Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Open letter to Barbara Walters re: The Catechism of the Catholic Church

One has to comment on your apparent familiarity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the September 22 episode of “The View” where you described a part of the Catechism that obviously repulses you. Your direct mockery of the teachings of the Catholic Church relating to homosexuality, celibacy and the role of women in the Catholic Church truly highlight a warped mind. The saddest part is that, in what you and your co-hosts did, you only clearly reflected 1. your ignorance 2. your lack of work ethic and capacity as a TV presenter/host etc. to be objective and ultimately 3. your clearly dysfunctional moral standards. These reflect upon you negatively and say much about the type of person that you are or are not!!! The most negative aspect they reflect is your ignorance and a lack of true understanding of the true teachings of the Church. They reflect your cowardice, as I am sure, you would not have the courage to make the same disparaging comments about the Muslim faith, the Jews, or for that matter probably most other religious organizations.

Let me clarify very briefly what the church says. I include some statements that will enlighten you on how clearly the Church is directing its attention to the action/sin and the need for this to be avoided, rather than attacking, as it is often portrayed, the individual. On the contrary the Church’s teachings seek to console. In the “LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE PASTORAL CARE OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1986 it is stated (all emphasis is mine) “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” The same document continues to state (what is by nature obvious) that “Homosexual activity is not a complementary union”.

The document speaks with compassion of homosexual persons stating that “This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.” The document also reprimands discrimination against such persons stating that “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

I also have to refer you to some statements in the document “Homosexuality and Hope” issued in 2003 and again this year (2005) without changes by the Catholic Medical Association. It is interesting to see such comments as those of Robert Spitzer, M.D., who was directly involved in the 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental disorders stating in an interview that he is now convinced that “many people have made substantial changes toward becoming heterosexual” admitting that he came into the study as a skeptic but now thinks otherwise.The document interestingly further states that “almost without exception, those who regard therapy as unethical also reject abstinence from non-marital sexual activity as a minimal goal”. Shockingly or maybe really not so shockingly, the study continues to state and describe that some studies “even support a lessening of restrictions on sex between adults and minors or deny the negative psychological impact of sexual child abuse”.

This is truly not so surprising. Once the moral fabric of society starts disintegrating and such behaviors become so openly acceptable so as to be thought nothing as reflected by your comments and those of many others, it leaves very little that is not acceptable or doable. Why should we be so awe struck with the happenings around us? Don’t we reap what we sow?

One last comment, highlighting to you the wisdom in the teachings of the Church and pertaining to your comments on celibacy – a recent paper by Hallfors D.D. et al published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine 2005: 29 (3) pp163-170 entitled “Which comes first in Adolescence – Sex and Drugs or Depression?” the authors’ results indicate that “sex and drug behavior predicted an increased likelihood of depression, but depression did not predict behavior”. Sounds familiar? What the Church in its wisdom has taught for over two thousand years, science is finally “discovering” to be fact.

Loss of God from the center of people’s lives leads to a total disintegration of moral standards and social disarray as people try to fill the resulting void, and then they get caught in an unending circle of never ending problems. In defending morals and encouraging such behaviors as chastity, the Church is standing by the Natural moral law – described in the Catechism as being “immutable throughout history”, the “necessary foundation for the erection of moral rules and civil law” (see §1979).

Society will only find solace once it comprehends and heeds the message of Christ. That is all the Church is doing. How true rings 1 Corinthians 1:25-26 - "For the Foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength"!!!
God Bless (+)
Stephen

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Social Degeneration – Is Inappropriate Attention to Education the Cause?

An Invertebrate Society

The spine of society has totally degenerated. We have become a truly invertebrate society. The cause – I truly believe is really simple. We removed God and we removed morality from our vocabulary, from our thoughts and from our actions. Need I really explain more?

We live in a society that is so truly spineless that the principle dogma that rules human behavior is “political correctness”. We are a society that has lost its foundation, and political correctness is the outcome. Nothing can be wrong, nothing can be right, black or white don’t exist – everything is a shade of gray. Are things truly so bleak? Well, the facts are in front of you on a daily basis – reflect and come to a conclusion – the murders, the abortions, the greed, the poverty….. The outlook is pessimistic in terms of direction. There is an OPTIMISTIC perspective however – and that only centers on Christ. There, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. However, how many of us get it, is another story…..Let me explain in more detail in relation to what I refer to as deterioration….

