See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, February 12, 2011

St. Bernadette's heroic virtue.



'Do not receive gifts that blind even the prudent.' [Ex. 23:8]
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Last evening I was reading about St. Bernadette.  I have Rene Laurentin's book, Bernadette Speaks.  It is very good.  I began reading some of the interrogation the saint endured - she went through this all of her life - although near the time of the apparitions, the interviews were especially intrusive.  What strikes me about Bernadette was her absolute honesty and candor, and the integrity where with she so intelligently deflected imprudent questions, even those posed to her by priests and bishops, some of whom were more than annoying, and somewhat nonchalant about tarnishing the reputation of a young girl.
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One aspect of Bernadette's veracity and character I find most impressive was her adamant refusal to accept gifts or money.  She loved her poverty, to be sure, but more deeply, she had an innate sense of how gifts and money can corrupt and perhaps even discredit one's mission or purpose.  The saint had no love for money or honors, which perhaps explains why her intellect remained so sharp, and her judgement so keen.
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The harm.
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Bernadette's abhorrence of donations and gifts seems to me early evidence of her heroic virtue.  Once again I refer to John of the Cross speaking of the harm caused from joy in temporal goods - here he addresses himself to the subject of gifts:
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"If a man gives way to concupiscence or joy about temporal goods, his sanctity and keen interest will be insufficient to prevent this injury.  (Blunting of the mind in relation to God, darkening of God's goods, etc.)  God therefore warned us through Moses:  'Do not receive gifts that blind even the prudent.' [Ex. 23:8]  This admonition was directed toward those who were to be judges, since their judgement must be clear and alert, which would not be the case if they were to covet and rejoice in gifts.
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Similarly God commanded Moses to appoint as judges those who abhorred avarice, that their judgement would not be blunted by gratification of the passions.  He speaks not merely of a lack of desire but of the abhorrence of avarice. (...)
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'They all love gifts and allow themselves to be carried away by retributions, and they do not judge the orphan, and the widow's cause does not  come to them and their attention.'  [Is. 1:23]" - Ascent Bk III, Ch. 19: 4,6
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That last verse from Isaiah is fulfilled these days not only by a few religious leaders, but our representatives in government as well.  No wonder no one is able to judge rightly any longer.
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Photo: St. Bernadette, Biography Online

Friday, February 11, 2011

I was in Lourdes today.



I just went to Lourdes for Our Lady's feast day via live web cam.  I've been there twice before in person.  Tonight felt the same.  Our Lady anticipated my visit.  She wanted me there, she called me there.  This is the anniversary of her first apparition to Bernadette... it's cool to think about that while looking at the grotto.  Our Lady asked people to come in procession.  She asks for us.
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Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Saints who disfigured themselves.




