On Not Having Sex At Harvard

Sunday, July 25, AD 2010

From the New York Times:

There was a time when not having sex consumed a very small part of Janie Fredell’s life, but that, of course, was back in Colorado Springs. It seemed to Fredell that almost no one had sex in Colorado Springs. Her hometown was extremely conservative, and as a good Catholic girl, she was annoyed by all the fundamentalist Christians who would get in her face and demand, as she put it to me recently, “You have to think all of these things that we think.” They seemed not to know that she thought many of those things already. At her public high school, everyone, “literally everyone,” wore chastity rings, Fredell recalled, but she thought the practice ridiculous. Why was it necessary, she wondered, to signify you’re not doing something that nobody is doing?

And then Fredell arrived at Harvard.

Continue reading...

0 Responses to On Not Having Sex At Harvard

  • We need more Janie Fredells and Mary Anne Marks

  • We need to pray for them and the many others that have to live in a sex-saturated society such as ours.

  • Unforetunately one night about a year ago, I stopped at a serious tv documentary which was about a Catholic author who found extensive non marital sexual activity at Catholic colleges which went on to note then the gradual regrets of the females but with this caveat…that the females doing this outnumbered the males doing so but not by much.

  • Something which seems to be downplayed in the article is the belated realization that the annoying evangelicals of the first paragraph had a point.

    I think that both young evangelicals and young Catholics are young; they have things to learn about life. The evangelicals in this case seem to have not learned how to read Janie Fredell so as to speak with a potential ally in a winsome way.

    But Janie herself seems to have misunderstood her circumstances; it took immersion in Harvard to wake her up. Little or no sex amongst unmarried teens in Colorado Springs? I doubt that. The evangelical chastity ring culture may have seemed odd to her, but it grew up as a response to something. It was a rallying cry for Jesus, but also against a threat.

    The whole secular world is engaged in undermining the sexual virtue of the young so as to preemptively undermine their relationship with God before it can grow into something world-changing. From the WWJD shirts to the multicolored bead-bracelets to the chastity rings, evangelical expressions of counter-cultural fervor are like the redness and puffiness of a histamine reaction. They may border on kitch, but they are the signs of an immune system rising up to fight an invader.

    Miss Fredell is a Catholic; I hope however that now that she’s seen the infection up close, she’ll give her evangelical brothers and sisters their due props.

  • Catholics who insist that evangelicals have had a baneful effect on us (as evidenced in the recent sparring with Vox Nova) tend to deny the importance of chastity as a criterion of Christian fidelity. In so doing, they deny the importance of what the Church teaches is the very groundwork of a just society: strong family life. It may take people like Miss Fredell, educated in an elitist environment but respectful of the position of the evangelicals, to help our co-religionists to see the light here.

  • I’m not sure delaying sex until one is 30 is “pro-family.” I take that back, 30 is when they want folks to get married. Abstinance programs tend to delay sex only until 18-21. Certainly that is better than 14 or 16, but that is more a public health issue. If stop gazing at evangelicals long enough, we’ll see that they aren’t retaining their youth either.

    The time between when one is capable of producing a child and when one gets married has traditionally been called adolescence. Our model has now stretched that well past the early twenties. Having a large adolescent culture is not pro-family.

  • MZ, I do have to agree with you – adolescence has been unnaturally extended well beyond its due course. Largely due to materialism I would wager.

  • I take that back, 30 is when they want folks to get married.


  • I’m unclear what relation, if any, MZ’s comment is meant to have with the article quoted.

Dads Need To Make a Comeback

Thursday, March 18, AD 2010

As my daughters get closer and closer to the age of temptation and exploitation- I am ready now to stand up to the dominant culture of casual sex- I don’t know when it was that Dads abandoned their daughters to the so-called sexual revolution- but I’m the Dad now and the girls-as-sex-objects mainstream culture is the Enemy- I’m not abandoning my girls -not now, not ever.

