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Things to do for Lent March 8, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, North Deanery.
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My pretentious ‘holier than thou’ list of things you might consider doing this Lent:

1.  Pray – lots of prayer, way more than usual.  If you’re normal schedule is to pray a Rosary a day, add the Angelus and Divine Mercy Chaplet.   Add some time just talking with God.  Silent recollection and examination of conscience are also good.  I strongly recommend trying to pray the Divine Office.

2.  Fast – not just on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, perhaps EVERY Friday.  Catholics used to make fun of Muslims for their wimpy Ramadan fast, because Catholics would eat NOTHING from midnight until sunset, they would not have a meal before the sun came up.  Now, we (me included) struggle to make it through 2 WHOLE DAYS!  My God, the indignity of it all!  And we give up perhaps 1 whole meal on those days!  My goodness, how will I survive?!  I’m going to try to do more this Lent.

3. Abstain – My family generally abstains from meat on all Fridays.  We will definitely observe that during Lent.  We might add some Wednesdays to abstain, as well, again, as Catholics once did.  There are lots of other things to abstain from, too – finer foods (steaks, big fat shrimp, crab, desserts).  Everything we deny ourselves and offer up brings great Grace – to ourselves, and potentially others.

4. Spiritual reading – It was once a common observance that Catholics should spend at least 1/2 hour in spiritual reading every day, all year, as a minimum.   During Lent, it would be beautiful to do even more than that.  Perhaps lay in a supply of good books (preferably those dating from the early 20th Century or before, or from a good, orthodox publisher) and spend an hour or more a day in spiritual reading.

5. Give alms – consider supporting a good religious order or charity.  I recommend the Benedictines of Mary Queen of the Apostles in Missouri or the Domincans of Mary Mother of the Eucharist or the Norbertines in Northern Southern California or Food for the Poor, among many others.  I will produce a list of good religious orders and their websites, if they have them, in the next few days.

6. Identify and strive to eliminate your attachments – What keeps you from God?  What keeps you from leading a more holy life?  Be it a person, an object, a desire, a habit, try to find them and suppress these attachments that keep God from filling your soul with Grace.

The three main spiritual exercises during Lent are prayer, fasting, and alsmgiving.  But doing more won’t hurt, except perhaps my pride! 

I pray you have a blessed Lent.

This dude is in serious trouble March 8, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, scandals, sickness, Society.
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This isn’t funny.  I don’t think it ever was.  Charlie Sheen will be dead within months if somebody doesn’t get to him and shake him out of his stupor.  I don’t care how many drug tests he takes and allegedly passes, this guy is on a mammoth binge and will be dead within days, weeks, or months at most if he doesn’t get help.  He’s lost about 40 lbs in the last 6 months, I would guess.

There are some pictures of me from summer ’04 where I look kind of like this.  Not crazy like him, but waaaaay too thin, circles under the eyes, swollen tongue……just basically strung out.  I kept chasing the dragon for a couple of years after that, but that first ‘run,’ if you will, that first long term period of abusing opioids was the worst for my health.  I kinda stopped for a few months (but just basically went back to drinking), and had two more long runs after that, but it wasn’t as crazy as that first one.  I easily could have died many times, and probably almost did. 

This poor deluded sick man needs alot of prayers for him.  I pray he receives God’s Grace, it’s the only thing that will fill that massive void that is himself.

I can’t believe this guy is held up by some as a model of individualism and going you’re own way.  That is beyond idiotic, it’s going to ‘enable’ him into the grave.

h/t CMR

Pre-Lent self indulgent post March 8, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
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I guess I should get this out of my system today!  The below is not something I’d like to hear in church, but it might have more validity than most of the ‘Gather’ hymnal Marty Haugen scatter us out tired folk junk we’ve suffered under for the past several decades. 

Gloria in te Domine
Gloria exaltate

Indeed!  There is very little pop culture has produced over the past 30 years which is of much account and at the same time at least somewhat Christian.  Most ‘Christian’ pop-rock a la KLTY just wears me out.  This, I could listen to.  And did!, back in the day.  I’m not much of a U2 fan these days, my interest sort of petered out mid-90s (when, perhaps, they sort of petered out), but at age 14-15 I listened to not much else.  I didn’t feel guilty listening to this brand of ‘devil rock and roll’ music.

