O Beauty Ever Ancient

Source of Renewal

Today the world labors under the dictatorship of relativism, a dictatorship that has left in its wake much confusion and led many astray. At the core of relativistic thought is that, at best, truth is relative to one's perspective, which effectively has come to mean that there really is no Absolute Truth. The burden created by this approach has become great and has made it difficult to preach the Good News revealed by God because many today have been formed in this methodology. Unfortunately, because it is so widespread many Catholics are steeped in it, including priests and religious. In this regard, without a proper appreciation of Truth, it is impossible to understand Catholic Teaching in so many areas, which effectively leaves many Catholics incapable of Evangelizing others.

In recent years there has been much talk of the need for a New Evangelization. The problem this hopes to correct is the lack of faith among Catholics. For the New Evangelization to even have a chance at succeeding and accomplishing the needed renewal in the Church, it will require a great deal from priests and religious first and foremost. At the heart of this success is the "Beauty ever ancient, ever new." These words of St. Augustine reflect his conversion from his worldly pursuits to his rest in the Divine. This particular quote is an apt description of Truth in that it is the same in every generation yet always refreshing.

Those who truly appreciate this Beauty realize contemplating It and taking It in is tremendously refreshing and liberating. Yet they are also quick to realize that It is a Beauty that must be appreciated by the recipient in order for it to be effective. All of the words used to describe It often fall short and so the only thing one can do is invite another to slow down and gaze upon its loveliness. The more who do this, the better the renewal sought in the new evangelization will be. Renewal through an appreciation of the Truth must be the first stage and the embracing of that Truth must be without equivocation. In this regard, every Catholic, priests and religious first, must come to realize that God's "best servant is he who is intent not so much on hearing his petition answered, as rather on willing whatever he hears from" God. God is the Beauty!

In this regard, I can echo St. Augustine's sentiment in saying, "late have I loved you." It is not so much when we fall in Love with the Beauty ever ancient but that we fall in Love with It. As St. Augustine's excitement for this Beauty remains contagious to this day, so must all who have taken in the Beauty let his or her excitement for it be known. For those who appreciate this Beauty, we join the ages in praying, "Lord send out Your Spirit and renew the face of the earth."

The Catholic Vote

The Catholic Faith is NOT Relative

As Catholics we must always remember to vote according to the revealed truths of our Faith. So often in civil elections Catholics think they cannot bring their Catholicism into the voting booth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Catholics must always remember what is at stake each November and take seriously the obligation to be part of the political process and to make sure that our leaders recognize that God's way is not just one among many. It is the Way! The Catholic Vote is important:

Come Holy Spirit

The Feast of Pentecost

As is the case in every generation, the Church needs the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide Her and give Her strength in proclaiming the Good News. The Feast of Pentecost is an excellent time to remember just how crucial the Holy Spirit is in guiding the world in the way of God. With the upcoming elections and the many issues that are creating tension between the Church and the world, now more than ever we should pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the coming months.

Here is an encouragement from Brian Burch who heads the organization CatholicVote.com.

Every Now and Then

A Story Comes Along

The local newspaper picked up "an entertainment story" that made me stop and wonder. In just a few short paragraphs they managed to present a situation in which there are simply too many immoral issues to discuss in any reasonable forum as each one is a grand issue in itself. In the article is a lesbian breakup with a custody battle; children "manufactured" via IVF for obvious reasons; a reference to the children as "theirs" with no mention of a father (probably an anonymous sperm donor); children from a previous lesbian relationship that are "hers"; one lesbian claiming the other as an unfit mother - just to name a few. If anyone even ponders the whole thing for a few moments, he or she should be scandalized. And yet most people will read it as a curiosity piece.

This short article should be terribly disturbing for anyone who reads it but it comes across as completely normal and matter of fact. It is present with the tone, "another Hollywood breakup - how sad!" It is bad enough this situation exists but the fact that it is considered newsworthy is even more disturbing. The only reason to make this situation into a national news item is that it supports the secular tactics of social engineering. Because these situations exist, they must be normal. If this is normal then it should be acceptable. If it is acceptable then it should be tolerated. If it is tolerated then it will proliferate. If it proliferates then we can find out more about it. Once we find out more about it then there is further proof that it is normal… and the circle spins from there.

And woe to anyone who criticizes them or tries to challenge them to change their ways. Anathema to anyone who points out that just because it exists does not make it acceptable or tolerable. What really makes it even more ironic is that I read this article shortly after Mass this morning in which Jesus said, "I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the Truth." If you say you are a Catholic then make sure you do not belong to the world.

