Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lenten Suffering and Mortification-Atomic Power

By Guest Columnist Marie Thibodeau

"Suffering if we are united with Christ and so offer it in his hands to God, is the most effective of all acts of love....In it the world's healing begins."  Caryll Houselander

I want to encourage all of you to believe that it doesn't matter how little the suffering or why you are suffering, if you say during it, "God I join this to your suffering,"  it will be efficacious.

Christ on the Cross, El Greco 1600-10
Many times as we struggle with our own lack of patience, we concentrate on our weakness and neglect to see that our lack of virtue is a suffering that we can join to Christ's.  The tantrums that derail our plans, the bad attitudes that we can't seem to correct, our feelings of inadequacy etc are true sufferings and God desires us to look at Him as we endure them, not ourselves.

One more thought:  often we pray for someone we love and we don't see any visible change.  For example, we may have a child who is nasty to his siblings no matter what we do or say.  I have been learning that habitual sin, whether in my own life or the life of my loved ones, needs fasting.  Talking, lecturing, punishing etc can often be ineffective.  What is effective is to realize that that person needs grace and we can actually, secretly, offer that grace to them through the practice of fasting.  

Now, my recommendation, one I use myself, is to chose something small and that you would have to give up daily. Do not be commit to give it up for the rest of your life but for a definite time period like Lent, or a month, or even a week.  That way it is doable and something you can offer on a regular basis.  

One of my good friends had a very difficult relationship with her mother-in-law, so she decided to give up sugar in her coffee. She would do it every time her mother in law would come for a visit and she is convinced that their relationship improved dramatically after years of trying everything else to make it better.

I had a friend who suffered terribly from depression.  One particular time, she called me and explained that she could barely get out of bed.  I felt the Lord ask me to give up something small for her and to not tell her about it.  I immediately doubted that this could really be God. After all wouldn't He ask me to do something more dramatic and difficult. The thought persisted however and so I decided to try it.  But when I tried to give up this little habitual thing, my eyes were opened.  This little reward I gave myself everyday, was not as easy as I thought to give up.  I had to pray hard for the grace to even do it at all.  Not only did I learn something about my own dependencies but my friend told me later that her depression had suddenly and miraculously lifted and that she was much better.

Marie Thibodeau is a native Californian, cradle Catholic who grew up with 5 brothers and 1 sister. She has been married to Frank, for 30 years. Frank was a career army man so they traveled all over the United States, and also did three tours in Germany. At present they reside in New Hampshire. Marie and Frank have 7 children, 5 sons and 2 daughters, ages 10 to 29.  The two oldest sons are married and one of our daughters is getting married in the fall. They have one adored grandchild.  Marie is one of the founders of a lay group  called Little Daughters of the Sacred Heart.  They have been running retreats  for women for the past 8 years at the Benedictine Monastery in Harvard, Massachusetts.  They just had their annual retreat this past weekend with Danielle Bean and Leila Lawler.  The focus or our ministry is to encourage women to love their vocation as wives and mothers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Overview of the Gospels of Lent

Last year the rector of our Cathedral, at the beginning of Lent,  gave me an overview of Lent. He summarized each of the gospels for the six weeks. In all my life I had never looked at the whole of Lent. It really helped me see the bigger picture of this beautiful time that we can grow in holiness. And so here is my attempt to share that birds-eye view. This year we use the B Lectionary cycle for the gospels. Year B focuses on the gospel of St. Mark, but the Sundays in Lent include passages from the other gospels as well.

Temptation of Christ by Duccio
The first Sunday of Lent: The Temptation in the Desert. The temptation of our Lord takes place at the beginning of His 3 years of public ministry. Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days. Then he set out to be about the business of His Father. Just as Jesus fasted and was tempted for 40 days, we share that journey on a lesser scale during Lent.

The second Sunday of Lent: The Transfiguration. The story of the Transfiguration, Mark chapter 9, takes place towards the end of the three year public ministry before Jesus goes up to Jerusalem to be crucified. The Transfiguration was to show Jesus' closest friends and followers, Peter, John and James, a glimpse of His glory. They would sure need it during the darkness of this trial, crucifixion and burial.

