Human Sexuality and Freedom – Part II

 

ON GOODNESS AND CHOICES

 

THERE is something else that must be said about the creation of man and woman that was determined “in the beginning.” And if we don’t understand this, if we don’t grasp this, then any discussion of morality, of right or wrong choices, of following God’s designs, risks casting the discussion of human sexuality into a sterile list of prohibitions. And this, I am certain, would only serve to deepen the divide between the Church’s beautiful and rich teachings on sexuality, and those who feel alienated by her.

The truth is that not only are we all created in God’s image, but also:

God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. (Gen 1:31)

 

WE ARE GOOD, BUT FALLEN

We are made in God’s image, and therefore, made in the image of He who is Goodness itself. As the Psalmist wrote:

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)

The Blessed Virgin Mary was looking at the perfect reflection of herself when she held Christ in her arms because her whole life was in perfect harmony with her Creator. God wills this harmony for us too.

Now we all, to varying degrees, have the capacity to do what every other creature in creation does: eat, sleep, hunt, gather, etc. But because we are made in God’s image, we also have the capacity to love. And thus, it should be no surprise to find a couple who are living out of wedlock who are also good parents. Or two co-habiting homosexuals who are very generous. Or a husband addicted to pornography who is an honest worker. Or an atheist who is a selfless servant in an orphanage, etc. Evolutionists have often failed to account, beyond speculation and the limited field of science, for why we desire to be good, or even what love is. The Church’s answer is that we are created in the image of Him who is both Good and Love itself, and thus, there is a natural law within us guiding us toward these ends. [1] Just as gravity keeps the earth in orbit around the sun, it is this very goodness—the “gravity” of love—that keeps mankind in harmony with God and all creation.

However, that harmony with God, one another, and all creation was broken with the fall of Adam and Eve. And thus we see another principle at work: the ability to do wrong, to be driven toward serving selfish ends. It is precisely into this interior battle between the desire to do good and the urge to do evil that Jesus entered to “save us.” And that which liberates us is truth.

Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 3

Pornography is the icon of a “civilization of love” without truth. It is the desire to love, to be loved, and have relationship—but without the truth of our sexuality and its intrinsic meaning. So too, other sexual forms of expression, while seeking to be “good”, can also be a distortion of truth. What we are called to do is bring that which is in “disorder” into “order.” And Our Lord’s mercy and grace are there to help us.

This is to say that we must acknowledge and foster the good in others. But we also cannot let the good we see turn compassion into “sentimentality” where that which is immoral is simply swept under the carpet. The mission of the Lord is also that of the Church: to participate in the salvation of others. This cannot be accomplished in self-deception but only in truth.

 

REDISCOVERING MORAL ABSOLUTES

And that is where morality enters in. Morals, that is, laws or rules, help to enlighten our conscience and guide our actions according to the common good. Yet, why is there the notion in our times that our sexuality is a “free for all” that should be completely unmoored from any kind of morality?

Just like all of our other bodily functions, are there laws that govern our sexuality and order it toward health and happiness? For example, we know if we drink too much water, hyponatremia can set in and even kill you. If you eat too much, obesity can kill you. If you even breathe too fast, hyperventilation can cause you to collapse. So you see, we have to govern even our intake of such goods as water, food, and air. Why do we think, then, that the improper governance of our sexual appetite does not also bear serious consequences? The facts tell a different story. Sexually transmitted diseases have become epidemic, divorce rates are soaring, pornography is destroying marriages, and human trafficking has exploded in nearly every part of the world. Could it be that our sexuality also has boundaries that keep it in balance with our spiritual, emotional, and physical health? Moreover, what and who determines those boundaries?

Morals exist to guide human behavior toward one’s own good and the common good. But they are not arbitrarily derived, as we discussed in Part I. They flow from the natural law which “expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties.” [2]

But the grave danger in our time is the separation of ethics and morals from the natural law. This danger is further obscured when “rights” are secured solely by “popular vote.” History bears the fact that even the majority of populations can begin to embrace as “moral” something which is contrary to “goodness.” Look no further than the past century. Slavery was justified; so was restricting women’s right to vote; and of course, Nazism was democratically implemented by the people. This is all to say that there is nothing so fickle as majority opinion.

This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the “right” ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Evangelium Vitae, “The Gospel of Life”, n. 18, 20

These are strange times when a self-proclaimed “gay atheist” is questioning the Catholic Church in Ireland, not for her teachings, but for ‘the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case.’ He goes on to question:

Can’t these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters’ arithmetic? …can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he’d better defer to Moloch-worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do? It must surely be implicit in the claim of any of the world’s great religions that on questions of morality, a majority may be wrong… —Matthew Parris, The Spectator, May 30th, 2015

Parris is absolutely right. The fact that the moral foundations of modern society are shifting with barely a fight is because truth and reason have been eclipsed by weak Church-men who have compromised truth out of fear or self-gain.

