O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do you see sex as an end or an instrument?

A thought occurred to me today at Lauds & Prime. I've many times laid out the difference between being "nice" and being "loving". "Nice" is giving someone what they want to be happy now. "Loving" is giving someone what they need to be happy in Eternity. We should be nice as much as possible, but we must be loving always, no matter what. If the person being loved submits to God's will, then being "loving" and being "nice" will be the same thing, since union with God makes the person happy now. If the person loved does not submit to God's will, then being "loving" and being "nice" are opposed to each other.

Having considered this, there are two basic types of romantic relationships. The first is one of mutual niceness. Men commonly seek out sexual pleasure and women commonly seek emotional pleasure. In a relationship of mutual niceness, each one is willing to give the other the pleasure he/she seeks in order to get his/her own pleasure. Each person is nice in order to gain pleasure in return. So a man is willing to do all sorts of crazy romantic things just to have sex and a woman is willing to have sex to get romantic things. The two mutually use each other to attain their goals. The more one is willing to please the other, the stronger the relationship becomes and the more they use each other to gain the particular pleasure they seek.  Sex is reduced to an end, it is sought after for it's pleasure. Sexual and emotional pleasures are the ultimate ends, the man and the woman each having different ends.

The other type of relationship is one of mutual love. Each person wants to take care of the other within the context of raising a family. Each gives the other what he/she needs to get to heaven even of the other doesn't like it and has to admit that he/she is wrong. The pleasure is seeing the other in heaven. Sexual pleasure and emotional pleasure are put back in their place as instruments in raising a family and are no longer ends in and of themselves. Sexual and emotional pleasures are used to maintain a happy relationship because that relationship is the foundation of a good family. Getting each other to heaven is the ultimate end and raising a physically and spiritually healthy family is the penultimate end, the man and the woman each having the same ends.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The spirit compliments the flesh and the flesh kills the spirit.

XIV Sunday after Pentecost & V of August - II Cl.

Epistle-Gal 5:16-24 
Brethren: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are immorality, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, witchcraft’s, enmities, contentions, jealousies, anger, quarrels, factions, parties, envies, murders, drunkenness, carousings, and suchlike. And concerning these I warn you, as I have warned you, that they who do such things will not attain the kingdom of God. But of the fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such things there is no law. And they who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.

Gospel-Matt 6:24-33
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: No man serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they? But which of you by being anxious about it can add to his stature a single cubit? And as for clothing, why are you anxious? Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of those. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ for after all these things the Gentiles seek; for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides. 

In my meditation for yesterday for the feast of St. Augustine, I spoke about sex and the pleasures of this world, since they were St. Augustine's weakness before his conversion. Indeed, if you use the phrase "the sin of St. Augustine", people immediately think of drunken parties with sexual promiscuity. Today, I get to talk about sexual sin some more because a) I don't think I speak about sexual morality enough given the times in which we live (indeed, abortion, contraception, and homosexuality exist only because people want sexual pleasure without reproduction), and b) today's Epistle is one of St. Paul's famous anti-sexual sin passages. 

Yesterday I took the approach that we should seek after God and not sexual pleasure because a lover's body is a finite source of pleasure and God is an infinite source of pleasure, not to mention that the lover's pleasure is sinful and God's pleasure is beneficial. Which one is a better choice is simple. The pleasure a man gets from a woman's body is vast, but it runs out and he must go seeking after more. The pleasure a man gets from union with God is infinite. The pleasure is limited by only how much can fit in his feeble human frame at a time, the pleasure never runs out and he never has to seek for more as he does with a woman. 

That's all true and a nice way to attack the sin of lust, but St. Paul uses another very powerful attack against lust, and we should know both of these arguing points against lust. Not only is carnal pleasure inferior to Divine pleasure, but the two are even opposed to each other. St. Paul is never one to mince words; he always says it like it is. He tells the truth even when nobody agree with the truth. He says here, "For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you would." Sexual temptation perverts God's creation. We need to back up a bit to see this properly. 

