Thursday, June 30, 2011

What is marriage?

The Holy Family
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
 – Ephesians 5:25-27
One good thing that has come from the push for homosexual "marriage" is that it has forced us to think about the true meaning and significance of marriage.

It has forced us to face our own hypocrisy, which is always an extremely difficult thing to do. True hypocrisy is invisible to us. We look in the mirror and see ourselves as we want to be seen by others, not as we actually appear to them.

But as we see our own thoughts and ideas stretched to their logical conclusions, we are forced to reconsider the premises upon which those ideas are based.

Out of all the articles that I have read in the past few days discussing the current marriage debate, two stand out because they dig beneath the pile of rubble and uncover some hidden truths.

One is an interview with Robert P. George with the title of "Sex and the Empire State: Losing marriage to sexual liberalism". The other is titled "Redefining Marriage, Part 2: The Root of the Problem" by Steven D. Greydanus.

I'll start with the Robert P. George interview because he gets right at the central issue of "the ideology of sexual liberalism". Although, I would argue that this is just one plank of the secular humanist ideology. This is important because as George acknowledges, most so-called conservatives have bought into the essential points of "sexual liberalism". So whether they realize it or not, most conservatives have also bought into one of the main tenets of secular humanism.
Once one buys into the ideology of sexual liberalism, the reality that has traditionally been denominated as “marriage” loses all intelligibility. That is true whether one regards oneself politically as a liberal or a conservative. For people who have absorbed the central premises of sexual liberation (whether formally and explicitly, as liberals tend to do, or merely implicitly as those conservatives who have gone in for it tend to do), marriage simply cannot function as the central principle or standard of rectitude in sexual conduct, as it has in Western philosophy, theology, and law for centuries. The idea that sexual intercourse (the behavioral component of reproduction) consummates and actualizes marriage as a one-flesh union of sexually complementary spouses naturally ordered to the good of procreation loses its force and even its sense. The moral belief that sex belongs in (and only in) marriage, where it is of unitive as well as procreative significance, and where the unitive and procreative dimensions are intrinsically connected (though not in a mere relationship of means to end), begins to seem baseless — the sort of thing that can be believed, if at all, only on the authority of revealed religion. As a result, to the extent that one is in the grip of sexual-liberationist ideology, one will find no reason of moral principle why people oughtn’t to engage in sexual relations prior to marriage, cohabit in non-marital sexual partnerships, form same-sex sexual partnerships, or confine their sexual partnerships to two persons, rather than three or more in polyamorous sexual ensembles.
I could get into the whole history of sexual liberalism, but that would fill a book. Suffice it to say that there was a "free love" movement in 19th century Europe of which the English romantic poet Percy Shelley was an advocate. And there was a well documented "free sex" group in England named the Bloomsbury Group in the early 1900's of which early feminist Virginia Woolf was a member.

There was another group of "progressives" in England which began around 1883 called the "Fellowship of the New Life" which also advocated "free sex". (This group later spawned the left wing Fabian Society.) Margaret Sanger was introduced into this group of "freethinkers" when she visited England in 1914. This led to her affair with sexologist and eugenicist Havelock Ellis (a precursor to American sexologist Alfred Kinsey).  Sanger became the chief spokesperson and advocate for the cause of "free sex" in the United States.

We must never forget that sexual liberalism has a tangled relationship with eugenics and population control. So it is no coincidence that both abortion advocate Margaret Sanger and sexologist Alfred Kinsey received funding from elite foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation which advocates population control. This history and these relationships are not lost on Robert P. George.
Early advocates of this cause, such as Margaret Sanger, Alfred Kinsey, and Hugh Hefner, proposed to “liberate” people from “repressive” moral standards that pointlessly deprived individuals of what they insisted were harmless pleasures, and impeded the free development of their personalities. They attacked and ridiculed traditional norms of sexual conduct as mere “hangups” that it was long past time for sophisticated people to get over. By the early 1970s, their basic outlook had become the mainstream view among cultural elites in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West.... Devotion to “sexual freedom” had been no part of the liberalism of FDR, George Meaney, Cesar Chavez, Hubert Humphrey, or the leaders and rank-and-file members of the civil-rights movement. Today, however, allegiance to the cause of sexual freedom is the nonnegotiable price of admission to the liberal (or “progressive”) club. It is worth noting that more than a few conservatives have bought into a (more limited) version of it as well.
George makes the point that political liberalism has become so wedded to sexual liberalism as to appear inseparable. And yet historically this was not the case until very recently –  at least not in the United States.

The ideology of sexual liberalism is so ingrained in the current thinking of Americans that we do not even question the basic assumptions anymore. And so something as basic as monogamy in marriage can be ideologically tossed aside as if it were an add-on.
As a recent San Francisco State University study (as reported by the New York Times) shows, the “open secret” (as the Times puts it) about same-sex “marriages” is that a huge proportion of them are sexually open. Sexual activity with parties outside the relationship (sometimes with disclosure to the other partner, sometimes without) is accepted and practiced. Monogamy and sexual exclusivity are simply not regarded as integral to “marriage.” (This shows just how far the redefinition of marriage takes us from what has historically been understood as marriage in our law and culture.) For anyone who has examined the sexual-liberationist ideology whose hegemony in the elite sector of the culture makes the idea of same-sex “marriage” even possible, this is as unsurprising as the sun rising in the East. On sexual-liberationist premises, there is no reason (apart from the subjective tastes of this or that particular set of partners) for “marriages” to be monogamous and demand sexual fidelity.
"Fidelity" is reduced to a quaint, meaningless word; no longer a sacred vow or even a promise.

George mentions the New York Times article titled "Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret". It is certainly not politically correct to say so, but the definition of homosexual "marriage" does not include the term "fidelity". Or as the PC NYT says, "a rare glimpse inside gay relationships reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many." What then is the "central feature" of marriage? If it is not "one woman, one man" and it is not "monogamy", then what is marriage?

This brings me to the second article which I would like to discuss which is the one by Steven D. Greydanus. He argues that "the root of the problem, more than anything else, is contraception". This reminds me of the encyclical Humanae Vitae written by Pope Paul VI in 1968. In it he specifically condemned the use of the birth control pill. This caused an immediate antagonistic reaction from those who had adopted the ideology of sexual liberalism within the Catholic Church.

What really struck me was when Greydanus wrote:
"Contraception pollutes a marriage in a manner comparable to adultery."
Now that is a bold statement. But it struck me as true. It is a form of "cheating" within marriage. It is like a husband sneaking out to visit a mistress, only the mistress is his wife. How can that be? In the eyes of Man, contraceptive sex may seem perfectly admissible; but in the eyes of God it is as sinful as committing adultery.
UPDATE: July 1, 2011

Pope Pius XI confirmed this view of contraceptive sex within marriage being sinful in his 1930 encyclical "Chastity in Marriage" (Casti Connubii). This came in response to a statement from the Anglican Church (Church of England) in 1930 saying that the use of contraception was not against Christian teaching within marriage as long as its use was limited. This was the first time a major Christian denomination spoke in favor of contraception and eventually led to the wide spread acceptance of contraception within Christian society. Here is an excerpt from "Chastity in Marriage" which states the Church's view of contraception, even within marriage:
53. And now, Venerable Brethren, we shall explain in detail the evils opposed to each of the benefits of matrimony. First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of family circumstances.

54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

55. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented.”
Contraceptive sex is lustful sex, it is not loving sex.

How can I say that?

Growing up I dreamed of marriage and a loving sexual relationship with my wife. It never occurred to me that part of that sexual relationship with my lawful wife would include contraception. I associated contraception with visiting a whorehouse. The need in that case was obvious to me; mostly to protect myself from disease.

Perhaps you will say that my views of marital sex were immature and sexist. You are probably right. But I still think there was an innocent truth to my view of sex within marriage.

