Old Testament Laws have changed…why not Homosexuality too?

Sometimes people will quote scripture with regard to the penal laws in the old-testament, punishing people’s sins that are quite common-today.  Amongst them is homosexual acts.  Secularists and progressive Christians will point to the apparent hypocrisy of a Church that calls those living according to their sexual desires that do not follow the order of God’s design to repentance, while not also calling those who break other laws in the old testament that seem trivial today.  As a result of such arm-chair theologians we get seemingly ironic yet ignorant memes such as the one in this blog-post.Lev Meme

Part of the theological problem is people have too few categories to assess the law and to understand it.  Such an over-simplistic (dumbed-down faith) results from not catechizing people of common-sense distinctions with regard to the moral law and the juridical precepts which St. Thomas Aquinas and the Church clearly indicate were not intended to be perpetual, while the natural law is immutable.  That is to say some laws were given by God for a time, and others are immutable.  In the old-testament, often this distinction is not being clearly made, as the author lists the punishment for disobedience to all laws in general.

Thanks be to God, for the non-fundamentalist tradition of the Catholic Church.  The Church makes the distinction between the Natural Moral Law and various juridical precepts.  The natural-moral law is engraved into the very nature of man, and is immutable, while various juridical laws that were meant to maintain the integrity of the Jewish people as a distinct civilization were conditioned upon the time and circumstance, yet nonetheless willed by God.

The problem that I run into is that you will rarely find people that are willing to take the time to understand this distinction.  Firstly because their interest is in supporting a conclusion by whatever means necessary, including a straw-man argument.  Secondly, because so few teachers of the faith are able to articulate the distinction well enough for people.  Thirdly and most importantly, most people have a post-modern understanding of law, where they understand Law in general to be an imposition upon nature, rather than something flowing out of nature itself.  That is to say, too often people perceive God’s moral law, (Divine or Natural) to be a “positive-law” that is arbitrarily imposed upon man, rather than for the objective purpose of helping man flourish. Moses

Those who seek to do away with the law because they feel as if our modern era has progressed beyond it have likely bought into this notion of a “positive-moral law” given to us by God.  The irony is that such people claim to be following the “spirit of the law.”  When in reality, to gaze upon the moral law as if it is something imposed upon nature, rather than flowing out of it, for its own fulfillment and flourishing indicates the very opposite truth:  a failure to internalize the spirit of the moral law.  That is to say, in deeply penetrating the nature of God’s law as pointing towards true fulfillment in the divine design and nature of man, we now live in accord to the Spirit.  As a result we will look upon the natural moral law as immutable and the juridical laws as changeable.

But if we view God’s moral law as a positive law that constantly changes, then you must also ascribe to the notion that God is violently at work against us, to supress and repress our nature as such, rather than to heal it.  Yes, it is true that our nature is fallen, and God does seek to tell us to avoid that irrational disorder within us all (concupiscence), but He also seeks to restore us to our true nature, and to never repress or supress this divine design within us.  We give great glory and praise to God when we compliment Him on His wonderful design, and we bear grave insult to Him when we try to refashion it according to our own ignorance and disordered desires.

As Pope Francis put it at the end of the synod on Families:

Indeed, it means upholding all the more the laws and commandments which were made for man and not vice versa (cf. Mk 2:27).
In this sense, the necessary human repentance, works and efforts take on a deeper meaning, not as the price of that salvation freely won for us by Christ on the cross, but as a response to the One who loved us first and saved us at the cost of his innocent blood, while we were still sinners (cf. Rom 5:6).
The Church’s first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord (cf. Jn 12:44-50).”

The Church is not so much condemning a person when it uses the language “disordered” to describe the attractions that a person has.  In fact, it is being consistent since every single human being is afflicted with concupiscence, and therefore all people have a variety of disordered desires.  The person themselves is not a disorder, but the person “has” a disorder.  So what?  Everyone has an inclination to sin.  The path to a fruitful and joyful life is not to be enslaved to irrational desires.  Rather it is to be who you are:  male or female and all that implies.  It is not up to us to change the grand design of God, nor to throw away those whose carnal desires do not line up to their design.  Furthermore, it is harmful to us to act contrary to who we are or to say that we are our desires.  Rather we are to call everyone to make a great sacrifice to say “no” to themselves so that they can say “yes” to what real love looks like.  It is ironic that in the world today the Church is told it does not accept these people.  But in reality, we are the only ones truly accepting who they are, even while some such persons reject who they are objectively because of how they feel.  It is emotivism.

This true-acceptance of the person is impossible for legalists, even if they are “progressive” or “traditional.”  By the way it isn’t “traditional” to break with the Spirit of the Law, nor do we make any progress when we do this…. Whatever side we fall on, treating God’s moral law as anything but what comes natural to us according to our design leads to legalism.  And from legalism we get harsh, angry bigots or lawless, angry dissenters.  Both are to be rejected.  Capiche?


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Theological Reflection on Loneliness, Truth, and Friendship

Loneliness is a common phenomenon that every human being experiences, regardless of their own state in life. A person could be married, could be single with many friends, could be isolated, and could be busy. It doesn’t matter, because loneliness exists when friendships are not healthy as they could be.

Loneliness unfortunately also causes us to “react” in ways we didn’t even realize we could. We are starving for friendship and union with our neighbour, and when something provokes us or appears to be a barrier to filling that void, we are defensive or we retreat.

One of the modern lies that enflames loneliness in the culture today is an indifference to truth. Aristotle reminds us that true friendship is discovered in a common pursuit for the truth, and what binds both people is that which they seek in a united fashion. Theologically we know that this “truth” is actually not merely something facile and technical, but it is a Divine Person who is Love and Truth itself.pleading

If friendship is the cure to loneliness and we live in a world of relativism, it means that human beings are indeed lonelier than they have ever been before. Some people today will parade pluralism as a form of “rising above the quest for truth” echoing Nietzsche’s “beyond good and evil.” Of course those who, believing that in transcending the quest for truth, as a truth of itself, will necessarily fall into such a contradictory blunder. Having a diversity of views is not always bad, but having a diversity of views that contradict each other is. And when there is no room for open dialogue, no willingness to learn from another or be open to another’s view, the door to that person’s soul and entire purpose is being slammed shut.

Another way of explaining it is as follows. The manner with which we perceive the world creates the world we live and breathe in. This is meant in a phenomenological context – or how one “experiences” relationships.  This does not mean that our perceptions are in fact true for us and not for others, but rather our very subjective choices about our world view creates either the illusion or groundedness in reality. When a person has a totally different world view than you, it is as if, while they exist in the same room, they do not exist in the same world as you. You do not belong to their world, and they do not belong to your world. Each individual becomes an Island unto themselves, and if they are comfortable in their world, they will not dare listen to anything that could even prick the conscience to consider otherwise.

Living in two different worlds fosters a great and profound loneliness because man no longer has a unity of mind, and as a result no longer has a unity of heart. Friends, remember, truth defines whether love is genuine. If one has a “different truth” about love than the other, love itself exists in two different worlds not being conjoined to the other, but remaining divorced and separate as Islands unto themselves.

Noisy worldThe great ache, therefore within man for love is founded upon the necessity of truth, and being indifferent to this only will foster the illusion of friendship under the guise of tolerance and sweeping the important issues under the rug. Christ, as a two-edged sword divides because he clarifies where people are actually standing-apart and demonstrates where reconciliation needs to take place. Therefore, in order for forgiveness and mercy to be manifest, it must be done in truth, in integrity, and not through anything else.

