Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sending our boys to battle without the Church?

Sitting here I see on the news that there is a need for Chaplains but specifically Roman Catholic Priests in the Military. On my way to being a Priest, I have conflicted emotions about this. The Catholic Church does lean in favor of non-war, however they realize there can be a just war. However, aren't we also called to stand up and defend the sheep of Jesus Christ as his workers in the field? Doesn't this extreme form of selfless love demand defence of the weak and helpless? Should we be at the front lines of waring Armies? I am a huge fan of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Patriotism for this country, but where should we be drawing the line? If anyone has any comments about this I would really like to dialogue this. I think personally, although I am still thinking about it, I would feel obligated to go out and defend the sheep of the flock. Isn't that the sign of the Good Shepard, willing to go and fight the wolves when they come? Vengeance is God's alone.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Vita Consecro

How about we start this blog with a fun topic of contraception. I have done research on this topic and I offer you my results with citations, end notes and Footnotes. Please, feedback and comments and discussion are welcomed.

“Until 1930, every Christian denomination in the world – Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox—felt that artificial contraception was sinful.”[i] It is essential that we ask, why this act of contraception whether in act or pharmaceutical, was deemed sinful for almost two millennia in all churches? Can there be more to this than meets the eye? Is the seed of man and woman something to be protected, just as life is to be protected? Yes, it must be. “Today, Catholicism and a few Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches, still maintain that the use of artificial contraception isn’t part of God’s plan.”[ii] God commands openness to life and unlike any other commandment this deals with the expansion of love and creation.
“It has been left to the last Christians, or rather to the first Christians fully committed to blaspheming and denying Christianity, to invent a new kind of worship of Sex, which is not even a worship of Life. It as been left to the very latest Modernists to proclaim an erotic religion, which at once exalts lust and forbids fertility… the new priests abolish the fatherhood and keep the feast – to themselves.”[iii]

Contraception is unbiblical, immoral, illogical, and dangerous for any person in which to participate. It stands as any sin stands, an affront to God. God blesses and sanctifies human life and the seed of human life.
Contraception is anti-biblical. Contraception must be defined for this apologetic; contraception is any use of a drug or practice that will prohibit conception of life in the womb. Early in the Old Testament we see the command for Adam and Eve to procreate, “God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."[iv] In order that we may subdue the world and live in it, God commands and blesses the union of man and woman so that they will procreate. There will be people today who say that the fall of Adam and Eve changed this and we are now limited and cannot or do not have to fulfill this covenant because of the fall. In the story of Noah, however, we have the commandment reordered by God after the fall, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth,” and again later in the same chapter God commands it again, “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it."[v] Again, we have the blessing of the people of God and then the commandment upon them. There is also the same purpose of overcoming and subduing the world through offspring here as in the command to Adam and Eve, “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.”[vi] God blesses life and thus children are a blessing from God[vii], “He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb.”[viii] In addition, we can see it in the story of exodus, “Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.”[ix] God pours blessing out on his faithful people repeatedly in the form of children and conception. God blesses His people, His Church, with the ability to procreate. In one of the most controversial documents of the modern world Pope Paul IV of the Holy Roman Catholic Church declared that contraceptives and contraceptive acts are an affront to God’s blessing and that the sexual union between the two spouses are not an end in themselves, “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents.”[x] The Church today still upholds this blessing.
If children are a blessing from God then barrenness must be opposite that. As we can see from Sacred Scripture when God wishes to curse a people or a land He makes it barren He removes the future life from the present age as punishment, “So give their children over to famine; hand them over to the power of the sword. Let their wives be made childless and widows; let their men be put to death, their young men slain by the sword in battle.”[xi] It is clearly seen that a barren womb is a not a blessing from God and a void to His people for their sins against him. One may beg the question, “How does contraception or my own stopping of conception, have any bearing upon God’s blessings and not blessing?” To place oneself in the barrenness state is remove oneself from the blessing of God. Those who reject the blessing of God to be fruitful and multiply reject Gods command. “Ephraim's glory will fly away like a bird—no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.”[xii] Procreation is a blessing given by God and all Christians know that it is a cursing of the self to reject the grace and blessing of God. To do anything against this commandment, not unlike any other commandment, which is broken, is to sin against God and be an affront to He who commands us to be as God is. The recounting of Onan is a clear representation of this commandment and the punishment from God when it is broken,
“Then Judah said to Onan, "Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother." But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also.”[xiii]