…we need knowledge, we need truth, because without these we cannot stand firm, we cannot move forward. Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing. It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves. —POPE FRANCIS, Lumen Fidei, Encyclical Letter, n. 24

This series on Human Sexuality and Freedom is intended to challenge all of us to ask if we are, in fact, deceiving ourselves, if we have convinced ourselves that the “freedom” we are expressing through our sexuality in the media, in music, in the way we dress, in our conversations, and in our bedrooms, is rather enslaving both ourselves and others? The only way to answer this question is to “awaken” the truth of who we are and rediscover the foundations of morality. As Pope Benedict warned:

Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk… In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010

Yes! We have to awaken the truth about our goodness. Christians have to go beyond debate and out into the world alongside the lost, bleeding, and even those who reject us, and let them see us contemplating their goodness. In this way, through love, we may find a common ground for the seeds of truth. We may find the possibility to awaken in others the “memory” of who we are: sons and daughters made in the image of God. For as Pope Francis said, we are suffering from “a massive amnesia in our contemporary world”:

The question of truth is really a question of memory, deep memory, for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path. —POPE FRANCIS, Lumen Fidei, Encyclical Letter, 25

 

HUMAN REASON AND MORALITY

“We must obey God rather than men.”

That was Peter and the Apostles’ response to the leaders of their people when they were ordered to stop their teachings. [3] It should also be the response of our courts, legislatures and lawmakers today. For the natural law we discussed in Part I is not an invention of man nor the Church. It is, again, “nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God.” [4] Of course, some might retort that they don’t believe in God and therefore are not bound by the natural law. However, the “moral code” written into creation itself transcends all religions and can be perceived by human reason alone.

Take for example an infant boy. He has no idea why he has that “thing” down there. It makes no sense to him whatsoever. However, when he reaches the age of reason, he learns that that “thing” continues to make no sense apart from the female genitalia. So too, a young woman can also reason that her sexuality makes no sense apart from the male sex. They are a complementary. This can be understood by human reason alone. I mean, if a one year old can teach himself to put a round toy peg in a round hole, the idea that sexually explicit education in classrooms is “essential” becomes a bit of a farce, exposing an agenda of another kind…

That said, our human reason has become darkened by sin. And thus the truths of our human sexuality are often obscured.

The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known “by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), n. 1960

That is the role, in part, of the Church. Christ entrusted her with the mission to “teach everything” that Our Lord taught. This includes not only the Gospel of faith, but the moral Gospel as well. For if Jesus said that the truth will set us free, [5] it would seem imperative that we would know precisely what those truths are that liberate us, and those which enslave. Thus the Church was commissioned to teach both “faith and morals.” She does so infallibly through the Holy Spirit, who is “the Church’s living memory”, [6] by virtue of Christ’s promise:

…when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. (John 16:13)

Again, why am I pointing this out in a discussion on human sexuality? Because what good is it to discuss what is in fact morally “right” or “wrong” f rom the Church’s perspective unless we understand what the point of reference of the Church is? As Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco stated:

When the culture can no longer apprehend those natural truths, then the very foundation of our teaching evaporates and nothing we have to offer will make sense.Cruxnow.com, June 3rd, 2015

 

THE VOICE OF THE CHURCH TODAY

The point of reference of the Church is the natural law and the revelation of God through Jesus Christ. They are not mutually exclusive but comprise a unity of truth from one common source: the Creator.

The natural law, the Creator’s very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices. It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community. Finally, it provides the necessary basis for the civil law with which it is connected, whether by a reflection that draws conclusions from its principles, or by additions of a positive and juridical nature.CCC, n. 1959

The Church’s role then is not in competition with the State. Rather, it is to provide an infallible moral guiding-light for the State in its function to provide for, organize, and govern the common good of society. I like to say that the Church is the “mother of happiness.” For at the heart of her mission is bringing men and women into the “glorious freedom of the children of God.” [7] because “for freedom Christ set us free.” [8]

The Lord is concerned with not only our spiritual welfare but our bodily as well (for soul and body constitute a single nature), and therefore the Church’s maternal care extends also to our sexuality. Or one could say, her wisdom extends to the “bedroom” since “there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.” [9] That is to say that what happens in the bedroom is a concern of the Church because all our actions affect the way we relate to and interact with others on other levels, spiritually and psychologically, outside of the bedroom. Thus, authentic “sexual freedom” is also part of God’s design for our happiness, and that happiness is intrinsically tied to truth.

The Church [therefore] intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of States and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Vatican, March 20, 2006

 

In Part III, a discussion on sex in the context of our inherent dignity.

 

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Human Sexuality and Freedom – Part I

ON THE ORIGINS OF SEXUALITY

 

There is a full-blown crisis today—a crisis in human sexuality. It follows in the wake of a generation that is almost entirely un-catechized on the truth, beauty, and goodness of our bodies and their God-designed functions. The following series of writings is a frank discussion on the subject that will cover questions regarding alternative forms of marriage, masturbation, sodomy, oral sex, etc. Because the world is discussing these issues every day on radio, television and the internet. Does the Church have nothing to say on these matters? How do we respond? Indeed, she does—she has something beautiful to say.

“The truth will set you free,” Jesus said. Perhaps this is no more true than in matters of human sexuality. This series is recommended for mature readers… First published in June, 2015. 

