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Note: This is a cross-post from Called to Communion. We’ve discussed contraception at great length here, so I don’t expect anything here to be earth shattering. But I’d love to hear your thoughts nonetheless. Btw, the comments on the post at Called to Communion have been great, so I’d encourage you to check those out and comment interact there as well.

The Catholic Church has stood, since its inception, firmly against the use of any artificial methods of contraception. In fact, it is the only Christian institution that, as a whole, has held this teaching consistently for all of Christian history.

Within years of the 1930 Lambeth Conference, where Anglicans became the first Christian group to officially approve the use of contraceptives, contraception came to be viewed as an unquestionable human right even by many conservative Protestants. And it’s understandable from a pragmatic point of view. It can be a difficult issue for pastors to dictate what ought and ought not happen in the bedroom affairs of their parishoners. But lately, I’ve seen a few Reformed pastors thinking about the issue out loud and coming to some negative conclusions about the practice of artificial birth control. Read the rest of this entry »

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Here we go again. Roman Catholic Womenpriests have “ordained” another woman. If aesthetics alone were not enough of an argument against them, the teaching of the Catholic Church is perfectly clear: ordaining women is an ontological impossibility. Ordination cannot be conferred on women anymore than sonship or husbandness.

The proper matter for the sacrament of holy orders is baptized men. A woman does not become a priest when words of consecration are said over her even if a valid bishop is using the right formula. Just like saying the words of consecration over pizza and beer will not make them the body and blood of Christ even if you’re a priest who has the proper authority to celebrate the mystery. Wrong matter = no sacrament. John Paul II, may his memory be eternal, put it quite well: Read the rest of this entry »

This post was for Called to Communion cross-posted here.

Future BFF's in Heaven? Let's hope so!

Future BFF's in Heaven? Let's hope so!

I’m sure much of our readership is aware of the recent lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcelle Lefebvre under the auspices of the Society of St. Pius the Tenth (SSPX). For those totally unfamiliar, I believe the Pope’s letter on the subject explains the situation quite adequately.

These bishops were ordained in the SSPX to serve the Traditional Latin Mass at a time when it seemed that rite might be dying out after the Second Vatican Council.

The problem was that they were ordained without the approval of Rome, which incurred on Archbishop Lefebvre and the Bishops he was ordaining a latae sententiae excommunication. The SSPX remained Catholic and believes all Catholic dogma, but they were operating illicitly without Rome’s permission and thus had no official authority or standing in the Church. Read the rest of this entry »

neuhausThe most recent issue of First Things has been sitting around my house for nearly a week now. By this time, I would usually have torn through the whole issue, waiting as long as I could to resist the temptation to skip to the back to read Fr. Neuhaus’s The Public Square section, usually the best part of a wholly delightful magazine.

But this time I had to wait. It would be Fr. Neuhaus’s very last and final Public Square. It turns out Fr. Neuhaus had been struggling with cancer for some months. I was totally unaware of his struggle.

The day I found out about it was the day I heard he had died. I was at a staff meeting and all of my colleagues and I were surprised to find that within the last few days, and in some cases minutes, our thoughts had independently been drawn to Fr. Neuhaus.

I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t read it (if you’re not a subscriber you owe it to yourself to track down this issue), but Fr. Neuhaus approached what he knew might well be his last piece in the journal he founded with incredible tact.

A former Lutheran minister, his long piece focused on recent scholarship concerning the Lutheran view of justification and what still separates us as Catholics from the reformed position.

He then made his first mention of death in giving due notice and honor to the recent passing of Avery Cardinal Dulles, a great champion of orthodox Catholicism and a principle pillar of the First Things roster.

He then proceeded on with a few of his beloved book reviews and cultural criticisms.

Then, in the last few pieces, he returned to death. He spoke of Solzhenitsyn, he remembered Cardinal Dulles again, he thought of Studs Terkel, and he cited some recent scholarship on what very young babies know.

