Father Chris Pietraszko: “To the Catholic who knows this
and does not do it, Salvation is Impossible.”
By Father Chris Pietraszko:
Just so you know:
It is the obligation of a Catholic to make confession at least one time a year, to attend mass every Sunday, to receive Communion at least one time a year, to attend confession when weighed down by mortal sin, to never receive the Eucharist with mortal sin, to confess all mortal sins to the best of one’s memory.
To the priest and the religious, he or she must pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day lest it become a mortal sin.
What Counts for Mortal Sin?
Mortal sin is in reference to sins that surpass slight sins. They are seriously wrong. It also involves freedom to consent to such sin and knowledge that the act is wrong (even if it be merely known by the heart without proper terminology).
18 Sins that must be Confessed (note the word may) …
Such sins may include: Masturbation, Pornography, pre-marital sex, gossip of a grave matter, abortion, theft that surpasses 100 dollars (over-time or in one instance), physical violence causing grave injury, adultery, absence of forgiveness for another (wrath), excessive eating to a grave degree, heresy, schismatic behavior, disobedience to one’s ordinary/superior, missing Sunday Mass, receiving Eucharist with mortal sin, not confessing all your sins (purposefully holding back), excessive drinking of alcohol, drug-abuse.
To the Catholic who knows this and does not do it, salvation is impossible.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. God forgives all things, and for this we are grateful, but if we are not sorrowful for our sin, we do not ask for forgiveness (in a genuine manner) and therefore never receive forgiveness since our heart is never truly open to it.
These are the rules, the expectations. Many do not understand “why” they are there, because this is only the Law. But if you understand the Spirit, one can see quickly how humility, love of God and neighbor makes all such things necessary.
The Art and Science of Admonishing a Sinner: “It must be done.”
A letter by Bishop Robert Morlino to his flock.
Conscience should always drive us toward perfection. “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48),” is the parting exhortation from our Lord in this past Sunday’s Gospel. A correctly formed conscience never says to you, “How little can I do and still call myself a Catholic?”
Conscience doesn’t make us minimalistic . . .
Bishop Robert Molina
Conscience does not open the door to be a minimalist. It is not a tool for our saying, “How can I give myself permission to do the minimum?”
Conscience opens the door to perfection, to the heroic, to the maximum, because the well-formed conscience serves as that truth-seeking radar, by which we choose to follow the law of the Lord.
As I said, we very much need to spread the word about conscience, and the readings of this past Sunday really help us with one detail of how to do that.
If we’re going to spread the good word about conscience, that means we’re going to have to correct others, especially our brothers and sisters who are Catholic. We know that this is not easy.
What is easy, when we seek to inform the consciences of others, is to seem as if we are judging the person themselves. We have to avoid that judgment of the individual, but we must not hesitate to help them, by offering the truth about their actions.
Correcting others is a ‘hard thing’ . . .
The first reading of this past Sunday reflects upon just how hard that is, as the Lord says to Moses, “Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
It’s a hard thing to correct others, because you might incur sin. That’s the reason why we have to be delicate and sensitive and careful about correcting others. But in truth, that’s not the reason that there’s so little correction given one to another, today.
The correction is not given because we’re afraid that if we correct them, they may not like us. Or, we’re afraid that if we make a claim that this or that behavior is wrong, we’ll be labeled as “politically incorrect.” (Because, of course, there is no objective good or bad… and we all know that here in the dictatorship of relativism.)
So, that’s why a lot of people don’t do any correcting. They’re afraid of not being liked. They’re afraid of not being politically correct, which costs a great deal in our particular environment. But in the first reading, God makes us aware of the real difficulty with correcting others.
Many difficulties in correcting others . . .
It’s not a matter of being afraid of what others think, nor of being afraid to be politically incorrect. But correcting others is really hard even for true believers, because there is a danger of falling into sin ourselves. In order to correct another, we really have to purify ourselves and our intentions first.
In other words, it’s very easy for a good person to correct another, and at the same time experience a lot of self-satisfaction. “I’m correcting you out of love… and at the same time I’m thanking God that I don’t need to be corrected in that area . . . I’m doing great.” That’s a sin!
Beware of self-righteousness . . .
