Truth set in stone

‘On the 28th June 1978, a little more than a month before he died Paul VI said, “You will thank God and me for Humanae Vitae.”’ Cardinal Carlo Caffara March 24 2014.

I have refrained from commenting directly on the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae; not because i don’t think it’s important [I do very much so] but because I’m not sure I’ve much to add to what I have said on the 40th anniversary here http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/edmund-adamus/love&responsibility-part1.htm and here http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/edmund-adamus/love&responsibility-part2.htm

Besides it is difficult to improve upon the analysis of the importance of this milestone anniversary than that given by Mgr Livio Melina thanks to the excellent work of Edward Pentin http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/msgr.-melina-applying-a-paradigm-shift-to-humanae-vitae-would-distort-its-m

What I would say however as we draw near to the Feast of St John Vianney the patron of parish priests on 4th August is that if he had been alive in 1964 and since, there’s no mistaking how he would have faithfully preached/taught consistently on the evil of contraception for as Blessed Paul VI says “it is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ” but he would be a tireless confessor vigilant for the care of souls, “bitterly severe toward sin, but patient and abounding in mercy toward sinners” (HV 29)

So it seems to me that there has been an almost irrevocable crisis in marriage and the family [and therefore society] because there has been an almost irrevocable crisis in the sacred priesthood. Just as contraception splits the procreative from the unitive in spousal love, so too does the spiritual fecundity in the priest diminish if he fails to guide and teach the faithful in to the truth of this “irreformable” teaching.

How ironic it is that so often people obsess about marriage for priests whilst at the same time singularly failing to acknowledge and own the sin of omission as Church for decades of neglect in formation of the faithful in marriage itself, especially authentic human sexuality embodied in the commitment for life open to life.

As a church we are very good a building hard, physical institutional infrastructure. We as faithful communities have for generations built parish churches, schools, hospitals, care homes, bought and sold plant, refurbished at great cost former convents and religious houses into youth centres and formation/retreat centres; the list goes on. Furthermore we build them to high standards and rightly so and we commit ourselves and the next generation to repay their cost.

We do this because we know they are important to our mission and from these good things arises our charitable activities, the care of the poor and sick, our overseas aid, care of refugees and migrants, which can all flourish.

We are very good at physical institutional infrastructure, but for perhaps the first time in our history we have not viewed marriage, a core of our non‐physical institutional infrastructure, in the same way. If we did, truly forming entire generations of children growing in to adolescents and young adults with a generous capacity to put out in to the deep and embrace both the physical and supernatural fecundity that matrimonial graces bring –then the vocations to priesthood and religious life would come, they would come with the healthy size of faithful families and the celibate priest would swim in that ocean of married love, eager to serve it, guard it, give it diligent pastoral and spiritual care. So the irony now is that we obsess about marriage for priesthood brought on by a crisis of countless buildings and infrastructure not being manned when the one “soft” but keystone of ALL the physical infrastructure has been left uncared for to reach staggering levels of spiritual poverty which if it were a building would be like a diocesan cathedral crumbling from disrepair. In short we would never allow such a thing to happen because we can see it, touch it, feel it, enter it, hungry to fill it with the Presence and worship of the Lord. Yet we allow what we cannot always see or think we cannot feel [matrimonial grace] to be left to fend for itself, go unacknowledged and unaffirmed in ways that leaves the individual spouses within their unique sacramental identity to feel truly alone and unappreciated as part of-indeed central to-the evangelising mission of the Universal Church.

It’s the ultimate irony. In an era of ‘desacralising’ ecclesiology, we end up viewing a key solution to a contemporary crisis from a distinctly clericalist mindset; i.e, in neglecting the most important, most popularly chosen sacrament among the laity [marriage] in an epoch of dumbing down the sacrificial priesthood; the inverted snobbery towards the laity decides that marriage is absolutely,suddenly critical for clerics more than it is for the salvation of the laity called to live it, freely, faithfully and fruitfully with a lifelong open to life mentality.

It is often said that the revival of the Church depends on a renewal of the priesthood.  I agree, but this needs to be in the context of the renewal of the family, from whence [hopefully] vocations to the priesthood stem. After all, fewer babies means fewer children to hear God’s call. This is why Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia encapsulates what lies at the heart of the renewal of the Church so succinctly: “There will be…no renewal of the Catholic Church without renewal of the Catholic family, and no renewal of the Catholic family without a bold proclamation of the sacred truths regarding the transmission of human life.”