The third Sunday of Lent: The Cleansing of the Temple. This event took place early in Jesus' public ministry as recorded in the gospel of St John, chapter 2. In this reading Jesus says "destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it." This is to foretell his death and resurrection. In this story Jesus is talking to His own people, the Jews.
Christ instructing Nicodemus, Hendricksz 1604

The fourth Sunday of Lent: Jesus tells Nicodemus in John chapter 3 that just as the bronze serpent was lifted up, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life. Perhaps the most well known verse in all of scripture is John 3:16 "for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Here again, Jesus is predicting His crucifixion.
Certain Greeks desire to see Jesus, James Tissot

The fifth Sunday of Lent: The Hour has Come. John 12:20 begins with the fact that some Greeks (non-Jews) also came to worship and they wished to see Jesus. And at that request Jesus says "the hour has come." Now that people outside of the Jews are seeking Jesus, it is time for very purpose of His life, His death and resurrection, to save the entire world.
 Entry into Jerusalem by Pedro Orrente, 1620


The sixth Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday: The Triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Mark 11:1-10 is read at the beginning of the mass. Then at the usual time of the gospel in the liturgy of the word, we read the full passion narrative from Mark 14. Jesus is received in Jerusalem for the Passover feast as the King He truly is, and less than a week later, all the tables have turned and He has been crucified.
The Church in her wisdom gives us these precious six weeks to ponder the events of Jesus' life. Consider meditating on each weeks gospel during the week to more fully to become conformed to Christ.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Get Ready for Lent, Ash Wednesday is February 22

Lent

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It is not a Holy Day of Obligation, but make every effort to be at mass and hear the call to repentance. The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. A combination of these three helps us lose ourselves and find our Lord.  Let’s take time before Lent begins to really think and pray about how we want to grow spiritually and what our Lord is calling us to do this lent.

Many people will give up their beloved coffee or soda or chocolate. But I really want to recommend that you “take on” something and not just “give up” something. “Taking on” any or all of these things will change your life and make this the best Lent of your life. I like to think of these as "holy habits." Just imagine if you started a new holy habit every Lent, and kept it going throughout the year!

Confession- Begin the Lenten season with the best confession of your life. If you have not been to confession in a while, go! Give yourself the gift! If you go now and then, but not regularly, consider getting into a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. Precede any confession with a thorough examination of conscience and a firm purpose of amendment. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind as to the sins that are weighting you down. Listening to "Confession" an audio talk by Fr. Larry Richards is a powerful way to learn more about the sacrament as well as doing a great examination of conscience. CLICK HERE to get a CD or MP3 download of the talk.

Encourage your children and spouse get to confession but also step out in faith and invite a friend or neighbor to join you. Many parishes have a Lenten penance service and this is a great chance to bring someone home to the sacrament. Whatever your past experience with confession has been, consider starting anew. 

Daily Mass- Add one or more weekday masses into your life for Lent. The grace of the Eucharist is transforming. Most daily masses are only 30 minutes. If the mass time at our own parish is not convenient, go to www.masstimes.org and find a close parish with a mass time that will work. Take your family with you, if possible, or meet a friend there to build accountability and help keep up the habit.

Adoration- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is the practice of placing ourselves before the Lord either in the tabernacle or in the monstrance. It is a time of quiet, prayer. Often, instead of doing all the talking or repeating memorized prayers, I try to just sit and listen. A holy hour is the usual amount of time to spend in adoration, but even if you can only go for 10 minutes, Our Lord will fill you peace and joy. 

Daily Prayer- Commit to a regular prayer time. Morning, Afternoon or Evening, allocate 5-10 minutes to pray or read spiritual material each day. The family rosary would be a marvelous practice for lent. Start out with just a decade if the children are very young. As far as spiritual reading material, I highly recommend the In Conversation with God series by Francis Fernandez, published by Sceptre. You can read each day’s meditation in about 15 minutes. 


Kindle Edition:




 


Catholicism Series-  This series is fantastic. Fr. Barron created it to reveal the truth, goodness and beauty of our faith. For many years now Our Story has been told by the secular press with disdain. It's our time to tell the 2000 year old story! To buy the 10 episodes on 5 DVDs, at the discounted price of just $119.95 CLICK HERE.

Stations of the Cross- This is a traditional Catholic practice that is a short but powerful way to walk with our Lord from the moment He is condemned to death until He is crucified, died and is buried. When we enter into the passion of our Lord and see all that He suffered for us, we cannot but grow in our love for Him.

Almsgiving- Giving alms is giving of money in addition to the amount you tithe. During Lent a powerful way to give alms would be to support our Annual Pastoral Appeal. The Larger church, the Diocese, needs our support. It is easy to say "I have too many bills" or "I sure hope other people give." But have we asked ourselves a different set of questions: "What if I give a big gift?" "How much could I give?" "What if I gave sacrificially, meaning out of my want, not out of my excess?"  

I really want to challenge all of us to think up a number we could give, and then ask, could I double that? Could I add another zero on the end of that? Let's think Big! This is our church, our diocese, our friends and families and neighbors that the local church serves. God can never be outdone in generosity. When we give cheerfully, we know that all our needs will be met and the great good will be served.

Fish Fry Fridays- No meat on Friday during lent can be fun at the Fish Fry Fridays. Many parishes offer fish fries during lent. Look up your own parish bulletin for details or check out a neighboring parish.

Even with taking on a new holy habit for lent, we are still called to Fast & Abstinence- On Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays through Good Friday during lent, we are asked to abstain or not eat meat. There are two days of fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting means one main meal, with two smaller meals, no meals in between and all the water you can drink. Some people fast on just bread and water for the day. No meat is eaten as these are also days of abstinence. 

Fasting and Abstinence is for adults 18-59. But children under 18 can certainly participate too. Just to give up the snacks might be a way for children to fast, or have smaller portions. If ever a person has health reasons and cannot fast, other mortifications can be substituted.

Then throughout Lent, Holy Mother Church invites us to grow in personal holiness by fasting from things we like. Some ideas can be fasting for eating out or fast food. How about giving up sugar or salt in your food. Some times smaller portions or giving up second helpings can be a fast, or eating more foods like fruits and vegetables and giving up the fats and sweets.

In addition to fasting from foods, there are other forms of fasting. For instance, have you ever fasted from having the last word? How about fasting from shopping? My children like to fast from vegetables, but I generally encourage them to fast from electronics (T.V., video games, texting, computer games.)

Another idea is to fast from clutter. Detach yourself from all those clothes that you ‘might wear someday’ and give them to the poor. Clean out a closet or the garage and share the things you really don’t use. If it is hard for you to de-clutter, start very small with just one drawer or one shelf in a closet. Five minutes each day is doable and will create a habit. Consider cleaning out one kitchen drawer every time the phone rings. Have pleasant phone conversation while you organize one little area.

Whatever you decide to do, offer all your sacrifices and any failings to our Lord. May we all grow in holiness this Lent.

It’s our Catholic Faith~ Let’s live it in Lent!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Magnetic Christianity by Gus Lloyd

A great new book hit the market this week, Magnetic Christianity; Using your God-Given Gifts to Build the Kingdom written by a friend of ours, Gus Lloyd.

From the book cover:
ARE YOU READY, WILLING AND ABLE TO HELP CHANGE THE CULTURE?

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." Luke 10:2

Those words spoken by Jesus nearly 2000 years ago ring even more true today. Christianity is becoming less and less relevant in people's lives. As our nation and our world fall away from the practice of the Christian faith, society continues its slide into a moral abyss. As a Christian, you can be a part of the problem by sitting on the sideline complaining, or you can be part of the solution by helping others to know Christ and building up the Kingdom of God. It's your choice!

In Magnetic Christianity, you'll learn about the eleven attributes of a Magnetic Christian. These attributes, all clearly found in Scripture, are already part of who you are. God has built them into you. Magnetic Christianity will help you identify and enhance these attributes. As you grow in faith and holiness, people will naturally be attracted to you, and to Christ. You'll learn how to naturally and easily share your faith through the practice of these attributes of a Magnetic Christian:

* Positivity
* Enthusiasm
* Friendliness
* Confidence
* Humility
* Honesty
* Kindness
* Compassion
* Approachability
* Generosity
* Encouragement

Gus Lloyd is a native son here in the Tampa Bay area. He was the morning show host on WBVM's Spirit FM 90.5, the Catholic radio station of the diocese of St. Petersburg for many years. Then when the Archdiocese of New York created Sirius Radio channel 129, The Catholic Channel, Gus was called up.  If you have ever heard Gus on the Seize the Day Morning show , you will love this book. It is pure Gus! All the enthusiasm and excitement he conveys daily on this national radio show comes pouring through.

In each chapter, Gus gives great personal examples of how these attributes are lived out and easy ways we can grow in the attributes that may not come naturally to us. You can read the book front to back, or go directly to a specific attribute, contained in a chapter and gain a lot just from a quick read. To my delight, I was privileged to be able to help with the editing on this book.

Definitely get this book for yourself and a friend.

For the kindle edition of the book:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Catholic Moms Connect

Julie Musselman
Over the last 25 years of marriage and 20 years of parenting, one amazing blessing in my life has been connecting with other Catholic Moms. I love to hear from moms who are a little ahead of me in raising children, grandmoms who reassure me it all turns out all right, and younger moms with whom I can share some encouragement.

Annie Esposito
Just like ducks need other ducks, Catholic moms need other Catholic moms. Trying to have a great marriage and raise children for the glory of God can only be done by grace. But with a help of some Catholic Mom friends, the journey is a joy.

And so Annie Esposito and I have started a new ministry Catholic Moms Connect. Follow us at CatholicMomsConnect.com

We look forward to sharing the journey with you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pope Benedict: Families are a witness when they welcome many children

VATICAN CITY, February 15, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Families are a witness to “faith, courage and optimism” when they welcome many children even amid today’s social environment, said Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday.

“Without children there is no future,” the pope observed in remarks directed towards members of the Italian National Association of Large Families, who attended the general audience this morning.

Pope Benedict at Wednesday's Audience
Photo: Kathleen Gilbert/LifeSiteNews.com
Italy, which traditionally is known for its large, boisterous families, has joined other Western countries in sliding into a precipitous demographic decline, and now has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Currently on average there are around 1.4 children born per woman, far below the 2.1 rate that demographers say is necessary to maintain a population.

The pontiff said that he hopes “adequate social and legislative measures will continue to be promoted to support and protect larger families, who are a source of wealth and hope for the entire country.”

Members of the crowd cheered enthusiastically, holding babies and children aloft in the air, to which the pontiff replied with a smile and a wave.

Why Big Families are Better

Lately there seems to be a lot of competition about what kind of mothers produce the best kids. It first came up in January 2011 from Amy Chua and her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother about how mothers who raise their children in a strict "Chinese" way are superior. From the write up in the Wall Street Journal, Mrs. Chua shares that scholastic and musical achievement, make Chinese-raised kids the superior.  Her form of parenting excludes TV, computer games, selecting your own electives, playdates and sleepovers. Click here for full WSJ article

Then last week, the Wall Street Journal ran a book review of a new book titled Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. Click here for the book review by Clare McHugh Mrs. Druckerman contends that she, an American living in France, observed that French mothers don't give between meal snacks and let their children "loose" on the playground while they have conversations with other parents. French mothers don't "obsess" about baby sleeping habits and overall expect more from their children. Her theory is that French moms have all the wisdom for raising children.

Since then I have learned that new books and articles are on the horizon about how Bolivian, Welsh, German and even Mothers from Fiji raise the best kids. Isn't it interesting that so many are stepping forward to speak up for Motherhood? I think most mothers have a crisis of how to raise children especially since babies are not born with an instruction manual and many mothers live far away from grandmothers, aunts and cousins, all traditional support systems. All mothers want to raise great kids and many are willing to search high and low for the "magic formula" of how to do so.

I have a proposition to make: If you want to become a better mother and if you want to raise better children, have another baby. It's not so much that "practice makes perfect" although practice sure does help, but what I have seen as a mother of six children is that having another baby makes you focus on what is really important, the child himself, and not the plethora of ideas on what to do or not to do with him.

Here are just a few ways that I see that workings of a large family contribute to making better kids and parents:

  • Sisters and Brothers are in house playmates,so playdates don't have to be arranged.
  • There is always someone to talk to.
  • Families as the "Domestic Church" are a school of holiness.
  • Parents of large family can't hover. Kids learn to do their own homework.
  • Kids learn independence (make their own meals.)
  • Children find solutions to their own problems.
  • Sports and activities are limited.
  • Parents learn humility and patience.
  • Large families live a sacrificial life.
  • Teenagers change diapers.
  • Kids share a room and learn how to get along.
  • Husband and wife value each other more because of all they do for each other and children
  • Spouses don't get tired of each other, because their time together is precious (and limited.)
  • Mom and dad aren't "outside" the home looking for someone else or something to do.
Many people never pray about how many children they should have or ask God His opinion. Marybeth Finster, mother of 5,  in St. Petersburg, FL describes the benefits of a big family in this way: "For every child that we are open to and God grants, we are given a unique chance and moment of grace in which to grow in our understanding of our eternal destiny."  Wow. Not every child brings a burden,but every child brings a grace!

Sometimes parents are just worn out, tired, financially strapped, mentally over the edge and can't see how they could make room for one more. Maybe God isn't calling us to another child right now. But be open to His Will down the road. Some parents make permanent decisions to limit family size in moments of trial and difficulty. Pray about a long range vision and be reminded how quickly things can change. 

Annie Esposito, a mother of 4 young children, in Niagara Falls, NY shared a great quote about  Catholic Motherhood as follows, "Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person. In this openness, the woman discovers herself through a sincere gift of self. Motherhood means opening the heart in love to give life...and this happens with each new child. This opening of the heart usually causes a pain of expansion that moves the heart away from selfishness and towards making an option for love. Yes, motherhood requires not only the expansion of the body, but most of all, the expansion of the heart; as the prophet Isaiah writes, “Enlarge the space of your tent, spread out your tent clothes unsparingly…For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left” (Is 54:2-3). 

God loves life and He can supply all that we lack. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in weakness (see 2 Cor 12:9.)

Today thank God for each of the children He has blessed you with. And ask Him, if there might be another one He has in mind for you. Parents who have that kind of vision will ultimately raise the best kids.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Grandma Musselman's Beef and Noodles

Since the weather has turned so cold here, 47 degrees when I woke up this morning, I put a rump roast in the crock pot with some carrots and a packet of Lipton Onion soup and several cups of water.






Yum Yum, dinner is served!
Tonight, Katie, age 7 helped make Grandma Musselman's famous noodles. Grandma Musselman is Bob's grandmother. Bob's dad "HoHo" Musselman cooked the noodles many times as has Bob. But since he was working late tonight, the next generation took over!


To make the noodles, all you do is scramble an egg and keep adding flour and a pinch of salt until you can roll the dough out. Then cut the dough in strips with a knife and put in with the beef and gravy to cook.

The Musselmans love to eat the beef and noodles on top of potatoes too.

On Mandatory Health Insurance, one great quote

In the letters to the editor of today's Wall Street Journal, Keith Eubanks of Arlington, Mass, asks a great question, "Which is more of an assault on freedom, mandating that you buy health insurance (and not insurance of your choosing but the government's) or that you buy your tea from the East India Company? At Least King George III didn't mandate that the colonists actually buy tea."

Friday, February 10, 2012

St. Scholastica

"She was able to do more because she loved more." These are the words of Pope St. Gregory the Great about today's saint, St. Scholastic. 

What a powerful reminder these words are to me, to cook dinner with more love, to do another load of laundry with more love, to run back home (again) for the forgotten lunch, band instrument or book and to spend "carefree timelessness with my husband. Let us today love more.

Here is a brief biography of this great saint.

"St. Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict. She consecrated her life to God at an early age. She became the abbess of a monastery of nuns a few miles from that of St. Benedict.

She and her brother visited each other once a year. Since she was not allowed to enter his monastery, they met at a house some distance away, where they spent their time together praying and speaking of God and of spiritual topics.

As St. Gregory describes it in his dialogues, on one occasion St. Benedict was preparing to leave as evening drew near, but his sister begged him to stay. He, however, was horrified at the thought of not returning to his monastery and refused. And so she bowed her head in tears and earnest prayer to the Lord. Immediately a terrific thunderstorm broke out, and St. Benedict was forced to remain. As St. Gregory relates, “And so it happened that they passed the whole night in vigil and each fully satisfied the other with holy talk on the spiritual life.” The Pope goes on to say, “Nor is it any surprise that the woman who wished to see her brother for a longer time was on this occasion stronger than he, for according to the words of John, ‘God is love,’ and by an altogether fair judgment, she was able to do more because she loved more.”

The next morning, Benedict returned to his monastery. Three days later, as he was at prayer, “he saw the soul of his sister leaving her body and penetrating the secret places of heaven under the form of a dove.” He had her body brought to his monastery and placed in the tomb he had already prepared for himself.

St. Scholastica died about the year 543."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I will stand with my Bishop

Yesterday, Mr. Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute (owner of the Tampa Bay Times) wrote an article published in the Times titled "Why the Bishop is Wrong," regarding the HHS mandate on contraception. Click Here to read Mr. Clark's article Mr. Clark was responding to a letter published the same day in the Times by Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, titled "Why the president is wrong." Click Here to read Bishop Lynch's article.

Bishop Robert N. Lynch
I am certainly not the most articulate person to explain and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church, but I cannot let an article like Mr. Clark's be published without a response.

Below is my response to Mr. Clark.

Dear Mr. Clark,

As a fellow Catholic I feel compelled to respond to your recent article "Why the Bishop is Wrong."

First off, the entirety of your article is completely off base. The issue at hand is, "Can the Federal Government force a church to go against the morals it teaches?"  Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion are what is at stake here, not whether or not you agree with the church's teaching on contraception.  But given that you do not address that question, I hope to respond to what you do say, in the hopes that you who profess to be a Catholic might see in a new light what the Catholic Church does teach and why.

You begin by saying the Bishop is your shepherd, then you go forward to say how you disagree with him and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church he leads. You cannot call yourself a sheep if you don't follow the shepherd. And worse, your article leads others astray by your misinformation and by the fact that you purport to be a Catholic in your criticism.

I would very much like to speak to you in person,  However, if that is not possible, please consider my comments to your assertions.
In 1968 when Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae, he courageously stood up to the world to reassert the church's never changing teaching. It turns out all that Pope Paul said would happen if contraception was allowed, has in fact happened (increased out of wedlock births, high promiscuity, decline of the family and society). I would highly encourage you to actually read the encyclical. It is short, readable and clear., see http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

The priest with whom you personally spoke in confession did you a great disservice to say "you have done enough." Of course I am certain he was trying to be pastoral and help you through a difficult situation, but if he actually said those words, he was dissenting against the church.

I agree with you that most "Catholics" have ignored the "ban on birth control", and they do say that it is their "conscience" that they have consulted in making these decisions. In the 1980s and early 1990s, I was one of them. I had been fed that lie too "do whatever your conscience tells you." My "conscience" told me that having children would be a sacrifice, costly of money and time and inconvenient and so I too contracepted.