Today we live in a culture which seeks to have personal expression as its greatest virtue. Every individual has their own entitled freedom to define the truth for themselves. This, I have seen, has fostered incredible loneliness amongst faithful Catholics. I see Catholics who are filled with resentments (which is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit) because of the deep passionate loneliness of living in a Church where there is seemingly no consensus on what Love is. Driven by this thirst for validation of the truth, a shared world, men and women begin to emphasize conformity and obedience to Tradition as a tangible and sacramental means to experience true unity within the Church or culture. This does sometimes go to an extreme, whereby obsessions disproportionately causes such individuals to neglect charity in such a worthy pursuit. The Church which has seemingly supressed or neglected its traditions by emphasizing inordinately its uniqueness away from the universality of the Church (it’s a tension) is now being reacted to by those who are feeling isolated. One generation reacts to useless conformity done for the wrong reasons, and another generation reacts to lawlessness sought to empower each individual. The pendulum swings between both, and neither seek middle ground, each wants to be heard, and no one wants to listen.  It is not being heard, not being understood, not residing in our own world, that we feel the sting of loneliness more than ever.  Some might hush controversial discussions others might push it beyond what is reasonable:  both are seeking unity by fleeing and fighting.

At the heart of it all is the ontological configuration of man to seek union with his neighbour and God since it is not good that man be alone. Man created for union unnaturally exists when he lives in a spiritually distinct world than others.

We haven’t even begun to mention the honour and glory due to our God. If we merely perceive seeking a united truth for the sake of the community, we nonetheless foster a totalitarianism whereby man must impose a truth upon others, as if truth were a positive law, by which he asserts. Community cannot be genuine if it is artificial as such, and only agreed to for the sake of unity, but not being grounded in reality as such. This means that an inclination towards giving God credit for what He is (Truth) becomes a matter of justice, rather than anything artificial. Speaking the truth about God thereby becomes the actual means to genuine unity with our neighbour, dismissing secular humanism as merely being a facile attempt to accomplish what can only occur through an explicit union with Truth itself.priests

Man’s quest for friendship amidst his fallen, lonely state, thus implies a seeking of the Friend-itself: Jesus. Human beings together, shaken towards this quest as their top priority will only develop a healthier relationship for it, because they will be not only grounded in the same world together, but one that is truly right and just, truly reasonable and rightly ordered, without which, love never remains truly genuine.

In reality, most people do not live entirely distinct from each other, and there is often great overlap. But the pain hanging out a limb through the window during a winter’s day, brings an absence of health to the entire body and can be gravely dangerous, despite the fact that the majority of the body is taken care of. The overlap is a good place to begin, but being indifferent to where truth is not shared is to kill the relationship eventually. Man was created for perfect union, not half-hearted union. Man seeks real love, not lazy love that is content with anything less. For men and women this is impossible, but with God’s Holy Spirit and the splint of Church doctrine, mankind can align itself to God’s truth and thus be assured of genuine friendship and not suffer the great poverty of loneliness.

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Aversion to Reverence: Entitlement and Narcissism

                In the office of readings, July 2nd, 2015 we read 2 Samuel 6:1-23. This has always been a fascinating passage of scripture. We begin this reading with the movement of the Ark of the Covenant known to be the most holy possession of Israel. The Ark itself was venerated primarily because of what it contained: the presence of God. Leaving aside the very direct application this might have to our Blessed Mother, we realize that to the Jews, the Ark was to be treated with great reverence.

Why does God expect reverence from us?

Sometimes people will suggest that God is so humble that He would never demand reverence from us. This is true, only insofar as God would never demand reverence from us out of some ego-centric motive. However, God will demand reverence from us if it is for our own good. The opposite of reverence is familiarity, whereby we seek intimacy’s counterfeit. Familiarity is reducing a mystery into an object to which we claim to know everything about. Consider couples who begin with romance and end in familiarity; they begin with respect, but end with possessiveness and entitlement. This is an example of people who have lost a sense of the genuine mystery in the one to whom they are married to, and how much more true is it when applied to our relationship with God.

Pope Francis elevates the Eucharist as he celebrates Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome June 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (June 19, 2014) See POPE-PROCESSION and POPE-CORPUSCHRISTI June 19, 2014

Pope Francis elevates the Eucharist as he celebrates Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome June 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (June 19, 2014) See POPE-PROCESSION and POPE-CORPUSCHRISTI June 19, 2014

God expects reverence out of Justice. Keep in mind that God wants us to be righteous people, because that is good for the soul. Avoiding the poison of injustice helps us find inner-peace and peace with our neighbour. Therefore God wants us to be people of Justice. It is truly right and just, therefore, everywhere to give God thanks and praise. That is to say: in order for us to be “good” as far as justice goes, we need to be able to give credit where it is due, thanksgiving where it is due: and this begins with God. If it doesn’t begin with God who is responsible for everything, then our whole lives lack the proper orientation. How could we give more credit and thanksgiving to someone who is less responsible for all that is good? Would not our neglect of God become a twisted form of injustice?

Furthermore, we must understand why reverence is important from a Trinitarian perspective. The Father loves His Son, and out of that love expects us to Love him also. He does not appreciate when we defy or neglect His Son, to whom he Loves infinitely. Therefore out of love for His Son, he demands our reverence. Likewise, the Son is utterly in love with His Father, that he demands we respect Him. It is no wonder that the Father told us to Listen to Christ, and Christ told us everything He had heard from His Father. They are a united front, and expect us to respect them both. It is not as if they are seeking their own glory, but rather are seeking to glorify each other. Therefore, in this sense, out of Love for each other, the Trinity demands our respect.

Therefore, God seeks our reverence out of Love for each person within the Trinity and for our own good; thus the law of Christ (To love God and neighbour) is perfectly recapitulated in His demand for our reverence.

Spiritual Death: Entitlement to Grace

                Being aware of our own motives may help us to critically examine why we may or may not be overly critical of various forms of reverence. It may simply be that we have just grown accustom to the status quo in this regard. But if we are in Love with Christ, the status quo will never suffice. Perhaps change in the way others pray is perceived as a distraction: but sometimes distractions are good when they awake us out of a spiritual sleep and spiritual deafness to God’s presence. Perhaps they seem to draw attention to ourselves, and thus people automatically consider this a vain and unproductive activity. Aha, if this is the case, you must read the office of readings we encountered today. How easy it is to fall into the same trap that Michal fell into!

Before we examine Saul’s daughter’s reaction to King David dancing in the street before the presence of God, let us begin by examining what led up to such exaltation of the Presence of God. We note that Uzzah witnessed the Ark of the Covenant tipping, and so he stretched out His hands to steady it. On the surface, this might seem to be a fairly reasonable thing to do. However, God was utterly furious at Uzzah’s action that he was struck dead. Why?

Uzzah was not a Levite, and therefore not a priest. He took it upon himself to fulfill a role that God had not ordained him to accomplish. This means that Uzzah, who was not worthy of the task (election), was not permitted to take on the role of one of the priests. The priests had been consecrated to this particular task, and the whole established order that God had created around the Ark was meant to establish within the social-mindset of the Israelites a deep and profound reverence: the Ark was not something to be “familiar” with, but rather required a Divine-calling to handle.  The Ark therefore became a tangible means to understand our relationship with God in a properly ordered fashion.  The organization of the various roles/vocations of the Israelites became a means to teach people how to approach God, and in what spirit.