From the medical field I will simply quote from the original Hippocratic Oath where it is stated that “To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion.” I don’t believe I need to give more detail or an explanation – Everyone that reads this knows to what extent we have watered down our perception and understanding of the sanctity of human life - As an invertebrate society we continue to remove what fabric is left.

The great writer C.S. Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity” describes morality as rooted in three concepts:

1. inter-individual harmony (the relationship between individuals)
2. internal harmony (the relationship with ourselves) and
3. the general purpose of human life (the relationship with our Creator).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes different but interrelated expressions of moral law (see §1952). For the purposes of what I am writing here I mention two of them – Eternal Law – “the source, in God, of all law” and Natural Law – described as being “immutable throughout history”, the “necessary foundation for the erection of moral rules and civil law” (see §1979)

On the subject of morality I will end here, for now, with a quote from C.S. Lewis.

“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less” C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

So what does all this discussion about morality have to do with Education?

Education - The Weapon

In the last sermon of Joseph Ratzinger prior to the start of the conclave in which he was elected Pope, he said “How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another…… Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

How do you combat relativism? How do you combat the degradation of moral principles in society? How do you prevent your boat being “tossed about by the waves”? I truly believe that there is ONLY one answer – and that is Education and a Christian Education for that matter rooted in the true teachings of Christ.

Here is what the Church teaches about Education. I quote from Gravissimum Educationis which is the declaration on Christian Education by Pope Paul VI, with some cross referencing to the Code of Canon Law - any emphasis is mine:

“To fulfill the mandate she (Holy Mother the Church) has received from her divine founder……..she has a role in the progress and development of education.” See also Can. 796 §1.

“The Council also reminds Catholic parents of the duty of entrusting their children to Catholic schools wherever and whenever it is possible and of supporting these schools to the best of their ability and of cooperating with them for the education of their children.” See also Can. 800 §2

“This Sacred Council of the Church earnestly entreats pastors and all the faithful to spare NO sacrifice in helping Catholic schools fulfill their function in a continually more perfect way, and especially in caring for the needs of those who are poor in the goods of this world or who are deprived of the assistance and affection of a family or who are strangers to the gift of Faith.”

Thus the Church sees Education as an intricate part of its mission. Little needs to be said about what the Church is asking us to do here. Little needs to be said about the emphasis it is putting on the importance of Education.

But how does all this relate to moral standards and equate to society redeveloping a backbone?

The Church continues to teach us in Gravissimum Educationis that “men are more aware of their own dignity and position; more and more they want to take an active part in social and especially economic and political life”. The document continues that the school (as the source of education) “is designed not only to develop with special care the intellectual faculties but also to form the ability to judge rightly, to hand on the cultural legacy of previous generations, to foster a sense of values, to prepare for professional life.” Is this not what Morality is all about? Hence the link between education and morality.

Being educated, and not just with any education, but being TRULY educated in the true sense of Christian living gives us as humans a dignity, a respect, a knowledge, a sense of values – in other words a moral backbone. Once that aspect of it is achieved, our daily lives will emanate the concept to our friends, family, work colleagues – and that’s how society gets its spine again!!!

Need more be said?

God Bless (+)
Stephen

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Word (& Not the Last) on Vocations

It is my belief that the success of living our Catholic faith is reliant on how well we develop three important concepts. These concepts also happen to be the goals of the parish I belong to. They are the goals that the Parish Council seeks to achieve and execute:


  1. Spiritual growth

  2. Education

  3. Unity

It is not my aim in this particular blog to discuss these three goals, however I WILL discuss them at a later date and in great detail. I mentioned them because what I am going to say follows as a development of the first goal – The spiritual growth of SELF, FAMILY, PARISH, NATION etc etc etc… It all starts with the SELF being FOCUSED on CHRIST….. The rest emanates from there!!!

We are called to witness to Christ’s teachings by being proactive in the work of vocations for “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Lk 10:2). Our goal, individually and as a community, should be to assist the pastor of the parish we belong to in animating a threefold ministry of vocation awareness, vocation education, and vocation identification at the parish level. The ultimate objective should be to build an understanding of vocation among adults, children and youth. However we need to understand that we are ALL CALLED. That is what vocations means - it is derived from the latin vocatio which means summons, and from vocare to call. We are ALL CALLED.