Creation is divided into two categories: physical and spiritual. In the Creed at Mass, they are referred to as visibilium et invisibilium, visible and invisible. Humans are the only creatures in both. Angels are immortal souls only and humans have both an immortal soul and a physical body, like the animals. We are the lowest spiritual creation and the highest physical creation. The implication of this is that the human body is the ultimate physical creation. It is the last and greatest thing in all physical creation-the most beautiful thing God ever made. The human body is the greatest masterpiece of the Divine Artist. Genesis tells us that Eve was made after Adam (from his rib), thus it makes theological sense that women are considered to be more beautiful than men. 

This is what the spirit says about the flesh, that the human body is the last and most beautiful thing God made and must be respected for what it is: God's work of art and the masterpiece of physical creation. The flesh on the other hand, weakened by original sin, rebells against the spirit. The flesh, tricked by the serpent, says that the body is not God's artwork and the masterpiece of physical creation, but rather is a source of pleasure. This is what the world tells us, that the body is attractive in order to give us pleasure. God leaves the picture. Those considered ugly are rejected because their bodies do not offer enough pleasure. There's nothing wrong with them, but they are still rejected for being ugly. Many people feel body shame because their bodies do not meet the standard for pleasure. At that point, sex becomes defined as "an act that gives sexual pleasure to all it's participants". Any other factors (marriage, gender, pro-creativeness, etc.) become irrelevant. 

In reality, sex is actually defined as "a pro-creative expression of marital love". That's a very different picture. The act must attempt to create new life, the participants are limited to one man and one woman, and they also must be married to each other. Husband and wife look at each other not as sources of pleasure, like their bodies are just meant to physically please each other, but rather they look at each other's bodies as God's masterpieces, the greatest artwork of physical creation. The human nude is good simple because God created it and He declared all He made to be good. The human nude only becomes sinful when it gets reduced to a source of sexual pleasure. The human nude is not sinful, but becomes sinful when it becomes an instrument of sin. When a connection is made between the human nude and sex, then the body is reduced to an instrument of sin. Those who are mature about nudity break that connection and look at the body and see God's fingerprints, not a thing with which to please themselves. They can look at someone of the opposite sex and think "so what, that's what they look like, grow up, and stop lusting." The beauty of the human body gives testimony to the greatness of God, that He is so powerful and so talented that He can create something go great; greater than anything else in physical creation. This is why the human nude features in traditional Catholic art (most famously the Sistine Chapel and Michaelangelo's David): it is God's art, and if it's good enough for God, then it's good enough for Michaelangelo and the rest of us. Puritan Protestants deceived us Americans into thinking that the body is always sinful no matter what, which denies it's goodness. The mature can handle nudity, the immature cannot. Michaelangelo was obviously one of the mature ones (and many Europeans still are for that matter).

So we see two condemnations of lustful pleasures: 1) the human body is a finite source of (sinful) pleasure and God is an infinite source of (good) pleasure, so we should seek God instead. 2) The human body is God's work of art, the greatest in physical creation, not something to be used for lustful pleasure. When the flesh becomes about sexual pleasure, it goes against the spirit as St. Paul says. But original sin renders us so weak against sexual temptation, how are we to avoid lust and see the body as art? How can anyone be so strong that they can overcome sexual temptation and respect the body for what it really is? We have no choice but to ask God for help. In today's collect, we pray, "Protect Your Church by Your abiding mercy, we beseech You, O Lord, and since all mortals fall without You, may Your help keep them from danger and guide them to salvation."  We have little hope of becoming mature regarding nudity without the Divine Assistance. Today's Gospel says, do not worry, God will provide. If God takes care of mere flowers, He will certainly take care of His masterpiece. This is excellent encouragement for all of life's troubles, whether it is overcoming an addiction to lustful pleasure or trying to pay the bills, especially in this economy. God lets us bend but He never lets us break. He (on His time, not ours) sends us His Divine Assistance.