If I take the occasion of correcting another to enjoy how righteous I am before God, that’s a sin. And because of original sin, falling into that attitude is easy. It’s hard to correct another without thinking, “Thank God nobody has to correct me about that.” If I correct somebody that way, I incur my own sin.
And it’s easy to do this even when we like someone, but we have to be especially careful if we don’t naturally like somebody, because it can turn into a situation of putting someone down at the same time.
“I hope I can correct you in front of other people, so that it’s an unmistakable put-down and I can express my negativity about you…” We may be right with regard to our specific correction, but we’ve just committed our own sin in public and wounded the Body of Christ.
And it’s no wonder that people think that whenever anyone corrects another’s behavior, they are judging the other’s heart, because so often they are.
Correction by true believers is hard to find . . .
Correction by a true believer is not easy to find in the Church. That’s why there’s so much confusion, because really true believers, really good people, are hesitant to correct. And they don’t correct because they’re afraid of falling into sin in the process of correcting.
They’re not superficial, thinking, “somebody might not like me, or I won’t be considered politically correct.” They don’t correct because they fear falling into sin themselves, and so sometimes even among true believers it doesn’t get done.
(The only correction in the diocese that I know of that is done regularly — and it goes on all the time — is that people correct their priest and that priests and people correct the bishop. It seems to be open season for correction on priests and bishops. Not much else, in the way of correction, gets done.)
Genuine, faithful correction ‘must be done’ . . .
But this genuine, heart-felt, faithful correction of others about the right to life, about what marriage really is, about freedom of conscience, has to be done far and wide, and especially in the diocese.
And I do my best, but you have to be the army that goes out and helps me with this. And so, we have to keep in mind Sunday’s first reading; we all have to purify ourselves in order to correct another.
And the second reading from this past Sunday gives us a marvelous thought, a marvelous conviction that will help us to correct another with love and sensitivity, rather than for any other motive (1 Cor 3:16-23). The conviction is this: we all belong to God by virtue of our belonging to Christ.
Keep in mind that ‘all belong to Christ’ . . .
Before we approach someone else, we have to think to ourselves that, in truth — whether they believe it or not, whether they know it or not — it is the desire of Almighty God that they belong to Him. Because of the salvation won for us through Christ, everything we need for that salvation belongs to us and to all people; whether they believe or not or whether they know it, it belongs to all people.
And every one of those people belongs to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. When we approach another, we must keep in mind, “I belong to Christ, you belong to Christ, and we both belong to God.”
How to treat those who must be corrected . . .
With this in mind, how are we going to treat that person as we offer correction? We are going to reorient our correction such that our intention is to remind them that they do belong to God and that, “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord.”
We have to address the fact that he or she needs correction, yes; we can’t run away from it in fear. But, we also have to treat them as one who, like ourselves, belongs to Christ.
The mysticism of seeing the other person through the eyes of Christ, whether they believe they belong to Him or not, whether they know it or not, is the place from which we can enter into the dynamic of fraternal correction that is so needed in today’s Church.
Our obligation to Spiritual Works of Mercy . . .
Let us all remember our obligation to perform those Spiritual Works of Mercy too: to instruct the ignorant, and to counsel the doubtful.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let us reflect upon our duty to help inform consciences in love — especially as we come quickly upon Lent.
May God bless every one of you. Praised be Jesus Christ!
How Artificial Birth Control Greatly Damages Your Entire Relationship
By Fr. Clayton Thompson:
Blogger Note: Father’s article is addressed to men. It is an excellent article to share and perfectly relates to women. Please prayerfully read this article.
Remember that awkward moment when you got “the talk”? If you did get it, odds are it ranks among one of the more uncomfortably unforgettable moments of both your life and the life of the one who explained the intricacies of the birds and the bees to you. My dad gave me the talk while we were working on a furnace together. I fulfilled my customary role of flashlight-holder while he rambled on about the mechanics of sexual intercourse – the thing was that his head wasn’t even visible while he did so, as he was laying on the floor, head on the underside of the machine. I was grateful for that: no eye contact; my dad likely was, too. Yet, when all was said and done, one task got done the right way – the family was warm again – but the other was left horribly unfinished.
