Here then were many descriptions of what is only too familiar today. Sadly, though, it has returned on our watch and we need to take responsibility for the situation. We, as the Lord’s witnesses, are supposed to be prophets to this world. If things have declined—and they have—it happened on our watch! As a Church, we have not been as clear as we should be; we have made compromises and been intimidated into silence. Parents, too, have been laregely passive. And we have collectively and too easily tolerated contraception, promiscuity, cohabitation, divorce, single motherhood (absent fatherhood), and all sorts of confusion about life, marriage, and family.

By Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

There’s an old hymn that says, “In times like these, you need a Savior, in times like these, you need an anchor. Be very sure, be very sure, Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.”

And indeed, there are very few faithful Catholics who are not astonished and dismayed at the rapidity of decline into confusion (sexual and otherwise) of a culture we once described as Judeo-Christian. Whatever our sectarian differences of the past (and honestly they were significant and embarrassingly many), there was at least a basic agreement on the fundamentals of biblical morality and the authority of the Word of God. Most of this is gone—and it has gone quickly.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Friday was unfortunate but not surprising. Yet still the rapidity of what even five years ago would have appeared unlikely, bewilders and feels like whiplash.  Make no mistake, in my words to follow I am not singling out people with a same-sex attraction. No, the situation is much broader than that. Those of us left holding to tradition and to some sense that maybe God and 5,000 years of recorded history should be respected in any number of areas, have suddenly become “outdated,” “hopelessly out-of-touch,” and even worse, “hateful, bigoted, homophobic, and just plain mean!” And all this because we have not snapped-to with the “new morality.”

Yes, in times like these …

The early Church certainly experienced a similar struggle. As the Gospel left the relatively sane but religiously hostile world of Judaism, it encountered the pagan world, not religiously hostile but morally confused by corrupting sexual practices and entertainment marked by violence and destruction to the human person. Sound familiar?

There is one difference, noted by C.S. Lewis in his Latin Letters (1948-53). The difference is that ancient Greece and Europe were a virgin awaiting her husband. The modern West is an angry divorcée. And this makes our task even more difficult as we seek to re-propose the Gospel to a cynical world that responds, “Been there, done that, and filed the annulment papers.”

Nevertheless, we have much to learn from the early Church, which experienced similar decadence and confusion.  Perhaps a survey of some texts that both describe the situation and offer advice may be helpful. With that in mind, permit these quotes, which both describe an all-too-familiar scene and also offer advice about what to do in the midst of confusion and storm.

A warning and disclaimer: these texts from God’s Word do not mince words. They are a tough assessment of a world at odds with God. We live in dainty times and don’t like strong and clear descriptions. We prefer euphemisms and pleasantries. But the world of the New Testament, to include Jesus Himself, spoke boldly, plainly, and without “political correctness.” Do not expect these passages to speak with the softness of modern times. They are a tough assessment of what is really going on.

That said, these texts do not mean that everyone who opposes Church teaching has all of these qualities. Texts like these speak to the collective qualities of the fallen world governed by a fallen angel. Further, since we all have fallen natures, we ought not assume a mere “us vs. them” scenario. For we who strive to come out of the world and not be of it, do this imperfectly and in stages.

Therefore take texts like these as a sober description of a fallen world governed by a fallen angel, addressed to believers with fallen natures, who need to be vividly reminded of this, summoned to courage, and to a love that speaks the truth in love.

Let’s begin first with texts that describe the situation:

