Wednesday, November 23, 2016

On the Smoke of Modernism

AS is well known to all but those who choose not to see, the broken or irregular home has gone from being the exception to the rule. 

The family is the building block upon which all secular and Christian civilization is built. Marriage is a divine and natural institution perfectly portrayed by Christ the bridegroom and His Church, the bride. Though the world has been trying to change both, we find ourselves with a gap between how the world sees family and marriage and what the Church knows about them.

The Fourteenth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place from October 4 to October 25, 2015, in Vatican City. While it is inspiring that the Church fathers are attempting to develop pastoral solutions to the overwhelming problems we face as a global society concerning marriage and family, it is rewarding to know the roots of the problems that we face. If we untangle the modernism on both topics we will discover that the problem lies in the contraceptive mindset.

As I discuss in The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God, after successfully work of separating rights from duties by the spirit of rebellion, Satan’s most profound work was to separate the marital act from its primary ends of procreation and unity. It is a diabolical inversion of reality that the third end of the marital act, that of the pleasure that flows from the marital act, is claimed by modern man to be the “new” primary end. This makes God’s primary end of procreation an inhibition to seekers of the new false primary end, and therefore something to be eliminated by technique or technology. The modern world has become obsessed with that task.

My argument in the book is that Paul VI was prophetic in asserting that contraception is at the root of family crises in the modern age, and this teaching has been obscured by the modern philosophy flowing from the sexual revolution. In 1968, when he published his encyclical Humanae Vitae, the world was expecting a change in Church teaching, much like many are expecting changes in Church teaching from the Synod. The Church’s teaching on contraception is absolute, because the law against it is divine and natural. It is demonstrated from the beginning, through the episode of Onan (Genesis 38:8-10) through the Apostle’s first catechism (the Didache), and re-stated in every catechism put forth by the Church. 

To be continued….

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Exhibit of St. Thomas More Artifacts Debuts at St. John Paul II Shrine

A new exhibit is open daily at the St. John Paul II Shrine in Washington, D.C., until March 31, 2017.  Its title — “God’s Servant First: The Life and Legacy of Thomas More” — refers to More’s last words before being beheaded: “I die the King’s good servant, and God’s first.”
The exhibit zeroes in on the events leading to More’s execution by King Henry VIII, beginning with Pope Clement VII’s refusal to declare null Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The King responded by proclaiming himself the Supreme Head of the Church in England so that he could grant himself the annulment and marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. More knew that publicly opposing the king would endanger his family, so he resigned as Chancellor of England and kept silent. But because of More’s reputation for learning and virtue, Henry was determined to have More approve his marriage, and consequently enacted a law requiring his subjects to acknowledge his headship of the English Church. When More refused to do so, he was imprisoned, convicted of treason, and beheaded.

So, More lost his head because he was willing to give his life for the truth. Henry wanted to believe that he could dissolve his marriage on his own authority, and wanted More to support him in this. More refused, bearing witness to the truths of papal authority and the indissolubility of marriage.

While arguing that More’s example helped promote the spread of religious liberty in America and the world, the exhibit also describes the history of anti-Catholicism in the U.S., and ends with an ominous quote from G. K. Chesterton: Thomas More “is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death … but he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years time.”

What does  Chesterton mean? More is particularly relevant to our times because he was a martyr for the liberty that is now threatened by the American government’s increasing efforts to force Catholics to act against their consciences on such issues as contraception and gay marriage.

The exhibit is spot on about More’s relevance for our times, as Christians are facing an attack by government authority on the truth about marriage. Just as Henry denied its indissolubility, today our government denies that it is solely between a man and a woman, and that contraception is contrary to its very nature. Like Henry, our government wishes to compel our assent to what we know to be untrue. Like More, we must respond by witnessing to the truth, even if it means suffering persecution, which will come.