Pagans do it now.
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Today many people like to point out all the oddities of Catholicism; for instance the veneration of saints and their relics is one.  Another is mystical phenomena such as stigmata and visions.  The other day one of my online friends brought up the subject of saints who disfigured themselves - why did they do it?  (I tried to do it, but no matter what I did to my face, the more ruggedly handsome I got!  LOL!  JK!)
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Seriously, I do find it curious that people today would make fun of Catholic saints who tried to disfigure themselves to safeguard their chastity or ward off suitors, seeing how fashionable bodily mutilation has become - tattoos, piercings, implants, along with such grotesque make-up and fashions...  pretty disfiguring if you ask me.  One might say it's part of neo-pagan cult.
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In times past, culture was obviously quite different.  Did you know the saying, "Cutting off the nose to spite the face" is believed to have originated from the 12th century?  I know!  It has been attributed to various instances of nuns/virgins disfiguring themselves to avoid rape by invaders.  Wiki cites St. Ebba and company doing so to repulse Viking raiders.
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Refusing to marry.
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Other saints scoured their faces and shaved their heads so as not to be appealing to suitors or the men their father's chose for them.  Women had no rights and were given in marriage, you know.  In their charity, other saintly types were genuinely concerned about not inciting men to lust, a few over zealous girls may have deliberately disfigured themselves, yet most simply prayed for God to make them unattractive.  Others like Margaret of Cortona fasted herself to anorexic levels, thus her unattractiveness occurred naturally.  In fact in modern times we see a sort of inversion to the phenomenon.  What was some times regarded as a supernatural virtue in the past, has become a morbid disorder in the present.  It is my understanding that not a few cases of extreme anorexia, morbid obesity, hair-pullers and cutters are often unconscious attempts by  women - who may have been abused or raped - to make herself unattractive as a means of self-defense and or protection.
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I believe deliberate mutilation of our bodies is of course sinful and would never be approved by any spiritual director.  I'm not sure about praying for such a grace however.  I'm not even sure about being preoccupied over it.  St. Maria Goretti did nothing to make herself attractive, in fact she was probably unconscious of her beauty - yet a boy attempted to rape her.  Not her her fault.  Sadly, today little girls are taught to wear make-up and wear sexy clothes - it might be heroic virtue on the part of girls to go against that trend - but I digress.
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How St. John of the Cross sees it.
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I promised my friend Mercury I'd find out what John of the Cross said about this business of disfiguring oneself.  The saint only mentions those who prayed for disfigurement - not those who took a knife to their face.  We know St. John is first of all writing for contemplatives - although it seems to be a higher and more difficult standard, I think that of which he speaks can be moderated to fit any state in life.  In the Ascent the saint explains the principle he is following in discussing the need for self-denial in the spiritual life:  "There is nothing worthy of a man's joy save the service of God and the procurement of his honor and glory in all things.  His use of things should be directed to this and turned away from vanity, and exclude concern for his own satisfaction and consolation."  [Bk. III, Ch. 20: 3]Today one might add "pleasure".
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Prayers for disfigurement are therefore related to the mortification of the will as regards vain rejoicing in natural goods:  meaning, "beauty, grace, elegance, bodily constitution, and all other corporal endowments."  Go to a beach or a gym, watch TV or read a magazine - our culture is obsessed with this stuff.  St. John tells us:  "These natural gifts and graces are such a provocation and occasion both to the possessor and the beholder that there is scarcely a heart that escapes from this snare or birdlime.  We have known many spiritual persons with these endowments who have prayed God to disfigure them, in fear lest they be an occasion to themselves or others of some vain joy or attachment." [Ascent III, Ch. 21: 1]  Notice how he mentioned "to themselves"?  Remember Narcissus, some have fallen into self-pleasure because of "themselves".
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So anyway - I kept my promise, I found what St. John had to say about it.  It also helps explain why virtuous women prefer to wear a chapel veil to Mass - to safe guard modesty and preserve recollection.  I guess I have to say I'm no longer against it.  BTW - be sure and vote at Fr. Z's poll on the subject of women wearing veils in church - he has over 4000 votes already!
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Photo:  Gaga on the cover of Vogue.  I once worked with a guy who looked like that.  Hi Kelly!  LOL!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Editing my blogroll again.

More thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI



The Pope of the prophecy.
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Fr. Z likes to call him the Pope of Christian Unity.  That works.  But the more I ponder it, the more I think he is John Bosco's Pope; the Pope who guides the Barque of Peter into port, anchoring the Church between the two columns of the Eucharist and Our Lady, Help of Christians.
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In St. John's dream, some of the ships remained at a distance from the Pope's ship during the stormy battle, but gradually they drew near in support.  I'm convinced we are witnessing this today with the Eastern Churches, the traditional Anglicans, and perhaps even the SSPX.  One by one.
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Perhaps I'm being too pious about this, but I am continually reminded of St. John Bosco's dream whenever the Pope speaks to the many hopeful signs occurring in our midst these days. The Holy Father's message to the new Archbishops seems to me especially striking:
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Benedict XVI concluded his homily with a call to action aimed at the new archbishops. He told them to "throw out the nets of the Gospel into the stormy seas of our time, to obtain the adherence of men and women to Christ, so as to draw them out ... from the salty waters of death and from the dark where the light of heaven does not reach.  "You must bring them onto the earth, to live in communion with Jesus Christ." - CNA
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What kind of lifelines?
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It's amazing what can be done.  I may have written about this before, but years ago a friend's mother suffering from cancer needed to be reconciled to the Church.  She was a fallen away Catholic due to the fact  she was divorced and remarried.  The couple had been married for years, their children grown.  Acting on an intuition, I called the lady's pastor and asked him to hear her confession.  She was quickly and eagerly reconciled to the Church and the sacraments, and after her recovery, she and her husband lived as brother and sister and attended daily Mass.  There was a lifeline thrown to that woman and she was united once again to the Church.
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Similar stories happen all of the time - even with same-sex couples.  God always provides a way for those who need to come home. 
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That is why I think our Holy Father's words in reference to St. Peter Canisius are so important for us in our concern not only for the salvation of others, but ourselves as well; the saint humbly “avoided severity and the rhetoric of anger ... and sought only to explain our spiritual roots and to revitalize faith in the Church.”  Charity, truth in love, is what attracts the floundering soul.  It is not beauty that will save the world, but love.
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I think we need to remember there is always a lifeline.  Nothing is ever impossible where love is concerned - in other words, nothing is impossible with God.