  1. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father (Gal 1:3-5). The age then (and now) is described simply as an “evil age,” for this world is at odds with God and what He teaches. This has been more or less obvious over the centuries, but Jesus Himself warns that the most consistent experience of His followers will be persecution and hatred from “the world” (cf John 15).
  2. And you were once dead in the trespasses and sins in which you walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph 2:1-3). Thus the unrepentant are described as following the prince of this world (Satan), being in disobedience, living in the passions of the flesh, and destined for wrath. These are tragic truths for many unless they repent, and for us if we turn away from the faith.
  3. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor 4:3-5). Here, too, the confused of this age are described as being blinded and deceived by the “god” of this age and time. This is a prophetic description of the world in which we live. Do not excessively admire the wisdom or thoughts of this age. Science has accomplished much, but knowledge is not on par with wisdom, and wisdom is what this world lacks. Knowledge without wisdom is like a car without a key, or a life without a known purpose.
  4. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:3-5). Sound familiar? Adultery, premarital sex, cohabitation, promiscuity, homosexual acts, and the acceptance and even celebration of all these disordered actions. Add to this our modern struggles with addiction and all forms of excess. And let anyone, like the Church, say that there should be limits and then just listen to the outraged cry: “Intolerant, bigoted, homophobic, uptight, hateful!” Yes, many are astonished that we do not simply join in their celebration of all sorts of illicit sexual union, debauchery, and greed. But see what the text says: we do not owe them assent; it is the unrepentant disobedient who will have to render an account to Him who will be their Judge.
  5. But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt;  save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Jude 1:17-23). In other words, do not be dismayed. These are unpleasant times, but not unexpected. For our part, we must not be fascinated, enamored, or discouraged. Simply and clearly draw back from this confusion and see it for what it is: ungodly, confused, worldly, and devoid of the Spirit. Have nothing to do with it.
  6. But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, … (1 Tim 4:1-2) Notice again: lies, deceits, fallen, demonic notions, and seared consciences.
  7. But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of great trouble. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power … so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith … But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:1-8; 14-15). Yikes! All too familiar. And let’s be clear that there are more problems today than just sex. Greed, consumerism, excess, the arrogance of our science, the thought that we know better than the ancients,  the demand for comfort, and the insistence on flattering our arrogant egos are all common problems in the world. We who would believe and seek to come out of this world must examine our lives and repent of drives and actions like these.
  8. The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,  and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust and defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme … blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant … reveling in their deceptions … They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!  Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray … For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved (2 Peter various verses). Yes, the hatred of the truth, the blaspheming, and the contempt for sacred doctrine are nothing new. But they are now more arrogantly on display than ever before, and the capacity to deceive multitudes is as never before.

Here then were many descriptions of what is only too familiar today. Sadly, though, it has returned on our watch and we need to take responsibility for the situation. We, as the Lord’s witnesses, are supposed to be prophets to this world. If things have declined—and they have—it happened on our watch! As a Church, we have not been as clear as we should be; we have made compromises and been intimidated into silence. Parents, too, have been laregely passive. And we have collectively and too easily tolerated contraception, promiscuity, cohabitation, divorce, single motherhood (absent fatherhood), and all sorts of confusion about life, marriage, and family.

What then are we to do? Here, too, Scripture speaks to witnessing to a dubious, resistant, and rebellious age. Consider some of these quotes:

  1. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1 Cor 1:19-21). Preach with confidence, and when ridiculed, remember that the Wisdom of God is unfathomable to the world, but the thoughts of this age are foolishness to God. Do not be impressed or fearful at the foolishness that parades as enlightenment and tolerance. It will neither last nor emerge victorious. God and His wisdom will out!
  2. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory (1 Cor 2:6-7). Notice that the rulers of this world are passing away but the word of the Lord remains forever. Do not lose heart!
  3. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:15-17). Stay in conformity with God’s will no matter how much the world scoffs.
  4. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Col 4:5-6). Be gracious but clear. Give answers to doubters, with kindness but also with clarity! Do not hide; do not fail to answer.
  5. Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame (1 Peter 3:15-16). Never, never, never defile the faith by bad conduct or inconsistency. And permit the joy of the Gospel to permeate your life such that people will notice and ask you for the reason. Not everyone in this world is so jaded that he will not respond to joy and the message of the truth.
  6. Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside (2 Tim 4:2-4). Never give up. Preach and teach even if people scoff, walk out, write the bishop, or threaten. Preach, preach, preach, even if your own children scoff or manifest confusion and error. Many today will resist and quote “authorities” to seek to refute you. Just keep preaching. Stay anchored in the Scriptures and the Catechism. Read the Fathers and do not succumb to trendy revisions of the Word of God.

Well, let this be advice for difficult days. In times like these we need a Savior. And, thankfully, the Lord Jesus is still here. He himself was scoffed at, ridiculed, called a threat, and finally crucified outside the city gates. Let us be willing to go out and die with Him if necessary, out of love for this confused culture and the many who have been deceived.

The inevitable has happened. The abomination continues to manifest itself (himself) and won’t stop until “the end” when God, Who had the first Word, will also have the last. Come, Lord Jesus!

The following excerpt is from a 2001 conversation with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand. The focus of the conversation was The Crisis in the Church: Scenarios for a Solution. Dr. von Hildebrand, professor of philosophy emeritus of Hunter College (City University of New York), had just completed The Soul of a Lion, a biography of her husband, Dietrich.

TLM: Did your husband think that the decline in a sense of the supernatural began around that time, and if so, how did he explain it?

