The Extraordinary Value of the Priesthood
By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Jesus said: “The Harvest is rich but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers.” Essential to the extension of the Kingdom and the salvation of souls is the Sacrament of Holy Orders, that we call the priesthood.
One of the greatest priests in the history of the Church, who spent close to forty years in the Parish of Ars, spending from thirteen to eighteen hours on a daily basis in the confessional, reconciling souls to God, commented on the indispensable presence of the priesthood. This was the Saint John M. Vianney, known as the Cure of Ars (1786-1859). This saint knew the extraordinary value of the priesthood: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.”
Let us listen to the exact words of the Cure of Ars and then translate them into the application in our spiritual lives. Some of the words and quotations of the Cure of Ars are overwhelming in depth and beauty but of the utmost simplicity. Let us read and meditate and then apply:
“O how great is the priest! If he realized what he is he would die… God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from Heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host. Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in the tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for the journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest—always the priest. And if the soul should happen to die (as a result of sin) who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again the priest. After God, the priest is everything. Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is.”
Following will be a brief commentary on all the sublime functions the priest carries out so as to glorify God in heaven and for the salvation of the souls on earth.
If there is no priest, then there is no Holy Mass; if there is no Holy Mass, then there is no consecration of the Sacred Host; if there is not consecration of the Sacred Host then there is no Holy Communion; then if there is no Holy Communion there is no Sacramental Presence of Jesus. That means that we become spiritual orphans. We become like a ship without a port, an arrow without a target, a scout without compass, a dog without his master. We wander through life aimless and with no clear purpose.
The same great Saint made the following observation. In all the key spiritual moments in our lives, who is present? Baptism? Usually it is the priest who God uses as the instrument to transform that child into a son/daughter of God. Confession? It is only the priest who is the means by which we are reconciled to God through the outpouring of the Blood of the Lamb that cleanses our souls and consciences of sin and guilt that weighs us down so heavily. Finally we can experience true peace of soul! First Holy Communion? It was the priest who celebrated Holy Mass, confected the Eucharist and gave us the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus the Lord.
Confirmation? It was the Bishop, who has the fullness of the priesthood, who confirmed us by which we were fortified by the presence of the Holy Spirit, ready to be soldiers of Christ to both spread and defend the faith. What about Holy Matrimony? It was most likely the priest who sat down explaining the sublime vocation of Holy Matrimony, the importance of being faithful until death do we part and the importance of being open to life and bringing forth children into the world so that one day they will be eternal citizens of Heaven.
Anointing of the Sick? It is the priest that we spontaneously call when we see our grandmother, mother or any person’s health has so seriously declined that they might die. It is the priest who anoints them with holy oil by which they are strengthened to fight the good fight and unite their sufferings to the sufferings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Death and burial? Who is present at the Funeral Mass praying for our loved one who has passed away and has gone to be judged by Jesus who will come to judge the living and the dead? We all must pass through the gateway of death and pass from the realms of time into eternity. It is the priest, acting in the person of Christ, while celebrating Holy Mass, who offers the Victim Jesus to the Father for the purification and salvation of this immortal soul.
Family problems? Often when family problems set in who is it that the family will have recourse to as a means to work through these tangled and intricate and knotty problems? Frequently it is the person of the priest who comes to mind. The priest becomes the listener, the sounding board, the counsellor as well as the consoler to save the family from capsizing and sinking into the depths of sadness and oblivion! It is the priest who, like a human sponge, absorbs all of the problems in his heart and offers them to Jesus the Eternal priest for healing and salvation.
Sorrows and sufferings of all sorts? When sorrows, sufferings, contradictions, and depression visits our homes and hearts, who is it that we seek out as a solution for problems that seem to be beyond the realm of solution? It is the priest! It is the priest that listens to the problems. It is the priest who opens up his heart to hear and understand. It is the priest who is called to the ministry of compassion. Exactly what does this word compassion mean? Compassion means the willingness and the ability to suffer with those who suffer.
Listening? Who is the one we seek out to listen to our inner anguish and agony, because we know others either do not know how to listen or they simply do not want to listen attentively. It is the priest the one that we seek out to be heard, listened to and to be understood. How true this is! Often we might come into the priest overloaded with moral, emotional, spiritual baggage that we know not where to dump it, to leave it and to be alleviated from this burdensome weight. Then the priest receives us and invites us to be open and bare our hearts and reveal our tortured consciences.
Listening and healing. How often this is the scenario! We unload all of our baggage and the priest is simply there to listen. We weep, cry, complain, get angry, and blurt out nonsensical ideas in our anguish and confusion. And the hands on the clock fly by—already 50 minutes and then an hour has flown by! The poor priest has barely even opened up his mouth to say a word! After this session of unloading, we get up renewed, energized, with healing and hope. Overflowing in gratitude we tell the priest thanks a million times for having been of great help to resolve these—so to speak—impossible problems!
