11

December 18, 1982: Bliss Begins

 

My bride and I were married 33 years ago today at Saint Mary’s in Paris, Illinois, the parish church of my youth.  It was an unusual spring like day, the temperature reaching seventy.  Our priest was “Fighting Father O’Hara” as I privately nick-named him.  A crusty old man, he also had considerable Irish charm when he wished to use it, and he was kindness incarnate in the instruction he gave my Methodist bride prior to our marriage.  She had attended Mass with me since our engagement in May of 1982 and Father O’Hara helped set the stage for her joining the Church with his passion for the Faith, for which he would have gladly died any number of deaths.

My Mom supervised the reception and was in her glory.  Little did I know that the cancer that would take her life on Easter Sunday 1984 had reappeared, she and my Dad not wanting to mar the day with bad news.  My Dad died in 1991, a week prior to my bride and I learning she was pregnant with our twins.  My father-in-law, who joined the Navy at 17 after Pearl Harbor, died in 1997.  My mother-in-law survives and we hope to see her at Christmas.  Both couples gave great examples of loving life long marriages, and the success of my marriage I attribute to the grace of God, my ever patient bride and them. Continue Reading

16

Cardinal Kasper Debates John the Baptist

 

John the Baptist:  For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her.

Cardinal Kasper:  Often pastors want to control human life. It’s clericalism.  They don’t trust people and therefore don’t respect the conscience of people.

John the Baptist:  For John said to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’ s wife.

Cardinal Kasper:  Of course, we have to give guidelines from the Gospel and remind people of the commandments of the Lord, but then we should trust that the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts and in the conscience of our people.

 John the Baptist:  But Herod the tetrarch, when he was reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done;  he added this also above all, and shut up John in prison.

Cardinal Kasper:  Therefore divorced and remarried people should find a good priest confessor who accompanies them for some time and if this second, civil marriage, is solid then the path of new orientation can end with a confession and absolution.  Absolution means admission to Holy Communion.   Continue Reading

28

Cause and Effect

Pat Archbold has highlighted this post from a professor at the “Catholic” Villanova University by the name of Katie Grimes. Grimes exhorts the Bishops at the upcoming Synod on the family to recognize some of the “injustices” of Christian marriage.

Bishops participating in the synod ought to consider issues of sexual morality in accordance with the preferential option for the poor.  In this way, rather than blaming the decline of marriage on sexual immorality, the bishops ought to recognize the way in which, at least in the United States, marriage has increasingly become a privilege of the privileged. For example, today, the college-educated are both more likely to be married by the age of 30 and less likely to divorce than those who lack a college degree.  Marriage seems the consequence not so much of moral righteousness but of socioeconomic privilege.

Bishops ought to also listen to those critics who point out that marriage also accords disproportionate benefits to the well to do.   Marriage, they claim, is not just about sex and love and children and stability, it is also about acquiring andtransmitting wealth.  Put another way, heterosexually married white and upper-middle class Catholics who follow all facets of magisterial sexual morality perpetuate social injustice not just in the political or economic spheres but also through their sex lives.*

In addition to insisting that all sex must be good sex, may the bishops also accord more attention to the relation between social justice and sexual goodness.

One can spend a day and a half unpacking all of this, not to mention the long-winded preamble where Grimes goes off on whitey putting African Americans in jail because, I guess, that’s what whites like to do. There’s certainly something to be said about the clunky academic jargon that Grimes not so masterfully uses as subterfuge to mask her dissent.

Instead of looking at all that, we should instead ponder that Grimes is actually kind of right about marriage. Just about every study shows a direct correlation between marriage and economic stability (for lack of a better term). Married men earn more than unmarried men. Married people are more financially secure. And yes, marriage rates for lower income individuals is lower than for upper and middle class people. Unfortunately Grimes comes to the wrong conclusion. Instead of looking at marriage as an institution for the privileged elite, Grimes fails to consider that the correlation between financial stability and marriage is a reason to promote marriage rather than to take swipes at it. In other words, she doesn’t seem to consider the possibility that the reason most married people are financially secure is due, at least in part, to being married. In other, other words, she may be mistaking cause and effect.

Now I’m not suggesting that marriage automatically makes the poor richer, nor that economic advancement should be anything close to a motivating factor in considering matrimony. And yes, people are delaying marriage until they are more “set.” But perhaps it is this latter attitude that needs adjusting. Too many people may be putting off marriage further and further into an ideal future that may never arrive. They may, in fact, be unintentionally putting off doing something that will ameliorate their financial situation. Perhaps Grimes ought to exhort herself to consider how the continued assault on marriage is one of the contributing causes of the social injustice she so decries. Perhaps she ought to recognize the way in which, at least in the United States, marriage has become a saving grace for the underprivileged.

Then again, this is a woman who thinks white married people perpetuate social injustice through our sex lives. We probably should not anticipate too much deep thought from such a mind.

 

9

What Are We So Afraid Of?

In my last post I brought up helicopter parenting and small families, and I postulated that there was a connection between the two phenomenon, and that  fear prevented people from wanting large families, and further tended to make these same parents afraid to let their children be children.

Subsequently my wife sent me this article in Time Magazine, and I can’t help but think that fear is behind this cultural shift as well. As my wife said this is meant to be a cute and cheeky look at modern dating and marriage, but like her I just found it incredibly sad. Here’s a bit:

You could say I beta-tested my relationship.

It began with a platform migration ​(a cross-country move) and a bandwidth challenge (cohabitation in a 450-sq.-ft. apartment). There was a false start (botched marriage proposal). Then, an emergency deglitching (couples therapy). We tried to take the product public before we were ready (I wrote about our relationship in Newsweek). And then, finally, we abandoned launch. There were simply too many bugs.

It’s a joke, kind of — except that when it comes to millennials and marriage, the beta test may be par for the course. And really, why wouldn’t it be? For a generation reared on technology, overwhelmed by choice, feedback and constantFOMO, isn’t testing a marriage, like we test a username, simply … well, logical?

You can see where this is going.

Continue Reading

39

Pope Francis, Marriage, and the “End” of Infallibility

Angel

What will it mean if Pope Francis follows the counsel offered by some of his closest advisors, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, and permits divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion?  This prospect has only come to seem more likely given the Holy Father’s much discussed phone call to the Argentine divorcee.  This subject has been much on my mind for the past few months, and now that the worthy Ross Douthat has raised its implications in a highly public forum—and a number of important  Catholic  commentators are writing about it in depth—I think it is time to lay out a few of the scenarios that come to mind. 

Because the options are all rather unsettling, and opinions are deeply divided, it seems most useful to me to present the argument in the form of a three person dialogue, with each character representing a different perspective within the Church.  In the past, some readers have objected to this genre, making assertions such as “fictional dialogues belong in fiction.”  Tell that to Plato, St. Anselm, St. Thomas More, Erasmus, and Peter Kreeft.

