Jul 22, 2006

The Second Match

More than 25 years ago, I traveled to Washington, DC on business with a young man from India. The second (or third day) of meetings ended earlier than expected and we found ourselves with about five or six hours to kill before catching the plane back to Kansas City.

Washington has great museums and both of us wanted to see the National Aeronautical and Space Museum. We walked through the exhibits and finally decided to see the large screen movie. My co-worker was quiet until the film showed India, his native land. Then he whispered that the pictures showed the area he was born. Finally he exclaimed, "Oh, I wish my wife could be here--that's her town!" He added that he really missed his wife. My co-worker was clearly very much in love with his wife whom he had married less than a year before. I asked him how he had met his wife and he told me this story.

His parents still lived in India and their intelligent and ambitious son came to the U.S. for advanced study and to work. The family was determined he should marry a young woman from India. Some of the specifications for the bride were that she should be attractive, of the same ethnic group, and should also have advanced education.

My co-worker explained there is a network of matchmakers in India and around the world. [Google "India" and "matchmaker." You'll get lots of hits.] My companion found his bride in British Columbia. She was the daughter of a banker, was pretty (he said), and was well-educated. Her parents also had hired a matchmaker to find her a husband from India. They wanted a well-educated son-in-law who had immigrated to the U.S. or Canada. The proposed match was made by long-distance phone calls between India, British Columbia, and Kansas City.

The couple were introduced (at a party, if I remember correctly) and allowed to date and meet each others' families, until they determined whether they found themselves compatible. My co-worker said this period was a time to get to know more about whether the other person would be a good spouse. When I asked if matchmakers made mistakes, he said that it was rare because so much work was done to insure that a match was a good one before the couple met. I also asked if he or his wife could have backed out of the arranged marriage. He answered that either one always had a veto power if he/she saw that there would not be a good marriage.

My co-worker insisted repeatedly that couples naturally love each other in marriage if they are compatible. He said both he and his wife quickly 'fell in love' after they were married.

The First Match

This is the first story I remember hearing about matchmaking, an old and quite successful way for societies to match couples for marriage. It is important to remember that friends and relatives (and paid matchmakers) desire a successful marriage. In the cases I know, an individual can veto the selection of the matchmaker--who then observes the reason for the mismatch and finds a more suitable candidate. More about this, later.

My Grandma told me she and Grandpa were alone together for the first time when they traveled in a horse and buggy to City Hall to get a marriage license. Grandma was 17 years old and Grandpa was almost ten years older. He had been looking for a wife and friends told him about a young girl recently arrived from the 'old country.'

Grandma had left her mother to join her father who had come to Kansas City some years earlier. He did not know his oldest daughter was coming until she sent a letter from Chicago announcing her arrival in the U.S. Grandpa lived in a rented room, possibly with other single men who also worked in the Kansas City stockyards. Grandma had to obtain separate sleeping quarters that was an extra expense to her father. The solution was simple--Grandma was beautiful and could be easily married.

The ladies in the boarding house and the people at church served as matchmakers for the couple. Grandpa got a beautiful young woman who was trained as a seamstress for his bride and Grandma got a hard-working husband who had already saved $800. Within a few months, the couple were married at an ethnic parish in Kansas City, Kansas. The marriage produced five children and ended when Grandpa died. Grandma never remarried.

Marriage P_r_e_p_a_r _a __t___i __o__n

The Colorado Springs diocese insists that engaged couples tell the priest one year in advance that they want to be married. During that year couples pray, attend classes, meet with the pastor, are trained in natural family planning--good activities to increase the success rate of marriages and avoid divorces.

One parish in the Colorado Springs diocese has published a 15-page guide that shows the year's activities:
Overview of the Marriage Preparation Process
1. Establish freedom to marry (pp. 3-5)
2. Begin the minimum six month preparation period (pp.5-6)
3. Paperwork (baptismal certificates, MA, MB forms, Covenant with the Parish,
dispensations, delegation,) (p.6)
4. Tentatively reserve the church (rehearsal and wedding time) (p.6)
5. FOCCUS inventory (p.6)
6. Engaged Couples Weekend (p.6)
7. Natural Family Planning (NFP) (p.7)
8. Meetings with FOCCUS couple (pp.6-7)
9. Formal Questions of the Pastor for both the bride and the groom (p.7)
10. Meetings with the Pastor (p.8)
11. Wedding planning session with the Pastor and Wedding Coordinator (p.8)
12. Payment Due to the Parish to lock in the firm date (p.8)
13. Rehearsal (p.8)
14. Wedding (pp.8-11)
15. Checklist (p.12)
16. Contact Information (p.13)
17. Covenant with the Parish (p.14)
I have several reservations about the lengthy time of one year required for couples to prepare for marriage. My first concern is an apparent conflict with the current Code of Canon Law. The oldest priests' magazine in the U.S. is Homiletic & Pastoral Review (HPR) that had an article back in the 1970s on Church-required long engagement periods (at that time from 3 to 6 months). I remember the article aroused a lot of interest and argument.