Prayer? How often have we felt totally overwhelmed with life and problems that seem to be a mountain in size and weight? We want help and we know only God can help us. Who then is it that we turn to with faith and trust to intercede on our behalf and to pray for us so that this problem will be resolved or at least we can cope with the problem better? It is the priest. The priest becomes the intercessor or the mediator for us between heaven and earth.
Our Lady. Let us then turn to Our Lady who is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Mother or all mankind, but especially she is the Mother of priests. Let us beg Our Lady to place her mantle of love and protection and comfort over all priests so that they would be protected from the fiery darts of the enemy, also that they would be protected from the devil of discouragement. Let us beg Our Lady to pray for priests that they would strive with all of the energy in their minds, hearts and souls to conform themselves to Jesus the High and eternal priest. May Our Lady’s prayers help them to recognize that Jesus is the High and Eternal priest—how lofty and sublime—but also that Jesus is very close to them as their best Friend in time and He will be their best Friend in heaven for all eternity.
No Law can be Based on Injustice
By Bishop James Conley: In 2010, the United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was designed by President Obama and Congressional leaders to expand access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage in the United States.
After the law passed, President Obama said that the Affordable Care Act’s goal was “making affordable coverage available to all Americans, including those with preexisting conditions.”
In fact, this is a noble goal. Ensuring reasonably priced and accessible health care is a public good, one that the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls a duty of every political state. The Catechism teaches that, “the political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially, in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits.”
Bishop Conley: “The Affordable Care Act undermines the right of every family, every citizen, and every religious institution to live according to the dictates of their conscience.”
Ensuring the right to medical care is a part of the state’s duty to assist the family. The family is the sovereign and fundamental unit of every community, and the goal of the state is to support the family. While the Affordable Care Act undertakes the noble goal of health insurance coverage, it also causes great disruption to families across the United States.
Whether the Affordable Care Act has actually helped more families to gain insurance coverage is a question for economists and policy analysts. Whether it is an efficient, affordable, and sustainable program is a matter for further study. But what is clear is that the Affordable Care Act undermines the right of every family, every citizen, and every religious institution to live according to the dictates of their conscience.
The Affordable Care Act still requires many business owners and religious institutions to provide and facilitate contraceptive coverage, in violation of their consciences. Although many federal courts have considered this issue, and the Supreme Court has expanded conscience rights to some businesses, many religious institutions are still required by law to ignore or deny the basic convictions of their fundamental beliefs. Providing universal access to contraception does not support the family—it undermines the dignity of women, the dignity of marriage, and the meaning of our God-given sexuality.
We face many threats to our religious liberty in the United States. All of them are serious. But the contraceptive mandate remains among the most profoundly offensive threats to religious liberty in our country. We need to continue to oppose it, and to support those who fight it, in courtrooms, and legislatures, and in the realm of healthcare administration.
This week, President Obama was invited to address the leadership of the Catholic Health Association—a group that represents and supports Catholic hospital systems across the country. He addressed concerns about the future of healthcare, especially the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act threatens the religious liberty of American Christians, and the president’s address failed to recognize that.
The Catholic Health Association claimed to be “delighted and honored” to welcome President Obama to their assembly. Of course, patriotism is a virtue, and we should always be glad to dialogue with our civic leaders. But we should also tell the truth. This week, thousands of Catholic doctors, members of the Catholic Medical Association, called upon the president to withdraw his threats to our basic religious liberties. We should be truly “delighted” when the Affordable Care Acts ceases to threaten our fundamental religious liberties.
Thousands of doctors, from across the country, understand that health care coverage should not come at the expense of the rights of families, or the rights of religious believers. No just law can be based on injustice. Each one of us needs to continue to pray for the end to the contraceptive mandate, the end to federal support for abortion rights, and for authentic health care reform, which makes health insurance affordable while supporting the fundamental, God-given rights of the family.
by Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton,
Communion with God requires obedience to His ways and follow the voice revealed to us in His Church. Fr. Stephen Hamilton
Let us never take for granted that the Holy Eucharist is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Jesus Christ. We should never take this for granted because the Holy Eucharist is the greatest treasure Christ left to his Church, for it is his resurrected living flesh, his Real Presence by which, when we consume it worthily, we participate in his gift of salvation leading to eternal life. This gift is no mere bread and wine and so it should never be treated as mere bread and wine. No, what comes to us from the sacred altar is Jesus’ presence, and it is our nourishment on the journey to heaven.
