Thursday, June 27, 2013

The temptation to give in.

I didn't see that coming.

Yesterday's SCOTUS decision really hit me hard. 

Reading other blogs and commenters, I'm struck by how not a few Catholics seem to believe Church teaching on sexuality and marriage must change - in fact, they predict it will change.  They refer to the hierarchy as the old men in the Vatican with outmoded ideas and morality.  They say that Church teaching is too negative, too prohibitive, and so on.
(I mean, come on, do you even believe - and I am paraphrasing, that infertile couples... heterosexual couples, leave themselves open to procreation, though imperfectly." I mean, come on, anyone over 50, that is pretty imperfect, or that hetero couples using contraception make themselves "neutered,"??..that's theo-babble, to support teachings the Church, well more accurately - the creaky older male leadership, wont turn away from. )
Now that society has made homosexuality respectable, and is generally accepted as equal to heterosexuality - that is pretty much what has happened BTW - I was surprised by a new temptation to 'give in'.  The thought came to me: 'I could be married.  I could have a lot of benefits.  I could get my name on the deed.'  The temptation had me questioning my life-long struggle.  I came face to face with the temptation to give up.  I felt abandoned and more alienated than ever before in my life.  It seemed if I had been plunged into the deepest darkness.  As if all charity was zapped from my heart.  It was scary.

No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life: the unity of the Church is damaged not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith but also by those who disregard the moral obligations to which they are called by the Gospel. - Veritatis Splendour

I prayed my rosary, went to bed, and this morning Our Lord's words came to me, "... due to the increase of evil, the love of many will grow cold." Matthew 24:12

On my way to Mass I kept ruminating the Word I received upon waking.  Very often a particular scripture spontaneously comes to mind each day, without my preparing for it the night before - sometimes it is a passage from the daily readings - today it was not.  This morning it began with, "the love of many will grow cold" and then I recalled the actual verse: "... due to the increase of evil, the love of many will grow cold."

I mention it because it appeared as a light in the darkness for me.  Yesterday I also read comments of people, disappointed as I was, saying they felt like giving up.  That is a temptation.  Especially when we hear how joyful the Christian ought to be and we find ourselves discouraged.  It is a temptation.  We need to remember that joy is sometimes unfelt - yet it is deep in the soul, sometimes enlightened by Christ in His Word, in the Word made flesh - the Eucharist.  The temptation is to think it must be felt, to look for success or approval or affirmation when we find ourselves dejected.  The temptation is to give up when all seems against you.  "Father let this cup pass from me - but not my will but thy will be done."

Dissent, in the form of carefully orchestrated protests and polemics carried on in the media, is opposed to ecclesial communion and to a correct understanding of the hierarchical constitution of the People of God. Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts. - Veritatis Splendor

"Due to the increase of evil, the love of many will grow cold."  They will give into temptations against faith and fall away.  Little by little.  They will be persuade to no longer 'love the truth' - hence the love of many will grow cold.
Today, however, it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church's moral teaching, with the precise goal of recalling certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied. In fact, a new situation has come about within the Christian community itself, which has experienced the spread of numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological, social and cultural, religious and even properly theological nature, with regard to the Church's moral teachings. It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected; certain of the Church's moral teachings are found simply unacceptable; and the Magisterium itself is considered capable of intervening in matters of morality only in order to "exhort consciences" and to "propose values", in the light of which each individual will independently make his or her decisions and life choices.   
In particular, as the Council affirms, "the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether in its written form or in that of Tradition, has been entrusted only to those charged with the Church's living Magisterium, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ".41 The Church, in her life and teaching, is thus revealed as "the pillar and bulwark of the truth" ( 1 Tim 3:15), including the truth regarding moral action. Indeed, "the Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even in respect of the social order, and to make judgments about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls". -Veritatis Splendour

Our Father... lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen. 


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  2. It hit me hard too, Terry. I dreamed last night that I was in a big room at a hotel with some of my family members. A same-sex marriage was taking place in the hotel and some of my family wanted to have a coffee for the couple. I told them that would be cooperating with evil, they couldn't do it and some were angry with me. At that point I started to cry and say I was telling this because I want them all to go to heaven and by cooperating in this evil they were jeopardizing their souls. I woke up this morning exhausted. We are living the times Jesus predicted when families would be divided by the world's evils and some of our own family members would turn us over to the persecutors. The time is close indeed. But there is no option but to continue fighting with all the spiritual weapons at our disposal! God bless you for hanging in!