Fr. (Robert?) Kruse from Kansas City, MO argued strenuously in HPR that long waiting periods required by the Church for marriage were forbidden by Canon Law (the old one). [The current Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church became effective in 1983, and is a revision of the Codex juris canonici promulgated in 1917.]

Fr. Kruse
reminded readers that Canon Law provided for marriages of Pacific islanders who were often without a priest for up to six months or more. The provision was that if a priest was not expected to visit the island for more than a reasonable amount of time, the couple could administer the sacrament to each other in a public ceremony. When the priest returned to the island, the marriage would be solemnized, blessed, and recorded.

In this regard, the current 1983 Code of Canon Law is similar to the 1917 edition. The length of time that a person must wait for a priest to officially witness a marriage is dealt with in Can. 1116, Sec. 1:
If one who is competent to assist, cannot be present or be approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter a true marriage can validly and lawfully contract in the presence of witnesses only:
  1. in danger of death;
  2. apart from danger of death, provided it is prudently foreseen that this state of affairs will continue for a month.
Thus, Canon Law does not require an extended wait time to marry. One month is considered the maximum time to wait for a priest-witness. The above mentioned canon is prudent in allowing a man and a woman to be validly and lawfully married without a priest, but in the presence of witnesses (family, friends, civil authority) if the couple must wait more than a month.

My second reservation to an extended wait time for marriage is that even good couples trying to maintain the virtue of chastity will likely fail. How easy it is to say--we are going to be married and we simply can't wait THAT LONG! If the couple begins to sleep together (or maybe already are), then how do they respond to the NFP program? Seems like the bride would think--"I don't want to walk down the aisle while pregnant." So she may choose to practice NFP before marriage, or maybe she thinks that she'll continue with her current birth control method and wait to try NFP later. Or maybe she and her fiancee will decide on a civil marriage 'cause it's faster and cheaper. An extended wait time for marriage is a can of worms, and I haven't even gotten halfway to the bottom of the can.

It is the American Bishops that have decided to implement extended wait times to eliminate bad marriages and divorce. I think there is an alternative to a long marriage prep time that will virtually guarantee at least a 90 percent chance of a successful marriage. See future posts.

Nails in the Barn Door

A nun from a faraway time told this story to my grade-school class.

There was a farmer with a son whose sins had grown in number and in severity. The farmer's barn was new and like many in the neighborhood had vertical boards painted a nice bright red. Everyone agreed the barn was beautiful.

One day the son committed another transgression (you know, the serious kind where your son almost gets killed--and not in an accident!). The father had been unsuccessful in the past using verbal chastisement, spankings, and loss of privileges. The boy usually returned to his devilish ways within a day or two. Discipline seemed to have no effect.

After much prayer and thought, the father decided on another approach. Within a 24-hour period, a doll was badly damaged when the boy pulled the doll from his little sister. As the father finished calling his son to account for his meanness, he gave the boy a new punishment.

The boy was handed a hammer and told to drive a large nail into the barn door, leaving half the nail sticking out. Over the next few months , a large number of crooked, rusty nails had accumulated in the barn door and were a constant reminder to everyone of the boy's transgressions. The boy was embarrassed because his many sins were publicly represented on the barn door.

People can and do change, and the boy began to become a better boy. When he told his father he was sorry for having hurt the dog, his father forgave him and said he could pull out one of the nails in the barn door. The boy learned how to admit his past mistakes and sins, and each time he was sincerely sorry, his father forgave him and more nails came out of the barn door.

Finally the father, in loving words, told the boy all his transgressions were forgiven and he could remove the remaining nails. The boy used his hammer claw to pry loose the last two nails, but seemed unhappy. He explained to his father that even though all of the nails were gone, the door had ugly scars--the nail holes.

The father took the boy to the tool shed where he found a small sealed can. He explained to his son that the can had red wood filler to seal the nail holes. The boy was about ready to start sealing all the nail holes, but the father stopped his son. "Son, the damage that is done by sin cannot be repaired so quickly. Even though I forgive you, the damage of your sins is still there. Each time you do a good thing, you can seal one nail hole." The boy learned how to pray, practice virtues, chastise himself, and help others, and the nail holes finally disappeared.

