Aug 5, 2006
St. Theresa of Avila is one of 33 Doctors of the Church and warned that one should never ask or desire God to give a vision or a personal sign. She gives several reasons:
- The desire shows a lack of humility
- One thereby leaves self open to "great danger, since the devil needs only to see a door left slightly open to enter"
- There is the danger of autosuggestion, and she says that if one has a great desire for something, he/she can easily persuade self that he/she is seeing or hearing what is desired
- It is presumptuous to want to choose one's own path: only the Lord knows what is best
- Very heavy trials commonly go along with such favors; and
- It could even bring loss.
You have started on a spiritual road and seem to have gone further than R. He has not followed the same course as you and continues to oppose your attending church and taking your son to church. Yet I suspect he may not be that far behind, unless his path is interrupted. I was particularly impressed by R's comment that your friend’s Hispanic husband was a very good example of Christian ideals and charity.
Dear Friend, you said it was only two or three years ago that you finally felt the need for Jesus in your life—now you are impatient and angry because your husband has not yet received the same grace. Yet R engaged me in a rather lively discussion about Catholicism while visiting you in _____, and I did not sense any animosity whatsoever! He was clearly arguing to generate a good response. And of course I defended Catholicism with all the energy and enthusiasm that I could muster, and all he did was smile! I would encourage you to defend your Christian beliefs vigorously when R contradicts them.
With regard to the "cafeteria approach," please don’t say that both sides have the same value and that your children can pick and choose which side to believe. Now is the time to stand for faithfulness and live in it. Today. Yesterday is gone. Nobody can change the past. What is chosen this day will affect both today and tomorrow for your children and grandchildren.
[Slight edits were made to my letter to a friend for publication in this blog.]
I have seen only one “good” divorce—my Aunt O divorced Uncle O because of his drinking and physical cruelty to her and their youngest son. However, Aunt O told Uncle O she still loved him and would return to him if and when he stayed sober for six months. He didn't believe she would stay the course, but she found the first job she ever had to support herself and her son to show him she was serious. He did stop drinking, and they were remarried. The only problem afterwards was his sanctimonious attitude about his great sacrifices and his continued spending them into debt—but Aunt O remained a faithful and loving wife until he died. She was a gentle and kind woman who gave our family a wonderful example of marital fidelity.
Other wives I know were determined not to give up on their husbands and stayed married in spite of many grave difficulties. Their fidelity, perseverance, and long-suffering were almost always rewarded spiritually, materially, and psychologically. Mrs. C told me that her marital problems were extreme, but that she stayed with her husband because Jesus commanded it. In her later life, her husband did a lot of the housework and treated her like a living saint—which she was! Mrs. C asserted her new life was "heaven on earth" and made up for all the difficulties of the past. I doubt whether one of their sons would have become a faithful priest if Mr. and Mrs. C had divorced.
Mr. and Mrs. L were good friends who had five children, but Mr. L was as unfaithful to his wife as any man I ever knew! She finally had enough and came to my house one day to cry and explain she was going to see a lawyer the next day. Her husband was attracted to other women and she felt unloved. I explained to Mrs. L that Mr. L really did love her, but had a unfortunate strong physical weakness with other women. In addition, Mr. L was a very good father and provider for the family and Mrs. L agreed. We also talked about other aspects of a possible divorce--including temptations after marriage, future parental guidance for their children, and financial matters.
Several times over the succeeding years, Mrs. L thanked me for advising her to stay with her husband and not proceed with the divorce. No, her husband didn't always remain faithful, but he was always kind and generous to Mrs. L who became more aware she was still far and away No. 1 as his only wife. They now reap the rewards of HER fidelity with many successful children and beautiful grandchildren. I believe Mr. L has finally stopped crossing the fence into forbidden territory, probably more because of his age than anything else!