Applying this logic to the Church we realize that the way the Church organizes the liturgy has a profound impact on how we approach God.  This is something few seem to grasp in our day and age, which explains why the liturgy is often reduced to a symbol in the minds of many.  If we treat the Eucharist as if He is a symbol, people will naturally begin to believe it.  The way we pray, shapes what we believe in.  Furthermore, after Vatican II it became clear that priests reacted to clericalism by reinforcing clericalism, albeit unintentionally.  Instead of approaching their office without a spirituality of entitlement they shared that spiritual sickness of entitlement with the laity.  All of a sudden people began to feel as if they had a “right” to approach the sanctuary and preform duties that were strictly assigned to the priest.   Therefore, instead of defacing entitlement we hid it by encouraging it in everyone.  No longer was grace (gift) even in our minds:  entitlement was.  And as Pope Francis suggests, we priests clerlicalized the laity, passing on our own sickness, rather than building up the laity in their own vocation.Uzzah

Uzzah’s extended hand did not convey a reverence for the Ark, but was actually the exact opposite: he felt entitled to approach the presence of God, something that was clearly spelled out to be forbidden. God was therefore not punishing Uzzah’s intention of saving the Ark but rather his spirit of entitlement. Consider this passage in this way: when we approach God with presumption and entitlement we are spiritually dead. We cannot receive “grace” authentically if we perceive “grace” as something we are entitled to. It will never take root in us.  If this is our attitude we have reversed the entire order of justice, suggesting that God owes us reverence, and that it is truly right and just for us to be able to be in the presence of God. How spiritually twisted and vile for any human being to consider “grace” a right in the spiritual-sense. For grace is a gift, that we receive with gratitude, not possessiveness. Truly Uzzah was spiritually dead when he reached out to the Presence of God in the Ark.

King David was shaken by this experience and as a result welled up with reverence for the Presence that he could not fathom it being brought to Him in a deserving manner. In other words, David understood the pride of Uzzah and therefore sought to ground Himself in a spirit of gratitude that God had chosen Him and the Israelites to enjoy such a procession of God’s presence.

Michal and Reverence-haters

                Michal is a fantastic analogy for the spirituality of many who are off-put by reverence today. As David welcomes the Ark of the Covenant into the City, he dances and seemingly makes a fool of himself. However, David is over-the-top excited that God has chosen to be present to Him, and he can only appreciate this because all entitlement within Him is entirely vanquished. His gratitude is grounded in the very fact that he is dust, but with God’s abiding presence (grace) he is elevated from dust to life. What an incredible and exciting realization to have that a self-affirming culture cannot ever comprehend. When we affirm ourselves in the right-spirit it involves giving no credit to ourselves, but rather to the one who made us. We do not make our own heartbeat, nor do we design ourselves: that is all God’s doing. Therefore, when we affirm ourselves in an inordinate way it means we confuse our behaviour with our being: we think we are responsible for creating ourselves. This narcissism will naturally lead to one conclusion: entitlement and despair.

Michal who has lost her inheritance after David replaces her Father Saul is filled with jealousy and therefore allows her bitterness to guide her interpretation of David’s leadership. She is disposed against Him, and will therefore always resent his actions and find fault with them, even when there is no fault.  In this case, she accuses King David of the same thing so many nay-sayers today accuse those who demonstrate reverence: “How the King of Israel has honoured himself today.” In other words, Michal is convinced that David has honoured himself or is showing reverence to God as a façade of actually receiving honour from others for himself. While it is more than possible that false piety can be twisted in such a sense, we must keep in mind that the external action of King David was actually in synch with a proper spiritual attitude. As a result Michal is judgmental and incorrect in her judgment. David responds that he would love to be dishonoured before the presence of God if only it builds up people’s view of God’s presence. What a profoundly humbling statement for David to say: something that is stated from a man who genuinely loves God.David dancing

Michal is later said to have lived without being able to conceive until the day she died. Perhaps, interpreting this in a spiritual light, we might be able to say that because her heart was hardened against authentic reverence (borne of her hatred for King David and therefore his example), she was not able to contribute new life to the Assembly of God. Without the spiritual fruit of reverence, it is impossible to add new life to the Church, in the spiritual sense. Our love for God will naturally draw other people into a relationship with God. A love for our neighbour is secondary to a love for God, and rightfully so, lest our neighbour becomes deserving of more honour then God.
Liturgy, Ritual, and Worship that is Pleasing

God gives us ritual as a means to express our love for God with our entire-being. We are body and soul: therefore our worship ought to be comprised of both body-and-soul. With a purely abstract love of God, we develop spiritual disorder within ourselves, and naturally with our neighbour. Do we give God worship in our mind, but not in our body, yet we show honour and respect in both ways to our neighbour? Why would we dare to give God less than what we would give one of His creatures? Ritual and Liturgy are the very means to bestow upon God this reverence.  Two friends of mine gave a perfect example of why this makes sense.  For the sake of propriety I will give them other names.  Matt went to mass with his girl-friend Kelly.  He went to mass because he really liked Kelly, but the faith was still growing within him.  One day Kelly noticed that Matt’s but was leaning on the pew during consecration (and he had no back-problems).  She told him:  get your butt off of that pew.  His response was swift:  “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care.”  She gave him a head-flip, and then flipped back, and said, “If you cannot honour God, who can you honour?”

I love this true-story because it demonstrates a common attitude amongst people today, which is that God doesn’t care about our reverence.  God doesn’t care about a “show” of piety, but He does want us to place Him in the highest throne in our own soul.  Not because he needs such adulation, but rather, in order for us to be good, we need to place Him there out of justice.  Furthermore, our love for our neighbour cannot ever be authentic, if we do not put God in the highest place first.  Otherwise, we honour who we prefer, rather than who deserves it, and we cannot be grounded in justice if we are grounded in our preference over truth.

Sometimes we are like Uzzah who consider ourselves entitled to approach God with a spirit of familiarity.  One might think acting with familiarity presents ourselves as “down-to-earth” but in reality we are only perceived as down to earth by the people because the people perceive what is base to be down-to-earth. Likewise, we become base and spiritually dead when we buy into such a counterfeit.

A photo illustration shows a priest cleaning the Communion vessels inside the chapel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' building in Washington Oct. 24. At the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion will no longer be permitted to assist in the purification of the sacred vessels at Masses in the United States. (CNS photo illustration/Bob Roller) (Oct. 24, 2006) See SKYLSTAD-VESSELS Oct. 24, 2006.

A photo illustration shows a priest cleaning the Communion vessels inside the chapel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ building in Washington Oct. 24. At the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion will no longer be permitted to assist in the purification of the sacred vessels at Masses in the United States. (CNS photo illustration/Bob Roller) (Oct. 24, 2006) See SKYLSTAD-VESSELS Oct. 24, 2006.

One of the practices in our diocese, for instance, is that only the ordained ministers (and those who have received the ministry of Acolyte from the Bishop) are permitted to purify the vessels used after consecration. This often is perceived as “off-putting” because people feel as if they are entitled to touch the sacred vessels whenever it pleases them. People are found to be put-off when one suggests that they are unworthy of such a task. This is the wrong attitude, and it springs from a spirituality of narcissistic entitlement.

An ordained minister who rightly understands his vocation understands this to be something given to Him as a gift and a responsibility. He should never perceive such tasks as being something He is entitled to, but rather elected to accomplish. But when a priest perceives all of ministry under the lens of entitlement he might project that into the role of the laity, and therefore relax such rules, making everyone seemingly “entitled.” The unfortunate thing about such an attitude is it ultimately never uproots the spiritual disease, it simply enables it amongst everyone.incense-and-icon

God elects certain people for such tasks as a means to bring about humility: and so when these tasks are blurred between the laity and the clergy what happens is we remove ourselves from a very tangible method of making the Church filled with gratitude and reverence. We do not see the wisdom in the social-dynamic of allowing for such order to be supported, because we only perceive things through the lens of our fallen-nature.  We also lack the prophetic vision we are to have, in how God’s little laws and rubrics are actually impactful in an authentic spirituality.  We are constantly attempting to be progressive in sin, and totally unaware of this as the objective method and goal of our aims.

