Historically the Catholic Church has had, or has been perceived to have, a rocky relationship with “freedom” in the sense that the term has come to be used in a political and cultural sense since the Enlightenment.
Freedom in the modern sense is often taken to mean, “I’m free to do whatever I want without anyone telling me what to do.” The Church, on the other hand, generally takes freedom to mean, “Freedom to do that which is good.” The Church sees sin as enslaving and as reducing one’s capacity to choose freely in the future, and as such even where acting contrary to the good is in no way forbidden, doing wrong is not seen by the Church as exercising “freedom”.
So the in the moral sense, the Church does not hold “freedom” in the sense of simply doing whatever you want to be a good. Rather, the Church holds doing the good to be the good, and freedom to be the means of achieving that.
I speak above in the moral sense. However, let us look now at the political question of freedom.
“A Paris reporter asked TV-Comedian Milton Berle how he felt about the Bishop Fulton Sheen program which is on a competing channel with his own show. Said Berle: “We’re known as Uncle Miltie and Uncle Fultie now. It doesn’t make any difference if we’re in competition. It’s a pleasure to have him opposite me. After all, we’re both using old material.” ”
My own thoughts on fornication and adultery in specific are slow in coming right now, but Steven Greydanus has an excellent piece up at Jimmy Akin’s blog dealing with sex, its multiple purposes, and how those multiple purposes can go right or wrong depending on intent. I especially like
However it may work out in practice, sex must always be done in a way that is at least open to the multifaceted goodness of sex in all its levels and aspects. Whatever aspect of sex is a couple’s motivation tonight, either they take the occasion to accept the mystery of sex in its fullness, insofar as it is available to them, or they seek to reject and exclude some or another aspect, to the detriment of the act itself and their own being.
It is my hopes with my next post to speak directly to what those detriments that SGD mentions are, especially in terms of trust, deceit, relational bonds, maturity, and so on.
Ed Morrissey of Hot Air has a good article regarding the investigation launched by the Indiana Attorney General of Planned Parenthood of Indiana. Thanks to the intrepid Lila Rose, and her colleague Jackie Stollar, the long standing flouting by Planned Parenthood of mandatory reporting laws regarding sexual abuse is now coming to the surface. Ms. Rose and her associates are to be congratulated for coming up with a clever tactic, and having the courage and initiative to implement it, to combat Murder, Inc. Bravo! It is precisely this type of energy and novel thinking that the pro-life cause needs.
December 10th marked the anniversary of the untimely death of Thomas Merton — Trappist monk, contemplative, mystic, writer, poet. I have already paid my own tribute of sorts here at The American Catholic — here are a few others from around the web:
That has become the rallying cry of our times, the gloss over all deeds, the excuse for practically any sin. It is the banner of the sexual revolution, the fallback position of those confronted by the “narrow-minded” religious in society. After all, who does it really hurt if teenagers have pre-marital sex, as long as they play it safe? Who does it hurt if two consenting adults decide to have a one-night stand? Who does it hurt if two men or two women decide to sleep together? More importantly, how could one possibly claim anyone is harmed if someone masturbates?
Not really. This New York Times article contends that my home state of Illinois is not the most corrupt state in the Union. However I note that two of the three methods by which they obtain their rankings focus on convictions. In a truly corrupt state, convictions might lag because the engines of law enforcement are often part of the problem. Based upon spending my entire life in Illinois, except for three years, I believe FBI Agent Robert Grant is correct, if Illinois is not the most corrupt state, it is a strong competitor for the title.
Update I: Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of the State of Illinois, is attempting today to have the Illinois Supreme Court strip Blagojevich of his powers as Governor. I agree with this article that her brief is extremely weak and would draw a “C” as the effort of a first year law student. At any rate I doubt if the Illinois Supreme Court will step into this briar patch. If the House acts swiftly to impeach him, Blagojevich may resign, but I do not think anything short of this will work. To add to the banana republic quality that is part and parcel of current Illinois politics, Lisa Madigan is the daughter of Michael Madigan speaker of the House who has a long-standing blood feud with Blagojevich. Lisa Madigan herself has long been thought to be hungering to be Governor. Illinois politics frequently consists now of hereditary political fiefdoms that are passed down through the generations. We have the reality of a largely feudal political system with none of the entertaining trappings.
Update II: As usual, John Kass of the Tribune has a brilliant column on the farce that is Illinois politics.
Update III: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has an excellent look at the behind the scenes machinations of this mess. I wholeheartedly agree with his conclusion: “Calling this sewer “The Land of Lincoln” is a bad joke. If Illinois voters aren’t inclined to make the kind of necessary changes, can they change the license plates to read, “The Land of Capone”? It’s certainly a more accurate description.”
Why did God come to us, as one of us, in the Incarnation? Why this particular path for our salvation? Great saints throughout the history of the Church have sought to answer this question, and perhaps the best answer is one of the earliest, that given by Saint Athanasius of contra mundum fame:
“I was irresistibly prompted to go out into the open air … The slush of melting snow formed a deep mud along the banks of the River Charles, which I followed down toward Boston … As I wandered aimlessly, something impelled me to look contemplatively at a young tree. On its frail, supple branches were young buds … While my eye rested on them, the thought came to me suddenly, with all the strength and novelty of a revelation, that these little buds in their innocence and meekness followed a rule, a law of which I as yet knew nothing … That night, for the first time in years, I prayed.”
Probably because of my skeptical bent, most apparitions (including those approved as worthy of belief) are things I can take or leave. I don’t disbelieve in them, but they’re not something I give much thought or spiritual focus to. The great exception to this is the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has been dear to me ever since I was a child reading Tommie dePaola’s outstanding The Lady of Guadalupe.
The story of Our Lady’s appearances to Juan Diego is simple and moving on its own, and the significance of her appearance in emphasizing the truly universal nature of Catholicism cannot be underestimated.
Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a new Instruction entitled Dignitas Personae, On Certain Bioethical Questions. You can find it along with a Vatican summary as well as a Q&A and press release from the USCCB here.
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”