Sunday, May 29, 2016

On the Feast of Corpus Christi

It is appropriate on this day that one reflect on why one should never miss Mass.

The first end for which the Mass is offered is to give God honor and glory. This is the one great end of our existence to give God honor and glory, and thereby to save our souls. "Man was created," says St. Ignatius Loyola, at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, "to praise, reverence, and serve God, and thereby save his soul." For this we were sent by God into the world. Now, in the Mass we fulfill,in a supreme degree, our function on the earth, as rational beings, of praising and reverencing God.

The second end for which the Mass is offered is to give thanks to God for His benefits. "Put in one heap," says St. Leonard of Port Maurice, "all the gifts, all the graces, you have received from God-so many gifts of nature and of grace; yes, the very life, too, of His Son Jesus, and His death suffered for us, which in themselves immeasurably swell the great debt which we owe to God-and how shall we ever be able sufficiently to thank Him? Now, the way most fully to thank God-our supreme benefactor-is taught us by the Royal Psalmist, David, who, led by divine inspirations to speak with mysterious references to this divine sacrifice, indicates that nothing can sufficiently render the thanks due to God, excepting holy Mass:  "What return shall I offer to the Lord for all the benefits which He hath bestowed upon me?' And answering himself he says, Calicem salutaris accipiam," or "I will uplift on high the chalice of the Lord," that is, I will offer a sacrifice most grateful to Him, and with this alone I shall satisfy the debt of so many and such signal benefits.

The third end for which the Mass is offered to God is to obtain the remission of our sins. The Council of Trent says in reference to this: "The Holy Synod teaches that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory, and if one draws nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, He will be appeased by the offering thereof, and, granting the grace and gift of penitence, will forgive even heinous crimes and sins." 

The fourth end for which we offer to God the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is to obtain for ourselves, as well as for others, graces and favors, both temporal and spiritual, through Jesus Christ our·Lord. The Mass obtains grace, strength, and courage to perform good works, to overcome the flesh and its concupiscence, to despise the world with its allurements and threats, to resist the attacks of Satan, to endure not only patiently, but with joy and thanksgiving to God, the hardships and troubles, the sufferings and evils, of this life, to fight the good fight, to finish our course, and to persevere in the way of salvation unto the end, and thus to bear off the crown of life and of eternal glory. The holy sacrifice of the Mass is the most profound and significant expression of all our petitions and intercessions in spiritual and temporal concerns.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dancing With Mr. D: It’s shockingly easy to fall in love with....

An adversary power lies behind the present day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties, evidenced in this piece. [Warning: graphic images and narrative-viewer discretion advised]

Evil is not merely an absence of good but an active force, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and that perverts others.  As a fallen angel, Satan in Catholic teaching is a clever seducer who knows how to lead us from God through the senses, the imagination the libido....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Libido Redux: Baptista Would Not Be Surprised....

Among Pope Paul VI's telltale signs of a diabolic presence still operative in creation were doubt, uncertainty, questioning,
dissatisfaction, and confrontation — all hallmarks in the story of the reception of Humanae Vitae in the United States. Contraceptive practice, taught from the beginning of the Church as serious sin, in Paul’s thinking became the occasion and the effect of interference by the “hidden enemy who sows errors,” who undermines our moral equilibrium — the Devil. In Paul’s teaching The Devil is the clever tempter who makes his way into man through the sensual, the libido, a “crack” through which the Evil One attempts to prevail against the Church. Here is an example of how this works....
Are we less free than a 1950s housewife? A look at contraception 