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Art: Dream of Two Columns - © A.Vonn Hartung   St. John Bosco Church, Orocovis, Puerto Rico

The Wednesday Audience



And Adoration.
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Each Wednesday I spend the afternoon at adoration at my parish church.  It isn't because I'm holy, rather it is because the people for whom I fill in are no longer able to get out for Mass, much less adoration - and no one else seems to like the afternoon time slots. 

After I arrived home last evening, while reading the Holy Father's words at the Wednesday audience, I was struck by how much it tied in with my own conversation with Our Lord at adoration.  "How providential!" I thought - it almost seemed as if I had listened in to the Holy Father's allocution.  I had been concerned with the neo-protestants, people like Fr. Cutie, Anne Rice, and others who leave the Church because they cannot accept Catholic moral teaching.  I understood the Pope's Wednesday address as an answer to my prayer, or at least confirming my sentiments at adoration.  From Catholic News Agency: 
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Defend Church doctrine without "giving into disrespect and angry rhetoric".
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To spread the Gospel, a believer needs a personal relationship with Jesus, an upright moral life, and a good prayer life, Pope Benedict XVI said Feb. 9  Benedict cited the example of St. Peter Canisius, the 16th century saint and doctor who revitalized Germany in the Counter-Reformation.
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Pope Benedict remembered him during the general audience address for his ability to “harmonize fidelity to dogmatic principles with the respect due to each individual.”  He called it “extraordinary” that in the difficult period following the Reformation, the saint “avoided severity and the rhetoric of anger ... and sought only to explain our spiritual roots and to revitalize faith in the Church.”

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St. Peter Canisius emphasized the liturgy and the sacraments in his writings – namely the three part “Catecheses” series – which were directed to youth and the greater public to improve basic spiritual education.
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“His significant contribution to catechesis is second only to the example for us of his disciplined Christ-centered spirituality, finding in the liturgy, daily prayer and devotion to the heart of Jesus the strength and inspiration to carry out well his countless tasks,” said the Pope.

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The saints' focus on the liturgy, combined with an emphasis on personal prayer are both important today, said the Pope.
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“In the midst of the thousand activities and the multiple stimuli that surround us, it is necessary to find moments of meditation daily before the Lord to listen to him and speak with him,” he said. - CNA
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Neo-Protestants
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Wednesday I had been especially saddened about friends who reject Catholic teaching as well as the increasing numbers who seem to be leaving the Church - some of whom converted to Catholicism as adults.  In a sense these people are neo-protestants - not unlike the 16th century protestant reformers.  We have in the Church those who choose to stay, and we call them dissenters.  Angry rhetoric and name calling only deepens the divide.  I also thought of a friend who was unhappy with a post I did regarding same-sex marriage and gay couples with children.  This is our new reality as Catholics, and we need to pray for one another instead of attacking each other.  We need to see each other as individuals loved by God - not as ideologues in the culture wars.  Jesus wants me and you... and that other guy.   I know that better now because I realized Jesus actually wanted me at adoration yesterday.  He wanted me.  He likes me - he really likes me.  He loves me and you... and that other guy.
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One by one.  I always get sidetracked from that.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Things I'm thinking about doing, and other stuff.