One sees that because procreation is so valuable and a blessing to God. Onan did not want to have his brother’s children for him, nor was he willing to go to the gates and declare it and be shamed[1]. Onan could have done this sexual act for pleasure, and did not want the results of procreation. He stopped his seed from entering the womb of his brother’s wife and let it fall to the ground. It is not because Onan did not want to have children with his brother’s wife, for that the punishment ordained by Levi and God’s law simply required him to be shamed, but it is that he perverted the sexual act with seeking after his own pleasures and stood in the path of creation and said a resounding “No” to God’s expansive love in the act of creation. Logically, we can see, Onan was required by the commandment, which is mentioned repeatedly, “to be fruitful and multiply,” thus to be open to creation, and he refused to be open to the idea of creation while in the sexual act with woman. However, because there is no direct biblical passage mentioning contraception by name[2] we must petition the teachings of the early church for the interpretation of these biblical teachings. This has always been a command that the church has recognized and valued through out the millennia until modern times.
In the early church, this command was taken very seriously. There were teachings on contraception, which reverberated through out the centuries repeatedly over the millennia, condemning the practice and forbidding it. In the Didache, or “The Doctrine of the Twelve,” it forbids the use of drugs and practices with are contra-procreation:

“Thou shalt not use magic (ou mageuseis); thou shalt not use drugs (ou pharmakeusis).” It is reasonable to conclude that the double prohibition refers to contraception and abortion because these terms (mageia) and (pharmaka) were understood to cover the use of magical rites and/or medical potions for both contraception and abortion.[xiv]

This doctrine of the twelve Apostles makes it clear that contraception was a problem in the ancient world as well as it is today. The apostles left a clear teaching about the use of contraception and made it very clear there is no gray area between the use of contraception; as the Didache begins, “There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways.”[xv] Contraception under this premise is a way of Death, condemned by the Apostles’ teachings. Another source for this teaching was the teacher Clement of Alexandria, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted”[xvi] The early church interprets the teachings of Christ, the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Epistles as forbidding contraception. Many other early church Fathers held this view against contraception as well, Barnabas[xvii], Origen[xviii], Hyppolytus[xix], Augustine[xx], and even St. John Chrysostom in his homily speaking about sexually covetous people, “They maimed their nature not only by slaying their children after birth, but not even agreeing to conceive (to generate the beginning—phunai ten archen).”[xxi] It is clear here that the early church fathers in first few centuries of the church consistently taught against the use of contraception by the Christian faithful. This also proves, for those who would say that the early church did not have to consider this controversy that they did in fact have contraception in the first centuries A.D.
Today, as well the Church does speak out against contraception. The Church through out the millennia has had a definition of marriage and what it entailed for the spouses, “reason discerns that the marital act has two essential meanings or purposes: a procreative (life-giving) purpose and a unitive (love-giving) purpose.”[xxii] This has been said by the current apologists, earlier in the nineteenth century when all denominations were coming under attack by this threat to life and the sanctity of the marital act it was declared, “True married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it,…are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family.”[xxiii] It is clear the teaching has not changed with the times, nor should it have. While particular denominations have become lax on this issue there are several denominations, which still follow the teaching of the Original Church Fathers and the Gospel and protect human life. It has been made clear that the Church, from its conception, has held contraception a sinful behavior from the beginning.
From this rational of the beginning, and the premises about love, life, and the marital conjugal act of sex have been established it must be applied to the present situation. Pope Paul VI in his encyclical to the Christian Faithful of all denominations, Humanae Vitae, has taken these precepts of the sanctity of the seed, and the marital covenant and shown the dogmatic progression. He begins with the purpose of the marriage covenant and those who interact within it. It is not merely the two spouses but it is also God, “collaborat[ing] with God in the generation and education of new lives[xxiv].” The sexual act and every sexual act involves 3 persons, the 2 spouses and God. They collaborate to be creators of new life. When there is no life wanted from the spouses then the sexual act is no longer for its designed purpose and God will not be present in that selfish act. Then he goes on to the definitions of love and its purpose within more than just the marital bond but in the communal life itself, 9. “It is not, then, a simple transport of instinct and sentiment, but also, and principally, an act of the free will, intended to endure and to grow in such a way that husband and wife become one only heart and one only soul, and together attain their human perfection.” With this comment Pope Paul VI is attempting to say If they are striving to give themselves to each other then isn’t it impossible to fully give of yourself while holding back a part of yourself that leads to the creative act? The logical progression continues on this path of defining love when he includes total love, “in which husband and wife generously share everything, without undue reservations or selfish calculations.”[xxv] These undue reservations, or selfish calculations to make the sexual act for ones own fulfillment and not for their giving of self to the other person, in all its fullness.
“And finally this love is fecund for it is not exhausted by the communion between husband and wife, but is destined to continue, raising up new lives. ‘Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children.”[xxvi]