A priest has been made worthy, not by His own merit, but by the election and will of God. And with that gift, He is called to holiness as everyone else is: but in his particular task. If we were to internalize the Little-Flower a bit more realistically, we would come to the conclusion that such a task as handling the divine mysteries is incredibly debasing to our own ego.

The solution is in realizing that we demonstrate reverence not because we are worthy of God or showing our own holiness to others, but rather, we are debasing our pride that God may be the Rose that is noticeable amongst us, the little white-flowers that merely draw your attention to the real-deal: God.

Regardless of our vocation in life: life isn’t about any of us: it is about the glory of God. The quicker we learn this, the more abandoned we become from our own glory: the more we will experience God’s glory and all the joy that comes from such exciting love.

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Silence and Confrontation: Dealing with Difficult People

Every situation is different and requires its own discernment. Therefore it is impossible to provide a universal response to every personal conflict that may arise. My intention is to offer some principles that might help in various situations. However, underneath each reaction and interaction or lack thereof that we may or may not have with others must be done in the right spirit. This means we must realize that all interactions involve spiritual discernment. Words or silence both have power. I would like to spend some time sharing with you some attitudes and responses we might have with difficult and challenging people. Everyone has their own charism in dealing with issues in their own way, and their own personality. However, there are times when we need to have boundaries.

I would like to first address the diabolical or evil presence of an individual. All of us can be mouth-pieces for Satan. And if we are really honest with ourselves, we will note occasions in our lives when our words were destructive in the life of others. Be assured this doesn’t make you so far gone that you needn’t consider yourself a Christian. Remember: St. Peter was told by Jesus: “Get behind me Satan.” Eve was the first mouth-piece of Satan when she tempted Adam. All of us have some part to play in passing on gossip, lies, personal opinions and impulsive statements that are naïve, that can cause misdirection and disorder in the lives of others.curearshc However, there are some people who are so crafty and under the influence of the Evil One (perhaps without knowing it) to such a degree that they should be avoided. These people might be possessed (it is the demon speaking), or they could simply be wicked.

Pope Francis recently drew a distinction between the “corrupt” and the sinner. The sinner is all of us, including the corrupt man. However, the corrupt man is a type of sinner that might not be in all of us.  He is one who knows he is a sinner, yet refuses to admit of it to himself and to others. It may seem that I have contradicted myself here. If a person knows he is a sinner, how can he refuse to admit that? Doesn’t he admit it on some level? Yes. However, there is a whole other level of self-deception, self-justification and self-righteousness that abodes in him.

He is convinced in and through his passion and lack of spiritual integrity that he is righteous when he is not.  Such a man is vicious, and thinks himself (on the surface) to be virtuous.   Again, I think if we are honest with ourselves, this exists to some degree in all of us, but in the wicked/corrupt, it is to such a degree that the person is poison and cancer to be around.  In fact our presence actually enables the person to perpetuate evil. These are the people we should not eat-with.  Such people whose presence brings about a sort of “inner-twisting” whereby we recognize that entering into dialogue with such a person becomes a battle-ground that we cannot win. No matter what you say, no matter how genuine you say it, your words will be used against you. Pharisees did this to the Master, and he was so wise that many times He could answer their questions with such great wisdom that it would confound the people. However, not all of us have such power and wisdom. Many of us, including me especially, can experience a temptation to respond to every objection or every argument or every accusation.  Meanwhile, this is merely the person bating you.  Christ also did respond silent, and at other times he answered questions they didn’t ask, in order to frame the discussion on His own terms.

The antagonistic person might purposefully mischaracterize your point simply to antagonize a response out of you.  This is typically called “trolling” but it can be done with a vicious spirit.  In many of these cases, what God asks of us is silence. I remember years ago I was having a difficult relationship with someone. It came to me, through a great deal of prayer, that I was not meant to dialogue with that individual. Through direction and the guidance of many others, I was told: “This isn’t your responsibility.” Of course, pride and a false type of charity always brought about the temptation to avoid fostering a legitimate boundary for my own sanity. Such great anxiety (the type that causes you to not sleep) would take hold of my heart that I felt the need to “control” or seek “reconciliation” with this individual at any cost. Isn’t that what Christians are called to do? Not always.

Anti-ChristWhen I was young, I had an exaggerated notion of God’s mercy. It is a weird thing to say, because we know that there are no limits to God’s mercy. But there are limits to its definition. Some acts are merciful, others are not. If a person is abusive, subjecting yourself to that abuse isn’t merciful towards that person at all…it is enabling. Sometimes mercy, and love, are not perceived as either mercy or love. Again, when I was young, I didn’t understand this. I remember Christmas Eve, praying for the Devil, that I hoped he would have a good Christmas. It was an absurd prayer, of course, as a child, I didn’t understand the nature of angelology and why what I prayed for was impossible. It was at best a sentimental and hyperbolic notion of mercy. But it was offered to no avail. Sometimes people are so wrapped up in the devil, in deception that we simply need to respond to their own vileness and viciousness with silence.

Exorcists are reminded of this when exorcising a person who is possessed. They are reminded that entering into a dialogue with the devil himself is a fruitless endeavour. Satan is far more intelligent than us, and therefore, whatever he does, be assured its aim is deceptive and a means to ensnare us. One priest testifies that during an exorcism that he performed, the possessed individual began cracking jokes to such a degree that it had the priest and the people rolling on the floor in laughter. But it was all a deception, slowing down the process of exorcism. No curiosity, no saviour-complex , should ever avail us to converse with those who are ensnared, except when they are not under such an influence. But sometimes a person is not possessed, sometimes the person themselves is wicked enough that they need not be possessed to conduct their evil deeds. And like the devil, they may be able to outsmart you and to manipulate the discussion in such a way that brings about confusion and disorder into your life that God does not want for you, that you cannot handle, nor are expected to handle.

Let me give you an example. Last week I was at Shoppers Drug Mart picking up a prescription. As I waited in line having purchased some other medication, a man was ahead of me. He stated: “Bless me Father!” Immediately I felt ill talking to this man.  I didn’t feel bothered, but I could feel the disorder within him, in my own soul. He was not there to respect the office or the Church or to discuss anything with an open heart or mind. He continued: “The only regret I have about being Catholic is that I wasn’t sexually abused. That way I could have become rich by suing the Church.”

I was taken off guard, and immediately felt confused by his statement. I needed time to process it, but I couldn’t understand his point. How demeaning to those who had been sexually abused, who probably wished every day that they hadn’t been abused! Was he attacking the victims, suggesting that they were lucky to be abused because they received money? It seemed horribly absurd. Was he in some twisted way trying to get me to suggest that the victims were just “money-grabbers?” Immediately, in my spirit, I felt this intense regret for the abuse of children within the Church. Rather than directly responding to his statement I simply confessed: “It is quite horrible what has happened to those children, isn’t it?”

My question framed the discussion in the way it should have been framed. Interestingly enough he changed the subject. He then confessed he was an atheist who followed Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. At this point, I wanted to see if he was interested in an intellectual discussion. I asked him: “Have you heard of Peter Kreeft. He is a professor of Philosophy and has some intelligent things to say on the matter.” “Pffft” he responded, “Philosophy is stupid. Do you even know what it means?” I responded, “Yes. It means Love of Wisdom. And if you don’t love it, you don’t have it.”

