It Starts with the So-called “Sexual Revolution”
The State of Marriage in Society
“Augustinian goods” of marriage – permanence (bonum sacramenti), fidelity (bonum fidei) and openness to offspring (bonum prolis). It is these three bona, goods of marriage, that distinguish marriage from any other type of relationship, and identify what it is in nature and define what it is in the law.
Considered in this light, it becomes clear that the current crisis of marriage of which we are all painfully aware has really been going on in our society for a very long time. This latest debate about the very definition of marriage is simply the next logical – albeit thus far most radical – step in the redefinition of marriage in the social consciousness. That is, marriage has already been redefined in the culture, and the law is now beginning to reflect that. Looked at from the standpoint of the three goods of marriage, we can see how this banalization of the concept of marriage has been going on for at least the last fifty years, that is, since the so-call “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s. Just consider:
The 3 Stages of the Destruction of Marriage
Permanence: There is no question that the widespread acceptance of no fault divorce dealt an extremely severe blow to the concept of marriage as a life-long commitment. This already redefined marriage as an adult-centered institution based on what the adults look to get out of it. To put it in the terminology that comes to us from the teaching of St. John Paul II, this is the quintessential “utilitarian” norm: one person becomes the means to another person’s end. When the needs of one are no longer being met by the other, the basis of the relationship is gone and the disappointed party can legally back out of it, even against the wishes of the other spouse who wishes to keep the marriage together. Perhaps you, as I, have known people who have been severely harmed by this decision – they wanted to stay in the relationship and keep it working while the person’s spouse simply backed out and filed for divorce. Now, if we add to this the now almost universally accepted practice of cohabitation outside of marriage, and recognize how easily couples move in and out of relationship, whether it’s cohabitation or marriage, we can see that there is not really that much difference the popular mentality ascribes to those who are married and to couples who are not.
Fidelity: Certainly widespread promiscuity does violence to the idea of marriage as a commitment of exclusive fidelity. Commonplace cohabitation also contributes to the loss of the sense of fidelity as one of the defining goods of marriage, even if, of the three, this one does still have some resonance in the popular culture, at least as an ideal. The social changes that erupted fifty years ago also eventually saw such aberrant practices as so-called “open marriages” and “swinging.”
Offspring: We are now witnessing the phenomenon, until recently inconceivable, of couples marrying with the intention of not have any children at all. Remember “DINKS”? With contraception and then – necessarily, given the mentality – abortion, sex has become redefined, no longer understood as procreative and unitive, but seen rather as a means for pleasure. Thus, we have here again the utilitarian norm: the other person becomes a means to an end, rather than an end in themselves. Because the concept of sex has now become disconnected from procreation and, in turn, from marriage, motherhood today is seen as a matter of choice and increasingly a lifestyle choice. We hear absurd things such as, “just because she chose to be a mother doesn’t mean I chose to be a father.” Or the woman who says, “I don’t know how I got pregnant, it wasn’t supposed to happen.” (I have actually heard this one myself!)
When the choice to have a child is simply a lifestyle choice . . .
When the choice to have a child is simply a lifestyle choice, then increasingly it is seen as a means to fulfillment separated from marriage, for the sake of the adult making the choice, with roles of motherhood and fatherhood becoming interchangeable. Just last Sunday the New York Times had a front-page article on surrogacy, “wombs for hire,” whether the couples are same-sex or opposite sex. And what if the couple decides later they do not want to have the child, but the surrogate mother wants to keep the child and is willing to raise the child herself? As you may know, this has happened, and the surrogate mother was forced to abort the child against her will. What could be a more blatant and outrageous example of a child being treated as an object of desire, a means to an end, rather than a gift of equal value and dignity to the adult and worthy of unconditional self-giving love – what St. John Paul calls the “personalistic norm”?
Sadly, this sort of thing isn’t new. When I was working in Rome – already this was in the late 1990’s – I remember walking past what was obviously a feminist bookstore. And this was just a few blocks from the Vatican, very close to the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. And there proudly displayed in the window was a book with the title, “Self-Insemination.” I thought to myself, “How ironic. When I was young and ‘women’s lib’ was in full force, the question that women who were with the spirit of the times would ask themselves was, ‘How can I do it without getting pregnant?’ Now the question they ask is, ‘How can I get pregnant without doing it?’”
When the two ends of marriage become not only separated from each other but irrelevant,
it’s nowonder that many people cannot make a distinction between heterosexual
and same-sex relationships, or between marriage and cohabitation for that matter.
So, you can see how all of this has whittled away at the three defining goods of marriage, and therefore at the very concept of marriage itself. No fault divorce was, especially, the pivotal moment, for that put into the law the idea that marriage is for the gratification and benefits of adults and not about the needs and rights of children. But ultimately it can all be traced back to the contraceptive mentality, which is nothing more than the utilitarian norm applied to sexual relations.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades: Notre Dame Extending Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses
by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Today’s Catholic News
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
Last week, I and the other Bishops of Indiana expressed our disappointment with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on October 6th not to review Indiana’s appeal of the court ruling that the prohibition of so-called “same-sex marriage” is unconstitutional.