Greydanus goes on to write:
"A contraceptive culture is a divorce culture, a cohabitation culture, a pornography culture. Same-sex marriage is inevitable in a contraceptive culture, because a contraceptive culture can have no coherent understanding of what marriage is, or even what sex is."
What is marriage? Greydanus says that contraception destroys the meaning of marriage.

What is sex? This is a question that our sex-obsessed society never even asks. We never ask because we think we already know the answer. We have reduced sex to a mechanical act, but the Apostle Paul tells us that sex is a mystical union.

Marriage ends so often in divorce because the reality can not match the expectation. The freedom to engage in contraceptive sex only leaves husband or wife longing for more. The marriage bed becomes a place haunted by sexual fantasies with multiple partners. Love disappears like a dream; a fairy tale.

But the truth is that love is pushed out of the marital relationship by an obsession with sex fueled by contraception. If marriage survives at all it is only as a legal contract of convenience. But this was the goal of the ideology of sexual liberalism all along.

What was missing from my childhood dream of a loving marriage was the blessing of the Church. My dream had been corrupted by the sexual liberal ideas that a marital bond could be formed without even the recognition of the state. But in one sense I was correct. The state cannot sanctify the union of a man and woman. This power belongs only to the Church through the holy sacrament of marriage.

I leave you with the beautiful words of Pope Paul VI on "married love" contained in the encyclical Humanae Vitae (Human Life).
[Married love] is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.

It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner's own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.

Married love is also faithful and exclusive of all other, and this until death. This is how husband and wife understood it on the day on which, fully aware of what they were doing, they freely vowed themselves to one another in marriage. Though this fidelity of husband and wife sometimes presents difficulties, no one has the right to assert that it is impossible; it is, on the contrary, always honorable and meritorious. The example of countless married couples proves not only that fidelity is in accord with the nature of marriage, but also that it is the source of profound and enduring happiness.

Finally, this love is fecund. It is not confined wholly to the loving interchange of husband and wife; it also contrives to go beyond this to bring new life into being. "Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents' welfare."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The devil and Andrew Cuomo

The temptation of Jesus
And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours."

And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'"

 – Luke 4:5-8
Mephistopheles himself could not have written a more diabolical piece on the Governor and the passing of the homosexual "marriage" law than the one written by Maureen Dowd in Tuesday's New York Times.

There are too many diabolical twists of logic and the truth in one short article to count, beginning with the very premise that Cuomo should be proud of his place in history as the governor that brought homosexual "marriage" to New York against the wishes of the people.

The most satanic imagery evoked in the article is when Cuomo describes rushing to sign the bill before the clock struck midnight on a Friday while the ink was still wet. Was there a ritual importance in Cuomo's mind in officially signing the bill into life on the same day that Our Lord was crucified? Did he feel a spiritual oneness with Pontius Pilate as he imprinted his autograph on this perverted bill?

The perversity of the article reaches its climax when Cuomo compares himself with Thomas More. He claims to be standing up against religion in the same manner as the saintly figure that upheld the teachings of the Catholic Church against the hedonistic King of England. It takes a truly twisted mind to make such a comparison. One has to wonder about the state of the soul of the Governor, if he still has one.

The devil's sales pitch is always that the soul is worth nothing, and that in exchange for this worthless possession he will reward his client with riches and power. Dear Andrew, you have your reward. Time will tell if it was worth the price.

The younger Governor Cuomo speaks of an indescribable feeling as he was lauded by the cheering and adoring throngs at the "gay pride" parade on Sunday. On the day of the Resurrection, Andrew was basking in the adulation of the anti-Christians. On the day that Our Savior rose, Andrew plummeted. The rush that he felt was the rush of the first high that a junkie gets as he starts down the path to addiction.

Cuomo says, "In my 30 years in government, I never felt what I felt in that parade. Just the difference we made in people’s lives, how we touched people and made them feel good about society. It was really magic." He has become a sorcerer's apprentice. So naturally, he should feel surrounded by magic (or magick).

When asked if he was afraid of going to Hell as a result of his actions, Dowd tells us that he "chuckled" and made a tasteless joke saying that it depends on "which level". I suppose this is his coded way of saying that he does not believe in Hell and dismissing its existence. One can imagine Dowd exchanging a wink with him.

There is one line near the beginning of the article that seems to be an openly defiant gesture by Dowd and Cuomo, both self-proclaimed Catholics. And you can bet that Dowd would not have published a word of this article without approval from the Governor and his staff, especially any direct quotes attributed to Cuomo. Here it is and don't try to tell me that this is not a direct slap in the face of the Catholic Church.
“It’s troubling for me as a Catholic to be at odds with the church,” he began, before dissolving into a wry laugh.
One definition for "wry" is a mocking humor. Dowd and Cuomo think they have had the last laugh at the expense of the Church.

Padre Pio once told a man that said he didn't believe in Hell, "you will when you get there." I think the saintly priest knew what he was talking about.

I pity the Governor. I would not trade places with him for all the gold in the world.

And just in case any of us should forget, Cuomo himself raised the spectre of the ghostly spirit that hovers over the state of New York when he said, "the Republican Party in this state has always been a moderate Republican Party, a Rockefeller party."

The Rockefeller's of New York, the mighty aristocratic family that dares to challenge the Church established by Jesus Christ, are the ones always working behind the scenes. Even if only in spirit.

St. Andrew, brother of Simon Peter and Apostle of Jesus Christ; who immediately recognized Jesus as the Messiah, pray for us and for Governor Andrew Cuomo your namesake.

Bishop DiMarzio speaks out against homosexual "marriage"

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.... If they persecuted me, they will persecute you."
 – John 15:18,20
Bishop DiMarzio of the diocese of Brooklyn, NY has come out with a courageous statement condemning New York lawmakers for approving homosexual "marriage". Unlike Archbishop Dolan of New York, DiMarzio has chosen to speak out forcefully and has backed up his words with actions.

As a result Bishop DiMarzio has been ruthlessly attacked by the secular press. In the name of "tolerance", the most intolerant statements imaginable have been launched at the brave bishop. They have gone as far as to call him a "thug". While at the same time they heap high praise on the Catholic-in-name-only Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.

This is what persecution of the Church in the 3rd millennium looks like. It is not a public stoning, but being subjected to wave after wave of public ridicule and alienation. And being turned into a pariah, not welcome among the secular society. The secularists rule society with an iron fist through their domination of the mass media, but at the same time they disseminate the myth that their is a vast Christian conspiracy to force society to adopt a Christian world view. They freely toss about words of accusation like "bigot" while adopting a zero-tolerance attitude towards practicing Christians.

As Christians, none of us should bow down to the radical secularists that will never be satisfied until the last hint of Christianity is struck from American society. Too bad for them that this is still a Christian nation, and that Christianity has tasted this type of persecution before and has emerged triumphant. Just look at the recent example of Poland after decades of oppression under an atheistic communist regime.

Here is a video of Bishop DiMarzio speaking about his great disappointment at the decision arrived at by the lawmakers. Notice that he mentions the large amounts of money that drove the decision to pass the homosexual "marriage" bill in New York. (The segment with the Bishop begins at around 2:30 in the video. The video should jump right to that starting point.)



And here is the complete statement released by Bishop DiMarzio which has resulted in his being so viciously attacked in the secular media.
Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have deconstructed the single most important institution in human history. Republicans and Democrats alike succumbed to powerful political elites and have passed legislation that will undermine our families and as a consequence, our society.

With this vote, Governor Cuomo has opened a new front in the culture wars that are tearing at the fabric of our nation. At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs, we should be working together to solve these problems. However, the politicians have curried favor with wealthy donors who are proponents of a divisive agenda in order to advance their own careers and futures.

What is needed in our state is leadership and not political gamesmanship.

In light of these disturbing developments and in protest for this decision, I have asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors bestowed upon them this year by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support this legislation. Furthermore, I have asked all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.

The above request is intended as a protest of the corrupt political process in New York State. More than half of all New Yorkers oppose this legislation. Yet, the governor and the state legislature have demonized people of faith, whether they be Muslims, Jews, or Christians, and identified them as bigots and prejudiced, and voted in favor of same-sex “marriage.” It is mystifying that this bill would be passed on the last day of an extended session under the cover of darkness.