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Rome, Italy, May 19, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA).- What started as a means to liberate women seems to have taken an ironic twist.
The past century has witnessed the widespread normalization of artificial contraception, with its promise of empowering women and teenage girls to gain freedom over their bodies and fertility, along with a level of sexual liberation equal to that of men.
This freedom has emerged from what is seen as a longstanding culture of misogyny – exemplified by the so-called “1950s housewife” – where women were expected to marry young and dedicate their lives solely to homemaking, placing the comfort and desires of their husbands before their own interests.
Thanks to contraception, its proponents say, women no longer need to be controlled by a society ruled by the expectation to marry and have a family rather than have a career. In other words, with contraception, women can finally achieve their true potential and earn the respect they deserve.
Yet, little more a decade into the 21st century, the sexual exploitation of women and girls is at an all-time high, and the dream of woman's liberation – as promised by contraception – seems to be falling far short of the reality.
Provocatively-clad women are regularly used in advertising campaigns to sell everything from car insurance to sandwiches. Studies reveal an alarming percentage of young teenage girls being forced or coerced into sexual activity with their boyfriends, with similar trends colloquially seen among adult women. Victims of “rape-culture” at universities are speaking out in increasing numbers about widespread sexual violations on their campuses.
Then there's the pornography industry, which has so normalized depictions of degrading and aggressive sexual acts toward women that mainstream films and television shows are following suit for the sake of entertainment.
All of this begs the question: Did the 1950s housewife in fact have it better than women of the 21st century when it comes to sexual freedom and respect? And, could contraception be at least in part to blame for the current climate?
One expert who believes that contraception is actually damaging to woman's freedom in society is Fiorella Nash, a Catholic novelist and researcher for the London-based pro-life group, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).
Instead of liberating women, a culture which readily encourages the use of contraception in fact “undermines female autonomy,” Nash told CNA in an interview last January in London.
“We’ve sort of created a situation where, in order for women to be equal to men, they have to make their bodies a little bit more like men.”
Ironically, this discrepancy between contraception's promise of freedom and the tendency to make women more susceptible to coercion begins with their fertility. Nash cited the example of the “Pill” which is widely prescribed to treat a host of conditions, from painful periods to acne, while the core causes of these ailments are routinely neglected.
“It suggests that women can’t look after their own fertility,” Nash said. Consequently, many women are uneducated when it comes to their own bodies.
“Fertility is very essential to women’s lives, and it ought to be something that we work with, rather than (something we're) constantly trying to manipulate,” she explained.
“There is something very patronizing to me about the fact that we circumvent knowledge by giving an artificial way out, almost as if women need a cure for being female.”  
Contraception is often touted for its role in opening the doors to greater sexual freedom. However, rather than being a means of empowerment, Nash explains that contraception, in fact, makes women more vulnerable.
While it is not a new phenomena for men to be non-committal, or to abandon women they have gotten pregnant, Nash said, “the contraceptive culture has given men a license to do that.”
“Why should you stand by a woman if she gets pregnant? If she had only read the instructions on the package, she might not have gotten pregnant. And, there’s always abortion, so there’s a way out, isn’t there?”