The Church continues to oppose the redefinition of marriage to include two persons of the same sex since such redefinition denies the truth and reality of what marriage is: the lifelong partnership between one man and one woman ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. In God’s plan, sexual difference is essential to marriage. Marriage is a unique form of love and commitment, a “communion” in which “the two become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
The Church believes that homosexual persons are certainly equal in dignity to heterosexual persons. The Church teaches that “every sign of unjust discrimination in regard to homosexual persons should be avoided” (CCC 2358). Not allowing two persons of the same sex to marry is not unjust discrimination. The “right to marry” is the right to enter into a relationship that is unique and rooted in a nature that includes sexual difference.
I and many others have been worried about the many possible threats to our religious freedom as a result of the redefinition of marriage. Changing the legal definition of marriage may threaten the liberty of the Church and our institutions in numerous ways. One example could be the government forcing religious institutions to extend any special spousal benefits they afford to actual marriage to “same-sex marriage” as well. This past week, the University of Notre Dame decided “to extend benefits to all legally married persons, including same-sex spouses,” since “the law in Indiana now recognizes same-sex marriages” (quotes from public statement issued by Notre Dame).
Many have asked for my opinion on this decision of the University of Notre Dame. I must admit my uncertainty at this time about the legal implications of Indiana’s law for our Catholic institutions. Notre Dame believes that the law requires the university to extend the legal benefits of marriage to “same-sex married couples” in its employ. I would like to see further study of what the law requires as well as what religious liberty protections Notre Dame and our other Catholics institutions have so as not to be compelled to cooperate in the application of the law redefining marriage. Our Indiana Catholic Conference is studying these issues.
In announcing its decision to extend benefits to “same-sex spouses,” I am glad that Notre Dame affirmed that as a Catholic university, it “endorses a Catholic view of marriage,” though I would say that Catholic teaching on the heterosexual nature of marriage is more than “a view.” The heterosexual nature of marriage is an objective truth known by (right) reason and revelation. As a Catholic university, it is important that Notre Dame continues to affirm its fidelity to Catholic teaching on the true nature of marriage as a union of one man and one woman. I have communicated to Notre Dame my conviction that this affirmation should also include efforts to defend the religious liberty of our religious institutions that is threatened in potentially numerous ways by the legal redefinition of marriage, including the government forcing our Catholic institutions to extend any special benefits we afford to actual marriage to same-sex “marriage” as well. I have asked the Notre Dame administration to work together with the Indiana Catholic Conference on these efforts.
Living in conformity with our Catholic teaching that marriage by its nature is between one man and one woman needs religious liberty protection so we are not forced to treat same-sex unions as equivalent to marriage. Just as it is not unjust to limit the bond of marriage to the union of one man and one woman, the Church teaches that “it is not unjust to oppose granting to homosexual couples benefits that in justice belong to (true) marriage alone” (USCCB, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination”). It is important that this not be interpreted as an attitude of intolerance or bigotry against homosexual persons. The Church strongly upholds the human dignity of homosexual persons while also strongly upholding the truth about marriage. The Church affirms that “persons with a homosexual inclination have the same basic rights as all people” (ibid). The Bishops of the United States, in the Pastoral letter “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” stated the following:
Basic human rights must be afforded to all people. This can and should be done without sacrificing the bedrock of society that is (true) marriage and the family, and without violating the religious liberty of persons and institutions.
I wish to extend my own commitment as bishop to all persons in the Church with a homosexual inclination, especially to your pastoral care and growth in holiness. Our Courage groups in Fort Wayne and South Bend exist to help you in this growth. All of us have the vocation to love. This vocation is lived not only through the vocation of marriage, but also through chaste friendships. I hope you know the Church’s love for you. You are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I encourage you to persevere in your faith within the Catholic community as together we strive to be faithful disciples of Jesus.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
What is Wrong if Everyone is Doing It?
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB
- The Cohabiting Facade
This is a topic that is long overdue. It deals with a problem that is all too prevalent among Catholic young couples today, and that is the problem of cohabitation. It is estimated nationwide that 80 percent of young couples who ask to be married within the Church are already living together. There are still others cohabitating who never ask to be married.
This is not God’s plan for young couple; far from it. Young couples feel strong pressures from their peers and from the dominant culture to begin their sex lives early. Some say they did not intend for this to happen, but they were caught in the current that pulled them in this direction. That is where they drifted.
There is a vast difference between God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family and what our contemporary culture thinks. We all know that morality is not determined by opinion polls, trendsetters, or cultural elites. Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is right, even if nobody is doing it. One, on the side of the right, is a majority. God alone determines the moral order, what is right and what is wrong. God alone designs such basic human realities as human nature, marriage, spousal love and family.
If our young people think that cohabitation is morally acceptable because everyone is doing it, and they have not heard anything to the contrary from the pulpit, then I want to correct that. As an ordained priest, God demands that I teach His plan for marriage, spousal love and family. As my parishioners, you have a right to hear clear and unconfused teaching from this pulpit about God’s plan for us. And I hope that you will help bring this message to cohabitating couples.
What is wrong with cohabitation, and why save sex for marriage?
The best way to answer this is to explain what marriage is, because that is what most young people are preparing themselves for. Marriage is God’s plan for the vast majority of people.