Odds are that most of our upbringings left us without a real, convincing understanding of the relationship between sex and love. Most of us got just the basics of how the biological act works, if we got the talk at all. Adding salt to the wound, the cultural surrounding continues to offer an impoverished understanding of both sex and love, leaving us rather confused and disoriented. In the midst of this void, we have a real need for clarity and truth.
An Honest, Objective Look at the Church’s Teaching on the Immorality of Artificial Birth Control
And it’s in this light that I’d like to invite you to take an honest, objective look at the Church’s teaching on the immorality of artificial birth control. Often times, if we’re presented with an argument supporting the Church’s stance here, it’s given awkwardly and insufficiently. The common explanation basically runs like this: “You have to let God in and allow him to decide when and whether you have a baby, being open to life as a gift from Him.” This, understood in the proper light, is a true statement. It is also immensely unconvincing.
Doesn’t God Care about Responsible Parenthood?
In fact, there seem to be many other things which God ought to be more concerned about in this regard: Doesn’t he care about responsible parenthood, having only the children we can support? Doesn’t God allow us and want us to use science to advance man’s dominion over creation and to better human existence? Doesn’t he call us to be stewards of the earth and our family? Doesn’t he know that having one more kid would kill me and my wife?
In the end, it seems that the Church has to pony up a little here and give an explanation that’s more understandable and convincing. The present article hopes to contribute to this discussion.
The Three Parts of Human Sexuality, the View of the Church and Society
First, however, we need to understand something about how the Church views human sexuality versus how the society views human sexuality. We’ll look at it in three parts:
What is sex?
The Church: Sex is a beautiful gift of God, especially when considered on the level of a human being, who is a person capable of reasoning, freely choosing, and loving
The Society: Sex is a biological act that satisfies a basic need that must be met in whatever way possible, according to the desire of the individual
What does sex mean?
The Church: Sex is meaningful. It has a twofold, objective meaning: First, it expresses in a bodily way the deepest possible love that exists between a man and a woman. It says, in its action, “I give myself entirely to you in love.” This is a beautiful gift: the ability to express in the body a spiritual love. Secondly, sex is the way that a human being participates in the procreative work of God. The child conceived through sexual intimacy is only conceived along with God: while the couple offers the material body of the child, he alone fashions its soul. God is intimately involved in a couple’s intimacy. This twofold meaning gives direction to human sexuality.
The Society: Sex is meaningless. It has meaning only if I give it meaning. Sex is what I choose to make it. In itself, sex has no objective significance; however an individual chooses to use his sexual faculty is his prerogative; he decides how to satisfy this bodily need.
How is sex related to love?
The Church: Human sexuality is inseparable from love. If the act of sexual intimacy does not occur within the context of love, it fails to live up to its objective meaning. No one can perform an action that says, “I give myself entirely to you in love,” and at the same time not mean it without severely abusing the gift of sex and himself in the process. True love is committed, undying, self-sacrificial love: a type of love that is found in its totality in a marital relationship.
The Society: Sex is only connected to love if you want it to be. Ideally, it’s connected to love; however, if the urge needs to be satisfied, better just to scratch the itch.
Is Sex Meaningful or Meaningless?
The basic question that arises, then, is whether sex is meaningful or meaningless. For an experiential answer, find a 15-year-old girl whose 17-year-old boyfriend swindled her, got her into bed, and then dumped her and then ask what she thinks: meaningful or meaningless? It’s either one or the other. Without really believing everything above that the Church teaches about sex, we fall into a meaningless, empty view of sexuality that leaves us impoverished. Only living by an authentic view of sex really fulfills an individual.
And here is where the discussion of artificial birth control fits in.
Clearly, artificial birth control closes the most intimate action between a man and woman to the second meaning of human sexuality mentioned above (procreation). And in doing so, it destroys the first meaning: no one can say “I give myself entirely to you in love,” and at the same time withhold the gift of one’s fertility and openness to life. The gift is no longer complete and it becomes a lie: you’re not giving yourself completely.