This issue has been framed as upholding marriage equality. This is not the case since one of the principal purposes of marriage is to bring new life into the world. This cannot happen in same-sex marriage. It is not a civil rights issue, but rather a human rights issue upholding the age-old understanding of marriage. Our political leaders do not believe their own rhetoric. If they did, how in good conscience could they carve out any exemption for institutions that would be proponents of bigotry and prejudice?

Republicans and Democrats equally share responsibility for this ruinous legislation and we as Catholics should hold all accountable for their actions.

The enemies of the Church

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
Matthew 10:16
"At this period, however, the partisans of evil seem to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons. No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself. They are planning the destruction of holy Church publicly and openly..."
– Pope Leo XIII, 1884 in Humanum Genus (on Freemasonry)



This video from Michael Voris is one that I highly recommend. In it he documents how the Rockefeller family (along with its allies) has deliberately and persistently targeted the Catholic Church in an attempt to destroy its influence on society and water down its teachings.

I can verify that everything stated in this video is factually correct from my own private research into the same areas. I complement Michael on his accomplishment of weaving together a complex series of events and relationships into one narrative. I have attempted to tell this story before myself, but the web of deceit is so complex that is hard to know where to begin and where to end to unravel it.

However, I caution my readers about becoming fans of Michael Voris. He certainly has done some good work in exposing problems within the Church, but at times it does seem like he is overly harsh in his criticisms. The Church should not be treated like a political football where different factions wrestle with each other over control of its ideological direction.

Whenever we discuss the Church, we should remember to put Jesus at the center of the discussion. If we do that, the rest will take care of itself.

BTW, I am not attempting to link the Rockefellers with the Freemasons. I don't know to what extent there is a connection there, but it doesn't really matter. What is important is the ideology that drives both the Rockefellers and the Freemasons to attack the Church. The best way to describe that ideology is secular humanism. And in fact Thomas Dewey, who is mentioned in this video, was one of the signers of the original Humanist Manifesto in 1933.

To Michael Voris, I would recommend that you look further into the British wing of the secular humanist movement. You mentioned Julian Huxley in this video. I think if you dig deeper, you will find that much of what you discuss in this video has its origins in British society and was then imported to American society. The most glaring example of that is eugenics and the whole population control movement. This can be easily traced back to an Englishman named Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), which is of course where we get the term "Malthusian". I have a special interest in the Huxley family which is about as close as you can come to the center of the whole "vortex" that seeks to engulf the Catholic Church. In fact it was Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) that coined the word "agnostic". I could go on, but as you know once you begin pulling on these treacherous threads there seems to be no beginning and no end to the evil that one uncovers.

Please see my article "Agnostica Eugenica Transhumana - A Dragon's tail" for a brief history of the origins of the eugenics movement.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An infallibly papal tweet

Benedictus tweetus

The first papal tweet. From an iPad no less.



The first ever papal tweet announced the launching of the new Vatican news website http://news.va, otherwise known as http://t.co/fVHpS9y. (Although in this case, Holy Father, you could have actually saved a few characters by using the original url. Ah well, the Vatican wasn't built in a day.)

If you want to follow the latest Vatican news on twitter, just sign up for http://twitter.com/news_va_en. No word on if Benedictus XVI will be getting his own personal twitter account, although he clearly seemed to enjoy the novelty of being the first occupant of the Chair of Peter to address the world via twitter.

For the record, the first Pope ever to be seen on film is my own beloved Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) in 1896. He is also the first Pope of which we have an audio recording, praying the Ave Maria in Latin. And the first Pope to address the world via Vatican Radio was Pope Pius XI in 1931.



In 1957 Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical on Motion Pictures, Radio and Television titled "Miranda Prorsus", which is Latin for “wonderful invention". Below are a few excerpts. Clearly, the new "wonderful inventions" of our times offer the same mixture of blessings and curses on society. What would Pius XII have to say about cable TV, video games, the internet, cellphones, computers and video players?
These [inventions] particularly concern the mind – reach the mass of the people themselves, either directly or through the pictures and sounds they produce, and convey to them in a form easy to understand, the news, thoughts and usages of every nation, and by these means provide, as it were, food for the mind especially during the hours of rest and recreation.
[...]
From the time when these arts first came into use, the Church welcomed them, not only with great joy, but also with a motherly care and watchfulness, having in mind to protect Her children from every danger, as they set out on this new path of progress.
[...]
Just as very great advantages can arise from the wonderful advances which have been made in our day, in technical knowledge concerning Motion Pictures, Radio and Television, so too can very great dangers.

For these new possessions and new instruments which are within almost everyone's grasp, introduce a most powerful influence into men's minds, both because they can flood them with light, raise them to nobility, adorn them with beauty, and because they can disfigure them by dimming their lustre, dishonour them by a process of corruption, and make them subject to uncontrolled passions, according as the subjects presented to the senses in these shows are praiseworthy or reprehensible.
[...]
Today, unless the mounting development of technical skill, applied to the diffusion of pictures, sounds and ideas, is subjected to the sweet yoke of the law of Christ, it can be the source of countless evils, which appear to be all the more serious, because not only material forces but also the mind are unhappily enslaved, and man's inventions are, to that extent, deprived of those advantages which, in the design of God's Providence, ought to be their primary purpose
[...]
From the beginning of time, it has been man's natural and normal tendency to share with others the treasures of his mind by means of symbols whereby he daily tried to develop a more perfect means of expressing his material problems. Thus, from the drawings and inscriptions of the most ancient times down to the latest technical devices, all instruments of human communication inevitably have as their aim the lofty purpose of revealing men as in some way the assistants of God.
[...]
Why do these same arts sometimes become the means, and, as it were, the paths leading to evil? ... It can be only from the fact that man, endowed as he is with free will, can abuse those gifts, namely, by committing and multiplying evil, and thus associating himself with God's enemy, the prince of darkness.
[...]
In like manner, approval cannot be given to the false principles of those who assert and claim freedom to depict and propagate anything at all, even though there has been established beyond dispute in these past years both the kind and the extent of the damage to both bodies and souls which has had its source in these principles. There is no question here of the true liberty of which We have spoken above, but rather of an uncontrolled freedom, which disregards all precautions, of communicating with others anything at all, even though it be contrary to sound morals and can result in serious danger to souls.
[...]
"Should we not shudder if we reflect attentively that by means of television shows, even within home surroundings all can inhale that poisoned air of "materialistic" doctrines which diffuse notions of empty pleasures and desires of all kinds, in the same way as they did over and over again in cinema halls?"
[...]
But Television ... has a power and efficacy of its own. For, by the art of Television, it is possible for the spectators to grasp by the eye and the ear, events happening far away at the very moment at which they are taking place, and thus to be drawn on, as it were, to take an active part in them; and this sense of immediacy is increased very much by the home surroundings.
[...]
Everyone knows well that, very often, children can avoid the transient attack of a disease outside their own home, but cannot escape it when it lurks within the home itself.

It is wrong to introduce risk in any form into the sanctity of home surroundings; the Church, therefore, as her right and duty demand, has always striven with all her force to prevent these sacred portals suffering violence, under any pretext, from evil television shows.
[...]
[Television] has already inflicted serious harm on individuals and on human society; the extent of this damage up to the present time can be gauged only with difficulty.
[...]
It is essential ... to be on special guard against the danger which the young may perhaps fall into, if they are present at shows intended for grown-ups. With regard to similar performances which are put on in cinemas and theatres, in order to preserve the common good, appropriate precautions have been deliberately taken in almost all civilized countries, with the object of keeping young people away from immoral entertainments. But it is common knowledge that television - and with greater reason - needs the benefits and safeguards of alert vigilance.
[...]
Prudence and watchful care are especially demanded of those who make use of television. Due moderation in its use, prudence in admitting the children to viewing according to their different ages.