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand: No, he believed that after Pius X’s condemnation of the heresy of Modernism, its proponents merely went underground. He would say that they then took a much more subtle and practical approach. They spread doubt simply by raising questions about the great supernatural interventions throughout salvation history, such as the Virgin Birth and Our Lady’s perpetual virginity, as well as the Resurrection, and the Holy Eucharist. They knew that once faith – the foundation – totters, the liturgy and the moral teachings of the Church would follow suit. My husband entitled one of his books The Devastated Vineyard. After Vatican II, a tornado seemed to have hit the Church.

Modernism itself was the fruit of the calamity of the Renaissance and the Protestant Revolt, and it took a long historical process to unfold. If you were to ask a typical Catholic in the Middle Ages to name a hero or heroine, he would answer with the name of a saint. The Renaissance began to change that. Instead of a saint, people would think of geniuses as persons to emulate, and with the oncoming of the industrial age, they would answer with the name of a great scientist. Today, they would answer with a sports figure or cinema personality. In other words, the loss of the sense of the supernatural has brought an inversion of the hierarchy of values.

Even the pagan Plato was open to a sense of the supernatural. He spoke of the weakness, frailty and cowardice often evidenced in human nature. He was asked by a critic to explain why he had such a low opinion of humanity. He replied that he was not denigrating man, only comparing him to God.

With the loss of a sense of the supernatural, there is a loss of the sense of a need for sacrifice today. The closer one comes to God, the greater should be one’s sense of sinfulness. The further one gets from God, as today, the more we hear the philosophy of the new age: “I’m OK, You’re OK.” This loss of the inclination to sacrifice has led to the obscuring of the Church’s redemptive mission. Where the Cross is downplayed, our need for redemption is given hardly a thought.

The aversion to sacrifice and redemption has assisted the secularization of the Church from within. We have been hearing for many years from priests and bishops about the need for the Church to adapt herself to the world. Great popes like St. Pius X said just the opposite: the world must adapt itself to the Church.

By Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

The Nicene Creed fittingly noted four marks of the True Church: one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic. These marks identify four essential qualities and characteristics of the Church that distinguish the True Church from any false claimants. Now my surname may be “Pope,” but I surely cannot add authoritatively to this venerable list. Nevertheless, permit me a couple of “prayerful additions” to the four marks of the Church. These cannot join the official list but I humbly submit  these “marks” for your consideration to serve in a similar way in distinguishing the True Church from false claimants and giving insight into the Church’s truest identity.

The 5th Mark of the Church: She is Hated by the World. Jesus consistently taught us to expect the hatred of the world if we are true disciples.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also (John 15:18-20).

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub,how much more the members of his household! (Matt 10:22-24)

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets(Luke 6:26).

One of the more painful aspects of Church life, yet one of those of which I am the most “proud,” is that we are hated very specially by the world. While it is true that some of the Evangelicals are ridiculed, few can deny that there is a very special and intense hatred for the Catholic Church, and it is widely on display. It’s never OK (nor should it be) to scorn Jews or Muslims, or to mock or attack their faith traditions. Most of the other Christian denominations (with the exception of the Evangelicals) escape the bulk of the hatred. But the Catholic Church—ah, the Catholic Church—on her it seems to be open season. We are scorned and portrayed unsympathetically in movies. Our history is misrepresented; our sins (and we do have them) are exaggerated; our teachings are called bigoted, backward, unrealistic, and out-of-date. And no matter how ugly, bigoted, and inaccurate the world’s hatred is, very few express any outrage at how we are treated and misrepresented. Try any of this on Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc. and the outrage and claims of bigotry are echoed by the media (as they should be). Meanwhile, Dan Brown, et al. get to go on and on about “evil” priests and bishops; a crucifix can be submerged in urine or the Blessed Mother smeared with dung and this is praised as “art” and funded by government grants.

Now I am not complaining (though these things are certainly wrong). I am actually quite hopeful that this means we are doing something right. We are a sign of contradiction to the world and we are hated for it. We speak the truth to a world gone mad; we hold on to that “old time religion.” That we are hated puts us in good company with Jesus and the prophets and martyrs who stood with Him. If we are really doing what we should, the Church ought to experience significant hatred from the world. Being hated by the world is an essential mark of the Church, if you ask me. We do not look to be hated, nor do we seek out conflict. But in preaching Christ crucified, in preaching the whole counsel of God and not some watered-down version of it, we surely do find that hatred and conflict come to us. Some people and some denominations try to fit in with the world. They accept its ways and compromise the clear teaching of Christ. But the True Church speaks the whole truth of God in love and does not cave in to the world’s demands. The true Church, by Christ’s promise, is hated by the world and by those allied with and wedded to it. But there’s no need to fear … the sixth “mark” is here!

