Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Something to Blog About

Today I got a little worked up in the course of a conversation with a friend. I was jogging on the treadmill, listening to Catholic radio through my headphones at the Wellness Center, and a friend asked me if I would like to join him to play racquetball. When I said no, I am listening to a live show, he asked, “Is it Catholic radio?”

“Yes.”

“Let me guess; it’s about health care.”

“Yes.”

He chuckled, “Oooh, I knew it!” and strutted away, stopping briefly before he turned the corner to add, “I’m all for it! Yeah, health care!”

Knowing that he was saying that because he knew that I was against the bill (because it includes funding for abortion), and he only wanted to get me riled up, I replied (rather spitefully, I confess), “You don’t know anything about it anyway.” and went back to my headphones.

Well, my treadmill neighbor looked at me with a confused and somewhat offended expression and said, “The Catholic Church is getting involved with politics?”

I turned on him.

“Yes.” Of course! I thought.

He just furrowed his brows and looked at me out of the corner of his eye in an expression of distaste. Obviously he thought that the church should stay out of it.

“It’s not really a political issue. It’s a moral issue,” I added. Perhaps I was doing a little instigating of my own.

He frowned. “What does the Church have to do with it?”

I felt the flood waters of fervent emotion begin to rise from the tips of my toes into my legs, filling my stomach.

“It has plenty to do with it. It’s an abortion issue. The Church is very pro-life, and naturally it will not condone a law that would require tax dollars to be spent on abortions. Think about it, the USCCB—the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops—came out with a statement against it.”

“There are other things out there besides this one issue that do not promote life. Shouldn’t the Church be concerned with those?”

The flood waters kept coming, flowing into my chest and up to my neck. My legs began to weaken and my body temperature rose.

“Like what?”

“War.”

“The Church believes in just war, but certainly doesn’t think war is a good thing. Anyway, on this issue, Catholics are so strongly against abortion that they see it as a terrible evil. Why would I want my tax dollars going to someone who elects to have her baby killed!”

He fiddled with some buttons on the treadmill and looked sober. “When it comes down to it; it’s the woman’s choice.”

They spilled over then, washing over me in waves of passion. I’m sure I began to turn red. I stiffened my back, clenched the handles, and leaned forward; my voice rose, both in volume and it pitch. It took an incredible amount of self-restraint (and the Holy Spirit) not to yell at him.

“What about the rights of the baby?!”

The conversation went on from there, and by the grace of God, I didn’t lose my temper. Thankfully, my friend is very cordial, intelligent, and willing to listen. I tried my best to be the same. (I also tried not to judge him—we judge objective actions, not people. God is the Judge.) We threw arguments back and forth, and, I must admit, I certainly sounded the most unstable. Only by the Holy Spirit was I able to make points that made any sense. It was a good discussion and we both had the chance to share our opinions. We’ll see how the grace of God works here.

Afterwards, I told a friend of mine what happened and how I felt about it. She said that it sounded like the conversation may have helped me more than anything. It was, at least, “something to blog about.”

So, here I am, blogging about it. If there is one thing I learned through this discussion it is this: rely on the Holy Spirit. I thank God that he gave me a voice, and I want to use it only to do His Will. Every day I pray that the Holy Spirit give me the right words to say in any situation. He certainly helped in this one. Knowing myself, those flood waters would have crashed like a raging storm; I would have yelled, cried, insulted, judged, or called him names if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit. Thank God!

Holy Spirit, I am your voice. Speak through me.

[Editor's (Wait, that's me!) Note: The details in the story may have been changed to protect privacy.]

Friday, March 19, 2010

A letter to those who fight for the Unborn

Dear Defender of the Defenseless,

Thank you for your time, and all that you do to save lives.  Amid all the sadness and evil that happens in our world today, you give me great joy and hope in knowing that someone out there believes that all precious lives are sacred and worth saving. 

Not only do you save lives, but you protect the dignity of all human beings.  If our world continues to believe that even one of us is dispensable, then the dignity and self-worth of all of us deteriorates.  Giving the mother the right to abort devalues all life, reducing each person’s life to a mere choice.  Our intrinsic value stems from the fact that we are human—we are valuable because we are, not because we are convenient, wanted, or allowed to let live.  The fact is that as long as abortion remains legal, society tells us that we are worth nothing until our mothers decide to keep us.  It is deeply saddening to know that there are those out there so blinded by the ideological mask of “choice” that they would take choice over life, convenience over dignity, self-interest over love. Those who proudly profess themselves as “pro-choice” have done themselves a great injustice, declaring their mothers’ right to choose more valuable than their own lives.  The fact that abortion remains legal is unjust to all children, all mothers, all people—you, me, and even those who stand by its legality. 