 

LIVING on the farm, the fecundity of life is everywhere. On any given day, you could walk out the back door and see horses or cattle mating, cats purring for a partner, pollen blowing off a Spruce tree, or bees pollinating flowers. The impetus to create life is written in every living creature. In fact, in most of the animal and plant kingdom, creatures and organisms exist, as it were, to reproduce, propagate, and do it all over again the next year. Sex is an integral and beautiful part of creation. It is a living miracle day in and day out as we witness before our very eyes the powerful “Word” at the dawn of creation continuing to ripple throughout the universe:

…let them abound on the earth, and be fertile and multiply on it. (Gen 1:17)

 

THE LAW OF LIFE

After creating the world and filling it with life, God said He would do something even greater. And that is create something, or rather, someone who would be made in His very image.

God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)

Like the rest of creation, the human race was conceived according to the “rhythm of nature” with the command to “be fertile and multiply” but with the addition to “fill the earth and subdue it.” [1] Mankind, sharing in the very nature of God, was set as steward and master over all creation—and that mastery includes, therefore, his very own created body.

What was his body intended for? To be fertile and multiply. Clearly, our genitals bear a truth all on their own. That is to say that a “natural law” is written in creation, written into our very bodies.

The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1955

And that law says that our sexuality is foremost for reproduction. A man produces seed; a woman produces an egg; and when united, the man and woman produce a unique life. Therefore, the natural law

dictates that our sexual organs are designed to reproduce life. That is a simple law patterned generally throughout all of creation, and man is no exception to it.

However, what would happen if the animal and plant kingdom disobeyed the laws by which they are governed? What if they ceased to follow the instincts by which they are driven? What would happen to those species? What would happen if the moon ceased to follow its orbit around the earth, and the earth its orbit around the sun? What consequences would unfold? Clearly, it would endanger the existence of those species; it would endanger life on earth. The “harmony” of creation would be broken.

Likewise, what would happen if man and woman ceased to follow the natural laws which are written into their very own bodies? What would happen if they purposely interfered with these functions? The consequences would be the same: a break in harmony that brings disorder, negates life, and even produces death.

 

MORE THAN A CREATURE

To this point, I have only addressed man and woman as essentially another species. But we know that man and woman are more than a mere “animal”, more than a “by-product of evolution”. [2]

Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God’s creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved. If man were merely the fruit of either chance or necessity, or if he had to lower his aspirations to the limited horizon of the world in which he lives, if all reality were merely history and culture, and man did not possess a nature destined to transcend itself in a supernatural life, then one could speak of growth, or evolution, but not development.—POPE BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n.29

That is to say again that man and woman are made “in the image of God.” Unlike animals, man has been given a soul that he did not and cannot create by himself since the soul is the “spiritual principle” [3] of man.

…every spiritual soul is created immediately by God—it is not “produced” by the parents…CCC, n. 365

Our soul is what sets us apart from all creation: that is, we are also spiritual beings. According to the Catechism, ‘The unity of the soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body…their union forms a single nature.’ [4] The reason we are created as such is pure gift: God created us in His image for himself in order that we could share in His love. And thus, ‘Of all visible creatures, only man is “able to know and love his creator.”’ [5]

As such, our sexuality, then, takes on a “theology”. Why? Because if we are created “in the image of God”, and our soul and body form a single nature, then our bodies are part of the reflection of the “image of God.” This “theology” is just as important as the “natural law” explained above, and in fact flows from it. For while the natural law informs the purely biological function of our human sexuality and to some extent our relationship to one another (i.e. a male organ is designed for a female organ and therefore the basis of a relationship between the two sexes), the theology of our bodies explains their spiritual significance (and therefore the nature of the relationship between the two sexes). Thus , the theology and natural law that governs our bodies are likewise “one.” When we understand this, then we can begin to categorize sexual activities into moral categories of what is right, and what is wrong. This is essential because to go against the natural law is to break a harmony within ourselves and with God that can leave no other consequence than the loss of inner peace, which in turn leads to a break in harmony with one another. [6]

 

THE THEOLOGY OF THE BODY

Turning again to Genesis, note that it says of both male and female:

God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)

That is, together, “male” and “female” reflect the image of God.

Although man and woman are part of creation, we are set apart because man and woman, together, form His very image. Not only man as such, not only woman as such, but rather man and woman, as a couple, are the image of God. The difference between them is not a question of contrast or subordination, but instead of communion and generation, always in the image and semblance of God. —POPE FRANCIS, Rome, April 15th, 2015; LifeSiteNews.com

Therefore, ‘the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God… not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons… equal as persons… and complementary as masculine and feminine.’ [7] It is in this complementary that we discover the theology within our sexual natures.

If we are made “in the image of God”, then that means that we are made in the image of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But how can this translate to only two persons—male and female? The answer lies in the revelation that God is love. As Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) wrote:

God is love in the interior life itself of the one divinity. This love is revealed as an ineffable communion of Persons.Valutazioni su Max Scheler in Metafisica della persona, p. 391-392; quoted in Conjugal Chastity in Pope Wojtyla by Ailbe M. O’Reilly, p. 86

Love, as the divine essence, is expressed as such:

The Father who begets loves the Son who is begotten, and the Son loves the Father with a love which is identical with that of the Father… But their mutual Gratification, their reciprocal Love, proceeds in them and from them as a person: The Father and the Son “spirate” the Spirit of Love consubstantial with them. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, cited in Conjugal Chastity in Pope Wojtyla by Ailbe M. O’Reilly, p. 86

From the Love of the Father and Son a third Person proceeds, the Holy Spirit. Thus, man and woman, made in the image of God, also reflect this divine essence through both body and soul (since they constitute one nature): a man and woman so completely love one another, body and soul, that from this reciprocal love proceeds a third person: a child. Furthermore, Our sexuality, expressed in marriage—which is the reflection of the oneness and unity of God—is a pattern of the Trinity’s interior life.