Mrs. D, an exemplary Lutheran who has taken care of flowers in her church for over 30 years, recently lost her husband who was far from ideal to say the least. She continues to take pride that she was always faithful to her husband, even when her husband's drinking and spending kept him from supporting his family, so that she had take a job to earn the family wages. Mrs. D now is rewarded with financial security, her children had a good upbringing, and she remains a sacrificing person who continues to make life better for everyone she touches.
Mrs B lives not too far away and is a friend of a friend. She remained with her profligate and selfish husband until his death. She has a clear conscience and a nice home while enjoying her retirement years.
An opposite example (of many that I know) is the divorce of Mr. and Mrs. C2. Mrs. C2 was active in Right-to-Life in the mid-1970s. Mr. C2 had trouble 'finding himself', couldn’t keep a decent job, and apparently was cruel to Mrs. C2, physically and emotionally. She divorced him, studied to become a nurse, and so raised her two sons by herself for the next dozen years because her husband moved far away. I learned some years ago that her husband eventually became a respected teacher and lives a successful life with a new wife—but it wasn’t Mrs. C2 who benefited from it. Both sons are now remote from their mother; one has chosen to live near his father.
A classmate of mine divorced her husband because of his beating her regularly, even though he was an active Catholic and member of the Legion of Mary. Even though her physical health was in jeopardy and she had good reason to leave, the result is that she has three malfunctioning children (they are now in their late 30’s, have had many personal and other problems, and at least one remains distanced from her). My classmate is a good person who tried to do her best to prevent and solve the problems that originated after the divorce—but the children needed both their parents in their developing years and they didn’t get it.
A close relative divorced his unfaithful wife and the subsequent stories of their oldest son are heartbreaking. He was a good kid before being told his parents were divorcing on the day of his 12th birthday. The boy became a street kid, took up drugs, couldn’t keep a job, was kicked out of the Navy, etc. A saintly lady I know prayed for years (and continues to pray) for him, and the young man finally began a new responsible life in his 30’s that has continued for several years. But what a long waste of a brilliant mind!
I was invited to the young man's wedding at a Catholic chapel several years ago. Interestingly, the wedding reception featured a number of people who grabbed the microphone and testified with great feeling that the young groom was responsible for bringing them out of the drug culture.
Aug 4, 2006
Why should you remain faithful to your marriage vows? You should be able to determine whether the following arguments make sense:
- A divorced husband is let loose to prey on other women; better to keep your family problems mostly at home and not share them with the rest of the world
- Divorced husbands/wives commit many sins they would not otherwise commit (e.g., bad example, hatred, bitterness, blame, deceit, adulteries) all of which help to form children in the wrong way
- Children’s psychological lives are harmed, as virtually all studies of children with divorced parents have shown—poor academic achievement, drug-taking, inability to establish permanent relationships, etc. One friend was a senior in high school when his parents announced his divorce, and he has said the year following the divorce was the worst of his life and that he has never recovered from this heartache. He points out pictures of himself where he aged dramatically in less than two years because of the effect of his parents' divorce
- Divorce results in feelings of inadequacy, failure, and guilt for both parties, followed by development of a bad conscience that justifies past and future sins which is destructive to both personality and soul
- A church-going parent who divorces his/her spouse causes children to reject religion, rather than embrace it
- A Christian who divorces says “I will no longer carry my cross” when a true Christian asks Christ to help carry the cross
Aug 2, 2006
Traditionalists now are swimming in the beginning of the slack tide that occurs when the tidal current slowly switches direction from the ebb tide to the flood tide. The past forty years, we have tried to swim against a strong ebb current that has taken many Catholics out to sea to drown. Lots of people did not survive because of not swimming smart enough or hard enough against the liberal beliefs and practices of the ebb current.
Many, if not most, of the survivors were fit (through exercise of their faith) to either swam strongly enough against the ebb current and preserve their faith. Or they swam at a right angle to the current to get out of the ebb tide sweeping them to sea. In other words, they swam to waters that were more tranquil or to islands, such as the traditional Latin Mass or a traditional parish.