“It’s almost allowed men to get out of their responsibilities, a lot more so than women,” she said.
Nash cited the reassurance men often give to their pregnant girlfriends – “I’ll support you whatever you decide” – which, she says, is simply the man passing on his responsibility.  
“They’re really saying: ‘Actually, I can’t be bothered. I’m not going to make any kind of a comment here. I’m going to leave you to go through it. I’ll sort of make reassuring noises, before I disappear into the next adventure.’”
“The contraceptive culture has completely destroyed any respect for women,” which in turn has “left women a lot more vulnerable,” she said.
Going beyond relationships, the acceptance of contraception has wider implications in society as well, Nash suggests: for instance, its role in the breakdown of marriage, the increase of recreational sexual activity, the objectification of women – even violence.
“A book like 50 Shades of Grey would never have been produced in a culture that respects women,” she said. “The whole story behind it – if you can call it a story -- is very reflective of a society that does glorify the abuse of women.”
This mentality translates into the so-called “rape-culture” at universities, Nash suggests. On the one hand, she did stress that it is important understand the context of the situation; for instance, taking into account the increased tendency to report assault cases, and a better overall understanding what constitutes a sexual offense, etc.
However: “If you create a culture where women are regarded as objects for sexual gratification, and where there’s always an assumption that that’s what girls want, the onus is always going to be on the women to explain that she’s not interested, rather than onus being on the man to ensure that the woman is consenting.”
Films, like the James Bond franchise, have contributed to the confusion with regard to boundaries and consent, Nash said: for instance, a scene which shows Bond walking into a woman's shower and having sex with her, without her objecting.
This phenomena places “a huge burden on women,” she said, because it occurs within a culture where men “believe that they have a right to take what they want.”
“If we were really so emancipated, if women were so empowered, it really shouldn’t be happening as much.”
Along with cases of serious assault, women and girls, in turn, are often pressured into sex with their partners. Nash cited a recent study in the United States that revealed a high proportion of teenagers being forced or coerced into sex, often out of fear of losing their boyfriends, having to prove themselves, etc.
“It does raise the question about how much coercive sex, at least, is going on in society...because, they feel the need to keep hold of a boyfriend, because they feel the need to do the right thing by their husband, etc.”
In another example, Nash spoke of the UK TV personality Davina McCall, who reportedly said a wife must satisfy her husband in the bedroom “even if you’re absolutely exhausted.” If not, “he will go somewhere else.” Following the statement, many critics compared McCall to a “1950s housewife.”
“Actually,” Nash said, “that’s not a comment from the 1950s. That is the sexualized 21st century speaking.”
“There’s nothing that odd about her saying that within the context of a very sexualized society that says people have a right to sex, they have a right to sexual gratification, and therefore, frankly, women should just be expected to deliver it.”
“Is this really what emancipation was about? Is this really what the suffrage movement was fighting for a hundred years ago? How much progress have we really made?”
Although she acknowledges the extensive progress that has been made in the area of woman's rights, Nash nonetheless holds that contraception and abortion have in many ways increased the challenges for women.
“Once you throw 'choice' – or, it’s really a false choice – contraception into the equation, then everything’s a woman’s fault.”
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Who is Behind the Church That Never was?