Indeed, so profound is this union between man and woman that Scripture says, “the two of them become one flesh.” [8] Through sex, their bodies truly become “one”, as it were; and this unity extends to the soul. As St. Paul writes:

…do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.” (1 Cor 6:16)

Thus, we have the basis for monogamy: marital union with a single other. This union is what is called “marriage”. It’s exclusivity is founded on the fact that the two become one. To break that “covenant” then the-2-shall-become-oneis to break the bond that occurs between a man and a woman that runs deeper than skin and bones—it goes to the very heart and soul. No book of theology or canon law is necessary for a man or woman to understand the depth of betrayal that occurs when that bond is broken. For it’s a law that, when broken, breaks the heart.

Finally, the creation of other persons within this marital bond generates a new society called the “family.” And thus is formed a unique and irreplaceable cell in the continuity of the human race.

The definition of marriage, then, proceeds from both the natural law and theology of the body. Marriage pre-dates the State, is not defined by the State, nor can it be, since it proceeds from an order established by God Himself from “the beginning.” [9] Thus the Supreme Courts throughout the world have only one task in this regard: to reject any redefinition of that which cannot be redefined.

In the next part, we continue our thought by reflecting on the need for morality or a “moral code” since the natural law de facto creates one.

 

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Living Your Vocation Like a Good Shepherd

In John 10:11-18 Jesus presents three distinct characters; the Good Shepherd, the hired hand, and the wolf. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He lays his life down for his sheep. FYI: you’re the sheep.

So, what is the take away? Well, first off, Jesus loves us enough to die for us, and he does so knowing us. We are not a nameless sheep. He knows us, and we know him. At least we do if we are his sheep. Take a moment to really hear that. Jesus goes out of his way to tell us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows you. Too often the concept that God died for “us” creeps into our mind, and we forget that God died for me. The Good Shepherd knows the sheep.

The second take away is a reminder that as followers of Christ we are supposed to be imitators of Christ. We are supposed to be like him. That means in our daily lives we should be seeking to offer our lives for others, the way he offers his life for us. That doesn’t just mean offering up the annoying circumstances of life. Listen to Jesus’ words about how he gives his life:

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).

Sounds like he is talking about something more than getting stuck in traffic and “offering it up.” Jesus’ sacrifice is more than incidental. It is intentional.

Imitating the Good Shepherd in Marriage

We too are called to intentionally offer our lives as “living sacrifices.” Most often that is going to take place within the context of our vocation, or state of life. Want to see the Good Shepherd lived out in a marriage? Watch the joyful self sacrifice of a father who wakes up before the sun to head to work so that he can sustain and support his wife and children.

There is a lot of death to self that happens when you rise at o’dark thirty. There is a real laying down of one’s life. Or, watch the wife, who manages the household with joy, so as to foster a happy, healthy home, where the love of God can be tangibly experienced. Married life is a powerful example of living out the call to be like Christ, the Good Shepherd … at least, it can be.

The Hired Worker

Remember the second character, the hired worker? Well, too often this character is seen in married life. Rather than participating in the sacrifice of Christ, this person ends up acting out the life of the hired servant. I have been this guy far too often. It is the grumbling father who just wants to sit on the couch and be served, forgetting to serve. If you have ever found yourself keeping a mental ledger of what you are doing verses what your spouse is doing, then you are probably slipping into the hired servant category. The hired servant has a place. He does stuff, but he does stuff so that he can be rewarded.

In marriage, service should not be tied to reward. When times are good, the hired servant is fine. But, when the proverbial excrement hits that fan, the hired servant crumbles and runs. Again, living your vocation in the example of Christ, we had to remember that Christ did not run from the Cross. He did not come out swinging. He offers his life. He made himself totally present to the Cross. When trial and challenge faces your vocation, it isn’t time to go on a guys golf trip, or on a girls escape weekend. It is time to carry the cross, not for yourself, but for the sake of the beloved.

The Wolf

Not to be forgotten is the wolf. The wolf seeks to destroy, kill, and devour. You would be a fool to think there is no evil. You would be a fool to think that your holy marriage is not something the devil would like to destroy. The hired servant does not even look out for the wolf. He is taken by surprise and runs when it appears. If you are not actively seeking to strengthen your marriage and protect your marriage you might be the hired servant.

The Good Shepherd would rather lay down his life than abandon the sheep. I cannot help but remember St. Paul’s words in Ephesians, chapter six:

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

You don’t put on armor unless you’re expecting a fight. St. Paul tells us to put it on and to be ready. In marriage that means standing guard against the temptations of the world, and being ready to rebuke them in Jesus’ name. Sloth, lust, arrogance, etc. Be on guard, and when the devil whispers his lies and temptations, be ready to fight. Better to die fighting than to give up the sheep.

Jesus calls us to imitate him. He tells us that we too are called to lay down our lives. It is not an incidental offering, but an intentional one. Most often, the place you will be called to imitate the shepherd is in your vocation. It is only in giving up our lives that we truly live.

The Vortex

Deadly Dads

What a prize it is to have a killer father.