Then, finally, he spoke of his own plight. He talked like St. Paul. Full of the vigor to continue to live and fight for the gospel, but ready to accept his calling home whenever his Savior was ready to make it happen. His grit, determination, tenacity and humility in the face of death should be a shining example to us all.

And so I closed the final page on the last issue of First Things in which I would ever read new thoughts from one of the world’s great cultural critics.

I will miss you greatly, Father Neuhaus, until I finally get to meet you face to face on the other side of the veil.

I’ll leave you all with his final words in the journal he founded:

“Who knew that at this point in my life I would be understanding, as if for the first time, the words of Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong”? This is not a farewell. Please God, we will be pondering together the follies and splendors of the Church and the world for years to come. But maybe not. In any event, when there is an unidentified agent in your body aggressively attacking the good things you body is intended to do, it does concentrate the mind. The entirety of our prayers is “Your will be done”—not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each step through time toward home.”

Through the prayers of the Holy Mother of God, may the soul of thy servant rest in peace.

May his memory be eternal.

Lord have mercy.

A project wherein Irish school children in the ’60s are asked to retell Bible stories. Animated. Won tons of awards.

Pay close attention to the bit at about 2:40 where Martha discusses Lazarus’ resurrection with Our Lord. Very interesting insights on the Creeds and on the prophetic arguing with God.

There’s a whole ton more of these on Youtube as well. All worth watching if only for the children’s priceless accents.

I’m done. Done done done making excuses for Marian devotion. Other than a small handful of instances of outright, self-proclaimed heresy or syncretism, devotion to Our Lady leads only to devotion to Our Lord.

The pet peeve in question is when Orthodox in particular try to claim, in ecumenical dialog, that unlike the Catholics, they have Marian devotion in perspective. That those Catholics, off the rails as we all know they are, have just taken Marian devotion to ends the early Church never did.

Have those Orthodox ever read, much less sung, their own Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos? It contains such beautiful lines as:

By singing praise to your maternity, we all exalt you as a Spiritual Temple, 0 Theotokos! For the One Who dwelt within your womb, the Lord Who holds all things in His hands, sanctified you, glorified you and taught all men to sing to You:

Rejoice, 0 Tabernacle of God the Word;

Rejoice, Holy One, more holy that the Saints!

Rejoice, 0 Ark that the Spirit has gilded;

Rejoice, Inexhaustible Treasure of Life!

Rejoice, Precious Crown of Rightful Authorities;

Rejoice, Sacred Glory of Reverent Priests!

Rejoice, Unshakable Tower of the Church;

Rejoice, Unbreachable Wall of the Kingdom!

Rejoice, 0 you through whom the trophies are raised;

Rejoice, 0 you through whom the enemies are routed!

Rejoice, 0 Healing of My Body;

Rejoice, 0 Salvation of My Soul!

Rejoice, 0 Bride and Maiden ever-pure!

I don’t have any problem with any of these, all these titles and accolades are due to the Theotokos because and only because she bore our Lord, but I do have a problem with the people who wrote these things accusing Catholics of overwrought devotion to Our Lady.

Give me a break.

or come up with a great explanation as to why you don’t!

Rewriting parables seems to be all the rage these days. So in response to a long line of excuses as to why Christians are not obligated to give money to bums on Josh’s blog, I posted this:

And they shall say to Him, “But Lord, when were you hungry and we wouldn’t give you a dollar?” and He shall say to them, “As much as you’ve not done it to the least of my brethren, you’ve not done it unto me.”

And they’ll say, “But Lord, you smelled like booze and we were sure you wouldn’t spend it wisely. Besides, if we’d just given you the money we would actually be hurting you by keeping you poor, little known fact. It’s really simple Reganomics, Lord. Besides, had you really tried, I mean really tried to get a job?”

