Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, ‘Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden? The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the t…
I’ve long since noticed an aversion to the use of the pronouns “He,” “His,” and “Him” within feminist circles when making references to God. The more militant (and heretical) groups attempt to inject “she,” “her,” and “hers” whenever possible and must…
Yesterday marked the observed celebration of Corpus Christi. I was given the joint pleasures of a good homily and the use of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” in the liturgy*. The Mass itself was, as a result, one of the most uplifting which I hav…
“There is a jealous ear that overhears everything, not even a murmur of complaint escapes it. So beware of uttering frivolous complaints, restrain your tongue from finding fault; even what is said in secret has repercussions, and a lying mouth deals death to the soul” (Wisdom 1:10-11).
Protestants–particularly fundamentalists–may feel free to ignore this post, since your canon was assembled without Wisdom. For everyone else, these words truly do contain some wisdom which should speak to us (and indeed chastise us) today. We live in a culture which values “the right to privacy,” which is in reality a secondary right at best. We like to think that the stuff we say or do behind closed doors when nobody else is around doesn’t matter. If no one else is involved, or alternatively if everybody who is involved is a consenting adult, then it really isn’t anybody else’s business but ours.
Not so, contends Wisdom, not so. Even private sins can have public consequences, for if I secretly harbor hatred of my neighbor, then my interactions with him can’t really be friendly. We all know this from experience, because we all have a few of those people in our lives who we just don’t get along with (or who just don’t get along with us). Might this conflict be fed through our going home and stewing in our anger or hatred? If I harbor resentment in my heart against my neighbor, then my actions towards him may be neither fair nor just, and he (being wronged) may go on to wrong another. Thus my “private disagreement” has very public consequences–the whole community may be affected.
Worse still is when I share this private resentment with a friend, and bring him into that resentment. An unkind words, a malevolent whisper of the other’s failings, and a reputation may be sunk, perhaps unjustly. And for what? Do I actually feel any better about the other person as a result? Or about myself? Indeed, I probably do not. I have, however, managed to break the eighth commandment, and moreover may find myself trapped by at least one of the deadly sins: detraction is, in St Thomas Aquinas’ ontology, a daughter of wrath (loquatiousness and scurrility, on the other hand, are daughters of gluttony, thoughtlessness of lust, and discontentment of pride, if memory serves).
The philosopher Robert P. George noted in his Clash of Orthodoxies that “The acts of private parties—indeed, sometimes even the apparently private acts of private parties—can and do have public consequences.” This can be seen in the most heated debates in America–those of “social issues” such as abortion and gay “marriage.” It can also be seen in the reaction of so many to the Church’s teachings on contracetion, divorce, and remarriage. None of these issues are good from a societal perspective, which becomes especially clearwhen the sugar coating of “equal rights,” the right of conscience, and especially “the right to privacy” removed and the issue at heart is examined more clearly. Nor are any of them really any good for any individuals within society.
Moreover, we know that they are not good. So how have we as a society managed to convince ourselves that they are? We lie. We lie to oursleves, saying “it’s for the best.” We lie to each other, saying that “we’ll all be happier this way.” And what do our lies bring? First a divorce rate of 50%, then a rejection of the eqxclusive nature of marriage, and then finally a denial of its value all together. First a removal of one primary end to sex (procreation), resulting in the forgetfullness of the other (unification), and finally enslavement to the secondary end (pleasure); the relationships become casual (denying unification as an end to sex), then when the contraception fails we fall back on abortion. I contend that our guilty consciences and need to fulfill what soon becomes an urge, and apetite, leads at last to a loss of even the secondary end of sex–the pleasure becomes fleeting, and then at last leave, with only a hunger in its place.
Our lies have attempted to slay our consciences; they have nearly achieved the intended result, but the consequences are damning. The death of our souls is sure to follow.
The month of may ushered in that transition period from spring to summer in Austin. Most of the trees were now fully-leafed, and plants entered into that month of full bloom (and allergies). For me, a new surprise arrived as well: a group of blue ja…
It seems to me that there are, in modern times, at least six different sexes: men, women, hermaphrodites/people of nebulous sexual identity, neuter, and of course, womin (often called called “womyn”) and min. The fourth and sixth of these are hard to…
Last Monday, during the intermission at our monthly Dominican Laity meeting, the small group with which I was talking was approached by another member of our chapter. She had a question, which was originally intended for Fr Ralph, our groups senior priest. He being absent, she addressed the question to our group: what is the relationship between morality and freedom? A more specific phrasing of the question is: if God is the source of all freedom, how can He also be the source of all morality, which seems like a set of rules, of do’s and do’s not.
This is a very good question, and one with which many people are struggling today. Although no actually doctrinal changes were made during the second Vatican Council, a number of things were changed in the name of that council’s “spirit,” which would more correctly be “the spirit of our times,” or more accurately our social zeitgeist: postmodernism. Postmodernism is a libertine philosophy (and a lazy one at that), so the first thing which it casts aside is morality, and the second any other “rigid” doctrines (by which is really meant “rigorous” or “precisely and accurately defined” doctrines).