May 21, 2018  120 Comments

TRANSCRIPT

With the approach of Father’s Day, we wanted to reach out on the subject of masculinity — manhood. The culture has denuded the concept of masculinity. It has robbed most young men of any living memory of what manhood is really all about, and for Catholic men in particular to have fallen prey to the notion of “toxic masculinity” is to bring about the end of civilization. There is a toxic masculinity and we see it evidenced in gangs and Hollywood role models of violent sexually-aggressive males and arrogant professional athletes who think the sun rises and sets in their physical prowess.

But radical feminists have seen fit to lump anything and everything that is authentically masculine into the category of “Toxic Masculinity.” Funny how they miss that they themselves are prime examples of toxic feminism, but that’s another topic. Manhood — which is properly ordered to protection through sacrifice — requires all those qualities of authentic masculinity: discipline, strength, focus, drive, persistence, comradery, obedience, self-control. Manhood is all about protecting the weak, making those in our care safe. Men provide safety and security and they do this at the cost of themselves.

In short: real men are tough, first with themselves.

They aren’t self-indulgent cry babies. They die to protect and defend the community. In the natural order, this has most often been evidenced historically in the fact that men go to war. They are more physically equipped for it than women. And that’s not discrimination. It’s just a fact, even if there might be a rare exception here and there. But you don’t build the defense of an entire nation around exceptions.

All of this twisted thinking about toxic masculinity being the same as manhood has infiltrated deeply into the thinking of Church leaders these days, and they are wrong. Catholic men — real men — are the pressing need for the Church right now, at this moment in history. In truth that is always the case, but some moments in our sacred history are more urgent that others and, behold, we are in one of those moments.

So what is a Catholic man?

Well, manhood, as we said, is about providing safety and security to those we love and care about. That is manhood on the natural level. And please note that even the most committed atheist can be a spectacular father on the mere natural level. He can hold down three jobs, deprive himself of sleep, work seven days a week, find time to teach his boys manners and civility and go to their sporting events. That is natural virtue — and recall, the ‘vir’ in virtue is Latin for man, as in male. But when we introduce the Catholic aspect of manhood into the manhood definition, things become greatly elevated.

My first concern, as a Catholic man, is that you get to Heaven because the Catholic man is both supernatural as well as natural. He exercises his virtue on two different planes at the same time. He protects your body, but he most importantly protects your soul. Both matter. One matters more — much more. In order to be an authentically Catholic man, the man must be above all a man of prayer. All authentic manhood is derived from God and the loving example of the Father — the first person of the Blessed Trinity — whose first, but not only, concern for us is our soul.

But remember His Divine Son, who, out of love and protection and safety for us, He did not spare, gave us a glimpse and revealed that His concern for us is so manifold that even every hair of your head is counted by Him. Prayer is relationship to God. It’s all we will do in eternity, please God, be in perfect relationship with God, known completely by Him and knowing that we are completely known by Him.

This is the example of the Father to us. So authentic Catholic men are men of prayer because that is, when the final guns go off, being in closest relation to God, which is the perfect definition of Heaven. So men who do not pray — or pray a little — can never be authentically Catholic men. They might begin to approach that goal. They will never embrace it into themselves.

But now we encounter a problem. For too long, men have stayed somewhat out of touch with religion and prayer, at least on a regular basis. It’s viewed, if even subconsciously, as women’s work. Church and the parish, etc., being somehow relegated to the haunt of the feminine. Given the dismal state of most parishes these days, that’s not a totally unjustified opinion, but it is still incorrect. The Eternal Logos, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, came to earth and assumed the flesh of, not just humanity, not just mankind, but of a male — a flesh and blood body of a man.

If that doesn’t instantly and completely blow up the the thought of “religion is for women,” then you’re brain dead. Men must be in communion with Heaven, and that is done specifically through prayer. In fact, the definition of prayer is being in communion with Heaven.

And allow us to suggest that a perfect prayer for men is: the Rosary. It takes discipline. It takes focus. It takes exercising will power. It needs sheer force to form the habit. It requires sacrifice, concentration and dedication — in short, all the qualities that make a man, a man; a Catholic man.

The Holy Rosary is anything but feminine. Most of the great saints and holy men of the past nearly thousand years prayed it incessantly — giant men, warriors of the faith. It is precisely why I wrote the book The Weapon — to dispel the notion quietly residing in many guys’ minds that the Rosary is more of a girl thing.

Not sure why that thought is there, but there seems to be some reality to it. It’s why Catholics always talk about the “little old ladies in the back of the Church” saying the Rosary. That is just wrong. The Rosary is a weapon, a deadly weapon to Satan.

Dads praying the Rosary are killer dads, deadly dads to the sworn enemy of their families: the serpent. It’s a Gatling gun lighting up the diabolical with a ferocious incoming assault — the ammo clip being provided by our 12-star general, the Mother of God, who commands that this be prayed. To rattle men’s cages and wake them up to the need to become warriors, soldiers, militants literally armed with their Rosary weapons, we are making a special offer for Father’s Day.

From now until Father’s Day, we are making The Weapon available for just $15 — two for $25 if you have more than one man in your life who needs to step it up. Inside these pages, you will find a different approach to the Rosary than you normally see. We call out the spiritual combat, the war present in every single mystery. And believe me, every mystery is strewn with spiritual combat.