A Roadmap

To Recovery of Values

Anyone who looks around today and observes closely enough will be able to discern the deterioration of true values in our society. The sources of this deterioration are many but there is one that stands at the center -- the dismantling of the family through the consistent attacks on Marriage. What makes a discussion difficult in this regard is that relativists have created doubt with regard to what is meant by values. As far back as Greek Philosophy there was a distinction between intrinsic and instrumental value of things. A correct determination of Good or Value requires an understanding of intrinsic value, that is, something that is good in itself. To make a correct determination in this regard requires a proper understanding of metaphysics and the natural law, both of which have been rejected by many today.

Unfortunately, secular humanists like John Dewey effectively eliminated a proper understanding of intrinsic value and instead pushed for values based only on the ends in view, that is, the immediate ends. In this model, if a desired immediate end is achieved, it is said to be good. Such would lead him to claim that we can construct the good for ourselves rather than conform ourselves to what is Good. The effects of this approach are clear throughout the 20th century in which the proper understanding of family was dismantled. Instead of understanding what the family is and calling all families to "become what they are," social engineers began a campaign to develop an appreciation for "alternative families."

In all of the public discussions today on specific moral issues, the roadmap to renewed wholeness goes through the family. At the heart of this roadmap is Marriage. This theme was developed throughout the pontificate of Pope John Paul II and, even to this day, much of his wisdom remains relatively unknown, even by many Catholics. Without an infusion of this wisdom into the discussion, any attempt to recover lasting values and avoid further deterioration will be futile. In this regard, the axiom still applies, "as goes the family so goes the society." But in the discussion today we need to take this axiom more to heart -- "as goes marriage so goes society." To redefine marriage means we must redefine the nature of the family, which means we implicitly redefine society itself. To put such realities into a relativistic tailspin will continue to be detrimental to the good of society.

For anyone who cares about faith, society, religion, salvation, the family, and the like, defend Marriage as reality that can only be between a man and woman and work to protect the traditional nuclear family.

From Vice to President

The Gay Marriage Debate Is On

Cardinal Dolan broke silence today after President Obama confirmed what everyone already knew -- that he supports gay marriage. Of course, the Cardinal's comments have not been picked up by the liberal media but that is to be expected. At this point, the bishops must not let their opposition to anti-family and anti-marriage legislation slip into the background, especially in an election year in which so much is at stake. Too often in election years the candidates are not put in a position to publicly answer the concerns raised by the bishops or other religious leaders. Because the media control the soundbites, candidates tend provide polished responses and public statements they know will be picked up by the media, which allows them to ignore the concerns of the rest.

Wouldn't it be great if candidates for political office agreed to a public debate in which religious leaders were able to ask them open questions?

Roaring Silence

Not A Word

A few days ago, the most politically powerful Catholic in our country, vice president Joe Biden, stated that he is "absolutely comfortable" with gay marriage, even though his comments were couched in entitlement and rights language. What is distressing, however, is that there has not been one statement released by the Catholic Hierarchy addressing the remarks. This statement would have to be made in two parts: the first to address the errors in his remarks, errors that clearly separate him from the Church Teaching on the issue, and the second to address his status within the Catholic Church since he is not a private citizen holding a private opinion but a public policy maker. What needs to be made clear is that through these very public comments, he has espoused a position diametrically opposed to Church Teaching and that through his position he has distanced himself from the Catholic Church.

While his comfort with gay marriage has been the most quoted and is troubling in itself, in the interview he prefaced his remarks by first redefining the Catholic Teaching on marriage when he said, "Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that is what people are finding out is: what all marriages, at their root, are about, whether they are marriages of lesbians, gay men, or heterosexuals." To use the expression "at their root" with regard to what marriages are indicates he is talking about the meaning of marriage. Thus, this prominent Catholic has publicly demonstrated that he does not believe that the meaning of marriage includes the good of procreation, even though the good of procreation has been a central tenet of Catholic Teaching on marriage for millennia. With such a redefinition in mind, drawing the errant conclusion of being comfortable is made easy. But the fallacy is in the redefinition and it is time to be clear about his error.

What is more disturbing than the deafening silence toward these mistaken comments is that more Catholics are following his lead and accepting the error with regard to gay marriage. In just one year from 2010 to 2011, the number of Catholics supporting gay marriage went from 46% to 52%, with the increase coming strictly from White Catholics (who went from 49% to 57% supporting it). Thus we see that the influence of Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Kathleen Sebelius has been swaying Catholics from Church Teaching. In this regard, we must admit the sad reality that most people are "taught" through the media in the form of vicarious learning. Apparently Catholics are no exception in this regard and, due to the vicious circle, do not have the catechetical foundation to understand the depth of the issue.

One final point needs to be made, we must recall that gay marriage is but one issue among many in which Catholic opinion is being shaped by errant politicos and the media rather than the bishops. In addition to the bishops, the silence from parish priests and religious also contributes to the growing number of Catholics who are unclear about Church Teaching on key issues such as homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and euthanasia to name a few. Yes, the circle is vicious and needs to be broken!