To make things a little easier, I will label the characters’ viewpoints right up front:

John Paul: A faithful, orthodox Catholic who attends the most reverent Mass offered at his geographical parish. 

Marcel: A self-identified “traditional Catholic” who attends the Latin Mass exclusively. 

Josip: Raised a Byzantine Catholic, he attends that liturgy. He is politically and doctrinally conservative, but somewhat skeptical of Western conceptions of the papal Magisterium.

 

Marcel:  Hey John Paul! If Pope Francis blows up the sacrament of marriage, will you still insist that Vatican II was a “renewal” of the Church sent by the Holy Spirit?  Or will you finally start giving some thought to the alternative?

John Paul:  This issue is completely separate from the texts of the Second Vatican Council. They are the only aspect of the Council that binds us—and none of them says anything implying that divorced, remarried Catholics are eligible for Communion.  So your question is kind of incoherent.  But go on—what’s the alternative?

Marcel: That we have been witnessing since 1960 the Great Apostasy predicted by a number of apparitions of Our Lady.  That the orthodoxy, and hence the authority, of the popes who supported Vatican II is pretty dubious.

John Paul:  You know what’s dubious?  Private revelations.  You know what’s binding?  General councils of the Church and official statements of validly elected popes.

Josip: What happens if the official statement of a validly elected pope contradicts a fundamental Church teaching?  Such as the indissolubility of marriage, based on the clear words of Our Lord, and infallibly taught by the Council of Trent.

John Paul: That could never happen.

Josip: Yeah, but what if it does?

John Paul: It’s sacrilegious even to play with such hypotheticals. It shows your lack of faith in the Church.

Josip: St. Paul was willing to consider what it would mean if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead.  Divorce seems considerably less earth-shattering than that. What will it mean if Pope Francis does what he seems to hint he will do, which his closest advisors are saying in public he should do?  According to Cardinal Kasper, the Church should give divorced Catholics a “pass” on the Ten Commandments and the words of Christ, and treat their sexual relationships with their new “spouses” as something other than adultery. That’s the only possible implication of allowing them to receive Holy Communion without vowing to refrain from sex.

Marcel:  Which is exactly what the schismatics in the East have been doing for centuries. I’ll tell you what it would mean if “Pope Francis” does this: It will mean that he has lost the Catholic faith—and therefore the office of pope.  The throne will be empty, as some say it was when Paul VI endorsed the heresy of religious liberty, and when John Paul II and Benedict went on to teach it as well.

John Paul: At Vatican I, the Council closed off the idea that a pope could lose the throne through personal “heresy.” Saint Robert Bellarmine had made that argument, but Vatican I rebuked it.

Marcel: What use is infallibility if it doesn’t prevent a pope from endorsing a Council that teaches heresy, then reiterating it in countless public statements and in a Catechism?

John Paul: What use is papal infallibility if a pope can go ahead and teach heresy—God won’t stop him—but then we get to say that he’s no longer pope?  That makes infallibility an empty tautology: The pope is infallible, until he isn’t—at which point he isn’t pope anymore.  The Pharisees would have winced at that kind of legalism.  I certainly can’t imagine Christ winking at it.

Josip: If a pope ever taught heresy ex cathedra—which of course, I don’t expect will happen—it would prove something all right—that the Eastern Orthodox have been right all along. That Vatican I was not an infallible council, and neither were any of the other councils we have held without the Orthodox since 1054.

Marcel: Do you think Our Lord will be winking if the pope contradicts His plain words about divorce and remarriage?

Josip: No, I don’t.  We’ll get back to the implications of that in a minute.  First, I want to deny that religious liberty is a heresy.  Yes, there are many, many papal statements endorsing the persecution of “heretics.” Obviously, the Council Fathers and the pope knew about those statements, which their opponents such as Abp. Lefebvre were constantly quoting in the debates.  Clearly, the Magisterium concluded that those previous statements were not infallible—that in fact, they were wrong, because they endorsed violations of natural law and divine revelation, according to Dignitatis Humanae.  Papal assertions that it is right to imprison Protestants would have been false—like papal statements condemning all lending at interest as sinful “usury,” and statements permitting the enslavement of Muslims defeated in “just wars.” Of course, admitting all this should make us a lot more careful about how much weight we attach to papal statements.  Even when they reiterate “venerable” teachings like the condemnation of all lending at interest, and the embrace of religious persecution, most such statements are not infallible—and quite a number of them, in retrospect, were wrong.

John Paul: It’s unhealthy and impious for faithful Catholics to be sifting papal statements and determining which ones are “wrong.” If the Church decides, at a later date, to override what a previous pope has said, then and only then may we draw such a conclusion.

Marcel: Like good little Communists, we should wait to hear what Moscow decides is the new “party line,” then pretend that we have believed it all along?  I don’t buy it.

Josip: So John Courtney Murray should not have written in defense of religious liberty, since it wasn’t yet Church teaching?  And Catholic bankers shouldn’t have loaned money at reasonable rates of interest, but waited for the centuries to pass until the Church realized that the previous teaching hadn’t been infallible—and in fact, was wrong?

John Paul: That would seem like the safe, obedient course of action.

Josip: And if Pope Francis approves Holy Communion for sexually active divorced Catholics, will it be safe and obedient to accept that as well?

Marcel: It will be proof that he has lost the Catholic faith, and the right to call himself pope.  I bet that the bishops of the SSPX hold an election to find a real pope.

John Paul: I renew my objection to talking about such a development as if it were really possible. But for the sake of argument: If Pope Francis permits this kind of pastoral policy, it will be gravely mistaken—on the order of popes in past centuries allowing choir boys to be castrated to sing in the Vatican.

Josip: Surely this issue has greater implications than that.  How will we explain to homosexuals that they cannot be sexually active outside of marriage, and still receive Communion—when we permit that to heterosexuals?  Even I’m kind of offended by that.  Will anyone, anyone at all, still take the Church’s ban on birth control seriously, when it’s giving people a pass for adultery?  Which one is a more obvious violation of natural law?

John Paul: The pope would not be teaching error, but merely tolerating it.  As in previous centuries, when popes were lax about enforcing clerical celibacy, or allowed the sale of indulgences.

Marcel: No, you’re wrong.  If the German bishops started allowing this evil practice—which they probably already are, because they don’t want people to stop checking the “Catholic” box on their tax forms, and depriving the Church of money—that would be one thing.  But if the pope permits it for the universal Church, that’s something else entirely.  It’s right up there with him personally ordaining a woman as a priest, or adding an eighth sacrament.  It would be heresy, plain and simple.