Marriage is a lifetime commitment. When a man and a woman fall in love, and want to share their lives completely with one another, then they begin to move towards an engagement and then to the sacrament of marriage. Marriage requires total commitment, total offering of self to the other, and a willingness to share together whatever the future holds for them. It is “until death do us part.” And marriage demands total fidelity. Jesus’ love for his bride, the Church, and the Church’s love for her spouse, is the model for all Christian marriage.
If you are not married, then you are not ready for the great act of marriage, called the marital act, or the spousal act. Outside of marriage you can have a sexual act, but you cannot have a marital act. Outside of marriage we call sex fornication or adultery. These are serious violations of God’s plan for sex. They are serious sins against the Sixth Commandment that must be repented of and confessed.
Why is the marital act reserved only to husbands and wives in marriage?
Fr. Matthew Habiger
What I say here about a man can be said equally of a woman. Because marriage transforms, or changes, the man from being a single and unattached bachelor to become a husband who is totally committed to the woman who has become his wife. A husband is a man who has vowed to love his wife all the days of his life, in good times and bad times, in health and in sickness, for better or for worse. This marriage vow is irrevocable. It is a bond upon which God has placed his blessing. This is God’s plan for marriage.
The husband and wife begin a new life together, which is their marriage. Their relationship is uniquely theirs. They share themselves, their love, their hopes for the future, and their disappointments at a depth they cannot share with anyone else. They enter into what are called the goods of marriage: 1) total fidelity in their relationship as a married couple throughout their lives; 2) the gift of the child; and 3) a special access to God’s grace, called their sacrament of marriage.
Only a man and a woman who have capacitated themselves, who have made themselves suitable, by their conscious choice of making an irrevocable commitment to marriage, are capable of entering into the marital act. Only spouses can share fully in the various goods of marriage: fidelity, children and the sacrament. Unless and until you have become a spouse, you cannot act as a spouse. If you are not married, it is wrong to pretend that you are married.
The marital act, as God designed it, has a predetermined meaning. In the spousal act the couple open themselves totally to the goodness of love and to the goodness of life. This is what the marital act expresses and what it accomplishes, as God designed it. Each spouse makes the total personal gift of self to the other. This is a total personal gift of self: no conditions, no reservations, and nothing held back. This, of course, includes their fertility. The marital act is a renewal of their love for each other, a renewal of their marriage covenant and an affirmation of their family.
The marital act is always open to the goodness of life, to the great gift of the child. Love and life always go together. Love is never sterile. Love is always open to the goodness of life. In their marital love, the couple reflects something of the Love of God, something of our God who is both the Author of all love and of all life. A married couple must never deliberately choose to turn against the goodness of life, to consider their fertility to be a curse instead of a blessing. That is the great evil of contraception and sterilization.
If a married couple does not have children within a couple of years, they begin to feel that something very important in their relationship is missing. They are missing the precious gift of a uniquely new human being, their son or daughter, who is the fruit of their love. But every child has a right to be conceived by an act of love between his father and his mother, to be called into existence by dedicated parents who will love him or her, and be committed to provide a secure home for the next twenty years. Children rely upon committed parents. The well being of children rests upon the strong marriage of their parents, and the strength of their loving relationship.
In simple language, sex and babies go together. If you are not ready for babies, then you are not ready for sex. And today it takes at least 18 to 20 years to bring a baby to his or her adult life.
This is God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family. It is a magnificent plan, and it is within the grasp of everyone who chooses to accept that plan and draw upon all the helps God provides to make it possible.
Save sex for marriage. That is its only proper home. Outside of marriage, having sex is pretending to be someone you are not. Fornication does not build a strong relationship. There is so much missing from a relationship built upon cohabitation. Cohabitation is a very flimsy construct. Many of them fall apart. Many cohabiters who marry fall into divorce. Their sense of commitment has been crippled. Women deserve men who are deeply committed to them. Children deserve parents who are deeply committed to them.
There are many natural reasons why cohabitation does not work, does not bring lasting happiness. You should already know these. I am concentrating upon the most important reason why cohabitation is wrong. It is wrong because it directly violates God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family.
5 Ways to Stop Cohabitation
Now, if you are caught in the trap of cohabitation, what can be done to correct the situation and repair the damage? Let me briefly set out some sound recommendations.
1) Start learning about God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family. Ask your pastor for some good literature on this. Read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about marriage. Strengthen your prayer life, and use the Sacraments regularly, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.
2) Begin to acquire the virtue of self-possession, of self-control, the virtue of chastity. This is a task that everyone must master, and there are no exceptions. Even in marriage you will need to draw upon this virtue. Periodic abstinence is part of natural family planning, which is the only morally acceptable way of spacing pregnancies.
3) Make separate living arrangements with you partner. Since you are not married, it is wrong to pretend that you are married.
4) If you plan to marry each other, then go through the normal steps that lead to making a permanent commitment in marriage. This means taking a full marriage preparation course. It means learning the basic dynamics that go into building a strong relationship between two imperfect, and very complex, persons of complementary sexuality.
5) I strongly recommend that you take the full course in Natural Family Planning. More and more dioceses are mandating this for all couples taking marriage preparation.
When you have done all these things, then you will be ready for marriage, ready to enjoy all the various goods of marriage, and ready to shoulder the serious responsibilities that accompany this vocation in life.