Artificial Birth Control Greatly Damages Your Entire Relationship
But even more, the use of artificial birth control greatly damages your entire relationship. Because sex has become a lie, the focus of sex shifts, too: from being focused on the love you have for the other person, the focus now becomes yourself, the pleasure you experience, the satisfaction of the urge. No longer is sex an act of love, it’s an act of use. In turn, failing to express a total gift of self in your most intimate life together by refusing to be open to children worms its way through your entire relationship; it changes the way you think of her; it becomes a failure to give of yourself in your marriage itself. And failing to make a total gift of self in marriage leads only to distress, divorce, and suffering.
So, men, while she’s using the pill [or any form of artificial birth control], you’re using her. She’s become a thing, a thing meant to satisfy you. And she’ll never become a person to you again until you get her off of it.
If the most intimate part of your life, the part that expresses the depth of your love in bodily form has become self-centered and pleasure-seeking (which is what artificial birth control makes it), your relationship as a whole will be devastated. It becomes as meaningless and empty as your sex life; you become objects of use to one another and no longer persons worthy of love, worth suffering for, worth dying for.
So, brothers, it’s time to reevaluate. Look into Natural Family Planning (NFP) for responsible ways of managing birth according to your resources, while remaining open to life and love within your marriage. It’s effective (about 98%, perfect use, depending on the method – same as the pill, perfect use). So, check it out; and join the fight to turn from a relationship of use to a real, fervent, fulfilled relationship of love with your wife.
10 Priests Were Recently Asked To Write Roughly 4 Sentences On The Topic of Video Games. Here Is What They Said…
Fr. Edward Connolly from Pennsylvania
Reality is where I work out my salvation. Reality is where I meet Mom and Dad, Brother and Sister, Son and Daughter, Wife or Husband, God and Neighbor and, come to think of it, Myself. Video games are Alternate Reality. There I can pretend that I don’t have Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Son, Daughter, Wife or Husband, God or Neighbor. Only Myself. It’s kind of like Hell.
Fr. Peter Junipero Hannah from California
I recall when I was a kid the first Nintendo system came out, and I saved allowance to buy it since my parents did not have a high opinion of such diversions. After the purchase, they suspected my extended use was frying my brain, and I recall defending it to them on the grounds that it improved hand-eye coordination. I now think this argument a load of hooey (I probably knew that then too), and find myself after twenty-five years to have arrived at—surprise—roughly my parents’ views. I wonder how much better off intellectually, artistically, and even physically and morally, young people (especially boys) would be if they unplugged and gave their adventurous youthful vigor to more worthy pursuits.
Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC from Rome
Video games are not necessarily evil—I remember playing video games with friends: my nerd friends and I would play Warcraft II after school. Games like that teach strategy and planning but are also a great way to relax; they’re similar to Axis & Allies. Even today, I like to play Wii from time to time (my sister and foster-niece practice Mario Kart more and always cream me)—however, today video games can cause trouble in three ways: 1. Games that have inappropriate content such as a recent game where you had to fight terrorists in an airport surrounded by civilians (you inevitably shoot at least one) and with graphic death sequences; 2. Where video games put you as the bad guy such as the GTA series; and 3. Simply playing too much where this recreation keeps us from important duties such as work, school, or exercise. If you avoid all 3, enjoy video games in moderation.
[Note: for those of you unfamiliar, Warcraft II is a strategy game where you control a town and army of orcs or humans; World of Warcraft is a completely different game which easily falls into problem #3 because of its addictive nature.]
Msgr. Charles Pope from Washington, D.C.
Video Games are entertaining to be sure. But they are poor training for life which does not unfold at the pace of these games. Much of the ADHD diagnosed today is more likely a poor attention span that results from hyper-stimulation intrinsic to many of these games. One may wonder how a steady diet of these frantic, loud and sometimes violent games can dispose one to pray and listen for the still, quiet voice of God.
Fr. Ezra Sullivan from Rome
Like television, many people make arguments in favor of video games that have little to do with the real purpose of the game. For instance, people say they can learn about history by watching television; or they can perfect eye-hand coordination by video games. But everyone knows that the real point of video games is to have fun by escaping reality. That sort of fun is like a highly-toxic medicine: it should be taken in small, rare doses, if at all.