The Sixth Mark of the Church: She is Perduring. To perdure means to permanently endure. Here, too, Christ firmly established this principle and promise to the true Church:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it (Matt 16:18).

There are no governments or nations that have lasted 2000 years. Very little else in this world can claim such antiquity and even if it tries, can it claim to have remained essentially unchanged in its dogma or teaching? The Catholic Church is one, even after 2000 years. We have an unbroken line of popes going back to Peter and an unbroken line of succession for all the bishops back to the Apostles through the laying on of hands. Not bad. Now consider that this is a miracle! If the Church were dependent upon human beings in order to exist and stay unified, how long do think she would have lasted? Probably about twenty minutes, tops! Our history is not without some pretty questionable moments in terms of the human elements. That the gates of Hell would never prevail against the Church certainly suggests that they would try again and again. But here we are, a miracle, still standing after all these years. Christ is true to his promise to remain with us all days unto the consummation of the world. We, the human elements of the Church, may not live Christ’s teachings perfectly, but the Church has never failed to teach what Christ taught even (as now) when the world hated us for it. At times we are tepid and struggle to find our voice, but Christ still speaks and ministers even in our weakness. Yes, the Catholic Church is a miracle, the Work of Jesus Christ. And thus the sixth mark of the Church is that she perdures. By God’s grace we exhibit this sixth mark. Nations have come and gone, empires risen and fallen, eras opened and closed, but through it all we have perdured.

So there it is. I believe in one, holy, catholic, apostolic, (and, if you don’t mind my adding) hated, and perduring Church.

Here’s a very interesting hip-hop song by the rapper Akalyte on these two additional “marks” of the Church.

http://www.gloria.tv/?media=47882&embed

medjugorje

In case a directive is issued from the Vatican forbidding Catholics to say anything positive about apparitions of Our Blessed Mother related to Medjujorje, I resubmit to you the following previous posts (in order of descending date posted). Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

*My Mom’s Letter to Pope John Paul II Regarding Medjugorje

My dear mom who is 92 now wrote a two-page letter to Pope John Paul II in July of 1996 to express her feelings about Medjugorje and to request that he make a visit himself. She was convinced that if he did, he could not but believe in the authenticity of the apparitions. She wrote […]

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*To Medjugorje Followers: Obey and Pray

For a full explanation of the restriction regarding any Medjugorje meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of the apparitions would be taken for granted, please read Dr. Mark Miravalle’s letter. Below are a few excerpts. Medjugorje devotees must follow the stellar example of St. Pio during his some ten year prohibition by the […]

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*Leading Catholic exorcist on those indifferent to Medjugorje

Top exorcist laments apathy to Medjugorje By Jakob Marschner Ignoring the apparitions in Medjugorje is unforgivable for Christians, says Rome’s leading exorcist who shakes his head at those who wait until the Church has ruled. Speaking of “betrayal” Fr. Gabriele Amorth also lashes out at bishops and priests for being indifferent to the fruits of Medjugorje. […]

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*What you’re not likely to hear about Medjugorje from the usual news sources

You won’t have any trouble finding negative new stories about Medjugorje, but you will rarely find anything positive (untarnished by negative additions)  from the Catholic news media or Catholic Faith “Experts”. Please correct me if you’ve found otherwise; I’d be delighted. So here are four items that you might not find via your usual sources: […]

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*From the Holy Spirit to the Adversaries of Medjugorje?

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 2009 Near the end of July 2009, adversaries of the reputed apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje were taking advantage of an unfortunate situation (regarding a former priest who serverd in Medjugorje many years ago) to further their (not authoritative) condemnation of the apparitions of Our Blessed […]

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*Update to ‘A Sign in the Sky?': Pius XII Saw “Miracle of the Sun”

Pius XII Saw “Miracle of the Sun” By Antonio Gaspari (Zenit.org) – According to his own testimony, the Pope who declared the dogma of the Assumption saw the “miracle of the sun” four times. This information is confirmed by a handwritten, unpublished note from Pope Pius XII, which is part of the “Pius XII: The Man […]

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*A Sign in the Sky?

