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Pope Francis on the Family: "What is Being Proposed is NOT Marriage"

Posted By at Monday, November 17, 2014

Recorded Oct 30, 2014 based on a news story by Elise Harris Pope Francis outlines the challenges facing genuine marriage and family today and offers solutions.

 

In a recent audience at the Vatican, our Holy Father Pope Francis indicated as much.  “The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” the Pope told members of an international Marian movement at the Oct. 25 audience.  He warned against the common view in society that “you can call everything family, right?”  “What is being proposed is not marriage, it's an association. But it's not marriage! It's necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!” Pope Francis stressed.  He lamented that there are so many “new forms” of unions which are “totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage.”  Noting that there are many who cohabitate, or are separated or divorced, he explained that the “key” to helping is a pastoral care of “close combat” that assists and patiently accompanies the couple.  Pope Francis explained that contemporary society has “devalued” the sacrament by turning it into a social rite, removing the most essential element, which is union with God.  “So many families are divided, so many marriages broken, (there is) such relativism in the concept of the Sacrament of Marriage,” he said, noting that from a sociological and Christian point of view “there is a crisis in the family because it's beat up from all sides and left very wounded!”  (from 10/26/14 news story at www.catholicnewsagency.com by Elise Harris)


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Can I Get a Witness?

Posted By at Wednesday, November 05, 2014

You don’t have to be a statistician collecting empirical data or a licensed social worker to detect that we have serious problems with the family in America and the rest of the West.  In a recent audience at the Vatican, our Holy Father Pope Francis indicated as much.  “The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” the Pope told members of an international Marian movement at the Oct. 25 audience.  He warned against the common view in society that “you can call everything family, right?”  “What is being proposed is not marriage, it's an association. But it's not marriage! It's necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!” Pope Francis stressed.  He lamented that there are so many “new forms” of unions which are “totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage.”  Noting that there are many who cohabitate, or are separated or divorced, he explained that the “key” to helping is a pastoral care of “close combat” that assists and patiently accompanies the couple.  Pope Francis explained that contemporary society has “devalued” the sacrament by turning it into a social rite, removing the most essential element, which is union with God.  “So many families are divided, so many marriages broken, (there is) such relativism in the concept of the Sacrament of Marriage,” he said, noting that from a sociological and Christian point of view “there is a crisis in the family because it's beat up from all sides and left very wounded!”  (from 10/26/14 news story at www.catholicnewsagency.com by Elise Harris)

Upon reading this story I was struck at how clearly he articulated the problem and how closely aligned it is to the honest assessment of family life that we illustrate here in order to address it and “fix” it.  I was also moved by his solution as well as the mission to spread the Gospel, the Truth, with witness.  “Witness is key to spreading the Gospel, he said, explaining that true witness means living ‘in such a way that the will to live as we live is born in the heart of others…Living in a way (so that) others are interested and ask:’ ‘why?’”  This is the concept that I’ve called living “out loud.”  It’s a concept I shared at a commencement exercise several years ago.  You can see the video here.

It can also be applied very effectively to the task of fixing the family which is the basic building block of society.  As the family goes, so goes our culture.

Pope Francis is highlighting some very specific standards for marriage and family life here.  Some will call these standards rigid.  But he says that we have to say these things, and here we do.  We will let you know what the Church teaches and give you the good news that it still can be practiced in the post-Christian neo-pagan society in which we live.  Will it be as easy as it was a couple of generations ago?  Probably not.  But it wasn’t easy pre-Christendom either.  We seem to fret and whine when things get difficult.  As people have routinely attempted to reprove me: “This isn’t the 50’s anymore.”  Now it’s going to be a challenge to be a Catholic again as the culture descends further into decadence.  Maybe for a little while up until a couple of generations ago, the world got along with the Church.  Now it doesn’t.  But the Church NEVER got along with the world.  Now we’ll separate the real Catholics from the pretend, the sheep from the goats.

Real Catholics shouldn’t be struggling and failing in married and family life as the rest of the culture does.  But many who claim to be Catholic are.  There’s something acutely wrong with that.  Many so-called Catholics have gone the way of the culture.  When we propose counter-cultural Catholic ways to have a fulfilled family life here, we are chastised that we are not Catholic.  How crazy is that?  If we are failing at alarming rates, shouldn’t we think that we need to do something different?  If a child was failing in school, parents would change what he is doing.  If a business was losing money, they would have to make some changes.  Why is it when something as sacred as marriage and family fails, we just shrug it off and say that’s just the way it is today.  It is as though many turn a blind eye and don’t want a solution because they don’t want to have to sacrifice.  It is a culture steeped in selfishness.  Instead of sticking it out in marriage which is best for the children, couples want to divorce and remarry and receive a nod of approval from the Church after violating the rites.