At the close of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI remarked that Christianity, the religion of God-Incarnate, had encountered the religion of man-made God. He was of the opinion that much of the Council was given over to demonstrating the compatibility of Enlightenment belief with Catholicism. 4 Several years hence, on June 29, 1972, Paul delivered another assessment of the state of the Roman Catholic Church since the close of Vatican II. As Cardinal Silvio Oddi recalled it (in an article first published on March 17, 1990, in Il Sabato magazine in Rome) the Holy Father told a congregation:

We have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation. And how did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that may be, we ourselves admit in free discussion, that may be unfounded, and that is that there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. We thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned instead was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties. 

His fears of demonic penetration of the Church were even stronger in a later statement:

The opening to the world [aggiornamento or “updating”] became a veritable invasion of the Church by worldly thinking....  

Here is a fine piece by Dr. Esolen that recounts the invasion:

The Future Church That Never Was

Future Church
“The Yankees,” said the Hall of Fame center fielder Tris Speaker, “will regret making Babe Ruth into an outfielder.” Speaker can be forgiven that colossally errant prediction. Nobody had actually done what Ruth was about to do, changing the game forever by changing the batter’s strategy, “uppercutting” the ball to produce a lot of strikeouts but also a lot of home runs. Besides, Speaker was an old mainstay of the Red Sox, and was undoubtedly disgruntled.
How can apparently intelligent people be so fantastically wrong in their sure-fire visions of the future? I am returning to the subject of my previous article, James Hitchcock’s brilliant Catholicism and Modernity: Confrontation or Capitulation? That article was about the sales pitch for Religions R Us, the new and improved Church of the Future. Put in your order before midnight tonight, and you will also get a general absolution for every sin you have committed, plus absolution for not one, not two, butthree future sins of your choice! “Let’s do it!” smiles the tanned young fellow to his girl friend, flashing a thumbs up. “Way to go, Church of the Future!”
“The most ‘well-adjusted’ people,” Hitchcock writes, “those who are bright, extroverted, friendly, and competent—tend also to be drawn towards a mode of religion which is consciously up-to-date. The convent-educated girls who in the 1950s wore white gloves, walked in May processions, and considered their virginity the proudest sign of their faith have, without great trauma, learned to be comfortable with the irreverent life-styles of the 1970s, the nuns who once taught them the old ways now showing them how to make the transition to the new.” It is religion as a social fashion. White gloves were the thing in the fifties; fornication and divorce, in the ’70s; and now, boys who want to play dress-up as girls and shower with them in locker rooms. “Oh Daddy,” says Judy Jetson, “it’s all the rage on Pluto!”
Poor prognosticators can occasionally blunder into a correct prediction, just as you can sometimes pick the right horse at the racetrack by shutting your eyes and pointing at the program. To be wrong beyond the bounds of probability and beyond the range of ordinary error requires some special training, or some initial debility irreducible to the dullness with which Nature endows us.
One can, for example, begin from wrong premises, and then relentlessly reason from those wrong premises, getting everything wrong along the way. The churchmen of those days held on dearly to plenty of wrong premises. One such was the malleability and perfectibility of man. So—I’m taking these instances from Hitchcock’s priceless reportage—Reverend William Hogan, former president of the Association of Chicago Priests, “enthusiastically predicted a glorious future for Vietnam under the spirit of Ho Chi Minh,” rejoicing for the benefit of the readers of the National Catholic Reporter, because “Marxism is being studied everywhere—Leninism—Marxism-newism. Great!” This was in 1976, not 1926. Not the hundred million dead, murdered by their Communist countrymen in Russia and China, could dislodge the grim idol from its throne in Father Hogan’s mind. He was by no means alone. We read with embarrassment one happy-go-lucky assessment and prediction after another, about the vibrant Christianity in Castro’s Cuba, about the merely “rambunctious” monster Idi Amin, about the unfortunate necessity of assassinations in Uruguay, and so on, worldly and deaf and blind all at once.
  If we can have Happyland on earth, what do we need from heaven? So Gregory Baum shrugged away as irrelevant the Church’s teachings on the last things. “We claim,” said he, “that the church’s teaching on eternal life is a revealed utopia. The message of the kingdom … proposes a vision of the future in which people live in justice and peace, conjoined in friendship and the common worship of the divine mystery.” And where, pray tell, has that come to pass? In the churchless wastes of modern wealth? In the family-shattered hell holes of our cities? In childless Europe? In the dumpsters outside of certain clinics, with tiny fingers sometimes poking out of the plastic bags that truss up what is left of their bodies, as if in judgment against the heartless Sexual Revolution?
