Friday, November 26, 2010

Condomplations and Purification

I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday.

It was good to have a day of from thinking about condomversy, wasn't it?

Fr. Z continues to post coverage with his thoughts.  Fr. Z is a bit more of an optomist than I.  I'm not sure I see the kerfuffle as the Pope saying something controversial that contradicts fidelity to Church teaching so that we the people in the pews can kick the conversation around.

What purpose would this serve?   The Pope is the interpreter of teaching.  Anything we now say to our children or anyone else has been undermined.

When somebody is asking you about morality in sexuality and condoms, and asks you whether it would ever be moral to use a condom, specifically in preventing the spread of HIV, it would be easy to say, "No, though I understand the intention, condoms are unreliable and will actually increase a partner's chances of getting HIV.  The morally responsible thing to do is to accept your cross and abstain from sex."

It is not rocket science.

There are very serious consequences to lives and souls.

Think of our own sons coming to us and asking if it is morally responsible to use a condom when sleeping with the whores on Columbus Avenue.   Well, no actually.  Because you just might get HIV and pass that long someday to your wife and children.  More importantly, there's responsibility to talk about abstaining from situations that jeopardize their salvation.    We are not here to give constructive permission.  We are here to hold the line of truth.

If our mind was somewhere else and we make a mistake in answering our children - and they spread that error up at the high school, we'd be frantic to set the record straight, right?  We wouldn't read what we said in the school newspaper and in a followup question about whether we meant the advice strictly for our sons or whether it's also okay for our girls to use condoms, we wouldn't send somebody imprudent out to say "yes, the most important thing is to think about saving the life of the person you're sleeping with".

What purpose in matters of the soul would it serve to throw out something that was received poorly and with errors and let the immature and uncatechized hash it out at the high school?

A lot of times lowly bloggers are taken out of context to say things we never intended to convey.    Or sometimes, we even make a boo-boo.   It is important to correct them.  It stands to reason the Vicar of Christ would be subject to the same hysteria.  As Cardinal Burke says HERE, it will be important for the Holy See to clarify the mess.

If the media has misunderstood it, is this perhaps a failure of Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican to communicate effectively? Is there a need to “dumb things down” so the media gets it?
I believe the fact that the media has interpreted this in a way, at least from what I can gather from the communications that I’ve received, that is false interpretation and is rather widespread, that it will be rather important for the Holy See now to clarify the matter. [The Vatican Press Office did indeed issue a clarification Nov. 22, saying, “The Pope again makes it clear that his intention was not to take up a position on the problem of condoms in general; his aim, rather, was to forcefully reaffirm that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, advice, accompaniment, both to prevent people from falling ill and to help them if they do.]
That’s what’s going to have to happen now, because even some of the commentators who might be in general well disposed to the Holy See could misinterpret this and take it that indeed the Holy Father is making some change in the Church’s position in regards to the use of condoms, and that would be very sad.
It would indeed, but as some spiritual advisors have told me somewhere along the way, we can't stop what is predicted in the Book of Revelation, can we.    Sowing confusion is very much a part of the sifting and at every step of the way, we choose Christ and Truth and His Church, the Sacraments.
There's some great reading at Mark Mallet which I wholeheartedly agree with, specifically dealing with the condom controversy here and with the Book of Revelation here

