from the incomparable Janet Smith:
Most people who do not experience SSA but who are very favorable to same-sex relationships are favorable more out of compassion than out of a conviction that same-sex relationships are natural and good. They rightly sense that everyone is meant to love and be loved: thus they say things like “every one has a right to love whomever they want.” They don’t want their loved ones or anyone with SSA to live lives of loneliness. It is important to acknowledge the truth of the insight that life without love is unbearable and not true to human nature. But it is important to point out that there are many kinds of love and that most of them don’t and shouldn’t involve sexual expression. Parents and grandchildren love each other; brothers and sisters love each other; teachers and students love each other; and friends love each other, but none of these loves should be expressed sexually. Expressing love sexually is appropriate only for those who can participate in the full “meaning” of the sexual act, an act that includes affirmation of the complementary difference between the two sexes and the orientation to new life that belongs in sexual expression.
from the incomparable Janet Smith:
"It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a ‘sign of contradiction.’ She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law." --Blessed Paul VI
"In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. In the family we receive an integral education, which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings." -Pope Francis in Laudato Si (no.213)
The thing that struck me most about the new encyclical is that (for the first time in a papal encyclical that I can recall), Pope Francis supports his teaching with statements from various Bishops' conferences from around the globe. He has Paraguay, New Zealand, and South Africa in there.
Not only does this confirm that we are indeed the Church Universal, it also brings to fruition an important component of Vatican II reform that has, until now, gone un-tried: genuine collegiality.
This just in: John Allen Jr. beats me to the punch!
Only he chalks it up to other motives.
“We found that contentment in the late seventies was not even suggestively associated with parental social class or even the man’s own income. What it was significantly associated with was warmth of childhood environment, and it was very significantly associated with a man’s closeness to his father.”
-George Vaillant, on the Harvard Grant Study
“It is necessary to insist on the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its intangible assets. The family is the foundation of co-existence and a guarantee against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.”- Pope Francis, Nov.17
As my home state of Michigan Celebrates Marriage, we are reminded that
Marriage is Beneficial for Children
“Each child has life, thanks to a mom and a dad.”
A married mother and father are great gifts for children, so supporting an institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers is extremely important. A man and a woman, through their faithful union in marriage, provide a stable environment for children to experience the love and care of both a father and a mother, who each able to contribute to their growth and development in unique ways.
Social science data shows:
Children who live with two married parents tend to enjoy greater physical and mental health than those who live in other family situations.
Children in married, two-parent families enjoy more economic well-being than children in any other family structure, which often carries into their adult lives. By age 30, a woman raised by two married parents will earn an average of $4,735 more in annual income and a man raised by two married parents will earn an average of $6,534 more in annual income than their counterparts raised by single parents.
Children that are raised in married households are significantly less likely to miss class and show attendance or behavioral problems. They are more likely to graduate from high school and college.
Children who grow up in married, two-parent households are more likely to delay parenthood until marriage.
Boys in married households are less likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
Sandro Magister has assembled all of the Holy Father's statements on marriage and family here. One in particular stood out for me:
From the general audience of Wednesday, April 15, 2015:
Sexual difference is present in so many forms of life, on the great scale of living beings. But man and woman alone are made in the image and likeness of God: the biblical text repeats it three times in two passages: man and woman are the image and likeness of God. This tells us that it is not man alone who is the image of God or woman alone who is the image of God, but man and woman as a couple who are the image of God.