Fr. Donald Calloway from Massachusetts
Children should be outside playing, doing physical activity, and not sitting in front of a screen all day playing the part of a cyber hero in someone else’s fantasy world. As a norm, adults should not be playing video games; their leisure moments should be more dignified and age appropriate. It’s so sad today to see how many grown men live in a fantasy world of video games; waste of time and money. No woman I know delights in dating and/or marrying a man who sits on his duff all day pushing buttons frantically like a lunatic.
Fr. Christopher Pollard from Virginia
How many hours of Tetris are too many? When you close your eyes yet the pieces are still falling and the music is still playing. After college I banished games from my computer. Now it’s a lot easier to pray when I close my eyes.
Fr. Thomas Longua from Texas
Do the research. There are serious consequences mentally and physically. Morally: ask an exorcist about what he has to deal with because his patients are hooked on these things.
Fr. Edward Murphy from Florida
The very concept of virtual reality is causing our children to have a significant disconnect with reality as we know it now. When our youth are obsessed with video games, they fantasize about things that are inane, ludicrous and violent. Why, we may ask, do we continue to see the pattern of mass shootings in schools and universities? It is a known fact that many of these senseless acts of violence can be attributed to our young people living in a fantasy world.
Fr. John Hollowell from Indiana
The sci-fi thriller “The Matrix” was a film about an alternate world that seemed real to those living in it. One of the characters was rescued from the “fake world” but wanted to go back in. I see this in many young people today – video games are so realistic that people often times desire to “live” in them, but this can only be damaging. God is encountered only in reality, and so those who are enslaved by electronic realities can not encounter God unless they return to the real world where God is to be found.
Originally posted at: Catholic Household
Fr. Hollowell: Should You Stop Receiving Holy Communion?
By Fr. John Hollowell:
Do you need to go to confession first?
You can’t receive the Eucharist if you’ve:
1) Missed a weekend or Holy Day Mass without a valid reason
2) Having sex outside of marriage, with yourself (masturbation) or someone else
3) desecrated the Eucharist
4) haven’t been to confession in a year
5) Use artificial birth control – condoms, pills, patches, IUD’s, etc
6) sponsor or help in any way with an abortion or any destruction of an embryo
9) Lust after someone
10) Pride, Greed, Sloth, Envy
etc. etc. The list is not exhaustive, and any sin that we have meditated on before hand, understood its gravity and still chosen to do it can be a deadly sin.
Blogger Note: Numbers 8 through 10 would depend mostly upon the gravity of the sin.
C.C.C. 1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131
1 Corinthians 11:27 27 Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.
Don’t step out of bounds…and by all means…if you do…get back in bounds through confession! Don’t desecrate the Eucharist and receive it as some sort of prize you’ve earned simply by showing up for Mass!
Which Comment is Your Favorite?
Photo Via Flickr User Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Originally posted at Catholic Household.
Fr. Ezra Sullivan from Rome
The purpose of contraception is to allow a man and woman to experience sexual pleasure without experiencing the full effects of the sexual act. It is very much like chewing food without allowing it nourish one’s body. Therefore, contraception is a sort of “sexual bulimia.” It leads to malnourishment of individuals, couples, and society.
Fr. Donald Calloway from Massachusetts
Contraception is wrong for many reasons, one of which is because the pinnacle and pattern of marriage is the union between Christ and his Church. And Jesus does not use us as objects or treat us with indignity, but makes us fruitful for eternal life by giving himself totally and completely to us through the teachings of the Church and the sacraments. This model of true love needs to be more present in marriages today. Marriages that practice contraception are not truly grounded in the selfless pattern of Christ and his Church, but base their conjugal relations upon a self-gratifying moment of pleasure, preferring to use each other as objects rather than give themselves completely to the other, and this contraceptive way of life produces little, if no, fruit (children) at all.
Msgr. Charles Pope from Washington, D.C.
At the root of contraception is the flawed and fatal notion that there is no necessary connection between sex and procreation. We have divided what God has joined. In sowing the wind we have reaped the whirlwind of sexual confusion, selfishness, and irresponsibility. Contraception is a catastrophic rebellion that has undermined Marriage by fostering promiscuity, and caused untold suffering to children born into a culture increasingly unprepared and unwilling to raise them.