Our call, be it to priesthood, deaconate, religious life, to married life or to single life, IS NOT a call to a rank in the Church. Let us recall how Christ chastised several times the apostles’ for squabbling about who was the most important or who wanted the seat at His right hand (Mk 10:42), and therefore let us remember that a vocation IS a call to complete the body of Christ in his Church. Like the little stream of water flowing in the forest, to the larger lake, to the river and ultimately to the great ocean, no drop is greater than the other, but the stream of water would never get to the sea were it not to flow through the river, or the lake. However, some of us ARE called to a higher level of service and commitment to Christ and his Church. Such is religious life. We highlight in particular the sacramental ministry of the priesthood “by which a man receives the power to do what he cannot do alone…… [where he is] sent to give what he cannot give of his own strength; he is sent to act in the person of another, to be his living instrument.” (By Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, On the Nature of the Priesthood ,October 1, 1990)


Thus we are ALL called to be part of that continuum that leads us ultimately to eternal life with God. So I challenge YOU the reader:

  1. I ask you to invite others, particularly youth, to consider religious life.
  2. I challenge you to urge your friends and families to discuss the possibility of religious life and priesthood in their homes.
  3. I ask you to support by your prayers those who have expressed a desire to explore religious life or priesthood. Let them know that there ARE people ready to support them.
  4. Finally, find out if there is a vocations committee /group in your parish who would act even simply as moral support for people with an interest in vocations

Let us take up Christ’s challenge to “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." (Luke 5:4), a call echoed by our Pope John Paul II. Let us like Samuel, answer “Here I am Lord” when God calls us, and like Mary our Holy Mother say: “May it be done to me according to your word”.

I ask you in doing this to remember Christ’s call to be the light of the world (Mt 5:14) and to ensure that we are sharing this with our youth in particular. Let us give them a hope beyond what earthly wealth can offer and ensure that OUR lack of motivation or interest is not one big reason why they would turn to the wrong alternatives in life. I ask you to energetically participate in the building of God’s Church.

Here is what YOU CAN DO. If not already implemented in your parish, encourage and actively work for vocations:

  1. Through prayer during Sunday Liturgy and also privately and with your family.
  2. Through conversation with others about the importance of vocations. Consider if God is calling you to the priesthood deaconate or religious life.
  3. Through encouragement of others especially the young to explore the possibility of serving our Lord through ordination or consecrated life.

    Let’s for once be PROACTIVE for the KINGDOM OF GOD!!!!

    God Bless (+)

    Stephen

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Why I Taught Cathechism & Why I Will Teach Again

A. Why Teach?


This previous year was the first experience I had at teaching catechism. The reasons I wanted to teach included:

  1. I always wanted to contribute more to Parish life.
  2. I always enjoyed sharing my faith with others and I felt this was an other opportunity to do so
  3. I have observed a great thirst among many Catholics, in particular the youth about the teachings of Catholic Church and I wanted to learn more myself and then reach out and share this knowledge with others.
  4. I always felt that I would be a hypocrite if, on the one hand I complained about the dwindling numbers of faithful in the church or the lack of interest in youth in what we be believe as Catholics, while on the other hand I did not start sharing and reaching out to others about what this faith meant to me.

B. What I got out of it……


I learnt a lot…..A LOT.

  1. More about the scripture in the bible, the history of the bible, the writers and further insight in the “truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation”

  2. I learnt and confirmed that there is an unquenchable desire for the truth in the youth and contrary to common belief watering down the principles of our faith does NOT attract them but confuses them more.

  3. I learnt that, in these youth going through their teenage years, there is a lot of confusion and very often a great desire for the Truth, but often they do not know where and how to start seeking.

C. What I hoped to do for the kids…..

  1. I hoped to show them by how I taught that my faith is the cornerstone of my life and therefore the most important aspect of my life and that I was not teaching to just pass the time
  2. That my faith is what keeps me sane in the craziness that exists around us.
  3. I wanted to show them that they can have comfort in Christ’s words that He would be with us and help us carry our cross. I wished upon them the same comfort that the presence of Christ and my faith brought to me.
  4. I wanted to challenge them to go against the current of modern day life and to seek their strength in the teachings of Christ through His Church and to do this with conviction.