I will be posting more such helpful videos which I am using in my high school religion classes- we must get the word out through the teen ranks. Our young people are being tossed to the wolves into a mass media culture that celebrates porn/womanizers/pimps as comic figures/cougars and other soul-numbing influences. In my own lifetime, I’ve seen the damage done from the Playboy to Penthouse to Hustler to Anything Goes Internet Porn downward spiral.  I am looking to start a movement of Dads to begin protesting outside the ubiquitous strip clubs- to claim some public space where real men educate the public about the real dignity of women. If we don’t want our daughters to grow up to be  perceived as mere sex objects, then we need to evangelize the Culture.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Dads Need To Make a Comeback

Christopher West's Defenders

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

Christopher West came in for some criticism recently, much of it deserved, for his appearance on Nightline. In one sense, I sympathize with the critics. I have heard West speak, and found the simplification (bordering on sensationalization) of certain aspects of Theology of the Body somewhat off-putting. In a perfect world, people would read the writings of John Paull II and others to acquire a sophisticated, nuanced grasp of the subject matter. Nevertheless, that is not the world in which we live. That being the case I think, on balance, West’s work is valuable, difficult, and necessary.

And so I was somewhat surprised to see Dr. Schindler take the recent brouhaha as an opportunity to rather harshly criticize all of West’s work. The tension between academics and popularizers is nothing new (even writers as brilliant as C.S. Lewis and Chesterton had and have their academic detractors); but one would hope for a more restrained and sympathetic treatment given the difficulty of presenting the Catholic understanding of sexuality in the modern United States. I think the following defenses by Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Michael Waldstein help provide a better context for understanding West and his work:

Continue reading...

17 Responses to Christopher West's Defenders

  • Both Doctors may have themselves jumped the gun in criticizing Schindler. I wonder if there are ulterior motives for their quick defense immodesty?

  • Tito,

    I agree that Mr. West occasionally exercises poor judgment with his illustrations, but I think it is unfair to identify a defense of him with a defense of immodesty. Even Dr. Schindler recognizes that his intention is to win as broad a hearing as possible for the Church’s teachings on sexuality.

  • Additionally, I think it is worth noting that Drs. Smith and Waldstein are some of the top scholars in this area. Dr. Waldstein was the translator of JPII’s Theology of the Body lectures and is on the Pontifical Council for the Family. Defenders of immodesty they are not.

  • I thought Jimmy Akin’s response to the Christopher West debate was both evenhanded and on target.

  • Bret,

    I agree. For those interested, it is the first link in the post above.

  • I just wish that West would abandon his claim that what he teaches is Theology of the Body, it’s not, except perhaps in the broadest sense. No way can you reason to his rather gross and immodest conclusions from what the Holy Father taught.

    That said, I don’t think a sweeping negative criticism is called for, more like fraternal correction. West does do a lot of good I think in trying to bring people to greater interest in the Church’s teachings. I think he’s a lot like Scott Hahn in that sense, definitely some problems but overall a good representative.

  • I love Scott Hahn. The Lamb’s Supper, Hail, Holy Queen, and Lord, Have Mercy — though simplistically written — are phenomenonal in their assertions and many of the points.

  • Eric,

    there’s much to said about his story and his presentation, and he provides a great starting point. Helped me a lot when I was ready to start getting serious about my faith.

  • John Henry,

    I agree with your statements.

    I was making a rhetorical statement as to why they would publicly come out as they did. Considering that they are frowning upon how Mr. Schindler has done.

    For me, I appreciate the passion that Christopher West brings to his seminars. I have been fortunate enough to have attended two of his seminars and have come away impressed with how he explains the Theology of the Body. With the exception of his promotion of questionable sexual practices, I find his work very informative which has brought me into better insight in how we can and are capable of behaving when sex is involved.

  • I have heard of Christopher West but never had a chance to read any of his books or attend any of his seminars. Obviously some of the criticism West is getting comes from people who latched onto the sound bite about Hugh Hefner and ignored the context.

    A similar thing happened years ago, when Pope John Paul was giving the series of audience talks that introduced the Theology of the Body concept. Anyone remember the media flap about his alleged claim that it was a sin for a man to “lust after” his wife? Of course he didn’t mean it was wrong to feel ANY sexual desire for one’s spouse; he meant it was wrong to treat one’s spouse as a sex object without regard for their own dignity or feelings. But, that got lost in the mainstream media.