God wants all couples, including cohabitating couples, to discover his wonderful plan for marriage, spousal love and family. He wants them to enjoy the greatly rewarding goods that are to be found in authentic marriage and spousal love. That is also what I, your pastor, want for you. And that is what this worshiping community, your families and friends want for you.
“A Society which Ignores Human Nature and
Natural Law will soon be without any Foundation”
by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Archdiocese of Denver:
Vote for Life!
“A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern,” Pope Francis told governors last September.This week I want to examine what it means for Catholics to “offer the best of ourselves,” as we prepare for the November election. At my request, the Denver Catholic Register is helping with this effort by publishing a note from Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Catholics in political life over the next few weeks (click to read Part 1, Part 2).
This week’s section addresses some of the key points that must be understood for us to engage in our current political and cultural context.One subject that I want to address is the idea of “single-issue voting.” For Catholics to “meddle in politics” and “offer the best of ourselves,” we have to be well formed in the entirety of our faith. We have to know the hierarchy of truths and understand that some issues are fundamental, while others are less important for our families, fellow citizens, communities and society to truly flourish.Catholics are frequently blamed for being single-issue voters when the topics of abortion and embryonic stem-cell research are raised. But, as the note from the CDF makes clear, the right to life serves as a cornerstone for the foundation of society. Every human being, from the moment of conception until natural death, has a God-given dignity, which a just society recognizes.
The U.S. Bishops’ 2011 document Faithful Citizenship specifically mentions this when it declares, “This exercise of conscience begins with outright opposition to laws and other policies that violate human life or weaken its protection. Those who knowingly, willingly and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil” (#31).
The Right to Life the Highest Consideration in Our Voting
In other words, making the right to life the highest consideration in our voting is not a matter of blindly voting for a candidate because of one issue. It is a matter of understanding that the right to life – which is directly threatened by abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and in some cases, war – is the foundation of all other rights.
When you decide how you will vote, this basic right must be considered indispensable. It is not acceptable to choose an issue of lesser importance, such as party affiliation, and let it determine your vote. Faithful Citizenship notes, “…a well-formed conscience … recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight” (#37).
In the current political landscape, this often leaves Catholics with difficult choices. It may mean deciding to vote for an imperfect candidate who you think is less likely to advance a morally flawed position and more likely to advance policies that truly benefit society and the dignity of every human being.
The Growing Spread of Relativism must be Rejected
The note from the CDF also makes a crucial distinction about living in a diverse society. It is important to not fall victim to the false and dangerous idea that there are no truths common to all people. The growing spread of relativism – the idea that each person has his or her own truth – must be rejected. People must realize that a society which ignores human nature and natural law will soon be without any foundation and will eventually disintegrate.
This November every person of voting age will be asked to exercise their faith and discern how these principles factor into who you vote for. As your shepherd, I ask that you take this responsibility seriously and work to fully form your conscience. Be not afraid to bring your faith into the voting booth, just as non-believers bring their values into the voting booth.
May the Holy Spirit pour out his gifts of wisdom, counsel and understanding on you!
“The Catholic is Headed to Hell”
by Fr. Chris Pietraszko:
Prior to Vatican II, the Church emphasized much of the law itself, understanding it to be a bond of unity and discipline. While many did not seek to understand the purpose of the law itself, but rather agreed to it without much critical thinking, there is a sort of beauty to this type of faith that we cannot find in the modern Catholic who submits every matter to his own personal examination. First of all, to trust one’s leaders and teachers is a wonderful thing. Of course this can be done in a naïve sense, but when one is faithful to the Church and encounters her teaching in a universal way in every school and homily, there is no real need to question. The consistency itself is a declaration of unity amongst the community of the faithful. However, because of the defect in this generation which at times reprehended individuals for questioning or seeking to understand in a deeper manner God’s laws promulgated and clarified by the Church, led to another extreme, namely the liberal Vatican II generation. (not to be confused with suggesting Vatican II is wrong).
Replacing the Faith with Buddhist Prayers
Replacing the Baltimore Catechism with Crayons
The Vatican II generation removed the very concrete reality of the faith. She took away the Baltimore Catechism and replaced it with crayons. Confirmation programs began to consist of tracing your hand on a paper, and playing games. We traded in an intelligent faith with sentimentalities, lawlessness, emotivism and stupidity. Abstract theology replaced concrete, clear Church teaching.
As a result we have so many various groups reacting to this abstract faith that enables the faithful to define for themselves how to apply God’s commandment to Love God and neighbour. The blasphemy I have observed in Church meetings where Buddhist prayers are recited, clergy promote LGBT programs has instilled within the Church utter confusion and the false hope that one day things will eventually change the concupiscable appetite of man into something to be considered “natural.”
“The Catholic is Headed to Hell”
An abstract faith has led to the absence of discipline, which is the only means to discover freedom from disordered desires. Man is vicious, for he has rationalized his own disordered desires to be the only means to true happiness. The Catholic is headed to hell, but convinced heaven is his destination, and priests give communion to such souls as if this will lead to their conversation, rather than a false sense of security.