Communion Requires Obedience
Let us recall that, after God gave His people the first Passover and Exodus, God established a new covenant with His people on Mt. Sinai, giving them all His words and ordinances. After the people twice promise to do all that the Lord God has said, Moses sprinkles the people with blood from an animal sacrifice. This blood of the covenant symbolizes God’s desire to make His people members of his own family, his “blood” relations. But the reading shows us that it is not only simply by being sprinkled with blood that makes a person a member of God’s covenant. Rather, to belong to God’s family also requires that a person live in communion with God’s commands. Communion requires obedience.
During the Last Supper we hear Jesus speak words especially over the chalice that borrow heavily from Moses’ words. Jesus says his Body is food and that the chalice is the Blood of the covenant shed for many. While Moses’ words were symbolic, Jesus transforms the Passover to a new and higher reality. God has truly entered a communion with us by taking on our flesh. He calls us to truly be his flesh and blood relatives, by a sacred communion with this true Body and Blood in Holy Communion. This is the new covenant Christ established with his people. And the Old Testament lesson remains true for us: Communion with God requires obedience to His ways. Our family membership with Christ must first be marked by our agreement to do all he says, to keep his teachings, to follow his voice revealed to us in his Church. First being in communion with Christ by our keeping of his teaching, then we are eligible to come forward to receive Holy Communion, then we enter an even deeper communion with God in the flesh.
And when, like the people of the Old Covenant, we sin and fail to live as we ought, we must be purified again, cleansed, as we heard in Hebrews, “from dead works to worship the living God.” Here we have God among us. He is with us in the gift he transforms from ordinary bread and wine to become his Real Presence, his Body and here by returning to the Father his greatest gift to us: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But our covenant must also be reflected in how we live each moment of each day. Our covenant membership in God’s family requires our obedience to Christian moral living. With our consciences cleansed, we come here to call upon the name of the Lord. With awe for the Holy Eucharist, may we live our faith well as a clear sign to others and a pledge to God that we desire nothing but life in his family.
The Scriptural pattern shows us that by word and by sacrifice a covenant family is established with God. This is the meaning of the ordinances of which Moses spoke in the first reading along with the altar and the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificial animals. The gospel shows us Jesus establishing a new covenant, this time not by animals but the very sacrifice of God Himself. This new covenant sacrifice was brought to completion in the sacrifice of the Cross by which the disciples came to see with new eyes what Jesus meant by saying: “This is my body; this is my blood.” The word of promise followed by sacrifice creates covenantal family.
The Relationship between the Eucharist and Marriage
And so, as we reflect on the Body and Blood of Jesus, I want to draw a connection between Jesus’ New Covenant established by word and by his sacrifice to the covenant established by a man and a woman in Holy Matrimony. By the exchange of their vows, especially within Holy Mass, a husband and wife rest their own commitment upon the total self-gift of Jesus. It is Jesus who is the solid foundation of the covenant a Catholic makes by marrying in the Catholic Church. And how is that covenant between spouses established? This is an important lesson for all who live the vocation of holy matrimony. The covenant of holy matrimony is established by word and by sacrifice. The vows spouses make are the public proclamation before God and His people that from that day forward they belong exclusively to one another and to no one else. These vows are the words that initiate a covenant family. But never forget what must follow those words: sacrifice. I hope no one will think I am trying to be provocative, but in a real way, pure conjugal love, open to the transmission of life as God’s gift, will be a most intimate sacrifice by which spouses speak of the totality of their gift of self to one another. By this love spouses speak in their own proper vocation the words of Jesus: This is my body, given up for you. That intimate gift of self belongs within marriage and it must be the pinnacle of the many daily sacrifices, small and large, that spouses make for one another.
When your words, your deeds, and your bodies speak of sacrifice your love will grow to become more like that of Jesus. In this you will find lasting joy as you journey in this life toward fullness of life with the family of God in heaven. Communion with God and full life in His covenant family requires obedience to His word and to His sacrifice. For each Christian, no matter his age or his vocation, the Holy Eucharist is the pledge from God Himself that He is never far from us. He awaits us to come visit Him in adoration. He desires us to live our family membership worthily so that we may receive Him with reverence in Holy Communion. He becomes present on the sacred altar to be worshiped at Holy Mass. He remains with us so that we are strengthened to draw others into deeper commitment to the covenant family in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Catholics Must Not be Afraid to Fight to Defeat Sin, to Defend God’s Commandments,
Defend the Integrity of Your Faith and Your Chastity
by Bishop Athanasius Schneider:
Translated by Countercultural Father
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
My dear brothers and sisters,
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, “Don’t be afraid to be a hero.”