 

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From Paternity to Eternity

Author Devin Schadt writes: “Human fatherhood, having its share of failings and sins, appears to offer ample excuse for humanity to disbelieve the proposal of its iconic value. Despite this problem, however, the frequent ability of imperfect, fallen men to love and desire good for their children powerfully signifies the perfection of an all loving and completely merciful Father.”

Father’s Day on Sunday is a time to be thankful for and remember our fathers or the men who have been like fathers in our lives, but especially to be grateful for our Heavenly Father! Many have a great relationship with their father, but sadly, others have fathers who are absent emotionally, spiritually or physically. This can create a “father wound” that can then negatively reflect onto God the Father. A father’s love, example and teaching should lead us to the ultimate Father, God the Father. Sometimes our father is a wonderful example and other times he is not. Nevertheless, we need to remember that we all have human fathers, so we all need the ultimate Father regardless of how good or bad our human father is or was.

We see and feel the effect of broken fatherhood in our society daily: the family is breaking down. Most men are called to be husbands and fathers and to lead their families. In leading their families in a spirit of undying sacrifice and service, their children can see an example of true masculinity. They can see a man who protects, defends and leads with love and courage. He is someone who is not afraid to die to self to serve those around him.

So what if your father has fallen victim to the illusions society promotes and has rejected his responsibility to love his wife and family as Christ loved the Church? Pray for him, pray for him again, then pray for him some more. Also pray for yourself and all the people that he may have hurt. Then work on forgiving him, even if he has died, which can be a great challenge! But that’s part of living the Christian life, isn’t it? Accepting and embracing the challenge of truly forgiving him will set you free. There’s such a beauty in forgiveness, which enables us to love them and want their good. We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy; fathers aren’t exempt from this need.

So if you or someone you know has a ‘father wound,’ I pray that you will pray extra hard for them. If this seems like a daunting task, ask God the Father to help you forgive your father. We must be like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son – equally prodigal in our forgiving.  During the Year of Faith I ran a pilot spiritual exercise programme for adult children of divorced parents called Recovering Originswhich enabled the participants to arrive at a point of forgiving their parents for the break-up of the family and move on from their inner pain, precisely because they were individually helped to reconnect with their heavenly and always faithful Father Almighty.  So ask God the Father to reveal Himself to you as Father, to show you what true and perfect fatherhood looks like. Also ask Him to heal you from your father wounds. Remember, God the Father is perfect, your earthly father is not! So let the love of the Almighty God who created the universe and created you, out-pour His love onto you. He wants to embrace you and heal you from all your wounds! Sometimes you just have to ask and allow Him to do so!

A Sad Day

1,429,981…. is the number of people of voting age in Ireland who on Friday 25th May 2018 consciously decided to overturn the legal constitutional ban on abortion.
It is almost impossible to know how many of these 1,429,981 are baptised Christians; and even more impossible is it to know, just how many might be baptised Catholics. Even harder is to know how many of those baptised Catholics might attend Sunday Mass regularly or occasionally. But whoever they are who do/might care enough about their relationship with Christ to receive the Holy Eucharist, I hope and pray they refrain from doing so so as not to compound the evil they have done.
On this Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, it is useful to remind ourselves that the preamble to the Irish Constitution states:

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, ….

“the freedom of the individual may be assured..” such noble words…unless of course from now on you happen to be a pre-born individual in Ireland; then your freedom and dignity, depending on what others determine it to be is questionable.

In August this year Pope Francis will visit Ireland to celebrate the World Meeting of Families. It will be an interesting piece of Church history. St Pope John Paul II, who visited Ireland in 1979 began in September that same year his now famous 129 General Audiences of Human Love in the Divine Plan [aka theology of the body] It’s interesting how for decades the pro-choice/pro-abort movement has championed its message on the right of a woman to do with her ‘body’ what she feels is right, regardless of the other innocent little human body she may be carrying in her womb which Irish law will now allow doctors under the Hippocratic Oath to slaughter.
A shorthand for St. John Paul’s theology of the body is a “communion of persons.” The Holy Trinity is also a communion of Persons [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] the same Godhead which the Irish Constitution pays homage to in its preamble. The majority of Irish voters have now formally apostasised from that sacred ‘union’ with the Communion of Persons. And they have done it in the cause of creating a physical ‘disunion’ of persons – namely between mother and child in the name of “freedom and dignity”……

A Sad Day!

