Cooperating with the Creator: The Church and Birth Control

May 31, 2009

From Inside Catholic:

If you had collared me before I was Catholic and asked my opinion of Rome’s teaching on artificial contraception, I would have said something like this:

I understand and applaud the Magisterium’s opposition to abortion, since abortion kills people. But I’m not comfortable with the Church’s stodgy stand on artificial contraception based on Her opposition to ‘interference with nature.’ After all, we interfere with nature all the time when we dye our hair, pierce our ears, and use sun blockers to avoid the natural process of suntan and skin cancer. So it seems to me that the real question is not ‘Shall we interfere?’ but, ‘At what level are we comfortable interfering?’

This seemed to me a deft deflection of the Church’s “intrusive” teaching — until I started thinking about the challenge of biotechnology and genetic engineering. I began to recognize that my use of the word “interference” was a lousy blanket term for describing every sort of technological fiddling with nature and (as is especially the case with molecular biology) with persons. Both a gunshot and a penicillin shot “interfere” with human biology.

However, such interference springs from markedly different intentions and has markedly different results. Of course, other interference, like piercing ears or dyeing hair, is largely morally neutral. That’s why indiscriminately labeling everything from vaccination to fetal harvesting as “interference” and then appealing to “comfort levels” to determine what shall and shall not be done is — I came to realize — hopelessly inadequate.

The question of how to care for and love human life at its most basic level isn’t a matter of obeying the whims of human comfort, but of obeying the will of the Creator of human life. The more I pondered the momentous dangers posed to the dignity of the human person by biotechnology, the more perilous and premature my ephemeral “comfort” dodge appeared. It became obvious to me that matters pertaining to the most fundamental truths of human existence could not be left merely to one’s sense of comfort, but could only be decided on a much more solid basis: “What is good, and what is evil?”

I began to wonder, “According to revelation, just what is God up to in creating a human being?”

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On These Two Things …

May 29, 2009


By Fr. Longnecker:

On these two things …

…hang all the law and the prophets. The two things are the two essential commandments that we love God and love our neighbor.

One of the problems in the church is between two groups of people: the God lovers and the people lovers. The God lovers focus on liturgy, spirituality, prayer, adoration, consecrated life, vocation, religion and worship. The people lovers focus on peace and justice, the church as the pilgrim people of God, the fellowship of the brothers and sisters, the ministry of the sacraments to one another.

The God lovers see the Mass as a solemn sacrifice that takes us to the very threshold of heaven. They want fine liturgy an esoteric, magnificent and otherworldly worship. For the God lovers worship is to lift us from this vale of tears to transport us to the worship of the cosmic sphere. For them the Mass is the great sacrifice that applies the eternal act of redemption to souls in need of salvation.

The people lovers see the Mass as the fellowship meal of the people of God. The worship is warm and comforting. It is designed to make everyone feel good about themselves and each other. The content is all about helping one another and making the world a better place. The church is in this world and is of this world and needs to adapt to this world so that more and more people can be helped.

As you read this you are probably already, instinctively choosing which of these two models you like best. You will believe that yours is the best and that, at best, the other one is faulty, and at worst it is heretical and damaging to the church and should be stopped.

In fact we need both don’t we? We’re supposed to love God and love our neighbor. So why all the division if there really is the division I see? It is not because one is right and the other wrong, but because we have not prioritized properly.

The lovers of people may not like to hear this, but the love of God is the first priority. Love of neighbor comes after the love of God and is dependent on the love of God. We cannot love our neighbor if we do not love God first. Why? Because we have not motive, no power and no grace to love our neighbor if we have not loved God first.

Therefore the love of God is the Catholic priority. Loving our neighbor is mandatory and cannot be overlooked, but it comes after the love of God. If this is true, then we must ask ourselves where we properly love God and where we properly love our neighbor. The answer is that we love God primarily within the life of prayer and worship: within and through the liturgy.

If we love God in church, then we love our neighbor outside of church. Most of the problems with modernist liturgy and worship is that they have brought into the church what rightly belongs outside the church. In other words, the fellowship, the peace and justice, the social activism, the missionary enterprise, the education and health care and family concern–all of this is the proper activity of the people of God outside of the liturgy, and we have brought it all into the liturgy.

As a result, the liturgy has become all about loving people and not loving God. Why is this? Because too many Catholics have not simply put the love of God elsewhere, they have replaced the love of God with the love of people. Clever theologians thought that the supernatural, otherworldly aspect of worship seemed too much of a stretch for ordinary, modern, scientific people, and in a move of breath taking condescension, made the liturgy folksy and people centered and dumbed down the whole thing.