We can expect the slack tide to ultimately become a flood tide, where Catholics will return to terra firma.
The young girl was a student at a public college and had become pregnant. She quickly broke up with the young man who never knew his intimacy had produced a child. The girl kept her pregnancy a secret from her family for most of the nine months. And she made excuses for not going home or meeting her parents for the last couple of months of pregnancy. So the parents never knew they had a grandchild.
In the meantime, the girl began dating another fellow and decided to marry him. She successfully hid her pregnancy and the man never knew his bride-to-be was pregnant with another man's child! The girl and her fiancee were married within a month or two after the baby's secret birth.
A healthy baby boy with dark hair was born and was immediately embraced by the couple who were delighted to have a new son. Within about a month, the couple were much surprised to learn they were expecting another baby. A little sister was born to join her big brother who was still less than a year older.
Naturally the two children grew up as wonderful playmates and eventually became close confidants to each other. As the boy grew up in the small town, friends and acquaintances noted his intelligence. He especially loved to farm and ride motorcycles.
The boy was told at an early age that he was the one specially chosen by his family. When he was about 16, his parents showed him the newspaper engagement announcement with his birth mother's name and picture. The resemblance between the birth mother and the son was very clear. The young boy told his younger sister that someday he wanted to find his birth mother, but he did not tell his parents of his desire.
The young man decided to become a doctor and so began his college years as a pre-med student. In his freshman year, he told his girlfriend (now his wife) that he had been frustrated in locating his birth mother. Apparently, everyone identified in the engagement announcement had either moved, changed their name, or could not be located.
The girlfriend noted that the engagement announcement said that the young woman was a member of a sorority, and she said that sororities always kept good records of their past members. The young man persuaded his girlfriend to make the call to the sorority house of the birth mother. The girlfriend explained she was a friend of a past sorority member and wanted to contact her, and she gave the maiden name of the birth mother to ask for the current address. The sorority's answer was a city in Florida.
During Christmas break, the young man and two of his close friends planned a ski trip to Colorado. Whether they really planned to go to Colorado, I do not know, but they drove east from Kansas, with the parents believing they were driving west.
The address in Florida was an apartment building with balconies. It was evening when the boys identified the apartment of interest and saw a woman on the balcony. She walked back inside, and the young man and his two friends discussed how best to approach her.
Initially, the young man thought that he would give his birth mother a choice on whether she wanted to see him or not. The plan was for his two friends to knock on the apartment door and hand her a note that read: "I am the son you gave birth to 18 years ago, and I understand that your life may be quite complete at this time. I would like to meet you, but if you believe a meeting is not good for either of us, then I will understand. If you do want to meet me, call my motel at xxx-xxx-xxxx."
On further discussion, the young man reasoned that if his birth mother said no to the invitation to meet, then knocking at the door to give her the note would be all the opportunity he would have to see her. So the young man decided to deliver the note himself. When the woman answered her apartment door, he handed her the note. The woman appeared quite nervous and reluctant to take the letter, but it was pressed into her hand. [The woman was afraid she was being dragged into an apartment tenant fight.] The young man quickly left to return to the boys' motel room which they had previously rented.
When the boys arrived at their motel room, the phone inside could be heard ringing. Terribly eager to catch the phone call which they knew had to be from the birth mother, they finally unlocked the door to reach a silent phone. However, within a few minutes another call rang. The young man answered it and was relieved and delighted to hear his birth mother invite him and his two friends to her apartment. I was told the two of them talked most of the night, with the two other boys returning to their hotel room to sleep after the long trip from Kansas.
One of the most interesting parts of this story is what the birth mother told her son. He asked his birth mother if she ever expected to see him again. Her answer was that she was a volunteer at an adoption agency. Occasionally she would be told by a pregnant girl, "You don't know how difficult it is to give up a child!" The birth mother would respond, "Yes, I do know because once I gave up my son for adoption." Then the girl would frequently counter, "But you'll never see your child again." The birth mother said her answer was "Yes, some day he will come knocking at my door."