During Pentecost, the Holy Ghost filled the hearts of the faithful with his Divine presence, and their souls with his seven-fold gifts, and above all with the gift of Divine love. It is from that day that the fire of Divine love started to burn in their souls.
What are the effects of that Divine fire? It is the transformation of our weak and inconstant human love into a supernatural love. Thanks to that supernatural love, we are able to love God with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Above all, the fire of Divine love in our soul gives us the virtue of fortitude. That virtue of fortitude has, for two thousand years, given the faithful the capacity to prefer death to the betrayal of their baptismal promises, to prefer to die rather than to sin, to die rather than to betray their priestly vows, to die rather than to betray their religious vows.
Neo-Marxist Ideology of Gender
Today, there are families, young people, priests and bishops who, in order to remain faithful to God’s commandments, are often marginalised, ridiculed and persecuted by the dictatorial power of the new worldwide neo-Marxist ideology of gender, and the cult of the earth and the climate. Moreover, there are also families, young people, priests, seminarians, and even bishops who are marginalized and ridiculed, sometimes even in the ecclesiastical domain, because of their fidelity to the integrity of the Catholic Faith, and to Divine Worship according to the tradition of the apostles and of our ancestors.
Faithful Catholics are the Object of Attack
Pentecost is also the day when we celebrate the visible birth of the Church, which is the great family of all the adopted sons of God. There is also, of course, another Divine creation called the human family, made up of a father, a mother and their children. Our Savior Jesus Christ raised the natural family to the dignity of being the domestic Church thanks to the sacrament of Marriage. In our time, the natural family and the Christian family have become the principal object of attack for the destruction of the civilized world by the neo-Marxist gender ideology. Paradoxically, we are living in the age of the family precisely because it is under attack. It is today that the family is called to witness to the Divine beauty of its essence and of its vocation.
Communal Prayer is the Answer
In order to remain faithful to that vocation, the Catholic family should, in the first place, practice daily communal prayer. Pope Pius XII said: ‘We beg of you, make it your heart’s concern to retain that most beautiful of traditions of Catholic families: evening prayer together. Gather together, at the end of each day, to implore God’s blessing, and to honor the Immaculate Virgin by a rosary in praise of her, for all those who will go to sleep under the same roof. If the hard and unrelenting demands of modern life do not leave you with the free time to consecrate those few blessed moments to God, nor to add, according to the beloved custom of our fore-fathers, a brief reading of the life of a saint, the saint whom the Church proposes for us each day as a model and protector, make sure that you totally consecrate, however brief it may be, that moment when together you turn towards God, to praise Him and to present to Him your desires, your needs, your troubles and your worries. The center of your existence should be Christ Crucified, or an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: May Christ reign in your home, and may you reunite around him each day.’ (Discourse: 12 February 1941)
Fight, be a Hero
O Catholic Families, fathers and mothers of families, young men and young women: do not be afraid to fight against sin, against the seductive spirit of neo-Paganism. Do not be afraid to fight to defend the commandments of God, to defend the integrity of your Faith and your chastity. Do not be afraid to be heroic. Listen to what Pope Pius XII told us: ‘In modern times, as in the first centuries of Christianity, in countries where religious persecution prevails openly, or in those where it is hidden but no less harsh, the most humble of the faithful may find themselves at any time in the dramatic position of having to choose between their Faith, which they have the duty to guard intact, and their liberty, their means of subsistence, or even their very life. But even in normal times, in the ordinary circumstances of Christian families, people sometimes find that they are faced with the alternative of breaking a solemn duty, or of exposing themselves, their health, their goods, their family and social standing, to sacrifices and to sad and weighty risks. They find themselves facing the necessity of being heroic, and demonstrating that heroism, if they wish to stay faithful to their duties and remain in the grace of God.’ (Discourse: 20 August 1941).
My dear brothers and sisters, the Catholic family still has a vocation that is sometimes forgotten in our times. It is the vocation of being the first seminary (cf 2nd Vatican Council, Optatam Totius §2). What is the most urgent necessity facing the Church and the world in our times? The most urgent necessity of our times is to have authentically Catholic families, which become the first seminaries for priestly and religious vocations. Pope John Paul II said to Catholic couples: “If Jesus, with an act of preferential love for your family, gave one of your sons the gift of a priestly or religious vocation, what would your attitude be? I hope that you would believe the words of Don Bosco, who said: The greatest gift which God can offer a family is a son who becomes a priest. Therefore, be ready to receive that gift with a loving and sincere gratitude.’ (Angelus: 13 January 1980)
Dear Catholic fathers and mothers, dear Catholic grandfathers and grandmothers, say: ‘ Lord, if You wish, call one of my sons, one of my grandsons, to the priesthood.’ Young men and young women, who feel in your souls the vocation to marriage, the vocation to found a domestic Church, say: ‘Lord, if You wish, call one of my future sons to the priesthood.’ And you, boys and young men, each one of you can say: ‘Lord, I am ready to follow You, if You call me to the priesthood.’