God help an abstract Church, who has climbed the mountain of the ego and settled into her ivory tower of ideas, that when applied to reality are entirely illogical and meaningless. You are offended you say? Who cares, you are the offender. Fall from your tower, hit rock bottom, come back down to earth with your theology.
Without coming back to earth, you have no humility, and you live in your illusion.
The Question of a Man’s Eternal Destiny Comes Down to This:
by Father Ryan Erlenbush, The New Theological Movement
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
“Do you really think that God is going to send me to hell just because I skipped Mass one Sunday?! I mean, I was on vacation!”
Father Ryan Erlenbush
To this, we must respond, “If you die without true repentance, you will surely go to hell.”
Speaking to the prophet Ezekiel, Our Lord makes clear that one mortal sin causes not only the loss of the state of grace, but also the loss of all previous merit. For, by a single mortal sin, by which a just man turneth himself away from his justice and comitteth iniquity, all the good he has done will be set aside and forgotten, and he will not live buthe shall die eternally.
The Question of a Man’s Eternal Destiny Comes Down to This:
Without sanctifying grace habitually present in the soul, no man can possibly be saved. The question of a man’s eternal destiny comes down to this: If he should die in the state of grace, with the divine life present in his soul, he will live eternally in heaven. If he should die in mortal sin, without the divine life present in his soul through grace, he will die eternally in hell.
Let us consider why all the good deeds of a lifetime are not enough to save a man who dies in the state of mortal sin.
If the just man turn himself away from his justice and do iniquity … all his justices which he hath done shall not be remembered. (Ezekiel 18:24)
Merit – Condign and Congruous
What may be difficult for some to accept is the fact that all previous merit is lost through a single mortal sin. Some are tempted to state, “Even if I commit a mortal sin, won’t God judge based on my whole life? Won’t he remember the many good things I have done in the past?” However, when we have a proper understanding of merit, it is clear that all previous good works and merits are lost entirely by a single mortal sin.
Merit is divinded into condign and congruous merit. Condign merit is the value of a man’s good works when considered as coming from the Holy Spirit. Congruous merit is the value of those same works considered as coming from the man himself who is a friend of God. Both types of merit can only be gained when a man is in the state of grace – for without sanctifying grace, the Holy Spirit is not present in his soul after the manner which gains condign merit; and further, the man is not a friend of God but his enemy and therefore cannot gain congruous merit.
Why a man loses all previous grace through one mortal sin
Once the divine life is cut off within through a fall to mortal sin, all the growth of that divine life is likewise lost. For this reason, the preceding acts of goodness which were in themselves meritorious even of eternal life are entirely forgotten and set aside by a single mortal sin – even as much as no amount of previous nutrition can be of present benefit to a corpse.
If we make this comparison of the life of the soul to the life of the body, it becomes quite clear that mortal sin (which kills the soul) erases all previous grace. Consider the case of a man who has lived a long and happy life, and taken good care of his body through the years. Now, after that man should die, may any look at the corpse and insist that it must be alive because it had after all lived for so many years and had received such good care over those years? Of course not!
In the same manner, consider a soul which has lived in the state of grace for many years and which has been nourished by the sacraments and other graces. Now, after that soul should fall into mortal sin and die spiritually, may any look at that corpse of a soul and insist that she must yet be alive because she had been in the state of grace for so many preceding years? Of course not!
And if the soul should be found dead by the Judge, his just pronouncement upon her must be nothing else but to admit her spiritual death. And, if a soul is spiritually dead when coming before the Judgment Seat, she will die an eternal death in hell – because only the living may be admitted to the life of heaven. No amount of previous life will be of any benefit to such a soul, for she is now dead.
Must God restore graces to a soul after repentance?
Further, God has no obligation to restore the soul to her previous state if she should repent after a fall. While we do have hope that, in his mercy, he would do this, it must be clear that he is under no such obligation and that the soul can in no way lay any claim to this gift.
All those merits and good works are lost, by virtue of the death of the soul in mortal sin. If she should repent and turn to the Lord so that she may live, it is quite true that God will forgive and set aside all previous sins, but it does not follow that he will thereby recall all previous good works and merits.
Nevertheless, we may hope that God would do this for the soul. We may hope that, even after a fall, the Good God would lift the soul at least some way back to where she had been – and that he would credit to her at least some of her previous merits.
Devotion to Mary and restoration after a fall
We must be clear: No one has any claim to the restoration of previous merits after a fall into mortal sin. However, St. Louis Marie De Montfort does give an indication of where we ought to turn and in whom we should trust if we desire to keep safe our merits and previous good works even in the midst of our own inconsistency and imperfection. We must turn to Mary.
Consider the following words from “The Secret of Mary” which, although not directly stating that Mary will preserve our merits even if we should fall, at least gives us every reason to have great confidence in the most loving of all mothers:
“In adopting this devotion, we put our graces, merits and virtues into safe keeping by making Mary the depositary of them.
“It is as if we said to her, “See, my dear Mother, here is the good that I have done through the grace of your dear Son. I am not capable of keeping it, because of my weakness and inconstancy, and also because so many wicked enemies are assailing me day and night. Alas, every day we see cedars of Lebanon fall into the mire, and eagles which had soared towards the sun become birds of darkness, a thousand of the just falling to the left and ten thousand to the right. But, most powerful Queen, hold me fast lest I fall. Keep a guard on all my possessions lest I be robbed of them. I entrust all I have to you, for I know well who you are, and that is why I confide myself entirely to you. You are faithful to God and man, and you will not suffer anything I entrust to you to perish. You are powerful, and nothing can harm you or rob you of anything you hold.”