The young man told his parents and two sisters of his meeting with his birth mother. I spoke with the father not too long after the first meeting in Florida, and asked him what his reaction was. With the most beautiful statement I could have ever imagined, he responded happily, "The family just got a little larger!" This very generous man meant it too, because every year he and his wife invite the birth parents, and the half-brother to their son, to their home for a special time. And most of the time, they come. In addition, all of them were invited to their son's large wedding with many, many guests.
How did the birth father know about his son? Well, the young man asked his birth mother and she told him the name. A little searching and he was found. Needless to say, the birth father was shocked, then delighted to learn of his son. The birth father has another son (the half-brother) and was now divorced.
The birth mother is a professional who also is divorced. She was the only child of her parents, and both were now dead. Moreover, she had no siblings and was quite alone in the world. The son she gave up for adoption was now her only close relative. The two of them speak regularly by phone and they see each other about once a year.
The young man's mother was initially concerned that she might lose the affections of her son because of finding his birth mother. That never became a problem, and their son and his family visit them regularly.
P.S. The young man is now a prominent physician who is regularly invited to give talks to other doctors all around the country. Adoption saved his life, and through his subsequent professional skills, the lives of many, many others. Once he told me that his adoption story should be written, and now it has.
Aug 1, 2006
China's coercive population policy restricts the number of children to one per couple, using whatever it takes to kill unwanted babies. A blog discussion of China's one-child-only policy would be in stark contrast to the one over NFP being taught in marriage preparation classes--the focus of the discussion being conducted on KC Priest's blog. Not that the commenters on NFP aren't right (choose whichever viewpoint you like--there are several), but the subject is dwarfed by China's one-child-only policy.
Yes, China is a long way away, but not so far by Internet. In addition, a lot of Chinese students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City might be attracted to a good web discussion of the likely future of China AFTER it removes its one-child-only policy.
How bad is it in China? A priest from China writes:
One child policy has made many families struggle between their traditions and faith. The problematic thinking that boy is more valuable than a girl makes us feel difficult to preach. Can these people see the only child may become a little emperor in the family? They probably do. What is the moral standard for them to teach their children? To spoil children is not healthy.A one-child family has major implications for vocations to the priesthood. Another priest (presumably from the patriotic Church of China) comments:
The problem of vocations in China is that candidates who enter the seminary are not very mature especially from a psychological point of view. Now youths all come from families where they are the only child. Dealing with them is much more difficult: they are not used to being with others; they have always been spoilt at home by their parents; they have always been treated like royalty by their grandparents. Renouncing the wellbeing, peace and relationships padded in cotton wool to serve Jesus Christ and the Church is somewhat difficult for them.Underground mothers and children in China are discussed here, although laws are now more strictly enforced to reduce the number of underground children. Personal stories of how bad it is for women in China to conceive a second or third or fourth child are told here.
The commenters at Sacerdos in Aeternum need to place their discussion in perspective.
Yet Joan Chittister is still a featured writer at Liguori. Not much difference between Meehan and Chittister that I can see, except one is braver than the other at walking off a cliff!
This series of Matchbooks looks at successful courtship and marriage in the past, as contrasted with unsuccessful systems of today. More Matchbooks are coming. Watch for them.
Jul 31, 2006
An old priest of the 70s once told me that the privacy of the penitent was important, but was not the real issue. The real issue was that the confessor priest was now UNPROTECTED! A wall or grill was needed between the priest and penitent to protect the priest from a sad, attractive woman who is having a difficult time with her marriage. A wall between them keeps the priest and penitent from embracing.
The loss of private confessions is just another post-Vatican II change that has resulted in a lot of problems in the church.