What a beautiful vocation it is to be a true Catholic!
What a beautiful vocation to fight for the integrity of the Faith, and the commandments of God! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a Catholic family, a domestic Church! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a chaste young man, or a chaste young woman! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a seminarian and a priest with a pure and ardent heart!
Do not be afraid of the Goliath of our times, that is, the new worldwide anti-Christian ideology. The fire of Divine love and the Holy Ghost’s gift of fortitude will make us able to conquer the Goliath of our times with the five stones of David’s sling.
Come, Holy Ghost, and once again, make many domestic Churches flourish, which will give us the five stones of David to conquer Goliath: that is to say, good Catholic fathers and mothers, pure children, pure young people, pure priests, and courageous bishops.
Come, Holy Ghost, come! Amen.
The original (in French) may be found here. Slight editing.
Our Culture Lies and Distorts, but the Body Does Not.
Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington:
The latest tragic twist in the “Bruce Jenner saga” (more on that below) illustrates yet again one of the great errors of our day: the rejection of the truth that our bodies have something to tell us about who we are and what we are called to do and be. Most moderns see the body as merely a tool of sorts. Assertions are made that one can do as one pleases with one’s own body, and that a person’s sex (male or female) is purely incidental—merely an arbitrary quality one “happens to have.” Many say that our sex should not speak to anything deeper than genitals and that other “mere” physical differences are to be set aside to one degree or another. In effect, it would seem that our bodies have little or nothing to say to us. According to modern culture they are incidental.
The rejection of the body as instructive or in any way determinative has reached its zenith in the attempted normalization of homosexual activity, the redefinition of marriage, and now, sexual “reassignment” surgery.
As regards homosexual acts, any non-ideological analysis of the body will indicate that the man was not made for the man, nor the woman for the woman. Rather, the man is made for the woman and the woman for the man. This is set forth quite clearly in the pure physicality of things. St. Paul calls homosexual acts παρὰ φύσιν (para physin), meaning “contrary to the nature of things.”
As regards so-called sex “reassignment” surgery, I must point out that the soul is the form of the body. Now of course I can hear the objection that somehow we are not only physical beings and thus to use simply physical arguments is not proper. While this is true, but the body cannot be ignored. The soul is the form of the body. That is to say, our soul, its essence and abilities, gives rise to the structure and physical attributes of the body.
What is meant by saying that the soul is the form of the body? Consider for a moment a glove. What is the form of a glove? What determines how a glove is formed, shaped, and designed? Well, of course, it is the hand. It is both the shape of the hand and its capacities that give rise to the design and function of the glove. A glove with only three fingers or one with eight fingers would be a poor glove indeed. The proper form of the glove is the hand. And it is not just the shape of the hand that dictates the design of the glove, it is also the required functioning of the hand. Fingers need to move and work together for the hand to achieve its purpose. A glove that was extremely stiff and permitted the fingers no movement would be a poor glove. A good glove protects the hand but also permits it to achieve its proper end. Thus the fully functioning hand is the form (or blueprint) of the glove.
In the same way, the soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body. Our bodies have the design they do because of the capacities of our souls. We are able to talk because our souls have something to say. Our fingers are nimble yet strong because our souls have the capacity to work at tasks that require both strength and agility. We have highly developed brains because our souls have the capacity to think and reason. Animals have less of all this because their souls have little capacity in any of these regards. My cat, Daniel, does not speak. This is not just because he has no larynx; Daniel has no larynx because he has nothing to say. The lack of capacity in his animal soul (or life-giving principle) is reflected in the design of his body.
Sexuality is more than skin-deep. When it comes to sexuality in the human person, our sex (or as some incorrectly call it, gender, (gender is a grammatical term that refers to the classification of nouns and pronouns)) is not just a coin toss. Our soul is either male or female and our body reflects that fact. I don’t just “happen” to be male; I am male. My soul is male; my spirit is male; hence, my body is male. So called “sex-change” operations are a lie. Cross-dressing is a lie. “Transgender” and other made-up and confused assertions cannot change the truth of what the soul is. You can adapt the body but you cannot adapt the soul. The soul simply says, “Sum quod sum” (I am what I am).
The modern age has chosen simply to set all this aside and to see the body as incidental or arbitrary. This is a key error and has led to a lot of confusion. We have already seen how the widespread approval of homosexual acts has stemmed from this, but there are other confusions that have arisen as well.