Conjugal love is not an end in itself but an expression of a means to the end of raising life. “Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents.”[xxvii] Here we can see the refection of Paul VI upon the Old Testament passages of children being a blessing for their parents as has been mentioned above. Spouses must anticipate life, and the expansion of their love with God in the expression of new children and thus this anticipation requires openness to life,“ Hence conjugal love requires in husband and wife an awareness of their mission of "responsible parenthood[xxviii],"
It is now in Humanae Vitae that Paul VI focuses more upon the contraception and its options themselves, “God has wisely disposed natural laws and rhythms of fecundity which…, cause a separation in the succession of births. Nonetheless… each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life.”[xxix] God made it so there would be times when there is no pregnancy and no child, but that should not stop the spouses from partaking in the sexual act, because what is required from them is to be open to the possibility of live with every sexual act. There is a necessity for the act of procreation to be a part of the sexual act, by the spouses being open to the possibility of a child and doing nothing in their power to stop the procreation. By this act of conjugal love, it prepares the spouses for a generation of new life by creating a uniting bond between them. “[The sexual act] capacitates them for the generation of new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and of woman.”[xxx]
Contraception in all its forms deteriorates the moral standards of the partners. Whether it be a man or woman using the contraception because there is no openness to life it is a selfish act, “13. It is in fact justly observed that a conjugal act imposed upon one's partner without regard for his or her condition and lawful desires is not a true act of love, and therefore denies an exigency of right moral order in the.” This act of a spouse using the other for simply sexual pleasure or relief of him or herself is Marital Rape. Marital bonding requires that there no selfishness in the act as has been discussed by Paul VI above. To clarify this Paul VI says, “To use this divine gift destroying,…, its meaning and its purpose… and therefore it is to contradict also the plan of God and His will.”[xxxi] It is an affront to God to use the sexual act without the openness to life as its true purpose demands. Thus, anything that is actively prohibiting creation is sinful, “direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman.”[xxxii]
However, there are many who may need to use a medicine or practice, which is for their overall health that will prohibit creation in the sexual act, such as the use of birth control medication to regulate hormone cycles, which are abnormal. This is deemed a valid use,
“The Church… does not at all consider illicit the use of those therapeutic means truly necessary to cure diseases of the organism, even if an impediment to procreation, which may be foreseen, should result therefore, provided such impediment is not, for whatever motive, directly willed.”[xxxiii]

Aside from this exception, there is no valid reason for using artificial birth control for regulating procreation within marriage; Paul VI does make for the use of Natural Family Planning if there are physical, psychological, or any external conditions, which are not conducive to the birth of a child at that time.[3] Then there are also those who would take this argument to say that it is immoral to have marital relations when the woman is in an infertile time of her cycle, however because what is required by from the spouses is an openness to marriage, not the necessity of a guarantee of it, it is still plausible and moral to engage in the marital act while infertile.[4]
The allowance of contraception will lead to the degradation of the whole moral landscape, ” how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality,”[xxxiv] if we as parents allowed our children to practice contraception, “they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance.[xxxv] Paul VI saw the logical progression of the culture if contraception is allowed and he was correct in his assumptions:
“It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”[xxxvi]