I purposefully made a point with a small bit of humour, to assess whether or not he would be willing to discuss anything on an intellectual level or just to be down-to-earth for a moment.  I prodded, to assess the situation to confirm my intuition.  However, he didn’t seem interested and just changed the subject.  Was his goal to frustrate me?  Probably.  But he wasn’t in my head, he hadn’t gotten under my skin. The conversation went in many different directions after this. Later, while he walked away, he turned around and said, “And remember: whatever.” His statement reminded me of Zen Buddhism which upholds that the notion that there is some cosmological purpose to our existence is inherently absurd. This was how I interpreted his action.

But I didn’t react, other than to say to him: “Enjoy your movie.” In this interaction, I knew that nothing I said held any weight or value. He was talking to me in order to vex his own venom, and yet I took control of the conversation by framing his statements in the proper light. As a result, he did not stir or get the reaction from me he wanted. Perhaps he wanted me to be offended. But I wasn’t. I just stood there, not really sure what to say, and spoke when I felt called and remained silent when I couldn’t figure out where the conversation was going.

I also didn’t give him any excuse to dismiss me as a Christian by reacting tit for tat. In this way, I believe I upheld the teaching about “turning the cheek.” This of course has been grossly misunderstood. When we turn the cheek it doesn’t actually mean we turn the other cheek to be abused. Rather, we are actually taking control of a situation, while maintaining our own integrity. This is because in Jesus’ time no one would ever be considered honourable if they struck you with their left hand (that is the hand that was used to clean themselves). Therefore to turn your cheek, you would be saying, “You must dishonour yourself if you wish to hit me again.” It was a way of saying, “I’m not going to respond to your hatred with hatred, but I’m also not going to allow you to do this again to me.”

Victims of abuse who fall for a false notion of mercy and Christian charity often think that what the Church is requiring of them is to remain in an abusive situation. But understanding scripture properly, we know that this just is not the case. God does not want us to condone behaviour by enabling it, nor does he want us to become what we hate, fighting fire with fire. The path to love our enemies is therefore incredibly narrow. On the one hand we cannot be enabling, but on the other hand we cannot hate the person. There is a place in between, but it is difficult to find.

Sometimes people need to walk away from situations, from towns who do not believe, just as Jesus did. We need not curse the town in the process, but we should walk away. Our happiness is not contingent on concessions and reconciliation with every sinner. Our peace comes from being reconciled to God, which involves an openness (but not success) in finding peace in our neighbour. Some people will never admit of their own fault in this life; for them it seems too hard to bear to look inward. All in all, I have encountered numerous times, that not every situation requires a response. Sometimes we are simply there to be slaughtered like a silent lamb, and this speaks more eloquently than anything else we can say.

Having wickedness disturb your peace will only validate his antagonism. Being unmoved and at peace will only inflict war within the antagonist. And this is good, and for this reason Christ came to bring the sword, rather than false-peace.10 commandments Christ brings division, as he sheds light upon the issues we sweep under the rug.  We the people hate the truth at times…its hard to look at.  But when we are seeking the truth with integrity, God can work with that, and help to win our hearts over. But it is His work.

Not all cases are diabolical. Sometimes people are wounded and they are impulsive and immature with their emotions. Their emotions frame their perception of truth to such a degree that they act without any impulse control. They use manipulative techniques without even realizing it in themselves. I have encountered some people who will go from “one-extreme to another.” They do this in order to manipulate your emotions to feel bad for them, and to make you perceive yourself as the bad-guy.

No one wants to be considered bad, but if our goal is to be perceived well by others, we are vain.  Often such a way of framing a situation easily controls your behaviour that we acquiesce to their bullying, because their perception seems to matter to us over and above what the truth actually says. I have been bold in this regard with some individuals, especially those who go from one extreme to another. I remember one time offering a critique (although I offered a lot of praise as well). This individual however only heard the criticism. As a result he/she decided to say, “Fine I won’t do anything anymore.” I responded, “Hey that is manipulative.”

The shock on the person’s face was telling. He/she realized when I said that, I wasn’t attacking him/her, I was actually encouraging the person. It put them in a dizzy. Why? Well, I explained, “I love what you do, and I think it would be great if you continue. I am only asking you to change this one little-thing.” In other words, I did not back down from my request, but I also put the situation, immediately, into its proper context. I added, “Going from one extreme to another is merely a technique to get a person to feel sorry for you and to back down. I’m not backing down, but I’m also not attacking you personally. I love you, and am asking you to do this because it’s what should be done. Can I explain why it is important?” It is funny how calling people out can be so profoundly loving, and actually building the person up, in such a situation. The person is called out on their emotional, disproportionate reaction, while maintaining at the same time an authentic love for the person. It was a grace to be able to do this, and the person left realizing that I had set up a boundary where immaturity was not welcome, but love was.  All of a sudden love was real, and concrete, not sentimental and ambiguous.

People want real love, and it comes from people who are not obsessed with the perception of others; in this way love is proven authentic, and weighty. When we search for love through manipulation we are always left empty. The one thing I’ve learned through all of this is that loving your enemy (or difficult people), is both a gift and a challenge. It is a gift because it gives us the chance to build up within ourselves the virtue of confidence in the truth, while also loving the person we speak to. People, therefore, who are difficult are saving us, they are God’s gift to us.  If we don’t attempt to enter through the narrow gate, we either vilify the person to the point where we excuse ourselves into silence, or we enable the person by justifying their behaviour through our presence or keeping the dialogue/diatribe in motion.  Both are wrong, and both are right responses, depending on the situation, the motive and the way we go about communicating what is important. In the person whom you should not speak to, you learn how to conquer the temptation of a saviour complex or the false notion of mercy (enabling). With the emotionally unstable or immature person, you learn how to communicate love, while not simply avoiding conflict out of sloth or cowardice.

All situations can bring about a death-to-self. NEROBut I will end with a caution. There are people in our lives that we need to shut out. While the nature of man is good, we must keep in mind that the nature of the devil is also good. The devil was created by God, and will always have the nature to “worship God.” But the moral-character (which differs from our nature/ontology) of some people is vile and evil. Alternatively, we must be very careful not to vilify someone simply because they disagree with us, and therefore to pigeon-hole them into this category. We become one of those crazy Catholics who think that everyone and everything is the devil. In reality, we become the number-one reason why no one goes to Church or is attracted to Christianity.

We must therefore have more than a gut-reaction, but be wise and live a prayerful life under the guidance of good direction from people who have an objective and wise view. If we are tempted to dismiss a person for the wrong reasons, to excuse ourselves and to rationalize/justify this action by convincing ourselves that they are more evil and twisted then they really are, then we are not approaching this with the right spirit. Above all, there must be an awareness of our motives, and why we “want” to either avoid or seek conflict.

Sometimes we are living a life motivated by fear and therefore pride, yet we have the habit of justifying our motives in the service of God or neighbour, that we fail to realize the motives are actually quite the opposite.  Some occasions call for directness, other situations require boundaries that avoid enabling certain behaviour. There are some people we need to simply ignore or walk away from (which can be a loving thing for that person), unless they experience a transformation so significant that the reality of manipulation and twistedness is gone. At the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ through baptism. We are not meant to be at war with each other, but we are. And we must battle and navigate through temptation carefully and with wisdom. Therefore, be neither only silent nor only confrontational: but wise. Christ did both. Know your limits, and know the person you are talking to.