Pray for the Church

"¡Viva Cristo Rey!" – Blessed Miguel Pro
Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
 – Acts 20:28-32
In the wake of the defeat of the Church and her teachings in New York with regards to homosexual "marriage", it is time to admit that the state of the Church in America is far from where it should be. The Church sorely needs our prayers. At every Mass we are asked to pray for our Church leaders. We should take this call seriously, because only God is going to be able to lift the Church out of the humbled state into which it has fallen.

The Church is a home for believers. We are not required to be perfect, but we are required to accept the teachings of the Church. If the Church in America is to have any future, then it must strictly uphold its teachings and strongly condemn those who continually campaign within the Church for change that is in violation of her teachings. This type of active rejection of the Church's teachings from within can only be called by one name – heresy.

In the words of Archbishop Raymond Burke:
Now is the time for us all, and in particular for consecrated persons to stand up for the truth and to call upon our fellow Catholics in leadership to do the same or to cease identifying themselves as Catholics.
The Church should never compromise its teachings and must be willing to face persecution if that is the price for protecting the heritage that has been handed down to us through the millennia from Christ, his Apostles, the Church Fathers and every martyr and saint of the Church right up to the modern age that we live in.

¡Viva Christo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!)
On Nov. 23, 1927 Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. shouted “Long live Christ the King!” moments before he was executed by a firing squad in Mexico City. At age 37 and only two years ordained, he was condemned for ministering to people despite a government ban on the Catholic Church.
You can read more about Blessed Miguel Pro here: "¡Viva Cristo Rey! Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J."

Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us; ruega por nosotros; ora pro nobis.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Marriage redefined by rich

Ishtar Gate of Babylon
I was troubled as I lay on my bed, and my thoughts welled up in my heart, because I saw the desolation of Zion and the wealth of those who lived in Babylon.
 – 2 Esdras 3:1-2
According to the New York Times "a group of super-rich Republican donors" was the deciding factor behind the redefinition of marriage in NY.
In the 35th-floor conference room of a Manhattan high-rise, two of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s most trusted advisers held a secret meeting a few weeks ago with a group of super-rich Republican donors.
[...]
Would the donors win over the deciding Senate Republicans? It sounded improbable: top Republican moneymen helping a Democratic rival with one of his biggest legislative goals.

But the [Republican] donors in the room — the billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb — had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure.
"Insulate" is a word usually used in reference to cozy blankets and warm jackets. Here it has a much more sinister connotation. The implication is that the votes from Republicans to support "homosexual marriage" were bought off!

The Wall Street Journal comes to the same conclusion. Out of state, super-rich gay rights activists "turned the tide" in the campaign to redefine marriage.
Ultimately, Republican concerns were outweighed by pressure from Mr. Cuomo, who lent his muscle to a disciplined, multimillion dollar advocacy campaign waged by national and local gay-rights leaders.
[...]
A pivotal factor was a less obvious break in strategy, which for years had been anchored by the assumption that New York would never legalize gay marriage as long as Republicans controlled the Senate.

Instead of trying to defeat Senate Republicans and prop up their adversaries, gay-rights activists wooed the them with a blend of courtship and threats that gradually wore down their resistance to a bill and opened the door for a winning vote.

The new plan was spearheaded by the Gill Action Fund, a powerful gay-rights group led by Tim Gill, a libertarian-leaning philanthropist from Denver. Mr. Gill's team of operatives and network of donors helped turn the tide on gay marriage in other statehouses, including Iowa and New Hampshire.

Last year, Mr. Gill's group pumped in nearly $1 million into a political action committee called Fight Back NY, which financed attack ads against three vulnerable senators—Democrats Hiram Monserrate and Bill Stachowski and Republican Frank Padavan—who voted against the bill in 2009. They lost their seats to gay-marriage friendly candidates.

"We wanted to send a very strong and clear message about what happens when you double-cross us," said Mr. Gill's political director, Bill Smith.
The WSJ says the Republican state senators were "wooed". Again this is a strange use of a word totally out of context. Normally wooing is used to describe the romantic courtship of young lovers. Here again there is a much more sinister connotation. And again the only honest conclusion that one can come to is that the WSJ is implying that the senators were bought off!

Even Archbishop Timothy Dolan hints that there were some strange back-room dealings going on.
It’s very discouraging because the opposition is very well oiled, very well financed. They have all the elites behind them, whether it be the TV talk shows or radio or newspaper columnists. It’s a real David and Goliath battle.
[...]
 I know that the governor [Andrew Cuomo] — I mean he’s a shrewd politician, and I have to say that with a certain amount of envy and admiration — but you talk about twisting arms, you talk about using every political tool in the book; he’s doing it, and he’s doing it effectively.
[...]
They talk about us imposing our values on others. Who’s imposing on what? We have a set definition of marriage that has been part of the human endeavor from time immemorial. They’re imposing a radically new understanding of that upon something that has served as the bulwark of civilization for thousands and thousands of years.
[...]
I’m immensely grateful for the strong Catholic opposition. … When I will talk to legislators, they will say, “Archbishop, you need to know your people have been extraordinarily effective in bringing their voice to this, and it has not gone unnoticed in the state Capitol. One legislator said the Legislature got over 40,000 emails from Catholics protesting this. That is phenomenal. I think that is what has staved it off this long.
[...]
So, once again, it’s the sentiments of people of faith that seem to be trampled.
And yet at the end of all this extraordinarily financed lobbying campaign, State Senator Mark J. Grisanti (who is also a Catholic) has the nerve to stand up and say that his swing vote in favor of "homosexual marriage" was a matter of conscience. Never mind that he campaigned in favor of maintaining the accepted definition of marriage. Are we supposed to believe that the big bucks waved around in front of Grisanti's nose had no influence on his change of heart?

No wonder that gay political activists didn't want to have the people of New York state vote on the issue in a referendum. First, they knew they would lose according to opinion polls. Second, it costs a lot more money to try to shift the opinion of the whole population of New York than it does to "persuade" a few state senators.

"You get what you pay for." In this case gay activists have bought themselves a historic redefinition of marriage against the will of the people of New York.

The true danger in all this is that we may be fooled into thinking that this redefinition of marriage in New York indicates some sort of shift in public opinion with regards to marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is not enough money in the world to make all Americans change their opinions on marriage, but if Americans can be convinced that there has been a shift in public sentiment in this area then the public's resolve against this gay activist campaign can be made to whither without a fight.

All we need to do to win this fight is to maintain our belief in the truth and to retain a sense of reality, and not be fooled by the illusory arguments of the opposition. If we are willing to stand up against this ghostly enemy it will disappear like a phantasm.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corpus Christi

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
 – John 6:51

Corpus Christi – the body of Christ

Our Holy Father Benedict XVI shared with us some beautiful and inspiring thoughts about the Eucharist in his homily in celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi. In his homily he elaborates on a vision of St. Augustine.
St. Augustine helps us to understand the dynamics of holy Communion when referring to a kind of vision he had, in which Jesus said to him: "I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me"(Confessions, VII, 10, 18). Therefore, while the bodily food is assimilated by the body and contributes to sustain it, the Eucharist is a different bread: We do not assimilate it, but it assimilates us to itself, so that we become conformed to Jesus Christ and members of his body, one with him. This is a decisive passage. Indeed, precisely because it is Christ who, in Eucharistic communion, transforms us into him, our individuality, in this encounter, is opened up, freed from its self-centeredness and placed in the Person of Jesus, who in turn is immersed in the Trinitarian communion. Thus, while the Eucharist unites us to Christ, we open ourselves to others making us members one of another: We are no longer divided, but one thing in him. Eucharistic communion unites me to the person next to me, and to the one with whom perhaps I might not even have a good relationship, but also to my brothers and sisters who are far away, in every corner of the world. Thus the deep sense of social presence of the Church is derived from the Eucharist, as evidenced by the great social saints, who have always been great Eucharistic souls. Those who recognize Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, recognize their brother who suffers, who is hungry and thirsty, who is a stranger, naked, sick, imprisoned, and they are attentive to every person, committing themselves, in a concrete way, to those who are in need.
As Christians we strive to become one with Christ. For Catholics this union is accomplished most perfectly through the sacrament of the Eucharist. As we become one with Christ, we also become one with each other. And as we begin to see the world through the eyes of Christ, we begin to recognize our God given duty to serve our brothers and sisters in need.