Fr. Shenan Boquet from Virginia (President of Human Life International)
At the heart of the destruction of the family is the widespread use of artificial contraception. When the complete gift of self between spouses is denied, families fall apart and innocent life is reduced to a disposable commodity, as was predicted in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. As I travel, I find that most Catholics are still unaware of this prophetic, truthful, and loving teaching on the gift of human life and find themselves trapped by these same errors as the rest of the culture has suffered. But there is growing awareness of the problem and signs of hope: fertility awareness-based methods can space or achieve pregnancy and are a beautiful option for married couples to live fully their sacramental vows in union with our Creator by being open to the gift of life.
Fr. Peter Junipero Hannah from California
The Church’s teaching on artificial contraception seems to most people today archaic and silly. But here as elsewhere, the Church finds herself having to defend common sense: sexual intimacy is associated with babies, and the use human reproductive organs presumes a context where the result might just be reproduction. The severing of these two human happenings—sexual activity from procreation—is the hidden and not-talked-about-in-polite-conversation ill font of the current chaos in marriage and family life. If children can in principle be excluded from sexually intimate activity, then all manner of perversion becomes possible to defend, and even (as we have seen) attempt against nature, reason, and God, to baptize.
Fr. Edward Murphy from Florida
The whole scale acceptance of contraception by Catholics combined with the silence from the pulpits has contributed to the diminishment of marriage. Marriage is no longer revered as a sacred union. Children are now considered a financial commodity and a distraction for married couples. By neutering fertility, we are destroying the bedrock of a healthy society.
Fr. John Hollowell from Indiana
It looks like people are starting to recognize the utter disaster that has come about in the wake of the contraceptive generation. We’ve learned from the generation before us that when sex is reduced to pleasure, the family and marriage as an institution quickly disintegrates. I see in my generation an eager desire to be open to life, and to keep the marital act natural and open to life. My friends are having lots of children and I am inspired by them all the time.
Fr. Thomas Longua from Texas
Contraception is a lie. It is designed to put barrier in the middle of an act that is about a total self-giving, a sharing of all that one is. “I give you my whole self, and invite you to become one with me—except that most important part, that part which is made to give life, generated by love.”
Fr. Edward Connolly from Pennsylvania
If I were a married man, I’m sure I would offer to hold hands with my wife from time to time. But if she insisted that I wear rubber gloves whenever we held hands, I think I would find it odd. Same if she rubbed sanitizer on her hands whenever I touched them. I might wonder if she really loved me. In fact, I might wonder if she were really my wife!
Fr. Christopher Pollard from Virginia
Is there a difference between between health and sickness, food and poison, surgery and mutilation, anesthesia and drug abuse? That illustrates one of the differences between respecting a woman’s health and contracepting. The former regards her potency for motherhood as good; the latter treats pregnancy as an illness. Intimacy was designed to be always about the certainty of being loved and the possibility of a new beloved.
Spiritual Warfare Is Not For The Faint Of Heart!
Father Richard Heilman - “The time is now to prepare an elite fighting force, surrendering to God and then allowing His grace to invade every aspect of our lives.” Admission into Christ’s elite fighting force begins by knowing that by your baptism you have been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill a most dramatic mission; it is the mission of saving souls. This mission cannot be accomplished without entering into conflict with ‘the world, the flesh and the devil.’ It is not a mission for the fainthearted or for those who wish to take the wide road to heaven. It is the path of warfare, of spiritual battle.
“Holiness,” wrote Benedict XVI, “has its deepest root in the grace of baptism, in being grafted on to the Paschal Mystery of Christ, by which His Spirit is communicated to us, His very life as the Risen One.” Jesus Christ is the one Whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them. (CCC 783).
From the very first days of our membership in the Mystical Body of Christ, we are, in essence, commissioned officers in the Church Militant. In other words, the power of the Holy Spirit to combat evil and rescue souls proceeds precisely through the three offices of Christ: Priest, Prophet, and King.
Office Of Priest
The first office we receive in baptism is that of priest (the priesthood of the laity). Fr. Robert Barron says, “A priest prays for others, intercedes, and performs sacrifices. Priests are border walkers. They walk the border between heaven and earth. They are mediators as friends of God and friends of the human race. They bring divinity and humanity together. It means you must be a person of prayer — intercessory prayer — prayer on behalf of others. It pleases God to channel His providential care precisely through us and through the instrumentality of our prayer.”