  3. Count me in as being hit hard by yesterday's ruling too. A friend here at work came to me with the same sentiments. One of her office mates "wooped" with joy for the ruling. Of course, neither she nor I could get away with a "woop" if the ruling had gone our way. All that to say--stand strong, dear one. People you don't know feel the same way. We must unite in spirit, even if we don't know one another.

  4. I certainly understand the feeling, and the temptation to give in. It is always easier to go with the Zeitgeist. But like I said yesterday, really our society has been sliding for decades with the legalization of abortion, acceptance of contraception, epidemic of porn, acceptance of fornication, etc.
    We really shouldn't have been surprised, or had our hopes up. And we should realize that society will continue to crumble, brick by brick. It's hard to be happy about that. But we don't give in.

  5. The cross, the greatest sign of God’s love.

    No one escapes the cross, not those in darkness or those who are graced to be able to walk in the light.

    Carrying a cross will always bring people to the Light. Then we are offered the freedom to choose: to remain in darkness or continue to walk in the Light.

    Sometimes it can take a lifetime for people to reach the moment of light. Two thieves on a cross can bear witness to that truth.

    Some people are given a cross while still in the womb and are expected to carry it through life. Some will say this is a burden. Others will say it is a gift.

    Our crosses are gifts for each other. Ask Simon.

    We are tempted to remove our hands from the cross, put it down.

    When praying the Way of the Cross, observe the occasions Jesus removes both his hands from the Cross, even when he falls under the burden.

  6. We have not yet begun to fight.

  7. I guess I am not very surprised given our history in the Church. The Church Militant and the world is like a [real] but very rocky marriage - there are a few good times and lots of bad times, but we are stuck together until death do we part. It isn't going to be perfect. There will be sadness, violence, sin, suffering, and death. All the judicial fiats and government papers in the world will not change that.

    We are all disordered because of the Fall. Every last one of us. The society we have built reflects its creator - fallen man. Our structures and governments always fail in time because the failure is built in - the original sin is inborn. Perhaps we moderns take it harder because we are raised on the lie that this is all there is and that progress - almighty progress - will lead us to a perfect world in time. We just need more money, more political will, more....

    Same sex "marriage" is an example of our failed attempts at continually trying to grasp at human perfection and happiness. Our pride makes us do stupid things like this, and we ultimately pay a heavy price for it.

  8. Terry,

    I am only responding as you quoted me..I mean I love be a temptation for a man but not this way..(okay, wrong crowd for that kind of humor..)and while I know it was just not my posts, but everything that happened to cause you to despair..but I really don't like being part of anyone's sadness or questioning faith. See, I guess I see it differently, and I think some of the people who are working within the church for change feel the same way. Accepting what a church authority tells you, against your good conscience, and what your soul tells you is not a faith or a religion to me, its a cult. I don't think in anyway our faith is a cult, so I don't understand why its wrong to question it. Remember, the church said the world was flat, that slavery was okay, yada, yada yada, but the church changes and its okay to question it, to probe, to understand the why of your faith. Its not temptation its questioning and understanding. I did not post on here yesterday as I saw no reason. The SCOTUS made a decision based on law, NOT on faith. For all the people hand wringing, it had nothing to do with the Catholic faith, it has to do with law. I too read a lot of people bemoaning the judgment. We arent a theocracy, plain and simple. As for putting money and political will behind it, there are a lot of things more needy of that, like hungry people, people affected by violence and sexual assault, the problems which create abortion, not if some queens want to make a life long monogomous committment to each other and deserve the same benefits everyone has. How petty that has nothing to do with how the Church performs the sacrament of marriage.

    Terry, you also seem to equate gay marriage with having your name on the deed or monetary rewards. This IS the reason for civil marriage..I pay the same amount of taxes (more now) as anyone else and I deserve the same benefits. However, if you think that anyone is entering into a gay marriage because of those reason..well those people have to be crazy. Relationships are hard, gay and straight, and a real commitment comes from being there when someone is sick, when someone is discouraged, when someone's elderly mother needs help, when someone's kid needs gentle love with a firm hand, when someone needs support,when someone's annoying alcoholic sister needs babysitting,m when someone's dad is sick and dying and you need the most important person in your life to leave work drive three hours and be there for you. Its about forgiveness. Its also about the great things that happen to the two of you and the ones you love. ALL of that is a commitment, NOT putting your name on a deed. Its hard, its ugly, its great, it transformative and it has made me a better person. That is why so many people think the Church will change. They have lived it, they have seen people live it.