In the closing of his homily, the Holy Father gives us further insight in how the Eucharist transforms not only us, but the whole world through us. He begins by saying that this is not through some sort of magic.
There is nothing magic in Christianity. There are no shortcuts, but everything passes through the patient and humble logic of the grain of wheat that is broken to give life, the logic of faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God. This is why God wants to continue to renew humanity, history and the cosmos through this chain of transformations, of which the Eucharist is the sacrament. Through the consecrated bread and wine, in which his Body and Blood is truly present, Christ transforms us, assimilating us in him: He involves us in his redeeming work, enabling us, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to live according to his same logic of gift, like grains of wheat united with him and in him. Thus unity and peace, which are the goal for which we strive, are sown and mature in the furrows of history, according to God's plan.

Without illusions, without ideological utopias, we walk the streets of the world, bringing within us the Body of the Lord, like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation. With the humble awareness that we are simple grains of wheat, we cherish the firm conviction that the love of God, incarnate in Christ, is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God is preparing for all people new heavens and new earth where peace and justice prevail -- and by faith we glimpse the new world, that is our true home.
We do not seek to build an "ideological utopia" like various political movements do. Christ does not accomplish his work through societal revolutions, but rather through personal transformations.

The "peace and justice" of God are not the same as the imperfect peace and justice of this world.

Peace be with you.
And with your spirit.

More on marriage

The head of St. John the Baptist
For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."

And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

 – Matthew 14:3-11
I suppose it is appropriate that the "homosexual marriage" law passed in New York on the feast of St. John the Baptist. The price John the Baptist paid for defending the sanctity of marriage was his head. What price are today's Christians willing to pay to denounce this abomination to God? Will you give up your job or your business to defend the principle of marriage between one man and one woman? Are you willing to face public ridicule and persecution? How will you protect your children from the onslaught of vicious propaganda from the public school system in favor of "homosexual marriage" and against Christianity?

Adults, who should know better, are failing in their duty to protect children. Homosexuality is not just a mirror of the love between a man and a woman, except between the same sexes. Homosexuality is an expression of a creed that says sex should be a goal in itself, and that we should follow our passions wherever they lead. This same hedonist creed finds expression in non-marital heterosexual relations which have gained acceptance in our society.

The Catholic Church rejects this creed. Christian men and women should have as their goal to master their passions. Surely, we don't always succeed. This does not automatically make us hypocrites. If we approach God in true humility and with full regret for our actions, then He will always forgive us. This is His promise, the covenant He made with us through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.

This week also marked the day that the Church remembers the death of St. Thomas More. He was beheaded by order of King Henry VIII in 1535. His head was put on public display on London Bridge. His crime was the same as that of St. John the Baptist, the defense of the sanctity of marriage. His defense was that the King's actions were contrary “to the laws of God and his holy Church.” Henry VIII broke off with the Roman Catholic Church as a result of the issue of the sanctity of marriage. This was the start of protestantism in England. It was born in a lust filled bed. This is a historical fact which cannot be denied.

Today the Christian church is being further divided over the issue of the sanctity of marriage. Some are willing to go along with the dictates of the culture. This has always been true. Didn't the Hebrew prophets condemn the ancient Israelites for their worship of local gods?

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that He departed to "a lonely place apart". But He was not able to be in solitude in this moment of grief because "when the crowds heard it, they followed Him". The response of Jesus was to perform the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, because "he had compassion" on the people.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves." Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me."

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 – Matthew 14:13-21
That evening He went "up on the mountain by himself to pray". But again His solitude was interrupted when a storm arose and threatened his disciples which were in a boat attempting to cross the nearby sea. Again, Jesus had compassion and walked out on the water towards the boat in order to rescue them. But when they saw Him they thought it was a ghost and cried out in fear.
Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.
 – Matthew 14:22-26
Jesus showed compassion for His followers after the tragedy of the death of St. John the Baptist. He comforted them and reassured them by saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." But He also chastised them saying "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?"
But immediately he spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." He said, "Come."

So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

 – Matthew 14:27-32
What I want to say is that following the tragic death of John the Baptist, Jesus performed some of His greatest miracles. So at times like these, we should not be afraid or dejected. We should have faith and expect a miracle. Jesus frequently tests our faith before showing His compassion. This is how we grow ever stronger in our faith.
And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
 – Matthew 14:33

Friday, June 24, 2011

Obama the Anti-Christian

The prophet Isaiah
I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
 I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
 I said, "Here am I, here am I,"
 to a nation that did not call on my name.

I spread out my hands all the day
 to a rebellious people,
 who walk in a way that is not good,
 following their own devices;
[...]
But you who forsake the LORD,
 who forget my holy mountain,
 who set a table for Fortune
 and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny;

I will destine you to the sword,
 and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter;
 because, when I called, you did not answer,
 when I spoke, you did not listen,
 but you did what was evil in my eyes,
 and chose what I did not delight in."

  – from Isaiah 5:1-2,11-12

Despite Obama's protests to the contrary, I have to say that Obama is not a Christian. He is a secular humanist, just as his mother Stanley Ann Dunham was.



Secular humanism is like a soft-core version of atheism. It is a precursor for godlessness; almost like a "gateway drug". It is what socialism is to communism. It conditions society for the ultimate goal of those opposed to religion, which is a society devoid of faith in God.

For all those who wish to mold society along their own designs, it is of necessity to eliminate any meaningful form of religion. Any belief in God that impacts on society has to be stripped away. The only thing that can be allowed is a personal form of religion, which is given the name "spirituality". As long as this "spirituality" does not organize and place demands on society, then it can be tolerated. The more amorphous and less specific this belief in other-worldliness is the better for their purposes.

Humanism contrasts to communism, where the state becomes the ultimate god. Humanism prefers no centralized god-like being. It prefers the diffuse godlessness of relativism, where there are many competing religions which never rise to the level where they can challenge the central authority of the state. Yes, there are similarities to communism, but there are also many differences.

When Obama speaks of Christianity, he speaks of the "precepts" of Christ. These are just moral principles, but there is much more to Christianity than mere morality.

When Obama speaks of God, he is speaking of a vague creator-God. Something like the "Great Architect" of freemasonry.

And yet Obama says: "Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings -- that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God."

What is wrong with this statement? At a casual glance it seems to be the statement of a sincere believer in Christ. Well, first of all, the problem is that Obama's faith is limited to sound bites like the one above. He refuses to get into any long, sustained conversations about religion where his true belief with regards to statements like that above can be tested. He insists that his religious beliefs are highly "personal".

Could a true secular humanist have sincerely made the statement above? Let's test it to see.

"Jesus Christ dying for my sins" – A humanist could accept the Christian argument that Christ died for the sins of all, without giving it any true significance for himself. He could just say, well if Christ died for everyone's sins, then he died for my sins as well. Notice that Obama does not say that Christ died for "me", instead he says Christ died for "my sins". Is there a bit of a theological nuance there? Maybe.

"spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings" – The significance of Christ's death is that we should exhibit "humility" according to Obama. Humility can be a theological virtue, or it can just be a secular moral value. Ultimately as Christians, we have to humble ourselves before God, while Obama seems to be pointing to the necessity of humility towards other "human beings". From a Christian perspective, the importance of humility is that it is a step towards accepting God as the master of our lives. From a humanist perspective, humility is a good trait to exhibit since it can lessen conflict in society.