“”When you follow Mary you will not go astray; when you pray to her, you will not despair; when your mind is on her, you will not wander; when she holds you up, you will not fall; when she protects you, you will have no fear; when she guides you, you will feel no fatigue; when she is on your side, you will arrive safely home” (Saint Bernard).
“And again, “She keeps her Son from striking us; she prevents the devil from harming us; she preserves virtue in us; she prevents our merits from being lost and our graces from receding.”
“These words of St Bernard explain in substance all that I have said. Had I but this one motive to impel me to choose this devotion, namely, that of keeping me in the grace of God and increasing that grace in me, my heart would burn with longing for it.”
We are in a Sinfully Confused Cultural Setting
By: Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington
We live in times in which many call good or “no big deal” what God calls sinful. This is especially true in the area of sexuality, where whole sectors of our society not only tolerate but even celebrate sexual practices that the Scriptures call gravely sinful, and which will lead to Hell if not repented of. Acts of fornication (pre-marital sex) and homosexual acts cannot be considered acceptable by any Catholic or by any person who sincerely accepts the Scripture as the Word of God. And even for those who do not share our faith, acts of fornication and homosexual acts can be plainly seen to cause great harm in the manner in which they spread serious disease, harm marriage and family, lead to abortion, and for the children who do survive abortion, subject them to having single mothers, absent fathers, and a lack of the best environment which they are due.
Fornication is a mortal sin and those who do not repent of it will go to Hell . . .
I want to focus today on the terrible and mortal sin of fornication and present the clear biblical teaching against it. Tomorrow I will do the same regarding homosexual acts. Sadly, many Catholics say their pulpits and classrooms are silent about these issues. The hope in this post today is to present a resounding, biblical trumpet call to purity which leaves no ambiguity as to the sinfulness of sex before marriage. Scripture is clear: fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God. That is to say, fornication is a mortal sin and those who do not repent of it will go to Hell.
The Virtue of Chasity
The usual conditions for mortal sin apply (grave matter (which fornication is), sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will). However, we ought not lightly conclude that these conditions are seldom met. I have met with many couples preparing for marriage who are sexually active and I have never found them to be surprised that I rebuke them for this. They know it is wrong. The voice of God stills echoes in their consciences. And as for consent of the will, it can be admitted that some fall occasionally in a weak moment. But consistent fornicating, with no measures taken to prevent it, is not “weakness”; it is sinful neglect of prudence and common sense.
We are in a sinfully confused cultural setting . . .
We are in a sinfully confused cultural setting in which many either celebrate or make little effort to avoid what God calls a very serious sin. The Church cannot lack clarity and pulpits and classrooms have often been silent. Such silence has led to parents themselves being silent. And silence has been taken for approval.
But fornication cannot be approved of. It is sinful and may well exclude many unrepentant sinners from Heaven. Our charity for souls must compel our clarity about the grave sinfulness of premarital sex and cohabitation.
Let us turn our attention to the biblical text.
The following quotes from the New Testament are passages that clearly condemn fornication and other unclean or impure actions. Again, fornication is the most common biblical word for premarital sex. The gravity and clarity of such condemnations are helpful in the sense that they help us to take such matters seriously and steer clear of them. However, the condemnations should not be seen in isolation from God’s mercy, as He never fails to forgive those who come to Him with a humble and contrite heart. God hates sin but He loves sinners and is full of mercy and compassion for them. But this mercy must be accessed through repentance.
With this in mind, read the following passages from the New Testament, which condemn fornication and other forms of sexual impurity:
THAT THERE IS A PRESCRIPTION TO GENERAL SEXUAL PURITY –
Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or crude joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No fornicator, no impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with worthless arguments. These are sins that bring God’s wrath down upon the disobedient; therefore, have nothing to do with them (Ephesians 5:3-7).
THAT UNREPENTANT FORNICATORS ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE KINGDOM –
1. The one who sat on the throne said to me, “See I make all things new!” Then he said, “Write these matters down for the words are trustworthy and true!” He went on to say: “These words are already fulfilled! I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone who thirsts I will give to drink without cost from the spring of life giving water. He who wins the victory shall inherit these gifts and he shall be my son. As for the cowards and traitors to the faith, the depraved and murderers, the fornicators and sorcerers, the idol-worshipers and deceivers of every sort – their lot is the fiery pool of burning sulphur, the second death!” (Revelation 21:5-8)
2. Happy are they who wash their robes so as to have free access to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates! Outside are the dogs and sorcerers, the fornicators and murderers, the idol-worshipers and all who love falsehood. It is I Jesus who have sent my angel to give you this testimony about the Churches (Rev. 22:14-16).
