Sunday, October 31, 2010

Origins of Halloween: Not a Pagan Festival

In the article below, Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P. explains the origins of Halloween and reasons why it isn't a pagan holiday but rather in fact quite Christian.

We’ve all heard the allegations: Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on October 31--as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints, or "All Hallows," falls on November 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to November 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland.

The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, "All Hallows Even," or "Hallowe’en." In those days Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in southern France, added a celebration on November 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory. What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland at least, all the dead came to be remembered--even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the church calendar.

Dr. Miravalle on Our Lady of Guadalupe Part 3/3

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dr. Miravalle on Our Lady of Guadalupe Part 2/3

I thought that I had posted part 2 and 3 of Dr. Miravalle discussion on Our Lady of Guadalupe earlier but in sifting through my blog today it seems I've been remiss in doing this. Here is part 2:

Here is a link to Part 1.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is Chris Coons a Threat to Our Constitutional Rights and Religious Liberties?

Please keep in mind how the media has potrayed Christine O'Donnell in an effort to discredit her as some radical whose beliefs are outside mainstream America.  After reading this article I am asking you to please tell me which candidate better understands the Constitution?  Please tell me who seems more radical in their beliefs and in imposing their views on others?

"Once again, the question of evolution was brought up in the race between the Senate candidates of Delaware, Chris Coons and Christine O’Donnell. The recurring theme of science education and religion is a bewildering campaign topic that has prompted some observers to ask, “So why is Christine O’Donnell spending more time on religion than on taxes?”

It was actually atheist Bill Maher who made religion a trending election topic in the first place. To figure out who revived it, I decided to look past the all-too familiar sophomoric laugh track clip and see what was really going on in that recent debate.

About ten minutes into the debate (which can be viewed in its entirety on the Widener Law school website), the doomful diversion was pitched in the crossfire round by none other than the Democratic candidate himself:

COONS: I have a different view of the Constitution, as does the vast majority of the American public, and many current legal scholars. But the larger point Ms. O’Donnell, really, is that you’re not coming clean with the Delaware voters about what your real views are. As we saw in the CNN debate, you repeatedly ran away from answering clear, concise questions, whether from the moderators, from me, from students - to be clear about what your views are on a range of very important issues on which you would have to pass as a U.S. Senator. To say, for example, that it’s really a question of local control whether a school district teaches science or teaches religious doctrine misses the basic question. As a repeated candidate for the United States Senate you have made public statements on everything from choice, individual liberty, evolution and others that I do think our voters deserve to hear a clear answer from you on…

O’DONNELL: Great, let me clarify your remarks. Mr. Loudell’s question was about marriage, not necessarily about the so called “right to privacy”. Now you say that you have a different view of the Constitution. I would agree with you that you do have a different constitution, because in the CNN debate you stated that there were three constitutions, and you don’t need to go to any kind of Ivy League school to know that we have but one Constitution - and in all of my remarks it is said that that one Constitution is the Constitution that I will defend. I’ve made my positions very clear. Everybody knows where I stand on issues. But even where I stand on certain social issues, I will defend our constitutional right to disagree, and I have made that very clear. Our Constitution is not in opposition to my personal beliefs, and it’s not in opposition to someone who might have a different position on these social issues than I do. Our Constitution protects our freedom to disagree." CONTINUED

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hating On Catholics

Here is the AP article on Catholic bloggers:

Pressure is on to change the Roman Catholic Church in America, but it's not coming from the usual liberal suspects. A new breed of theological conservatives has taken to blogs and YouTube to say the church isn't Catholic enough.

Enraged by dissent that they believe has gone unchecked for decades, and unafraid to say so in the starkest language, these activists are naming names and unsettling the church.

•In the Archdiocese of Boston, parishioners are dissecting the work of a top adviser to the cardinal for any hint of Marxist influence.

•Bloggers are combing through campaign finance records to expose staff of Catholic agencies who donate to politicians who support abortion rights.

•, working from studios in suburban Detroit, is hunting for "traitorous" nuns, priests or bishops throughout the American church.

.."We're no more engaged in a witch hunt than a doctor excising a cancer is engaged in a witch hunt," said Michael Voris of and St. Michael's Media. "We're just shining a spotlight on people who are Catholics who do not live the faith."

John Allen, Vatican analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, has dubbed this trend "Taliban Catholicism." But he says it's not a strictly conservative phenomenon — liberals can fit the mindset, too, Allen says. Some left-leaning Catholics are outraged by any exercise of church authority.

Yet on the Internet and in the church, conservatives are having the bigger impact.