"that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes" – Obama starts out with the theological word "sinful" and then seems to descend from a theological height to a lower secular level by ending in "we make mistakes". A sin is an offense against God. A mistake is well, just a mistake. Every mistake is not a sin. Only God can pardon sins. Some simple mistakes are morally neutral. Taking a wrong turn can be a mistake, but is usually not a sin. As far as being "flawed", most Christians would think that this is an allusion to Original Sin. But it doesn't have to be. From a humanist perspective this could just be a statement regarding the imperfection of the human body as a purely physical object; or the imperfection of our minds in comparison to the perfectly predictable behavior of a computer.

"and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God." – This seems like the most theologically correct part of Obama's statement. It seems like an ironclad statement of faith in God and Jesus Christ, but is it? I noticed one small flaw in this statement – perhaps it was deliberate, and perhaps not. Obama says that we "achieve" salvation. A more correct statement would be that we are "granted" salvation. Do you see the difference? To "achieve" is to reach a goal through your own efforts. To be "granted" implies a gift which is not deserved. Salvation is a gift from God. No one deserves this gift; no one can earn it.

None of us are worthy of salvation. This is the true meaning of the Cross. Christ sacrificed himself for us. He didn't just "die" as Obama states above. If Christ just died a martyr's death for the sake of a cause, then Christianity has no unique message to offer the world. History is full of martyrs for one cause or another.

But the "good news" – the Gospel – is that Christ is the Son of God who sacrificed himself for the sins of the whole world.

This is the Gospel Truth. This is the truth that all Christians should be proud to proclaim as often and as loudly as possible.

The difference between the secular humanist and the believer is seen in this parable by Jesus in Luke 18:10-14.
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

 -----

UPDATE 6/24/2011:

After publishing this and re-reading it, I realized that I hadn't really addressed the final words in Obama's statement, "through the grace of God." My first thought is that perhaps Obama just got carried away in the moment and went a bit further than he intended to. It must be a tough act to have to pretend to be Christian while really holding secular humanists beliefs. You can see in the video just how uncomfortable Obama is speaking on this subject. And that despite the fact that Obama was surely prepped for this question about his Christian faith.

The problem is not with his use of "God" in this statement since he can easily equate this with a vague creator-god as I mentioned above. The problem is the use of the phrase "grace of God". This would seem to be a strictly Christian terminology. But I suppose that even this could be twisted into some sort of vague secular concept. I suspect that Obama meant to just say something like "through God", but slipped up.

I also realized that as a Christian it is my God given duty to pray for lost souls like Obama. As the opening quote from Isaiah affirms, God is full of mercy. It is not so much that God condemns us, as it is that we turn away from God and condemn ourselves. Our judgement may not come during this lifetime, but be assured that the time will come. And while Isaiah's prophecies may speak of the "sword" and "slaughter" for those who turn away from God, I don't believe that these should be taken literally in a physical sense. But I do believe that these are true words in terms of the punishment that the soul will suffer.

As Christians we should not wish that any souls should suffer in the after-life and that is the reason that we must pray for the conversion of the souls of sinners; a conversion from turning their backs on God, to facing God and walking towards Him. God will use us in His plan, whether we face Him or turn our backs on Him. He would prefer to use us as believers, but He will use the non-believers as well. But after the non-believers have been used, they will be thrown into the fire as Jesus described in John 15:6.

Jesus promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit. We usually take this for granted, but just imagine what the world would be like today if the Holy Spirit had not come after Christ's resurrection.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sanctus

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.
 – Revelation 5:11-14
Sanctus
Music by PublicVigil © 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy
LORD, God of Hosts
Heaven and Earth are filled with your Glory
Hosanna in the Highest
Hosanna in the Highest
Hosanna in the Highest
Blessed is He, who comes in the name of the LORD!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2 Esdras

The scribe Ezra (Esdras in Latin)
From Wikipedia entry on "2 Esdras":
2 Esdras or Latin Esdras is the name of an apocalyptic book in many English versions of the Bible (see "Naming conventions" below). Its authorship is ascribed to Ezra. It is reckoned among the Apocrypha by many Protestant churches. Although Second Esdras exists in its complete form only in Latin, it was originally written in Hebrew. Nonetheless, 2 Esdras has not been preserved in modern Jewish tradition, typical for works dating from the period of the Second Temple.

[...]

The book is considered one of the gems of Jewish apocalyptic literature. While it was not received into European Christian canons, the Jewish Apocalypse of Ezra, i.e. 2 Esdras 3–14, is regarded as Scripture in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and it was also widely cited by early Fathers of the Church, particularly Ambrose of Milan. It may also be found in many larger English Bibles included as part of the Biblical Apocrypha, as they exist in the King James version, the Revised Standard Version, and the earliest editions of the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible, among others.

The introitus of the traditional Requiem in the Catholic Church is loosely based on 2:34–35: "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them." Several other liturgical prayers are taken from the book. In his Vulgate, Clement VIII placed the book in an appendix after the New Testament with the rest of the Biblical apocrypha, "lest they perish entirely".
The exact status, naming and just about everything else about 2 Esdras is very confusing. It is not included in any current Catholic Bibles that I am aware of. And yet it does seem to be recognized as scripture by the Church as far as I can tell.

I happened upon this book quite accidentally when I was doing a search for the word "tribulation" in the online RSV edition of the Catholic Bible. Providentially, the online version includes 2 Esdras. When I tried to find 2 Esdras in my Ignatius Press version of the RSV-CE (Catholic Edition) Bible, it wasn't there.

To add to the confusion, some versions of 2 Esdras have substantially less verses than others (and this means that the verse numbering is not consistent among versions).

I have just briefly scanned parts of 2 Esdras. There are a few entries that I want to highlight because they are like nothing I had ever come across while reading the Bible. While at the same time, they seem to be completely consistent with the rest of the Bible.

The weeping woman

From the end of 2 Esdras Chapter 9 and continuing into 2 Esdras Chapter 10:
[38] When I said these things in my heart, I lifted up my eyes and saw a woman on my right, and behold, she was mourning and weeping with a loud voice, and was deeply grieved at heart, and her clothes were rent, and there were ashes on her head.
[39] Then I dismissed the thoughts with which I had been engaged, and turned to her
[40] and said to her, "Why are you weeping, and why are you grieved at heart?"
[41] And she said to me, "Let me alone, my lord, that I may weep for myself and continue to mourn, for I am greatly embittered in spirit and deeply afflicted."
[42] And I said to her, "What has happened to you? Tell me."
[43] And she said to me, "Your servant was barren and had no child, though I lived with my husband thirty years.
[44] And every hour and every day during those thirty years I besought the Most High, night and day.
[45] And after thirty years God heard your handmaid, and looked upon my low estate, and considered my distress, and gave me a son. And I rejoiced greatly over him, I and my husband and all my neighbors; and we gave great glory to the Mighty One.
[46] And I brought him up with much care.
[47] So when he grew up and I came to take a wife for him, I set a day for the marriage feast.