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Spiritual Narcissism & The Glory of God’s Name

In the apologetics class that I teach, we have been working our way through the book of Genesis. One of the themes that arises in the beginning of the book is “making a name for ourselves” versus seeking to glorify the name of God. This has been a theme constantly on my mind for a number of years. I first began to reflect on boasting of the name of God when I was watching the Chronicles of Narnia. One of the interesting themes we find within this story line is Aslan who is an obvious “Christ-figure” as intended by the Author, C. S. Lewis.Nun Cross

Within the series we discover that every time the soldiers, who defend Narnia, go to battle, they make the mistake of defending “Narnia” while leaving the name of Aslan out of their cheer. Unwittingly, each time they do this, they lose the battle. It isn’t until they experience a conversion that admits the battle is truly being fought for Aslan, and then Narnia, that they actually defeat their enemies. It was subtle in the movie, but this very reference has its roots all over scripture.

Gideon, is a man who struggles to trust God.  His reasoning and fickle spirit seems to cast doubt on God’s promise and power.  As a result, Gideon asks God for sign after sign.  God obliges out of patience.  God reduces the Army of Israel to such a pitiful number of soldiers, and scripture explains that this is done so that Israel would not boast of itself. Rather, Israel cannot boast of their own strength or ingenuity, but can only boast of God who makes the most foolish (in the eyes of the world) become the most powerful. This small army accomplishes its task, despite what human-wisdom would have otherwise suggested.  God takes what is weak in the world and uses them to overthrow the powerful and arrogant. That is God’s style, for He does not wish that we ever trust in ourselves.

God is Confident

Why would God want the focus to always be upon Him? Is He ego-centric? No. God is teaching us that apart from Him nothing we do will bear good-fruit. God recognizes that He alone is the path to our own happiness. God does not “need” us to boast of Himself. It is not as if God has poor self-esteem.  He does not need us to make Him feel better about Himself. God is infinitely confident without one speck of arrogance.  It just so happens that God is perfect, and He knows it.  Yet He doesn’t boast of this out of arrogance, but rather reveals this to us so that we will look to Him for help.  That is to say, God’s perfection is given to us out of service and love.  God wants us to worship Him, to boast of Him, and to place Him on the highest pedestal because that is precisely what is good for us. God realizes He is the best thing (community of Persons) to offer us, and that there is nothing else that He can give us that is greater than Himself. That is to say that the greatest gift mankind could ever receive is the gift of God Himself.

Our worship and boasting of God is good for us because we are people who know who to thank. Without a sense of gratitude for all that God has done for us, without boasting of Him every day, we turn into self-centred, ungrateful, narcissistic brats. Think about it. If it is righteous to thank your parents for the gifts they give you, is it not all the more righteous to thank God for the whole universe? What about His death upon the cross, or the suffering moments in our life that have taught us how to love, and enables our love to be genuine? In all things we can find a reason for gratitude. Therefore we say at every mass, “It is truly right and Just” to give God praise. This makes us people of justice and righteousness to give God His due. God does not need our praise; He does not lose any perfection or confidence within Himself if we walk away. Rather, we lose the ability to be righteous and just, by walking away from worship.  Without worshipping God, we fail to be good, morally.  We might be good always in who He has created us to be, but our spirit is self-centred, nonetheless.

If we get excited about boasting of God, it means we have truly interiorized His Name, and it’s holiness.  God has done so many marvelous things for us, we wouldn’t dare put His name under a bushel Basket.  We are enthralled with love for Him, we don’t care if it seems offensive to mention.  He is our friend, the Lover of our Soul, Infinite beauty itself.  Everything takes  a back-seat to His name, and a silent, anonymous Christianity dies.

Think back to Cain. When he built his own city he named it after his own son. Meanwhile the righteous line, stemming from Adam, did everything for the glory of God’s name. What a contrast! On the one hand, Cain places his emphasis on his own progeny, stressing the importance of what man can accomplish. Meanwhile, the righteous recognize that without God, nothing they accomplish is of any value. Cain has a plan to make glory for himself, which will all one day, destroy itself in the great flood. Cain places himself and human-ingenuity at the centre of everything, and inadvertently puts mankind into an ongoing conflict that will end by the mercy of God

Peace and War Noisy world

The whole question to why there is war in our world, in our country, in our families is at stake here.  And without spiritual peace, no structure or government power will ever foster genuine peace.  This is where it is important to reflect on the science of spiritual-peace. You see, every person searches for happiness, and sometimes we are looking for it in the wrong places. We get confused, deceived, and think the world and all it has to offer will finally cause our soul to be at rest in peace. The world offers us Power, Pleasure, Honour, and Wealth, and yet none of these things finally resolve man’s anthropological need for happiness. They may only give us momentary feelings of happiness, but if they become idols, rather than tools, they will lead to addictions that enslave man and cause turmoil between his brother and sister.

The reason for the inevitable absence of peace in man who seeks happiness through human effort instead of faith, is because human effort only bears the fruit of finite goods, and man hungers, objectively, for what is infinite. No person wants their happiness to end (an incorruptible happiness is what we long for) and yet all sinners place their hope in things that die (power, pleasure, honour and wealth). And while these four things are finite, as a result they cause us to fight with each other, because by definition, what is finite is limited. If our apparent or perceived happiness is found in a limited resource, that means we have to fight and trample upon each other to find the so-called happiness we seek, because there is not enough to go around.

There is only one thing that can make mankind finally at peace with one another, and satisfied: God. God is infinite, and He shows no partiality. That is to say that if all our subjective (of the will) and active choices direct ourselves towards hunger in God for total fulfillment then we cease to be in competition with one another because there is enough of God to go around. God becomes the source that truly satisfies us. Our worship therefore is a heart aligned to God that can bear the fruit of genuine peace in the lives of all of humanity. God wants us to worship Him, because it creates and fosters a heart and mind that is truly oriented towards authentic world peace.

Such peace will never come through an effort towards structures and governments alone. Such is to build another tower of Babel that only seeks to make a name for itself. In fact, scripture claims that was the goal of the people building the tower of Babel. They sought to make a name for themselves. How many self-righteous people draw attention to their supposidly selfless deeds of aiding the poor today?  How many activists puff themselves up for their saviour-like work?  Whatever is popular or contrary and good for the world becomes a means to caress our ego, and again seek Honour.  True peace will never be accomplished in this way.  When they had constructed the Tower, God came down (which means they failed), and they were scattered, unable to communicate to each other. The universal language of justice and love had been lost, and men’s hearts were divided in such a way that everyone became, again, at odds with each other.

Narcissism can also enter the Religious

But religiosity is not sufficient for our salvation. We cannot simply have external practices of piety, but rather unite that external devotion to the Spirit of Truth. Without the Spirit, our external actions become scandalous, as we bless out loud, while cursing in our own heart. Don’t be fooled by the lawless, the solution is not to remove the external practices, but rather live up to what they are meant to communicate in Spirit. A hug, for example, communicates love. So make sure, when you hug someone, it is because you love them as a brother or sister.  Those who put on a “good-show” will snap, connive, and pour out their venom through gossip.  They have no real peace in their heart, but only place all their repressed efforts on showing themselves as the grand-man of humility.  But when put to the test, they scatter like the hired hands who tend the sheep for their own personal profit.