UPDATE: He’s rich and preachy and self-indulgent, etc., but not too many modern rockers that I know of have written an actual Psalm setting.  Nice touch at the end.

Goal for Lent – To Love Jesus Above All March 8, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, North Deanery, The Imitation of Christ.
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From my man, Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ Book II Chapter 7:

Blessed is he who knows what it is to love Jesus and to despise himself for the sake of Jesus.

We must quit what we love for this Beloved, because Jesus will be loved alone above all things.

The love of things created is deceitful and inconstant.

The love of Jesus is faithful and enduring.

He that cleaveth to creatures shall fall with them.

He that embraceth Jesus shall stand firm forever.

Love Him and keep Him for thy friend, who, whan all go away, will not leave thee nor suffer thee to perish in the end.

Thou must at last be separated from all things else, whether thou wilt or not.

Keep thyself with Jesus both in life and death and commit thyself to His care, who alone can help thee when all others fail.

Thy beloved is of such a nature that He will admit of no other, but will have thy heart to Himself, and sit there like a king upon His own throne.

If thou couldst but purge thyself well from affection to creatures, Jesus would willingly dwell with thee.

Thou wilt find all that in a manner lost, which thou hast placed in men apart form Jesus.

Do not trust or rely upon a frail reed; “for all flesh is grass and all the glory thereof shall fade as the flower of the field.” (Is 40:6)

Thou wilt soon be decieved if thou only regard the outward show of men.

For if thou seek thy comfort and thy gain in others, thou wilt often meet with loss.

If in all things thou seek Jesus doubtless thou wilt find Jesus.

But if thou seek thyself thou wilt indeed find thyself, to thine own ruin.

For a man does himself more harm if he seek not Jesus, than the whole world and all his enemies could do.

Repost – My thoughts on NFP March 8, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, Society.
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I posted the below over a year ago, back when this blog was new and sweet and innocent, like a springtime lamb.  The subject in question has come up in a side conversation I’m having via e-mail, so I thought I’d stir the pot and re-post it.  This was one of my more controversial posts during that timeframe.  Since I now have alot more readers (4 – twice as many as I used to!), I’m interested to see the reaction.

I made a comment recently regarding Dr. Pia de Solenni speaking at St. Gabriel parish in McKinney.   In it, I expressed my opinion that by extolling the virtues of NFP for very long term use, Dr. de Solenni may be misinterpreting the intention of the Church, and in particular, Humanae Vitae.  A commenter charitably pointed out that he disagreed, and that Humanae Vitae does indeed allow for long term use of NFP as a sort of contraception replacement.  I have looked into this issue in the past (that is how I came to my opinion), but I delved into it again, and received some input from other people, as well. 

In sum, I can’t agree with the commenter, or with those who agree with his interpretation.  Suffice it to say, this issue is very hotly debated within the Church, with some, like Christopher West, Dr. Janet Smith, and the Couple to Couple League, claiming that  a couple may use NFP to limit the number of children they have, even to a predetermined ‘acceptable’ number, so long as their motives are virtuous and not selfish.    Others, including myself but also including such luminaries as Fr. John Corapi and noted apologist John Salza, argue that NFP can only be used for very serious reasons and that it is not proper or licit to use NFP for years on end as a general birth control replacement. 

First of all, I think we need to look at the historical view the Church has held of any form of trying to control or limit the number of children a couple united in the sacrament of marriage may licitly engage in.  The two bedrock formulations of this theory were established in Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae by Pope Leo XIII and Casti Connubii by Pope Pius XI.  In Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI stated that “…no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good.  Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the beggetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural powers and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.”  Pope Pius XI goes on to quote St. Augustine thus: “Intercourse with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of offspring is prevented.’  Pope Pius XI concludes this subject by stating: “any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural powers to generate life is an offense against the Law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”   In Genesis 38:8-10, the Lord killed Onan for deliberately engaging in intercourse in such a manner as to prevent impregnation. 