Chapter 10

[1] "But it happened that when my son entered his wedding chamber, he fell down and died.
[2] Then we all put out the lamps, and all my neighbors attempted to console me; and I remained quiet until evening of the second day.
[3] But when they all had stopped consoling me, that I might be quiet, I got up in the night and fled, and came to this field, as you see.
[4] And now I intend not to return to the city, but to stay here, and I will neither eat nor drink, but without ceasing mourn and fast until I die."
[5] Then I broke off the reflections with which I was still engaged, and answered her in anger and said,
[6] "You most foolish of women, do you not see our mourning, and what has happened to us?
[7] For Zion, the mother of us all, is in deep grief and great affliction.
[8] It is most appropriate to mourn now, because we are all mourning, and to be sorrowful, because we are all sorrowing; you are sorrowing for one son, but we, the whole world, for our mother.
[9] Now ask the earth, and she will tell you that it is she who ought to mourn over so many who have come into being upon her.
[10] And from the beginning all have been born of her, and others will come; and behold, almost all go to perdition, and a multitude of them are destined for destruction.
[11] Who then ought to mourn the more, she who lost so great a multitude, or you who are grieving for one?
[12] But if you say to me, `My lamentation is not like the earth's, for I have lost the fruit of my womb, which I brought forth in pain and bore in sorrow;
[13] but it is with the earth according to the way of the earth -- the multitude that is now in it goes as it came';
[14] then I say to you, `As you brought forth in sorrow, so the earth also has from the beginning given her fruit, that is, man, to him who made her.'
[15] Now, therefore, keep your sorrow to yourself, and bear bravely the troubles that have come upon you.
[16] For if you acknowledge the decree of God to be just, you will receive your son back in due time, and will be praised among women.
[17] Therefore go into the city to your husband."
[18] She said to me, "I will not do so; I will not go into the city, but I will die here."
[19] So I spoke again to her, and said,
[20] "Do not say that, but let yourself be persuaded because of the troubles of Zion, and be consoled because of the sorrow of Jerusalem.
[21] For you see that our sanctuary has been laid waste, our altar thrown down, our temple destroyed;
[22] our harp has been laid low, our song has been silenced, and our rejoicing has been ended; the light of our lampstand has been put out, the ark of our covenant has been plundered, our holy things have been polluted, and the name by which we are called has been profaned; our free men have suffered abuse, our priests have been burned to death, our Levites have gone into captivity, our virgins have been defiled, and our wives have been ravished; our righteous men have been carried off, our little ones have been cast out, our young men have been enslaved and our strong men made powerless.
[23] And, what is more than all, the seal of Zion -- for she has now lost the seal of her glory, and has been given over into the hands of those that hate us.
[24] Therefore shake off your great sadness and lay aside your many sorrows, so that the Mighty One may be merciful to you again, and the Most High may give you rest, a relief from your troubles."
[25] While I was talking to her, behold, her face suddenly shone exceedingly, and her countenance flashed like lightning, so that I was too frightened to approach her, and my heart was terrified. While I was wondering what this meant,
[26] behold, she suddenly uttered a loud and fearful cry, so that the earth shook at the sound.
[27] And I looked, and behold, the woman was no longer visible to me, but there was an established city, and a place of huge foundations showed itself. Then I was afraid, and cried with a loud voice and said,
[28] "Where is the angel Uriel, who came to me at first? For it was he who brought me into this overpowering bewilderment; my end has become corruption, and my prayer a reproach."
[29] As I was speaking these words, behold, the angel who had come to me at first came to me, and he looked upon me;
[30] and behold, I lay there like a corpse and I was deprived of my understanding. Then he grasped my right hand and strengthened me and set me on my feet, and said to me,
[31] "What is the matter with you? And why are you troubled? And why are your understanding and the thoughts of your mind troubled?"
[32] I said, "Because you have forsaken me! I did as you directed, and went out into the field, and behold, I saw, and still see, what I am unable to explain."
[33] He said to me, "Stand up like a man, and I will instruct you."
[34] I said, "Speak, my lord; only do not forsake me, lest I die before my time.
[35] For I have seen what I did not know, and I have heard what I do not understand.
[36] Or is my mind deceived, and my soul dreaming?
[37] Now therefore I entreat you to give your servant an explanation of this bewildering vision."
[38] He answered me and said, "Listen to me and I will inform you, and tell you about the things which you fear, for the Most High has revealed many secrets to you.
[39] For he has seen your righteous conduct, that you have sorrowed continually for your people, and mourned greatly over Zion.
[40] This therefore is the meaning of the vision.
[41] The woman who appeared to you a little while ago, whom you saw mourning and began to console --
[42] but you do not now see the form of a woman, but an established city has appeared to you --
[43] and as for her telling you about the misfortune of her son, this is the interpretation:
[44] This woman whom you saw, whom you now behold as an established city, is Zion.
[45] And as for her telling you that she was barren for thirty years, it is because there were three thousand years in the world before any offering was offered in it.
[46] And after three thousand years Solomon built the city, and offered offerings; then it was that the barren woman bore a son.
[47] And as for her telling you that she brought him up with much care, that was the period of residence in Jerusalem.
[48] And as for her saying to you , `When my son entered his wedding chamber he died,' and that misfortune had overtaken her, that was the destruction which befell Jerusalem.
[49] And behold, you saw her likeness, how she mourned for her son, and you began to console her for what had happened.
[50] For now the Most High, seeing that you are sincerely grieved and profoundly distressed for her, has shown you the brilliance of her glory, and the loveliness of her beauty.
[51] Therefore I told you to remain in the field where no house had been built,
[52] for I knew that the Most High would reveal these things to you.
[53] Therefore I told you to go into the field where there was no foundation of any building,
[54] for no work of man's building could endure in a place where the city of the Most High was to be revealed.
[55] "Therefore do not be afraid, and do not let your heart be terrified; but go in and see the splendor and vastness of the building, as far as it is possible for your eyes to see it,
[56] and afterward you will hear as much as your ears can hear.
[57] For you are more blessed than many, and you have been called before the Most High, as but few have been.
[58] But tomorrow night you shall remain here,
[59] and the Most High will show you in those dream visions what the Most High will do to those who dwell on earth in the last days." So I slept that night and the following one, as he had commanded me.
It seems to me that the weeping woman that appears in this passage can only be the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is as if she is transformed and transported at the moment of Jesus' death and while she is in mourning appears to Ezra. The vision seems to confirm the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. (Remember that the Virgin Mary that appeared to Bernadette at Lourdes said her name was the Immaculate Conception.) And even seems to support the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Concerning death

Another passage that really struck me has to do with Heaven and Hell and the fate of souls in the afterlife.