In fact, that’s the point of the Rosary: to awaken within us, especially men. Our high calling to turn and concentrate our male powers, elevated by grace, on the enemy of our loved ones.

How do we rightly defend their souls? By embracing the war and the sacrifice needed to fight it.

Please click on the link, order your copy or copies today and ask your dad, husband, son, brother, uncle, to embrace the battle for your sake.

Authentic manhood is ordered to holiness. There are very few more sure fire ways to holiness than the Holy Rosary.

Courage in the Storm

 

ONE moment they were cowards, the next courageous. One moment they were doubting, the next they were certain. One moment they were hesitant, the next, they rushed headlong toward their martyrdoms. What made the difference in those Apostles that turned them into fearless men?

The Holy Spirit.

Not a bird or a force, not a cosmic energy or lovely symbol—but the Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. And when He comes, it changes everything.

No, we cannot be cowards in these days of ours—especially you men who are fathers, whether you be priests or parents. If we are cowards, we will lose our faith. The Storm that is beginning to spread over the whole world is a storm of sifting. Those who are willing to compromise their faith will lose it, but those willing to lose their lives for their faith will find it. We must be realistic about what we are facing:

Those who challenge this new paganism are faced with a difficult option. Either they conform to this philosophy or they are faced with the prospect of martyrdom. —Servant of God Fr. John Hardon (1914-2000), How to Be a Loyal Catholic Today? By Being Loyal to the Bishop of Rome; www.therealpresence.org

Well, that probably makes you feel afraid. But this is why Our Lady has been sent like an Ark for this generation. Not to hide us, but to prepare us; not to stow us away, but to equip us to be on the front lines of the greatest confrontation the world has ever known. As Jesus said in the approved messages to Elizabeth Kindelmann:

All are invited to join my special fighting force. The coming of my Kingdom must be your only purpose in life… Do not be cowards. Do not wait. Confront the Storm to save souls. —Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love, pg. 34, published by Children of the Father Foundation; Imprimatur by Archbishop Charles Chaput

If you feel fear in your heart, then it means you are human; it’s what you do to overcome that fear that decides the kind of a man or woman you are. But dear Christian, I am not speaking about your ability to conquer fear through mental exercises or trying to whip yourself up into a frenzy. Rather, of your capacity to turn to the One who casts out all fear—He who is Perfect Love, the Holy Spirit. For…

…perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

A terrible thing has happened to the Church in the past decade or so. We seem to have forgotten that God still wishes to pour out the Holy Spirit upon us! The Father did not cease to give us this Divine Gift after Pentecost; He did not cease to give It to us at our Baptism and Confirmation; in fact, God desires to fill us with the Spirit whenever we ask!

If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him? (Luke 11:13)

If you think I am making this up, then consider this passage from the Acts of the Apostles:

“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31)

Here’s the point. That wasn’t Pentecost—Pentecost happened two chapters earlier. So we see that God can and does grant us His Spirit when we ask. 

Be open to Christ, welcome the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost may take place in every community! A new humanity, a joyful one, will arise from your midst; you will experience again the saving power of the Lord. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, in Latin America, 1992

I probably should have quit this ministry long ago. The insults, the persecution, cold-shoulders, rejection, mockery, and isolation, let alone my own fears of failure or leading others astray… Yes, I have often experienced The Temptation to be NormalBut it is the Holy Spirit who has been my source of strength and power to continue, particularly through these vessels:

PrayerIn prayer, I am connected to Christ, the Vine, who then brings the sap of the Holy Spirit to flow through the tendrils of my heart. Oh, how often God has renewed my soul in prayer! How often I have entered into prayer, crawling on the ground, and then found myself soaring like an eagle!

The Sacrament of CommunityWe are not islands. We belong to a body, the Body of Christ. Hence, each of us is a sacrament to the other when we allow the love of Jesus to flow through us: when we are His face, His hands, His smile, His listening ears, His touch; when we remind each other of God’s Word and continually exhort one another to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth” (Colossians 3:2). What a gift you have been to me through your letters and prayers through which I have felt real grace and strength return.

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, what are we gaining? Life, eternal life, and that Life is the Spirit of God. The miracle of peace that I have often felt after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is more than enough proof that God exists… and enough strength for the week ahead.

The Blessed Mother. So many people misunderstand Our Lady. It is a great sorrow for me because no one loves and worships Jesus as she does! Her only interest is that the world would come to love and worship Jesus in the same way. And thus—to those who let her mother them—she gives all the graces that God has given to her, to dispose them for the good of souls. She does this through her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit.

Confession. When I have failed my Lord, myself, and those around me, I begin again because the Lord promises I can (1 John 1:9). What unspeakable graces are given in this Sacrament where Divine Mercy restores the soul through the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit.

All that remains is for us not to be lazy, not to take our spiritual lives for granted. We cannot afford to, much less be cowards.