John Paul: But he wouldn’t be teaching ex cathedra….

Josip: So if this happens, it won’t necessarily prove that Vatican I was wrong and the Eastern Orthodox are right about the structure of the Church. (Though of course, they will still be wrong about marriage—but then they don’t claim to be infallible.)

John Paul: No.

Josip: Or that Marcel is right and that the pope will have lost the throne?

John Paul: Absolutely not.

Josip: But it will prove that papal authority, and the divine protections we attribute to it, are a heck of a lot narrower than we used to think.  It will completely demoralize faithful Catholics who have been relying on papal statements to decide what they believe about critical issues—from war and peace to economics, from birth control to gay “marriage.” In effect, it will say that every papal statement in history is subject to future revision—except for the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.  Those, at least, will be set in stone.  Apart from that, everyone will be reduced to a kind of cafeteria Catholicism—unless, as Marcel said, they decide to stuff previous Church teachings into the Memory Hole and simply follow the Party Line.  That would make things simpler.  Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia.

John Paul: I miss Pope Benedict XVI.

Marcel: I miss Pope Pius XII.

Josip: What do you think really motivates Pope Francis? I don’t think he’s just another post-Conciliar progressive.

Marcel: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Josip: It might in fact be a decoy.

John Paul: It seems to me that the pope is reaching out to the kind of people with whom John Paul II and Benedict XVI somehow couldn’t connect.

Marcel: People who want to claim that they’re “Catholic,” in the same sense that they’re “Irish” or “Italian”?

John Paul: No! I think he’s trying to convert the liberal’s false compassion for the “marginalized” into a genuine Christian concern for the needy.

Marcel: The “needy,” in this case, being prosperous divorced couples in Germany and the U.S.? Weakening marriage, in any way, really hurts the poor.

John Paul:  But I wish that Pope Francis would keep his outreach within the bounds of Catholic orthodoxy.

Marcel: Yeah, that would be nice.  It seems like the least we can ask… of a POPE.

Josip: What if there’s something else going on?  What if Pope Francis thinks that papal claims have been exaggerated, to the point where they needlessly block ecumenism—especially with the Eastern Orthodox?

Marcel: For all his talk of collegiality, he seems to have no problem using his power—against us Traditionalists.

Josip: But if he uses his power this time, to dismantle the traditional teaching on marriage, what would that mean for the authority of the papacy?

John Paul: Assuming the Holy Spirit allows it to happen…

Marcel: …And we don’t see a sudden resignation, “health crisis,” or falling meteorite…

Josip: The doctrinal contradiction would dismantle the papacy too—at least as we have known the papacy since… 1054. Which would remove the main barrier to unity with the East.

Marcel: So you think Pope Francis is practicing ecumenism by “auto-destruction”?

Josip: I don’t know.  Maybe he thinks of it as Perestroika.

John Paul: That’s impossible.  It’s apostasy.  God will never permit it.

Josip: Unless He does. In which case… well then, we’ll know who was right all along, won’t we?

 

John Zmirak is author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived here.

25

Till Death Do Us Part

Marriage

 

One thing I hate about leftists is that they are quite expert at changing the meaning of words and phrases to suit their political goals.  Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, at Midwest Conservative Journal gives us a prime example of this  and also provides us a stirring tribute by a son to his father:

Susan Russell on Robbie’s split:

[Our marriages] are equally blessed and equally challenging. They are equally full of joy and equally full of disappointment. We equally love and cherish each other and we equally hurt and misunderstand each other. And, when a marriage fails, we are equally sad, scared and heartbroken. Just as the values that make up a marriage transcend the gender of the couple in the marriage, so do the challenges. And because all of our marriages are — for better or for worse — equal, they deserve equal protection under the law.

Do go on.

What I believe is that the vow “until death do us part” is absolutely binding on absolutely every marriage. And what I know is that sometimes the death that ends a marriage isn’t the death of one of the partners but the death of the marriage itself. And when that happens, the faithful thing — the honest thing, the healthy thing — is to grieve the death of the marriage. And then, from a Christian perspective, to trust the Easter promise that love is stronger than death — even the death of a marriage.

“The death of the marriage.”  The.  Death.  Of.  The.  Marriage.  Seriously, Susie?!!  Do you REALLY want to play that card?  Because if you do, you’ve just granted “spiritual” permission for every single bimbo in the entire world to sleep around on her husband and every single a-hole in the entire world to sleep around on his wife.

Good Lord.  So all that incessant Episcopalian yammering about blessing “life-long, committed relationships” actually was complete crap?

[Robbie’s divorce] teaches us that even good people of deep faith with the best intentions can fail at making the marriage they hoped would be forever last forever. It teaches us that telling the truth about our lives and our challenges is not only healthy for us but can be in inspiration for others. And, most of all, it teaches us, in Gene Robinson’s own words: “Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”

Particularly when they can just declare the marriage “dead” and move on.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Episcopalians have retired the rationalization trophy.  Nobody else was ever in the ballgame.

Are you all interested in a little Johnson family history?  While doing genealogical research into my father’s side of the family, I sent to Ness County, Kansas for a copy of the marriage record of my paternal grandparents and discovered something that nobody in the family previously knew.

Let’s just say that the time between when my grandparents got married and when my father’s older brother was born was a good deal less than nine months.  Dad thought it had to have been a mistake but my aunt heard stories of Kansas girls who suddenly ran off to Kansas City because of wink, wink.

If anybody out in Ness City, Kansas knew, they didn’t say anything because my dad told me once that when he was a kid, his family used to go out there all the time and he actually seemed to have an affection for the place, insisting that we go out there on the car trip he and I took a year or so before his final illness.

And I was delighted to go.

Anyway, my grandparents married in 1917 and they made a life together in Kansas City.  Grandma had two other children, my dad and my uncle.  But my grandfather abruptly ended the marriage in 1957.

By dropping dead from an aortic aneurysm at the barber shop one day.

Then there was my old man.  I think I’ve mentioned here before that he and I didn’t get along all that well when I was a kid.  He was ex-military, I was a sensitive kid and he didn’t always much patience with kids who didn’t pick things up right away.

When I was a little kid, Pop had this tendency to snap at me whenever I tried to make what I thought was a contribution to the conversation (I’m pushing 60 and the words, “Don’t get smart!!” hurt as much now as they did then).  While it didn’t happen much, he wasn’t above humiliating me in front of the entire family if he was angry enough.

But do you want to know the really funny part? Continue Reading

23

DOMA Overturned, Prop 8 Case Dismissed for Lack of Standing

Unsurprising results. Here is the DOMA decision, and here is the Prop 8 decision.