In his assumptions, he was correct and we can see that today, in the rampant spread of casual sex, abusive sexual relationships, pornography, masturbation, rape, and abortion as the culture simply wants a gratification for its physical desires and no consequences.
Conversely, because the body is not our own and it is not made for our own ends, especially the act of procreation it must belong to God as His temple and His dwelling place. Once the Christian faithful realize this they will take up the practice, “To dominate instinct by means of one's reason and free will… so that the affective manifestations of conjugal life may observe the correct order.”[xxxvii] From this, we will receive a higher value of other human beings if they are not being simply used as a sexual object. Instead of selfishness in the act of sex, “rather confers on it a higher human value…it favors attention for one's partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love; and deepens their sense of responsibility.”[xxxviii] With the abolition of contraception as is necessary for the marital act of sexual relations to be done in its fullness and uncorrupted, the moral and ethical standards in regards to sex will rise to their appointed places.
[1] Deuteronomy 25.5-10: If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. However, if a man does not want to marry his brother's wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, "My husband's brother refuses to carry on his brother's name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me." Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, "I do not want to marry her," his brother's widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, "This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother's family line." That man's line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled. (NIV)
[2] Although, one must note, that there is no mention of the terms, Trinity, Abortion, or Purgatory either, yet they are dogmatic/doctrinal statements made by the church because of its holy Tradition handed down by the Apostles to the Bishops.
[3] Humanae Vitae, 16. If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier.[20]
It is true that, in the one and the other case, the married couple are concordant in the positive will of avoiding children for plausible reasons, seeking the certainty that offspring will not arrive; but it is also true that only in the former case are they able to renounce the use of marriage in the fecund periods when, for just motives, procreation is not desirable, while making use of it during infecund periods to manifest their affection and to safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly and integrally honest love.
[4] Humanae Vitae, 9It is true that, in the one and the other case, the married couple are concordant in the positive will of avoiding children for plausible reasons, seeking the certainty that offspring will not arrive; but it is also true that only in the former case are they able to renounce the use of marriage in the fecund periods when, for just motives, procreation is not desirable, while making use of it during infecund periods to manifest their affection and to safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly and integrally honest love.
[i] Catholicism for Dummies p.233
[ii] Catholicism for Dummies p.233
[iii] Chesterton, G.K., The Well and the Shallows, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1935, 233
[iv] Genesis 1.28 (NIV)
[v] Genesis 9.1,7 (NIV)
[vi] Genesis 9.2 (NIV)
[vii] See Ps. 107:38; 115:14; 128:1-4; Prov. 17:6
[viii] Deuteronomy 7.13a-b (NIV)
[ix] Exodus 23.25-26
[x] Encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul IV Part 9
[xi] Jeremiah 18.21 (NIV) My own emphasis.
[xii] Hosea 9.11
[xiii] Genesis 38.8-10 (NIV)
[xiv] Didache 2.2
[xv] Didache 1.1
[xvi] Catholic Answers, The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 [A.D. 191].
[xvii] Catholic Answers, Letter of Barnabas (X, 8)
[xviii] Catholic Answers, Contra Haereses, 9
[xix] Real Presence Association, Refutation of All Heresies 9:12 [A.D. 225
[xx] Catholic Answers, The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 [A.D. 388]).
[xxi] Real Presence Association, Homilia in Matthaeum 28, PG 57, 357
[xxii] Apologetics for Beginners p. 24
[xxiii] Catechism of the Catholic Church 1644, p.461
[xxiv] Humanae Vitae, 8
[xxv] Humanae Vitae, 9
[xxvi] Humanae Vitae, 9
[xxvii] Humanae Vitae, 9
[xxviii] Humanae Vitae, 10: The responsible exercise of parenthood implies, therefore, that husband and wife recognize fully their own duties towards God, towards themselves, towards the family and towards society, in a correct hierarchy of values
[xxix] Humanae Vitae, 12
[xxx] Humanae Vitae, 12
[xxxi] Humanae Vitae, 13
[xxxii] Humanae Vitae, 14
[xxxiii] Humanae Vitae, 15
[xxxiv] Humanae Vitae, 17
[xxxv] Humanae Vitae, 17
[xxxvi] Humanae Vitae, 17
[xxxvii] Humanae Vitae, 21
[xxxviii] Humanae Vitae, 21

Works Consulted

Carr, Bernadeane, and Robert H. Bishop Brom, eds. "Contraception and Sterilization." Catholic Answers. 10 Aug. 2004. Catholic Answers. 7 Apr. 2007 .
Chacon, Frank, and Jim Burnham. Beginning Apologetics 5: How to Answer Tough Moral Questions. 3rd ed. Farmington, NM: San Juan Catholic Seminars, 2000.
Hardon, John A. "The Real Presence Association." Father John a. Hardon, S.J. Archives. 1998. The Real Prescence Association. 7 Apr. 2007 .
His Holieness Pope John P. "Evangelium Vitae." Vatican Archives. 25 Mar. 1995. Vatican. 7 Apr. 2007 .
His Holieness Pope Paul Vi. "Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium Et Spes." Vatican Archives. 7 Dec. 1965. Vatican. 7 Apr. 2007 .
John Paul Ii, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, eds. Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. United States of America: Doubleday, 1995.
Kippley, John F. Sex and the Marriage Covenant. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Ignatius P, 2005.
Mur, Cindy, ed. Reproductive Technology. Farming Hills, MI: Thompson Gale, 2005.
"One Minute Apologist." Cor Ad Cor Loquitur. 2006. Sophia Institute Press. 7 Apr. 2007 .
Pope Paul Vi. "Paul VI - Paul VI." Vatican Archives. 25 July 1968. Vatican. 7 Apr. 2007 .
Trigilio, John, and Kenneth Brighenti. Catholicicm for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Inc., 2003.

In the Beginning...

Welcome Friends, old and new! I hope to explore the Roman Catholic Church in this Blog, and find True Catholics to dialogue with. Also, to be in conversation with protestants. All feel free to join in the conversation. Keep it civil please. May God Bless the work of the Roman Catholic Church, and her Pontiff. I would ask all those who are going to write anything on this site in the future to say a prayer for the Holy Father, and for the Bishops and Priests. Time to have fun. The Law of Love, for Vengence is God's alone.