That revolution too was based on a false premise: that man would really be free once he shucked off his sexual restraints. “‘Liberated’ Christians,” says Hitchcock, and he might as well be saying it today, “tend to have a naively hygienic view of sex—that it is a wholesome human power which, given proper education and the right kind of social arrangements (those liberal panaceas for every kind of moral disorder), will prove entirely healthy and benign.” Here I assume that most of the Christians at that time who had visions of Margaret Mead’s Samoa dancing in their heads would be appalled at what has come to pass: children born out of wedlock, the proliferation of venereal diseases, sexual dysphoria rampant, nude parades down Main Street, and pornography everywhere, with even sadism now claiming its very own “community.” Perhaps I give them too much credit, though. Hitchcock quotes one priest raving about that inane spree of pretentious porno-twaddle, Hair. He cites Msgr. James DiGiacomo, S.J., denouncing the censorship of pornography, calling it “puritanism, chauvinism, narrowness, anti-intellectualism, and all kinds of cultural fascism.” He cites a former priest, now a psychologist, insisting that “man is, after all, saying something to us in the language of pornography.” I wonder what it is that millions of boys hear, their brains shot full of holes by the filthy stuff.
But the surest way to get everything wrong in the realm of nature is to ignore the wisdom of one’s forebears. Here the words of Edmund Burke ought to be seared into every Christian’s mind. Says he, referring to the good solid Englishmen of his day: 
”We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that this stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.”
To apply Burke’s words to our time: there is nothing new about mankind, about men and women, about children, about liberty, principles of government, the good of the family, work, public servants, public varmints, education, piety, honor, purity, and all the other virtues, that has not been a part of the immemorial heritage of the human race. We are not wiser than our grandparents. Feminists have toiled in the traces for a century and not brought to our attention a single genuinely great writer or artist or thinker who had been neglected because of her sex; though they have slandered a few and warped our understanding of others. Educationists have come up with one New and Improved Method after another, and not one has enjoyed any success, and some have been disastrous; liturgists have penned New and Improved Music, and never a masterpiece, nay, not even a decent off-Broadway ditty among them. Cut yourself off from the wellspring: run dry and wither.
The churchmen of the time welcomed such liberation from history and from received wisdom, let alone from the magisterial tradition of the Church. “The chastity thing is a bore to me really,” says a thoroughly modern nun. “It’s not something I see any virtue in doing.” Hot new scholarship, gussied up as “scientific reading,” according to the author of Tomorrow a New Church, “has broken forever the taboo of the ‘sacred text.’” The Jesuit John O’Malley crows: “We are freed from the past. We are free to appropriate what we find helpful and to reject what we find harmful.” He does not ask whether the people in any one age can possibly be the best judges of their own failings and therefore their own needs. When Jesus walked the earth there were people who considered themselves fit to appropriate what they found in his teaching that was helpful and to reject what they found harmful. They crucified Him.
The result of this free-floating was not sophistication but shallowness and self-importance. That should have been foreseeable. One Daniel O’Brien did foresee it, sort of. He happily predicted that, as Hitchcock says, “religious communities of women could ‘renew’ themselves most quickly because they possessed the inestimable advantage of a ‘shallow’ theological background,” which meant that they “had less cultural baggage to jettison.” Women with more college courses to their credit, cut loose from such masculine preoccupations as precision, drawing distinctions, and reasoning from premises to conclusions, became as it were pagans in petticoats. Catholics of the future, their heads clear of the patent medicine, will gape in disbelief to read such things as these from Rosemary Radford Ruether: “I knew that Ba’al was a real god, the revelation of the mystery of life.” Old Ba’al had some “defects,” she concedes, but “were they more spectacular than the defects of the biblical God or Messiah, or perhaps less so?”
And then sometimes the paganism turned brutal and power-hungry—as paganism is wont to do. So a committee of the Catholic Theological Society of America urged that Catholic hospitals be allowed to perform abortion. Writing for Commonweal, Reverend Raymond Decker, associate dean of a Catholic law school, “hailed Roe vs. Wade as ‘Christian’ and said that the Vatican Council’s decree on religious liberty would prohibit Catholics from ‘imposing’ their moral principles on others,” and concluded that attempts to amend the Constitution accordingly were “reprehensible.” Not reprehensible, apparently, was a speech ridiculing Mother Teresa, duly reprinted in theNational Catholic Reporter. At the infamous 1976 Call to Action Conference, one of the speakers called for legal constraints against both the individual and the independent action of the traditional family, leading Bishop Carroll Dozier to ask, admiringly and blandly, whether “we do not need a more authoritarian government than we now have.” Such as the one they had in Red China: National Jesuit News urged the order to accept wholeheartedly the Chinese cultural revolution—the same that made that nation’s rivers run red with blood.
Over and over, wrong and wrong again; with the Church not speaking to the world from her wisdom, but the world teaching the Church a lesson in its foolishness, and the Church going along, like the puny kid in the schoolyard who sucks up to the bully and learns to cheer when the bully beats up the kid’s own brothers.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