    West has a really difficult job in that he’s preaching to people who aren’t necessarily converted or well catechized. All the “average” person knows when it comes to Catholic teaching on sexuality is that you’re not allowed to have sex before marriage, you’re not supposed to practice birth control, and you’re not even supposed to have “impure” thoughts about anyone.

    To most people who aren’t well versed in Catholic history and doctrine, this sounds very much like a Puritanical approach to sex — an assumption that it’s basically evil and tolerated only for the sake of having children. West has to really go out of his way to overcome this idea and it sounds like he does a good job of it.

    As for West’s alleged immodesty, while that is a legitimate concern, we have to remember that he’s addressing people who have spent their entire lives immersed in a culture of immodesty far worse than anything he promotes. After two generations of Playboy, MTV, Dr. Ruth, Donahue/Oprah/Springer et al., daytime/prime time soaps, Monica Lewinsky, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, etc., etc., most people aren’t going to be shocked by anything Christopher West talks about.

  • Also, I am sure that West’s audiences probably include a lot of married couples who are at different levels of understanding or acceptance of Church teaching on sexuality.

    I’m guessing that at least some of the men who attend are non-practicing or less than observant Catholics dragged there by committed Catholic wives who have tried everything they can think of to steer their husbands away from porn, questionable sexual practices, contraception, etc., without success. West’s approach can at least reassure these guys that if they adopt the mind of the Church on sexuality, it’s not going to “spoil” or take away all their fun, and could make their marriage even better.

    Or the audience might include Catholic men who have tried and failed to convince their non-Catholic or lapsed Catholic wives that the Church doesn’t expect them to spend their lives barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Again, West’s approach might get through to them in a way others can’t.

  • Elaine,

    That doesn’t make sodomy a moral act even if between husband and wife. You just can’t justify suggesting immoral behaviour is acceptable. Finally, while SOME of his audience is in serious sexual sin, many of his audience are committed Catholics who are being scandalized by elements of his teachings.

  • Also, it is a much bigger danger when such errors are taught by a Catholic apparently reflecting the views of a pope, than known sexual deviants.

  • Elaine Krewer writes:

    “All the “average” person knows when it comes to Catholic teaching on sexuality is that you’re not allowed to have sex before marriage, you’re not supposed to practice birth control, and you’re not even supposed to have “impure” thoughts about anyone.”

    And what else does the “average” person need to know about Catholic teaching in order to save their soul and live a holy, sacramental life?

    Your comments drip with disdain for the “average” person who is not an intellectual encumbered with all the ins and outs of dogma and doctrine parsed by self elevated experts like C.W.

    So if you haven’t “bought the book” and “attended the seminar, or cruise” you’re just an “average” person. And I still don’t understand what is so bad about that? This very “average” person is married to a nice Catholic husband and has 8 beautiful children sent to us by God. Rather than horrifying me in its intensity and vulgar graphic nature, I have yet to understand how my life could possibly be improved by subjecting myself to anything that C.W. stands to profit by, or Janet Smith for that matter. Dr. Smith is involved with the Theology of the Body “ministry” or cottage industry depending upon your point of view. She stands to profit directly from the success (I’m speaking financially here) of that ministry.

  • I admit to not being very well versed in Christopher West and am hardly a ‘fan’ of his ministry. I’m also sympathetic to the concerns expressed by Dr. Schindler — his endorsement of anal sex, even as a prelude to ‘normal’ intercourse, in West’s book is understandably controversial (howbeit not without precedent).

    Unfortunately, Dr. Schindler also takes some liberties in presenting an eclectic mix of anecdotes about West out of context — as John Paul II’s original translator Dr. Waldstein notes, “the fact that he cites no texts from West’s work on which to base his four main objections also makes a response difficult.”

