorm creative ways to reach out to young adults when he heard about the music festival. He said he was inspired after hearing a talk on evangelization a few weeks ago by EWTN personality Fr. Mitch Pacwa.

“My youth minister said well, BottleRock is this weekend, but it’s chaos,” he said.

“And I went, alright, let’s do it!”

Fr. Jenuwine placed himself on one side of the festival, while his St. Paul Street Evangelization team camped out on the other side. They prayed for 20 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament before hitting the streets, “begging for the graces we need and to get ourselves in the zone,” Father said.

Besides prayers and answers, they offered rosaries, prayer cards and miraculous medals. They went fast.

“That first night we gave away every rosary, every prayer card, every miraculous medal we had, but sure enough we found more, so we went out again Sunday,” Fr. Jenuwine said.

They stayed at the festival for about five hours on Saturday, and another couple hours on Sunday.

The responses varied widely, the priest said.

“I pretty much just made eye contact with people and said ‘Hi, how’re you doing?’” Father recalled. “And some people were like, ‘Is he really a priest?’”

Others greeted him warmly: “Hi Father! Nice to see you out here.”

Some were more skeptical. When one of the St. Paul team handed out a rosary, the recipient asked, “Does it come with a lecture?”

“There was one guy who said, ‘What are you bringing this here for?’” Father recalled.

“And I said, ‘We’re here to tell you God loves you.’ And he said, ‘I already know that.’ So I said, ‘Well good! You’re one of the few’.”

Others tried to avoid him by pulling out their phones and pretending to be busy.

“But even in that, if they were purposely ignoring us then we made an impression, because they knew we were out there,” he said.

There were also some people who got blessings on Saturday that came back for another on Sunday.

“There were some people getting out of their Uber and they said, ‘Hey he’s still here! Father, can we get a blessing?’”

“I even heard a couple confessions,” he said, though the confessees were people he already knew.

And although he advertised “answers” on his sign, there was one thing people asked that Father didn’t know: “Where is the parking lot?”

“I said I promised I’d try, but I do not know where the parking is,” Father said, laughing.

His youth minister, Dominic Figueroa, snapped a photo of Father hanging out under his street lamp with his sign, and Father posted it on Facebook. Yesterday, friends started to realize that the post was trending on Reddit. It now has more than 640 votes and nearly 100 comments.

It’s an evangelization experience that he and his St. Paul team are looking to do again. They already have an event scoped out this weekend.

“I think we made a little splash,” Father said. “In a sense, this kind of started something for us.”

The biggest takeaway, he said, was “how easy it was.”

Birth Control and Catholic Priests

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on My Head:

That little pill has changed everything.

The effect of birth control and a contraceptive culture has altered our world in ways we could never have expected.

Think for a moment about the effect contraception has had on the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

First of all, if a family has ten kids it is more likely that they are going to be happy for a few of them to pursue the priesthood or religious life. Mothers will quite happily send a few off to the seminary or monastery. If she has ten she can spare a few.

But if the neat and tidy suburban career woman only has two she is going to treasure them that much more. The idea that one would become a priest would be a shocking idea, but there is another more subtle attitude shift beneath this.

When mother and father decided to limit their family to two children by artificial means they usually do so in order for the woman to go back to work. The silent statement is, “What is most important to this family is to have as much income as possible.” and “The career. The career is everything! It comes first. Children? Meh.”

This attitude is then transmitted to the children who also put career first. Will there be any vocations from a home like that? Probably not.

Think further of the effects of this revolution in family life on the question of vocations. Before the invention and acceptance of artificial contraception a young man considering the priesthood would look around and weigh up his option.

Let’s say he lived in Philadelphia in the 1950s. He came from an Italian American family. He sees his Dad, his uncles, his grandfather. They are working class. They sweat in dangerous jobs to support their large families. They come home to a little house full of kids. Its a good life, but its a hard life.

The priest, on the other hand, doesn’t have his own wife and family, but he’s in Philadelphia. He gets sent to St Anthony of Padua parish. He’s surrounded by a big extended Italian family. He has status. He’s the priest. He gets an education. Maybe he travels to Rome. He lives in a big house with maybe three or four other priests. They have a nice Italian mama who cooks and cleans and looks after them.

The point I’m making is that, from a human point of view, the young man’s choice is fairer. With a wife and family he will have certain joys and certain sorrows and sacrifices. With the priesthood he will have certain joys and certain sorrows and sacrifices.

You pays your money and you makes your choice.

But think of the young man’s choice in today’s contraceptive culture. To be married and have a family doesn’t seem to require any sacrifices at all. Indeed, it seems like the passport to perfection. You get married. You eventually have two nice trophy children. Your wife continues her education and career. You’re both earning enough money to have everything. No sorrows. No sacrifice.
Of course I know it doesn’t always pan out that way, but that is what seems to be on offer.

On the other hand, for a young man to be a priest? He’s faced with a life of loneliness–stuck in Rectory by himself with onerous duties and little reward.
Again–I know it is not really like this, but this is what it may very well appear to be.

What’s to be done?

I happen to feel optimistic about the problem because I think the pendulum is going to swing back. I think an increasing number of young people are going to reject the contraceptive culture and choose a life giving alternative, and with that will be an increasing number of young men and women who choose a religious vocation, and they’ll be choosing for all the right reasons.
Why do I think this? Because a lie cannot sustain itself. All that is false eventually implodes. It can’t last.

On the other hand, all that is beautiful, good and true will always be attractive. Like fresh shoots on a tree that has been felled, it will spring back.

Breaking News! Jefferson City Diocese Paving Way for Transgender Students

Is Your Diocese Next?

On May 9, 2017 the Jefferson City Diocese held a meeting with all priests to present the new policy for transgender students. On May 11th,  the policy was presented to all Catholic School principals of the diocese.  This Diocesan policy will be the fundamental policy for every diocese with accommodating Bishops.  Don’t be fooled, your diocese is next.

The result will be boys being in the girls bathroom.  To stay up to date on this issue, bookmark 30 Pieces of Silver Blog!

Here is the full document:

 

How bad is the process?  Check out the glossary of terms.

To anyone who has been permitted to read this document, it is apparent that the diocese now plans to join the secular world in questioning the very binary gender system created by God Himself.  Once we begin tampering with redefining what is clear to the naked eye or a simple genetics test, what comes next?  Will biological boys be allowed in the girls’ restrooms?  Will men who “identify” as women be allowed in my church’s restroom?  Will we start entertaining trans-species, trans-racial, or trans-age?  Where will the line be drawn?

If there is no security in knowing what we see, how can we expect anyone, much less these children to come to know God on a personal level?  If there is nothing certain in the physical world, how can a person begin to grasp the truths of our Holy Catholic Faith?  If they cannot even come to know God, how can they come to love God and serve Him?  Ultimately, isn’t that going to worsen our vocations crisis?  If the diocese chooses to “go with the flow” of the secular world, we will become like the fish that go downstream, dead.

Please stop what you are doing right now and contact Bishop John R. Gaydos; Mr. John DeLaporte, Coordinator of Youth Ministry; Sr. Elizabeth Youngs, SCL, Superintendent of Catholic Schools; Fr. Joseph Corel; Sr. Julie Brandt, SSND, Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools:

Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City
2207 West Main Street
P.O. BOX 104900
Jefferson City, MO 65110-4900

(573) 635-9127

We also strongly encourage you to contact the metropolitan,  Archbishop Robert J. Carlson:

Cardinal Rigali Center
20 Archbishop May Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63119

and

Archbishop Christophe Pierre
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America
3339 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008