College Students Can't Tell Difference Between Boys and Girls!

In December, the Human Rights Commission of Washington quietly enacted WAC Rule 162-32, mandating that all public accommodations — including schools and businesses — grant access to shower facilities, locker rooms, and restrooms based on the individual’s internal ‘gender identity’ or ‘gender expression’.  Not only does this new mandate require people to completely ignore biology and reasonable concern for safety in private places, but it also restricts an individual’s ability to question the motives of an individual entering those facilities.

Speaking of ignoring biology...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Women Warriors?

As a Catholic man and history teacher, I always tell my classes that, for reasons of masculinity and chivalry, I oppose women in the military (I teach at an all-female Catholic girls high school). So this article gives a better explanation of my view from a Catholic man's perspective:


by Mr. Gabe Jones

“For whenever man is responsible for offending a woman’s personal dignity and vocation, he acts contrary to his own personal dignity and his own vocation.” (Pope St. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 10)
December 3, 2015 ought to be remembered as the date that any remaining vestiges of our country’s collective sense of chivalry died a tragic death. It was on this day that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced his decision to require combat positions in every branch of the United States military – including the Marine Corps – be opened to women. Despite being one of the most significant news items in recent memory, if you did not pay close attention to the world affairs during the past few weeks the announcement may have been lost in the commotion of the other issues in the news, such as the presidential campaign, ISIS, refugees and immigration, not to mention gun and racial issues. One more thump in the constant drumbeat of political correctness can easily be overlooked.
Nevertheless, this issue of allowing our young women to directly engage in mortal combat with our nation’s enemies should be a major issue of concern for any man with a woman in his life, for it threatens the very foundation of masculinity and femininity. This new policy is not a triumph for feminism. It is a tragic failure. Pope St. John Paul II’s sagacious apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem can help us understand why.
But first, a clarification is necessary. Nothing written here is intended to detract from the courage and patriotism of the women who have already served, are serving, and will serve in combat roles. Nor should what follows be taken as a denunciation of women serving in the military in any capacity. We owe these women a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice. Anyone – male or female – who has volunteered to serve our country deserves our respect and admiration. That being said, we can and should question the philosophy of allowing women into combat and whether or not it’s a good idea.
That being said, the underlying philosophy of Secretary Carter’s decision is that men and women are the same, regardless of any biological, physiological, psychological, or spiritual differences. This is a fundamentally incorrect interpretation of human sexuality, but this is not the first blow to authentic masculinity and femininity. For years, radical feminism has been pushing an agenda which views the differences between the sexes as a conflict; that men are somehow holding women back and that true equality will only be achieved when women can do everything a man does.
John Paul II warns against this mentality. “[E]ven the rightful opposition of women to what is expressed in the biblical words, ‘He shall rule over you’ (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the ‘masculinization’ of women. In the name of liberation from male ‘domination,’ women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine ‘originality.’ There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not ‘reach fulfillment,’ but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness.” (10)