Consider for example how the body speaks to the question of marriage. That the body has a nuptial (i.e., marital) meaning is literally inscribed in our bodies. God observed of Adam “It is not good for the man to be alone.” This fact is also evident in our bodies. I do not wish to be too explicit here but it is clear that the woman has physical aspects that are designed to find completion in union with a man, her husband. Likewise the man has physical aspects that are designed to find completion with a woman, his wife. The body has a “nuptial” meaning. It is our destiny; it is written in our nature to be in a complementary relationship with “the other.” But the complementarity is not just a physical one. Remember, the soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body. Hence, the intended complementarity extends beyond the physical, to the soul. We are made to find completion in the complementarity of the other. A man brings things to the relationship (physical and spiritual) that a woman cannot. A woman brings things to the relationship (physical and spiritual) that a man cannot. It is literally written in our bodies that we are generally meant to be completed and complemented by someone of the “opposite” (i.e., complementary) sex. And this complementarity is meant to bear fruit. The physical complementarity of spouses is fertile, fruitful. Here, too, the body reflects the soul. The fruitfulness is more than merely physical; it is spiritual and soulful as well.
It is true that not everyone finds a suitable marriage partner. But, from the standpoint of the nuptial meaning of the body, this is seen as less than ideal rather than as merely a neutral “alternative” lifestyle called the “single life.” (Uh-oh, there I go again.) If one is single with little possibility of this changing, then the nuptial meaning of the body is lived through some call of love and service to the Church (understood as the Bride of Christ or the Body of Christ), and by extension to the community.
Another consideration in this has to be the question of celibacy in the Church and of the male priesthood. If the body has, among other things, a nuptial meaning, whence do celibacy and virginity for the sake of the Kingdom find their place? Simply in this: priests and religious sisters are not single. A religious sister is a bride of Christ. She weds her soul to Christ and is a beautiful image of the Church as bride (cf Eph 5:21ff). Fully professed sisters even wear the ring. As a priest, I do not consider myself a bachelor. I have a bride, the Church. She is a beautiful, though demanding, bride! And do you know how many people call me “Father”? The religious in my parish are usually called “Sister,” but the Superior is called “Mother” by all of us. And here, too, our bodies reflect the reality of our call. A woman images the Church as bride. A man images Christ as groom.
It is another error of modern times to say that a woman can be a priest. Jesus Christ didn’t just “happen” to be a man. He is the Groom of the Church; the Church is His Bride. The maleness of the Messiah, Jesus, was not just the result of a coin toss. Nor was it rooted merely in the “sociological requirements of the patriarchal culture of his time.” It is not merely incidental to His mission. He is male because He is groom. The priests who are configured to Him are also male because the body has a nuptial meaning and the Church is in a nuptial relationship to Christ. Christ is the groom; the priests through whom He ministers to His bride are thus male. To say that a female can image the groom is, frankly, silly. It demonstrates how far our culture has gone in thinking of the body as merely incidental, rather than essential and nuptial.
The body does not lie. Our culture lies and distorts, but the body does not. Many today choose to consider the body incidental, a mere tool that can be refashioned at will. But the Church is heir to a well-tested and far longer understanding that the body is essential, not incidental, to who we are. Our differences are more than skin deep. The soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body and thus our differences and our complementarity are deep and essential. Our dignity is equal, but our complementarity cannot and should not be denied. God himself has made this distinction and intends it for our instruction. The body does not lie and we must once again choose to learn from it.
Bruce Jenner needs our concern, not our applause. He cannot undo his maleness by amputation and silicone bags. There is something deeply sad here in him and those like him. They need real help to accept themselves as God made them. Some years ago, Johns Hopkins Hospital stopped doing these surgeries since many of the staff there were uncomfortable cutting off healthy organs and mutilating bodies. Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins explained recently why it is better to understand this issue as one of mental illness that deserves care not affirmation:
This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken–it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.” [Elsewhere in the article he notes the high suicide rates, etc.]
The transgendered person’s disorder, said Dr. McHugh, is in the person’s “assumption” that they are different than the physical reality of their body, their maleness or femaleness, as assigned by nature. It is a disorder similar to a “dangerously thin” person suffering anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are “overweight,” said McHugh. [**]
There is something equally sick in the so-called “transabled movement” wherein people cut off their own limbs because they “feel” like their body is supposed to be disabled. The disown certain limbs and use power saws to cut them off. Please tell me the difference between those who cut off limbs and those who mutilate their genitals or cut off breasts. More on the “transabled” movement here: Choosing to be disabled
We are in a time of grave distortion and even the loss of simple common sense. It doesn’t seem that things can get much more confused than “gender reassignment.” I am sure, however, that things are going to get a lot more confused. But this confusion is not for us, fellow Christians. Our bodies are not ours to do with as we please. They are not canvases to be tattooed with slogans or endlessly pierced; they are not to be used for fornication, adultery, or homosexual acts. Neither are they to be mutilated or carved up into apparently new forms.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body(1 Cor 6:19-20).