And in what name is morality thrown out? I’ve mentioned “the sprit of Vatican II,” but this is rarely the thing actually named. More often, the claim is that morality must be thrown aside for the sake of freedom, or sometimes for the sake of conscience (which is really “freedom to act according to one’s conscience”). Always let your conscience be your guide—is this what is really meant by “freedom from the law” (Romans 6:14)? Those who have this interpretation would be wise to read the next verse (Romans 6:15): “What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
As I mentioned a moment before, postmodernism has become the zeitgeist of ours times. Thus, it is all-too-easy to give a post-modern reading of freedom: liberty is replaced with libertinism. Casting aside the morality, the old rules, the law, I become free to do whatever I want, when I want to do it.
But am I really that free? A long line of thinkers, stretching from Russell Kirk and those whom have benefited from his wisdom back at least to the British statesman Edmund Burke would answer in the negative. In his essay “Ten Conservative Principles,” Kirk notes that
“[T]here exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent. This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth….Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice. Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically. The continuity, the life-blood, of a society must not be interrupted….When every person claims to be a power unto himself, then society falls into anarchy. Anarchy never lasts long, being intolerable for everyone, and contrary to the ineluctable fact that some persons are more strong and more clever than their neighbors. To anarchy there succeeds tyranny or oligarchy, in which power is monopolized by a very few” (emphasis mine).
Freedom cannot exist in a vacuum. Legitimate restraints can and must exist if a society is to remain truly free. The same is in fact true for the individual. When these restraints (or constraints) are placed on society, they are called “laws.” When observed by a private individual, they are collectively called “morality.” Just as a lawless society will fall first into anarchy and then into some form of tyranny, so will a lawless soul pass from libertinism to slavery.
Our desires, if they are not governed, will become our masters. We become their servants, and then soon the slaves of whoever or whatever controls those desires. Morality can be seen as “just another set of rules,” or it can be seen as the means by which to control ourselves so that we may become truly free. By learning and then practicing self-control, I can enjoy freedom in a way which I would never know otherwise.
How can I be free if I must constantly indulge one or another of my desires? If I crave alcohol every night, then I am not free from the bar, and if I crave sexual intercourse I become a slave to the nightclubs and swinger joints, and to all of the consequences thereof. I lose the ability to enjoy the sober company of friends, or to develop a truly intimate relationship with the person whom I love. If my entire life must revolve around satisfying my thirsts or my lusts, if I must schedule around to the bar or the nightclub or the seedy hotel room, am I really a free man? No.
It is no mere coincidence that the Israelites were given the Law of the Old Testament shortly after being lead out of the bondage of Egypt. They were being given freedom after generations of slavery, and would thus need to establish some order within their society if that freedom was to last. On a first glance, it may appear that the law is a long list of do’s and don’ts, but like many other things, the law is far more than the sum of its parts. Among other things, it contains a reminder that freedom is not merely the ability to say “yes,” but also the ability to say “no.”
I recall many moons ago when I was working at a Catholic hospital as an RN, contraception was not covered by our insurance. Yet, none of the female employees realized there was a silent ‘war on women’ taking place. The women who wanted birth control were still able to get prescriptions from physicians not affiliated with […]
Welcome back for part two of the online curriculum review. This month I’m reviewing a site that we discovered in the spring semester of school last year. Despite being late in coming to the table I was able to sign the kids up for the first semester of the courses that we chose from Our […]
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Catholic Sistas – perspective from the neck
In many ways, I have had a wonderful life; blessings surround me. I was born to a strong, faithful, and loving Catholic family. I was raised be thoughtful, fair, and loving. I received an excellent education, never went hungry, or wanted for anything I needed, including love and affection in my family. I’m now married […]
Shortly after my 35th birthday three years ago, I started to notice a rapid change in my hands. But, let me back up a bit and explain another event that seemed inconsequential. I used to have this cute little scar on my thumb knuckle. I would stare at it on occasion. It was an itty […]
We’re BAAAAAAAACK! It’s Friday and what better way to head into the weekend than to run yet ANOTHER giveaway?? It’s almost like it’s Christmas in July! So, let’s get started. If you didn’t catch our first giveaway of our Catholic Through the Year calendar/day planner and bundles, then you are probably stoked! The first giveaway […]
What is the Goal of Dating? Most of us have grown up with dating being a part of our lives or a part of the lives of people we know and love. When we think of dating many may consider it to be an integral part of finding a spouse and for the most part […]
Fridays are full of feelings- anticipation, accomplishment, exhaustion, and, yes, sorrow. For me, it is the end of a packed week of getting kids out the door to school each morning, helping them with homework, packing lunches, doing laundry, going to work, keeping up the house, and making sure meals are made and eaten before […]
Today, I will highlight the way that Satan deceives our minds in order to trigger negative emotions and lead us into discouragement, and, ultimately, despair. In the last two weeks, I’ve had at least three conversations with women who are beautiful, blessed, and economically comfortable; yet, each of these women was in great distress, sharing […]