Both were 5-4 decisions. Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court on DOMA, Roberts on Prop 8.  The lineups were slightly different. The dissenters on DOMA were Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas, and on Prop 8 Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and  . . . Sotomayor. Prop 8 fell because of standing and not on the merits of the legal issue, so the Court lineup actually doesn’t say much on that one. Of course the end result is that California will now recognize same-sex marriage.

I’ll be back much later with a full analysis. What the Windsor (DOMA) case means is that the federal government cannot prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriage, and those married in states allowing SSM must receive federal benefits. States are still free to not recognize same-sex marriage, but Kennedy’ s use of the Equal Protection Clause to underpin his argument means that the handwriting is on the wall. Scalia’s dissent is a must-read, but Alito’s is perhaps more significant – particularly footnote 7.

In the meantime, here’s some happy reading for you to ponder for the rest of the day.

Update: I think my explanation of the DOMA decision’s results is a little shaky. This was never about what the states could do, but it simply relates to granting federal benefits to same sex couples who claim to be married.

 

 

6

Out of the Closet and Married

Humor writer Josh Weed has written a remarkable personal piece. Weed is an out of the closet gay Mormon – who also happens to be married with three children. Josh, as well as his wife Molly, detail how Josh struggled to live up to the tenets of his faith. He didn’t hide his homosexuality from his parents, who by the way were understanding right from the outset. His wife Molly had been a close friend and confidant, so she was aware of Josh’s same sex attraction before they even began dating.

It’s a truly remarkable story that should be read in its entirety. Clearly it is applicable in Catholic circles, though as my wife suggests, celibacy is a more viable option for gay Catholics than for Mormons.

Josh gives every indication that he is perfectly happy, but he does not come off as preachy, nor does he suggest that all individuals who struggle with same sex attraction can or ought to make the same choice he did.

Even more heartening is that this post has over 3,000 comments, and the overwhelming are supportive or at least understanding. Now I stopped skimming after about a thousand comments, so it’s possible that things got nastier once the post went viral on Facebook. But the relatively generous feedback that he received is almost a story unto itself.

That’s all. Please go read. Now.

33

Why The Government Can’t Get Out of the Marriage Business

As the US continues it’s “national conversation” on same sex marriage, it’s fairly standard for someone to suggest that it’s time for the state to get out of the marriage business and have marriage be a strictly religious/personal arrangement. This seems like a fairly neat way to sidestep the issue of having to reach a state consensus on what marriage is, with the inevitable one-side-tramples-the-other problem that suggests. However, I’d like to suggest that it’s an impractical and illusory solution.

To start with, I think we need to look at why the state is involved in marriage in the first place. I’d suggest that the reason has little to do with managing morals or family values, it has to do with the essential function of government: being an arbiter in disputes, primarily about property. In this regard the state ends up needing to define marriage and know who is married in order to answer two questions: who owns what and whose kids are whose.

Say two people have been spending a lot of time together for the last five years. Now they’ve had an argument and want to not see each other again, but one of them claims that some things in the possession of the other are actually his. Are they? The state gets pulled into these questions because its job is to arbitrate disputes rather than leaving people to solve them the old fashioned way (which was by raising themselves up on their hind legs and bashing each over the head with flint axes.) Continue Reading

12

Arthur C. Clarke on How To Destroy Marriage

In Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel Childhood’s End the aliens invade, and they mean us nothing but good. A space race between the US and USSR is about to lead to war in space when giant alien space ships settle over all of Earth’s principle cities, and an alien race, who refuse to show themselves and communicate only through the head of the UN, announce that they are taking over responsibility for enforcing peace on the planet. These aliens (called the Overlords) generally take a hands-off approach to humanity, saying they will reveal themselves in 50 years when humans are ready to see them, but in the mean time they provide two inventions: a 100% effective oral contraceptive, and a 100% accurate paternity test.

The result is that over the next 50 years, while peace and prosperity reigns due to the guiding hand of the Overlords, marriage, traditional morality and organized religion all vanish.

Of course, Clarke actually thought this was a good thing, and the rest of the novel is about humanity moving onto the next stage of evolutionary development: as a non-material group mind. But in a sense, that’s the really interesting thing, that as someone who saw traditional marriage, morality and religion as a problem back in 1953, Clarke say the two inventions most likely to get rid of all three as being completely reliable contraception and paternity testing.

Coming at things from a Catholic point of view, G.E.M. Anscombe saw the same trends, now well advanced, in relation to contraception, morality and marriage in her 1972 essay “Contraception and Chastity”. Some key bits: Continue Reading

22

Not Everyone Has To Get Married (Or Go Into The Religious Life)

Mary at the blog Young and Catholic has a good post up responding to a reader question about Church teaching on contraception versus NFP. Her handling of the NFP issue is great, but I was struck by the framing of her reader’s question, because it struck me as getting at a common impression one can get from being around conservative Catholic circles. Her reader writes:

I’m an 18 year old female college student, and I have just gotten back in touch with Catholicism…

…I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting back into my faith, but there is something that REALLY continues to rub me wrong. I’ve prayed and prayed about it, but I am not getting any answer. I’ve researched it, but just hear the same things over and over and it just doesn’t sit right with me, and that is the issue of contraception. I’ve read humanae vitae, I’ve researched “natural family planning”, and it all still leaves me completely unsatisfied still. I see where the Church is coming from on this issue, however, I feel that God has called me to do something else with my future besides staying at home with my “loving” husband and having a billion children…And then I went to the church and asked my female minister about it. The gist was this: If you have the financial capability, happiness, and wealth, your job is basically to be popping out children.

This just honestly does not sit right with me…Some women love being mothers, and being a mother is certainly an honorable duty, but I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’m very ambitious and have goals of working for the Department of Defense, not sacrificing all my happiness because the Church says I should.

She goes on to ask about why the Church teaches against artificial birth control, and as I say, Mary’s answer is great. However, I think the other thing worth touching on is the impression people sometimes get that from a Catholic point of view you should either be in the religious life or else you should be married and having lots of kids. Continue Reading

28

Ephesians 5 Round Up: Does “Wives Be Submissive” Have Any Content?

As I wrote a bit over a week ago, my attention was caught by a post in which Brett Salkeld asked the question, Does the Injunction that Wives Submit to Their Husbands Have any Content? He said:

I am not so progressive that I am opposed in principle to the idea that there might be something of value in this claim. In other words, I do not presume that Paul’s teaching on this matter can be dismissed simply as a function of his era. Of course, investigation may determine that his teaching is not central to the Christian understanding of marriage and is simply the result of his writing at a particular time and place, but that is not my presumption. Such claims, for me, must be demonstrated, not presumed. I am conservative enough to insist that they are are not self-evident.