The nun who told us that story used it as an illustration of the temporal punishment of sin. God forgives sin, but there is temporal punishment that remains to be satisfied. The Baltimore Catechism has three relevant questions:

Q. 629. What punishments are due to actual sins? A. Two punishments are due to actual sins: one, called the eternal, is inflicted in hell; and the other, called the temporal, is inflicted in this world or in purgatory. The Sacrament of Penance remits or frees us from the eternal punishment and generally only from part of the temporal. Prayer, good works and indulgences in this world and the sufferings of purgatory in the next remit the remainder of the temporal punishment.

Q. 804. Why does God require a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin? A. God requires a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin to teach us the great evil of sin and to prevent us from falling again.

Q. 805. Which are the chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin? A. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving; all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life.

Jul 19, 2006

Council of Basle and Vatican Council II

The most recent general Council of the Catholic Church, Vatican Council II, is still disputed, especially as to whether a pastoral [as distinct from a doctrinal] council is protected by the Holy Spirit. Most agree Vatican II must be judged simply by Christ’s admonition in Matt 7:16, "By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?"

Typically, a general Council of the Church is judged by the manner of its convocation, its membership, and its results. Many councils are esteemed by the Church; others have questionable elements, as did the Council of Basle in the 15th century.

It's interesting to see if Vatican Council II had some of the same elements as the mostly forgettable Council of Basle, elements such as conciliarism and dissident Bishops. A time log is important for this analysis.
  • 1378-1417: Great Western Schism with rival Popes
  • 1414-1418: Council of Constance (the Council that resulted in withdrawal or deposition of the three rival popes)
  • 1423-1424: Council of Pavia (later transferred to Sienna)
  • 1431-1449: Council of Basle (transferred by the Pope to Ferrara-Florence in 1439 and then to Rome in 1443). Dissident bishops continued to meet at Basle-Lausanne.

The basis for both the Council of Pavia and the Council of Basle was the prior Council of Constance, which promulgated Frequens. Frequens specified an ecumenical council should be held no less than once every ten years to serve as a kind of religious parliament. The Council of Pavia was the first “frequent” council following the Council of Florence. It accomplished very little of note, except to decide that the next council would be held at Basle.

The purposes of the Council of Basle were to reform the Church in its "head and members," to combat heresies, to deal with the Hussite wars, to promote peace among European nations in the face of Islam, and to reunite the Western and Eastern Churches. Even though having excellent goals, the Council of Basle started out badly. Conciliarism was advanced in opposition to the absolute Papal monarchy of previous centuries, especially because conciliarism (bringing Bishops together to decide how to address an issue) had proved so useful in solving the problems of the antipopes of the Great Schism. Were the Bishops now to lead the church in the 15th century?

For example, Session 11 of the Council of Basle in 1433 clearly questioned Papal authority.
If the Roman pontiff or other above-mentioned persons fail to do this, or in any way take means to impede change, prorogue or dissolve the council, and shall not have repented with real satisfaction within four months, thereafter the pope will be automatically suspended from the papal administration and the other persons from the administration of their dignities; the papal administration will devolve by law upon the sacred council. If they persist with hardened hearts under the aforesaid penalties for a further two months after the said four months, then the general council shall proceed against both the Roman pontiff and the above-mentioned persons up to and including the penalty of deprivation.
This regrettable wrangling with the Pope led to three articles formulated by the Council of Basle:
  • A general council is superior to a pope;
  • The pope cannot dissolve such an assembly;
  • Whoever denies these is a heretic.

Consequently, there was a serious split in 1439. The dissident Bishops in the Basle-Lausanne group continued to meet for another ten years, but their Council after 1439 is not accepted by the Catholic Church. Many, but not all, Church historians judge that the Council of Basle was a general Council only until the split. The decrees passed during that period are said to be legitimate, if they did not undermine the Apostolic See.

The work of the Council of Basle was transferred by the Pope in 1939 to Ferrara (Council of Ferrara), then Florence, then Rome. Formal agreements were reached with both the Byzantine emperor John VIII and the patriarch of Constantinople Joseph II. However, upon returning home, the Orthodox leaders were not able to win approval from their priests. The fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 prevented any further work toward reunion. The Basle Council also negotiated reunion with the Armenian Church, Nestorian Church, Jacobite Church, and Eastern Rite Churches, but most of these efforts proved unsuccessful in the long term.

By their fruits you will know them.

Is a Clone a Unique Person?