Contrary to what the progressive feminist ideology would like to have you believe, we know that masculinity and femininity are actually not in conflict. One is not superior and the other inferior. There is no need to glorify one and demean the other. “In the sphere of what is ‘human,’” writes John Paul II “of what is humanly personal – ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ are distinct, yet at the same time they complete and explain each other.” (25)
In a world where political correctness dictates that a man pretending to be a woman is acceptable, that marriage is a mere contract between consenting adults regardless of their sexual identity, that the ability for women to kill their children in the womb is a constitutional right, and that women with enough money only need a needle and a petri dish to get pregnant, we should not be surprised when the complementarity and distinction between the sexes all but disappear, including on the brutal front lines of war. Feminism should be about protecting and promoting the dignity of women. Instead, feminism is a code-word for removing distinctions between men and women.
That lack of distinction is precisely the problem. When it comes to military combat, it’s not that women are not able to fight*, it is that they shouldn’t be fighting at all because they are different than men – different in such a way that they are more deserving of reverence, praise, respect than could ever be demonstrated in armed combat.
John Paul II referred to the “dignity and vocation” of women which finds its “eternal source in the heart of God.” (14) Though he doesn’t mention it directly in the letter, one would assume that John Paul II would consider combat – while terrible in its own right – to be far beneath the dignity and vocation of women particularly. It is this dignity and vocation, he says, which finds its most complete expression in Mary, the Mother of God (5) where “what is personally feminine reaches a new dimension: the dimension of the ‘mighty works of God,’ of which the woman becomes the living subject and an irreplaceable witness.” (16)
Let us then contemplate the image of Mary. It is true that Mary the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God by her fiat – her saying “Yes!” to life – crushed the head of the snake, and in doing so shows us that there is room for a women to engage in combat. Yet, she retains the title Queen of Peace because she does so through the highest virtues of femininity, namely gentleness, love, patience, and selflessness. Mary, by living these peaceful virtues radically for God, became a living example of what it means for a woman to engage in combat with sin itself.
Pope John Paul II explains: “The dignity of every human being and the vocation corresponding to that dignity find their definitive measure in union with God. Mary, the woman of the Bible, is the most complete expression of this dignity and vocation. For no human being, male or female, created in the image and likeness of God, can in any way attain fulfillment apart from this image and likeness.” (5)
Perhaps that is the best way to understand why women in military combat is a poor philosophy: it goes contrary to the “feminine genius” and their true “dignity and vocation.” Women have a vocation to be life-bearers, and not just literally in the form of bearing children, but also simply by giving and receiving love. “When we say that the woman is the one who receives love in order to love in return, this refers not only or above all to the specific spousal relationship of marriage. It means something more universal, based on the very fact of her being a woman…” (29)
If the concept of vocation is measured by being in “union with God” and following His will, then combat – the purpose of which is the intentional destruction of life – is entirely contrary to the life-giving qualities inherent in the “feminine genius.”
War is brutal. The front lines of combat are a disgusting, abhorrent, crude, and destructive place. This may sound very old fashioned or even chauvinistic to a non-Catholic, but it’s not. It’s chivalrous because the simple fact is that combat is no place for women. They deserve so much better. As men, we should protect and uphold the dignity of women, and one very important way we can do that is to raise our daughters to be strong, virtuous, and holy, with Mary as their ultimate role model. Women deserve to be placed on a pedestal, not shoved in a foxhole.

