Does a Wife Owe Submission to Her Husband? How Should That Work? December 7, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Interior Life, mortification, priests, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
A fairly good video below from the Fatima Center, but I thought the priest could have gone much further in both giving concrete examples and on insisting on the primacy of the husband’s role in the spousal relationship. Some in the comments at Youtube noted the same. I am out of time for the year, pretty much, I might be able to get on a little next week but I’ll be in North Carolina so that’s dubious, at best.
Too many even traditional priests take St. Paul’s statement regarding “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loves the Church” to mean that wives are obviated of their duty to obey their husbands if the husbands exercise less than Christ-like perfection. That’s an exception that completely eviscerates the rule, and is said, I fear, because too many priests either accept some degree of cultural marxist inspired feminism themselves, or they simply don’t want to have an upset woman on their hands. This is not what St. Paul meant at all, and there are few priests in my experience who are really willing to lay out, clearly, what owing obedience to one’s spouse entails.
This does not mean that a husband gets to come home and act like a prince, doing little and being waited on hand and foot. It does mean, however, that when there is a disagreement between the spouses on matters, the wife should, absent anything the husband might command that would result in the commission or near occasion of sin, generally yield to the husband’s will. The wife can certainly make her case, and lay out her reasons why the kids should be treated in such a way or this car should be bought, or whatever it may be, but if the husband decides otherwise, ultimately, the wife should submit, happily, to his decision. I have found that even among devout Catholics women prepared to make such submission are all too rare. Not that even devout Catholic husbands are absent their own faults, either. And of course this does not mean that husbands will necessarily decide wisely in every case, nor that a husband may use his authority to rule his home severely or tyrannically.
But obedience means nothing if it is predicated on either getting one’s way – through outright disobedience, drama-filled hysterics, or calculated manipulation – or near-perfect behavior on the part of the husband. One of the biggest failings of Catholic married men of the past 60 or so has been their failure to insist on their duty and right to lead the family, for which he will be strictly judged by God. Feminism and broader cultural trends have exacerbated this shirking of duty to a heinous degree, so that we now have whole generations who have never seen proper Catholic married male leadership in action, and which have picked up many bad, destructive beliefs from the culture. This is a major point of contention in many families and is something that is very hard to do right.
Great topic I hope to expand on when I return. The Fatima Center indicated they would try to get the Dominican priest in the video to expand on this topic in future, addressing more concrete situations and the widespread problem of spousal disobedience/failure to lead. That would be an excellent way of framing a post, if anyone at the Fatima Center is reading.
And, yes, I am appreciative that the Fatima Center has found a traditional religious priest to replace the much-beloved and missed Fr. Gruner.
Want More Holy Priests? Dissatisfied with the Fidelity of Your Pastor? A Suggestion for You. December 5, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Grace, Interior Life, Latin Mass, priests, Restoration, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
I was told this past weekend about an apostolate that has quietly sprung up at a few traditional parishes around the country. It is a most remarkable apostolate, I feel, and something I think should be strongly considered by all who have great concern over the state of the Church today.
We often ask ourselves, as lay faithful, what we can do to help arrest, let alone reverse, the crisis that has afflicted the Church these past several decades. Many of us have had experience with priests who promote error and who seem wholly gone over to the revolutionary changes that have bowdlerized our glorious Holy Mother the Church.
Being the laity whose feelings – being politically unpopular at this time – apparently matter very little to even local priests/pastors, let alone bishops and the rest of the hierarchy, we haven’t much power besides prayer and penance. I most certainly encourage all laity to make use of their power of the purse very wisely to try to support those small areas of the Church that are not morally and/or doctrinally compromised, but after years of making such encouragements, and even feverish arguments, I realize that there aren’t very many who are willing to turn off the monetary tap to the local parish to which they belong, no matter how heretical or abusive Father X or Y may be.
Our best recourse has always been prayer and penance. That’s where this “new” (as in, new to me) apostolate fits in. It’s really simple – get a group of seven women, or groups of women in multiples of seven – and have each individual commit to devoting one holy hour a week for the purpose of encouraging the sanctity/doctrinal rectitude of their priests but especially their pastors. I suppose it could apply to men, as well, but this seems an apostolate uniquely suited to the particular gifts and virtues of women. As I said, this has been ongoing in at least a few locales.
Where or how you do the holy hour is entirely up to do. The apostolate operates on the honor system. This prayer effort can be focused on a particular pastor/priest or for pastors and priests generally, but in general the intention is to pray for those priests assigned to one’s own parish.
This is not meant to be a large, structured effort that has centralized leadership. It’s up to women (or men) at individual parishes to identify likely participants, divvy up days, and just get started with the prayers and holy hours. If you can’t find 7 people, a few individuals could certainly commit to making a holy hour one day a week to the same end. Of course, should someone’s schedule permit, they could perform this service more than one day a week. Individuals can certainly contribute, as well, and some of you may already be way ahead of me. One thing I do recommend that is that groups be segregated according to sex, if possible – that is, groups or women or men but not both.
This apostolate is not intended only for those with sketchy priests. Even if you are blessed to be at a parish with good priests and a good pastor, as some of us are, this is a most worthy effort to help them become still more holy and effective shepherds of souls, and to stave off any potential fall into error or moral turpitude. I can think of about 500 reasons to do this, but I’m sure many will be apparent to you so I won’t waste your time with that. If you do have success getting a group started, I would certainly be gratified to know about it.
In fact, those who know me locally are invited to contact me if you are interested in finding a day a week in which to undertake this effort. There are many similar groups out there, but they tend to have a little different focus. This one is very much focused on the sanctity and doctrinal rectitude of those who can have the most impact on our spiritual lives, our priests. I realize many of you probably already pray for priests generally or even for particular priests, but perhaps making a holy hour at least weekly could help take the spiritual warfare to another level.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Father Rodriguez on Devotion to Our Lady…… December 5, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Art and Architecture, awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Father Rodriguez, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Our Lady, persecution, priests, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
…….and the end of the liturgical year. You know me, I have to upload pretty much any material from Fr. Michael Rodriguez that goes public. He just helped me out this weekend with advice on a thorny moral problem afflicting someone dear to me. Please keep him in your prayers, his situation in El Paso remains difficult, to say the least; he is a priest in good standing and is doing much good work but he still has no official assignment/role with the Diocese. The powers that be rarely, especially in a fallen age such as ours, like having their failings called out, and the failings of Church leadership locally and universally have been as spectacular as they have been numerous in recent decades. These are the times that try good men’s souls, indeed.
Father ties in devotion to Our Lady with the end of the liturgical year, demonstrating how it is so appropriate for the liturgical year to end on a Saturday, Our Lady’s day. As we should end each day with devotion to Our Lady, so the liturgical year ends. He also discusses the Salus Populi Romani, a sacred image of Our Lady painted by St. Luke on a table top built by Our Blessed Lord (I was not aware of that last detail until now).
It’s a short video and well worth your time, I think you’ll pick up several amazing bits regarding this sacred painting and evidence of devotion to Our Lady going back to the early Church. Of course, it was popular demand, indicating immense devotion of very long practice, that drove the 4th century Council of Ephesus to dogmatically define, as required of belief by all the faithful, that Our Lady is truly the Mother of God, and eminently worthy of veneration and emulation.
An Exhortation to Assist at Mass Daily December 1, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Latin Mass, Liturgy, reading, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Not that many of the present company probably require an exhortation to do so, if the option is available, there is still a lot of good in this excerpt from The Incredible Catholic Mass by Fr. Martin von Cochem, on assisting daily at Mass if at all possible. For those who believe strongly in their souls that assisting at the Novus Ordo is at least problematic, if not spiritually dangerous or worse, this can present a problem of access, of course, as the TLM is still generally only available at most at one or two places in most dioceses, often only on Sundays, and most probably in inauspicious locations. Nevertheless, for those who have the TLM available every day or most every day, assisting at Mass should be perhaps their highest priority, something they are willing to suffer a good deal of inconvenience and even some potential lost work opportunities to do. As Fr. von Cochem notes, our God is a great and generous God, and will not long let such generosity on our part go unrewarded, both spiritually, but in most cases also materially:
In the first place, let me tell you, O Christian, that no hour of the whole day is so precious as that wherein you hear Mass and offer that Mass to the ever-blessed Trinity. It is indeed a golden hour, for all that you do in cooperation with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is changed to gold. The other hours of the day, in comparison with it, may be likened to copper. It may be alleged that work is of greater importance than hearing Mass to those who earn their bread. To this I reply that hearing Mass is more important than our work, because it contributes largely to our eternal welfare. I do not say that a man should neglect his work altogether, but that he should spare half an hour from it for the service of his God: his work will get on all the better for it, for God will bless it more abundantly. Those who absent themselves from Mass out of indifference or for the sake of some temporal advantage change the hour that might be golden into one of lead and sustain a loss incalculably greater than any earthly loss, for in that hour they might have won a hundred times more than they could earn by a whole day’s labor. Our Savior teaches us this in the memorable words of His: “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt xvi:26). By not going to Mass on weekdays for the sake of temporal profit we do our soul an immeasurable injury, for which no worldly wealth can compensate. Shall we, then, heedless of Our Lord’s warning, throw away eternal riches for the things of time and sense?
…….How short-sighted, then, is the man or woman who prefers to lose the treasures contained in Holy Mass rather than deprive himself of a few pennies! By going to Mass they might earn treasures wherewith to purchase Heaven, but they will renounce these if the least diminution of their wages is involved – not that I believe they would be losers in the end, for God, of His divine bounty, would so prosper their work as more than to make up for the time they took from it………
……..Yet, of a truth, in every Mass, not earthly riches, but celestial riches from Heaven are showered down on all who are present, and all who are free to possess themselves of them. But what are the riches which drop down from above? An increase of divine grace, an increase of merit and virtue, an increase of eternal glory, celestial consolations, the divine blessing in temporal affairs, the pardon of venial sins, the remission of a great part of the temporal debt due to Divine Justice, a share in the infinite merits of Christ. Grace and mercy, temporal welfare and eternal salvation – such is the heavenly dew which distills from above…….Wherefore, if on account of the slight trouble it costs us or the trifling pecuniary sacrifice it entails, we omit going to Mass on weekdays when we might do so, we are guilty of great folly…..
…….The object and end of our existence upon earth is to praise the Divine Majesty according to His great glory. This cannot be done better than by hearing Mass, for it is the most Sublime Sacrifice of praise……….We cannot bear fruit better than by hearing Mass in the state of grace, for it is the most perfect Sacrifice of satisfaction. We daily stand exposed to the danger of falling into sin, of being overtaken by misfortune; we cannot guard against these perils better than by hearing Mass, for it is the most efficacious Propitiatory Sacrifice. Death and the devil constantly dog our footsteps and lay in wait for us, desirous to snatch us away and precipitate us into hell; we cannot shield ourselves against their arrows better than by hearing Mass, for it is the surest protection against the evils that threaten us. Finally, let us not forget that in the hour of death we shall be in some need of the Savior’s assistance; there is no better means of assuring ourselves of this than by hearing Mass devoutly, for have we not heard how Christ Himself gave to one of His servants the promise that he would send for his solace and support at his last moments as many blessed spirits as he had heard Masses with devotion during his lifetime? Reflect upon these truths and resolve from henceforth to hear Mass, if possible every day.
I will not be around much through to next year. A little early next week, than that’s probably it for the year. This blog will probably change a lot next year. Most posts will, God willing, be like this one. Seven years in, I feel it’s about time for a change. I feel like in some regards I have said the same thing 50 or 100 times, so I think I’ll let others speak for the most part for a while, like this quote from Fr. von Cochem. We shall see.
Start Novena to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Today! November 29, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Interior Life, Novenas, Our Lady, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
That’s today, 11/29/16. Ideally, you’d start today. If you would, in your charity, consider adding MJD, who provided the prayer below, to your intentions. She is having eye surgery next week (on Dec. 8th itself).
Immaculate Virgin Mary, you were pleasing in the sight of God from the first moment of your conception in the womb of your mother, St. Anne. You were chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I believe the teaching of holy Mother the Church, that in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race and beloved Son, you were preserved from all stain of original sin. I thank God for this wonderful privilege and grace he bestowed upon you as I honor your Immaculate Conception.
Look graciously upon me as I implore this special favor:(mention your request).
Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from your throne in heaven turn your eyes of pity upon me. Filled with confidence in your goodness and power, I beg you to help me in this journey of life which is so full of dangers for my soul. I entrust myself entirely to you, that I may never be the slave of the devil through sin, but may always live a humble and pure life. I consecrate myself to you forever, for my only desire is to love your divine Son Jesus. Mary, since none of your devout servants has perished, May I too be saved. Amen.
Another version of the Novena is below, so that you may have your choice:
O most pure Virgin Mary conceived without sin, from the very first instant, you were entirely immaculate. O glorious Mary full of grace, you are the mother of my God – the Queen of Angels and of men. I humbly venerate you as the chosen mother of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords chose you for the singular grace and honor of being His beloved mother. By the power of His Cross, He preserved you from all sin. Therefore, by His power and love, I have hope and bold confidence in your prayers for my holiness and salvation.
I pray first of all that you would make me worthy to call you my mother and your Son, Jesus, my Lord.
I pray that your prayers will bring me to imitate your holiness and submission to Jesus and the Divine Will.
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Now, Queen of Heaven, I beg you to beg my Savior to grant me these requests…
(Mention your intentions)
My holy Mother, I know that you were obedient to the will of God. In making this petition, I know that God’s will is more perfect than mine. So, grant that I may receive God’s grace with humility like you.
As my final request, I ask that you pray for me to increase in faith in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in hope in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in love for the risen Jesus!
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Finally, the Saint Andrew 25 day Novena for Christmas also starts tomorrow 11/30. The prayer is below, though I know you already know it:
The 25 day St. Andrew Novena starts today, Nov. 30. The prayer is as follows, pray it 15 times a day through Christmas Eve:
HAIL AND BLESSED BE THE HOUR AND MOMENT IN WHICH THE SON OF GOD WAS BORN OF THE MOST PURE VIRGIN MARY, AT MIDNIGHT, IN BETHLEHELM, IN PIERCING COLD.
IN THAT HOUR, VOUCHSAFE, O MY GOD, TO HEAR MY PRAYER AND GRANT MY PETITIONS,
(MENTION YOUR INTENTIONS HERE)
THROUGH THE MERITS OF OUR SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST AND OF HIS BLESSED MOTHER. AMEN.
I typically just make an en bloc petition for the day for all 15 recitations. If you say them all together, it only takes a few minutes.
I met Father Maximilian Mary, FFI, at Clear Creek monastery about two or three years ago. At that time, I believe he was headed to be near the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles (order their new CD!) and possibly serve some kind of chaplaincy with those traditional nuns. He is now trying to live as a hermit in the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA, and Deo Gratias to Bishop Ronald Gainer for being open to Father’s apostolate. However, he needs financial support to do so, and is making the following appeal:
Grace, peace and joy to you in the Most Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary!
I have been a longstanding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and, in 2013, I obtained permission from our Apostolic Commissioner to discern my contemplative vocation outside the walls of the Order. Thanks be to God I have recently been welcomed by a benevolent Bishop to be a hermit in his Diocese.
One of the conditions for being received into his Diocese is that I be “self-sustaining.”
Providentially, a group of the lay faithful who used to assist the missionaries and contemplatives of the Franciscans of the Immaculate through a Latin Mass Novena website have recently offered the use of this website to me. Besides my normal expenses (food, utilities, healthcare, etc.), there are the initial costs of getting set up as a hermit, so I was wondering if Rorate Caeli might be in a position to let people know about my upcoming Christmas Latin Mass Novena which, besides enrollment in 9 Tridentine Masses, includes a beautiful Christmas enrollment card and a CD (anthology of sacred and classical music I have recorded as a seminarian and friar over the past 26 years). All of the information can be found HERE.
Thank you and God bless you.
In Corde Matris,
Fr. Maximilian Mary
Here is more from his website:
A Christmas Novena of Traditional Latin Masses according to the 1962 Roman Missal (extraordinary form) will be offered for THE SANCTIFICATION OF ALL FAMILIES (or persons) enrolled in the Novena. The nine Masses will begin with the Christmas Midnight Mass and will conclude on Jan. 1st, Solemnity of Our Lord’s Circumcision. The suggested donation is $20 for each enrollment which includes an enrollment card and the CD Memorare. These will be sent to each family (or person) enrolled. The Masses for this year’s Christmas Novena will be offered by Fr. Maximilian Mary of Jesus Crucified in his hermitage and/or on the high altar of the Carmelite Monastery of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Elysburg, PA.
You can enroll in the Novena of Masses and make a donation for Father here. As I said, I had the pleasure to meet Father Maximilian Mary some time back, and was very impressed with his candor, piety, and devotion. He was able to avoid some of the unpleasantness surrounding the Franciscans of the Immaculate, at least directly. I fully support his effort to become a hermit and pray he finds generous support in this season of Advent and beyond. I am very pleased to have enrolled my family in this Novena of Masses, which is such a powerful source of Grace. I pray the abundant fruit of these Masses will result in great spiritual fruit for my family and our friends during this upcoming Christmas season!
Thanks to Father Maximilian Mary for making this kind exchange possible.
Two Great Saints on Prayer November 28, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
From the first Chapter of St. Peter of Alcantara’s Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, two meditations on the absolutely vital role of our prayer lives in the working out of our salvation through God’s Grace. The first is ostensibly from St. Bonaventure, but may in fact come from another Franciscan called Joannes a Caulibus. The second most definitely comes from St. Lawrence Justinian. Both clearly relate the importance – the absolutely vital role – a deeply committed prayer life must play in our development of virtue and growth in the interior life. Just some spiritual fruit for you as we launch into a new liturgical year and a season that should be deeply immersed in prayer and penance, Advent. I pray you find this excerpt edifying:
“If you would endure with patience the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would acquire strength and courage to vanquish the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would crush your self-will, with all its inclinations and desires, be a man of prayer. If you would know the wiles of satan and defend yourself against his snares, be a man of prayer. If you would live with a joyous heart and pass lightly along the road of penance and sacrifice, be a man of prayer. If you would drive away vain thoughts and cares which worry the soul like flies, be a man of prayer. If you would nourish the soul with the sap of devotion and have it always filled with good thoughts, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and establish your heart in the ways of God, be a man of prayer. Finally, if you would uproot from your soul all vices and plant virtues in their place, be a man of prayer. For herein does a man receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things. Nay more, would you mount to the summit of contemplation and enjoy the sweet embraces of the Spouse, exercise yourself in prayer, for it is the road that leads to contemplation and to the taste of what is heavenly. Do you see now how great is the strength and power of prayer? In proof of all that has been said – apart from the witness of the divine Scriptures – let that suffice for the moment as proof sufficient what we have heard and seen, what we see every day, viz., many simple persons who have achieved all we have enumerated above, and even greater, by the exercise of prayer.”
Such are the words of St. Bonaventure. What treasure could one find richer or fuller than that? Listen again to what another very religious and holy doctor says on this subject, speaking of the same virtue (St. Lawrence Justinian):
“In prayer the soul cleanses itself from sin, charity is nourished, faith is strengthened, hope is made secure, the spirit rejoices, the soul grows tender, and the heart is purified; truth discovers itself, temptation is overcome, sadness takes to flight, the senses are renewed, failing virtue is made good, tepidity disappears, the rust of sin is rubbed away. In it are brought forth lively flashes of heavenly desires, and in these fires rises the flame of divine love. Great are the excellences of prayer, great its privileges. The heavens open before it and unveil therein their secrets, and to it are the ears of God ever attentive.”
I don’t know about you, but I found both exhortations to prayer moving and beautiful. May God be praised for sharing His Divine wisdom with such Saints, who in turn share it with us, prayerfully groping along the hard and rocky path to salvation, while we watch others laughing at us and mocking us as they speed by on the wide road to perdition.
Spare some prayers for them, too. And may God keep us on the narrow way to salvation, rather than the superhighway to destruction. Pray for the grace of always making good, thorough confessions! Many souls are lost because they are too embarrassed to share some sin they keep hidden away in the recesses of their soul. The priests have heard everything! Don’t let embarrassment and shame – tricks of the devil – keep you from making a good, full, detailed confession, and implore God the grace also to have true contrition for your sins and the firmest purpose of amendment.
Plenary Indulgence Available Today at Dallas Cathedral November 18, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, Four Last Things, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Restoration, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.
Thanks to reader MJD. I think this is associated with the “holy doors” for the Year of Mercy.
Guadalupe Cathedral in Dallas (confessions still offered M, T. W, TH, F before the 12 Noon and 7 PM Masses – arrive at least 30-45 minutes before the mass starts)
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ft. Worth
Friday, Nov. 18 – earn a plenary indulgence for yourself or the holy souls in purgatory/departed loved ones
“A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who visit a Cathedral on the feast of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle and there recite an Our Father and the Creed – (Nicene or Apostle’s Creed)
**Requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence:
・Do the work while in a state of grace,
・Receive Sacramental confession within 20 days of the work (several plenary indulgences may be earned per reception),
・Receive Eucharistic communion (one plenary indulgence may be earned per reception),
・Have no attachment to sin (even venial) – i.e., it is sufficient that the Christian makes an act of the will to love God and despise sin.
Reminder: Christ Child Luncheon This Saturday Nov. 19 November 17, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Basics, contraception, Dallas Diocese, fun, General Catholic, Society, Tradition, Virtue.
If you would like to buy some generally Catholic-themed Christmas gifts, hang out with committed pro-lifers, and support local pro-life efforts, you might consider attending the Christ Child Luncheon this Saturday. It’s not inexpensive, but the money does go for a good cause, supporting pro-life work and crisis pregnancy centers:
My wife went to this for a number of years and always found it enjoyable and rewarding.
Economic Reasons for Birth Control/Frustrating Fecundity: “Hypocrisy at Its Zenith; Folly at Its Height” November 17, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Basics, catachesis, contraception, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, sadness, scandals, Society, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
That, according to Fr. Fulgence Meyer, OFM, from his 1920s treatise Plain Talks on Marriage. Of course use of artificial contraception of any type is always and everywhere sinful. Periodic abstinence can of course be practiced legitimately, but even here there are moral dangers, contrary to what far too many NFP promoters convey to their followers. While there may be occasional, and, according to Father, quite rare, family economic situations that couples may find themselves in, permitting them to engage in periodic abstinence to prevent reproduction, Fr. Meyer notes that the economic justifications for such are often self-serving and dominated by worldly, materialist concerns. What is far more virtuous for Catholics to engage in, should circumstances force a perceived need to minimize the likelihood of reproduction, is total cessation from the marital act if at all possible, rather than recourse to periodic abstinence. Of course, this must be agreed to by both parties to the marriage, and if periodic abstinence is all that can be withstood by one or both, they must of course keep the most open heart and soul towards any children that may still result. I still believe, however, that some couples do make use of NFP in a way that is identical to contraception, and with the same overall intent. But that may be getting a bit far afield.
Fr. Meyer presents a very compelling case for the mainstream of Catholic opinion on this subject in the first half of the 20th century, before much of the rot had risen to the surface and broken out into the open. From pp. 83-87, cut and paste to make a concise point:
The economical reason is perhaps the most universally alleged justification for sinful birth control. It is at the same time the most flimsy and hypocritical, and nowhere more so than in our country of great and splendid opportunities for making a living. People say: “We want to give our children a good education. Education costs money. Our money will only erach for the education of one or two children. it would therefore be folly and unfair to have more.” Very well. But conduct yourself accordingly, and practice virtuous abstinence while you desire no more children. No matter to what schools and colleges they send them, parents, who through sinful and selfish prevention have but one or two children, give these children the worst possible education by their own unvirtuous conduct and godless selfishness. They would do immensely better by their children, whether they have few or many, if they did their own duty to God conscientiously, and transmitted to their children this, the best element of true education, the fear of the Lord.
Large families thrive much better economically than small families. This is accounted for naturally……..and supernaturally, since God always provides for those who serve Him in truth and rely upon His fatherly providence. Educationally, too, a child of a large family as a rule is better off for many reasons than the solitary child. The best education of life is in its main elements obtained in the home. At any rate, if selfish couples succeed in deceiving themselves with specious reasons, they must know that they will never deceive God, Who searches the heart and mind……..
What are the reasons of the spread of this moral cancer among our American Catholics? One reason is the husband’s neglect of his duty to assert himself as, and actually to be, the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church. The head should lead by superior intelligence and a higher sense of duty, instead of yielding in weak connivance or acquiescence when the woman feels, and winces under, the burdens of her sex and its responsibilities in married life, and directly or indirectly pleads for sinful consideration in asking her husband “to be careful” in the performance of the marriage act. [A clear reference to frustration by withdrawal, or limiting the act to less fertile times] From the very beginning a Catholic man should set himself firmly against the very suggestion. He will be willing and glad, for good reasons, to observe continence to spare his wife; but he will never consent to any unnatural process of conjugal love. Much less will he ever himself take the initiative in intimating or insinuating so wicked a conduct. By weakly yielding to the suggestion and invitation of Eve, Adam brought a tremendous series of evils upon himself and her and all their descendants……
……In reality, however, man is probably as often, if not oftener than woman, the more guilty party in the sin of contraception. Maybe it were more correct to say that the guilt is about equally divided. If so, it is a sign that they both are practically ignorant of the high privilege and inestimable distinction of parenthood. This, more than anything else, accounts for the prevalence of the detestable sin of the violation of nature in marriage. If our Catholic husbands and wives truly recognized what it means to be a parent, they would never be tempted sinfully to shirk or evade their sacred responsibilities in marriage. To be a parent means to be assumed by God as an active partner in the procreation of an immortal being, made after God’s own image and likeness, redeemed by the Precious Blood of His only begotten Son, and destined to shine before the throne of God in indescribable glory and blessedness throughout all the ages of eternity. [Conversely, those who embrace the contraceptive mentality, whether they use artificial contraception or not, on some level reject this beautiful theology of life just outlined by Fr. Meyer. They must, otherwise, they would not make use of the means they do to frustrate fecundity immorally] But, for this parent, this being will never be called into existence to give glory to God, and enjoy God, forever and ever……[That’s a really beautiful point. It is horrifying to consider how many billions of souls have been snuffed out of existence by chemical contraception, or never came into being at all through barrier or other means. This country alone has been economically devastated by the lost tens of millions of souls who should have been born.]
…...If you then appear before the judgment seat of God with but one or two children, or even none at all, [Which some NFP advocates maintain is perfectly fine, to use periodic abstinence to prevent having any children] when, as you and your partner enjoyed the privileges of married life, you should have had 6, 8, 10 or more; and the Judge asks you sternly: “Where are the rest?” – it will not avail you to answer, “Lord, I was the richest man in town, or the whole territory round about; I had the most sumptuous mansion, the finest automobiles, and the largest number of friends”……..All this will be futile over the cutting question of the Judge: “Where are the rest?”
Nor will you have the heart to advance as an excuse of your conduct the empty and futile pretexts of poverty, economic stress, disease and what not, with which you now try to ease and hush your conscience; for in the light of the omniscience of God all their hollowness and speciousness will be apparent and ghastly……..
……But if in judgment you can appear with all the children God gave you, and you can say in the words of Our Lord: “Of them whom Thou hast given me, I have not lost anyone” (Jn xviii:9); then no matter how poor and struggling you were on earth,how socially inconspicuous and politically obscure, the Judge will compliment you highly, and rewarded you amply, saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Mt xxv:23).
I should stress in fairness, as Fr. Meyer does, that of course periodic abstinence done out of necessity and with a will open to having children should God provide them even during supposed periods of infertility can be morally acceptable, and often is. But in this culture of diabolical narcissism and endless selfishness, I would simply caution that it is incredibly easy to fool oneself into concluding that what are actually prurient reasons for preventing children are morally justifiable. The “default setting” for Catholics should be – totally contrary to what the culture tells us – be completely open to children throughout marriage, and take no steps to reduce or block fecundity if at all possible. Some couples follow that precept and have only two or three kids – that’s perfectly fine, it’s what God willed for them. Others may have 9 or 10 or 15. God knows what we need for our salvation, and what we can stand in terms of work or suffering, and will provide to us both in perfect measure.
I know this topic is probably preaching to the choir for readers of this blog, but perhaps you have some friends, family, or acquaintances with which you could share it.