1,429,981…. is the number of people of voting age in Ireland who on Friday 25th May 2018 consciously decided to overturn the legal constitutional ban on abortion.
It is almost impossible to know how many of these 1,429,981 are baptised Christians; and even more impossible is it to know, just how many might be baptised Catholics. Even harder is to know how many of those baptised Catholics might attend Sunday Mass regularly or occasionally. But whoever they are who do/might care enough about their relationship with Christ to receive the Holy Eucharist, I hope and pray they refrain from doing so so as not to compound the evil they have done.
On this Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, it is useful to remind ourselves that the preamble to the Irish Constitution states: 

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, ….

“the freedom of the individual may be assured..” such noble words…unless of course from now on you happen to be a pre-born individual in Ireland; then your freedom and dignity, depending on what others determine it to be is questionable.

In August this year Pope Francis will visit Ireland to celebrate the World Meeting of Families. It will be an interesting piece of Church history. St Pope John Paul II, who visited Ireland in 1979 began in September that same year his now famous 129 General Audiences of Human Love in the Divine Plan [aka theology of the body] It’s interesting how for decades the pro-choice/pro-abort movement has championed its message on the right of a woman to do with her ‘body’ what she feels is right, regardless of the other innocent little human body she may be carrying in her womb which Irish law will now allow doctors under the Hippocratic Oath to slaughter.
A shorthand for St. John Paul’s theology of the body is a “communion of persons.” The Holy Trinity is also a communion of Persons [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] the same Godhead which the Irish Constitution pays homage to in its preamble. The majority of Irish voters have now formally apostasised from that sacred ‘union’ with the Communion of Persons. And they have done it in the cause of creating a physical ‘disunion’ of persons – namely between mother and child in the name of “freedom and dignity”……

Moral Power

Over the last few weeks there have been heart wrenching accounts relating to the tragic events surrounding the case of Alfie Evans the little boy whose plight confronted and in many respects confounded the various “orthodoxies” of the Establishment; mainly the fundamental right to life and the inalienable rights of parents. I am not going to comment on the case as others like Joe Shaw http://www.lmschairman.org/2018/05/alfie-and-parental-rights.html  and Fr Dwight Longenecker have done that for us    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2018/04/what-alfie-evans-unlocked.html

For my part as a father myself, I simply want to pay tribute to the courage and tenacity of Tom Evans [Alfie’s father] and to Alfie himself by the following quotes which I think sum up beautifully the testimony of both their lives to the moral power that God has invested in both of them.

“There is only one adventurer in the world, as can be seen very clearly in the modern world, the father of a family. Even the most desperate adventurers are nothing compared with him…. Everything is against him. Savagely organized against him. Everything turns and combines against him. Men, events, the events of society, the automatic play of economic laws. And, in short, everything else. Everything is against the father of a family, the pater familias; and consequently against the family. He alone is literally ‘engaged’ in the world, in the age. He alone is an adventurer.” – Charles Peguy in Clio 1.

Early in the 8th century, the Bishop of Avranches, St. Aubert, wanted to build a shrine to the Archangel St. Michael on the site of a pagan monument, but the last stone of the old temple was too heavy to overturn. The men of the area were ordered to bring their sons, but they were not help enough. The Bishop asked if all had been brought and the father of sixteen admitted that he had left one at home but he was an infant. “Bring him!” bellowed the Bishop, and when the saint placed the child’s tiny foot against the stone, the whole pagan edifice fell. By God’s grace the great stones of pagan pride in our society can be overturned. Great men and women with learned voices and worthy example will lead the way; but the final stone will be overturned by a mother’s baby. Each baby is the conscience of a culture. And when the last stone falls and a Christian age begins to flower… A newer song will be raised to the Mother of God and our Mother: “Hail Mary full of grace!”
Seven Wonders of the World. Fr GW Rutler

“FIAT” Let it be unto me!

So Holy Week this year begins with Palm Sunday coinciding with the great Solemnity of the Annunciation -the Feast of the Incarnation. Despite the fact that liturgically we won’t celebrate the Marian feast, we know all too well that the Mother of God, the humble Virgin rejoices in heaven to know her children give all their attention to her son on this day. And yet when we contemplate the ‘fiat’ of Mary to conceive in her womb the only Son of God at the word of the Archangel, it reminds us all too well of the ‘fiat’ the ‘nevertheless, not my will but your’s be done’ which Christ uttered in prayer to His Father in Gethsemane as He took upon Himself the sins of the world. Both Jesus and Mary are always complete servants to life, guardians and stewards of ALL life, especially human. They embody the fullness of supernatural fecundity in the face of wave upon wave of the sterility of sin and selfishness.