So, Pope Pius XI, speaking infallibly in a Papal encyclical,  makes it clear that anything that frustrates the marriage act in producing children is intrinsically evil.  Does periodically abstaining from sexual relations in order to not conceive mean that the act has been frustrated?  I think you could read into the above that the answer is in the affirmative, but it’s not completely clear.  However, speaking on this subject in an audience to a group of Roman midwives, Pope Pius XII gave an extensive analysis of the circumstances in which a couple may legitimately abstain from sexual relations in a periodic fashion in order to reduce the chance of conceiving.   Pius XII stated: “to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a against the very nature of married life.”  Pius XII further states: “Serious motives….may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint.”   The serious motives Pius XII refers to include medical conditions, prevailing social conditions (a war, famine, etc), or the material condition of the family (extreme poverty, inability to provide for another child, etc.).  Pius XII also provided some examples of what are not sufficient reasons to avoid pregnancy.  These include the assertion of too high a prominence to sexual relations,  environmental concerns (overpopulation), and finally, the deliberate desire to have a small family.  Pius XII goes on to stress that large families are both a blessing and of great benefit to society as a whole.  He does not say that a couple can try to discern the number of children God intends them to have, as a means to try to justify the use of the agenesic periods.

With this background, we can look at Humanae Vitae.  Written as an encyclical by Pope Paul VI, it has the same infallibility as Casti Connubii.  The relevant paragraph is 10.4, which states: ” responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.”   I think it important to state that, while the current translation on the Vatican website uses the term ‘serious reasons,’ a previous version from 1990 used the term ‘grave’ reasons.  So, the translation of the Latin does make a difference to its meaning.  Now, much of the language from Humanae Vitae was based on the talks given by Pope Pius XII on this subject, including the one I mentioned above.  While Pius XII’s talks do not have the infallibility of a papal encyclical, they do gain some of that authority by forming the basis for some of the precepts explained in Humanae Vitae.  In this light, Pope Paul’s statement that it is acceptable to use NFP for an indefinite period of time must correspond both with the doctrine of  Casti Connubii, which seems to imply that almost any measure taken to prevent pregnancy is always wrong, and Pius XII’s more clear explanations that the reasons for using NFP must be serious, even grave, and must not be based on any selfishness.  This includes a general desire to have a smaller family for general economic reasons.  Pius XII explains here that mere economic inconvenience is not sufficient reason to avoid having children – there must be a truly dire economic circumstance.  This applies to other reasons given to avoid pregnancy, as well, such as medical conditions. 

There is another aspect that needs to be looked at.  The Church has long identified two key components to the marriage sacrament – its procreative nature has always been seen as being the most important characteristic of marriage, followed by the personal union between man and wife.  Popes Pius XI and XII constantly reflect on this primacy of the procreative nature of marriage to establish the Church’s dogma in areas of contraception and marital relations.  Anything that tends to diminish the primacy of procreation within the marriage runs c0unter to the Will of God.  We must remember that the marital union mirrors the union of Christ with His Church at the heavenly banquet of the Lamb. As Jesus and His Church become one flesh through the Eucharist and the Eucharist brings life to the Church, a man and woman become one flesh and bring new life into the world.  Thus, only an extreme situation, a grave situation, can be used to justify intentionally avoiding the first duty of married couples, to bring new life into the world.  It is true that the 1983 Code of Canon Law does seem to, for the first time, equate the personal unitive nature of marriage with its procreative nature, but I have to wonder if that isn’t something that Pope Benedict would feel falls under the ‘hermeneutic of rupture.’  The Church has never taught that previously.  

Taken all together, the full breadth of Church doctrine on the sacrament marriage points to the conclusion I expressed in my comments about Dr. de Solenni, that using NFP to either intentionally limit the number of children for a very extended period of time (say, using NFP for a period of 20 years to produce 2 children decided upon by a couple), is not licit, and constitutes, according to Popes Pius XI and XII, a grave sin.  The issue is not entirely clear, because the Church has never defined the grave or serious reasons that one may use to justify using NFP very clearly, but I think the intent of the Church, the Will, is clear.   NFP can be used for certain periods of time if the reason is sufficiently grave, but not as a general means of limiting the number of children a couple may have.  Since the ‘grave’ or ‘serious’ reasons seem to be open to question, it would seem to be safer to err on the side of caution and use NFP in as limited a manner as possible.