3. No fornicator, no impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5).
4. I warn you, as I have warned you before: those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God! (Gal 5:21)
THAT SINS OF THE FLESH CRUSH THE SPIRIT WITHIN US –
My point is that you should live in accord with the Spirit and you will not yield to the cravings of the flesh. The Flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed. This is why you do not do what your will intends. If you are guided by the spirit you are not under the law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, bickering jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I have warned you before: those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God! (Galatians 5:16-21)
THAT EVEN OUR THOUGHT LIFE IS SUMMONED TO PURITY –
1. You have heard the commandment “You shall not commit adultery.” What I say you to is, Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts. If your right eye is your trouble, gouge it out and throw it away! Better to lose part of your body than to have it all cast into Gehenna. Again, if your right hand is your trouble, cut it off and throw it away! Better to lose part of your body than to have it all cast into Gehenna (Matthew 5:27-30).
2.From the mind stem evil designs – murder, adulterous conduct, fornication, stealing, false witness, blasphemy. These are the things that make a man impure (Matt. 15:19-20).
3. Wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart: acts of fornication, theft, murder, adulterous conduct, greed, maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, an obtuse spirit. All these evils come from within and render a man impure (Mark 7:21).
THAT SEXUAL IMPURITY IS A FORM OF WORLDLINESS AND IDOLATRY –
Put to death whatever in your nature is rooted in earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires and that lust which is idolatry. These are sins which provoke God’s wrath (Colossians 3:5-6).
THAT MY BODY IS NOT MY OWN TO DO WITH MERELY AS I PLEASE –
Can you not realize that the unholy will not fall heir to the Kingdom of God? Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you have been washed, consecrated, justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Do you not see that your bodies are members of Christ? Would you have me take Christ’s members and make them members of a prostitute? God forbid! Can you not see that the man who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? Scripture says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun lewd conduct. Every other sin a man commits is outside of his body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within – the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased at a price. So glorify God in your body (I Cor. 6:9-11, 15-20).
THAT THE CALL TO CHRISTIAN PURITY IS NOT MERELY A HUMAN OPINION; IT IS GOD’S DECLARED TRUTH. FURTHER, SEXUAL SIN IS A FORM OF INJUSTICE -
Now my brothers, we beg and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, even as you learned from us how to conduct yourselves in a way pleasing to God – which you are indeed doing – so you must learn to make still greater progress. You know the instructions we gave you in the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you grow in holiness: that you abstain from sexual immorality, each of you guarding his member in sanctity and honor, not in passionate desire as do the Gentiles who know not God; and that each must refrain from overreaching or cheating his brother in the matter at hand; for the Lord is the avenger of all such things, as we once indicated to you by our testimony. God has not called us to sexual immorality but to holiness; hence whoever rejects these instructions rejects, not man, but God who sends the Holy Spirit upon you (I Thess. 4:1-8).
THAT FORNICATION AND OTHER SEXUAL SINS ARE NUMBERED AMONG THE MORE SERIOUS SINS –
We know that the Law is good, provided one uses it in the way law is supposed to be used — that is, with the understanding that it is aimed, not at good men but at the lawless and unruly, the irreligious and the sinful, the wicked and the godless, men who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, fornicators, sexual perverts, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and those who in other ways flout the sound teaching that pertains to the glorious gospel of God — blessed be he — with which I have been entrusted (I Timothy 1:8-11).
THAT FORNICATION AND ADULTERY DISHONOR MARRIAGE –
Let Marriage be honored in every way and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Heb 13:4).
Therefore do not be deceived; fornication is a serious sin. It is a mortal sin. It is a sin that excludes one who does not repent of it from Heaven. It offends God, harms children and the family, spreads disease, encourages abortion, is an injustice against children and society, dishonors marriage, and merits strong punishment, as God’s Word declares.
Do not despair of God’s mercy, but do repent. Mercy is accessed only by repentance. Little more needs to be said. It is wrong—seriously wrong—to fornicate. Repent at once and without delay.
Sins Against Purity Are Not Limited To Those With Homosexual Tendencies!
By: Msgr. Charles Pope
Editor’s Note: As Our Lady of Fatima Warned in 1917 “More Souls Go To Hell For Sins of the Flesh Than For Any Other Reason.”
In recent years, homosexuality has frequently been in the news. An increasingly nationwide effort to make homosexual acts something to celebrate has gained great ground and sowed serious confusion even among those who describe themselves as Christian and Catholic. Hence, it is necessary once again to instruct on this matter and to reassert what Scripture plainly teaches and why the Church cannot affirm what the world demands we affirm.
An essential fact is that the Scriptures are very clear in unambiguously, uncompromisingly declaring homosexual acts as a serious sin and as disordered. “Disordered” here means that they are acts that are not ordered to their proper end or purpose. Sexual acts are, by their very nature, ordered to procreation and to the bonding of the mother and father who will raise the children conceived by their sexual intimacy. These ends or purposes have been intrinsically joined by God, and we are not to separate what what God has joined. In the Old Testament, Scripture describes the sinful and disordered quality of homosexual acts by the use of the word “abomination,” and in the New Testament, St. Paul calls homosexual acts “paraphysin” (contrary to nature).
Attempts by some to reinterpret Scripture to mean something else are fanciful, at best, and use theories that require twisted logic and questionable historical views in an attempt to set aside the very plain meaning of the texts.