Pope Francis is calling for joyful witnesses in family life who are succeeding who have passionately loving and wonderful marriages to give a shining example to this dead culture of the limitless possibilities that exist for families even today.  Can we get a witness?  Is your family a witness to this good news?  Or do you look like the rest of the neo-pagan society?  Can we get a witness?  The Holy Father has thrown down the challenge.  It’s time to step up and respond.

God bless you+

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Pro Life or Anti Abortion?

Posted By at Tuesday, October 28, 2014

We commonly hear of people referred to as “pro-life “or “pro-choice.”  In the impersonal society in which we live, this is usually a reference to a stoic political position, which is actually quite a misnomer.  It’s a good effort by the anti-abortion movement to put a positive spin on its mission.  I say this not at all to discount the valuable work the related organizations do to put an end to surgical abortion.  It is a very essential work that we end abortion in all its forms, and the organizations and the people behind them that work to this end are some of today’s greatest heroes.  They have answered the call to fight the “culture of death” convicted by St. John Paul II as the worst scourge of our time.

But we as Catholics need to ensure that we as individuals are truly pro-life and not just anti-abortion.  It all starts with getting back to the basics.  Within Sacramental Marriage (only) the sexuality of a husband and wife is a gift from God and should always be unitive and procreative.  It should always be an act of love that is always open to the possibility of creating life, conceiving a child.  Of course in our anti-life culture, our culture of death, this is an unfathomable way to live.  For one, our culture doesn’t see sexuality as something to limit to married couples.  Of course now, the major movement is for normalization of disordered homosexual acts.  We might only assume that bestiality and incest would follow.  Once we break away from a sound moral standard, it gets to be a severely slippery slope.

If we apply this Catholic moral law of sexuality (being unitive and procreative in the context of permanent Sacramental Marriage), we can see the soundness of civility upon which an ordered society can be built.  There actually is no other foundation.  Anything less is sure to collapse under its own weight.  God’s first Commandment was to “increase and multiply” (Gen 1:28), not “add.”  We Catholics are to be open to life.  How many children should we have?  Do we limit our family size out of selfishness or fear?  St. John Paul II said “Be not afraid.”  Children are a blessing from God.  We do not need to lavish upon them every material thing, or store up great bank accounts so they can get a great college “education” (degree) so they can end up in the rat race.  Children have very few material needs outside of basic food, clothing, and shelter.  If they are raised properly with character, when they reach adulthood they are more than capable of providing for themselves.  This is what they really need:  the attentive love and presence of parents.  Why is it that we as parents think we have to secure them financially for their entire lives?  Is this the way God created humanity?  Of course not.  Fear has no place in the human family; it is a symptom of the presence of the devil.  He has convinced so many to fear the most beautiful and innocent of creation, children.  This is what is at the heart of abortion and has its roots in sterilization (mutilation) and contraception.

My heart goes out to all the loving couples who would like to have children and are unable to.  So many have come to our attention in recent years.  They carry a special cross in their lives.  I’m sure it is heart wrenching to them to see so many couples purposely cut off the blessings of God.  They could be a particular answer to a person who has made a mistake and conceived a child outside of wedlock.  Adoption is always a loving option for those who find themselves in an impossible situation.  It is never right to kill a child.   

But for those of us whom God has blessed with the give to participate in creation with Him, we must stop acting as though we are God and start to trust Him.  By wanting to do too much for our children we place a limit of what He can do in them.  God created man in His image (cf Gen 1:27).   We are all engineered for success and greatness.  Loving couples in Sacramental Marriage must honor the vows they take before God and welcome children without limiting the possibilities.  These children grow and develop to do amazing wonderful things if only given the chance.  So many are not even given the chance neither at conception nor birth.  What a conviction that will be upon our people and our Church. 

Our Faith teaches us the proper order for our lives and the proper end of Sacramental Marriage.  We only need to open our eyes and our hearts to being generous in the most powerful and generative aspect of our marriages.  Christ came to give life and to give it to the full (cf John 10:10).  Do we reflect His love and generosity in our own marriages or do we follow the world, the flesh, and the devil and all their empty promises?