But this is Christ’s Church, and thus, we have to recognize the hand of Our Lord upon this difficult moment, that God Himself is directing His Bride’s destiny. Pondering on St. Gregory’s word should give every Catholic pause to ask the question: "Am I in unity with Christ and His Church or not?" By this I mean, if Christ is the "truth", am I in unity with truth? The question is not a small one:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him. (John 3:36)
Jesus died to set us free from sin saying, "the truth will set you free." As I wrote in Living the Book of Revelation, the battle between the "woman" and the "dragon" begins as a battle overtruth that culminates, for a brief time, in the reign of anti-truth—the reign of the beast. If we are living in the proximity of those days, then the slavery of mankind will be achieved by leading them into falsehood. Or rather, those who reject the teachings of the Faith revealed by Christ and transmitted through Apostolic succession will find themselves serving another god.
Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned. (2 Thess 2:11-12)
Jesus said that, at the end of the age, there would be a great sifting of the weeds from the wheat (Matt 13:27-30). How would we be sifted?
Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. (Matt 10:34-36)
What is the sword? It is the truth.
Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
And so we see this sword is indeed double-edged. On the one hand, it has been used to strike many shepherds:
Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered. (Zec 13:7)
Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost… (Ezekiel 34:1-11)
On the other hand, the sheep have often followed their own desires, ignoring the truth engraved on their consciences, and following after idols. And thus, God has permitted the sheep to go hungry in many places:
Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)
What does all this have to do with the Pope and his spontaneous remarks about the use of condoms?....
The Holy Father’s words are no doubt controversial and ‘risky.’ The result has been mass confusion. But his remarks are also (whether intended or not) serving to "penetrate even between soul and spirit" exposing "the reflections and thoughts of the heart." Of course, what the Pope said was not the Word of God much less an authoritative statement. It was his personal viewpoint—a theologian theologizing. But the response to his words are revealing much about the "thoughts of the heart" of both sheep and their shepherds, not to mention the wolves. We are seeing a further sifting in the Church…
So the real story here is not the theological speculation of a pontiff, but the response rebounding throughout the world. Will some simply bail on the Holy Father for what is said to be yet another public relations gaffe? Will others use this as an excuse to uses condoms particularly for contraception, ignoring the official teaching of the Church? Will the media use this to sow lies and confusion to further discredit the Holy Father? And will yet others remain on the Rock of Truth, despite the pounding waves of mockery and misunderstanding?
That is the question: who will run from the "Garden" and who will remain with the Lord? For the days of sifting are growing more intense and the choice for or against the truth is becoming more defined by the hour until, some day, it will be definitive—and then the Church will be handed over to her enemies as was Christ, her Head.  
The tragedy is that few even realize we are in The Great Purification.
Let nothing separate us from the price of our soul's salvation and our Beloved.


Jerry said...

"There are very serious consequences to lives and souls.

Think of your own sons coming to us and asking if it is morally responsible ..."


I think you are getting to the heart of the matter. I think the pope has made a grave mistake on several levels. There is the the planting of a horrible, dirty image in our minds. This I covered in another post. There's the questionable moral judgment, i.e., I think the pope is just plain wrong. And finally, there's the scandal of dumping this out from a book of speculations, leaving it to the world press (and us bloggers) to chew on it, possibly to the detriment of our souls, but certainly to the detriment of those in sin and those on the verge of sin.

What the pope speculated on is a twofold benefit. One benefit is improved hygiene, which has no basis in science and should be discredited. The other benefit is of some supposed good in the soul of the sinner due to the intention of improved hygiene. The reader may pause to vomit, if necessary. I really don't want to dwell on the particular example of the Holy Father. The issue, though, is whether his example can be framed in terms of choosing a lesser of two evils. This is where I think the pope is off base.


Jerry said...

(part 2)
I was surprised to see, on, thoughts from saints regarding counseling someone who is planning an evil act, saying that it may be morally permissible to steer the man to a lesser evil act if nothing better can be achieved. If a saint like Alphonsus can admit this in theory, then I'll admit it for now. My point is to question whether this would apply to what the pope said. I think not, for two reasons. 1) The saints were addressing a single known person about to commit the evil act. However, the pontiff was speaking in hypotheticals to a general audience, many of whom might only be contemplating the sin but not dedicated to it. Hence, the pope's advice might actually provide a false excuse to someone, allowing him to commit the sin thinking he is being good at the same time. 2) The saints spoke of changing the sin to a categorically less grave offense, from murder to assault for example. There is nothing less grave about the pope's preferred outcome. In fact, contracting or spreading disease may may have the good effect of causing one to quit the life of sin and may keep others from entering it.

What caused the pope to get so off base on this? I suspect it has to do with his modernist-leaning concept of how men come to know God. In the traditional way, "faith comes from hearing." The Word enters, the soul in darkness moves toward the light, which is conversion, and contrition and penance result. It is a conscious act. Modernism, however, speaks of an awakening of the unconscious interior, known as religious or divine immanence (see Pope St. Pius X). Teilhard called it the "Christ consciousness." It is based on sentiment and is entirely independent of dogma. For the modernist, it is the awakening of this sentiment that is important, and not what one believes. Back to the pope. I think he leans toward the modernist idea of the interior awakening (immanence), and that he sees this awakening in the sinner as the overriding aspect of his example. This is why we see in his example no improvement in the sinner, no lessening of the enormity of his crime. It is the sinner beginning an awakening, a step in the evolution of religious immanence. Again, this is not the traditional Catholic understanding.

TheLastCatholicinBoston said...

"I suspect it has to do with his modernist-leaning concept of how men come to know God."