Divine providence has now prepared us. God’s merciful design has warned us that the day of our own struggle, our own contest, is at hand. By that shared love which binds us closely together, we are doing all we can to exhort our congregation, to give ourselves unceasingly to fastings, vigils, and prayers in common. These are the heavenly weapons which give us the strength to stand firm and endure; they are the spiritual defenses, the God-given armaments that protect us.  —St. Cyprian, Letter to Pope Cornelius; The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p. 1407

In conclusion, I want to form an “upper room” with all of you on this Pentecost Sunday. And like the Apostles of old, let us gather with Our Lady and implore the Holy Spirit upon us, our families, and the world. Believe what you are asking for. Say one Hail Mary with me right now (and I’ll include the invocation that she asked for in the revelations to Elizabeth Kindelmann, which is a special prayer for the Holy Spirit through the Flame of Love of Our Lady’s heart):

Hail Mary full of grace
the Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God
pray for us sinners
and spread the effect of grace of thy Flame of Love
over all humanity
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen. 

https://player.vimeo.com/video/122402755

 

If the day of persecution find us
thinking on these things 
and meditating upon them,
the soldier of Christ, 
trained by Christ’s commands and instructions,
does not begin to panic at the thought of battle,
but is ready for the crown of victory. 
—St. Cyprian, bishop and martyr
Liturgy of the Hours, Vol II, p. 1769

 

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Enough Good Souls

 

FATALISM—an indifference fostered by the belief that future events are inevitable—is not a Christian disposition. Yes, Our Lord spoke of events in the future that would precede the end of the world. But if you read the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, you’ll see that the timing of these events is conditional: they hinge on our response or lack thereof:

Therefore, repent. Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and wage war against them with the sword of my mouth. “Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 3:16-17)

St. Faustina is God’s messenger of mercy for these our times. So often, it was her and others’ intercession that stayed the hand of justice.

I saw a resplendence beyond compare and, in front of this brilliance, a white cloud in the shape of a scale. Then Jesus approached and put the sword on one side of the scale, and it fell heavily towardsthe ground until it was about to touch it. Just then, the sisters finished renewing their vows. Then I saw Angels who took something from each of the sisters and placed it in a golden vessel somewhat in the shape of a thurible. When they had collected it from all the sisters and placed the vessel on the other side of the scale, it immediately outweighed and raised up the side on which the sword had been laid…Then I heard a voice coming from the brilliance: Put the sword back in its place; the sacrifice is greater.Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 394

You have heard the words of St. Paul:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church… (Colossians 1:24)

In the footnotes of the New American Bible, it says:

What is lacking: although variously interpreted, this phrase does not imply that Christ’s atoning death on the cross was defective. It may refer to the apocalyptic concept of a quota of “messianic woes” to be endured before the end comes; cf. Mk 13:8, 19–20, 24 and Mt 23:29–32. —NABre

Those “messianic woes”, also recorded in the “seals” of chapter six of Revelation, are for the most part man-made. They are the fruit of our sin, not God’s wrath. It is we who fill up the cup of justice, not God’s anger. It is we who tip the scales, not God’s finger.

…the Sovereign Lord patiently waits until [nations] reach the full measure of their sins before punishing them… he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with misfortunes, he does not abandon his own people.  (2 Maccabees 6:14,16)

Thus, can we not tip the scales the other way? Yes. Absolutely, yes. But what cost does our delay procure, and for how long can we delay?

Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel, for the LORD has a grievance against the inhabitants of the land: there is no fidelity, no mercy, no knowledge of God in the land. False swearing, lying, murder, stealing and adultery! In their lawlessness, bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everything that dwells in it languishes: the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and even the fish of the sea perish. (Hos 4:1-3)

 

IT DEPENDS ON US

In the highly regarded apparitions to Sr. Mildred Mary Ephrem Neuzil, Our Lady of America (whose devotion was officially approved) stated:

What happens to the world depends upon those who are living in it. There must be much more good than evil prevailing in order to prevent the holocaust that is so near approaching. Yet I tell you, My daughter, that even should such a destruction happen because there were not enough souls who took My Warnings seriously, there will remain a remnant untouched by the chaos who, having been faithful in following Me and spreading My Warnings, will gradually inhabit the earth again with their dedicated and holy lives. These souls will renew the earth in the Power and Light of the Holy Spirit, and these faithful children of Mine will be under My Protection, and that of the Holy Angels, and they will partake of the Life of the Divine Trinity in a most remarkable Way. Let My dear children know this, precious daughter, so that they will have no excuse if they fail to heed My Warnings. —winter of 1984, mysticsofthechurch.com

This is clearly a conditional prophecy, one that echoes Pope Benedict’s own thoughts on the “Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.” In 2010, he made a passing reference to 2017, which was the hundredth year of the Fatima apparitions.

May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. —POPE BENEDICT XIV, Esplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima, May 13th, 2010; vatican.va

He clarified in a later interview that he was not suggesting that the Triumph would be accomplished in 2017, rather, that the “triumph” will draw closer.

This is equivalent in meaning to our praying for the coming of God’s Kingdom… The point was rather that the power of evil is restrained again and again, that again and again the power of God himself is shown in the Mother’s power and keeps it alive. The Church is always called upon to do what God asked of Abraham, which is to see to it that there are enough righteous men to repress evil and destruction. I understood my words as a prayer that the energies of the good might regain their vigor. So you could say the triumph of God, the triumph of Mary, are quiet, they are real nonetheless.Light of the World, p. 166, A Conversation With Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press)

It depends upon “enough righteous men to repress evil,” which evokes what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. The heigh of lawlessness embodied in the Antichrist, the “son of perdition,” is presently being restrained, Paul wrote:

And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed… (2 Thess 3:6-7)

While still a Cardinal, Benedict wrote:

Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and thus sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ… now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man. —POPE BENEDICT XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger), Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, Adrian Walker, Tr., p. 55-56

According to the Catechism, the Pope “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” [1] When our unity with one another, with the Vicar of Christ, and above all with the Lord fails… then evil will have its hour. When we fail to live the Gospel, then darkness overcomes the light. And when we are cowards, bowing before the gods of political correctness, then evil steals the day.