The Pharisees therefore who sought to be “recognized” in public are not wrong because their worship was public. Rather they were wrong because their motives were twisted into “making a name for themselves.” Somehow the devil is able to offer us a counterfeit in every dimension of the Christian life. A Pharisee who had his heart rightly aligned would not seek to be recognized, but rather seek to recognize God. Likewise, the spirit of the world can infiltrate the spirit of the Christian so as to make repugnant what is meant to be a beautiful sign of God’s glory.  Why have so many priests stopped wearing their collar?  Why are so many people threatened by external acts of piety and reverence?  Because it has now been associated with emptiness and self-worship.  That is not what these external practices are meant to convey, and thus the solution isn’t to remove them as we see in the great “abstract-movement” of the post-conciliar Church.  Rather, we are called to reignite the flame of the unity of body and soul, of external actions and spirit.  Let us not fall into the trap of lawelessness or legalism.

Here are some questions that might awaken self-awareness and the capacity to interiorize this call, therefore to boast of God.

Do you lose your temper or self-control when the going-gets-tough?

This is a sign that the venom within your own soul has not been entirely drained by the mercy and patience and light of God.  When it comes out, it means you have more areas for healing in your life.  It is better to be honest about the venom than repress it, for when we repress it, we are merely putting on a show.

Do I experience jealousy at another’s accomplishments or recognition?

If so, does this not mean that you are seeking your own recognition? Envy is a sign that we are seeking finite goods, rather than God.

Solution: recognize that God is so utterly in Love with you. No matter what your failures or successes are, no matter what gifts you have or don’t have, that Love is a rock that will never change. Realize that this alone is what you need to be satisfied.

Do you experience wrath towards others?

Sometimes we begin to hate others because we view them as threats to our happiness or the happiness of others. But no principality or power, or prince or king can take away the Love that God has for us. Do not allow another person’s behaviour to cause you to lose your peace, for everything you need for true fulfillment has already been promised to you in Baptism.

Do you attach your worth to gifts/talents you may or may not have?

It is a common trap to think that what we can “do” is what makes us valuable. This is a lie. It is not what you can do that makes you good, it is who you are that makes you good. No matter what you do, God will always love you.   Be at peace, knowing that you have this unconditional love; because no matter what you do to yourself or to others, you will always be God’s creation, and not your own creator.

Do you withhold forgiveness?

Sometimes we can be hurt, and forgiveness will be a process. Hating what a person has done is – if morally wrong – always acceptable, and should be the case. But hating the person takes that righteous anger too far. Every person was made for love, and you will never find true happiness until you accept this. Forgiveness is a way to honour God’s creation, rather than man’s behaviour. Do not look at your life experiences as removing any hope of true happiness. Recognize them, instead, as a means to become a truly good and loving person, and therefore one who will inherit the Kingdom of God.

Do you have low-self-esteem?

It is a common struggle for many today. Self-love is a good thing, when we realize that we are not giving credit to ourselves, but rather to the one who made us. We do not make ourselves, and therefore, self-love is not a self-compliment, it is a compliment to God. If you are looking for anything else, you will always find yourself caressing your own ego, and thereby setting yourself up to be self-centred. This will lead you to hate yourself more and more. But if you are other-focused, you will forget about yourself, and begin to love others and God. When you fulfill this task, you are truly loving yourself, because you are being exactly who you were meant to be.

Don’t have many friends?

Many go through dry periods in their life, and many more experience isolation. Blessed Mother Theresa described loneliness as one of the greatest forms of poverty in our world. First, recognize that to have friends, you have to be a friend to others. Also, realize that you have Christ as your friend, and He is patient, always willing to forgive when we aren’t the best of friends. Pray for good friendships, that you might encounter people who accept you as God intended you to be accepted.

But if you look at friendship as the source of your happiness, you will find everyone will let you down. No matter how loyal or patient others are, they will die, betray, or not totally fulfill what your heart is ultimately longing for. Only friendship with God will do that. Start building that relationship, and make sure it isn’t a fantasy or wishful thinking, or abstract. Make your relationship with Christ real and tangible. Seek Him in everything you do.

Eating or Lusting too much?

Often we turn to momentary experiences of pleasure to escape the very real hunger within us. Realize that what you are objectively hungering for is Divine Love, and feeling that ache within is not a reason to despair, but a part of you crying out to God like a prayer to be filled by Him alone. Imagine how satisfied you will be when that hunger is satisfied.

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Pets, Heaven, and Marriage

Usually when you want to stir the pot as a priest you begin by discussing issues such as contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, or any sexual and moral issue. That is what I thought, until May 22nd, 2015 when I made mention of what I had learned about the difference between pets and human souls in my Thomistic Philosophy Class during Seminary formation. It might interest you to know that Thomistic Philosophy (the study of St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought) is the only philosophy mandated by Rome to be taught to those preparing for the priesthood. According to Vatican I, Thomistic Philosophy is considered the perennial philosophy of the Church. This of course does not mean that this particular brand of philosophy is dogmatized, but rather it is your typical “go-to” place when we want to discuss the systematic nature of theology in the Church.dogcreation

What I’ve noticed in our culture today is an inordinate love of pets. People gravely wounded by loneliness have turned to pets to fill the gap. But we must return to the book of Genesis to examine why this is disordered. We remember that Adam had been given all the animals on the earth as a gift, and he had the freedom to name each one. Yet, despite naming all of them, he discovered that they didn’t really fulfill him. Therefore, despite being in a good relationship with all of nature, man was still found to be alone and in isolation. Man lacked communion with another, and animals simply didn’t fill that deep gap within his own being. God had created man and woman with a degree of incompleteness. Therefore God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” So God created for Adam, woman. St. John Paul II explains that “Adam” prior to Eve represented all of humanity, and the creation of woman in Eve represents the creation of both sexes. Woman being presented as being created last also means that she is God’s master-piece.

When Adam awoke from his sleep (a sort of ‘going-out-of-being’) he found Eve and discovered her to finally fill (to some degree) that gap within his own heart and soul. “Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” At last, amongst all the earth, man had found his true companion. That hunger, that desire for communion, for affection and love, was now properly ordered in human-relationships.

When Adam, then followed the command of God to “Be fruitful and multiply,” they did not bear dogs and cats as children, but rather Cain and Abel. God’s command to have children was related to the conjugal act of erotic love between man and woman. Therefore the need for communion not only extended to the spouse, but also to the creation of a community with children. It is therefore in the nature of man and woman to desire a communion of love that bears the fruit of new life.

What happens when we don’t fill our natural needs? We sometimes go about trying to fill them in an unnatural or inordinate or unreasonable manner. The sad thing about this is, this hunger is the most fundamental gift that each of us have within ourselves, and it does not merely point towards children and a spouse, but it ultimately points towards God. Married couples discover quickly that after the Honeymoon, life is not entirely fulfilled. In other words, marriage acts as a foretaste of what a relationship with God is all about. A foretaste does not entirely satisfy our longing, but gives us a preview that inflames or awakens our hunger even more.

Noisy worldThe danger is, if our hunger is inflamed but we do not know where to order it, we will go about turning a foretaste into a gluttonous feast. Theologically speaking, we will turn an icon into an idol. Husbands and wives who possess each other without respecting each other’s freedom is precisely an example of this. It leads to a self-centred vacuum where each person becomes a black hole that seeks to suck the life and goodness out of others, and it is an infinite thing. Because man seeks God, who is infinite, as man unreasonably seeks his happiness in what is finite, it becomes addictive and never-ending. Nothing ever truly satisfies, and because man stops looking up towards heaven, he continues to search the earth to fulfill his need for infinity with what is finite. He will discover, hopefully that this is a pointless endeavour.