Do not be deceived. Do not be confused. God was not “mistaken” in the sex He made you. Whatever internal drives, temptations, or disturbing thoughts one might have, the body was not made for sexual immorality or to be mutilated based on any internal rejection of our self. The call for every human being is to be chaste and to love our body as from God.
Here is a quirky and clever video that turns the table on the question of ordination. It also goes a long way to say that we cannot, in the end, simply pretend to be what we are not. Our bodies do not lie, even if we try to.
by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Standing on My Head:
The feminist Anglicans have unveiled their latest campaign.
Now that they’ve succeeded in getting women ordained as priests and bishops they’re pushing for the language of the liturgy to be changed to call God “Mother.”
Here are twelve reasons why you can’t call God “Mother”
1. Jesus tells us to call God “Father” – The really big reason comes first. Jesus himself tells us to call God Father. Of course the feminist activists don’t take something like the Bible or even the words of Jesus seriously. They’ve stopped believing in something so “fundamentalist” as the authority of Scripture long ago. They regard the New Testament as “an interesting first century Jewish document” which was, of course, conditioned by the patriarchal culture of its time. Jesus–for all his beautiful teachings and fine example–was also hopelessly conditioned by his own time period. That was then. This is now. We can change all that.
2. The Old Testament refers to God as Father – From paragraph 238 of the Catechism: Many religions invoke God as “Father”. The deity is often considered the “father of gods and of men”. In Israel, God is called “Father” inasmuch as he is Creator of the world. Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, “his first-born son”. God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is “the Father of the poor”, of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection.
First Church of England Woman Bishop Libby Lane
3. The Liturgy Calls God “Father” – We believe what we pray. We pray what we believe. To tinker with the liturgy is always to tinker with what we actually believe. When we start calling God “Mother” people will start believing God is their Mother not their Father. Of course, the feminists know this. That’s exactly why they want to change the liturgy. They want to change the Bible too. There is already an “Inclusive Bible” Go here.
4. The Catechism explains why we call God Father and how this includes the mothering attributes of God – By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.
5. Calling God “Mother” and “Father” is confusing – Our world is confused enough about gender right now. Calling God both Mother and Father makes God some kind of transgendered being. Nope.
6. Gender identification enables a loving relationship – Think about it. You can’t love someone without sex being involved. I don’t mean by “sex” genital activity. What I mean is that we relate to others through gender. I relate to my mother as her son. I relate to my brother as my brother. I relate to my daughter as her father. I relate to every other person in a sexual way. I am male. They are either male or female. I cannot have a true relationship with someone who is neither male nor female. I can’t relate to an “it”. God wants us to love him and be in relationship with him. That is why he reveals himself as “Father” and why Jesus commands us to call God “Father” so that we can relate to him as his sons and daughters. We cannot be in a loving relationship with an abstract being who is sometimes Mother and sometimes Father.
7. Calling God “Father” helps to heal the father wound – All of us have a longing for perfect, unconditional everlasting love. We want to be loved and known by the greatest love. Our relationship with our earthly fathers–even with the best of fathers–falls short of that and leave us with what is called “the Father wound”. This empty space, this unfulfilled Father love can only be filled by the love of God the Father. Calling God “Mother” destroys that possibility.
8. Mary is our Mother in Heaven–Not God – It is no co incidence that Protestant Christians are wanting a Mother in heaven. They got rid of Blessed Mother Mary five hundred years ago and have been missing their heavenly mother ever since. Protestantism has had a mother deficit ever since they rejected the Mother Jesus gave them (remember from the cross he said, “Behold your mother”?) Now instead of venerating Blessed Mother Mary as they should their longing for a Mother in Heaven is leading them into the heresy of calling God their Mother.
9. The Bible and the Saints Never Refer to God as Mother – The most the feminists can dig up is one reference in the fourteenth century mystic Julian of Norwich who refers to “God is our Father and our Mother”. Hildegard of Bingen also says something similar, but this is no more than what the Catechism says above–that God is beyond human sexuality and his being “Father” includes the traits and strengths of mother. They also use Jesus’ line about Jerusalem, “I would gather you up as a hen gathers her chicks” But all of this is the symbolic language of mystics. God is never directly referred to as “Mother” and is never addressed as “Mother” in any liturgy anywhere.