This year, as we enter Holy Week once more I am mindful of the journey the Church makes to the 50th anniversary of the encyclical “On Human Life” (Humanae Vitae) promulgated by Blessed Pope Paul VI in July of 1968. Those of us in the Church and beyond who care about the prophetic message of this most crucial of magisterial documents will need to collaborate more and more in prayer, action and solidarity to uphold its truths and beauty to a world craving, thirsting for a new liberating message of truth in love. In that spirit of collaborative discipleship I am honoured to have a guest blogger this week – Vicki Thorn, Founder of Project Rachel post abortion ministry in the US and Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Humanae Vitae 50 Years Later – let the science speak.

As we approach the anniversary there is much discussion about whether it should be  modified and modernized. It’s time to realize that it is a prophetic document in light of contemporary science!

  • The first significant issue is that women who are using hormonal contraception when they are looking for a spouse, will choose the wrong partner based on scent cues (pheromones—scent molecules of affiliation). They are initially attracted to a male whose immune system is too much like theirs. Because they are not ovulating, their body thinks it’s pregnant and is attracted to a man whose immune system is too much like their own. This can create infertility issues and when she goes off the contraceptives to try and conceive, by scent, because her partner will be adverse to her. This can destroy intimacy and the marriage.
  • Extended use can lead to brain changes, causing women to have significant shifts in brain activity and in adolescents, this can affect the development of the pre-frontal cortex.
  • In an abstract entitled  “Do the emotional side-effects of hormonal contraceptives come from pharmacologic or psychological mechanisms?” a number of emotional side effects are listed . “Hormonal contraceptive users, in contrast with non users, were found to have higher rates of depression, anxiety, fatigue, neurotic symptoms, sexual disturbances, compulsion, anger, and negative menstrual effects.” The abstract concludes “Furthermore, it is reasonable to hypothesize, given the present data, that contraceptive activity itself is inherently damaging to women.” This is a stunning conclusion! Might it be that when we deviate from God’s plan that there is intuitive outcome.
  • There is much concern about the environment in many quarters. The possible effects of the residue of hormonal contraceptives that pass into water systems around the world is serious but often dismissed by the secular media. Fish, birds and people are impacted by this. Waste management people say they don’t know how to remove the residue from water.
  • Other health issues arise. Ovarian shrinkage and old ovum have been recorded. Many other health risks have been discovered but are often dismissed by saying “The risk isn’t that high”. Unfortunately, if like  a friend of my daughter,who was on the pill for medical reasons when she developed blood clots throughout her body that lead to her death, it is 100%.

 

Safety in Numbers

At the end of April there is going to be a mass rally of prayer all around the island of Great Britain   https://www.rosaryonthecoast.co.uk/
It is described as a “day of Pilgrimage and Prayer for the re-flourishing of our Faith, for the grace to build a culture of Life and for true Peace to reign in the hearts of all peoples & Nations.

Coming as it does during the season of Easter, this is yet another laudable offering of faith and love for Christ and his Holy Mother to proclaim the Gospel of Life and the Civilisation of Love. This is important given that in 2010 there was a nationwide 9 month novena pilgrimage of the miraculous relic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe    http://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2010/06/18/england-has-a-special-role-to-play/  to prepare for the State visit of Pope Benedict
and in 2012 when the National Association of Catholic Families facilitated the UK tour of the replica Icon of Czestochowa as part of the worldwide http://www.fromoceantoocean.org pilgrimage in the cause of life. It is beautiful to see that this icon which has travelled so far now is currently being venerated in Ecuador.
Each of us has to make their inner pilgrimage through Lent to the joy and light of Easter and make sacrifices of prayer and praise along the way with deeper intentionality than we normally do.  So this morning I decided to go to confession but bring my 8 year old son with me so we could celebrate the sacrament together in some precious father and son time. To prepare we recited the Holy Rosary together for the 15 minute drive to a neighbouring parish. What a joy it was to do this and it was so confimred for me as a parent when at the end of our prayers after receiving absolution my son said simply: “I feel blessed!” What more can one ask …let us all embrace the opportunities God might send us to recite the rosary with others for as the great St Louis de Montfort once said:

“Somebody who says his Rosary alone only gains the merit of one Rosary, but if he says it together with 30, 100, 1000 or more people, he gains the merit of all those Rosaries.”