    That many of the anecdotes cited contain no further documentation as to their source speaks poorly of Dr. Schindler and doesn’t help his case at all. As one who has benefited from Schindler’s writings, I would have expected more from him.

    [Mary Alexander] I have yet to understand how my life could possibly be improved by subjecting myself to anything that C.W. stands to profit by, or Janet Smith for that matter. Dr. Smith is involved with the Theology of the Body “ministry” or cottage industry depending upon your point of view. She stands to profit directly from the success (I’m speaking financially here) of that ministry.

    Mary — I quite agree that what ‘the average Catholic’ knows about sex (presumably by way of the Catechism), is sufficient unto itself for one’s salvation.

    But I wonder how much if anything you actually know about Janet Smith, to dismiss her work so easily while simultaneously conveying with confidence how much she benefits from West’s writings on ‘Theology of the Body’?

  • Mary, I apologize for having offended you. When I say “average” I don’t mean in the sense of general educational level, income, material possessions, or intelligence. Nor did I mean to imply that being average in this sense is evil or worthy of contempt.

    I mean average in the sense of representing the majority of Catholics whose religious education stops at the grade school level, who do not practice their faith to its fullest extent if indeed they practice it at all, and who spend much of their life immersed in secular culture. I do not mean it as a term of disdain but as a realistic appraisal of where the majority of Catholics are coming from.

    With all due respect, the mere fact that you have “a nice Catholic husband” to whom you are still married, and “8 beautiful children sent to us by God” means that you are NOT “average” in the sense that I use the term. The size of your family puts you well outside the “average” right there. If you and your husband BOTH attend Mass faithfully every Sunday and go to confession frequently, that puts you in the minority as well.

    If you BOTH accept Church teaching about sexuality 100 percent, and do not practice any form of contraception, or even think about doing anything “vulgar” with one another — that is wonderful, and you are greatly blessed. I mean that sincerely. In fact I envy you. But, let’s face it, it does not represent the majority of Catholics.

    Nor does it represent the very real dilemmas faced by couples in which one or both is or has been addicted to or confronted by those things you find so horrifying, and is trying to either overcome them or persuade a resistant or reluctant spouse to do so.

    I realize that we don’t want to encourage a sort of gnosticism that implies that only people with certain “inside” knowledge or resources can attain holiness or virtue. I myself wonder how young struggling families with lots of kids who really want or need to hear someone like, say, Scott Hahn could possibly afford to go on a week-long apologetics cruise! I sure can’t afford to.

    Frankly, whatever “inside” knowledge I have stems from the fact that I once worked for a Catholic newspaper. At that time it was my job to attend seminars and know about this stuff, and we got free copies of a lot of these books. Then I lost my job there and had to go find one in the “real”, i.e. secular, world.

    Everything I know about people like West, Smith, Hahn, etc. today comes off the internet or from books checked out from the library for free. I can’t afford to “buy the book” either. My only other routine exposure to Catholic teaching right now comes from attending Sunday Mass, which by the way, I have to attend ALONE with my daughter because my husband now refuses to go.

    Yes, there was a time when I prided myself on being in the know about all things church related. Today, however, I’m lucky just to make it to Sunday Mass on time and decently dressed. So to some extent, Mary, I kinda know where you’re coming from, and again, I apologize for coming off as some kind of self-appointed expert.

  • While on the subject of Christopher West, Father Angelo Geiger, a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, has a guest post on Dawn Eden’s blog which captures my impression and concerns:

    West is easily interpreted as suggesting that without TOB Catholics have never had any clear vision of what God’s intention for human sexuality was from the beginning. Otherwise, would he not make a greater effort to teach chastity with a hermeneutic of continuity instead of concentrating almost exclusively on a very narrow part of magisterial teaching on human sexuality? It seems he is suggesting that our past has been clouded by puritanism because we did not have TOB, and our future will be the age of the love banquet because we do.

As Long as Nobody Gets Hurt

Monday, December 15, AD 2008

“I think it’s okay as long as nobody gets hurt.”

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?

Continue reading...