The error in this consulting of "conscience" is that only a well formed conscience can really guide us. If one has never taken the time to learn WHY the church teaches as she does, then one cannot say they have a well formed conscience. "Conscience" becomes the word used for what is in fact just a "feeling." As I began to learn What the Church really teaches and Why, it made all the difference. The Catholic Church is the ONLY church that has the concern of Women (and Men) in the forefront. The Church never tells women that they are confined to roles in life to "making babies."  That is a ridiculous statement. Have you never read what Blessed Pope John Paul II has written about the Dignity of Women? See Mulieris Dignitatem at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html  The Pope and Church hold up women higher than any other religion or state.

Your $10,000 bet is interesting.  I wonder too where many priests stand. You certainly never hear a homily on contraception. But even if all priests dissent from the church teaching, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and she cannot change Truth.  The Church continues to hold fast to the teaching against artificial birth control because the teaching on Marriage and Human Sexuality is based on TRUTH and Truth cannot change. Did you know that ALL protestant denominations stood with the Catholic Church until 1930, when the Anglicans began allowing birth control only within marriage?

The marital act must always be open to life. The two-fold purpose of sexual intercourse is unitive and procreative.  That is to say, unitive, in that the purpose is to bond the married couple to each other for life and procreative, so that life may go on and parents may have the joys of raising children. To strip away either the unitive or the procreative purposes is to not use the sexual act as it is intended. It is like eating and throwing up. The purpose of eating is to give the body fuel, energy and sustain life, but there is pleasure in eating too. God adds pleasure to the things he wants us to do. Enjoying the pleasure of sexual intercourse and then using a condom or any artificial birth control is like throwing up.

All that being said, the Church has never said that couples must have baby after baby without regard to the physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs of the couple. Again see Humanee Vitae. The Church clearly respects the rights of the couple to discern when to bring a new life into the world. When a couple sees that the time is not right to invite another child into the world, they can abstain from sex and/or use the non fertile days of a woman's cycle to continue strengthen their marriage.

But back to your article. You next quote Bishop Lynch "attacking the president." This is comical. President Obama clearly told the world in his speech at the University of Notre Dame that he would respect religious liberty with a "conscience clause." Obama has not fulfilled his own words. Your article doesn't address that. You just use the words "tragedy and shame" to launch onto another totally unrelated topic (unrelated to our religious freedom) of the sex abuse scandal.

Regarding the sex abuse scandal, I agree the church could have done much to prevent it from beginning and respond to the scandal in a better way, as it became known. But the actions of some bad priests DO NOT INDICATE that the morals taught by the Catholic Church are wrong, only that some cannot live up to them.

In referring to the corporal works of mercy (St. Matthew chapter 25) you mix your metaphors by throwing in a ridiculous attempt to ridicule the beatitudes (St. Matthew chapter 5). Your comment here is just trite. The beatitudes go through the blessings people receive, but your quote  "blessed are the babymakers for they shall avoid contraception" is absolutely backwards. Better to have said, "blessed are those who do not contracept, they will do the Will of God."

Now let me respond to what is in fact an "attack on the sacred." Human life and human sexuality are sacred. The moral teaching of the church is sacred. It is directly from Jesus Christ through his successors, the Pope and those Bishops in communion with Rome. You remarks condemning the church for not being "active" against Wall Street and war is just not sticking with the argument at hand. It is launching into an attack venting your personal frustrations in a church you claim to follow, but only as you see fit.

If you truly believe all these lies about what the Catholic Church teaches, why would you even want to belong (or say you belong) to it? If you really think all these untruths are true about the Catholic Church, than have some integrity and leave. Don't call yourself a Catholic if you don't even understand or believe in what the church teaches.

Regardless, stick to the main issue. President Obama is trying to force our Church to pay for and make available that which is against its moral teaching. And that is NOT one of the principles on which our country is based.

Sincerely,

Julie K. Musselman






Listen to Fr. Robert Barron in this YouTube video for a voice more articulate than my own.