    Diatribe done. I thought that this would be an interesting blog to talk about Catholic theology and debate and argue which is healthy for us and the Church. My apologies if I added any problems to you..just letting you know that there is another side.

    1. "Accepting what a church authority tells you, against your good conscience, "

      Ah, but this is a fundamental misunderstanding about what the Church, in particular the work of Newman and Benedict XVI, say about conscience. Conscience is indeed the highest authority, but it is the dimmest. Like everything else about us, it is fallen and must be reformed and informed by Church teaching. You are to always follow a conscience. But it is your job to form it properly. Forming it means enlightening it by Church teaching. Like your mind, you need to educate and form it properly. To neglect forming the mind means to remain ignorant. To neglect forming the conscience means to remain in error.

      If that sounds like a "cult" to you, well, it is Church teaching. We believe that Christ has redeemed us and that we are to give our entire selves over to Him, body, mind, soul, conscience, all.

      If our consciences were perfect, there would be no need for Church teaching to form them. This is what we believe. If you reject that, you are rejecting a central tenant of Catholicism. This isn't negotiable.

      For more information, please refer to Cardinal Newman, in full context, and Benedict's writings on him. Also, the CDF has documents on conscience worth reading as well. In summary, conscience is fallen but we are bound to follow it. We have a duty to form it according to Church teaching. To deny that and to remain willfully ignorant of Church teaching, or worse to reject it, is to commit a prideful sin. This is the same thing our bishops have taught as well.

      It is Church teaching. If you call it a cult, then I am a huge cult follower of Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church.

    2. I'll add that Church authority has been given authority by Jesus Christ Himself. When she, the Body of Christ, speaks authoritatively, she speaks what she receives from Christ Himself. Church teaching, infallible and without error, is the teaching of Christ. What she says goes.

      If you reject that, again, you are rejecting Catholicism. I struggle with addictions and sins too, mind you.

  9. I never called the Church a cult...I implied people who blindly follow Church teachings.. (Some of who use those teachings not as guidance but support of there own world view) act as if it is a cult.

    1. I guess I'm not sure what you mean here. Church teaching is not a "suggestion." Church authority is not a mere "guide" that you can choose to agree with or not to agree with. Infallible Church teaching, such as that which concerns what a human person is and what he is made for (which is ultimately the question regarding marriage), is something one either accepts as true or not. May one have, as Newman said, difficulties with it? Of course. But a thousand difficulties does not make one doubt.

      I suppose you need to ask yourself what you really believe, Mack. Is the Church the Body of Christ? Does she speak for Christ here on earth, or not? If the answer is "yes" for both, it is not possible to disagree with her teachings, since her teachings are the teachings of Jesus Christ.

      If the answer is "no" then I would say you are probably wasting your time claiming to be a Catholic. For if the ultimate authority on right and wrong is not the Church, but rather oneself, then there is no need for Church teaching, or the Church, or belief in God at all.

  10. Btw, Terry, did that email responding to yours ever come through?

  11. “The Lord takes his time. But even He, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. Not only do we have to have patience: He has! He waits for us! And He waits for us until the end of life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God.

    • Pope Francis, June 28, 2013

  12. Hang in there, Terry. Cling to Christ.

  13. "If the answer is "no" then I would say you are probably wasting your time claiming to be a Catholic. For if the ultimate authority on right and wrong is not the Church, but rather oneself, then there is no need for Church teaching, or the Church, or belief in God at all."

    Just caught your post here, Jericho. Thanks for throwing in that little snipe that I am simply "claiming," to be a Catholic. My friend, I have been told your point over and over again and had the doors of the Church almost literally slammed in my face..but I don't know if its the Irish in me, or my days of rugby, when someone slams a door on my I just go and push it in. "Hi, I am here and not going anywhere."