6 Responses to As Long as Nobody Gets Hurt

  • Sorry, Ryan. The Prophet Mark Shea has explored these matters with two questions:
    1. What can it hurt?
    2. How were we supposed to know?

  • Excellent evaluation, Ryan.

    Have you read Thomas Howard’s philosophical exploration Chance or the Dance: A Critique of Modern Secularism? — Quick read, but very insightful. With a good chapter on sex. From which is excerpted:

    ‘Masturbation would be a form of solipsism, that is, the attempt to seize a special kind of pleasure (orgasm) that attends the carnal knowledge of the other, when the other is attendant only in fantasy; hence it would represent also a denial of the idea that authentic meaning emerges only from the real union of form (the ritual act between two bodies) and matter (the quest for knowledge of the other). That is, the individual mastubating is seeking one of the benefits of union with the other while at the same time in effect disavowing the importance of the other by acting in solitude. Even in this forlorn act there would be, perhaps, levels of pathos, with the person who at least attempts to try and summon the other in fantasy not sunk quite so far into Gommorah as the person who is aroused and gratified only by the image of his own body.”

  • Gerard E.,

    The prophet Mark Shea.

    That cracks me up!

  • Gerard,

    No need to be sorry. I’m sure you’re familiar with “nothing new under the sun”? Nothing I write to this blog hasn’t been written a million a times over, in variation. All I can do is try to represent the material and hope that maybe I touch some of those who have not been touched yet.

    I do like Mark’s writing, and you’ll probably see a little of his influence in mine.


    Great quote. I haven’t read the book, but I can see it would have been quite useful. Howard stated what I was trying in clearer and yet more succinct terms.

  • Behind much of the “what could it hurt” mentality is the idea that we never need discipline our actions to conform to our will. Because we do not discipline ourselves to control our impulses, the idea of conscience becomes an idea of following our desires without thought to where those desires originate or lead to, ending in the recent election time demonstration that “sin makes you stupid” as Mr. Shea says. Not to mention lack of discipline makes it very hard to act virtuously.

  • Pingback: Don’t Adulterate the Adultery « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective

Sex, the Fall, and the Resurrection

Wednesday, December 10, AD 2008

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.

Continue reading...

20 Responses to Sex, the Fall, and the Resurrection

  • Good post.

    I’d actually be interesting in talking about pornography and masturbation. I once read a statistic that said that roughly 12% of the ENTIRE internet is pornography and that the porn industry made more money than all major sport franchises and major television networks combined. It’s mind-blowing to even think about.

    I think sexuality would make a good chain of posts because it’s the clearest way to present the Catholic vision of the human person and how can we do that, if we ourselves are not equipped and ready to do it?

    I think I’d like to join you on this endeavor. Finals are almost over. I have SO much to talk about.

  • Ryan, your courage is astounding. What we need to do is accelerate efforts to educate the faithful on JP’s Theology Of The Body lectures. The esteemed George Weigel has commented that if these lectures received widespread circulation, this ol planet would turn upside down. Worth a try.

  • Ryan, Eric, et al.: I welcome this discussion, because it’s pretty clear that much of the objection to Catholic teaching (in the West, at least) is over sexual morality. I don’t need to say it to this crowd, but the debate over abortion, gay marriage, and many other issues really hinges on our concept of human sexuality, its forms and its ends. The debate might seem “over” and “lost” in many respects, but opinion can change quickly.

    I wonder, though, if the “Theology of the Body” is a tractable argument to someone who has no theology. How much can we push arguments from reason? Certainly there is solid scientific evidence to support much of the traditional view of sexuality, but is it persuasive and comprehensive enough to the person who rejects Catholic sexual morality not because he is advancing hedonism, but because he thinks “all things in moderation?”

    What I’m trying to say is, few of us know true hedonists. Most of the people we interact with on a daily basis espouse some form of sexual libertarianism — “What consenting adults do in their bedrooms is none of my business.” This is the majority in the middle that is skeptical of what they see as absolutist morality coming from Christianity. This is also the majority that sees no contradiction in telling their teenaged daughter to abstain from premarital sex, but then happily let her tart herself up for the prom. Mixed messages abound.