As a celibate male, I realize this in a more phenomenological way than merely theological and dialectical. The desire for communion is not “finally” answered through a sacred relationship with a wife. Rather, my heart is zealously pointed towards a complete and uncompromising thirst for God alone. I do not want the sign, I want the Trinity to burn within my Soul, the true spouse of my soul. It is not that I dismiss woman, but I see her as a gift who points me towards something that I hunger for even more deeply: the one to whom she was created in the Image and Likeness of: God.

This is, finally, why there is no marriage (human-marriage) in heaven, as Jesus explains. For each soul is married to God, who is capable of giving each of us the fullness of His attention. Some married couples have a difficult time with this, because they claim that their human spouse will be the most important relationship they have in heaven. But I have to remind them, their spouse on earth, while a gift from God, is merely a foretaste of the husband you will have for your own soul in heaven. Who would dare to replace God as husband?  Can they outdo Him in love?  We the Church, His Bride, are engaged at Baptism to God in heaven, and we hope our death is our wedding day and consummation with Him.

What happens, though when we fall into darkness about God and the hunger within ourselves? That hunger is so profound it motivates all of our actions. And this must be the reason why topics pertaining to sex often bring out all the world’s venom. Reconsider St. John the Baptist who had his head chopped off because of the Gospel he preached. Consider St. Thomas More! Don’t we get it? If our happiness and desire for total fulfillment is challenged, the spirit of murder rises up within ourselves to meet what is preventing us from filling that vacuum within ourselves.

Another way of putting it is, when we seek finite realities as our fulfillment:  both humans and creatures and things, to fill our wounded, hungering heart as the ultimate fulfillment we seek, we become competitive with each other. With finite-resources being limited, it is impossible for us not to become competitive. If God, however is our resource/source of happiness, then there is no need for competition, because there is enough of Him to go around to everyone. God therefore finally resolves the reason for all conflict, when He is placed as our ultimate goal and the food that we truly hunger for: for man does not hunger for bread alone.Nun Cross

What I have witnessed in people who call pets their children is a desire to create a fantasy that numbs the very real pain of loneliness that comes natural to them. Those who love their pets inordinately will actually say, (and I have witnessed it first hand) that if their pets are not in heaven, they do not want to go there. They have traded in God for a pet.  But what they loved in their Pet is already in God, infinitely, and thus fail to realize that the pet is an even smaller foretaste, but still nonetheless a foretaste of God’s good nature.

Whether or not pets are in heaven, along with their tapeworms, it should be a trivial question if our hunger is rightly ordered. Do not get me wrong: I love animals. I am a dog-person. I will get down on my knees and play with a dog, howl with the dog, and let the dog lick my face for hours. In fact, I even had a mystical experience with a dog – as weird as that sounds. I remember a time when I was very broken as a teen during a retreat. I left the prayer group in sobbing tears, and sat outside. Randomly a dog came up to me, and sat beside me. God gave me the supernatural grace to realize that it was not the dog who was loving me, but God was loving me, symbolically through the dog. It was a type of knowledge you receive by grace, not by mere reasoning.  If this is the type of relationship we have with nature, then it is healthy.  But if it is perverted by the idea that the actual pet is our happiness and necessary for our happiness, then we might consider going to adoration more.

Today we confuse the affection that exists in animals for love, they lift dogs and cats, therefore to the dignity of the human person. Please:  don’t buy into the notion that the Church hasn’t dogmatically claimed whether or not animals have the same type of soul as humans. The practice of the Church to baptize only human beings speaks for itself, and not once has any theological statement claimed that Christ died for the sins of Pepper, my deceased childhood dog. People want to believe their pets love them, because they are too burdened by the fact that their non-existent spouse doesn’t love them, because he or she doesn’t exist. The illusion of love in a pet makes the pain go away. But it’s an illusion. And one that I have witnessed will be defended at the cost of ostracizing a priest on Facebook.  Feeling that hunger is really what makes us good Christians if we allow it to become zeal for God.

What needs to happen, and this is coming from a man burning with desire for communion, is to learn to live in the pain of pleading“waiting” for that infinite love of God to be received. If our call is the single life, we should look at this as a gift that sets us on fire like a rocket towards heaven. Order your desire for love, your feelings of loneliness towards your ultimate end: God. Do not look at marriage as your ultimate fulfillment, but a means to arrive at your ultimate destination: marriage with God.

Love your pets, but love them not as a human being: love them as a very small picture of what God is like infinitely. Love humans even more, but again, don’t love them as you would Love God. Don’t make pets or humans into an idol: make God your object of worship.

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Theology of the Body

Theology of the Body:  Spirituality [Part 1]

Theology of the Body:  Introduction [Part 2]

Theology of the Body:  Redemption through Marriage [Part 3]

Theology of the Body:  Abortion [Part 4]

Theology of the Body:  Contraception [Part 5]

Theology of the Body:  Chastity [Part 6]

Interview:  The Road to Joy:  Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

Theology of the Body:  Same-Sex Attraction [Part 7}


Persecution:  Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Cross

Virtue and Vice:  26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Loving God through the Poor:  30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All-Souls Day:  Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

Dedication of St. John Lateran

Christ the King of the Universe

Undoing the Original Sin

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ

Facing Exile:  2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exorcism and Christ’s Authority:  4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Suicide and Redemptive Suffering:  5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Evil and Redemptive Suffering:  6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Converting a Worldly Church:  1st Sunday in Lent

The Woman at the Well:  3rd Sunday of Lent

The Priesthood:  Holy Thursday

Infant Baptism:  6th Sunday of Easter

The Head and the Body and Zeal:  Ascension Sunday


Faith & Reason:  The Fundamentals – Part I

Faith & Reason:  The Fundamentals – Part II

How to Argue & Christian Anthropology – Part I

How to Argue & Christian Anthropology – Part I

God’s Existence & Moral Principles – Part I

God’s Existence & Moral Principles – Part II

Abortion – Why not? – Part I

Abortion – Why not? – Part II

Graphic Images & Abortion [Dan Zeleny]

Heaven, Hell and Purgatory – Part I

Heaven, Hell and Purgatory – Part II

Heaven, Hell and Purgatory – Part III

Protestantism & Catholicism – Part I

Protestantism & Catholicism – Part II

Human Sexuality:  Male and Female – Part I

Human Sexuality:  Male and Female – Part II

Human Sexuality:  Male and Female – Part III

Homosexuality – Part I

Homosexuality – Part II

Homosexuality – Part III [Testimony on Coming to Catholicism]

Evangelizing a Jehovah Witness [Christine Yeoumans] – Part I

Evangelizing a Jehovah Witness [Christine Yeoumans] – Part II

Contraception – Part I

Contraception – Part II

Saints, Devotion, and Virtue – Part I

Saints, Devotion, and Virtue – Part II

Faith, Hope, and Love:  Relativism, Marxism, and Lust

Euthanasia – Part I

Euthanasia – Part II

Euthanasia – Part III

Angels, Demons and Exorcism – Part I

Angels, Demons and Exorcism – Part II

Ministerial Priesthood – Part I

Ministerial Priesthood & Why the Church doesn’t Ordain Women – Part II

Evangelization and the Eucharist

Pope Benedict XVI and the Liturgy – Part I

Pope Benedict XVI and the Liturgy – Part II

The Natural Law and Spirituality

Testing your Philosophical and Theological Knowledge

Bible Study:

Genesis 1-3 – Part I

Genesis 1-3 – Part II

Genesis 4-9 – Part I

Genesis 4-9 – Part II

Genesis 10-13 – Part I

Genesis 10-13 – Part II

Genesis 14-19 – Part I

Genesis 14-19 – Part II

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