    I, and I sure other Catholics ( or those "claiming," to be) who disagree with Church teaching in good faith and conscience have stayed with our faith despite being told to "go." I even briefly thought about it when I attended an elderly friend's funeral in an Episcopal church. The "mass," was almost the same, the church looked like the church I grew up in, with gothic look, statues and even the good old Communion railing in place. Yet, I don't base my faith on architecture or "easiness." I am a Catholic, despite what *you* may think, imperfect and sturggling as we all do. Something keeps me a Catholic and it sure as heck inst because I have the red carpet rolled out and am made to feel "welcome." (imagine being called intrinsically evil and disordered from the altar and see if you come back.) I personally think it is the Holy Spirit that keeps people of good faith but dissent coming back . I think the Holy Spirit is challenging the bishops and clergy and truly feel that THEY need to have humility themselves, and perhaps put aside their own personal beliefs and listen for a change. Church teaching DOES change (for God's sake the early founders of the church felt that "marriage," was on a lower ring then celibacy, and thinking the end was near (why, why is the end so important to some of the faithfull, sorry people we are stuck here and need to make ti a better place for all) urged everyone to be celibate. Well, since the end was not coming anytime soon, and celibacy was not just impractical but also could do serious damange on the future of the Church, marriage became a more necessary thing, still on a lower rung then celibacy (a trope that still rears its head with the SSA thing..)

    So thanks Jericho, totally understand what you are saying as I heard, it, read it, had the doors slammed on me before but I will just keep "knocking those walls down."

    By the way, be accusing people of "claiming," to be a Catholic you kind of shut the door on them listening and engaging with you...(of course, doesnt stop me but I love a good challenge._

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  15. Mack said, "Just caught your post here, Jericho. Thanks for throwing in that little snipe that I am simply "claiming," to be a Catholic."

    I don't make the rules. Christ does.

    Maid said, ""Hi, I am here and not going anywhere."

    Good. But don't expect the Church to change for you. If you're cool with that, welcome.

    Mack said, "I am a Catholic, despite what *you* may think, imperfect and sturggling as we all do."

    Oh, I would wager a hefty sum that I am more imperfect and struggle more than you. I just do not ask the Church to accept my addictions or disorders.

    Mack said, "Church teaching DOES change"

    As I said before, and I really wish you would have done your homework, Church teaching has developed but never changed in the sense that it contracted itself. Again, please refer to Newman. What has developed in Church teaching means that what was already there (i.e., revelation) was the there from the start but it takes time to tease it out and to figure it out. Think of revelation like a giant egg dropped on us. It takes time to crack it and see what is there. But it never is replaced. What was there from the start is still there now, we are just figuring out exactly what it looks like and exactly what is there. Marriage has to do with what a human person is and what he is made for. This is something that cannot change and all of the developments that have been made, such as NFP, are basically complete. There is no room for homosexual activity, masturbation, adultery, or beastiality. And yes, those four go together because each represents a disordered use of the sexual faculty. To declare one or more of those as ordered would be to disrupt and destroy Church teaching. It would be a "change" as in the type you are looking for. It would also mean that infallible Church teaching, as human sexuality/marriage/contraception is, would be deemed erroneous. This would, in effect, cause the Church to no longer exist. And yes, despite claims to the contrary, Church teaching on sex, marriage, masturbation, contraception, and homosexuality is indeed infallible. The change you seek is in YOURSELF, not the Church. If you continue to fight that internal change, you will continue to be frustrated.

    I'm not slamming any doors. You are.

  16. I guess I would like to know what you really believe, Mack. Do you believe that the Church was founded by Jesus Christ - the Son of God - and protected from error by the The Holy Spirit? That she is the Mystical Body of Christ? That, as such, she has the power and authority to declare what is good, what is evil, what is right, what is wrong, what is of the Gospel and what is not?

    If not, then why are you here? It is foolish to give your body, blood, mind, and soul over to something you don't really believe in. Which is why I don't think you've really given your entire self to the Church - to Jesus Christ. If you had, you would be what we call "converted." That doesn't mean you are perfect. Far from it. But it does mean you recognize it and seek to have Christ change you through His Body, the Church. But that change cannot come if you won't let it - or if you seek Christ to change for you. It doesn't work that way.

    When I say "Amen" I am saying I believe and profess all that the Catholic Church teaches and professes. Everything she says on conscience. Everything she says on sexuality and marriage. Everything she says on everything. All that she declares to be of Christ. Doing that makes me a Catholic. Do I sin and fail? Yes. A lot. Do I think that the Church is wrong and that my sins are not really sins and that I need to work to change her so that she affirms me in my addictions and disorders? Nope. She is perfect. I am not.

    What do you say when you say "Amen"?


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