I have found myself frustrated, however, by those authors and commentators within the church who insist that wives must in fact submit to their husbands—that men are, necessarily, the “head of the household.” Such an insistence is typically followed by numerous qualifications and caveats indicating precisely what such a claim does not mean in the concrete. Men are not to be tyrants. They are not to make every decision independently. They are to provide space for the development and self-expression of their wives. All well and good, of course. Who would disagree with any of these? But as easy as it is to highlight what not to do in the concrete, it seems to me that this teaching will have no purchase on the reality of contemporary marriage if no one can articulate what it actually does mean in the concrete. Continue Reading

8

Class and Marriage: A Reverse

It’s long been a trope of the “culture war” that the rich as social and religious libertines while the stolid middle class cling to traditional values. Or, as another portion of America sees it, that the educated elite have moved beyond the primative and prejudices social mores of the past while the uneducated cling to their guns and their religion. I would venture to say that for many of us reading here this may also to a stereotype which fits with our lived experience.

However, a report out from the Institute for American Values stands this set of stereotypes somewhat on its head, showing a educated elite which is going to church more and sleeping around less, while the broad middle class is going to church less, having more children out of wedlock and getting divorced more often.
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Big Government and Small Society

The Democratic Party suffered a historic drubbing a couple weeks ago. However, one of the things with which several left leaning commentators publically consoled themselves was that demographics are in their favor. The parts of the electorate which tend to vote for Democrats are growing, while those who tends to vote for Republicans are shrinking. Progressives like to focus on the examples of this they feel proud of: the non-white percentage of the US population is growing, and non-whites tend to vote Democratic. Young people also lean more heavily progressive on a variety of issues than previous generations did at the same age.

From a progressive point of view this sounds pretty good: progressivism will succeed in the end because it is supported by young and diverse people, while conservatism will die out because it is supported by old white people — and no one like them anyway, did they?

I’d like to propose an alternate reading of the data: Continue Reading

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Culture War

People justly tire of the term “culture war” and find themselves asking, like the philosopher Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

And yet watching the disparate reactions to yesterday’s Federal Court ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8 (for now) it struck me that the culture war terminology is quite apt. What is termed the culture was is essentially a zero sum game over which of two roughly equally numerous groups will be allowed to define the dominant understandings of culture and society in our country. by taking this to the federal level, same sex marriage advocates have made it clear that no degree of regional acceptance is satisfactory — their understanding of the nature of marriage must be the single dominant understanding enforced throughout the country, and those with a traditional understanding of marriage must be the ones who find themselves aliens within their country. And, presumably, is same sex marriage advocates lose, they will in turn consider themselves aliens within the country. Given that it is the most basic units and purposes of society which are in dispute, it seems hard to see how it can be any other way. And while the dispute is to an extent regional, it is much more so philosophical and ideological, making the culture war more resemble the Spanish Civil War than the American. Every city and region has representatives of both sides.

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WJBA? In 2010 Would Jesus (Along With His Apostles & Saints) Be Arrested For Hate Speech?

A few short years ago the mere suggestion that the Son of God, His Apostles and Saints would face arrest for hate speech would have seemed absolutely ludicrous. However, events have spiraled out of control across the western world. In his opinion that strikes down California’s recently voter approved marriage law, Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that those who speak in the name of religion to put across their views that same sex marriage is wrong are “harmful to gays and lesbians.”

Across Europe and Canada, faithful Christians speaking out for traditional marriage face the threat of being hauled off to court for citing the teachings of the Catholic Church and various Evangelical Churches. Where will this all end? Some see a great persecution coming against the Christian faithful. Though possible, one need remember that the Christian faith always grew when persecuted.

The Catholic Church has long taught that some individuals have an inclination toward same sex attraction; they are to be loved as all people are to be loved. The Church teaches that these feelings are not to be acted upon. The Church goes on to teach that all individuals are given a cross to carry in this world and for those who are same sex attracted; this is their cross. An organization exists for those who are same sex attracted called COURAGE. It has many chapters and members.

Recently a profile was done in The New York Times on same sex attracted Eve Tushnet, the Ivy League educated Catholic daughter of Harvard Law professors. She has chronicled her growth in Catholicism and the logic of the Church’s teachings on sexuality. For years the Catholic Church took some heat from some quarters of Christianity for not stating that anyone who is same sex attracted would be going to hell. The Church now is facing a maelstrom of vitriol from those who claim the Church hates homosexuals.

For the Church to change her teachings would be to deny not only what Christ said (Matthew 11:20-24,) but his Apostles, not to mention Saint Paul’s lengthy discourse on the subject (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.)  In addition to the Apostles and saints, there is a rich history of saints writing on the subject, particularly the Early Church Fathers like Saint Augustine, St Justin Martyr, St. Basil and St John Chrysostom as well as Church intellectuals like St Thomas Aquinas, Saint Albert the Great (the greatest scientist of his time,) along with mystics like St Catherine of Sienna to name but a few. To say that the greatest minds of their respective eras were all wrong is simply breathtaking.

Many who disagree with the Church tend to forget that homosexuality was much more common and approved of by the Roman government in the early Christian era than it is even in 2010. Many in the upper echelons of Greek and Roman culture experimented with all sorts of sexual practices. It would have been far easier for Jesus, the apostles, saints and popes to approve of this conduct than it would to disapprove of it. Christianity might have grown at a faster pace. However, there was a reason for this swimming against the tide, and the faithful accepted it.

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It's About the Children. Seriously.

I must confess that today’s judicial ruling out of California which overturned Proposition 8 has riled me up, suprisingly so. I heard about the ruling while listening to the livestream of a tech podcast in which one of the three podcasters is a lesbian (previously “married” in CA) and the other two (middle-aged married men) evidently supported the decision. The ease with which they threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage. Simply put, the state’s interest isn’t strong feelings or commitment… it’s children. And — to state the obvious — a homosexual relationship isn’t structured towards procreation the way marriage is.

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The $1 Million Chelsea Clinton Wedding

The estimated cost of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding this evening is $1 million* and that is a very low estimate.

Obscene, simply obscene.

Talk about failing in the cardinal virtues of prudence and temperance.

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Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 2)

[Continued from Part 1]

Restraint, Relationships and Planning Parenthood

When I say that we “naturally want to avoid having children” at certain times, I would imagine that the image that comes immediately to mind is of birth control, abortion or infanticide, and most traditional societies have seen these in some form or other. However, I’d like to turn our attention to something so basic and so prevalent that we don’t think about it much.

From an anthropological point of view, the entire structure of our romantic and family relationships serves as a way to control childbearing, limiting it to situations in which offspring can be supported. Consider: Requiring that young women remain virgins until marriage ensured that children will not be born without a provider. Nor was the decision to marry, when it came, a strictly individual affair. Marriage was negotiated and approved by the wider families, because the families were in effect committing to help support the new family unit being created. Many cultures also required the husband’s family to pay a “bride price”, not simply as compensation for the lost contribution of the daughter to her own family, but as proof that the husband was of sufficient means to start a family.