    As a practical matter, how do we speak to this group?

  • j. christian,

    We use words only when necessary. Some of these folks are lost, no matter what we do or say.

    And I think over 400 years of watching arguments from Natural Law become increasingly unpersuasive would give us a healthy scepticism about attempting to argue metaphysics and anthropology apart from Divine Revelation. Both are needed to make the most cogent argument.

  • Great post, and I admire your working through those struggles.

  • Eric,

    I’d love to have your collaboration on this issue. It is a huge matter to talk about, with plenty enough to for everyone to have their say and still have leftovers. My plan was to post about masturbation on Monday, pre-marital and extramarital sex on Wednesday, and homosexuality and other topics on Friday, but all that is open to adjustment. What do you have in mind?

    j. christian,

    Indeed, the argument that the misuse of human sexuality pits body against soul means nothing to a materialist (or someone from other groups that see the flesh as only temporary). About the only way to proceed with someone like that is in a Socratic line of inquiry, hoping to get him to admit that there’s dignity behind the human person, and that even with just the material to work with, the human person is more than just a body.

    But then, perhaps only a crisis situation will bring such a person about. One of things that drew me back to the Church was, essentially, that the Church’s teachings, as a hypothesis, perfectly explained the evidence I’d encountered, and that brilliant flash of insight, once kindled, burned for more. Before that, I would have argued to the death that masturbation is not only good but necessary; that pornography was perfectly legitimate; and that artificial birth control was a viable means of avoiding pregnancy.

    So to an extent, I think that one of the best things we can do is clearly state, in entirety, what Catholic thought is on the matter of sexuality. People might completely disagree with the Church, but maybe if they have the full picture, something will click. (But then, if it happened with me, it should happen with everyone, right?)

  • Following on J. Christian’s question — I think most people would, given the name, not consider “theology of the body” an attractrive term, since they’re too used to thinking of sex as being a necessary condiment to be sprinkled freely and generously on one’s life.

    And yet, for all that it’s often taken rather casually, most people (women probably more than men) seem to have a sort of Platonic first-knowledge that sex does mean something and more to the point ought to mean something.

    So I think there’s a hunger of sorts for explanations of what sex means and how it can give life meaning — though the challenge is to present this in a way that sounds like a “holistic lifestyle” (to use the new-agey parlance) rather than “a bunch of rules”.

  • http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n20_v40/ai_6701958/pg_3?tag=artBody;col1

    BTW, here is AJ Ayer’s account – to his surprise – of experiencing brain function after the body stops.

  • OK guys. This is my first post and I see a little too much inbred back slapping going on. So here is some Ultra Kudos from outside the gene pool. Great post.

    I am not Catholic. I wish I could be a member of this community, but I have two stupid divorces that I refuse to annul because I will not let my decisions when I was younger and dumber be washed away. I am very proud to be in a happy, loving marriage now because of the hard lessons I hung on myself in years gone by. I shall always see myself as an example of never give up on life’s true treasures (and let your parents fix you up when all seems lost).

    That being said, the teaching of the Church and rational for our existence on this earth, as you alluded to, are indespensible to the future of mankind and we (if I may be so bold) should never give up on the truth and meaning of our life now.

    Keep me informed. I will pass the word. Bless you all.

  • Texas Tom,

    We’re very happy to hear from you and appreciate your blessing (and passing on the word). I wonder, though: could you clarify on what you mean by “I will not let my decisions when I was younger and dumber be washed away”? Or how you perceive annulments as accomplishing this? There might be a misunderstanding here that, once clarified, might just open the path for you into the Church. (No pressure, though–if you don’t wish to discuss it, that’s fine. This can be an intensely private matter that maybe shouldn’t be just posted on the internet for anybody to see.)