In our time, more than ever, before the greatest asset of the evilly disposed is the cowardice and weakness of good men, and all the vigor of Satan’s reign is due to the easygoing weakness of Catholics. O, if I might ask the divine redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit, ‘What are these wounds in your hands?’ the answer would not be doubtful. ‘With these I was wounded in the house of those who loved me. I was wounded by my friends who did nothing to defend me and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of my adversaries.’ This reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries. —Publication of the Decree of the Heroic Virtues of St. Joan of Arc, etc., December 13th, 1908; vatican.va

 

THE COMING STORM

Several years ago, I received two prophetic words from the Lord. The first (which a Canadian bishop encouraged me to share with others) was when I heard in my heart the words “I have lifted the restrainer” (read Removing the Restrainer). Then, a few years later while watching an approaching storm on the horizon, I sensed the Lord say: “A Great Storm is coming like a hurricane.”  So I was shocked several years later to read that Jesus and Our Lady said these very words in the approved apparitions to Elizabeth Kindelmann:

[Mary]: Earth is experiencing the calm before the storm, like a volcano about to explode. Earth is now in this terrible situation. The crater of hatred is boiling. I, the beautiful Ray of Dawn, will blind Satan… It will be a terrible storm, a hurricane that will want to destroy faith. In that dark night, heaven and earth will be illuminated by the Flame of Love that I offer to souls. Just as Herod persecuted my Son, so the cowards, the cautious and the lazy extinguish my Flame of Love… [Jesus]: The great storm is coming and it will carry away indifferent souls who are consumed by laziness. The great danger will erupt when I take away my hand of protection. Warn everyone, especially the priests, so they are shaken out of their indifference… Do not love comfort. Do not be cowards. Do not wait. Confront the storm to save souls. Give yourselves to the work. If you do nothing, you abandon the earth to Satan and to sin. Open your eyes and see all the dangers that claim victims and threaten your own souls.The Flame of Love, p. 62, 77, 34; Kindle Edition; Imprimatur by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, PA

What I am saying, dear reader, is that the future of the world passes through you and I. The Lord never gave a timeline other than to repeatedly say to me and many other souls that “time is short. It depends upon the generosity and sacrifice of enough good souls. As my friend, the late Anthony Mullen would say, “We just gotta do what Our Lady is asking us to do” (see The Right Spiritual Steps). This is the mystery of the human person, created in the Divine Image, and endowed with a free will. We are not mere animals. We are immortal beings who can either participate in the perfection of creation, or its destruction.

In a pastoral letter to all the bishops of the world, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1) —in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time.Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 10, 2009; Catholic Online

There is a sobering warning at the very end of the Book of Revelation. Among those whose “lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulphur,” Jesus also includes “cowards.” [2].

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)

The hour is late. But not too late to make a difference, even if it saves just one more soul… If we are sitting on our hands waiting for God to do something, He replies: “You are the Body of Christ—it is My hands on which you are sitting!”

…others think that the curb on the man of lawlessness is the active presence of Christians in the world, who through word and example bring Christ’s teaching and grace to many. If Christians let their zeal grow cold… then the curb on evil will cease to apply and the rebellion will ensue. —The Navarre Bible commentary on 2 Thess 2:6-7, Thessalonians and Pastoral Epistles, p. 69-70

Why not ask him to send us new witnesses of his presence today, in whom he himself will come to us? And this prayer, while it is not directly focused on the end of the world, is nevertheless a real prayer for his coming; it contains the full breadth of the prayer that he himself taught us: “Your kingdom come!” Come, Lord Jesus! —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, p. 292, Ignatius Press

Do not delay or the time of grace will pass and with it the peace you seek… My little sister, the message is a dear one, there is no doubt. Make it known; do not hesitate… —St. Michael the Archangel to St. Mildred Mary, May 8, 1957, mysticsofthechurch.com

 

https://player.vimeo.com/video/270248164?color=ffffff

 

RELATED READING

Removing the Restrainer

Fullness of Sin

Hope is Dawning

Is The Eastern Gate Opening?

Learning the Value of One Soul

 

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WHAT’S YOUR MISSION STATEMENT?
Do you have a mission statement for your life? No? You do now:
To become a saint – to be in Heaven with God for all eternity. 
Imagine the excitement of waking up tomorrow morning and going to work with this one mission in mind – to become a saint.
Imagine your marriage ordered toward this one end – sanctity.
Imagine the good you can do with your money on this earth now when you realize your money disappears later.
Imagine the friendships you will build with other saint wannabes.
Life is more beautiful than ever when your mission is to become a saint.
Friends, be confident in Christ’s mercy and love.

LEARNING FROM THE SAINTS

 

“Faith lifts the soul. Hope supports it. Experience says it must. And Love says let it be!” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)

PRAY WITH ME

Father, help me to become a saint! Amen!
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