By Fredi D’Alessio Miracle of the Son   Mane Nobiscum Domine Many people who have made a pilgrimage to Medjugorje have reported being able to gaze at the sun and see a wondrous event. One such person has described this event as follows: “When I look at the sun I see another celestial body that almost totally […]

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*PRIVATE REVELATION

If you are inclined to dismiss the thoughts or opinions of those who claim to believe in or to have been affected by a so-called private revelation, please take the time to read this page. Rather than presenting my personal opinions I present excerpts from A Still, Small Voice – A practical Guide On Reported Revelations by […]

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*Catholic Venom

By Dan O’Connor http://danielsvenoconnor.com/2011/06/22/catholic-venom I write this as a plea to the brethren to be of one heart and one mind.  I also write this partially as a response to the Corapi issue – not to comment on it specifically but to comment on the comments.  Finally, I write it as an exhortation for the few faithful left on Earth to […]

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By Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

The latest tragic twist in the “Bruce Jenner saga” (more on that below) illustrates yet again one of the great errors of our day: the rejection of the truth that our bodies have something to tell us about who we are and what we are called to do and be. Most moderns see the body as merely a tool of sorts. Assertions are made that one can do as one pleases with one’s own body, and that a person’s sex (male or female) is purely incidental—merely an arbitrary quality one “happens to have.” Many say that our sex should not speak to anything deeper than genitals and that other “mere” physical differences are to be set aside to one degree or another. In effect, it would seem that our bodies have little or nothing to say to us. According to modern culture they are incidental.

The rejection of the body as instructive or in any way determinative has reached its zenith in the attempted normalization of homosexual activity, the redefinition of marriage, and now, sexual “reassignment” surgery.

As regards homosexual acts, any non-ideological analysis of the body will indicate that the man was not made for the man, nor the woman for the woman. Rather, the man is made for the woman and the woman for the man. This is set forth quite clearly in the pure physicality of things. St. Paul calls homosexual acts παρὰ φύσιν (para physin), meaning “contrary to the nature of things.”

As regards so-called sex “reassignment” surgery, I must point out that the soul is the form of the body. Now of course I can hear the objection that somehow we are not only physical beings and thus to use simply physical arguments is not proper. While this is true, but the body cannot be ignored. The soul is the form of the body. That is to say, our soul, its essence and abilities, gives rise to the structure and physical attributes of the body.

What is meant by saying that the soul is the form of the body? Consider for a moment a glove. What is the form of a glove? What determines how a glove is formed, shaped, and designed? Well, of course, it is the hand. It is both the shape of the hand and its capacities that give rise to the design and function of the glove. A glove with only three fingers or one with eight fingers would be a poor glove indeed. The proper form of the glove is the hand. And it is not just the shape of the hand that dictates the design of the glove, it is also the required functioning of the hand. Fingers need to move and work together for the hand to achieve its purpose. A glove that was extremely stiff and permitted the fingers no movement would be a poor glove. A good glove protects the hand but also permits it to achieve its proper end. Thus the fully functioning hand is the form (or blueprint) of the glove.

In the same way, the soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body. Our bodies have the design they do because of the capacities of our souls. We are able to talk because our souls have something to say. Our fingers are nimble yet strong because our souls have the capacity to work at tasks that require both strength and agility. We have highly developed brains because our souls have the capacity to think and reason. Animals have less of all this because their souls have little capacity in any of these regards. My cat, Daniel, does not speak.  This is not just because he has no larynx; Daniel has no larynx because he has nothing to say. The lack of capacity in his animal soul (or life-giving principle) is reflected in the design of his body.

Sexuality is more than skin-deep. When it comes to sexuality in the human person, our sex (or as some incorrectly call it, gender, (gender is a grammatical term that refers to the classification of nouns and pronouns))  is not just a coin toss. Our soul is either male or female and our body reflects that fact. I don’t just “happen” to be male; I am male. My soul is male; my spirit is male; hence, my body is male. So called “sex-change” operations are a lie. Cross-dressing is a lie. “Transgender” and other made-up and confused assertions cannot change the truth of what the soul is. You can adapt the body but you cannot adapt the soul. The soul simply says, “Sum quod sum” (I am what I am).

The modern age has chosen simply to set all this aside and to see the body as incidental or arbitrary. This is a key error and has led to a lot of confusion. We have already seen how the widespread approval of homosexual acts has stemmed from this, but there are other confusions that have arisen as well.

Consider for example how the body speaks to the question of marriage. That the body has a nuptial (i.e., marital) meaning is literally inscribed in our bodies. God observed of Adam “It is not good for the man to be alone.”  This fact is also evident in our bodies. I do not wish to be too explicit here but it is clear that the woman has physical aspects that are designed to find completion in union with a man, her husband. Likewise the man has physical aspects that are designed to find completion with a woman, his wife. The body has a “nuptial” meaning. It is our destiny; it is written in our nature to be in a complementary relationship with “the other.” But the complementarity is not just a physical one. Remember, the soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body. Hence, the intended complementarity extends beyond the physical, to the soul. We are made to find completion in the complementarity of the other. A man brings things to the relationship (physical and spiritual) that a woman cannot. A woman brings things to the relationship (physical and spiritual) that a man cannot. It is literally written in our bodies that we are generally meant to be completed and complemented by someone of the “opposite” (i.e., complementary) sex. And this complementarity is meant to bear fruit. The physical complementarity of spouses is fertile, fruitful. Here, too, the body reflects the soul. The fruitfulness is more than merely physical; it is spiritual and soulful as well.