Likewise in the wider culture, among those who do not accept Scripture, there has been an increasingly insistent refusal to acknowledge what the design of the human body plainly discloses: that the man is for the woman, and the woman is for the man. The man is not for the man, nor the woman for the woman. This is plainly set forth in the design of our bodies. The outright refusal to see what is plainly visible and literally built into our bodies is not only a sign of intellectual stubbornness and darkness (cf Rom 1:18, 21), but it also leads to significant issues with health, even to deadly diseases.
And we who believe in the definitive nature of scriptural teaching on all aspects of human sexuality are not merely considered out-of-date by many in our culture, but are being increasingly pressured to affirm what we cannot reasonably affirm. Cardinal Francis George recently expressed the current situation in this way:
In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger .
Whatever pressures many may wish to place on the Church to conform, however they may wish to “shame” us into compliance by labeling us with adjectives such as bigoted, homophobic, or intolerant, we cannot comply with their demands. We must remain faithful to scriptural teaching, to our commitment to natural law, and to Sacred Tradition. We simply cannot affirm things such as fornication and homosexual acts and reject the revelation of the body as it comes from God.
What some call intolerance or “hatred” is, for us who believe, rather, a principled stance wherein we see ourselves as unable to overrule the clear and unambiguous teaching of Holy Scripture. And this teaching exists at every stage of revelation, from the opening pages right through to the final books of Sacred Writ. The Church has no power to override what God has said; we cannot cross out sentences or tear pages from the Scripture. Neither can we simply reverse Sacred Tradition or pretend that the human body, as God has designed it, does not manifest what it clearly does.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church announces this principled stance with eloquence and with an understanding of the difficulties encountered by those with same-sex attraction:
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection (CCC 2357-2359).
We can speak no other way. We do not detest those of same sex-attraction, but we as a Church owe them the same truth we have always proclaimed as coming from God, and out of respect we must hold them to the same standards of chastity by which all must live.
There can be no sexual intercourse for any who are not in a valid heterosexual marriage. We cannot give approval for it; we do not have the power to do this, no matter how insistent, forceful, or even punitive the demands that we do so become. This will not change because it cannot change.
Homosexuals are not being singled out in this matter. As we saw in yesterday’s post, fornication (pre-marital sex) is also set forth by scripture and tradition as a very serious mortal sin (cf Eph 5:5- 7; Gal 5:16-21; Rev 21:5-8; Rev. 22:14-16; Mt. 15:19-20; 1 Cor 6:9-20; Col 3:5-6; 1 Thess 4:1-8; 1 Tim 1:8-11; Heb 13:4). It cannot be approved no matter how widespread its acceptance becomes. One standard of sexual norms applies to all people, whatever their orientation.
Sadly those of unalterable same-sex attraction have no recourse to marriage. But all of us bear burdens of one sort or another, and not everyone is able to partake in everything life offers. For the sake of holiness, heroic witness is necessary, and many of those with same-sex attraction do live celibately and give admirable witness to the power of grace.
God must have the final word in this. And so I present to you here some selections from Sacred Scripture that clearly teach against homosexual acts. The witness of Scripture in this regard is very consistent across all the ages of biblical Revelation. From the opening pages of Holy Writ to the final books, homosexual acts, along with fornication and adultery, are unambiguously forbidden and described as gravely sinful. In addition, homosexual acts, because they are contrary to nature and to the revelation of the body and the nature of the sexual act, are often described as acts of depravity or as an “abomination.” Some consider such words unpleasant or hurtful. I understand, but they are the words that Scripture uses. Here is a sample of Scriptural teaching against homosexual acts:
- You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18: 22).
- If a man lies with a male as with a female, both of them have committed an abomination (Lev 20:13).
- Likewise, the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah depicts, among other things, the sinfulness of homosexual activity. It is too lengthy to reproduce here in its entirety, but you can read about it in Genesis 19.
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them…in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct (Romans 1:18ff).
- Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6-9).
- The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, for those who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.(1 Timothy 1: 8-11).
And this is the testimony of Sacred Scripture. To these could be added other passages, along with a long list of quotes from the Fathers and from Sacred Tradition, with Councils and other teaching documents from the earliest days of the Church until today.
To those who like to object that Jesus himself never spoke of homosexual acts, I would give these three responses:
- It was not a disputed matter among the Jews to whom he preached.
- Jesus said to his apostles, “He who hears you hears me.” And therefore Jesus does speak through St. Paul and the other epistle writers.
- The same Holy Spirit that authored the Gospels also authored the Epistles. There are not different authors or levels of authority in Sacred Writ. What St. Paul says is no less authoritative or inspired than what the evangelists recorded.
The teaching of the Church regarding the sinfulness of homosexual acts, fornication, and adultery cannot change, attested to as they are in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. The Church can only offer the truth to all the faithful and to all in this world, along with her promise of God’s mercy to those who seek repentance and who now desire to live chastely. To those who refuse, she continues to give warning and to pray both for conversion and for rescue from the deceptions of the world and the evil one.
Cardinal George summarized well both the reason we cannot approve homosexual acts and the solution of celibacy for those of same-sex attraction: The biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations . Clear and concise. Thank you, Cardinal George.
For more information and support for those who have same-sex attraction, see here: Courage
Originally posted at: blogadw.org