  • Ryan, a strained construction of a personal trait.
    I accept full responsibility for my actions and as far as I am, in investigating my options with regard to requesting entry into the Catholic faith, I see and annulment of my two previous marriages as the only way to be a full participant in all the Church has to offer. Annulment sounds like finding a technicality to invalidate the now “inconvenient” moral bonds. (CCC 2384-2387)
    So I can’t, as yet, see a way clear for me to accept that what I did of my own free will and in an informed state can be nullified and my conscience remain clear.
    I had no faith based training as and adult and was not aware of the ramifications of these actions. Heck, my folk dragged me to an Episcopalian church when I was 4-6 for Right and Wrong training and the free Polio vaccines at the health center that was open on Sunday to catch all the little boys and girls.

    As far as privacy… I am a great example of walking, talking oops. I learn from my errors an I always hope someone will look and note that life’s lessons are only lessons when they are known. So, I share and I feel real nice anybody takes an interest in what I have to say.

    I’ll go on a pun rampage later. For now I will curb my inner comedian. (Smile)

  • Texas Tom,

    God is merciful.

    If you accept your past transgressions, but more importantly, ask for forgiveness, then you’re good (to enter the Church).

    What you are doing to yourself sounds like purgatory on Earth. God is the sole judge to determine what cleansing you need to go through, hence why we have Purgatory.

    I’ll let the others help explain better than I can. But if you need more information here is a good starting point –>

    See defintion of Purgatory with all the Bible passages and Church teaching: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm

  • Hey, Tito. I am a happy and grateful man with a wonderful life and an iquisitive nature. Darn tootin’ God is merciful! Heck, He has this blessed life gig down pat and I’ll back his play any day. I do not punish myself or feel deprived in any way and I love being a stand up guy who can give some practical advice to someone who won’t take God’s word for it. (Ha, ha. Almost a pun)
    I will talk to a priest soon to get more first hand low down. I was in a bit of funk about having a Catholic rug pulled out from under me because of my past, but I am still very uninformed about the nuts and bolts of where I may be headed.
    Quick lesson: If you are in the dark over the answer to a question … Maybe it’s a good time to take a nap. When you wake up, ask someone who might know the answer. Then get some hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream. Chocolate is one of God’s blessing too, ain’t it?

  • Texas Tom,

    First, sorry this is so late in coming. I typical am not around a computer with access to the internet on the weekends.

    Second, annulments are not simply trying to find technicalities. They really aren’t the Catholic answer to divorce. There’s a fair amount of theology behind it, especially in how the married couple image the Trinity, but the quick and dirty is this.

    A marriage between two baptized Christians is sacramental and in no way can be broken. The question remains whether a marriage truly existed in the first place. Normally, what looks like a marriage is treated as thus, but closer examination could reveal that one or both of the couple went into the marriage with discernible reservations. A valid marriage must be free, full, faithful, and fruitful.

    A violation of the first would be if you discovered you were closely related to your intended, such as brother-sister, step siblings, in line of descent, and so on. That doesn’t happen often, but given how fractured our society is becoming, I’d be surprised if it didn’t creep up now and then. Another example would be if one of two was already married (such as divorced without an annulment, or even engaged in polygamy).

    A violation of full is best described as “I married him because I was worried he was my last chance.” Full entails full devotion, full giving of the self to the other. This is why women who marry when they discover they’re pregnant tend to be found in an invalid marriage–they married because they were scared of having to raise a kid alone, or were trying to do the respectful thing and marry the father, and either of this conditions could very easily get in the way of the full giving of self. Another, darker example, would be to get married simply because then you’re guaranteed sex with your spouse. Anytime one of the couple goes into the marriage with more of an intent to use the other (be the intent benign or malevolent), the full condition is violated.

    The faithful condition should be fairly obvious. The simplest way to describe a violation is if one or both of the couple doesn’t mean “till death do we part”, but rather “until it becomes inconvenient”. But it can also be violated by wandering eyes (even if they only wander to underwear ads in the magazine), which entail a desire for more physical arousal than what the marriage provides.

    The fruitful condition doesn’t mean that kids have to be present, but it does mean that the couple needs to be open to children in the conjugal act. A couple that marries fully intent on contracepted sex, fully intent on preventing any children in their union, is a couple that violates the fruitful condition.