The difference between man and woman is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate, but is for the sake of communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God. Experience teaches us: in order to know oneself well and develop harmoniously, a human being needs the reciprocity of man and woman. When that is lacking, one can see the consequences. […]
Modern contemporary culture has opened new spaces, new forms of freedom and new depths in order to enrich the understanding of this difference. But it has also introduced many doubts and much skepticism. For example, I ask myself, if the so-called gender theory is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution. […] The marital and familial bond is a serious matter, and it is so for everyone not just for believers. I would urge intellectuals not to leave this theme aside, as if it had to become secondary in order to foster a more free and just society. […]
I wonder if the crisis of collective trust in God, which does us so much harm, and makes us pale with resignation, incredulity and cynicism, is not also connected to the crisis of the alliance between man and woman. In fact the biblical account, with the great symbolic fresco depicting the earthly paradise and original sin, tells us in fact that the communion with God is reflected in the communion of the human couple and the loss of trust in the heavenly Father generates division and conflict between man and woman.
The great responsibility of the Church, of all believers, and first of all of believing families, which derives from us, impels people to rediscover the beauty of the creative design that also inscribes the image of God in the alliance between man and woman. The earth is filled with harmony and trust when the alliance between man and woman is lived properly. And if man and woman seek it together, between themselves, and with God, without a doubt they will find it. Jesus encourages us explicitly to bear witness to this beauty, which is the image of God.
"O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human."
We try to convey to engaged couples during marriage prep that God is making a proposal to us.
A deacon once explained that it's no accident that the very phallic Easter candle is plunged into the womb-like font of baptism, whereby offspring shall be born.
Did you catch the 4th reading from Isaiah?
"The One who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
a wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God."
To quote Christopher West, I'm not making this stuff up!
The call of Jesus pushes each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable. No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much the greater must be the love that the Church expresses toward those who convert.
-The Holy Father, declaring a Jubilee Year of Mercy from Dec.8- Nov.20 and channeling St. Faustina
CNA has this to share:
Mercy is a theme that is dear to Francis, and is the central topic of his episcopal motto “miserando atque eligendo,” which he chose when ordained a bishop in 1992.
One translation of the motto, taken from a homily given by St. Bede on Jesus’ calling of St. Matthew, is “with eyes of mercy.”
In his first Angelus address as the Bishop of Rome, March 17, 2013, Francis spoke of “Feeling mercy...this word changes everything.”
Mercy, he said then, “is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient.”
In the English version of his first Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” the word “mercy” appears 32 times.
NCRegister has even more
“How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!”
Whispers has the full text as usual.
I am blessed with a Bishop here in my diocese and a Bishop in Rome who are both so affirmative of the preciousness of human life and the need to uphold human dignity in all ways.
The Christmas stories themselves show us the hardened heart of a humanity which finds it difficult to accept the Child. From the very start, he is cast aside, left out in the cold, forced to be born in a stable since there was no room in the inn (cf. Lk 2:7). If this is how the Son of God was treated, how much more so is it the case with so many of our brothers and sisters! Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will. This is the mind-set which fosters that “throwaway culture” which spares nothing and no one: nature, human beings, even God himself. It gives rise to a humanity filled with pain and constantly torn by tensions and conflicts of every sort.
Emblematic of this, in the Gospel infancy narratives, is King Herod. Feeling his authority threatened by the Child Jesus, he orders all the children of Bethlehem to be killed. We think immediately of Pakistan, where a month ago, more than a hundred children were slaughtered with unspeakable brutality. To their families I wish to renew my personal condolences and the assurance of my continued prayers for the many innocents who lost their lives. [I think immediately of 50 million children aborted]
The personal dimension of rejection is inevitably accompanied by a social dimension, a culture of rejection which severs the deepest and most authentic human bonds, leading to the breakdown of society and spawning violence and death. We see painful evidence of this in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago. Other people “are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects” (Message for the 2015 World Day of Peace, 8 December 2014, 4). Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion. These are dangers which I pointed out in my recent Message for the World Day of Peace, which dealt with the issue of today’s multiple forms of enslavement. All of them are born of a corrupt heart, a heart incapable of recognizing and doing good, of pursuing peace.
