Saturday, July 27, 2019

The human person ...

Dali - Temptation of St. Anthony

Persona Humana.

St. Paul VI approved this document in 1975.  It's been more or less ignored since then, yet Catholic teaching does not change.

Someone who struggles with masturbation can, by the grace of God, overcome it.  Recently a friend of mine revealed to me a personal struggle, and mentioned how Catholic teaching has evolved on sexuality.  When I was an adolescent, a confessor distinguished between complete self abuse and incomplete.  It seems ludicrous to me today, but perhaps it was an important, albeit immature, for an adolescent back then.  I would be surprised if anyone would ask that today, much less teach it, especially since masturbation is often considered by some, to be no longer sinful.

I've always wonder how and why they can say that when from the earliest times it was considered a sin against chastity.  St. Peter Damian considered it sodomy, along with the sin of contraception.  (Hence my saying we are all Sodomites today.)  St. Benedict and St. Francis of Assisi tossed themselves in thorn bushes to avoid the sin.  Even the desert fathers and Cassian considered nocturnal emissions as unchaste. (They are involuntary and therefore not sinful of course.)  Yet masturbation itself remains a sin to avoid and struggle to overcome.  Peacefully and perseveringly.  

(Again, I'm only writing about this because of some things confided to me recently.  Without going into detail, I believe the change in thinking regarding masturbation had a negative effect in the formation of priests and religious, leading a sexual permissiveness, as seen in the secret lives of priests such as former Cardinal McCarrick, who saw nothing immoral in sleeping naked with seminarians and priests.)

"In the present period, the corruption of morals has increased ..."

Almost 45 years ago, back when society was just emerging from horrible, institutionalized, sexual repression - kidding - the Vatican - during the reign of Pope Paul VI, had the audacity to issue an official document entitled Persona Humana - Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics.
Given in Rome, at the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on December 29th, 1975.
The traditional Catholic doctrine that masturbation constitutes a grave moral disorder is often called into doubt or expressly denied today. It is said that psychology and sociology show that it is a normal phenomenon of sexual development, especially among the young. It is stated that there is real and serious fault only in the measure that the subject deliberately indulges in solitary pleasure closed in on self ("ipsation"), because in this case the act would indeed be radically opposed to the loving communion between persons of different sex which some hold is what is principally sought in the use of the sexual faculty.
This opinion is contradictory to the teaching and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church. Whatever the force of certain arguments of a biological and philosophical nature, which have sometimes been used by theologians, in fact both the Magisterium of the Church - in the course of a constant tradition - and the moral sense of the faithful have declared without hesitation that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act.[19]
The observance of the moral law in the field of sexuality and the practice of chastity have been considerably endangered, especially among less fervent Christians, by the current tendency to minimize as far as possible, when not denying outright, the reality of grave sin, at least in people's actual lives. Persona Humana
Of course, like Humanae vitae, many Catholics ignore this teaching.  I'm just a simple layman who accepts the teaching of the Church.

Friday, July 26, 2019


Some things I just do not know hoe to respond to.

I got a call the other night from an old friend who wanted to tell me some thing of a very private and personal matter.  It was about something he struggles with.  I was taken aback, since I never even thought he could ever be so troubled.  I didn't know what to say.  Each time he mentioned a specific aspect of his struggle I suggested a book on the issue, or a biography of someone who went through similar things.  Then I suggested this prayer and more frequent confession, but of course he tried that.

It seemed to me he really wanted to unload on me and to express his fondness for me and so on.  I didn't know how to respond.  I knew suggesting this book or that was a slough off, something I've called out others for, but I didn't know how to respond.  I don't know how to respond.

I'm really old fashioned and traditional on sexual morality.  I do not like discussing it any longer.  I believe in what the Church teaches, and if there are any mitigating circumstances regarding culpability when it comes to sexual activity, that is between the penitent and the confessor.  I am not qualified to speak to that.

"Discover not thy heart to every one." - Ecclus, VIII, 22

The only response I can give is to affirm that through prayer and perseverance, chastity is a gift our Lord will give to those who never give up - especially if they have recourse to the Blessed Virgin.  It is sheer grace.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Excuses and justifications do not mitigate guilt - that is a temptation from the world.  If one falls, go to confession - but repent immediately before you get there.  Be sure to continue your spiritual exercises as if nothing happened, so to speak.  Don't give up prayer or repeat the sin, thinking 'I may as well, I'm going to confession anyway.'  That's a temptation from the devil and the flesh.

The remedy is constant prayer and recollection, with humble self-knowledge.  Over and over again, until we realize we can do nothing on our own, that we are absolutely powerless - that Christ has taken on our sins.  That is why we need to look deeply into his wounds, which mirror every sin, yet remain the antidote.  He's our healing and our salvation and our holiness - he is with us, not to guilt us but to free us.  I wish I had the words to express that better - but I would almost say, throw your books and laptops away and get a crucifix, an image of the scourged wounded Christ - as Angela of Foligno said, that is the only book you need.

There are some things I just don't know how to respond to.

Never take a man for your example - however holy he may be - for the devil will show you his faults. -John of the Cross

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

St. Charbel, Thaumaturgist.