Among Voris' many media ventures is the CIA — the Catholic Investigative Agency — a program from RealCatholicTV to "bring to light the dark deeds of evil Catholics-in-name-only, who are hijacking the Church for their own ends, not the ends of Christ." CONTINUED

This is a pretty fair and accurate article on conservative Catholic bloggers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Female Altar Servers: An Impediment to the All-Male Priesthood?

Michael P. Foley presents Eight Reasons Why Men Only Should Serve at Mass. First, I am going to critique the strengths and weaknesses of his supporting arguments, history of altar servers (both male and female) citing papal documents, and then I will give my opinion on the subject.

His first reason - Allowed vs. Encouraged - is a pretty weak argument. This argument displays more of failure on the part of parishes, priests, and vocations to encourage and guide males to become altar servers and the priesthood among faithful boys and men.

Foley's second reason - Liturgical vs. Nonliturgical - is overstated since even before female altar servers were allowed women were allowed and encouraged to participate other parts of the liturgy.

His next three arguments - Mars vs. Venus, Function vs. Symbol, and Holy vs. Sacred - are strong arguments for a return to all-male altar servers.

Michael P. Foley's reason - Good for the Goose, Not for the Gander - is partially correct. The priesthood is not about being a Lord over people but is about teaching, serving, and espousing Christlike values to his flock in the normal day to day interactions, and during the Eucharistic Prayer Christ is speaking through the priest and to His flock while transubstatiation is taking place so in my opinion Foley misses the mark with this argument.

His argument - Top Down vs. Bottom-up - is weak. This is a weak reasoning since our secular society today already thinks the Church is sexist or chauvinistic and is not in sync with Today's Times, even with the Church allowing girl altar servers. The philosphies of both modernism and postmodernism are designed to repudiate, question, put doubt in peoples' minds and chip away at both Tradition and traditional values. As Catholic Christians we need to consistently defend, and promote our faith in order to dispel these attacks on the Church.

In Foley's final argument - Thermometer vs. Thermostat - he makes a good and strong case for all-male altar servers.

Below I have provided excerpts from the relevant authoritative documents.

Liturgicae Instaurationes

Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship

Instruction on the orderly carrying out of the Constitution on the Liturgy, September 5, 1970


7. In conformity with norms traditional in the Church, women (single, married, religious), whether in churches, homes, convents, schools, or institutions for women, are barred from serving the priest at the altar.

According to the norms established for these matters, however, women are allowed to:

a. proclaim the readings, except the gospel. They are to make sure that, with the help of modern sound equipment, they can be comfortably heard by all. The conferences of bishops are to give specific directions on the place best suited for women to read the word of God in the liturgical assembly.

b. announce the intentions in the general intercessions;

c. lead the liturgical assembly in singing and play the organ or other instruments;

d. read the commentary assisting the people toward a better understanding of the rite;

e. attend to other functions, customarily filled by women in other settings, as a service to the congregation, for example, ushering, organizing processions, taking up the collection.

CITING THE ABOVE REFERENCE, JOHN PAUL II wrote, in Inaestimabile Donum (Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, April 17, 1980):

(18.) There are, of course, various roles that women can perform in the liturgical assembly: these include reading the Word of God and proclaiming the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. Women are not, however, permitted to act as altar servers.

Because of the way the 1983 Code of Canon Law was worded, some argued that the prohibition of females serving at the altar no longer applied based on the inclusion of both males and females in canon 230 §2: "Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law." In some dioceses, girls were allowed to act as altar servers under the new canon law, without any explicit decision on the matter from the Holy See.

The decision came in the form of a circular letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to presidents of episcopal conferences on 15 March 1994, which announced a 30 June 1992 authentic interpretation (confirmed on 11 July 1992 by Pope John Paul II) from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. This authentic interpretation said that canon 230 §2 states that service at the altar is one of the liturgical functions that can be performed by both lay men and women. The circular letter, written by the cardinal-prefect of the Congregation, also clarified that canon 230 §2 has a permissive and not a preceptive character, that is, it allows, but does not require, the use of female altar servers. Thus it was for each diocesan bishop to decide whether to allow them in his diocese.

The wording of the 1983 Code of Canon Law was ambiguous since the prohibition was not specifically included and this led the way to a different interpretation (applying a hermeneutic of rupture from Tradition). But, the Code of Caon Law never denied the prohibition either. The 1994 letter by Pope John Paul II retroactively made official that the 1983 Code of Canon Law was in fact a reversal of Tradition with regards to women being allowed to serve at the altar.