Knowing that you fight for the lives of those whom you may never meet, and who may never even know they had a savior, gives me great hope.  I realize my own value and dignity as a person, knowing that people like you would have fought for my life without knowing me.  You who proudly profess yourself as pro-life will be called fanatics, hated, persecuted, and blamed for violence even while you strive to end perhaps the greatest violence know to man.  You inspire me to reach out and help, to use my own precious, God-given life to fight for the helpless, innocent, most vulnerable children in the womb.  You are a visible Army in this fight against that which wages War on the Unborn, and I thank you immensely.  I am valuable because I am uniquely me, and I thank you for standing up for me.  I am a Survivor of the War on the Unborn, and I will proudly stand with you to defend the defenseless.

Thank you sincerely,
Diana Leslie


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Suburbia

So this post has nothing to do with being Catholic, but it has a little to do with my opinion of today's suburbia. Enjoy:

The stars didn’t shine in Sarah’s new neighborhood. The glaring neon signs from the city choked the natural light of the sky. Instead of the specks of intense white beams that dotted the deep blue of midnight, Sarah stared into an impenetrable blurred smudge; there was no longer the stark contrast that made each star a startling burst of individual energy.

Sarah sat on a wooden porch facing her backyard—if she could even call it a backyard. About the width of her bedroom, the narrow scrap of grass greeted her with a few oddly placed flowers scattered in a bed next to the fence. Another house rose behind the fence. If she peered at it from her open bedroom window upstairs she could see into her neighbors’ bedroom and, when the windows were open, hear their trite gossip. In fact, from her perch upstairs, she presided over a grid of her neighbors’ tiny slivers of yards. Each house and land were neatly contained in its little cell, safely isolated from any outsider, yet ironically exposed by the proximity. She had never met a single neighbor; still, she had the privilege of seeing into the life of the old widow on her right who treated her strip of landscape like a son and spent hours upon end struggling to keep alive her myriad lilies and peonies that didn’t belong in this part of the world anyway. Behind the woman was a family, a boy and a girl and their parents—the typical workaholic father who was never home and the mother who spent most of her time barking at the maid, shooing the dog, and satisfying her rotten children’s every whim. Then there was the couple that lived to her left, the young, newly married couple that always fought, their voices loud and shameless, like the bickering of Reality TV.

There were many days Sarah had escaped her backyard prison and gone running down the street in front of her house. The homes butted up to the road like soldiers on the front lines, their fa├žades as mundane as the uniform faces of disciplined men. It wasn’t as if each house was ugly—they were quite beautiful, luxurious homes—but they were picked from a pattern, and similarity has an ugliness all to its own. Each was fit with an unused front porch, false-shuttered windows, and attached garage, so inhabitants could go from house, to car, to work without venturing into the unsheltered front yard. The proximity of the buildings left room for no trees, and the harsh sun beat down on the sidewalk; the intense heat rose around her legs. During the day, the sky remained hazy like its night light, only with grey smog that drifted in from the factories in the nearby city. She seemed to choke on the air and the dust burned her eyes; she would never get used to the atmosphere.

Even now, after the sun had set, as she stared at the darkened, parallel planks of her back fence, the air was heavy and hard to breathe. Her eyes fell to her patch of grass, the darkness blending it into black, each blade a monotonous image of the one next to it. It was silent for a lonely moment, oppressively silent, until voices rose from the house to her left. The couple was yelling again, their voices growing steadily louder, closing in on Sarah like the darkness. She clenched her teeth and closed her eyes, sucking in a long breath. But the heavy air stuck in her throat and she coughed. Opening her eyes again, she pleaded for freedom, a place where she could run, laugh, do cartwheels in the grass. But all she saw were the upright bars of the fence that seemed to have marched closer, now standing at attention, mocking her with their blank stares.