Jean Marie Marchant offered her resignation to Sean Cardinal O'Malley in a letter last week in which she said that a year ago, using a pseudonym, she had been among nine women who had participated in an ordination ceremony on the
Diogenes also comments on the ordination. His comments and questions are so perceptive that you should read his remarks in their entirety.
The most interesting post comes from a Boston woman, Carol McKinley, who is thoroughly fed up with all the shenanigans in the Archdiocese of Boston. I can't speak highly enough of Carol who seems to be the bravest woman in Boston, and for at least four years as a blogger! Some of Carol's recent comments on Hidden Priestess Marchant (also review her many other posts on Marchant):
...a woman who has been teaching heresy for decades, appointed to the health care cabinet position by Cardinal Law and subsequently kept in that position despite numerous complaints - - a woman who is involved in a second marriage to an ex-priest (quite possibly invalid), 'ordained' by a schismatic female prelate representing herself as having the power to administer the papal indulgence at the hour of death - - who by her own admission has been "quietly" anointing people instead of calling a priest to administer viaticum...
O'Malley's spokesman, Terrence C. Donilon, said in a statement. ``We greatly appreciate Ms. Marchant's many years of service in healthcare ministry. The archdiocese greatly values the ministry of lay and religious women. Their contributions are vital to the life and mission of the church."
Am I [Carol McKinley speaking] to understand that those of us whose dying parents and relatives who have been foolishly charmed into believing that what she is doing is valid sacramentally, and died without the Last Rites of our Church (the pardon for all the sins they had committed in their lives), that you "greatly value" what she has done and you consider her contributions "vital" to the life and mission of Christ's Church?
If you are unaware of how traumatizing that statement is to people who understand the authentic faith, I certainly would be happy to give you my own personal experiences with my mother who was medflighted to Brigham & Women's hospital in a coma with a broken neck. She was "blessed" by a priest who had been removed from a parish by Cardinal Law for working with a woman in a ministry together which had feigned sacraments. I luckily had access to a priest who was willing to come and administer the official sacrament of the Church to her. As bad as I knew things were, I had no idea this was going on. When I explained my experience to the undertaker, he told me this was the norm in hospitals in Massachusetts - lay chaplains have wormed their way into positions where they can hijack the Sacrament of the sick. It's frightening that you greatly value these kinds "contributions" by feminists stampeding our faith.
Jul 30, 2006
1. To obtain from Heaven for Pope Benedict XVI the strength required to completely free the Mass of all time, called the Tridentine Mass.
2. For the return of the Social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. For the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.It appears that the SSPX is responding to the request of Pope Benedict XVI in his homily at his Papal Installation Mass: "Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves."
The 'progressives' within the hierarchy are said to be regrouping quickly following the defeat of the liberal prelate, Carlo Cardinal Martin, at the most recent Conclave. Fr. James McLucas, editor-in-chief of The Latin Mass Magazine, quotes an opinion that the new Pope has very little time to accomplish even the beginnings of an authentic counter-reform.
The Pope needs all the rosaries he can get. I'm glad to see the SSPX lead the way.
Sunday afternoons are for the purposes of diversion, entertainment, and courtship of the peasants. Fr. Sivric notes that one of the favorite songs of the region contains the words, "At the gathering after Sunday Mass, a girl appealed to me." Gatherings of young people also take place during the long autumn and winter evenings, when they are expected to work on special projects together, such as husking corn. These social gatherings are filled with "singing songs, telling jokes and stories, and reciting epic poems." The boys refer to these gatherings as girl-searching-and-watching parties. The boys are always urged to marry girls they know well.
Christmas is a special time for courtship because of the special religious celebrations that are arranged in the different towns. After Mass, the adults talk and the boys throw apples at the girls in which they are interested. A girl shows her interest in a particular boy by trying to catch his apple. The apple-throwing is accompanied by circle dances that are lively and loud. Parents watch from a distance.