Before I reveal my opinion on this subject, I do want to let you know that I was a an altar server for about seven years, while growing up. It was an honor and privilege to assist the priest in his duties. But with saying that, I do believe that it would be much better for the Church and priestly vocations for a return to all-male altar servers to happen. Unfortunately, I don't think there can be an abrupt change back to the hermeneutic of continuity in Tradition though. Plus, I don't think that women altar servers is the root cause of the decline in priests. (I think contraception is more of a cause of the decline of priests than girl altar servers.) Proper Catechesis needs to be taught better to our kids in both Catholic schools and in religious education classes. What percentage of priest's homilies tackle the tough issues like abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research because the priests are afraid of offending some parishoner? The Church is against all of these and if there is a priest that is afraid to teach the faith from the pulpit on a consistent basis then there is a problem much bigger than the question of whether woman should serve at the altar.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Catholic News Roundup 10-21-10

This is kinda whacky --  The editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, makes the claim that both Homer and Bart Simpson are Catholic.  This seems quite bizarre on the surface, but I wonder how plausible (or implausible) Father Francesco Occhetta claim actually is?  Do you think that it's possible that Bart and Homer could be Catholic?

Fr. Z has posted Fr. Sirico's Advice to the Tea Parties with some added commentary of his own.  While a majority of the article "hits the nail on the head" with regards to the Tea Party movement, there is one part that I question: "And so we come to what may be the real deficiency of this popular movement — it has yet to define a set of clear principles that permit it to consistently outline its view of society and the proper role of the state."  The Tea Party movement has defined principles in the "Contract From America" but it does seem like the Tea Party needs to refine their principles in more detail.

The Pope names 24 new Cardinals. This is great news! Two of the Cardinal-electors are Archbishop Raymond Burke, the American-born prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, and 20.Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC.  They both seem like good picks.

Archbishop John Nienstedt made headlines when he distributed dvd's which explains and reiterates the Church's teaching on marriage. He is defending the Church's involvement in this issue and encourages other Catholics to do the same:

From InsideCatholic: "We're part and parcel of the culture, so it's important for us to be involved with those discussions and have our say," Nienstedt said. He said Jesus Christ directed his followers to "either be hot or cold, but if you're lukewarm, I don't want that. So we want people who live their faith."

. . . [Nienstedt] said Catholics need not fear a smaller church, and the threat of one is not a reason to abandon core tenets.

"I believe that it's important that if you're going to be Catholic, that you have to be 100% Catholic," Nienstedt said. "That you stand by the church, you believe what the church believes and you pass that on to your sons and daughters and your grandsons and granddaughters."

This is not merely a political issue but rather a cultural and a religious issue. This is a direct attack on the traditional family and family values.  We must continue to battle against these attacks.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

St. Teresa of Avila - Feast Day - October 15

Sorry about the delay in posting but my husband and I had the chance to see his cousin who we hadn't seen in over five years.  We had a wonderful time visiting with him. Here is a quick video on St. Teresa of Avila in honor of her feast day and I will post more on St. Teresa of Avila soon. God Bless!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fr. Benedict Groeschel Speaks on the Civil Rights Movement, the Faith & Mother Teresa

This is a most fascinating interview!! Fr. Benedict Groeschel talks on the Catholic Faith, the Civil Rights movement, the Democratic Party, and the future of the United States.  I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting with and hearing Fr. Groeschel talk about Mother Teresa in person. I happened to be on a mission trip with Franciscan University where we helped the poor in various capacities across New York City, and the group of us stayed right next door to his monastery.  We had the opportunity to help out in one of Mother Teresa's places in Harlem which was a temporary shelter for women run by the Missionaries of Charity.  I can remember helping the Sisters and seeing them sing and pray while preparing food. I had a wonderful experience on the week long missionary trip.

Unfortunately the videos are not embeddable so here are the links to the interview:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Obamacare Effect: Three Catholic Hospitals Closing in Scranton & the Power of a Social Justice Nun

There has been much controversy surrounding the closing and sale of three Catholic hospitals in Scranton, Pa. The controversy includes: Kevin Cook - Mercy Health Partners CEO, three different statements, two Catholic Representatives, the Affordable Care Act - A.K.A. - Obamacare, and Obama’s nun.

- In Review

Sr. Carol Keehan, Obama’s nun, is the nun who dissented from Bishops and threw her weight to support Obamacare. She is the nun who used her clout as head of the CHA, falsely claimed that abortion wasn’t covered in Obamacare, and provided “legitimacy” for Bart Stupak and the rest of the so called pro-life Democrats to support and vote for Obamacare even though there were no safeguards protecting against abortion coverage and federal funding in Obamacare.  The Congressional Research Report Confirms this. She wanted us, as Catholics to trust our government over our Bishops’ prudential judgment on a matter related to morals. That sounds so nonsensical. Misplaced trust?