St. Paul identifies the fruits of the Spirit and among them are the gifts that give us the strength to do this. Charity is that by which we give others what they need to go to heaven, so we do not try to get others to commit sexual acts and prevent them from doing so when we can. Faith tells us that the body is God's masterpiece, not the target of lust. Modesty is that by which we cover our bodies when in the presence of those immature in regards to nudity, as to not be an occasion of sin for them. Continence is that by which we control our sexual urges and avoid sex all together. Chastity is that by which we obey God's laws regarding sex, and they are not the Church's laws, but God's laws. These gifts of the spirit allow us to overcome our weaknesses and conquer sexual temptation, since "they who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires." At that point, the human nude no longer incites lust. It is appreciated as a work of art, not searched out for carnal pleasure. The ugly are no longer rejected, because the body is no longer about pleasure, they are accepted for who they are. People no longer feel body shame and accept their bodies just as God made them. We see the body for what it is: God's creation, which God declared to be good. 

This whole problem is at the root of all of society's sexual problems. They see the body as a source of pleasure, such that you can't trust anyone near a nude body. Everything becomes about pleasure: abortion, contraception, the falsehood of gay marriage, cohabitation, sexual pleasure is at the root of all these problems. We must attack these problems at their common root: the body is not a source of pleasure, but God's masterpiece in physical creation. That not only establishes the body as art, but also inserts God in the picture, which is of HUGE significance. In the end, God is all we need, for as the Gospel tells us, if God provides for mere flowers and birds, all the more will He provide for us in our weaknesses personally and our weaknesses as a society. So be it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Looking for Love in all the wrong places

Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church - III Cl.
Mass: In Medio of a Doctor

St. Augustine (also called St. Austin) is famous for, among other things, the line, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord." This line is essentially his autobiography. He was very promiscuous and loved to party. He had a concubine, which simply means she was a live-in girlfriend, i.e., he cohabitated with her, according to today's language, and they even had a son together. All the while his mother St. Monica prayed for his conversion for decades. St. Augustine's lifestyle is all to common today. Many young women decide that is it best to cohabit with their boyfriends. That by definition makes them concubines-live-in girlfriends. We all know people that do this and we should all be praying for their conversion (or reversion as the case may be).

The other famous sin of St. Augustine is that of drunken partying. This sin is so common today, that to explain it we can just simply say that St. Augustine was a college student. The comparison fits especially well since St. Augustine studied many philosophies in search of one that would allow him to be party-going cohabiter. We know at least as many people that commit this sin. As common as the sin of cohabitation is, drunken partying is even more common and on top of that, excuse-making to defend sexual and/or alcoholic sins is a craft that many people refine over time.

But as the Gospels tell us, persistence in prayer pays off. St. Monica essentially forced St. Augustine to listen to the preaching of St. Ambrose, the famous Bishop of Milan, and he was converted, was baptized, and got rid of his concubine (girlfriend). He became a priest in the Diocese of Hippo and later it's bishop and a very famous theologian-even more famous than his mentor St. Ambrose and one of the most famous in Church history.

He spent his life looking for happiness and peace in life. He went after parties and good times, he had a girlfriend, he was sexually active with her, they lived together, and they had a son together. He does what so many people do in the modern world. He was able to be pretty happy living this way but never completely happy. Only when he converted did he feel completely happy. That prompted him to compose the line "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord." Not only is this a brief autobiography, but also a profound statement about finding happiness.

Things of this world, such as alcohol and a woman's body are finite sources of pleasure. Both alcohol and a sexual lover will offer pleasure, but since they are all finite, the pleasure runs out. Once the pleasure runs out, the person must then seek out more of what pleases him. He must seek out more alcohol, or another woman, or more sexual encounters with the same woman. This quickly and easily leads to an addiction and these acts are usually sinful, meaning they kill the soul. The person is addicted to alcohol or addicted to lust.

God on the other hand, is an infinite source of pleasure. The pleasure He offers never runs out. This eliminates the problem of addiction, since the addictive object must run out, causing a need for more, causing the cravings of an addiction. Since God is an infinite source of pleasure, the only limit to the pleasure we feel is our capacity for receiving pleasure, i.e. how much pleasure fits into our feeble humanity, because the pleasure available goes on forever, unlike an alcoholic drink or a woman's body. Not only does the pleasure last infinitely, but it is not sinful, it does not kill the soul, it actually gives life to the soul.