A recent article published by the BBC summarizes a new study that investigates what a human clone would feel. UK and Austrian researchers interviewed identical twins to determine their uniqueness, as compared to their sameness. The study concludes that a cloned human being would probably consider himself to be an individual, because individual twins believe their genes play only a limited role in shaping their identity.

Identical twins share exactly the same genes because they are created when a single egg is fertilised by a single sperm, but splits into two separate, but genetically identical, embryos. The physical differences between twins and clones are the conception process, the separated times of births, and that lack of two parents.

In 1997, the PONTIFICIA ACADEMIA PRO VITA answered the question of whether cloning is permissable, and concludes cloning of a human being is immoral. The document declared a child must never be an industrial product. Cloning is "an asexual and agamic reproduction" producing an individual without two parents. Yet regardless of how the body is created, the Vatican reminds us the spiritual soul is created by God and "is the essential constituent of every subject belonging to the human species."

In section 3, the document firmly announces:
Human cloning belongs to the eugenics project and is thus subject to all the ethical and juridical observations that have amply condemned it. ... In the cloning process the basic relationships of the human person are perverted: filiation, consanguinity, kinship, parenthood. ... Halting the human cloning project is a moral duty which must also be translated into cultural, social and legislative terms.

Jul 18, 2006

WalMart's Ex-Nun

The Washington Post says that former nun Harriet Hentges has been hired by Wal-Mart to work with nonprofit organizations, academic groups and government agencies and to direct aspects of Wal-Mart policies on the environment, health care and labor relations. She comes to Wal-Mart from the United States Institute of Peace, where she led mediation and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and the Balkans. Ms. Hentges is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Between 1958 and 1972, Hentges was a member of the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Beginning in 1972, Hentges worked for the League of Women Voters (LWV), and served as chief operating officer of this pro-abortion group. For example, in 1972, the Massachusetts LWV's goals supported:
  • treating abortion as a medical procedure to be decided upon by a woman and her physician
  • public funding for birth control and abortion services for the poor

Other state LWVs also support abortion, including the California LWV.

The National Right to Life Committe has taken on the LWV because it lobbies

against restrictions on abortion - - even partial-birth abortion. On April 3, Ms. Cain [LWV President in 1998] herself signed a LWV letter to all senators, urging them to vote against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in the name of 'reproductive choice.'

Wal-Mart has made the wrong choice in selecting Harriet Hentges for this job.

Jul 17, 2006

The Honey Pot

The Latin High Mass is offered at Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, KS on Sundays at 10:45 am. I usually don't attend this Mass, but did so this weekend.

The Gospel told of the miracle where Jesus fed thousands after they had followed him for three days and were hungry.
I tried to imagine the crowd following Jesus to listen to him. His messages on those three days must have been a supernatural "honey pot" that made them stay with Jesus, rather than return home where food and bed were available.

The parking lot at Blessed Sacrament Church was full of cars with licenses from different states and counties. Some people obviously spend a lot of time driving a long way to find the old Latin Mass. The reasons may be explained in the Latin Mass Community's Report, a post in Church Closings in Kansas.

The old Latin Mass is a "honey pot," too.

God's Generosity to Our Family

Some people learn by their own experience, some people learn by others' experience, and some people never learn, period! This post deals with our own experience as a family. My husband, our children, and I have been exceedingly blessed for over 40 years. Sometimes it seems God's generosity has no end.

We've learned God gives back a hundred times the little gifts you try to give him. When we were first married, we hung a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our living room and made Him our King--how easy can that be! Then we pray together every night--not difficult at all.

There used to be a saying, "Families that pray together, stay together." Many years ago, a popular secular magazine presented statistics on the frequency of divorce. It discovered that couples that prayed together every day had only a 1 in 500+ chance of being divorced.

A very important prayer we say is "For a healthy, happy, and holy family," followed by an Our Father and Hail Mary. I'm convinced this daily prayer is a key reason our family has been so blessed by God. Why don't you, the reader, try it?

International Trend for Islam?

A growing trend seems to be for other nations and NGOs to be more friendly to Islam.

1. Zenit quotes the rector of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies: "Recognition of the State of Israel means to recognize the rights of Palestinians, not the contrary; it means to recognize the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, of Jordan and of Syria. I think we should contemplate the situation starting from these premises." Fr. Justo Lacunza Baldar said he was very worried because "now we have at least three great areas of war," Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East."

2. The Manila Standard Today Online reports that Philippino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will attempt to reach an agreement that will allow the Philippines to buy oil and petroleum products at “friendship prices.” Where is she going and who will she meet? To Libya to meet with its leader, Muammar Khadaffy.