The young people choose whom they wish to marry. Peasant sons are reminded by their parents to judge a girl by her mother, and girls are told that "integrity marries a girl off." Engagements are solemnly performed in the presence of a priest, and are preceded by a visit of the bridegroom's father, uncle, and one or two villagers to the home of the girl's parents. This meeting ends with an interview of the girl to determine whether she is freely willing to wed.
The bride is the center of attention through the engagement period, the two- or three-day wedding feast and during the weeks following the wedding. She is reminded of how much she is loved and how she is expected to sow this love as a main respondibility of her wifely vocation. Great meaning is attached to sexual intimacy, and premarital relations are regarded as immoral. If pre-marital intimacy occurs, the couple is committed to marriage, especially if a child is born.
Marriage in this peasant culture serves as "a means to perpetuate and embody humanity and Christianity." The ancient social customs surrounding courtship, engagement, and marriage produce a low number of divorces and marital infidelities in this peasant region.
Senator Joseph McCarthy was investigating and publicizing Communist infiltration into the U.S. His investigation of undercover Communists in the State Department led to his book, America's Retreat from Victory, which describes how the U.S. facilitated the turn-over of European and Asian countries to the Soviet Union. [Don't students of today ever wonder how all those countries were "conquered" by the Communists when the U.S. was by far the most powerful country in the world following WWII?]
The later chapters in McCarthy's book's detail how the anti-communists of China were undermined by the U.S. government so that Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) could defeat the Kuomintang and install a Communist regime that has lasted almost 60 years. The Cardinal Kung Foundation monitors the current sufferings of Chinese Catholics who cannot practice their Faith.
Back to the early 50s. Fr. P. preached hard and long against Communism because many priests were being arrested and either killed or imprisoned in country after country. I was very disturbed, especially because a few priests in these countries acquiesced to Communism to save their own lives. The "patriotic" churches were established around these unfaithful priests and were under the control of Communists to serve communist ends.
Naturally, the subject of Communism came up in the classroom. I asked my grade school teacher, a Benedictine nun, what should a Catholic do if Communists came to the U.S. and took over our parishes.
I've held on to Sr's answers as the very best advice on preserving the Faith in the face of the internal enemies of the Church. She said to keep the Faith as I was taught it before the enemies took over, that to accept changes to church teachings would be to follow the enemies of the Church. She added that it might be years that a person would have to stay steady in keeping the Faith of our Fathers. But that I must not budge and make compromises. I've always been very thankful for Sr.'s advice that allowed me to keep my Faith during the past forty years of trouble in the Church.
The grandkids had a great time playing together. They swam, fished, rode bikes, played in the river, caught minnows, cut foot on rock, etc. The bikes are shown in this next photo, and were probably at ease until the kids finished eating, again.
In this part of Kansas, the stars at night are enormously bright. The grandkids stayed awake until it was possible to see one of the cell-phone satellites that have three rotating antennas that reflect the sun's light to the surface of the earth. Before the Iridium flare arrived, we saw several other satellites. However, it was the Iridium Flare with a magnitude of -5 that impressed the grandkids (and Grandma and Grandad!).
One of our children had printed the schedule of the Iridium flares for the latitude/longitude of the park where we camped. So we knew just where to look. Just before the flare occurred we also saw a shooting star pass over the same area of the sky. Double the excitement!
We returned early to KC to attend Mass this morning. Didn't want to take a chance on an unknown Mass at the local Catholic church. Thank you, Lord, for a good family vacation.
In his short poem (40 lines), Kipling was able to foresee our present society better than any science fiction writer I know--pacifism, sexual revolution, entitlements, etc. Kipling made it clear--violate the copybook headings that forbids such things and a society or civilization is destroyed.
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would comeThe last four lines of the poem seems surely meant for our times--
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world beginsWhere can you find the copybook headings--the synthesis of human wisdom? Why not start with the Book of Wisdom in the Old Testament?
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.