Once in place, this set of cultural mores and laws provided an easy way to adjust to want or plenty:

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Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 1)

If you move in conservative Catholic circles much, you have doubtless heard the phrase “contraceptive mentality”. Though used frequently and negatively, I think there is value in delving a bit more deeply into what we mean by the phrase. I was moved to write this in semi-response to an interesting post by Brett Salkeld a couple months back which sought to explore the bounds of what a “contraceptive mentality” is. Another good resource on the topic is this post at Catholic Culture on the contraceptive mentality.

While recognizing the dangers of trying to be too wide ranging in subject matter in the limited space of a blog post, my goal here is to set out answers to the following:

  • What is a “contraceptive mentality”?
  • How is a contraceptive mentality contrary to how humans are “meant” to function morally and sexually?
  • How, if at all, does NFP (natural family planning) relate to a contraceptive mentality?

I think it’s easiest to think about the idea of a contraceptive mentality against the backdrop of how we function sexually as human creatures — a term I use advisedly in that I want to emphasize our rootedness in a certain biological reality of being primates with certain biological systems and instincts, while at the same time not ignoring our rational, emotional and moral sensibilities in the sense that “human animal” strikes me as implying.

Uncertainty and Conception

One thing that sets us apart from most other higher primates is that humans have fairly even sexual drive all of the time. Or, at least, men have sexual drive pretty much all of the time. Women seem to have more variation in their level of interest, and indeed there is a fair amount of evidence that one driving (though unconscious) element of their drive is that they are more “in the mood” during the times of the month when they are fertile than when they are not. Another thing that sets us apart from most other higher primates is that a woman’s fertility is not marked by unmistakable physical signs (change of color and swelling of the genital area, changes in smell, etc.) (Though Bonobos have often been compared to humans in regards to their relatively constant sex drive, they are like chimps in that female fertility is readily apparent through external signs.)
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Talking About Sinful Lifestyles With Children

Eric Brown wrote a post about the question of whether children of same-sex-couples should be allowed in Catholic schools the other day, which generated some interesting conversation. One of the problems that lies at the root of this controversy, I think, is the question of how to deal sinful lifestyles when talking to your children.

Obviously, one of the duties of a conscientious Catholic parents is to successfully pass on to their children belief in Catholic moral teaching. We believe, after all, that living according to the Church’s moral teachings is key to both the happiness and salvation of our children, and both of these are things we ought to care about a good bit.

This much, at least, is widely agreed upon. Why, however, should that be a reason not to want your children exposed to the children of a same-sex-couple? Isn’t that simply a great chance to talk about the Church’s teachings about marriage and sexual morality?

Frankly, I (and I think many other Catholic parents) would rather not have to rush that one. Why?

Both thinking back to my own childhood and also about my children (currently ages 8 through 1.5) one of the things that stands out to me very clearly is that children are naturally dualistic. There’s a reason why the fairy tale is a genre so enjoyed by children — children like clear heroes and villains. The adult my be interested in why it is that the wicked witch became wicked, and whether she really thought she was wicked, but to a child, the fact that she is wicked is all they need. Heroes do good things, villains to bad things, and children under the age of 10-12 have a great deal of difficulty seeing people in between.
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Red vs. Blue Families

It’s fairly common for advocates of more liberal social policies to point out that “red states” tend to have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, etc than “blue states”. This is taken to suggest that, however much conservatives may go on about “family values”, it is actually more liberal social values which are best for families. Ross Douthat does a good job of addressing this mentality in his column from last Sunday, in which he takes a closer look at some of these “family values” statistics.

Today, couples with college and (especially) graduate degrees tend to cohabit early and marry late, delaying childbirth and raising smaller families than their parents, while enjoying low divorce rates and bearing relatively few children out of wedlock.

For the rest of the country, this comfortable equilibrium remains out of reach. In the underclass (black, white and Hispanic alike), intact families are now an endangered species. For middle America, the ideal of the two-parent family endures, but the reality is much more chaotic: early marriages coexist with frequent divorces, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate keeps inching upward.
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Raquel Welch and CS Lewis

When I was growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies the number one sex symbol going away was the actress Raquel Welch.  What little I had heard of her opinions seemed to be those of a conventional Hollywood liberal.  Therefore I was shocked by this column she wrote for CNN on the anniversary of the invention of the birth control pill:

Margaret Sanger opened the first American family-planning clinic in 1916, and nothing would be the same again. Since then the growing proliferation of birth control methods has had an awesome effect on both sexes and led to a sea change in moral values.

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Marriage Improvement

It seems to me that marriage and family are probably the area in which different sub-cultures of our country have diverged most radically. Reading this New York Times feature about the author’s attempts to improve her marriage is in some ways a more alien experience than reading an anthropological study of some distant tribe. The instinct behind the exercise is laudable:

The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I’ve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married — truly married — slowly, over time, through all the road-rage incidents and precolonoscopy enemas, all the small and large moments that you never expected to happen and certainly didn’t plan to endure. But then you do: you endure. And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly — some might say obsessively — at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?

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You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

Okay, that’s a heckuva long title for a blog post, but it also happens to be almost perfect for the subject of this particular entry at The American Catholic.

On Tuesday, the voters of the state of Maine — surprisingly — rejected same sex marriage (SSM) and reaffirmed that marriage in Maine is between a man and a woman. Naturally, SSM supporters were shocked and outraged (the Catholic Church appears to be the early target), while supporters of traditional marriage were overjoyed with the results; Maine, after all, isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was typical of the latter: “Every time Americans vote on marriage, traditional marriage wins.” And she’s right: when it comes to ballot initiatives, SSM is 0-31.

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Chivalry: A Personal Definition

Chivalry to me is the call for men/boys to respect women/girls even if they apparently don’t respect themselves, or even aggressively market themselves as mere sex objects. The visual hardwiring for males is tough to short-circuit since it is there for some very excellent reasons- but a boy in-training to become a good man, must develop the capacity to say “No” the same as for the girls- and he must learn to divert his eyes rather than feasting on the nearly ubiquitous female forms in various stages of undress parading by our senses. It is no wonder that St.Paul said it was better to marry than to burn, and Jesus laid out some very high standards when He said that lusting for a woman in your mind was adultery- pretty clear advice from someone whose opinions form my own.