She jumped up from her seat; she could stand it no longer. She went to the garage and collected the heaviest tool she owned—a long-handled, five pound sledgehammer. She dragged it out to the yard, lifted it high over her head, and brought it down upon her fence, smashing the boards into jagged splinters. She worked until her muscles ached, her breath came in gasps, and only open space was left where the barrier had once been. Sledgehammer dangling at her side, chest heaving, she stared down at the heap of wood now broken into countless distinct fragments.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pope Pius XII

The other day a friend of mine at work told me he saw a show on the History Channel about one of the battles of WWII. In the show, they claimed that Pope Pius XII was rather friendly toward the Nazi ideology. I knew that was wrong because I had heard that Pope Pius XII was a great savior of many Jews during the War. So I wrote this little document to defend him and sent it to my friend:


"Pope Pius XII has been hailed as a great savior of the Jews during WWII. In his Christmas message in 1941, he spoke out against the Nazis, and on Christmas Day, the New York Times called him “a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas” who “put himself squarely against Hitlerism”. Later he would not speak out as boldly because he would work quietly to save the Jews and did not want to jeopardize these efforts. He ordered churches to issue baptismal certificates and passports to thousands of Jews and other refugees, and hid them throughout the city of Rome. Rome, of all the occupied cities, saved the highest percentage of its Jews. He saved so many thousands of Jews that the October 1958 Jewish Post claimed, “There probably was not a single ruler of our generation who did more to help the Jews in their hour of greatest tragedy, during the Nazi occupation of Europe, than the late Pope.” His example prompted the chief rabbi of Rome at the time, Rabbi Zolli, to become Catholic; he took the pope’s first name, Eugenio, as his confirmation name.

All this “anti-Pope Pius XII” propaganda is made up to attack the Catholic Church (It began with a 1963 play entitled “The Deputy”, by a German playwright, and continued with works such as “Hitler’s Pope” by anti-Catholic John Cornwell. Rabbi David G. Dalin responded to this by writing “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope”.). The reality is, he did his best to save the Jewish people.

A secular article:
http://www.newsmax.com/Ruddy/pope-pius-xii-jews/2009/07/31/id/332011

A Catholic article:
http://users.binary.net/polycarp/piusxii.html

Here is a blog that has the text from the New York Times article:
http://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2004/10/25/new-york-times-praises-pius-xii-christmas-1941-1942/
The New York Times website:
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20B16FE3E5E1A7A93C7AB1789D95F458485F9&scp=1&sq=pope+pius+xii+lonely+voice&st=p

I, being the crazy person I am, actually called in to the Catholic radio station, Catholic Answers Live, on Thursday afternoon and posed this question. You can hear the audio of that radio show here:
http://www.catholic.com/radio/calendar.php
Go to March 11, 2010 and click on Tim Staples.  Then you can click on whichever version you can listen to on your computer.  I enter the conversation almost exactly in the center of the show (click just a little right of center), after a caller named Eddie.

After I asked the question on Pope Pius XII on the radio show, I also asked another about papal infallibility. While the Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, or from the chair of Saint Peter, he is infallible at other times as well. The criteria: he must be speaking on a matter of faith and morals (any other subject does not qualify), he is speaking to the entire church (not secretly or to an individual), he is doing it freely (without someone holding a gun to his head), and he uses language such as “I so declare…” While the Pope has only spoken ex cathedra twice in all of history, there have been other infallible statements made, and many more than ten. The pope is not impeccable, however, and his a sinful human, as we all are, and can certainly be in the wrong. Saint Peter, our first pope, denied Christ three times, yet, through the Holy Spirit, he was still a great leader.

Encyclical Letter On the Church and the German Reich by Pope Pius XI with Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII:
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11BRENN.HTM

Pope Pius XII Christmas message 1942:
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12CH42.HTM

Another article:
http://www.cfpeople.org/Apologetics/page51a039.html

I couldn’t find the text of his Christmas message 1941, except in French, Italian, and Spanish. I am working on it though, as I would like to read it."


Anyway, that is the extent of what I wrote to my friend. Pope Pius XII will probably have plenty of people who blame him for many evils. I guess we can expect it though; remember: "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first... Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." John 15:18,20

Friday, March 5, 2010

Women, the Priesthood, Marriage, and the Body of Christ

To expand on and explain my last post.

Speaking of Women and the Priesthood:

Priests are married to the Church in as much as they act in the person of Christ, the bridegroom, who takes us as His Bride.  It is necessary, therefore, that priests be men, the male counterpart of the bride; priests represent the giver of love, the groom--Christ--while we, the Church, are receivers of His love, the Bride of Christ.

Okay, to break this down:  we need to take a look at what the Bible says about the role of men and women in their relationship and how it relates to Christ. Take a look at 1 Cor. 11:3-12. Saint Paul says in verse 3, “Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ.” Here we see how the relationship between a man and woman is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and his people, His Church. In fact, we the Church are the Bride of Christ.