The psalmist says to the Lord, "One day in your courts are better than a thousand elsewhere." (Ps. 84:11). This is what he is talking about. One day united to God is better than a thousand nights of partying of a thousand nights with a beautiful, gorgeous woman. The alcohol offers pleasure, but only so much. The woman offers pleasure, but only so much. God offers pleasure that never runs out. We are only limited by how much pleasure fits in us. Once we have used up the pleasure there is always more left, it never runs out. So, only with God are we truly happy. Away from God, we are always searching for more because everything is finite. "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lingua et Musica Sacra

Roma locuta est: Lost Meaning of the Sacred: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

This is of course an issue of utmost importance to us trads, so go and read the full piece.

His main points:
-When people use words they many times don't know what they actually mean or even if the other person has the same definition they do.
-Sacred/Holy means cut off from the rest and set aside exclusively for God. He goes into detail about the roots of Latin and English words and what they actually mean.
-Plain chant and Sacred Polyphony are used because they are holy music (types of music used exclusively for God; they are completely separate from the music of the world),
-"Praise and worship" music is the music of the age, it is whatever type of music that is popular in the world at the time, but with religious lyrics. Thus it is not set aside for God, but in common with the world and of questionable appropriateness.
-Latin (in the West) & Greek (in the East) are used at Mass in order to have a holy language (used exclusively for God), not a secular, vernacular (lit. "domestic", "indigenous", or "everyday") language.
-In ancient times the Latin in Church was a very different and elevated dialect from the Latin on the street. The same goes for Greek in the East.

I find it pretty awesome that the name of the blog is "Roma locuta est" and the address is "causafinitaest.blogspot.com".

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Husbands and wives must imitate Christ's Self-giving

"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behoveth in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them. Col. 3:18-19

Here we see God's plan for family life. Wives must be subordinate to their husbands, the heads of households and in return, husbands are to be loving towards their wives. God's plan for romantic love is that it be a mutual self-giving. It is only in this mutual self-giving that a marriage can be happy. When wives refuse to be subordinate to their husbands and husbands are abusive towards their wives, then only misery ensues. The greatest love is the love of Christ, which is a love that gives of one's self completely, one's whole being is given to the one loved. This is the love we see on the cross-the complete gift of self. It is this same love that husbands and wives must have for each other. They give of themselves completely, they pledge their lives to each other, then give their bodies to one an other in conjugal love. This is why Christ is known as the Nymphios (Bridegroom), which is a very popular devotion in the East and in the West this devotion is commonly referred to as "ECCE HOMO". Christ's Self-giving is the model and example for husbands and wives and why every marriage bed should have a crucifix over it-to remind couples that their love (and its physical expression) is self-giving, not pleasure seeking. Husbands and wives are to do everything for the Eternal good of each other, giving themselves completely, including their very bodies.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Am Sin

YouTube - I Am Sin: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Satan's many faces and appearances. Awesome video where the enemy shows off and in the process compromises information about himself.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Graft in sinners

"For if thou wert cut out of the wild olive tree, which is natural to thee; and, contrary to nature, were grafted into the good olive tree; how much more shall they that are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?"
Romans 11:24

St. Paul speaks to Gentiles about their union in faith with Jews. The Jews are the good tree and the Gentiles the wild tree. Branches were removed from the good tree for a lack of faith and faithful branches from the wild tree were grafted in. However, if wild branches can be grafted into a good tree, it is all the easier to graft branches that were once there back in. This gives a great lesson in God's Mercy. Yesterday I posted a long story about fallen away Catholics wandering away from and back to the faith. Christ waited in the tabernacle, watching for the soul's return like the father of the prodigal son. This passage speaks to us not only about God's willingness to welcome back the Jews that have been unfaithful to Him, but also all people that were once with the Lord and left in favor of the world and its pleasures. We are disheartened when a Catholic turns from the faith. We know many of them. We are related to some of them. Even though it seems like they're lost and never coming back, we are hopeful and pray for their return because we know that God is ready to graft them back in. Since they were once in the tree before, it is a simple matter to re-graft them back into the tree. So pray for them, especially the poor sinners in this life that have nobody else to pray for them. Even though they are horrible sinners now that reject God, they are one confession away from sainthood.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The lost soul-I found her.