*Some will argue that because women by-and-large are not as strong as men and not physically capable of the same things men, they are thus not physically able to fight. Yes, women are generally not as strong as men, but one need only think of the powerful “mama bear” instinct to know that women can fight if necessary, just perhaps not in the same way. Nevertheless, the point of the article is not about ability, but appropriateness.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

What [the] Hell???

Dr. Kreeft has dashed off a worthy piece for Christians to muse:


The hell with hell!  says the modern mind. Of all Christianity's teachings, hell is certainly the least popular.  Non-Christians ignore it, weak Christians excuse it, and anti-Christians attack it.
hell4Some, like Bertrand Russell in his famous essay "Why I Am Not a Christian", argue that because Jesus clearly taught it, he was not a good moral teacher.  (Russell's essay, by the way, makes fine devotional reading for a Christian.  My college roommate was about to lose his faith until he read it; he said to me, "If those are the arguments against Christianity, I'd better be a Christian.")
Why do we believe there's a hell? Not because we're vindictive.  "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Why, then? Simply because we've been told, by Christ himself.  There's a popular fallacy that Jesus spoke only comforting words and that the fear of hell began with Saint Paul.  The textual truth is the opposite: Jesus uttered many "hell fire and damnation" sermons, while nearly all the passages that offer any hope to the universalist (who believe all men will be saved in the end) are from Paul.
Fear of hell is not a base motive.  As George MacDonald says, "As long as there are wild beasts about, it is better to be afraid than secure.  "God's graciousness accepts even the "low" motive of fear of hell for salvation if that's the best we can muster.  His arms are open to all prodigals.  He is not high-minded, like some of his detractors.  All's fair in love and war.  And life is both.
Hell follows from two other doctrines: heaven and free will.  If there is a heaven, there can be a not-heaven.  And if there is free will, we can act on it and abuse it.  Those who deny hell must also deny either heaven (as does Western secularism) or free will (as does Eastern pantheism).
Hell and heaven make life serious.  Heaven without hell removes the bite from life's drama.  C. S. Lewis once said that he never met a single person who had a lively faith in heaven without a similar belief in hell.  The height of the mountain is measured by the depth of the valley, the greatness of salvation by the awfulness of the thing we're saved from.
What is hell? The popular image of demons gleefully poking pitchforks into unrepentant posteriors misses the point of the biblical image of fire.  Fire destroys.  Gehenna, the word Jesus used for hell, was the valley outside Jerusalem that the Jews used for the perpetual burning of garbage because it had been desecrated by heathen tribes who used it for human sacrifice.  In hell you make an eternal ash of yourself.  Hell is not eternal life with torture but something far worse: eternal dying.  What goes to hell, said C. S. Lewis, is "not a man, but remains".
The images for hell in Scripture are horrible, but they're only symbols.  The thing symbolized is not less horrible than the symbols, but more.  Spiritual fire is worse than material fire; spiritual death is worse than physical death.  The pain of loss — the loss of God, who is the source of all joy — is infinitely more horrible than any torture could ever be.  All who know God and his joy understand that.  Saints do not need to be threatened with fire, only with loss.  "All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness.  The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it — or else that it was within your grasp and you have lost it forever" (C. S. Lewis).
Jesus does not tell us much detail about hell.  He tells us that it exists, that it's horrible, that any man can go there.  Judas seems to be one, for Jesus says of him, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." If no one goes to hell, it would seem to be inexcusable for Jesus to give us so many fearful warnings about it.  But he does not give us population statistics.  To his disciples' question "Are many saved?" he does not answer with estimates but with a forceful appeal to the will: "Strive to enter in."
Jesus says the way to hell is broad and many find it and that the way to heaven is narrow and few find it.  And he means it: you don't get to heaven simply by being born, by being nice, or by oozing into an eternal growth experience.  But "few" here does not mean that less than half of mankind will be saved.  For God speaks as our Father, not our statistician.  Even one child lost is too many, and the rest saved are too few.  The good shepherd who left his ninety-nine sheep safe at home to rescue his one lost sheep found even 99 percent salvation too "few".
The most important question about hell, as about heaven, is the practical one: What roads lead there?
The most important question about hell, as about heaven, is the practical one: What roads lead there? They are interior, of course.  In fact, heaven and hell may be the very same objective place — namely God's love, experienced oppositely by opposite souls, just as the same opera or rock concert can be heavenly for you and hellish for the reluctant guest at your side.  The fires of hell maybe made of the very love of God, experienced as torture by those who hate him: the very light of God's truth, hated and fled from in vain by those who love darkness.
Imagine a man in hell — no, a ghost — endlessly chasing his own shadow, as the light of God shines endlessly behind him.  If he would only turn and face the light, he would be saved.  But he refuses to — forever.  Just as we can attain heaven by implicit as well as explicit faith ("Saint Socrates, pray for us," says Erasmus), so hell too can be reached without explicit rebellion.  This is the terrible — and terribly needed — truth taught by C. S. Lewis in The Great Divorce and Charles Williams in Descent into Hell.  We can drift, slide, even snooze comfortably into hell.  All God's messengers, the prophets, say so.
We desperately need to hear this truth about hell again, simply out of honesty, because it is there.  And also out of compassion.  For when an abyss looms ahead, the least compassionate thing to tell the traveler is "peace, peace, when there is no peace".  Out of love for god and man, let us tell the truth about hell!
Sure, we'll be mocked as vindictive, manipulative, or fundamentalist.  Let it be so.  Sometimes it seems that we're more afraid of sharing our Lord's holy unrespectability than of hell itself.  It's a small price to pay for the salvation of a single infinitely precious soul.  And that is the business we're supposed to be in.


kreeftPeter Kreeft. "Hell." Chapter 27 in Fundamentals of the Faith. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 162-166.