Whether it’s a Navy SEAL or a Saint, we admire those who put it all on the line — go “all in!” — those who are totally dedicated to the mission. In the military, this dedication is revealed in the “Warrior Ethos,” four simple lines embedded in the Soldier’s Creed:
- I will always place the mission first.
- I will never accept defeat.
- I will never quit.
- I will never leave a fallen comrade.
The last line of the Warrior Ethos, “I will never leave a fallen comrade,” is really striking. When I read this, I think of recent Medal of Honor recipients who reportedly ran through a hail of bullets to rescue their comrades from the clutches of the enemy. It is very similar in the spiritual realm.
When our loved ones are “dead in sin,” they are not only separated from God, but they lose their desire to seek God. Some become so far removed from God that they find repulsive all things spiritual. So, prayer, Holy Mass, spiritual reading, etc. all become boring and, to some, even detestable when they are dead inside: no Divine Life. They are, quite literally, caught behind enemy lines (imprisoned in their worldliness) with no way out unless some campaign of search and rescue is launched.
Pope Francis refers to the Church as a “field hospital after the battle.” Does our love, care, and concern for them extend to their eternal salvation? Pray unceasingly for them!
Remember the Warrior Ethos: “I will never leave a fallen comrade!”
Office of Prophet
The second office we receive in baptism is that of prophet. Fr. Robert Barron says, “A prophet is someone who speaks for God. Their task is to speak God’s word, in season and out (whether that word is popular or not). It means you should be a reader of theology and spirituality so that you might, as St. Peter put it, ‘give a reason for the hope that is in you.’ We’re living in a time when religion is under attack. If someone challenged you, could you give a reason for the hope that is in you?”
For Pope Leo XIII, to be a prophet means we are “born for combat”:
“To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. The only ones who win when Christians stay quiet” he says, “are the enemies of truth. The silence of Catholics is particularly disturbing because frequently a few bold words would have vanquished the false ideas.”
The element of surprise often catches us off-guard when faced with an opportunity to defend the faith from attacks or admit why our faith is so important to us. Those moments often come and go rather quickly. This is why it is essential for us to make the necessary preparations by developing short but powerful statements or quotes that really leave, in a brief moment, a spiritual mark on the recipients. In the public relations world, these are called “talking points.” Or, as Pope Leo XIII called them, “a few bold words.”
A talking point in a debate or discourse is a succinct statement designed to persuasively support one side taken on an issue. Such statements can either be free-standing or created as retorts to the opposition’s talking points. Yes, you should study theology and spirituality but, like arrows in your quiver, you must have these talking points prepared and memorized, ready to fire. More than anything else, before ever opening your mouth, take a deep breath and ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you in love.
Office of King
The third office we receive in baptism is that of king. A king is someone who leads others to God. A good king is someone who leads by example. A good king is someone who puts those in his charge ahead of himself. Christ the King said, “I have not come to be served, but to serve.” And then He got down on His hands and knees and washed the dirty feet of His disciples. He told them, “You want to be great? Then be the slave of the rest.” (Mt 20:27-28, Jn 13:4-5)
As Jean-Baptiste Chautard recounts in his book “The Soul of The Apostolate”, Pope St. Pius X was conversing with a group of his cardinals one day. The pope asked them:
“What is the thing we most need, today, to save society?”
“Build Catholic schools,” said one.
“More churches,” said another.
“Speed up the recruiting of priests,” said a third.
“No, no,” said the pope. “The most necessary thing of all, at this time, is for every parish to possess a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened, resolute, and truly apostolic.”
Chautard continues, “Further details enable us to assert that this holy pope at the end of his life saw no hope for the salvation of the world unless the clergy could use their zeal to form faithful Christians full of apostolic ardor, preaching by word and example, but especially by example. In the diocese where he served before being elevated to the papacy, he attached less importance to the (count) of parishioners than to the list of Christians capable of radiating an apostolate. It was his opinion that shock troops could be formed in any environment.”