For anyone to think that our government is going to do the right thing in matters of faith and morals, look out for you and me, is complete and utter naivete when our government has sanctioned the murders of countless innocents since Roe v. Wade was enacted in 1973.

When Sr. Carol Keehan became a religious sister she took a vow of obedience and in fact has more of an obligation than ordinary laity to heed the Bishops’ prudential judgment with relation to abortion and Obamacare. Since the Church Teaching is that abortion is an intrinsic evil is Catholic Dogma has Sr. Keehan broken her vow of obedience by dissenting from the Bishops in order to support Obamacare?

The common good must not be pursued at the expense of the morally reprehensible murders of innocent human lives.

In his first statement Kevin Cook stated, "Health care reform is absolutely playing a role. Was it the precipitating factor in this decision? No, but was it a factor in our planning over the next five years? Absolutely."

Notice that Cook stated “absolutely” twice.

48 hours later Cook said, sale discussion were being discussed "long before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The decision was due to many factors."

Perhaps, there was something occurring behind the scenes?

That same day Sr. Carol Keehan made this statement, "Reports that health reform is the primary motive behind the sale are completely false, misleading and politically motivated. Deliberations to sell the facilities began well before the Affordable Care Act became law and did not hinge on enactment of the legislation." Okay… Like she isn’t politically

Motivated to ensure her support for Obamacare isn’t for naught.

Then about a couple days later Cook announced: “Mercy Health Partners recently announced our intention to explore the sale of our facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The rationale for our initiative has been mischaracterized by certain politicized media outlets and severely distorted by some special interest groups.”

Coincidental? Or Coordinated?

Perhaps, there was something occurring behind the scenes?

Would a social justice political activist nun misuse her power as CEO of the CHA to silence the truth in both instances with Obamacare and the main factor for this three Catholic hospitals closing? Did this Left wing activist nun “lower the boom” on Kevin Cook and force him to change his tune in those last two statements? Well, it kinda looks that way.

Oh - how could one forget? Since she bucked both the Bishops and the Catholic faith and instead staunchly supported Obama and his health care bill she was rewarded with one of the 21 pens that Obama used to signed the health care law. What a trade -- fidelity to Church teaching and to her vows sacrificed for fame, power, recognition, and on top of all that, a pen.

From The American Spectator - “One doctor in Scranton -- who was deeply disturbed by the announcement -- is certain he knows the answer. That answer? Mr. Cook was absolutely right the very first time he spoke to WNEP on camera. Hospitals, said this doctor -- frequently run a debt. "What's different? Why now?" he said in terms of the rationale for selling the Mercy hospitals. The reason is exactly as CEO Cook originally said it was. ObamaCare cuts in Medicare reimbursement have changed the rules so drastically for hospitals "you [Mercy Health Partners] are in an untenable situation," said this physician. Most hospitals have accumulating debt because of capital investments, says the doctor. But they can't deal with that debt if in fact their ability to earn money is cut off or drastically reduced over time.

Alarmingly, the doctor, with a lifetime of practice in hand, says that "hospitals close in clusters where there is decreased income in terms of relatively low Medicare reimbursement…because they are the most vulnerable." He adds that what is happening in Scranton, Nanticoke, and Tunkhannock with the Mercy hospitals "is just the beginning. It will happen everywhere because reimbursements will be reduced" under ObamaCare. Particularly, he adds, in areas where you have a high elderly population.”

‘The explosion, all recent with its implications of White House pressure and lost Catholic hospitals, is about to bring in media ads from Says Communications Director Joshua Mercer: "Paul Kanjorski and Chris Carney are Catholic and they both voted for ObamaCare." Citing the sale of the three Mercy hospitals, Mercer says that the pro-ObamaCare votes of the two "has had a real impact on the community." Mercer added a sentiment voiced as well by the Scranton doctor: "There are a lot of Kevin Cooks across the country…the CEO's of small Catholic hospitals are all facing the same realities of more [ObamaCare] mandates and regulations.”’

Seems like there is something fishy going on. I live in Pennsylvania, but unfortunately I don’t live in either of their districts, otherwise I would vote for the opposition.

Here is the political ad that has put out.

Cross posted at Teresamerica

Monday, October 11, 2010

Vatican Criticizes Nobel Prize Being Awarded to in-vitro Pioneer

From CatholicCulture.orgThe Nobel Prize awarded to Robert Edwards, the pioneer of in vitro fertilization, is “completely out of order,” a Vatican official argued.

Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, acknowledged the significance of the work that Edwards had done, opening “a new and important chapter in the field of human reproduction.” But he argued that the procedure—which involves the creation of many human embryos, only a few of which are implanted in a woman’s womb—creates a host of moral as well as legal problems.

“Without Edwards there would be no market for human eggs,” the bishop said; “without Edwards there would not be freezers full of embryos waiting to be transferred to a uterus, or, more likely, used for research or left to die, abandoned and forgotten by all.” He also pointed out the “confusion of assisted procreation: children with four or five parents; babies born from their grandparents.”

The International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations also expressed concern about the Nobel Prize award, saying that although in vitro fertilization has helped many couples to produce children, “it has done so at enormous cost.” The group pointed to the thousands of embryos destroyed in the process, “undermining the dignity of the human person.”

The Catechism gives these reasons as to why the Church is against in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination:

2373 Sacred Scripture and the Church's traditional practice see in large families a sign of God's blessing and the parents' generosity.163

2374 Couples who discover that they are sterile suffer greatly. "What will you give me," asks Abraham of God, "for I continue childless?"164 And Rachel cries to her husband Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!"165

2375 Research aimed at reducing human sterility is to be encouraged, on condition that it is placed "at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God."166

2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other."167

2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."168 "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."169

2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The "supreme gift of marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents," and "the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception."170

2379 The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord's Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.

Morality of IVF

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Can I Keep From Singing?

On Fr. Barron's new television program Word on Fire with Fr. Robert Barron he focused on Jesus being the center of our lives.  This is very important for us, as Christians.  He also mentioned a hymn called - How Can I Keep From Singing? -  which I am posting here Today.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Abstinence Education Under Assault

The Department of Health and Human Services is spending $100 million out of $155 million on promoting the use of contraceptives for teen pregnancy prevention while only setting aside $33 million for abstinence education. And, even that money looks to be in jeopardy of disappearing. The culture today throws sexual innuendos, sexual actions, and the notion of "safe sex" out in the open nonchalantly, like it is no big deal.  Well, sex is a big deal. Sex is a wonderful and very beautiful act of love.  Sex is an act of love when the act takes place between a married couple - a man and a woman.  For those in high school and in dating relationships abstinence is the answer.  Our bodies are to be respected and not meant to be cheapened by using your body, and another person's body just for a momentary good feeling.   But, this administration and The Department of Health and Human Services are promoting the false notion of "safe sex" by pushing contraceptives on our youths.  We must continue to fight against this pervasive attack on family values and promote chastity and abstinence among our youths. 
Church Teaching On Contraceptives

In Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI  reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.

"Contraception is "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods."

Contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design God built into the human race, often referred to as "natural law." The natural law purpose of sex is procreation. The pleasure that sexual intercourse provides is an additional blessing from God, intended to offer the possibility of new life while strengthening the bond of intimacy, respect, and love between husband and wife. The loving environment this bond creates is the perfect setting for nurturing children.

But sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex, which is procreation. God’s gift of the sex act, along with its pleasure and intimacy, must not be abused by deliberately frustrating its natural end—procreation.

Contraception is not a modern invention and is indeed mentioned and condemned in the Bible.
The Bible mentions at least one form of contraception specifically and condemns it. Coitus interruptus, was used by Onan to avoid fulfilling his duty according to the ancient Jewish law of fathering children for one’s dead brother. "Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also" (Gen. 38:8–10).

The biblical penalty for not giving your brother’s widow children was public humiliation, not death (Deut. 25:7–10). But Onan received death as punishment for his crime. This means his crime was more than simply not fulfilling the duty of a brother-in-law. He lost his life because he violated natural law, as Jewish and Christian commentators have always understood. For this reason, certain forms of contraception have historically been known as "Onanism," after the man who practiced it, just as homosexuality has historically been known as "Sodomy," after the men of Sodom, who practiced that vice (cf. Gen. 19).

The Church Fathers condemned the use of birth control.

In A.D. 195, Clement of Alexandria wrote, "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted" (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2).

Hippolytus of Rome wrote in 255 that "on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful [certain Christian women who had affairs with male servants] want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, [so] they use drugs of sterility or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered" (Refutation of All Heresies 9:12).

Around 307 Lactantius explained that some "complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife" (Divine Institutes 6:20).

 Augustine wrote in 419, "I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives]" (Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17).

The apostolic tradition’s condemnation of contraception is so great that it was followed by Protestants until 1930 and was upheld by all key Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther said, "[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime. . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him."

The Magisterium

In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI stated, "[W]e must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (HV 14).