Surprisingly, this line of reasoning really won the Lord over. He apologized for being so harsh earlier and welcomed them into their reward.

unexpected_joy.gifRemy has, wrapping up two of our differences into one package which he feels to be most clever, referred on this blog and elsewhere to the use of holy images in prayer as “prayer condoms”. He believes they place something artificial that need not be there between God and the supplicant, as condoms place something artificial that need not be there between the couple in their conjugal act (is that word related to conjugating a verb, by the by?).

I will, as I have in the past, magnanimously ignore what amounts to something like 2nd degree blasphemy in Remy’s speaking of holy images that way, but that aside, I was thinking about Remy’s analogy today and found it wanting, here’s why: While it’s true that condoms do put a barrier between the couple, that’ not necessarily the inherent problem.

After all, you could enjoy the marital embrace with your shirt on and not do any damage to the nature of the act. The problem with condoms is that they place a barrier where life is transmitted. Read the rest of this entry »

ContraceptivesI think the point often gets sidetracked to fertility issues like this was highschool biology class. It’s not. The point of the Church’s rules on contraception is to preserve the integrity of the marital act which, not to put too fine a point on it, is vaginal intercourse between a married man and a woman with nothing between them, open to the possibility that life could come from the act they are committing.

The minute you mess with the integrity of any aspect of that act (in which orifice the intercourse takes place, the number or type of persons involved, or the fertility) you’re doing violence to the nature of the marital act. God made it a certain way for certain purposes.

With artificial contraception you’re lying with your body. You’re saying ”I’m giving you everything”, and yet you’re holding back. Now, there could be a way to lie with your body with NFP, but it’s not doing so by its very nature.

You could intentionally hold back your fertility from your partner and use the fast from sex as a way to render yourself infertile, but it’s not necessary. NFP can be used as a method of responsibly spacing pregnancy while still maintaining the integrity of the marital act. The obvious difference is that nothing artificial is placed between the husband and wife to prevent conception. To use JPII’s language, the giving capacity of the man still gives and the receptive genius of the woman still receives. Conception is left in the hands of God. The couple has done nothing to change the nature of the act to prevent conception.

Every form of artificial contraception necessarily places something between the husband and wife that attempts to portray either the giving of the man or the receiving of the woman as other than what it appears to be. It says one thing and does another. If it’s condoms, the man is giving and then taking back. If it’s hormonal contraception, the woman is going through the motions of receiving while making sure her body will not actually receive it.

It’s this fundamental dishonesty in the place where we most clearly image God that the Church finds so detestable about contraception. Here, where we should be speaking most clearly and honestly with the language of our bodies, contraception throws in lies and muddies the waters of communication.

That’s why, despite this being a debate about contraception, conception is almost a side issue. In having sex when the chance of conception is less, man and woman are still authentically giving and receiving, they’re still giving the total gift of themselves to each other with no interruptions, they just might be lessening their chances of having a baby. The act itself is authentic and honest.

PillarMy friend Jon Amos recently posted on his blog about how myself and Dave Hodges are ridiculous for claiming that the claims of the Catholic Church are either true or an abhorrent falsehood.  I replied and my comment is the post below.  Jon’s original post can be found here, along with the rest of his blog which I definitely recommend.

Jon,

I’ve been meaning to reply to this since you wrote it, just haven’t gotten up the gumption till now.

You seem to be looking at the Catholic Church and saying ‘Well, one thing taken with another, they’re not all bad’. I appreciate your charity and I would extend as much in kind as my faith allows. One thing taken with another, protestant communities are not all bad, but I cannot concede that they are true Churches. As the Church teaches, they have some marks of the Church, they have the Scriptures, they have some sacraments, they sincerely try to be the Church and that is, in a sense, commendable.

But the analogy simply doesn’t work in reverse. For the same reason that Lewis’s infamous quote about Jesus holds true. His claims are simply too ridiculous to be merely a good option amongst moral philosophies. He claims to be God, and if you do that you are either telling the truth, loony, or a very wicked person indeed.
Read the rest of this entry »