The result has been a disaster. Catholics therefore love people, but have lost the language for loving God, and of course, once you no longer love God, it is not very long before you are no longer able to love people either, for what do you find to love in them if you have not loved God first, for the only thing I find lovable in my neighbor is the image of God in him, and the only way I can discern this is by first learning to love God.

The final result of all this is that we not only have forgotten the art of loving our neighbor, but we have been left with the only remaining remnant which is love of ourselves. Thus what was once the glorious worship of Almighty God has become a mish mash of comfort hymns and self help therapy which is all about how good God makes me feel.

The only remedy is to return to Christ’s priorities: to learn once more how to put the love of God first in our lives so that we may eventually learn again how to love our neighbor.

Dumbing Down and Jazzing Up

May 26, 2009


From Scelata:

This is post and comments thereon, by someone in Auburn California (of which, and of the practice of Catholicism in which I know nothing whatever) on what’s wrong with the Mass.

I am certainly not agreeing with the entire assessment, but I think it might be instructive to those of us in the trenches (“in the lofts?”) because it is not, to turn the old phrase on its head, the choir doing the preaching.

Seemingly ignorant of musical and liturgical matters beyond what an average PIP likely know (I am basing that on unfamiliarity with the diocese to diocese difference as to kneeling after the Agnus Dei, where the practice was to be “laudably” maintained … She has a top ten of complaints:

Have any other Catholics noticed the “dumbing down” & the “jazzing up” of the Mass? It’s terrible…. Don’t conform to to a watered down version of Mass just to blend in. Don’t do it. …

1. The music needs to go or I need to wear earplugs. Not just at out local Churches, but in many others.

2. People don’t kneel for a second time prior to receiving the Eucharist. Why?

3. Bad homilies. Priests should not read something from “Readers Digest” to me. I can do that myself. They are supposed to be versed in theology & history… so what’s the deal. (This is in regards to only one local Church in particular)

5. Again… the Gloria & Sanctus should never be sang as a striptease.

6. Out of control and/or crying children. There is a “Crying Room.” If a person has kids… go sit there. I used to when my daughter was little. Just in case.

7. The Priests aren’t chanting any of the Liturgy at the Eucharist. Why not?

8. Holding hands at the “Our Father.” Knock it off! It’s so corny… please, give it a rest.

9. What do I need to do to get some incense around here once in awhile?

10. I don’t know… just give us back some sense of the sacred, please.

What do any other Catholics think?

Muslim Demographics

May 26, 2009

Islam will overwhelm Christendom unless Christians recognize the demographic realities, begin reproducing again, and share the gospel with Muslims.

Father Barron on The Financial Crisis

May 25, 2009

Catholics and other Americans ‘overwhelmingly’ favorable towards Pope Benedict XVI

May 25, 2009

New Haven, Conn., May 19, 2009 / 08:35 pm (CNA).- Both American Catholics and their non-Catholic countrymen have an “overwhelmingly” favorable view of Pope Benedict XVI, a new poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus says.

About 78 percent of practicing Catholics had a favorable or very favorable view of Pope Benedict. Non-practicing Catholics were only slightly less likely to profess a favorable view. Among all Americans, about 59 percent had a favorable or very favorable view of the pontiff.

The poll was conducted in late March by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and the Knights of Columbus. It surveyed 2,078 Americans including 521 American Catholics. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent concerning responses from all Americans and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent for Catholic respondents.

According to the survey results, about 65 percent of Americans in general and 85 percent of Catholic Americans said they had a favorable view of the Catholic Church. Of practicing Catholics, 92 percent had a favorable view of the Church while only 73 percent of non-practicing Catholics did.

The poll reported that about half of Americans said they would like to hear Pope Benedict XVI on issues like abortion and stem cell research, while 57 percent wanted to hear his views on marriage and the family.

Supreme Knight of Columbus Carl A. Anderson, commenting in an column for Zenit news agency, said the positive responses were “a great testament to the Pope’s ability to communicate the Gospel directly to people.”

“It is an unswerving commitment to the truth — and the ability through his own prayerfulness to introduce people to Jesus Christ — that has made Benedict XVI a beacon of moral courage whose message the American people and people worldwide respect and wish to hear. We might call it a triumph of truth over television,” he wrote.