This was reiterated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "[E]very action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil" (CCC 2370). "Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means . . . for example, direct sterilization or contraception" (CCC 2399).

The Church also has affirmed that the illicitness of contraception is an infallible doctrine: "The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity, it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative.aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive.aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life" (Vademecum for Confessors 2:4, Feb. 12, 1997).

Pope Paul VI predicted grave consequences that would arise from the widespread and unrestrained use of contraception.

Unfortunately, his prediction has become true.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Saint Faustina - Feast Day October 5

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska

The Humble Instrument

Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated, nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland during the 1930's. She came from a very poor family that struggled on their little farm during the years of World War I. She had only three years of very simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden. However, she received extraordinary revelations or messages from Our Lord Jesus. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled in notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and the words contained within are God's loving message of Divine Mercy.

Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church, Sr. Faustina's Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ. Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the "first saint of the new millennium." Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope call her "the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time."

Today, we continue to rely of Saint Faustina as a constant reminder of the message to trust in Jesus' endless mercy, and to live life mercifully toward others. We also turn to her in prayer and request her intercession to our merciful Savior on our behalf. At the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, we include the following in our 3 o'clock prayers:

Saint Faustina,

You told us that your mission would continue after your death and that you would not forget us. Our Lord also granted you a great privilege, telling you to "distribute graces as you will, to who you will, and when you will." Relying on this, we ask your intercession for the graces we need, especially for the intentions just mentioned. Help us, above all, to trust in Jesus as you did and thus to glorify His mercy every moment of our lives. Amen

I had the pleasure of assisting during Mass at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA on Divine Mercy Sunday April 30, 2000, the day that St. Faustina was canonized. 

H/T the divine

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Walking the Walk and Not Just Talking the Talk

Tito Edwards of The American Catholic has posted an excellent article by Charles E. Rice on the Notre Dame 88, which outlines the great injustice being committed by Notre Dame.  Notre Dame refuses to drop the charges against Fr. Norman Weslin, O.S. and the rest of those who were arrested while peacefully entering Notre Dame Campus and praying while Obama, the most pro-abortion president ever, was receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame. Charles E. Rice explains about motions and decisions that have been made by the court so far.  He also talks about questions left unresolved.   On April 30, 2010 Fr. Jenkins released  a statement saying:
“the University cannot have one set of rules for causes we oppose, and another more lenient set of rules for causes we support.  We have one consistent set of rules for demonstrations on campus—no matter what the cause.”
Charles E. Rice points out how Father Jenkins statement is untrue.  In fact, there is evidence that the university treats pro-gay and anti-military supporters better then their own pro-life, Catholic brethren.  Then, Mr. Rice shares information on the "criminals" that have been stigmatized and targeted by Notre Dame.

I am so sick of Catholic Universities being CINO and violating Church Teaching.  These universities, Bishops, priests, and parishioners need to stop being CINO's.  The Bishops, priests, and professors need to start walking the walk and not just talking the talk- and some don't even do that anymore.  Many Catholic universities have abandoned Catholic principles and have accepted the liberal platform, promote that platform, which is diametrically opposed to Catholic Tradition or Catholic values.  Even those catholic universities which are Traditional or conservative, when push comes to shove and they have a choice of CYA or standing up for what's right, IMO it seems like they abandon Catholic principles and choose protecting the university's image rather than standing up for the student or whomever. I know of this because I have been personally affected by the decisions of the higher ups at the university level. 

I attended a very Traditional Catholic college in Ohio and put the priests and maybe even the professors on a pedestal and thought that they were the light of the world, the greatest and could do no wrong. I thought that they would do the "right" thing and watch out for me.  Boy was I wrong. Well, something awful happened to me while attending the university and it was compounded by the fact that it involved a faculty member and because of this the university covered it up and they scapegoated me.  I found out that at least some of the university staff only talked the talk, and most certainly did not walk the walk. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of me. I loved being at this college and had made many friends there. It really hurt that this college was making false accusations about me to cover up for the professor, and to save the reputation or image of the college.  So, when the priest sex abuse scandals started surfacing I could believe that this could happen. If a small cover up could occur at a small university why couldn't a huge cover up or multiple little cover ups occur in parishes nationwide? 

First, I was in shock, then sad and angry.  Then, I shelved my anger and sadness for awhile. Then I became angry at the Catholic Church and struggled with my Faith. I connected the Catholic Church as a whole with what had happened to me at the Catholic university.  Then, my husband helped me to realize that the people who did this to me are human and humans sin or do wrong, and do not represent the Church. Over the past three years or so I have met some wonderful Catholic friends online and they have helped me to overcome many of my struggles with my faith.  I thank them, my husband, and my parents for helping me to overcome many of the struggles I have had with my faith.