3. Reuters reports that former President Clinton
said Sudan should be pressured into accepting foreign peacekeepers from Muslim countries to help stem bloodshed in its troubled Darfur region.

4. Putin dominates the G8 summit meeting with world leaders. He has agreed to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme, but doesn't want the Security Council to force Iran to comply. Clearly, Putin is watching his southern borders, and militant Muslims within his own borders.

5. French President Jacques Chrac has called the mid-July Israeli offensive "totally disproportionate."

Jul 16, 2006

Pope Asks for Prayers

Zenit reports that Benedict XVI has appealed to all local Churches to pray for peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East. The Holy Father asked for peace through the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

This follows headlines of Hezbollah strikes against Haifa and Galilee, and Israeli strikes against Beirut, Baalbek, Tripoli and Gaza City. A larger war may be in the offing as Syria has mobilized some of its reserves. An Israeli invasion of south Lebanon is anticipated.

Women's Lib Movement

WolfTracker recently recommended the blog of Radical Catholic Mom who publishes mostly good posts--except one. I believe her post on "Gender Experience in Science" shows a lack of understanding of the Women's Liberation Movement (WLM). Radical Catholic Mom comments:
While many Conservative Christians suspect Feminists, I have to say that I am thankful for the feminist movement. Women of my generation take all their hard fought rewards for granted, yet this article shows we have more work to do.

Radical Catholic Mom is obviously much younger than I and she seems unaware of the destruction accomplished in the past 40+ years by the WLM. The origin and history of the WLM is a compendium of hating men (divorce him, sister! You're better off without him), hating themselves even more (I'm powerless and so I want to be either a man or a lesbian loving a women), and hating children (contraception, abortion, and putting children into childcare while mothers work at a career). I really hate to see this kind of post that praises the WLM, because it ignores the fact that women's lib is responsible for many of the social problems of today.

Many years ago, I was part of a pro-family group that opposed the WLM. The WLM had been able to pressure Congress to pass "A Bill to direct the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, 1975, to Organize and Convene a National Women's Conference."

With federal funding, conferences were first held in each state to generate local public support for abortion, homosexual rights, and government-sponsored daycare (to support divorced women, unmarried mothers, and mothers who wanted careers). The Kansas conference was held in Wichita and the WLM groups were in control. Church groups became organized once they found out the agenda. Busloads of good Catholic and Protestant woman came to the Wichita conference to vote for a slate of pro-family delegates to the National Women's Conference in Houston.

Thousands of women came to the conference in Wichita, more from the pro-family side than from the women's lib side. [Kansas was better organized than most states to support the pro-familiy positions.] We were able to elect a majority, but not all, of the delegates to the National Women's Conference. Why couldn't we elect all the delegates? Well, the women's libbers closed the doors claiming that the fire marshal had determined that the seating capacity of the convention center had been exceeded. Of course, who was in line waiting to enter? More Church women! I later checked with the real fire marshal whose capacity figure for the center was considerably beyond the number of votes cast. All the women who entered the building were allowed to vote.

Many other bad things happened in Wichita, but there were far worse things at the National Conference in Houston. I may tell you more in a future post. But for now, here's a funny story, of sorts. I was standing in line at a restaurant and a businessman behind me wanted to know what was going on with the women's convention. I told him there were a lot of Lesbians in attendance. He asked how could I know they were Lesbians. I responded, "Because they wear signs and buttons proclaiming their desires." I did see one other button worn by a pro-family delegate. It was the shortest verse in the Gospel, "Jesus wept."

During this same time, another pro-life mother decided to do some snooping to determine what the WLM was up to in KC. She attended a WLM meeting held in Missouri and was supposed to tell the rest of us what went on. Mrs. P. is one of the strongest fighters we had, ready to battle at the drop of a hat--yet she returned with little information. You see, Mrs. P. said she had never felt such a presence of evil as in that room where the WLM was planning its activities. She said she had to leave because Satan was there.

Postscript: Even though I work professionally in an area where men are the great majority, I have not been discriminated against by men, which is the big bug-a-boo of the WLM. My experience is that men treat and reward me better than their comrades for my talents and contributions. Yes, they do need to get to know me first, but that happens with men too.

I've suggested to Radical Catholic Mom that if she needs to emulate someone, she needs to review the life of Phyllis Schlafly, named one of the most important 100 women in the century.
Phyllis is American's best-known advocate of the dignity and honor that we as a society owe to fulltime homemakers. The mother of six children, she was the 1992 Illinois Mother of the Year.