The Wonder Worker of Lebanon

St. Charbel is one of my favorite saints. I especially admire his devotion to the Sacred Liturgy/Mass. He said Mass at mid-day, prayerfully preparing to do so the entire morning, and after Mass, offering his thanksgiving the entire afternoon. He was particularly devoted to the Eucharist and the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin.

I try to imitate him somewhat by preparing for Mass for an hour before, praying Our Lady's Rosary.  I try to stay a long time after Mass in silent thanksgiving.  Elsewhere online I noticed a question as to how long the real presence remains within us after communion.  It's a good question, I guess.  From my understanding, so long as the host/bread remains, Christ is with us, body, blood, soul and divinity.  Yet that strikes me as superficial, since Christ leads us into the bosom of the Holy Trinity who dwells within our souls.  We are his tabernacle. God dwells in our soul and Christ himself unites us to himself.  To remain quietly in thanksgiving after communion, contemplating these things is our sanctification.  There is no more intimate call to follow Jesus than that which he bids us in holy communion.  It is not unlike the invitation Christ made to “Zacchaeus -  come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”

The easiest way to practice mental prayer, and to acquire the prayer of recollection, is to spend time after Holy Communion in prolonged thanksgiving.  The best way to prepare for this mystical union is extended prayer with Our Lady in preparation to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.  Frequent spiritual communion unites us to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, reminding us throughout the day we are his tabernacle, God's temple, and the Spirit of God dwells in us.

St. Charbel demonstrates that.

St. Charbel, Wonder Worker of Lebanon, obtain for us conscious and deep reverence for Christ in the Eucharist, and heartfelt devotion to Our Lady.  Instill in us an abiding recollection of the Holy Trinity's indwelling that we may do everything in union with God's will.  Through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Monday, July 22, 2019

A Clarification

Stop labelling and judging.

I can't recall ever asking someone if they were gay or if they 'have same-sex attraction'.  Sounds like, do you have a disease?  Are you contagious? 

Neither have I ever asked a person if they are straight., or any category of LGBTQ.  Neither is it how I define myself.  I'm a single, Catholic man.  That's it.

Most of my readers know exactly what the Church says on the subject:
The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. 
Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life. - CDF
I kind of touched on this in yesterday's post, and many other times in the past.  I find the SSA versus Gay identity the same as 'apples and oranges' it's a bit disingenuous.  If someone asks, "Do you have same-sex attraction?'" it's not unlike asking if a person is gay.  At least normal people see it that way, not everyone is a student of moral theology, while ordinary parlance uses the term gay.  As Seinfeld would say, 'nothing wrong with that'.  Others might say, 'it doesn't matter to me, but I need to know where you are coming from and if you have that 'problem' I'm not sure I can trust you.'  At least that's the interpretation I get when they say such things.

That's quite alright and something I am used to, BTW.  To label, to categorize, to discriminate is necessary for some, as one reader expressed it, in order 'to make sure so as to verify that I am interpreting correctly.'  After the clarification, it's not uncommon for one to distance himself from the other.  It happens all of the time and like I said, I've written about it several times.  Likewise, those people who 'suffer from SSA' will distance themselves because they see people like me as some sort of threat.

Letting go.

Strange as it may sound, I have come to understand and accept that Catholic married friends with children, would distance themselves to keep me at a distance - to protect their children.  That being in the same sense Cardinal Burke once expressed, “If homosexual relations are intrinsically disordered, which indeed they are — reason teaches us that and also our faith — then, what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?

Personally, I think that's not in keeping with what the Holy Father recommends, but I understand the fears some people have.  I also get that some people have a very strong natural repugnance to LGBTQ persons.  Some are unable to differentiate those who have reformed their lifestyles, leaving sinful acts behind, from those who have not.  Thus they regard every glance, every conversation, even every touch - as when someone accidentally brushes up against one - they regard it as grooming or a come-on.  There is always a lingering fear or mistrust, because they can't see the person without the label of SSA-Gay.

Dan Mattson famously wrote a book, "Why I Don' Call Myself Gay" and when it came to light he had some skeletons in his closet, he was promptly dropped from the speaker-tour-circuit.  When Michael Voris revealed that part of his past, he initially lost followers as well, and many still consider him SSA-Gay.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh ... - 2Cor. 5

I've never asked someone if they were gay or had a condition called same-sex attraction.  As a painter, and artist, I believe we all have same-sex attraction, just as we find animals beautiful and attractive.  I don't associate lust with the term.

I believe what the Church teaches on sexuality, marriage and gender, yet to constantly go about making that proclamation seems a bit like virtue signally, or worse, looking for some sort of acceptance, praise and affirmation because you no longer are like those 'wretched LGBTQ perverts.' It has always struck me as hypocritical.  It's a situation between God and the soul, between the minister of the sacrament of penance and the penitent - otherwise, in the words of the Pope, 'who are we to judge?'

Like I said, I've written about all of this many times.  It just keeps happening, however.  I realize others must go through the same thing, and it can be discouraging, or a bit sad.  It's a blessing in disguise however, since one is able to reaffirm their faith and commitment to fidelity to Christ and the Church.  