 

A Spiritual Thermometer..

My thanks to my good friend and brother in the Lord, Fr Jeff Steel, for being my guest blogger this week:

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to reconcile the Christian faith with a spirit of ingratitude? Being ungrateful for the gifts of God, all He has provided, and the graces and people He puts in our lives is a spirit not of Christ but of sin, the evil one, and the world. The reason we lack peace in our life is due to a spirit of ingratitude in our hearts. Gratitude is the sure path to peace. If we are lacking peace in our lives due to very difficult circumstances, we should look at the thermometer of our gratitude to God. If all we can do is complain about what we don’t have, resent every situation of life that makes us feel powerless and out of control, blame, point the finger, see negative in others and not ourselves, rant to God in prayer about everything and everyone but ourselves, it is a good sign that our gratitude virtue is on empty. And peace is completely absent from our lives. This is a serious issue for us all to consider. 

This theme of gratitude runs through the entire book of Colossians. In the course of just a few pages, the apostle exhorts believers about being “always” thankful (1:3), “abounding in thanksgiving” (2:7), devoting themselves to prayer, “being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (4:2). Then, as if summing up this whole idea, Paul seals it with one comprehensive, all-inclusive exclamation point: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (3:17).

Do we lack peace right now in our lives? Then ask the question: Am I grateful to God for all I have? To lack peace and gratitude is a road to much destruction of joy in our lives and in the lives of others who are in contact with us.

For Candlemas…A Bishop lights a candle in the darkness

I applaud Archbishop Aquila of Denver for his Pastoral Letter for 2nd February – The Splendour of Love – reminding us of the beauty and truth of the Church’s vision for sexuality and married love in the light of the irreformable truth of Humanae Vitae -the encyclical which will mark its 50th anniversary this July.

He begins…

“I write this pastoral letter to you, my brothers and sisters, to affirm the great beauty of the Church’s consistent teaching through the centuries on married love, a love that is so desperately needed today,”

The full letter is here http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/splendor-of-love_web.pdf

But even if you don’t read the full beautifully produced brochure, at least reflect on his introduction which includes testimony of such a moving nature, that pastors, educators and catechists who for decades have neglected and denied the truths of Humanae Vitae should feel ashamed and contrite for their sins of omission. Go to paragraph 3…it will blow you away!

Aquila writes elsewhere…

“Defending this love in our culture requires strong commitment,” Aquila continued, saying “it is crucial to reaffirm our commitment to the truth, goodness and beauty of Christ’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.”

According to Archbishop Aquila, Blessed Pope Paul VI “prophetically defended the integrity of married love and warned us against the danger of reducing sexuality to a source of pleasure,” in his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae.

The first evangelizers of society, Aquila said, are parents and married couples, who are the primary educators of children. Because of this, parents and couples have the responsibility to faithfully teach their children in the truths of the Church.

Unfortunately, today’s children are bombarded with distorted sexual ethics at a young age, with exposure to pornography and the lure of casual sex, the archbishop said. These dangers present new challenges to parents in their efforts to raise children of God, but Aquila encouraged honest conversations with children to promote healthy relationships.

God bless Archbishop Aquila and may many more Bishops and priests follow his example and proclaim the truth!

Trust in the Holy Spirit

In Sacred Scripture, the symbol of the Holy Spirit is the “finger of God’s right hand.” I love this symbol not least because of the way time and again in sacred art this symbolism has been illustrated with such beauty, especially in the way artists have depicted Christ, e.g. the Calling of Matthew by Caravaggio. Jesus points to Matthew with the index finger of his right hand as if to indicate the exhortation from His Spirit to call Matthew forth to a new life and mission. In like manner by virtue of the grace of our baptism and confirmation it is the same Holy Spirit upon whom we must depend and place our total reliance in order to overcome all and any of life’s trials and tribulations and especially to help us overcome all that makes us feel afraid and vulnerable.

It was with such thoughts in my mind and heart that I watched this 2 minute video below breathless disbelief but a sense of awesome wonder. And I was touched by how the clip concludes with the words of love from a father to a son. Truly an incarnational moment.