“Shock troops” (or assault troops) is actually a military term that refers to infantry formations, along with supporting units, created to lead an attack. Consider the Allied Forces of World War II moving toward the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. That first wave of men knew full well that their chances were extremely poor of ever leaving that beach alive, but they knew somebody needed to go first. It is no less than profound that the holy Pope St. Pius X would use a military term, shock troops, to describe the most necessary need of our times. The pope was resolute in acknowledging that we are in spiritual warfare as he calls for an uncommon valor willing to be the tip of the spear, the vanguard.
In other words, we need warrior saints unafraid “to lead.”
Originally posted at: One Peter Five.com
Homosexuality, Celibacy and Marriage
by Father Chris Pietraszko:
If two people love each other, and the Church doesn’t allow them to get married, is this wrong?
You know what is wrong with this question? “Love” is used without a definition and without proper understanding. I love my friends, I love my parents, I love my sisters, I love my brother priests. I have no desire to marry them. What we actually mean when we ask the question is:
If two people have erotic (eros) love for each other, is it wrong if the Church doesn’t allow them to get married.
What this tells us is that married love has a sexual component to it as part of its definition. And so sexuality has to be examined as well. Does sexual love have a definition beyond mere attraction and consent?
The view for same-sex marriage really is not intellectual . .
Let’s examine the biology of the human body, the spirituality of being feminine and masculine. You see, at this point most people check out. The view for same-sex marriage really is not intellectual, it is about stubbornly adhering to leaving things general and vague so that one can fulfill the profoundly deep desire for sexual union.
One can love someone you do not marry, and so we get into the trickery of language when the term “love” is so generally used. One does not need to get married to another to prove their love for that person, otherwise, we would all hate our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and friends.
We do need to be sensitive . . .
However we do need to be sensitive to the fact that asking a person to not have sexual expression with another whom they find attraction to is undoubtedly not an easy burden to carry. We cannot be flippant about the self-denial that such an individual has to make. Nor can we simply demand that such individuals find their way through life without any sort of friendship or support from a community.
This is why the Catechism insists that those struggling with same-sex attractions should have “disinterested friendships.” This doesn’t mean friendships lacking deep love, but rather friendships that are not expressed through erotic love.
Furthermore the issue goes beyond same-sex relationships because some are also called by God to live a celibate life for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In this case, men or women attracted to the opposite sex are called to sacrifice marriage. This is a challenging calling as well, and it really involves a life of grace, unity with a community, and support from others.
Recently I attended a wedding, and I watched the joy experienced by so many members of the family. Many celebrated their own marriage, and danced, demonstrating intimacy. My heart was pierced by this joy, not in an envious way, but in a way that reminded me that this was a type of love my own flesh and blood has been denied by virtue of my priestly-calling.
See the Church/God oppresses you . . .
Now to many, they would stop here, and think: “See the Church/God oppresses you. It doesn’t allow you to be happy.” But this is a spiritually immature and telling statement from such an individual. The mystics, such as St. Theresa of Avila often speak of a wounding type of love that comes from God, where we experience a deep longing in the heart. When we do not have God or the Church as the groom of our soul, this longing cannot be sustained and is crushing.
But with God it becomes an utterly joyful pain to bear, because it bears such an incredible fruit within our spiritual lives. My guardian angel and my own spirit responded to this wound of longing by simply saying, “The Church is worth the sacrifice.” Meaning that I am incredibly blessed to be exclusively married to the Church, and to devote my life to serve her as my wife. This is a blessing, and incredible gift, and while it stings the sting becomes a tremendous way to enter into the sacrificial love that Christ has for His Church.
If married couples cannot understand the deep and profound gift of celibacy, they will likely not understand the deep and profound gift of marriage. Because to understand them both, we must understand the meaning of sacrificial love, love that is willing to commit in both good-times and bad. Without this married life is nothing more than a fleeting, superficial choice based upon emotions, arousal and some vague terminology: “love.”
When I hear priests resentfully criticize unmarried clergy, I consider them spiritually sick. How can they resent their own call so boldly to offer up their lives for the Church? The Bride should be insulted by this. Of course, I do not regard this an unchangeable reality in the Church nor do I imply that clergy who are justifiably married in the Church to have any hatred towards their wife. But to seek to obliterate that call of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom in general, and not recognize its value especially in the priesthood is to deny your own vocation, your own wife.