Vicious Circle

In the Realm of Catechetics

Quite frequently I find myself in a conversation in which the era of catechetical failure is discussed. In this regard, it has become very easy to identify and admit that there has been a failure in Catholic Catechesis that has left entire generations of Catholics catechetically illiterate. This is not to say that they learned nothing at all about the Faith but that they were not given the solid foundation upon which the Catholic Faith is built. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that these generations were given teachings they were lead to believe were Catholic when indeed what they received was nothing more than scholarly opinion.

Among the demonstrations of how widespread this illiteracy has become is the recent discussions regarding the HHS Mandate. In this context, I am not referring to the religious freedom aspect, which is important in itself and must be addressed, but to the grave moral evil of contraception. Based on the surveys being release, many Catholics do not know Church Teaching in this regard. Or better yet, they are vaguely aware the Church teaches it is immoral but have rejected it without much thought. In either case, the general Catholic populous does not acknowledge the gravity of the matter and believe that subjective factors determine the sinfulness of contraceptive use rather than its intrinsically evil object.

This error originates in an era in which we can identify the perfect storm. The period in which the failure grew rapidly was one in which errant approaches to Moral Theology were being developed and disseminated. In pervious generations, these theories would have been debated primarily in scholarly circles and eventually corrected before being disseminated to the larger population. Instead, by following a process of ascertaining approval through popularity, these theories were presented in classrooms as authoritative and thus convinced several generations that they were valid and even authoritative.

Alone, this classroom model would most likely not have been sufficient to spread the error so far and wide. Concurrent to these theories were secular schools that promoted a highly subjective and relativistic approaches to morality. The errant Catholic theories were incorporating some aspects of the secular theories, which made it easier for the error to spread. Combine this with theologians who were publicly dissenting from Church Teaching and who were portraying themselves as victims persecuted by the Catholic hierarchy and one can see why it was easy to mainstream the error. Because social engineers were in effect affirming what was being taught even in some Catholic circles, many innocent Catholics came to accept the error as the norm.

Fast forwarding to today, we now have catechetically illiterate Catholics fully convinced that the error is correct and that it is possible to reject Church Teaching and remain a good Catholic. And it is such as these who are teaching in our schools and religious education programs. In this regard, it has become difficult to correct the error because so many are defensive of what they learned. And, of course, many would be partial to a theory that allows one to indulge passions rather than restrain them. The bottom line is that until the circle is broken, the error will propagate itself.

Further complicating the matter is that numbers mean everything today. Nobody wants to see the numbers go down. Yet challenging the error may well result in the numbers going down. The problem in America is that people like to vote with their feet and dollars. If they don't like what is being taught, they join another denomination or just stop coming to church. Or they "send a message" by withholding donations. This methodology is the core of the democratic process.

In all cases, it has become a delicate balance because the Church exists for the salvation of souls but such demands that the Church remain faithful to God and the Truth. Teaching the Truth is difficult and requires a level of patience. Such teaching must be clear and strong without being offensive even though it is reasonable to expect that some will be offended. But it also means that the numbers may have to drop for a period as key individuals begin building the foundation of Catechetical Literacy once again. This process must begin in the schools but the schools need to employ teachers who themselves are faithful to the Truth and the Church. Only then will the vicious circle be broken.

Joseph, The Laborer

Celebrating St. Joseph

One of the ongoing concerns of the modern age has been providing education as a way of making a better society. For this reason, every young person born in America today is told from their youngest age and into their twenties that their lot in life will be school, which will make them better citizens. In fact, those who do not succeed in school, as determined by receiving a college degree, are often said to have fallen short and are looked down upon as being less of a person. Beyond a shadow of doubt, everyone can agree that education is important and has been one of the single most important reasons why Man has been able to achieve so much today.

Now, because both parents are working longer hours (after a life of being educated comes a life of being at a desk), children are beginning school earlier and earlier. In the background of it all have been the social engineers that are trying to build a better society by insisting that a better educated person is a better person. The tools of construction have become smart boards and text books. Every person must be engineered into a better person through this educational model.

Lost in much of the rhetoric today has been the value of labor and the fact that laborers are good persons. Yes, education is important. Yes, people need to be prepared to face the challenges of the world today. But in the evolution of the educational system many have forgotten that one model does not fit all and everyone cannot be an engineer or professor. Everyone needs to grow in knowledge and wisdom but not everyone does so on the same path. In this regard, it is not what someone knows that makes him or her good but that someone is known by God.

As a Church, we have always celebrated the goodness of labor and affirmed that those who learn a trade should be just as esteemed as the nuclear physicist. In celebrating St. Joseph, we also recall that it is God Who "laid down for the human race the law of work." Thus, we must remember that it is not the work we do that makes us human but that as humans we work according to God's design in order to flourish in our humanity.