That said, it still amazes me when it happens, especially since many Catholics love to bang the theologically correct rules over the heads of anyone who uses LGBTQ terminology or dares to say 'I'm gay - but celibate' - in other words, they live a chaste life in obedience to Catholic teaching. Yeah but! You can't say gay, you can't be gay and Catholic. Then, you can't have gay friends. Once Fr. Z asked, "Why would anyone want gay friends?" There seems to be an entirely occult list of protocols one needs to adhere to in order to be a good Catholic suffering from same sex attraction. The language on both sides of this coin is so convoluted and dissociative, it's frustrating as hell. Who wants that sort of identity in the first place? Why would you even tell anyone you have same sex attraction - like it's a disease - what does that even mean to anyone outside the confessional? I certainly do not suffer from same sex attraction - I've suffered temptations against chastity, but attractive people do not in anyway cause me to suffer.

I'll close with a quote from Fr. Scalia:
Courage is aptly named. The world offers two extremes in response to the issue of homosexuality. One extreme is love without truth. That is, to “love” the person by approving whatever lifestyle he may choose. Thus, homosexual activities are approved in the name of love. The other extreme is truth without love – that is, to run roughshod over persons in the articulation and pursuit of the truth. Thus true doctrine is proclaimed, but the person is left without help. Men and women with same-sex attractions therefore find themselves caught between the extremes of a false love and a loveless truth. One side condemns them to a life of immoral behavior, the other to cold doctrine. It takes courage to resist both the depravity of the first and the discouragement of the second. - Fr. Paul Scalia, Same-sex attractions: Part III

St. Mary Magdalene

"The watchmen came upon me, as they made their rounds of the city: 'Have you seen him whom my heart loves?'  I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves." - Songs 3

Jesus seeks us first, and finds us where we are and draws us after him in the odor of the ointments Mary used to anoint his body.  Don't be discouraged by those who bind up burdens too heavy to carry.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Courage Conference Weekend

The Conference is closed.

I haven't followed Courage Apostolate all that closely for quite awhile, although I still support it and agree with its fundamental proposals for living a chaste and celibate life when one's sexuality doe not conform to Catholic moral teaching.  As much as I have promoted Courage spirituality, I've never been part of a chapter much less a conference.  Something which wouldn't surprise anyone who knows me.  Once Benedict Groeschel told me that my friend and I pretty much make up our own Courage chapter.

A week or so ago I got my haircut, from a guy I have been going to for 20+ years.  he is Catholic and was actively gay, attended pride events and going on gay cruises, and so on.  He met a guy, fell in love, and bought a house together.  I think they have been together at least 20 years.  I started seeing him at Mass a year or so ago.

He always went on Christmas and Easter, now he goes every Sunday.  His niece goes to the same church.  His niece is a hairdresser as well, so whenever I was in the shop we'd talk about parish stuff.  I mentioned I go to confession regularly, and that my friend and I live chastely and celibately.  This is how they know me.

So when I saw my friend at Mass and going to communion I was so grateful.  Last time I got my haircut he told me how after a time the sex fades away - that he and his friend are more like brothers or best friends now - and so he's free to go to communion.  I laughed to myself, because that is what I used to tell him - and others - if you embrace chastity and live together celibately, there is nothing to stop you from returning to the sacraments.  I never ever said they had to do this or that - I just proposed a change in life.  I never said they can't say gay or that they have to seek conversion therapy or identify differently - they never would have understood that.  In short, they never would have understood Courage.  They wanted to return to the Lord, to the sacraments, and Christ welcomed them.

"He knows us. He knows you. He sees you. He speaks to you face to face." - Fr Bochanski

If I were to attend Courage - a conference that is - these days I would expect some candid admissions as to how and why the hierarchy deceived us.  Some monsignori blocking Courage, others endorsing it, yet unwilling to acknowledge the extent of homosexuality in the priesthood, and so on.  Especially since there have been age long policies against admitting homosexuals to seminary, but always and nearly everywhere, those rules are dispensed with?

I was reading up on Archbishop Nienstedt and the scandals that brought him down, including his protective relationship with a genuinely screwed up former priest, Curtis Wehmeyer.  Former vicars of the archdiocese, McDonough and Laird dismissed reports on Wehmeyer and attributed it to his being gay. It wasn't until his activities involved minor that they considered his acts a grave offense.  I never got that.  So Catholic teaching condemns homosexual acts, but looks the other way because it's consensual, until it happens with a minor?  Then it's paedophilia?  Fr. Gallatin's offence was ruled a boundary issue, but the kid was 17 and Gallatin was sexually aroused.  Where is Gallatin today?

I could go on and on, all the documentation is online, but no one addresses the 'pastoral' dilemma.  No one explains McCarrick and his cronies, which so many knew about.  No one speaks clearly.  Certainly they do so to condemn the Pope, but these guys preaching from pulpit, telling people they can't say gay, that they can't live with another guy, that in some cases they need to seek therapy to change and so on, they never tell you what's the matter.

Obviously, I digress.