I finally finished my Cat portrait - I thought it was finished when I posted it, but viewing the image online allows me to see the work differently - and discover my faults - sort of like blogging.  I'll have to re-shoot the panel - although most viewers will not notice the difference.  I detailed the cat's expression a little more carefully.  I think he looks a lot more like me now.
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I have a couple more projects in mind.  I came across this incredible photo of a young Spanish boy - about 6 or 7 years old.  The expression on his face reminded me of an image of a Sacred Heart of Jesus painting I like very much.  I'm thinking of painting the kid as the boy Jesus offering his Sacred Heart to the viewer.  I wonder about it however since the Child Jesus is always shown more Northern European, with blond, curly hair.  This Spanish kid has intense dark eyes and dark, straight hair.
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The other project would be a painting of St Gabriel of O.L. of Sorrows.  I wanted to paint him as a well known priest, but I can't find a photo of the priest with his mouth shut.  I know what you are thinking, if I paint the saint as a living priest, I can't say it is Gabriel Possenti....  So anyway - instead of painting the saint holding the crucifix, I am thinking of painting him holding an automatic weapon, since Gabriel is the patron saint of guns.  Quirky, huh?
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Last but not least, I want to paint a serious icon of Our Lady of the Burning Bush/Sinai - holding the ladder of monks.  I want to paint it in the Russian style. 
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We'll see.
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I have adoration today.  I'm very sad over a story of a young man who killed himself.  Last Wednesday I was so sad over Fr. Euteneuer.  

Bored stiff

I'll get back to you in a bit.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The veiling of women...



There ought to be a law?

I love Fr. Z - everyone who reads me knows that.  I do not comment on his blog because I'm not registered.  No I'm not afraid he wouldn't approve me - I was registered before and he approved me.  I just don't like to register over and over.  There is an advantage to that you know.  Yes, because I can make a post out of what would otherwise be a comment.  Smart, huh?  I did it earlier with Mark Shea and Henry.
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So anyway - Fr. Z has a pole poll up asking about mantillas on women in church.  Evidently a priest told a woman not to wear her veil while doing the readings for Mass and she asked Fr. Z about it.  Fr. Z felt the priest should not have said what he did - and I agree.  I honestly think that if a woman wants to wear a veil while doing the readings or leading the choir, she should be able to do so.  It is not any more a distraction than any woman doing the reading.  What if a nun in a traditional habit was up there?  Distracting?  See - that's just dumb.
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Anyway - back to Father's poll.  It seems to be mostly men who think women should wear a head covering in church - and so far 24% believe it should be a matter of canon law.  (But 28% think it should be on a voluntary basis.)   I came in at the end of the polling results after I voted: "I am male and NO. This custom should not return. (3%, 22 Votes)"
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I know no one here will be surprised by that.  Nevertheless, I don't think it is a big deal if a woman wants to wear a veil - it should be up to the woman to decide.  I'm so liberal, aren't I?
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Seriously, isn't it curious that so many men care about this?  I worked with a woman who suddenly purchased a mantilla.  I asked her what she was going to do with it.  She said she was going to wear it.  I asked "Why?"
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"My husband asked me to."
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Veiled men.
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On the other hand - sometimes men wear veils.  Greek Orthodox priests/monks do.  Middle eastern men do as well.  I found this photo of a Tuareg man wearing a veil with the following explanation:  Among the Berbers in North Africa and the Tuareq in West Africa, the women do not wear veils but the men do. The Tuareq men wear veils to protect from evil spirits (or desert sand in reality) and start to wear them at the age of 25. 
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Which reminds me, when I was in the monastery - a long time ago - one of the monks used to make nun's veils and would occasionally wear one himself.  True story.
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Anyway - Go on over and vote - spike Father's stats. 