I just wish people would do the right thing - make the right decision- no matter how hard the decision was instead of making the easy decision and taking an easy out.

Let us pray for all Catholics or former catholics who have abandoned the Catholic faith and those dissenters who are leading the flock astray that they may return to the One True Faith and return to following the Magisterium. God Bless.

Here is a video of Michael Voris talking on Walking the Walk:

Monday, October 4, 2010

57th Annual Red Mass Celebrated in DC

While I had heard of the Red Mass before, I hadn't heard of the historical significance behind this tradition until I came across a great post on the blog, Christopher's Apologies. Christopher has been kind enough to allow me to repost his post. I also found some information at Pittsburgh Catholic which tells an additional tidbit of history on the Red Mass:

The Red Mass also is called the Mass of the Holy Spirit, according to the “Catholic Encyclopedia.” It was named from the red vestments used in celebrating the Mass and from the red robes traditionally worn by judges in the Middle Ages. The custom originated in Europe in the 13th century.

Today, judges in England assemble at Westminister Cathedral for the celebration of the Red Mass. It is celebrated in France at St. Germain-l’Auxerrois. In Rome, the opening of the Roman Rota, the supreme judicial body of the Catholic Church, begins with a Red Mass.

The inauguration of the Red Mass in the United States occurred in New York City in October 1928, and it was celebrated at old St. Andrew Church with Cardinal Patrick Hayes.

Since then, many groups of Catholic attorneys have continued to celebrate the Red Mass annually.

In 1959, then-Bishop John Wright celebrated the first Red Mass in Pittsburgh, expressing the hope that it should become an honored and traditional observance in the diocese. The Red Mass is offered to invoke the Holy Spirit, who is the source of wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude.

From Christopher's Apologies:

A Red Mass is celebrated annually in the Catholic Church for judges, attorneys, law school professors, students, and government officials. The Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.

As the local tradition goes, the Mass is held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington DC on the first Sunday in October; this year marks the 57th anniversary of the Mass being celebrated. Not all of the Justices attend; for example, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who is Jewish, boycotts the Mass because homilists in the past have taken the opportunity to preach on abortion.

This year, Dominican Archbishop DiNoia was the homilist; his comments are reprinted below.

In anticipation of the official opening of the Supreme Court term tomorrow, we unite in prayer today in this solemn liturgy in order to invoke the Holy Spirit upon the distinguished justices, the judges, attorneys, and lawmakers, professors and students of the law, the law clerks and paralegals, and upon all others who serve us in the various sectors of the legal profession. We give thanks to God for their precious service, and we humbly pray, "Holy Spirit, Lord of light / From the clear celestial height / Thy pure beaming radiance give"(Veni Sancte Spiritus, Pentecost Sequence, trans. Nat. Lit. Conf. England and Wales, 1967).

The annual invocation of the Holy Spirit at the start of the judicial year in Washington reflects a 700 year old tradition honoring the sacred character of the law and the vital civic role of its guardians. Indeed, the practice of celebrating a Red Mass-"red" because of the color of both the liturgical vesture and the traditional judicial robes-at the opening of the judicial term is as old as the legal profession itself. According to historian James Brundage (See The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession, University of Chicago Press, 2008), the emergence of a distinctive legal profession in the West dates roughly to the thirteenth century-precisely when the first recorded celebrations of the Red Mass occurred in Paris in 1245 and in Westminster in 1301. It may well be that the widespread practice of celebrating a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit at other similar occasions-like the start of the academic year-originated with the tradition of the Red Mass.

The celebration of the annual Red Mass signals the profound esteem which the Church has for the Supreme Court and the legal and judicial institutions of this nation, for the invocation of the Holy Spirit on this occasion springs from nothing other than the trinitarian faith which is at the very center of her faith. "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our dwelling with him." Christ teaches and the Church proclaims that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, desires to share the communion of trinitarian life with creaturely persons, that-in the famous formulation of St. Irenaeus-God who is without need of anyone gives communion with himself to those who need him. Christ teaches us, moreover, that it is the Holy Spirit who plays a critical role in fitting individual persons and the Church herself for this high destiny. "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name...will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you." Thus we can pray: Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! "Thou, on us who evermore / Thee confess and thee adore, / With thy sevenfold gifts descend. / Give us comfort when we die; / Give us life with thee on high; / Give us joys that never end."