There is one more aspect I’d like to discuss.   NFP advocates, including the commenter on this site, state that the Church teaches that couples who wish to use NFP for most of their married life to limit the number of children they have should discern God’s Will to arrive at this number of children.  I find this argument rather amazing.  I pray to discern God’s Will many times a day, and I cannot say I have ever been given so specific an indication of that Will as to be able to answer a question like “how many kids does God want me to have?”  I think the answer to that question is self-evident: God wants you to have as many as He sends you.  The world has constructed a monstrous artifice that states that families should be ‘planned,’ and that there is a certain ‘acceptable’ number of children.  Anyone with a large family can attest to this: they can tell you that they very frequently get assailed for rejecting the wisdom of the world and having a larger than acceptable number of children.  This  conventional wisdom is an enormous pressure exerted on a couple.  In addition, there are so many worldly reasons NOT to have a large number of children; wouldn’t it be nicer to make sure we don’t have any more so we can afford that trip to Europe?  Isn’t it very hard to raise a large number of children, and wouldn’t it be easier to do what the neighbors do?  How can couples insure their discernment isn’t selfish preference masquerading as the Will of God?  We are all very prey to such tempting confusion, and that confusion and our inherently fallen nature would seem to make such precise discernment difficult to reliably obtain. 

This wordly thinking has been taken to such an extreme, that many nominally Catholic countries now face problems of such low birth rates that their populations are in danger of collapse.  This is driven by the ‘contraceptive mentality,’ a mentality that affects the thinking of the vast majority of married couples today, Catholic and otherwise.  This mentality is steeped in the Malthusian rhetoric of limited resources and the need, indeed the right, of married couples to take from God that Will that is His and determine how many children they should have.  NFP used for long periods of time treads on ground that is rather close to the contraceptive mentality.  While NFP in its most innocent incarnation should leave the couple always open to life, I have known many couples who used NFP while they were still wanting to conceive children, only to switch to chemical contraceptives or sterilization once they’ve ‘had enough’.  So, NFP if not used properly can be seen to be part of the contraceptive mentality, and it would take great efforts at formation to insure NFP is used in a way that is always compatible with Church doctrine.  This concern doesn’t argue against NFP in toto, but I think it speaks to the fact that NFP is best used as sparingly as possible.

 Sorry if what I am saying is hard, or uncharitable, I do not intend it to be, and I want to be clear that I am judging no one. But, it has been the consistent teaching of the Church for 2000 years that every act of sexual intimacy between husband and wife must be open to the transmission of life, unless there is a very grave reason why this can not be so.   Long term use of NFP does not fit within this tradition as I have been able to research and understand it.  I hope, at least, I have established that I didn’t arrive at my viewpoint rashly or without due consideration.

I would ask supporters of NFP the following hypothetical: do you support the right of a  married couple to use NFP not just to limit the  number of children they have to a certain predetermined number, but to, after a period of discernment, have no children whatsoever?  If NFP is alright to limit the number of children to 1 or 2 or 3, is it alright to use that method to limit the number of children to zero?

God will not be mocked forever March 8, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Latin Mass, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness.
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How long can we continue to offend God without incurring His Wrath?

I have remarked, internally to myself and to others, that I am struck by the extent to which there are two, or more, churches within the Church.  I have read reports many times that one reason discipline is not more enforced in the Church is that the Pope’s over the past few decades have been convinced there would be a schism if they did.  At least, that is what the Pope’s have been told.  Is a schism the worst possible fate for a Church?  Or is middling mediocrity and widespread apostasy somehow ‘better’?

I think Voris asks a key question, the elephant in the room that has been ignored to our tremendous detriment for decades: do those who reject Church doctrine or commit heinous abuses still belong to the Church Christ founded?

If you haven’t done so already, perhaps supporting the RealCatholicTV apostolate could be a part of your Lenten penitential offerings?