Blog Wars



Guys like this stuff.
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I know I do, it's like playing war or cowboys and Indians when I was little.  After I grew up I never got into talk radio or TV pundits.  I don't know why.  But I do come across a good fight every so often online - nothing like what goes on here on my blog however.  In fact, I just got another cancellation email because of all the negativity in my com box.  I only have like three or four commenters anyway - so my controversies are pretty tame.  I digress - but before I get back on topic, this is what my friend wrote:
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to be honest, i've not spent a lot of time reading blogs the past few days.  i admit that i'm feeling worn out by a lot of the negativity on blogs, and there's been an exceptional amount of that on yours in the combox.  attacks & diatribes.  very little charity.  and self-righteousness dressed up as admonishing fellow brothers & sisters in Christ for their benefit.  dressing down people.  it's destroying my peace, so i'm taking some time away from the computer for a while - at least the blogs.  - Former Follower
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What goes on here is nothing.  My blog really is namby-pamby-land.  Yet sensitive souls are offended.  If I try to tone things down, feelings get hurt.  If I let things go, feelings get hurt again.  Alas - one can't please every one.
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Moving on.
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So a couple of my favorite bloggers - namely Mark Shea, and the guys at Vox Nova are engaged in a small war - Thomas Peters is involved as well, but I rarely read him anymore - too politically ambitious for my taste, if you know what I mean.  But I like Mark Shea a lot - I never could understand why some of my blogger friends don't.  Likewise I really like the guys from Vox Nova.  Go figure.
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Anyway - if you like fights, Mark Shea just posted a run-down on what is going on.  The feud kind of, sort of reminds me of what went down at The Cafeteria is Closed before that blog died.  Gerald's ship blew up real good.  (Oh dear - was that uncharitable?)

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Real Presence



Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity
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"Hail, most blessed hope, and most holy redemption!
Hail true flesh of Christ, to me precious above gold and topaz and all most goodly stones!
Hail, most blessed blood of Christ,
poured forth to ransom me, a sinner,
and wash away my stains!
Hail, Jesus Christ, defend me against the ancient enemy." - St. Tresan
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This prayer of the 6th century Irish saint, which I came across in Magnificat, demonstrates the ancient faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.  It isn't just a sign.  "We eat this body and drink this blood."
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Today I think there are Catholics - priests included, who think it is only a sign, a symbol.
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I prefer to hold to the faith of the ancients... when I touch the Blessed Sacrament, I am touching Christ Himself.

Don't go tryin' to try to please me...


I've upset some people with my posts and comments.

I'm told I'm mean.

That I make people sad...

"You know what makes me sad?

You do!"


(Remember Sarge the therapist in the Geico ad?)

Lighten up and stop taking yourselves so seriously.

Art: Cat - T. Nelson
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Mass Chat: Dear Terry...



Crackpot with a website wisdom.

Ed. Note:  I get questions too you know, thus for my afternoon break I thought I'd answer one.  Not everything is in my acclaimed academic best seller, "Ignored Works", thus from time to time, when Fr. Z is in NYC, I need to answer queries from my fan base...

A kindly reader writes:
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Dear Terry,  Do you know why a woman's sexual sin is graver than a man's.

Signed,

Mr. P
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The Original Deal - my reply:
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Dear P,

So sorry for the delay, I know you asked this in a previous post.  I want you to know, I actually answered your query 'right off the bat' as they say, but I prudently waited a few days to publish my reply to allow some time for the thought to gel, and then return to review what I wrote so as not to be too precipitous in answering every crackpot with a website.  LOL!  I'm being rather facetious with you!  But it is good to avoid posting without thought. 
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So anyway, dear Pablo, may I call you Pablo?  To answer your query, "why are women called to greater purity and are bigger sluts than men when they do dirty things?":
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I'm afraid it all has to do with Adam and Eve and that thing theologians refer to as the "original deal".  As you know, Eve, the first woman was created from Adam's rib.  Therefore, Eve's body (and by extension all women's bodies) was not really her own.  Consequently, a woman has no rights except those permitted her by men.  This was what is referred to as the "original deal" - due to the fact Eve's body was taken from the man's body.  It's pretty simple. 
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As everyone knows, Eve's sin was the "original deal breaker" - she started it - nevertheless her rebellion never changed the fact her body wasn't her own.  Naturally, this is why a woman's sin against the flesh is considered graver than a man's - the woman has no rights over her body since it really belongs to the man.  One sees this demonstrated in conception - a woman is impregnated with the man's seed - hence the child, though nourished in the mother's womb, is not her property, but remains the man's property. 
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With this in mind, we know that everything bad is pretty much the woman's fault, but men may be excused for falling for their manipulative, seductive charms.
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Signed,
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Terry, Crackpot with a website
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(Except for the original question, I made the rest up.)

Posh People