God bless you+

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Contact Sports and Feminine Formation

Posted By at Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Recently I saw a Facebook friend post a news story about an 8th grade girl who was a kicker on a boys’ Catholic CYO football team, but was “benched” because of a policy against girls playing on the team.  The observation by the person making the post was “Is this where we are?”  I assume that means we should have “progressed” so far from such a narrow-minded way of thinking.  Obviously, I personally agree with the policy and think it is still a small semblance of Catholic thought left in the culture in which we live.  I haven’t followed the story any further but I’m sure there will be a lot of pressure on the organization to change the policy with the feminist ideology all around us.  Before pointing out the reasons I agree with the policy, I would first like to point out that all involved broke a rule, and then after having done something that was prohibited, proceeded as though they had a right to continue.  This is how liberals typically operate.  They are very aggressive in pushing the envelope to see what they can get away with then cry “FOWL” when a rule is enforced.  We don’t have to wonder why the parents didn’t ask permission for the young lady to participate before she did.  The reports are that the young lady was “devastated” by the decision.  It makes one wonder why her parents would not have been more cautious before encouraging her to do something wasn’t allowed.

In another story that we featured on our Facebook page, no less than the BISHOP of a diocese had to step in to forbid girls from participating in a school’s WRESTLING program.  Yes, the linked article there says the “decree” is archaic; I’d have to say they are insane.  Where has common sense and common decency gone amongst everyday Catholics?  Not only that, but the good Bishop actually was (seriously?) asked why he made such a call AND he had to actually come out and explain himself since they were unable to comprehend his reasoning.  Bishop Ronald Gainer explains "We would in our Catholic school try to teach and model respect between the two sexes and appropriate relationship.  This sort of physical contact seems to violate the moral standards.  I would say it would be scripture.  My only thought is it would be the appropriate respect between the sexes for one another. It may be our Catholic interpretation, but we would find it rooted in God's word."  I would just ask the coaches and parents involved to imagine themselves in such a position when they were that age with the raging hormones they possessed to see if they really felt like this was appropriate.  I’ll go ahead and open up a politically incorrect can of worms and say that it would also be inappropriate for homosexual males to participate for the same obvious reasons.

A larger obvious reason I would disagree with females participating with males in contact sports is simply for their own protection.  Even in the case of a kicker, the young lady is on the field of play and so is in the line of fire.  The players’ goal is to block the kick.  Surely there are rules to protect the kicker, but kickers still do get hit and get hurt.  Females are smaller and weaker than males typically so their risk of injury is greater.  A young man who is a gentleman will be concerned for the safety of a young lady on the field, so he will not play at full speed or with full force.  This is how someone gets hurt playing football.  I know; I played as a kid in high school.

This is all done from the feminist notion that females can do anything males can do, so they insist that they be given the opportunity to prove it.  When someone denies them, they are aghast that we haven’t progressed further than this in 2014.  This is utter madness.  We’ll even put our daughters in harm’s way in the military under the ideal of “equality.” 

This brings me to my main principle that stands juxtaposed against females in contact sports of any sort, and that is feminine formation.  The reason we as Catholics reject the feminist notion that women should do any and every thing men do is because God created men and women to be different.  The world, led by feminists, believes that men and women are the same and seeks to create some freak of a being with no gender identity.  People are even having surgical procedures to change their gender.  We glory in the way God made us in His image, male and female (Gen 1:27).   The problem with raising children today is that parents are taught to raise and form them backwards.  Girls are taught to be aggressive and compete against boys.  Boys are taught to be quiet and calm like girls are naturally.  When the boys don’t behave this way, they are punished and in many cases drugged.

I heard it said that males portray the power of God and females portray His beauty.  We have to ask ourselves in the formation of our daughters is we are raising them to portray His beauty or his power.  What does participation in contact sports embody?  It embodies power, aggression, strength, and conquering the opponent.  Even if females are participating against females, does this sound like feminine formation to you?  Our Faith always takes the feminine from the perspective of mothering.  Even if a woman is not a physical mother she will be a spiritual mother.  Many writings from St. John Paul II and Venerable Fulton J. Sheen reflect this.  John Paul’s Mulieris Dignitatem goes primarily and extensively into the role of woman as mother.  Our feminist culture has deceived us into glossing over this presentation and focusing on the deviant roles of women, even in Catholic circles. 

For those of us parents raising daughters are we raising them to be young ladies who will one day be mothers?  What type of formation would encourage this?  Would it be the aggression of contact sports or would it be something softer, more beautiful, more loving and compassionate, more compatible with their very delicate anatomy that is created to bear a child?  There are many things for our daughters to do which are more conducive to their femininity and which will protect their dignity, like music and art.  Does this mean that girls and women should just let themselves go and not take care of their bodies and fitness?  Of course not.  There are many ways girls and ladies can exercise in a discreet and private way that preserve their dignity. If we look at previous generations when women were happier and more…well…feminine, we would see that they did not participate in many things young ladies participate in today.  They did feminine things, and their marriages stayed together and were happier, and their children were more obedient and respectful.  We need to stop and realize we haven’t really “progressed” as far as we think, and we can do something to change that.