I know that girls who don’t have close and affectionate relationships with their own fathers will act out sexually at earlier ages to try to fill in a spiritual hole in their hearts. I hope that with my own girls I can reinforce their beauty and worth in the world by showering them with my attentions, my hugs and kisses, and all the verbal and non-verbal affirmations of their excellence and my love for them- with the added bonus of giving all praise and glory to God for them as gifts to me and their mother and the world. They should never have to feel that they “need” some sexually-charged teen to give them the idea that they are special and deserve physical and spiritual affection from a male in their life. I hope and pray that this gives them some invisible support to make the correct choice to wait until marriage for the very special gift of their physical selves to another.

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Brideshead vs. RCIA

Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is one of my favorite novels, and unquestionably my favorite Catholic novel. (Spoiler warning for those who haven’t read it — this post has to do with events which take place at the very end.) Not only does Brideshead give powerful and beautiful expression to Catholic themes, but having read it in my late teens, not long before leaving home, it represents one of those crystallizing experiences for me through which Catholicism became not merely something I was brought up in, but something deeply my own and at the root of my understanding of the world.

And yet, there’s a key element of the plot which clashes with the modern experience of joining the Church — as I was reminded tonight when attending the opening RCIA meeting as a member of this year’s team. Near the very end of the novel, Julia (a cradle, though intermittently lapsed, Catholic) tells the man she has been living with for several years (they’re in the process of divorcing their estranged spouses so they can marry): Continue Reading

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Culture Crash

That mainstream American culture is something of a train wreck is hardly news at this point, and that regard there’s a certain wisdom to the approach, “Let the dead bury their dead,” rather than having the brashness to be the one shouting, “Oh, hey, look! A body!” Still, occasionally one runs across things which are at the same time so sad and so indicative of our cultural ills one feels the need to comment. Such a case, to my mind at least, was this article from the most recent Atlantic Monthly suggesting that for the modern Homo suburbanicus middleclassus marriage is a failed idea which should be pretty much abandoned. Or as the cheery sub-headline succinctly put it: “The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same?”

The author is a 47 year old woman, a successful performance artist married to a musician, who after twenty years of marriage and two children find herself in the aftermath of an extramarital affair deciding that she really doesn’t feel like doing the work to rebuilt a relationship with her husband.

Which is not to say I’m against work. Indeed, what also came out that afternoon were the many tasks I—like so many other working/co-parenting/married mothers—have been doing for so many years and tearfully declared I would continue doing. I can pick up our girls from school every day; I can feed them dinner and kiss their noses and tell them stories; I can take them to their doctor and dentist appointments; I can earn my half—sometimes more—of the money; I can pay the bills; I can refinance the house at the best possible interest rate; I can drive my husband to the airport; in his absence, I can sort his mail; I can be home to let the plumber in on Thursday between nine and three, and I can wait for the cable guy; I can make dinner conversation with any family member; I can ask friendly questions about anybody’s day; I can administer hugs as needed to children, adults, dogs, cats; I can empty the litter box; I can stir wet food into dry.

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Father Alberto Cutie Leaves The Catholic Church For The Episcopals

Alberto Cutie

Father Alberto Cutié has abruptly left the Catholic Church and has joined the Episcopal church today.  Father Cutié was recently caught in a scandal involving a woman in a two year affair and asked and received an indefinite leave of absence from Archbishop John C. Favalora.  This has come as sudden and unexpected news to the Church.  Archbishop Favalora of Miami has not spoken with Alberto Cutié since his request and has expressed shock at the news.

“I am genuinely disappointed by the announcement made earlier this afternoon by Father Alberto Cutié that he is joining the Episcopal Church,”

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Tortured Credibility

It has become an oft repeated trope of Catholics who are on the left or the self-consciously-unclassifiable portions of the American political spectrum that the pro-life movement has suffered a catastrophic loss of credibility because of its association with the Republican Party, and thence with the Iraq War and the use of torture on Al Qaeda detainees. Until the pro-life movement distances itself from the Republican Party and all of the pro-life leadership who have defended the Iraq War and/or the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on detainees, the argument goes, the pro-life movement will have no moral authority and will be the laughing stock of enlightened Catholics everywhere.

Regardless of what one thinks about the Iraq War and torture (myself, I continue to support the former but oppose the latter) I’m not sure that this claim works very well. Further, I think that those who make it often fail to recognize the extent to which it cuts both ways.

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Dolan: Man-Woman Tradition Is In Our DNA

His Grace Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York spoke eloquently in a recent interview which touched on hot topics such as ‘gay’ marriage and a married priesthood by Dan Mangan of the New York Post.  The following is the entire article followed by the video interview [emphasis and comments mine]:

Archbishop Timothy Dolan yesterday said advocates of gay marriage “are asking for trouble,” arguing that traditional, one-man/one-woman marriage is rooted in people’s moral DNA [His Emminence is not parsing his words here, amen for that.].

There’s an in-built code of right and wrong that’s embedded in the human DNA,” Dolan told The Post in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview, a week after becoming the New York Archdiocese’s new leader.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-1-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. I recently received confirmation from Lila Rose to post here on American Catholic that a little over two weeks ago she converted to the Catholic faith on March 15 in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Deo gratias!

Lila Rose is an impressive young lady.  A few weeks ago she was the keynote speaker for the Houston Coalition for Life Benefit 2009 dinner.  She has an excellent grasp of the history of the pro-life movement and to my nice surprise she is also very knowledgeable of the role of Catholics in the Pro-Life movement from Mother Teresa of Calcutta to Fr. Frank Pavone.

I had the opportunity to speak with her briefly at the benefit dinner and I came away deeply impressed.  She is a talented and motivated young lady and she’s only a junior at UCLA.  She began getting involved in the pro-life movement as a sophomore in high school by founding a pro-life newspaper!  She now runs a production company, LiveActionFilms.org, and is editor-in-chief of the pro-life newspaper at UCLA, The Advocate.

She is the newest crop of Pro-Life warriors that will contribute to the end of abortion on demand nationwide.  With the growing strength of the Pro-Life movement being energized more and more with babies, toddlers, children, teens, and young adults, the days of Roe v. Wade are numbered.

2. There is a wonderful story of how two Catholics met online using Ave Maria Singles.  The adventure begins when Katie and Devin, for different reasons, chose Ave Maria Singles to search for a spouse.  Katie three years out of college saw slim pickings at work, at church, and definitely not at a bar.  Devin had been looking online for a spouse for four fruitless years, yet still carried a positive attitude.  After an initial ‘dust off’ by Katie and a close call by Devin, the two, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit were able to find their sacramental partners for life via Ave Maria Singles.

It’s a sweet and compact romantic love story that spans two articles, so for the introductory portion click here.  For the final encounter and happy ending click here.  To learn more about Ave Maria Singles click here.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-30-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Please pray for Father Benedict Groeschel as he suffered a stroke last week.  For the story click here.