D. To others – to think about teaching Catechism…..

We are living this life with an ultimate purpose…..eternal life. From all the people of this world, we have been chosen and given the GIFT of FAITH through our baptism. We are not to be unappreciative of this gift and HAVE A DUTY and ARE CALLED to share it with others as Christ clearly tells us to be the light/salt of the world. This was the primary reason why I wanted to get involved given that my children are not involved in this program since they attend St. Mark’s.


I encourage others to be more open and share this great gift and its significance in their life with these kids. It means everything to them. One day in their late teenage years or their adult life, it could be the ONLY thing they have to hang on to. If we don’t share this great Truth with them and encourage them to nurture it, OUR lack of motivation or interest may be one big reason why they would turn to the wrong alternatives. This I sincerely believe.


SO WILL YOU TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE? WILL YOU SHARE THE GIFT GOD GAVE YOU?


God Bless (+)


Stephen

Friday, September 16, 2005

Recent Events and Our Need to Stand up for our Faith

I wanted to write about the recent (9/14/05) declaration by the U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton saying he would sign a restraining order banning the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in some California school districts.

It is very well known that this is an overwhelmingly theistic nation (>90% as a conservative estimate). As such the majority needs to stand up and defend its right to practice WHAT THEY BELIEVE, while accepting that we have NO right to impose on others our beliefs.

The Judge ruled “Under God” unconstitutional – the question is how much more unconstitutional is it to prevent those who want to say it from saying it? Is this law not unconstitutional in itself by “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” as the First Amendment states about religion? Is it not more constitutional to say that if one is an atheist he/she has every right not to recite it while everyone else is doing what they wish to do?

The irony and bigotry of some of those who interpret the law reflects their limitations as humans with simple minds and lacking in humility. Furthermore this becomes evident in the double standards that are applied.

Considering another case (9/15/05), the state Legislature in Massachusetts voted Thursday to override the governor's veto of a measure that will expand access to emergency contraception by requiring hospital emergency room doctors to offer the medication to rape victims. A provision that exempted Catholic hospitals was dropped from the legislation. Is this not contrary to the First Amendment? Is it not “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion? Why can’t I as a Catholic refuse to participate in what I believe is morally wrong? Is it not more constitutionally correct to allow Catholic hospitals/pharmacists to be exempt from this while the patient has every right to go and fulfill their wishes elsewhere? While the law is there to protect everyone from having beliefs imposed on them, the law is there ALSO to protect our right as Christians/Theists/Catholics etc. to practice our faith and yet incompetent interpreters of the law and the Constitution are depriving us of our rights.

Thus in one case we have the Constitution being used to prevent the "imposition" of religion on non religious while in the other we have the "imposition" of immoral concepts on an institution.... Does this not highlight a bias in the interpretation of the Constitution? Does it not clearly highlight how foolish certain interpreters of the law are despite all their pretention of being wise? How true rings 1 Corinthians 1:25-26 - "For the Foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength"!!!

With these examples at hand, is it not time that we got of our comfy chairs and said “STOP: THIS IS MY RIGHT”?

Here is what you CAN do - An organization, called Grassfire.org is urging Americans to take immediate action by signing our petition urging our lawmakers to move to protect the Pledge once and for all through the Pledge Protection Act of 2005 (S. 1046). It is a good group!


The petition reads as follows:


"As a concerned citizen, I am signing this petition to express my support for the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance and my outrage at efforts to ban the Pledge from public schools. The Pledge is a vital reminder of our nation's heritage and a strong support for the values that make our nation great. I oppose any efforts through the courts or the legislature to ban the Pledge.
In addition, I support efforts to protect the Pledge of Allegiance, including the Pledge Protection Act which would prevent federal courts from declaring the Pledge unconstitutional."


Please click below and join me in signing this crucial petition and have your petition delivered to the Supreme Court and Congress:

http://www.grassfire.org/14/petition.asp?PID=9666164&NID=1

Thanks so Much and God Bless (+)

Stephen