It saddens us to see the tragic consequences of this mentality of rejection and this “culture of enslavement” (ibid., 2) in the never-ending spread of conflicts. Like a true world war fought piecemeal, they affect, albeit in different forms and degrees of intensity, a number of areas in our world... [and he goes on to describe them all here]
One of the most important dimensions of St. John Chrysostom’s exalted vision of the Christian life is his emphasis on Christ-filled marriage and family life. May I ask: how many of you are aware of his emphasis on marriage, and his very high view of Christian marriage? He believed that it is the calling of every Christian married couple to make their home a little church, and he preached with all his heart to inspire the married people in his flock, to fill them with this vision, this ideal, this goal, and to instruct them in how to bring this vision to pass in their own homes.
Let’s look now at some of the most important characteristics of the home as a little church that can be found in St. John Chrysostom’s preaching and writing. I believe six such characteristics stand out:
The six characteristics of the home as a little church
1. First, we see a great emphasis on the need, indeed the requirement, that husbands love their wives with Christ-like, self-sacrificial love. As St. Paul says to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25; my emphasis). In a very memorable passage, Chrysostom speaks of the ceaseless, nurturing, forgiving, protecting love of Christ for His Church using in significant measure the imagery of a good husband’s love for his wife:
“For Christ espoused His Church as a wife, He loves her as a daughter, He provides for her as a handmaid, He guards her as a virgin, He fences her around like a garden, and cherishes her like a part of His own body. As a head He provides for her, as a root He causes her to grow, as a shepherd He feeds her, as a bridegroom He weds her, as a propitiation He pardons her, as a sheep He is sacrificed, as a bridegroom He preserves her in her beauty, as a husband He provides for her support.”
2. This is a pattern of order and discipline in the family, with the husband as the servant-head of the family, and his wife as second-in-command, and their children in obedience under them:
“True rulers are those who rule over themselves. For there are these four things— soul, family, city, world—which form a regular progression. Therefore, he who is to superintend a family, and order it well, must first bring his own soul into order (ρυθμίζειν... rhythm); … He who is able to regulate his own soul, and makes the soul to rule and the body to be subject, this man will be able to regulate a family also.”
3. This is: the careful, attentive, heartfelt instruction and training of the children given by the parents. Chrysostom strongly exhorts parents to train their children carefully and diligently in the ways of the Lord. Not to teach them virtue, not to call them to account for their actions, is, as he says, “to trample upon the noble nature of the soul”
4. The four characteristic is regular Scripture study, spiritual discussions, and prayer. Concerning the reading of the Holy Scriptures, in one notable passage Chrysostom suggests that families need this more than monastics do:
“The solitaries do not need the consolation and the help of the Holy Scriptures as much as do those who are in the midst of the whirl of a distracting existence/" Specifically concerning instructing children, he exhorts, “Let us make them from the earliest age apply themselves to the reading of the Scriptures.”
5. In a Christian home, the husband and wife will be encouraging and inspiring each other and the children to godliness and virtue through mutual exhortation and through the example of their lives. As Chrysostom says, “Let wives exhort their husbands, and let husbands admonish their wives”
“If we seek the things that are perfect, the secondary things will follow. The Lord says, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’ (Matt. 6:33). What sort of person do you think the children of such parents will be?… For generally the children acquire the character of their parents, they are formed in the mold of their parents’ temperament, they love the same things their parents love, they talk in the same fashion, and they work for the same ends.”
6. The sixth characteristic we can glean from Chrysostom’s preaching and writing is regular, generous almsgiving. Almsgiving, as you probably know, is one of Chrysostom’s favorite themes. He often emphasizes, in the spirit of the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew (“When I was hungry, you gave Me food . . .”), that when we give to the poor we are giving directly to Christ Himself, which brings us great spiritual rewards:
“Many are our debts—not of money, but of sins. Let us then lend Christ our riches, that we may receive pardon of our sins, for He is the One who will judge us. Let us not neglect Him here when He is hungry, that He may ever feed us there. Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him…. If we go to Him in prison, He will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of Heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He will quickly deliver us from our infirmities.”