It is true that not everyone finds a suitable marriage partner. But, from the standpoint of the nuptial meaning of the body, this is seen as less than ideal rather than as merely a neutral “alternative” lifestyle called the “single life.”  (Uh-oh, there I go again.) If one is single with little possibility of this changing, then the nuptial meaning of the body is lived through some call of love and service to the Church (understood as the Bride of Christ or the Body of Christ), and by extension to the community.

Another consideration in this has to be the question of celibacy in the Church and of the male priesthood. If the body has, among other things, a nuptial meaning, whence do celibacy and virginity for the sake of the Kingdom find their place? Simply in this: priests and religious sisters are not single. A religious sister is a bride of Christ. She weds her soul to Christ and is a beautiful image of the Church as bride (cf Eph 5:21ff). Fully professed sisters even wear the ring. As a priest, I  do not consider myself a bachelor. I have a bride, the Church. She is a beautiful, though demanding, bride! And do you know how many people call me “Father”?  The religious in my parish are usually called “Sister,” but the Superior is called “Mother” by all of us. And here, too, our bodies reflect the reality of our call. A woman images the Church as bride. A man images Christ as groom.

It is another error of modern times to say that a woman can be a priest. Jesus Christ didn’t just “happen” to be a man. He is the Groom of the Church; the Church is His Bride. The maleness of the Messiah, Jesus, was not just the result of a coin toss. Nor was it rooted merely in the “sociological requirements of the patriarchal culture of his time.”  It is not merely incidental to His mission. He is male because He is groom. The priests who are configured to Him are also male because the body has a nuptial meaning and the Church is in a nuptial relationship to Christ. Christ is the groom; the priests through whom He ministers to His bride are thus male. To say that a female can image the groom is, frankly, silly. It demonstrates how far our culture has gone in thinking of the body as merely incidental, rather than essential and nuptial.

The body does not lie. Our culture lies and distorts, but the body does not. Many today choose to consider the body incidental, a mere tool that can be refashioned at will. But the Church is heir to a well-tested and far longer understanding that the body is essential, not incidental, to who we are. Our differences are more than skin deep. The soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body and thus our differences and our complementarity are deep and essential. Our dignity is equal, but our complementarity cannot and should not be denied. God himself has made this distinction and intends it for our instruction. The body does not lie and we must once again choose to learn from it.

Bruce Jenner needs our concern, not our applause. He cannot undo his maleness by amputation and silicone bags. There is something deeply sad here in him and those like him. They need real help to accept themselves as God made them. Some years ago, Johns Hopkins Hospital stopped doing these surgeries since many of the staff there were uncomfortable cutting off healthy organs and mutilating bodies. Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins explained recently why it is better to understand this issue as one of mental illness that deserves care not affirmation:

This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken–it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.” [Elsewhere in the article he notes the high suicide rates, etc.]

The transgendered person’s disorder, said Dr. McHugh, is in the person’s “assumption” that they are different than the physical reality of their body, their maleness or femaleness, as assigned by nature. It is a disorder similar to a “dangerously thin” person suffering anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are “overweight,” said McHugh. [**]

There is something equally sick in the so-called “transabled movement” wherein people cut off their own limbs because they “feel” like their body is supposed to be disabled. The disown certain limbs and use power saws to cut them off. Please tell me the difference between those who cut off limbs and those who mutilate their gentiles or cut off breasts. More on the “transabled” movement here: Choosing to be disabled

We are in a time of grave distortion and even the loss of simple common sense. It doesn’t seem that things can get much more confused than “gender reassignment.” I am sure, however, that things are going to get a lot more confused. But this confusion is not for us, fellow Christians. Our bodies are not ours to do with as we please. They are not canvases to be tattooed with slogans or endlessly pierced; they are not to be used for fornication, adultery, or homosexual acts. Neither are they to be mutilated or carved up into apparently new forms.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body(1 Cor 6:19-20).

Do not be deceived. Do not be confused. God was not “mistaken” in the sex He made you. Whatever internal drives, temptations, or disturbing thoughts one might have, the body was not made for sexual immorality or to be mutilated based on any internal rejection of our self. The call for every human being is to be chaste and to love our body as from God.