What should we be praying for as we invoke the Holy Spirit on the justices and on all the rest of us during this Red Mass? As St. Paul reminds us, the Holy Spirit himself helps us to ask for the right things: "The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groaning." We have already heard some verses from the ancient "Golden Sequence" for Pentecost Sunday, the Veni Sancte Spiritus; let us turn to it again to learn more of what we can expect when the Church invokes the Holy Spirit in this solemn setting.

Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! "Thou, of all consolers best, / Thou the soul's delightful guest, / Dost refreshing peace bestow; / Thou in toil art comfort sweet; / Pleasant coolness in the heat; / Solace in the midst of woe." In praying to the Holy Spirit, for, among other blessings, consolation, peace, and solace, the Church understands the nearly overwhelming complexity of the climate which envelops the practice of law and the administration of justice today.

And perhaps not just today. It was precisely such complexity that gave rise to the legal profession in the 13th century as popes, kings and bishops found it impossible to carry out their duties without expert legal advice. You will be amused to learn that, during this period, there was lively debate about whether popes should be elected from the ranks of theologians or of canon lawyers: as a theologian, it pains me to report that learned opinion favored the election of qualified lawyers to the See of Peter.

In all seriousness, no informed observer can fail to acknowledge that the social and cultural pluralism of our times-not to mention the relentless and sometimes pitiless public scrutiny to which you are subjected-makes the work of judges and lawyers today very hard indeed. The Church prays that, amidst the clamor of contending interests and seemingly intractable moral disagreements, the Holy Spirit will help you to maintain your personal integrity and professional equilibrium. Not for nothing, then, do we invoke the Holy Spirit today with these poignant words. Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! "Heal our wounds, our strength renew; / On our dryness pour thy dew; / Wash the stains of guilt away. / Bend the stubborn heart and will; / Melt the frozen, warm the chill; / Guide the steps that go astray."

The words of the prophet Ezekiel recall another important element in our invocation of the Holy Spirit today. "I will put my Spirit within you," he says, "and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees." Positive law rests on certain principles the knowledge of which constitutes nothing less than a participation in the divine law itself: the pursuit of the common good through respect for the natural law, the dignity of the human person, the inviolability of innocent life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage, justice for the poor, protection of minors, and so on. The legal profession is entrusted with the discernment and administration of justice and the rule of law according to an objective measure-in effect, according to principles-not of our own making. A consensus about these principles inspired the founders of modern democracies, and although it was profoundly influenced by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (think of Averroes, Maimonides and Aquinas), this consensus was understood to transcend religious and cultural differences. Thus, it follows that the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Red Mass is a prayer for light and guidance. Among the things for which we ardently pray is the wisdom to affirm and maintain those profound truths about human nature that are at the foundation of the common life we treasure in this great nation. "Holy Spirit, Lord of Light ... / Come thou light of all that live ... / Light immortal, light divine."

At the deepest level, our invocation of the Holy Spirit here today manifests the conviction that the democratic state does not so much confer the most fundamental human rights and the duties of citizenship as acknowledge their existence and source in a power beyond the state, namely in God himself. Your presence here today bears eloquent witness to the enduring power of this conviction.

Yet, as she invokes the guidance and consolation of the Holy Spirit today, the erosion of this conviction is a source of deep concern for the Church. The alternative view-until recently more or less successfully resisted by democratic societies like ours-is the idea that man can find happiness and freedom only apart from God. This exclusive humanism has been exposed as an anti-humanism of the most radical kind. Man without God is not more free but surely in greater danger. The tragic history of the last century-as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have unceasingly reminded us-demonstrates that the eclipse of God leads not to greater human liberation but to the most dire human peril. That innocent human life is now so broadly under threat has seemed to many of us one of the many signs of this growing peril. Gabriel Marcel said somewhere that in our time "human flesh has undergone such intolerable outrage that it must receive some kind of reparation in glory...The world today can be endured only if one's spirit is riveted on [the] hope of the resurrection... If this hope were shared by a greater number, perhaps, respect for the flesh and for the body, so terribly lacking in our time, would be restored." Thus, along with wisdom and light, today we must also beg the Holy Spirit for the gift of hope in the resurrection.

Our enactment of this ancient ritual of the Red Mass joins us to the generations of judges and lawyers who pursued their professions conscious of their need for divine grace and guidance, for enlightenment, for consolation, for refreshment, for solace, for healing, for comfort, for hope. May these wonderful blessings of the Holy Spirit be yours today! Veni Sancte Spritus! Come Holy Spirit! "Come, thou Father of the poor, / Come with treasures which endure... / Light immortal, light divine, / Visit thou these hearts of thine, / And our inmost being fill." Amen.

H/T Christopher's Apologies 

One Nation Under God by Jon McNaughton