God bless you+

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Feminine Power by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Posted By at Monday, October 13, 2014

Feminine Power:  How differently a woman acts when she knows her love to be a messenger!  When a woman sees herself as the channel of Divine Love, she becomes the image of the highest aspiration of the soul; this is her power.  She has the capacity to lift a man to the highest levels, even to transform him, for anyone in love always seeks to become life the one that is loved.  Hence the level of any civilization is always the level of its womanhood.
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Divorce and Remarriage by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Posted By at Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Divorce and Remarriage:  The soul receives a shock and a dislocatoin which no amount of external companionship can compensate.  In the garden of one's heart on knows that liberty was never meant to be spelled adultery.   Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

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Manly Commitment

Posted By at Monday, September 08, 2014

True manhood is marked by the ability to make and keep commitments.  Of course the most significant of these commitments would be one that would last a lifetime, which would be a man’s commitment to his vocation—the priesthood, religious life, or marriage.  This very trait is the one that is sorely needed in men today.  How often do we hear about men falling down on commitments, being unfaithful to their wives or not doing the thing they said they would do? 

At 45 years old, I am a member of Generation X.  One of the marks that we are known for is a lack of commitment.  Let’s look at some of the changes from previous generations where ours may have not been trained in an atmosphere of commitment:

  • Mothers began working outside the home more and more not making the commitment to raise their own children.
  • Divorce became more prevalent as parents failed in their commitment to each other in marriage to raise their children in a two-parent stable home.
  • Priests, nuns, and religious left their orders in record numbers abandoning their vows to God and the Church.
  • Employers softened on their commitment to their workers where lay-offs became a common occurrence and pension plans were weakened marking the end of lifetime tenure with a company.

You can probably think of others, but I think these are the most common.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making any excuses for us.  But we as a society have to realize we reap what we sow.   

Yes, this is the environment I grew up in.  I was blessed to have a two-parent home, but I saw my share of lack of commitment all around me.  The striking thing to me is the amount of selfishness that drives it all.  The next thing I notice is that despite the selfish motives behind the lack of commitment, in the end the uncommitted one is still unhappy.  What many fail to comprehend is the difference between misery and temporary discomfort.

Discomfort is a part of life.  We are human; we get tired and weak.  Donald Trump, well known real estate magnate and entrepreneur, said “your higher self lies outside your comfort zone.”  This is what Christ calls us to, our higher self.  Commitment causes us to keep moving forward in the face of pain or discomfort.  Commitment causes us to work through difficulty in our relationships instead of ending them.  It causes us to seek to understand our wives and their needs when they get in the way of our desires or selfishness. Commitment causes us to pass on doing things for ourselves to be present to our children and develop a relationship with them so that we can guide them on through life.

In the end, when we lay aside our selfishness out of commitment, we arrive at a place called contentment or joy.  I remember Mother Angelica saying on her EWTN live show that happiness and pleasure are things of this world, but joy is heavenly, a spiritual experience.  Christ said “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Matt 10:39)  This is not to say that we are called to be miserable.  We have to be true to ourselves and pursue that which will be truly fulfilling in the unique way God has made each of us.  It is a call to maturity, a call away from the childish pursuits of pleasures toward responsible self-giving love.  It is a call to make wise choices based on logic and reason and a rejection of making decisions based on emotion and desire.

Commitment takes time; it is not something that comes easy.  But it lays the foundation for a solid and firm future.  It is like the foundation of a building, of a home.  This reminds us of what Christ said about being wise.  Those who listened to His words and acted on them are like the wise man who built his house on rock; those who did not act on them were like a fool who built his house on sand. (cf Matt 7:24-27)  Notice our Lord says the one who ACTS is the one who is wise.  It is not sufficient to listen or to learn or to possess knowledge.  We must ACT on it if we wish to be wise and not foolish.

Commitment requires action.  It’s easy to talk a good show, but it takes a man to back up his words with action.  Little boys tell stories full of fantasy about what they will do.  Women pick up on this quickly.  A boy tells her what she wants to hear in order to have his way with her.  A wise woman will require him to prove himself to be a real man, to make a commitment to her, a lifetime commitment before she makes a commitment to him.  The action of commitment doesn’t just last for a day or a week or a month.  It continues for the required amount of time to meet the task.  Sometimes that may be a year, sometimes 10 years, and yes, sometimes a lifetime. 

So, it’s important to know what things we should make a commitment to and what things can stay open-ended.  This requires us to make priorities in life. 

God bless you+