Here is a quirky and clever video that turns the table on the question of ordination. It also goes a long way to say that we cannot, in the end, simply pretend to be what we are not. Our bodies do not lie, even if we try to.

http://www.gloria.tv/media/108011/embed/true

By Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

[This is such an important post by Monsignor Charles Pope. As one who resides within the Archdiocese of San Francisco, I fully understand his compelling arguments. ~ Fredi D’Alessio]

Msgr. Charles Pope:

There is a passage in the gospels that breaks conventions and cuts to the core of what has come to be called the “Social Gospel.”  Before looking at the passage we need to define “Social Gospel.” The phrase “Social Gospel” emerged in the Protestant denominations but has also come to be used in Catholic circles as well. The Social Gospel is an intellectual movement that was most prominent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement applied Christian ethics to societal problems, especially injustice, inequality, alcoholism, crime, racial tension, poverty, child labor, labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war.  Basically stated, if faith was to be real it must address these issues and be relevant to those who suffer these maladies.

So far, all true. But then comes this very troubling gospel passage. It breaks the conventional wisdom that the service of the poor is the first priority of the Church. It obnoxiously states that there is something more important than serving the poor. To be sure, serving the poor is essential, but this gospel says that something else is even more important. How can this be so? Who said such a thing? And that brings us to the text:

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”  (Matt 26:6-14)

The other gospels contain this account as well (Mark 1 and John 12). John attributes the objection only to Judas and reckons that it is on account of his greed. Mark and Matthew attribute the objection to all the disciples present. Even more interesting, all three gospels link this to Judas’ decision to hand Jesus over. It obviously shocked the disciples—especially Judas—to hear Jesus speak this way.

There is simply no other way to describe this gospel than “earthshaking.” The reader surely expects Jesus to agree that extravagance toward Him should be jettisoned in favor of serving the poor. Had He not said that judgment would be based on what we did for the “least of my brethren” (cf Matt 25:41ff)? Why does Jesus not rebuke the extravagance and demand the perfume be sold and the money given to the poor? It is a shocking gospel, an earthshaking declaration: “The poor you shall always have.”  But there it is, glaring at us like some sort of unexpected visitor.

What is the Lord saying? Many things to be sure, but let me suggest this essential teaching: Nothing, absolutely nothing, not even the service of the poor, takes precedence over the worship, honor, and obedience due to God. Nothing. If the service of the poor takes precedence over this, then it becomes an idol—an idol in sheep’s clothing—but an idol nonetheless.

A seminary professor of mine, now deceased, told me many years ago, “Beware the poverty of Judas.” What does this mean? Fundamentally it means that the care of the poor can sometimes be used in an attempt to water down Christian doctrine and the priority of worship. The Social Gospel, if we are not careful, can demand that we compromise Christian dogma and the priority of proclaiming the gospel.

Let me be clear, the Social Gospel is not wrong per se. But like anything else, it can be used by the world and the evil one to draw us into compromise and to the suppression of the truth. The reasons for this suppression are always presented as having a good effect, but in the end we are asked to suppress the truth in some way. Thus the Social Gospel is hijacked; it is used to compel us to suppress the truth of the gospel and to not mention Jesus.

Perhaps some examples will help. Let me state at the outset that I am supplying generic examples here. Although they are based on real-world examples, I am not mentioning names and places because it is not the purpose of this blog to engage in personal attacks of other people’s struggles to uphold the gospel. I cannot and will not supply specifics. This is about you and me, not merely other people. It is easy for us to condemn others for their faults and fail to look at ourselves. Hence I offer these examples in humility, realizing that I also struggle.