    Moreover, you’ll find that most violations do not simply fall into one category or another, but span several. Sometimes the problems are obvious; other times obscure.

    The point, though, is not get out of a marriage, but to understand whether or not the marriage was valid to begin with. Getting it right is important, more so than personal pride. To top that, an annulment is a difficult thing for the couple to handle even after it is granted. Consider what happens if nullity is declared, you happen to be at fault. That means you have to do some–undoubtedly painful–soul-searching, praying, and rebuilding of your moral life before you can move beyond that declaration. Some people have received a declaration of nullity, but have been prohibited from marrying again until they show proper signs of repentance and maturation.

    I don’t know if this helps any, and it will probably be a small portion of what a priest will tell you. But the main point is this: a declaration of nullity is not a cakewalk, and it doesn’t simply give you a free pass on mistakes or broken commitments in the past. I would definitely encourage talking with a priest, and I hope that goes well.

  • As a former Catholic who formally defected from the Catholic Church over
    fake annulments, this quote, I assert with experience, is false and dangerous:

    “Second, annulments are not simply trying to find technicalities. They really aren’t the Catholic answer to divorce. There’s a fair amount of theology behind it, especially in how the married couple image the Trinity, but the quick and dirty is this.”

    Our marriage was intentionally undermined by catholic priests and the annulment process and it remain under attack, with the full knowledge of the local ordinaries and the Pope as well as the new head of the Papal Signatura, Raymond Burke.

    The Catholic Church has sold its soul to the Devil regarding marriages. I do not care what statistics you cite or the canonists or priests you have who can defend your position. I know what I continue to experience and the Catholic Church can act but WILL NOT ACT to work towards healing a valid marriage that its own Roman Courts found valid after the corrupt American Tribunals and many priests and laity have aided and abetted open and permanent adultery!

    If the Pope gave a darn he would send me a ticket with an open eneded audience to inform him of what I have seen in person. HE DOES NOT CARE! He listens to his bishops and priests who are corrupted thoroughly.

    He fiddles while Rome burns.

  • Karl, I will pray for your healing. As regards the terrible experience you have met with the clergy, I can only offer sympathies. They are as human as the rest of us, but they have a greater duty to uphold the dignity of their office. That they failed for you is a grave tragedy. Please, if you will, pray for these men who you believe have betrayed your trust, that they might see the error in their ways.

  • “but WILL NOT ACT to work towards healing a valid marriage”

    Karl the Catholic Church was not responsible for the fact that you and your wife had a marriage that fell apart. The idea that but for the Catholic Church you would have gotten your wife back is unlikely in the extreme based upon the facts that you have disclosed in the past in numerous postings on other Catholic websites. Your wife ran off with someone else and got pregnant by him. The idea that anything done by the Church would have gotten her to return to you may give you comfort, but simply does not comport with reality. When someone is willing to commit adultery the idea that not granting them an anullment will cause them to return to their spouse is risible. I think you probably know this deep down but for some reason you have decided to make the Church the target of your bitterness and grief over the fact that your wife did not want to continue to live with you.

  • Mr. Harkins,

    I will continue to pray for the Church and those clerics and the vast majority of laypeople who really do support adultery and whose support encourages unending abuses by the clergy including the bishops and the Popes.

    These clerics are hard-hearted men unwilling to listen to those of us who have seen their corruption first hand. The Pope knows well of the corruption and encourages it through his failure to address these issues with those of us who raise them and his unwillingness to provide a simple recourse against corruption. His failure to help us root out those who have done us wrong means he has joined in their wrongs and he should resign the papacy, forthwith. He coddles priests who openly encourage adultery and all types of crimes against innocent spouses. He knows his fellow bishops are corrupted and care little about truth and the damage their practice does.

    They did not fail me or our marriage. They deliberately chose to do all they could to destroy it and they still do. The evil is incredible in the Catholic clergy. To me failure means there was a desire to to good. I am certain, otherwise, about the efforts of the Catholic Church in these regards.

  • Pingback: I’ll Take Her on a Test Drive « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective
  • Pingback: From Around the Web: Worth a Look « Vox Nova