If you look merely at the physical aspects of men and women, built into our bodies, we see an important sign. Men, physically, are the givers in the marital act while women are the receivers. In the act, both give and receive love completely and in unity, but the sign of the giver and receiver is written into our physical structure. In this way, men reflect the active role of Christ as the giver of love and salvation while women reflect the passive role of the Church in receiving Christ. We are the Bride of Christ.

In Eph. 5:21-32 we see this more clearly. Verses 21-23: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.” And verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” Wow! I don’t know about you, ladies, but that sounds pretty good to me—husband, love me as Christ loves His Church! That’s a pretty difficult standard to live up to. But there is something deeper here. It said “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” Don’t you remember in Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body”? We become one! A husband gives his body to his wife in the marital act; the woman receives it and in return gives her own body, and the two become one flesh. Husbands should love their wives as their own body because we are one.

But wait, there is even more beauty here (It’s endless, isn’t it?). Ephesians 5:29: “For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” We are the Body of Christ. Christ married us in His sacrifice on the cross, and we became one flesh. He gave us his body at Calvary. In return, we give our whole selves to Him. The marital relationship of man and woman mirrors the perfect marriage between Christ and His Church. We are one body.

So I am sure by now you are wondering how this relates to Women and the Priesthood. It appears that I have gone off in a tangent. Well, just a minute, I am almost there.

Let’s look at the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. So, we know that we are the Bride of Christ and because of that, also the Body of Christ. (The bridegroom and bride become one body, remember?)  Well, at Mass, we receive the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. It is at the Mass, the wedding feast (Rev. 19:1-9), that our marriage with Christ is consummated and we receive His body and become one flesh, the Body of Christ. This is where we take Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity, inside of us. Christ gives himself wholly to us. It is the marital act between Christ and His Church! Man gives his body to woman in the martial embrace, just as Christ gives us His Body in the Eucharist. Man, the giver, and woman, the receiver, mirror this act between Christ, the giver, and we, the receivers, at Mass.

That being said, the one person on earth who must be present for this to take place is the priest. The priest at Mass acts in the person of Christ as he consecrates the host and brings it to the people. Christ works through the priest to give His Body to His Bride. So, therefore, the priest acts as the active giver in this Blessed Sacrament, this wedding feast. The priest, in the person of Christ, is marrying himself to the Bride, the Church.  The priest, therefore, plays the role of the man as the giver in the marital embrace. So, is it not fitting that the priest would be a man? God has built the sign of the giver into the male body; it is part of being masculine. Therefore, the priest, acting in the person of Christ, must be a man.

It has been this way for centuries. Iranaeus in AD 189 spoke about the improperness of women to play the role of priests, as did Turtullian in AD 200, Hippolytus in AD 215, and so on. If you want to read more about this, check out catholic.com, or go here: http://www.catholic.com/library/Women_and_the_Priesthood.asp.

Women have beautiful roles in both the church and in a loving relationship. We just were not meant to be priests. That does not make us less than men or beneath them in any way. We are loved by God, and that is all that matters.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Women and the Priesthood

I missed February. I feel terrible. I made a promise to myself that I would blog at least once a week and then I go a miss a whole month. I guess it's because I will be starting graduate school in the summer; I have been working on scholarships and a manuscript to apply for a Creative Writing Certificate. No excuses though.

I heard something interesting on a podcast the other day. It was about Women and the Priesthood. There are some people who have a problem with the Catholic Church's stance that the priesthood is reserved for men. This can often be seen as anti-woman or a male-superior stance.

Quite the contrary. The Catholic Church has always held Mary, the Mother of God, in a place of high honor. In fact, God chose her to stand out compared to all other human beings. The holiest human (besides Christ Himself), was a woman--Mary. She said herself "Generations will call me blessed..." (Luke 1:48) The Catholic Church does just that.

Knowing this, don't you think it is interesting that Mary, who, by the grace of God, was the holiest human who has ever lived, was not a priest? It's because she is a woman and she was called to a much different role. It would be incredibly difficult for a mother to be a priest. How could she care for her children in the best way possible while also caring for a parish?

Not only that, but women represent the receiving role in a loving relationship. Symbolically and physically, women are the receivers while men are the givers. In the marriage between Christ and His Church, we, His Church, are the Bride of Christ, the receivers, while Jesus is the bridegroom. Priests on earth represent the role of Christ, the bridegroom, the giver, therefore it is fitting that they would be men.

So, that was a lot in a short amount of time, but it is late, and I think I will dissect it better later.