  1. A large diocese in the United States is offered the opportunity to serve drug addicts. The price of admission is that the diocese coordinate a “needle exchange program,” which helps addicts shoot up without contracting AIDS. The government funding is substantial and may enable treatment programs for poor addicts, which may lead to their sobriety. The only downside to such a program is that some other addicts may be enabled in their self-destructive behavior and encouraged by the clean needles to shoot up. Church teaching does not permit us to do wrong even if good may possibly come from it. Nevertheless, the diocese accepts the money, handing out clean needles to addicts, but using the money to serve others. The poor are being served! Shouldn’t we look the other way? Is serving the poor an absolute good or do we owe God obedience first? What do you think? Is Jesus more important than even poor drug addicts? Or is He less important? Remember, you have to choose! You can’t just say, “I think both are important.” The government is demanding that you choose. Will it be Jesus and what He teaches or will it be the poor at the price of compromising the gospel? What will it be?
  2. A bishop from a moderately large diocese is confronted with the fact that he has not rebuked the local senator for his votes to fund abortion for the poor using federal money. The bishop responds, “But he is with us on important social legislation and we cannot afford to alienate him.” The senator in  question does surely support substantial funding of programs that the Church supports, programs such as housing for the poor, aid to families with dependent children, drug treatment programs, affordable housing initiatives, etc. The senator is a great advocate for these issues that the Church supports. The only problem is that he thinks it’s OK to fund the killing of babies in their mother’s womb. The bishop reasons that it is not good to alienate this senator, who “is with us on so many issues.” He fails to rebuke the Catholic senator and urge him to repent. “The Church would lose too much; the price is too high. We would not be able to serve the poor as well without his support. The senator might not vote for the bills that fund programs we support. We need to compromise here; the poor are depending on us. Surely Jesus will understand.” And thus Church teaching yields to the need to serve the poor. Surely it is good to serve the poor. But at what price? What do you think? Is Jesus more important than even the poor?  Or is He less important? Remember, you have to choose! You can’t just say, “I think both are important.” The government is demanding that you choose. Will it be Jesus and what He teaches or will it be the poor at the price of compromising the gospel? What will it be?
  3. In several large cities, Catholic Charities runs adoption programs. Lately, city and state governments have begun to demand that Catholic Charities treat “gay” couples on the same basis as heterosexual couples. In order to receive government funds that help Catholic Charities carry on its work of service to poor children looking for a stable family, Catholic Charities will have to agree to set aside Church and Scriptural doctrine that homosexual unions are not only less-than-ideal for children, but sinful as well. If Catholic Charities wants to continue to serve these poor children at all, it must deny the teachings of Christ and His Church. Is this too high a price to pay in order to be able to serve the poor? What do you think? Remember, you have to choose! You can’t just say, “I think both are important.” The government is demanding that you choose. Will it be Jesus and what He teaches or will it be the poor at the price of compromising the gospel? What will it be?
  4. Many Catholic hospitals receive government funds to treat the poor. But lately the government is demanding, in certain jurisdictions, that Catholic hospitals dispense contraceptives, provide abortion referrals, and cooperate in euthanasia. Remember now, the poor are served with these monies. Should the hospital compromise and take the money? Should it say that these are OK, thus enabling it to continue serving the poor? What is more important, the poor or Jesus and what He teaches? What do you think? Is Jesus more important than even the poor who come to hospitals for service? Or is He less important? Remember, you have to choose! You can’t just say, “I think both are important.” The government is demanding that you choose. Will it be Jesus and what He teaches or will it be the poor at the price of compromising the gospel? What will it be?
  5. Catholic Charities is offered the possibility of getting a large amount of money to serve the homeless. But there is a requirement that Jesus never be mentioned. Catholic Charities must remove all crucifixes, Bibles, and any references to Catholic teaching. Now remember, the poor will be served with this money! It’s a lot of  money to walk away from! What do you think? Is Jesus more important than even the homeless? Or is He less important? Remember, you have to choose! You can’t just say, “I think both are important.” The government is demanding that you choose. Will it be Jesus and what He teaches or will it be the poor at the price of compromising the gospel? What will it be?

In the end, we are left with these questions:

  1. How far do we go in serving the poor?
  2. The service of the poor and addressing the issues they face are essential works of the Church, but do they trump worship and doctrine?
  3. Should Church teaching bend to the demands of the government in order to serve the poor?
  4. What does Jesus mean in the gospel above when He teaches that anointing Him is more important than serving the poor?
  5. What is the Church’s truest priority? Is it the truth of the gospel or is it serving the poor?
  6. What if these two things are in conflict? Which is chosen over the other?
  7. Given the gospel above, what would Jesus have us choose as our first priority?
  8. When large amounts of money are made available to the Church to serve the poor, but at the price of compromising or hiding the truth of gospel, what should the Church should do?
  9. Why?

The Social Gospel is essential. It cannot merely be set aside. But the Social Gospel cannot eclipse the Full Gospel. A part, even if essential, cannot demand full resources and full obedience—not at the expense of the whole or the more important!

Money and resources to serve the poor are essential, but they are still money and it remains stunningly true that we cannot serve both God and money. In the end, even serving the poor can become a kind of idol to which God has to yield. It is the strangest idol of all, for it comes in very soft sheep’s clothing, the finest wool!  But if God and His Revealed truth must yield to it, it is an idol—the strangest idol of all.

While I do not agree with everything in this video from a few years back, it presents well the temptations that Catholic Charities faces: