“So Un-Baptise me then…!”

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Poor kid hasn’t even entered the water yet!

I remember that blurry period in my life of hormonal angst and naivety, combined with the self-assurance of the fact that I knew all things. I like to refer to it as my time of self discovery. My parents simply describe it as “The Teenage Years”.

I remember one time announcing to my parents that I wanted to get un-baptised, but I didn’t know how to go about it. After a few seconds of expressionless silence in which they realised I had taken them to new levels of astonishment, they calmly suggested that I “Don’t worry about it too much” knowing that in about an hours time I would have forgotten about it and would be pouring my heart and soul into some new life altering activity.

They were right. And besides – you can’t get un-baptised! Sacraments cannot be undone. You can’t un-make your first holy communion or your first confession. You can’t get unconfirmed or un-make your vows as a priest. You can’t un-receive the sacrament of the sick.

In exactly the same way you can’t un-receive the sacrament of matrimony. The relationship may break down, and you may even decide to divorce (which still leaves you able to receive communion as long as you stay single), but you will still be sacramentally married to that person until one of you dies.

Language is important, and I think it is necessary now for Catholics to start to start referring to it as the Sacrament of Marriage/Matrimony rather than just Marriage – which in secular terms means something very different.

Perhaps if we start referring to it within it’s proper context as a sacrament, we might begin to view it differently, and realise that some things are beyond our authority to change.

German Bishops break with Rome and inaugurate Dalek as their new supreme Pontiff.

Kasper Dalek

Cardinal Kasper gets a breath of fresh air with the new Pope Daal XVI.

In an unprecedented move this week, several German high ranking clergy have openly declared that they no longer consider themselves to be under the authority of Pope Francis but instead have pledged their allegiance to a Dalek. This follows several months of progressively dissenting behaviour in which the aforementioned clergy were trying their level best to change Christ’s teachings on marriage and family, sexuality and reception of the sacraments.

In a statement released by the group, Cardinal Walter Kasper states that “Our new Pontiff is an incredibly sweet and thoughtful mutant who wants everybody to be happy.”

The inauguration happened last Thursday in a low key ceremony in which it was reported there were “guitars”.

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The new pontiff, who has taken the name Daal XVI, has wasted no time in issuing his first papal document entitled “Exterminatus” in which he discusses wiping out all of humanity by utilising their own sinful tendencies. The 38 word document also quotes never before heard scripture – the Gospel of Davros.

When asked about the rather concise nature of the document Cardinal Reinhard Marx explained: “We felt it was important to choose a Pontiff who had a very limited vocabulary. In this way it would be almost impossible for us to dissent from his teachings because we can pretty much interpret his one-word theological answers however we want.”

However it is also being reported by several different sources that the new Pontiff has an extremely short temper and is liable to sudden outbursts.

An eyewitness at the inauguration ceremony told us that “Everything was going smoothly with the opening procession until Pope Daal got to the sanctuary steps. No-one had remembered to put a ramp there for him to roll up and he just totally lost it. Everyone knows Daleks can’t climb stairs. He was livid. His ‘head’ just kept spinning round and round and his mechanical eyestalk was jerking up and down furiously while he exclaimed ‘EXCOMMUNICATE! EXCOMMUNICATE!’ in his harsh grating staccato manner. It was awful. People were so frightened they were hiding behind the back of the pews clasping the kneeler cushions to their chests. Some of the really brave ones would peek over the top or round the sides of the pews. I was watching through a crack in the door.”

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Another eye witness told us that “At one point it seemed that the new Pontiff had completely lost control of the plasma beam that was shooting randomly out of his ‘arm’. Not the sink plunger ‘arm’ – the other one. One of the altar girls got hit on the elbow, and someone from the congregation shouted ‘Get the Doctor! Get the Doctor!’ I saw Cardinal Kasper lean over to Bishop Franz-Josef Bode and ask ‘Doctor who?’ Bishop Bode smirked and whispered back ‘You just said it!’ At this point Cardinal Kasper stood up and asked if there ‘was a Doctor in the house?’ Someone suggested Therese of Lisieux, and that’s when it began to dawn on us that breaking away from Rome was perhaps not such a good idea.”

Pope Daal begins a busy public schedule next week in which he will be having tea and cake with several world leaders including David Cameron, President Obama and the Grand Master of the Masons.

Mid-term Family Synod report: “Limitless Affectivity”

Victoria Seed

By Victoria Seed

It was interesting reading the mid-term report from the family synod today. I especially liked this paragraph:

“…Today’s world appears to promote limitless affectivity, seeking to explore all its aspects, including the most complex. Indeed, the question of emotional fragility is very current: a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity do not always help greater maturity to be reached. In this context, couples are often uncertain and hesitant, struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of emotional and sexual life….”

Affectivity has to do with sentiment or emotion.  The modern idea that we are pulled and pushed around by our feelings, that we are somehow powerless against them, or that they are the source of our “authentic” self is deeply pernicious. We are led to believe that how we feel about a person, situation or achievement is more important than the substance of the matter.  (How often do we see a TV presenter more eager to ask how someone feels about an accomplishment or a disappointment than to find out what actually went on?)  Secular culture encourages us to substitute strength of conviction (feeling something really strongly) for mature moral deliberation.  In a world where being morally right is thought to be less important than “being true to yourself” or “believing in yourself” we tend to think of love as a collection of positive emotions towards another person.

I think the passage I quoted is rooted in a very solid Aristotelian or Thomistic (i.e. Catholic) moral framework where this practical syllogism is the basis for correct moral action: right desire (affectivity) + right deliberation = right action.  Limitless affectivity is emotion or desire unbounded by:

1. The need for proper orientation towards what is good

2. Proper deliberation as to how this can be achieved.

Our desires are important and have moral implications and value.  A virtuous person desires what is good, which is to say he LOVES the good. But this presupposes that he knows what is good. So desire derives its moral worth from its object. This is its limit. Limitless affectivity lacks a proper orientation and is by nature adolescent, self-indulgent, unexamined and uncontrolled.

St Thomas Aquinas defined love of persons in terms of our desires, but ascribed to these desires a clear object and limits.  To love another person is to:

1. To desire union with him

2. To desire what is good for him.

People today often (almost always) define love as a feeling, something passive.  Christianity says that love is a choice, something active.  In its critique of “limitless affectivity” this truth has been expressed by the Synod, which is promising…

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Is Christ or Man at the centre of the Family Synod?

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“6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel — 7not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. 10Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. 11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” –  Galatians 1:6-12

It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Bishops opinions are divided at the Family Synod.

Speaking from Rome, Voice of the Family’s British spokesperson John Smeaton said:

“There’s a clear dividing line between Synod Fathers who are clear about Catholic teaching on human sexuality, and Synod Fathers who offer confusion in their presentation of Church teaching on this and related issues.”

Irish spokesperson Patrick Buckley said:

“Some of the reported interventions in the Synod are not in accordance with Catholic teaching and yet are being released without adequate comment, resulting in confusion about church teaching.”

This is extremely concerning. Why is there confusion? Either the Bishops do not know the teachings of the church or they do know them and are deliberately deciding to go against them.

In his opening address on Monday, Cardinal Péter Erdő of Hungary argued that Humanae Vitae should be read in light of graduality. In a session with reporters at Vatican Radio Monday night, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich invoked graduality as a key to helping the church develop a new way of talking about sex.

In a briefing session for reporters on Tuesday, a Vatican spokesman described graduality as among the synod’s emerging themes, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of the UK said the idea of graduality “permits people, all of us, to take one step at a time in our search for holiness in our lives.”

In its true form I actually agree with gradualism, but being very careful to remember the cautioning words of JPII.

The last time the Vatican staged a Synod of Bishops on the family, which was almost 35 years ago in 1980, talk about gradualism was in the air, too. Pope John Paul II was sufficiently concerned about where it might lead that he included a warning in a homily he gave for the closing Mass of the synod, a line he then also dropped into the meeting’s concluding document, Familiaris Consortio.

“What is known as ‘the law of gradualness’,” John Paul said, “cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law’.”

What he is getting at here – and what I greatly fear might be happening at the synod right now, is that people are liable to muddy the waters between gradualism ‘we come to Christ one step at a time’ and relativism – ‘what is true for you, might not be true for me’.

And then of course there is Kasper…

Cardinal-Kasper

Kasper’s views on mercy are just plain wrong. Cardinal Kasper acknowledges that all sacramental marriages are indissoluble yet he suggests that because God is merciful it can be permitted for those living in an objectively sinful state to receive Holy Communion. This suggests that Kasper sees the divine mercy more as a ‘looking over’ or ‘forgetfulness’ of sin rather than as an eradication of sin and a profound interior renewal. This is an essentially Lutheran position which sees the justified sinner as, in Luther’s famous words, “dung covered by snow.”

The possibly twisted view of gradualism being presented here, and Kasper’s (nothing short of protestant) views on mercy have one thing in common:

‘Man’ at the centre.

This of course goes against what Pope Francis has asked young pilgrims attending World Youth Day  2013 to do: to keep Jesus at the “centre of their lives.” And against Pope Benedict’s final tweet as pope: ‘…May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.’

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Not to get too apocalyptic on you but… I need to quote 675 from the CCC:

“675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”

Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting we are on the verge of the second coming, but what I am suggesting is that we have to be incredibly vigilant of Bishops spouting religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. And any apparent solutions that allow man to glorify himself, and his own wants and desires, in place of God.

Is Christ or Man at the centre of the Family Synod?

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It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that many of the problems in the church today rest on the relationship one has with Christ. So many, it seems, are having a relationship with Christ on THEIR term rather than on His. When we decide to follow Christ we are doing just that – FOLLOWING. He is in charge. The relationship does not revolve around us. The world does not revolve around us. We must not become the most important thing in our lives – He must. And once this relationship has matured and developed and we find ourselves helplessly and hopelessly in love with Christ, we finding ourselves wanting to give more to him. We are able to understand and accept the doctrine and the rules of the church because within the context of a loving relationship with Christ – they make sense.

Why is no-one at the synod saying this?

Sources:

http://voiceofthefamily.info/wordpress/?p=316

http://www.americancatholic.org/features/johnpaulii/transition/CardinalsKasper.asp

http://voiceofthefamily.info/wordpress/?p=296

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/07/26/wyd-2013-keep-christ-at-the-centre-of-your-lives-pope-tells-pilgrims/

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c2a7.htm

My Top 5 Hopes for the Family Synod.

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There are of course more than 5, but here goes (in reverse order):

5. That Parents will be made aware, and supported in the fact that they are the primary and most influential educators of their children, and that their home is a domestic church.

Most of the parents I know have no idea of the spiritual authority they have over their children. They have no idea that THEY are the primary educators and that THEIR witness to the faith is going to be the single biggest method of evangelisation their children will ever, ever get. The vast majority want to transmit the faith to their children but how can parents be expected to pass on the faith to their children if they do not know it themselves? The Bishops have to realise that adult formation should be moved up into top priority in parishes if they want the next generation to learn the faith from their parents. Parents need to be mobilised into realising that God is not just something that occurs in church on a Sunday morning, but He is in-fact a living reality throughout every moment of every day of our lives. Our homes should be schools of prayer and love where we can show our children everyday what it means to truly follow Christ.

4. That the Theology of the Body and NFP will be recognised and vigorously promoted from the pulpits as being THE MOST important, counter-cultural evangelising message a couple will ever hear.

Our society is obsessed with sex. It is also obsessed with self gratification. We have a porn pandemic. We also live and work in a culture that dehumanises us into a number on a payroll. The value of human life is not regarded in very high esteem unless you are earning a wage and can become a consumer. Human dignity is something that needs to be re-taught and re-learned. We are dignified simply because we are human beings. We are made in the image and likeness of God. A husband is dignified simply because he is a man and a wife is dignified simply by the fact that she is a woman. The physical, emotional and spiritual differences between men and women are God given and complimentary.  To (re)discover this dignity in the bedroom, and the whole of the rest of our lives is one of the biggest strengths the Church has against the secularisation and consumerism of the west.

3. That the (soon to be reformed) Annulment process will take into account the scandalous lack of effective marriage prep currently available.

Lets take the two lifetime vocations: Holy Orders and Marriage. For Holy Orders you get 7 years training before you commit for life. For Marriage, in my parish, you get 1 day. 1 DAY!!! And they muse over why so many Catholic marriages fail. Given today’s emotionally based secular view on marriage it is more important than ever to prepare and educate people in what they are about to commit to. How is it possible that such neglect has taken place on such an important issue? It is my belief that a huge proportion of Catholic marriages could be classed as invalid due to lack of preparation. And then after the marriage has failed people find they are trapped in a sacramental union they had no idea they were getting themselves into. I truly hope the Bishops sit up and realise their responsibility here. I discuss this more HERE.

2. That the beautiful truths of our beautiful faith will actually get taught.

How can the Bishops expect couples to understand the indissolubility of a sacramental union if (due to complete lack of adult formation) they don’t even know what a sacrament is? Why have the vast majority of Catholics never heard of NaPro technology, Billings or Creighton? – let alone understand how they work or the positive effects they have on, well, everything. Why could the vast majority of parents at the baptism course I helped with, not recite the Our Father without reading it off a sheet in front of them. Why had I never even heard of the CCC or known there were such things as Papal documents until I went to Catholic university aged 31?

One of my main hopes for this synod is that it is recognised that, for whatever reason, most adult Catholics do not know the basic truths of the Catholic faith.  I hope and pray that the Bishops will recognise this, find effective methods of teaching these truths and then ensure that this desperately needed education is actually reaching the people in the pews.

1. The recognition that most Catholics do not have a relationship with Christ, and if they do, it’s on their terms not His. 

This is the real elephant in the middle of the room. The Vatican survey showed very clearly that normal everyday Catholics do not accept church teaching on issues such as contraception, gay marriage and divorce and re-marriage. These are major life changing issues that on the surface, to the unbeliever, seem to make no sense whatsoever.

Sherry Weddell’s book Forming Intentional Disciples tells us that only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practising. Fully, 10 percent of all adults in America are ex-Catholics. The number of marriages celebrated in the Church decreased dramatically, by nearly 60 percent, between 1972 and 2010. Only 60 percent of Catholics believe in a personal God. She really hits the nail on the head by bringing to light the fact that most Catholics do not have a relationship with Christ.

Why on earth would you want to remain open to life when you have already had your two kids and want to move on with the next stage of your life? Why would you choose an extremely challenging life of chastity rather than marry your gay partner whom you love deeply?

The only answer to these questions is that you do it because you love Christ more than you love yourself.

It is almost impossible for people to understand and accept many parts of Catholic doctrine, if not understood within the context of a personal relationship with Christ. A relationship that is based on His terms, not theirs. This correct relationship needs to come first. It is literally square 1.

Please God – let the Bishops recognise this, and Please God (even more so…) may they reflect on whether this is an issue for them personally. Do they have a relationship with Christ on their terms, or on His? Who is really in charge of their diocese? Has it influenced the way they have been guiding their flocks?

 

Lets us pray for the Synod…