10. Referring to God as “Mother” is part of an overall plan to eradicate any sign of patriarchy from Christianity – Depend on it. Calling God both “Mother” and “Father” is only the first step. God as “Father” must be removed completely. There is an agenda therefore, to alter the very foundation principles and theology of Christianity so that they worship another god altogether, and you only have to read the new age feminist theologians to understand that the goddess they want to worship is nothing like “Our Father in Heaven” instead it is “Earth Mother”. In other words, calling God “Mother” is not an alternative form of Christianity. It is not Christianity at all.
11. To Call God “Mother” is to worship a pagan Goddess – Why are women priests so afraid to be called “priestesses”? I asked one once. She said, “It sounds too pagan.” Indeed. Likewise, why are they so timid about calling the new god they worship a “Goddess”? Because it sounds too pagan. Don’t be deceived though. It won’t be long before they will embrace these terms. A new generation will not be so shy and will say, “Yes, you’re right. I am a priestess and I worship the goddess. So what?” And having accepted the goddess worshipping priestesses who will be able to say “Boo!”?
12. Calling God Mother opens the door to New Age Witchcraft – Why are people so dense about this? One only has to read the new age feminist theologians themselves to discover that the religion they are sympathetic to is none other than the worship of the Nature Goddess–the God of this world–aka Satan. Of course “enlightened” people will sneer at such an accusation, but feminist theologians themselves call for the complete abolition of the Father God and the embrace of the Mother Goddess. These feminist theologians have been very influential in the Anglican church. I was there. They were all over the place in the women’s ordination movement. That’s where it is headed, and the reason anyone who can’t see it is because they won’t see it.
Do You Refrain from Useless Chatter before the Tabernacle?
How About Dressing Modestly and Reverently for Mass?
by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan:
1. Attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, even daily if possible.
2. Prepare well for every Mass by: abstaining from food and drink (medicine and water may be taken) for at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion; going to Confession to a priest and stating any and all mortal sins that you have not confessed before (a mortal sin is a thought, word, desire or action that concerns grave matter carried out with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will); praying before Holy Mass and performing acts of charity and self-denial Furthermore, only those persons who are practicing Catholics, who believe as the Church does regarding the Most Holy Eucharist and whose marriages are recognized as valid by the Holy Catholic Church may receive Holy Communion.
3. Genuflect when entering and leaving the Church and whenever passing before the Tabernacle or the Altar on which the Body and Blood of Christ rest. Dress modestly—avoiding revealing and sloppy clothes—and do not chew gum. Speak accurately about the Most Holy Eucharist, never referring to It as “bread and wine.” And if you assist with the sacred music in your parish, do all you can to ensure that the texts reflect the truth about the Real Presence.
4. Refrain from useless chattering before the Tabernacle before, during and after the Holy Mass in order to adore Him and to concentrate attention on the Risen Lord Jesus. Talking unnecessarily in the holy presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament destroys a golden occasion to learn at the Feet of the Master.
5. Receive Holy Communion with joy and fervor. We receive Jesus on our tongues or, in a country where it is permitted by the Episcopal Conference, in our hands (a profound bow before receiving Holy Communion is very appropriate). When we receive Jesus on our tongues, we simply say “Amen” and permit the priest, deacon or installed acolyte to place Christ there. If we receive in the hand, then we make a throne for the Lord, placing our “stronger” hand on the bottom and our “weaker” hand on top. Proclaiming “Amen,” we receive the Host (rather than lunging for It), take a step to the side, stop and place the Host in our mouth using the stronger hand underneath. We must never receive the Sacred Host “on the run.”
6. Pass time with the Eucharistic Jesus outside of the Holy Mass. The Eucharist is always to be adored—before, during and after the Mass, whether exposed in the Monstrance or reposed in the Tabernacle.
7. Make frequent Spiritual Communions in which we invite the Lord into our souls in a similar manner as when we sacramentally receive Holy Communion. These may be made anytime and anywhere.
8. Cultivate a special relationship with Mary, the Woman of the Eucharist. Pray her Most Holy Rosary. Wear her Brown Scapular and her Miraculous Medal. Ask her for the virtue of chastity for yourself and in all your dealings with your neighbors. Purity is vital. If you fall grievously, go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion.
9. Develop a friendship with the Saints who are remembered for their incredible love for the Holy Eucharist. To become aware of their affection for Holy Communion stimulates our capacity to develop in love for and adoration of Our Eucharistic Jesus.
10. Request the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered for the living and the dead. There is no gift more beautiful and effective than the Holy Mass.