Friday, May 29, 2015

Response and Reflection to NY Times Article (Catholic Countries Support Gay Marriage)

You can find the aticle here. Non-Scripture quotes are from said article. 

This is sad for a number of reasons:
"That’s because “Catholics” includes not just worshipers who attend Mass weekly and perhaps tilt in a more conservative direction but those who go less frequently and those for whom Catholicism is as much an ethnic as a religious identity."

Catholics who identify themselves as cultural and claim that their views are inspired by their Catholicism, when really its inspired by pluralistic influences, should not say "because of my Catholicism."

 Not participating in the sacraments whatsoever and no taking even the slightest time to understand what the Church teaches (or read Scripture) is doing a disservice to one's conscience.

In that same vein, (2):

"We journalists too often use “the Catholic Church” as a synonym for the pope, the cardinals and teachings that have the Vatican’s stamp of approval.
But in Europe and the Americas in particular, the church is much more fluid than that. It harbors spiritually inclined people paying primary obeisance to their own consciences, their own senses of social justice. That impulse and tradition are as Catholic as any others."

Primary obedience to one's conscience is not a blank check to do and act as you please, but a right given to all to exercise their free will to the best of their ability and knowledge.
One's conscience formed by his or her own convictions and preferences is not a "Catholic Conscience," but a "church-of-me" conscience. The Church can and won't infringe upon anyone's free will, but she does reserve the right, by virtue of her teaching and authority, to say if a given claim is erroneous, heretical, or schismatic to Catholicism and truth. So it is with myself or with anyone else who says they are Catholic, we must be humble in light of what is taught and obedient to the Church through a conscience formed by the Cross, a daily incorporation of Scripture, understanding of Tradition, and guidance from one's spiritual leaders.

Blame should probably fall on priests, myself included, who are not a steady witness to the Gospel, but rather seek comfort in those who agree with them and in topics of universal agreement, such as feeding the poor (which still isn't done enough, along with other corporal works of mercy), as opposed to preaching the Gospel on matters of gay marriage, divorce, contraception, the dignity of all persons, war, and the death penalty (things which pertain, I think, to spiritual works of mercy).

It's difficult to preach on these difficult issues without hijacking the mass which, in turn, makes the sacraments of the Church vehicles of personal preference as opposed to sources of life-giving grace. Yet we and our faithful don't do much before or after mass to build off that grace to grow in knowledge of our Church. So when should we talk about them? It's worth discussing, I think.

Thus, with brief reference to this article, advocating for gay marriage, even in a Catholic country and saying that it is a result of a Catholic conscience is, in my opinion, erroneous as best (insofar as they are mistaken about Church teaching) and those who proclaim it publicly (knowing consciously the teachings of the Church), with the intention of persuading other Catholics into seeing it as a "Catholic answer/alternative," speak in a heretical fashion. Neither of these actions are/become sinful unless those who hold to it as a Catholic position are obstinate and refuse to discuss it with their local, spiritual leader (typically a priest or deacon; or bishop). Catholics may, out of respect for their consciences, hold gay marriage as a personal belief, but publicly proclaiming it as coming from Catholicism is wrong.

My opinion is that most people simply speak in error because they have been taught to let "their conscience be their guide" while never being taught how to form it for themselves. "Do not be carried away by all manners of strange teaching" (Heb 13:9), rather, "test everything, hold onto what is good" (1 Thes 5:21). "Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours." (2 Thes 2:15)

**tl;dr verson:**
It's time we as Catholics actually started forming our consciences, priests included, and be in genuine discourse with each other and the Tradition.

Feel free to give comments on this or similar topics below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pentecost: The Fire of the Spirit

(Note: This was originally a homily given at Pentecost on May 24, 2015. I did not have a script and so the written version is a near-facsimilie, but lacking the timing and effect I went for when speaking publicly).

On this holy feast of Pentecost I would like us to reflect on the Spirit and His work in our lives, namely that there are two ways which we use one: we can use it to mean “alone” and we can use it to mean “together.”

How is it that we’re alone? Paul in Galatians tells us that the works of the flesh rip us apart and isolate us. The works of the flesh are envy, greed, immorality, immodesty, lack of chastity, wrath and anger, rivalry, and hatred (cf., Gal 5:16-19). We see this in our own lives and we’ve all had these feelings. But we must recognize that these acts are acts of power and control where we seek to impose our will on the world and others, taking from the weak, the helpless, and those we consider less than ourselves. These aspects gather all things to ourselves, but isolate us and make us one and alone.

But the Spirit is something better and greater. Humility, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, and love. Each of these acts, paradoxically, ask us to give of ourselves little by little, lifting the other up in charity and peace.

I find no better example of this notion of alone and together than in families. If a spouse, or even indeed a child, is greedy, jealous, domineering, ungrateful, or mean-spirited, it tears a family apart. But if all members of a family are patient, patient with each other’s shortcomings, humble, knowing that they are not perfect or always right, gentle in chiding them to a better life in Christ, and loving—that is, self-sacrificing—than that family will stand firm for generations, in life and in death. We all know of our weaknesses, whether they are sexual, or matters of pride, jealousy, envy, gossip, or laziness. We all share in these weaknesses of the flesh, but through grace we share in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Spirit that affords us these graces which God pours out so generously upon us. It is the Spirit that allowed the Apostles to speak many languages, so that all peoples and ages might hear one message. That one message is the love of the Father, the victory of Christ Jesus over sin and death—a victory we baptized share in, the presence of the Spirit of truth, and that the Church, the bride of Christ, shares the glorious work of God on earth.

One more image that I think is useful for us is the very bread that we bless and consecrate at the holy altar. The bread that we use is made of many grains, formed into one with water, and then finally baked by fire.

We too, because of the work of the most blessed Trinity, are made into one. We are gathered, all of us varied and different, by the will of the Father. He calls us together and, through the blood of the Son, we are prepared as one. Lastly, the Spirit, who is rightly symbolized as a holy flame, perfects us in love and grace so that we might become holy, that is like God. Thus we, brothers and sisters, are prepared as a bread pleasing to almighty God, but not merely for Him, but for the whole world. The blood and water that poured from Christ’s side on the Cross prepare us for this task, and the Spirit strengthens us along the way.

Like Christ, we are one Body and one Bread, prepared for the world and given up for the sake of the world. For everyone, not only us Catholics, but for all of our brothers and sisters. We are given up for their sins, their weaknesses, and the evil that they do, for we know that we too share in all the same weaknesses and faults. We, nonetheless, rely on the power of the Trinity to make us an acceptable offering for the whole world so that all of us, so many scattered and alone, may be one in Spirit and in truth.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I know I haven't been Posting Lately

Hi all,

Just a message from me. Recently, on May 16th, 2015, I was ordained a priest. Needless to say the time leading up to it and the following times have been a little crazy. All the same, it's been wonderful. As soon as I enjoy a little time off I hope to start writing again.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions through the comments or the provided e-mail.

Hope to be writing soon!