From 2 Edras Chapter 7 (notice the alternate verse numberings at the end):
[78] Now, concerning death, the teaching is: When the decisive decree has gone forth from the Most High that a man shall die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it adores the glory of the Most High.
[79] And if it is one of those who have shown scorn and have not kept the way of the Most High, and who have despised his law, and who have hated those who fear God --
[80] such spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall immediately wander about in torments, ever grieving and sad, in seven ways.
[81] The first way, because they have scorned the law of the Most High.
[82] The second way, because they cannot now make a good repentance that they may live.
[83] The third way, they shall see the reward laid up for those who have trusted the covenants of the Most High.
[84] The fourth way, they shall consider the torment laid up for themselves in the last days.
[85] The fifth way, they shall see how the habitations of the others are guarded by angels in profound quiet.
[86] The sixth way, they shall see how some of them will pass over into torments.
[87] The seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, because they shall utterly waste away in confusion and be consumed with shame, and shall wither with fear at seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they sinned while they were alive, and before whom they are to be judged in the last times.
[88] "Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from their mortal body.
[89] During the time that they lived in it, they laboriously served the Most High, and withstood danger every hour, that they might keep the law of the Lawgiver perfectly.
[90] Therefore this is the teaching concerning them:
[91] First of all, they shall see with great joy the glory of him who receives them, for they shall have rest in seven orders.
[92] The first order, because they have striven with great effort to overcome the evil thought which was formed with them, that it might not lead them astray from life into death.
[93] The second order, because they see the perplexity in which the souls of the ungodly wander, and the punishment that awaits them.
[94] The third order, they see the witness which he who formed them bears concerning them, that while they were alive they kept the law which was given them in trust.
[95] The fourth order, they understand the rest which they now enjoy, being gathered into their chambers and guarded by angels in profound quiet, and the glory which awaits them in the last days.
[96] The fifth order, they rejoice that they have now escaped what is corruptible, and shall inherit what is to come; and besides they see the straits and toil from which they have been delivered, and the spacious liberty which they are to receive and enjoy in immortality.
[97] The sixth order, when it is shown to them how their face is to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, being incorruptible from then on.
[98] The seventh order, which is greater than all that have been mentioned, because they shall rejoice with boldness, and shall be confident without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they hasten to behold the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified.
[99] This is the order of the souls of the righteous, as henceforth is announced; and the aforesaid are the ways of torment which those who would not give heed shall suffer hereafter."
[100] I answered and said, "Will time therefore be given to the souls, after they have been separated from the bodies, to see what you have described to me?"
[101] He said to me, "They shall have freedom for seven days, so that during these seven days they may see the things of which you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered in their habitations."
[102] I answered and said, "If I have found favor in thy sight, show further to me, thy servant, whether on the day of judgment the righteous will be able to intercede for the ungodly or to entreat the Most High for them,
[103] fathers for sons or sons for parents, brothers for brothers, relatives for their kinsmen, or friends for those who are most dear."
[104] He answered me and said, "Since you have found favor in my sight, I will show you this also. The day of judgment is decisive and displays to all the seal of truth. Just as now a father does not send his son, or a son his father, or a master his servant, or a friend his dearest friend, to be ill or sleep or eat or be healed in his stead,
[105] so no one shall ever pray for another on that day, neither shall any one lay a burden on another; for then every one shall bear his own righteousness and unrighteousness."
[36(106)] I answered and said, "How then do we find that first Abraham prayed for the people of Sodom, and Moses for our fathers who sinned in the desert,
[37(107)] and Joshua after him for Israel in the days of Achan,
[38(108)] and Samuel in the days of Saul, and David for the plague, and Solomon for those in the sanctuary,
[39(109)] and Elijah for those who received the rain, and for the one who was dead, that he might live,
[40(110)] and Hezekiah for the people in the days of Sennacherib, and many others prayed for many?
[41(111)] If therefore the righteous have prayed for the ungodly now, when corruption has increased and unrighteousness has multiplied, why will it not be so then as well?"
[42(112)] He answered me and said, "This present world is not the end; the full glory does not abide in it; therefore those who were strong prayed for the weak.
[43(113)] But the day of judgment will be the end of this age and the beginning of the immortal age to come, in which corruption has passed away,
[44(114)] sinful indulgence has come to an end, unbelief has been cut off, and righteousness has increased and truth has appeared.
[45(115)] Therefore no one will then be able to have mercy on him who has been condemned in the judgment, or to harm him who is victorious."
[46(116)] I answered and said, "This is my first and last word, that it would have been better if the earth had not produced Adam, or else, when it had produced him, had restrained him from sinning.
[47(117)] For what good is it to all that they live in sorrow now and expect punishment after death?
[48(118)] O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants.
[49(119)] For what good is it to us, if an eternal age has been promised to us, but we have done deeds that bring death?
[50(120)] And what good is it that an everlasting hope has been promised to us, but we have miserably failed?
[51(121)] Or that safe and healthful habitations have been reserved for us, but we have lived wickedly?
[52(122)] Or that the glory of the Most High will defend those who have led a pure life, but we have walked in the most wicked ways?
[53(123)] Or that a paradise shall be revealed, whose fruit remains unspoiled and in which are abundance and healing, but we shall not enter it,
[54(124)] because we have lived in unseemly places?
[55(125)] Or that the faces of those who practiced self-control shall shine more than the stars, but our faces shall be blacker than darkness?
[56(126)] For while we lived and committed iniquity we did not consider what we should suffer after death."
[57(127)] He answered and said, "This is the meaning of the contest which every man who is born on earth shall wage,
[58(128)] that if he is defeated he shall suffer what you have said, but if he is victorious he shall receive what I have said.
[59(129)] For this is the way of which Moses, while he was alive, spoke to the people, saying, `Choose for yourself life, that you may live!'
[60(130)] But they did not believe him, or the prophets after him, or even myself who have spoken to them.
[61(131)] Therefore there shall not be grief at their destruction, so much as joy over those to whom salvation is assured."
[62(132)] I answered and said, "I know, O Lord, that the Most High is now called merciful, because he has mercy on those who have not yet come into the world;
[63(133)] and gracious, because he is gracious to those who turn in repentance to his law;
[64(134)] and patient, because he shows patience toward those who have sinned, since they are his own works;
[65(135)] and bountiful, because he would rather give than take away;
[66(136)] and abundant in compassion, because he makes his compassions abound more and more to those now living and to those who are gone and to those yet to come,
[67(137)] for if he did not make them abound, the world with those who inhabit it would not have life;
[68(138)] and he is called giver, because if he did not give out of his goodness so that those who have committed iniquities might be relieved of them, not one ten-thousandth of mankind could have life;
[69(139)] and judge, because if he did not pardon those who were created by his word and blot out the multitude of their sins,
[70(140)] there would probably be left only very few of the innumerable multitude."
This reminded me once again of the visions of Marino Restrepo of Heaven and Hell. The question that keeps coming to my mind is, "Does God condemn us or is it that we condemn ourselves by rejecting God?" I believe that it is mostly the latter. Even if we are given a final chance after passing from this life to the next, will those who have rejected God all their earthly lives suddenly accept God when they come face to face with His Glory? Or will they turn away from the blinding light and seek comfort in the darkness? I think those who are not used to standing in the light of God will find it unbearable and will go crawling away on their own into the depths. At least this is what the vision of Marino Restrepo seems to suggest. And I believe that this is in conformity with the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus and the prophets, and also with the teachings of the Catholic Church. (Although, it may not be expressed in exactly this way.)

Probably, from a theological perspective, there is a great deal more subtlety involved. But the lesson to me is that we need to take the opportunity that we have here on earth to prepare for the afterlife. I think the best preparation is participation in the Mass. I have come to believe that the Mass is almost like a dress rehearsal for what awaits us when we go before God in the hour of our death. In the Mass we are in front of the presence of God in the form of the Eucharist. Even if we only catch a glimmer of his radiance, then we will be better prepared to stand before him in our moment of final judgement.

Days of tribulation

I started out by saying that I came upon the book of 2 Esdras by searching for the word "tribulation". Here is but one example of where that word appears in 2 Esdras.

From Chapter 16:
[74] "Hear, my elect," says the Lord. "Behold, the days of tribulation are at hand, and I will deliver you from them.
[75] Do not fear or doubt, for God is your guide.
Woe to you, Egypt and Syria!

Also from Chapter 16 there is a prophecy about turmoil in the Middle East. Given the current events, you can see why it caught my eye. Remember that Babylon is modern day Iraq. Asia would probably refer to Asia Minor which is now Turkey.
[1] Woe to you, Babylon and Asia! Woe to you, Egypt and Syria!
[2] Gird yourselves with sackcloth and haircloth, and wail for your children, and lament for them; for your destruction is at hand.
[3] The sword has been sent upon you, and who is there to turn it back?
[4] A fire has been sent upon you, and who is there to quench it?
[5] Calamities have been sent upon you, and who is there to drive them away?
Although there is no fighting these days in Turkey, the conditions for Christians is not good. These are also days of tribulation for Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Syria.

Additional information

There is more information on 2 Esdras in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Sometimes 2 Esdras is referred to as the Fourth Book of Esdras, just to add even more confusion.
The Fourth Book of Esdras is reckoned among the most beautiful productions of Jewish literature. Widely known in the early Christian ages and frequently quoted by the Fathers (especially St. Ambrose), it may be said to have framed the popular belief of the Middle Ages concerning the last things. The liturgical use shows its popularity. The second chapter has furnished the verse Requiem √¶ternam to the Office of the Dead (24-25), the response Lux perpetua lucebit sanctis tuis of the Office of the Martyrs during Easter time (35), the introit Accipite jucunditatem for Whit-Tuesday (36-37), the words Modo coronantur of the Office of the Apostles (45); in like manner the verse Crastine die for Christmas eve, is borrowed from xvi, 53. However beautiful and popular the book, its origin is shrouded in mystery. The introductory and concluding chapters, containing evident traces of Christianity, are assigned to the third century (about A.D. 201-268). The main portion (iii-xiv) is undoubtedly the work of a Jew — whether Roman, or Alexandrian, or Palestinian, no one can tell; as to its date, authors are mostly widely at variance, and all dates have been suggested, from 30 B.C. to A.D. 218; scholars, however, seem to rally more and more around the year A.D. 97.