2. Jay Anderson is contemplating leaving blogging.  It seems he is being worn down by the grind of writing on politics and religion.  For the story click here.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-20-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  Seems like priests and their habits have been ruminating around the blogosphere as of late.  Now Fr. Z has followed up this with insight concerning those for and against this trend.

For the link click here.

2.  Speaking of religious, after enduring the many innovations following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, vocations have rebounded:

“Nearly 70 percent of Catholic religious communities have seen a jump in vocation inquiries in the past year”

The vast majority of those entering the religious life are tradition-minded adults under the age of 40.

For the link click here.

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Should The State Get Out of the Marriage Business?

As people wait for the results of the California Supreme Court’s review of Prop 8, Douglas Kmiec and one of his Pepperdine Law collegues have put out a proposal that the government get out of the marriage business entirely, and instead bestow “civil union” certificates on households of any configuration or persuasion.

Instead, give gay and straight couples alike the same license, a certificate confirming them as a family, and call it a civil union — anything, really, other than marriage. For people who feel the word marriage is important, the next stop after the courthouse could be the church, where they could bless their union with all the religious ceremony they wanted. Religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their tenets. And for nonbelievers and those who find the word marriage less important, the civil-union license issued by the state would be all they needed to unlock the benefits reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples. Continue Reading

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Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

cardinal-egan

Outgoing Archbishop of New York Cardinal Egan demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.  In comments made to a radio program in Albany two days ago Cardinal Egan [may have] insinuated that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.  Cardinal Egan openly admitted it was his “greatest” failure in bringing in more seminarians.

[I am using the Cardinal’s own words in describing the issue of raising the number of vocations]

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California Legislature Calls for Prop 8 to be Thrown Out

According to an email update just out from Bill May of Catholics For The Common Good (not to be confused with “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good”), the California State Senate passed on Monday resolution SR7, a non-binding resolution calling on the State Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the amendment to the state constitution which passed back in November, defining marriage in California as between a man and a woman.

Anti-Prop 8 Resolution Passed the California Senate Today

Referring to the sovereign power of the voters as “mob rule”, San Francisco Senator Mark Leno asked the State Senate to adopt SR7, a resolution calling on the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. The measure, that has no force of law, passed 18-14 this afternoon (Monday, March 2).

A similar measure, HR 5, is on the Assembly floor and could come to a vote at any time. Please call your Assembly member and ask him or her to vote “NO”. Details can be found here: http://www.ccgaction.org/family/protectionofmarriage/CA/resaction09-02-17#action.

Perhaps our lawyers can enlighten me, but it seems to me that should the State Supreme Court follow the legislature’s request and overturn the amendment, then the democratic process would have fundamentally broken down.

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Inequality and the New Aristocracy

Running into this article the other day, I was startled to find how many of my own intellectual hobby horses it touched upon. Arnold Kling and Nich Schulz are economists, and their topic is in equality in the modern economy. They cite Google co-founder (and billionaire) Sergey Brin as an example of many of the forces they believe are driving inequality and list the following major forces:

Technology: Brin’s wealth comes from the famous search engine he pioneered with cofounder Larry Page. Their company is a mere ten years old. And yet in the blink of an eye, he has become one of the richest men in the world.

Winners-take-most markets: Certain mass-market fields tend to simulate tournaments in that they produce just a few big winners along with many losers. These include technology/software, as in the case of Google, but also entertainment (Céline Dion), book publishing (Stephen King), athletics (Tiger Woods), and even some parts of academia, finance, law, and politics (as the impressive post-presidential earnings of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton demonstrate).
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MoralAccountability.com

A new website: MoralAccountability.com. This is their mission statement:

In the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, a small group of Catholic and Evangelical Protestant intellectuals and activists, while saying that they personally support legal protection for the unborn and oppose the redefinition of marriage, promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama, who made no secret of his intention to wipe out the entire range of laws restricting or discouraging abortion and embryo-destructive research, or of his opposition to all state and federal initiatives (such as California Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act) to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These men and women assured their fellow Christians and other social conservatives that Obama’s economic policies would reduce the incidence of abortion, and they promised that Obama was being honest when he said that he was opposed to “same-sex marriage.”

Despite these assurances, we fear that the Obama administration will swiftly begin an assault on pro-life laws and pro-marriage policies.

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Sex, the Fall, and the Resurrection

My inspiration for starting this post and continue the topic through several other posts is the “Day without a Gay” protest, which is supposed to inspire homosexuals and those in support of homosexual marriage to take the day off and perhaps commit to volunteer work (to take a little bit of the sting out of the strike).  Whenever issues like this come up (as they do at least annually here at the University of Wyoming with the Matthew Shepard Symposium), I find myself reflecting on human sexuality, the importance it plays in our lives, and the great detriment its misuse has caused, both to the nation and to myself personally.

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Sexual Selection and Modern Dating

The other day my beautiful wife emailed me a link to this City Journal article entitled “Love in the Time of Darwinism” by Kay S. Hymowitz about the selective pressures which the modern dating environment places on the mating pool. It seems the same author had written another article earlier this year entitled “Child-Man in the Promised Land” about the phenomenon of single men in their twenties and even thirties who, rather than shouldering the “grown up” interests of their forefathers a generation or two before, linger in an extended adolescence of playing video games, watching cartoons and gross-out comedies, and seeking only uncommitted sex rather than marriage on the dating scene. In response to this first article, the author had received numerous emails from young men informing her that the reason that they behaved that way was essentially that the actions of the women on the dating scene left them little other choice. Hymowitz sums up their reaction this way:

Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM [single young male] is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.

And so this article is basically an investigation into how accurate this complaint is.

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Marriage Looks to Win in California

While there is generally little to rejoice at in the results of yesterdays elections, there is a glimmer of light on the West Coast for those who believe in Christianity and Western Culture: As of this morning California Proposition 8, which would amend the California state constitution with the words “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” looks to be winning out after a hard fought campaign. The LA Times refuses to call it yet, but with 91% of precincts reporting, Prop 8 leads by 350,000 votes, 51.9% to 48.1%.

President Elect Obama had opposed the measure calling it “divisive”, but although Obama won California by 2,400,000 votes, Californians refused to allow to stand to a court ruling earlier this year in which 2000’s Proposition 22 defined traditional marriage by statute.

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Defend Marriage. Defend Life. Protect the Future.

Readers in California, please don’t forget that as you attempt to chose a pro-Life candidate for President of the US you are also being called to defend marriage by voting Yes on Proposition 8. Whether they are beloved friends, co-workers or relatives, we all probably all know gays and lesbians that we love and care deeply about; many of them may be in long-term loving relationships. But let’s not fool ourselves, a “marriage” between two people of the same sex is not a marriage in Christ. It is not love in the way Christ called us to love one another and the more we head down this path of destroying the institution of marriage, the further we move down the road to our own destruction as a society.

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