Let's have a look at the case of many lost sheep and Confession from the point of view of the spiritual realm.

A soul is baptized and becomes beautiful, shining like the sun. She bears the light of Christ in the world. Lucifer, the light bearer who fell from Heaven's greatest heights, hates her and convinces her to sin and walk away from God, so that she might be miserable like him. She is in the same boat as the seeds that fell on the road, those who never heard the word of God, and the seeds in the thorns, those that grow, but are distracted by the world's pleasures and die. She is a seed among stones. She started to grow, but when she was a girl, her family never was enthusiastic about the faith. There was little soil. So she grows into a woman, leaving her faith in her childhood. She lives as the world lives and forgets God. She has a family according to the world's plan, not God's plan. She doesn't care about the Church. She doesn't need the Church. She's getting along just fine living be her own rules. Catholics just like her are even the majority.

The world's promises are empty because they come from the devil, the master of empty promises. So, she is never truly happy. Sure, she is kind of happy, but never really happy. She is just like so many other Catholics. Many years pass. She is never completely happy. She has a baby, who brings her great joy, but she is not fully satisfied. Something is still missing. She thinks she can handle her life's problems, but her life is never just right. She can never find peace amidst her life's problems. Something in her heart tells her to go to Church. She doesn't know what that feeling is, but she thinks she might find peace there. She doesn't remember how you do anything in Church. She doesn't even know what all the stuff is called. She hasn't been to Church since confirmation years ago. She walks into the confessional. The priest talks to her and confession begins. It occurs to her that this priest, this man, isn't even really there. She is talking directly to Christ. How can this be? This doesn't make sense. She faintly sees this priest, but her conversation is clear and unobstructed and with Jesus himself. She isn't talking to the priest, but to God.

She doesn't know the prayers. She didn't know them then, and doesn't know them know. He guides her through her confession. She realizes that this is Jesus, who, upon seeing her enter the Church, came running out of the tabernacle and in the confessional hugs her tightly. He was waiting for her. He was peeking out of the tabernacle waiting to see if she would come back. Now He has her back tightly in His arms. He puts the best robe on her, the best shoes on her feet, and a ring on her finger. He gives her a ring because He loves her. He wants to be with her forever in Heaven. She didn't really listen when He spoke to her years ago, but now she pays attention. She was afraid of going to confession, but her fears were unfounded.

He wrestles with the demon that tempted her. He wants that demon dead. He wants her to shine with the light of Heaven once again. The devil tells Him that this is impossible. She has rejected Him. He refuses to listen. Not even Hell itself can stop Him from realizing His long sought victory with her. He unbinds her chains and uses them to bind the demon. The once mighty demon, who enslaved her and taunted Him, is now bound with his own chains. He raises His hand for the death blow. He has been waiting for this moment for years. "Deinde, Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen." The demon is smashed into a million pieces. She is beautiful again. God has won. He always wins.

After that, little by little, slowly, she recovers and becomes strong in the faith. The girl that secular minded people said doesn't exist anymore rises from the grave, gloriously triumphant over her own sins. They said that she is different from faithful Catholics now, she is not like them, she is now like the world and embraces its ways. Their victory is vain. They are eternally defeated by Confession. The choirs of Angels in Heaven sing joyously at her return, the lost sheep, the prodigal daughter. She now kneels in front of her Divine Lover. She is now the beautiful bride of Christ, always faithful to Him, and intimate with Him at the Altar rail.

There are millions of fallen away Catholics in the circumstances above. That's the sad part; not that this happens, but that it happens to millions of Catholics. Millions of Catholics fit perfectly into these seemingly specific circumstances. That's how widespread these mistakes are. Satan tells us that these souls cannot be convinced to come back. They are gone forever; he has won them. It is empty bragging. It's what he does. Pride is the "Sin of Satan". We know better. We know that if God stole St. Paul out of the devil's hands, all the more can he take back souls that once belonged to Him. We pray for those souls. We know that God wills that all men be saved, not just the ones we get along with. We know that God will always take souls right out of the hands of the devil. Even though the world itself is evil, people in it can be saved, just like how the Church herself is good, but people in it are corrupt. We know that confessors will slay the demons that tempted these souls with their own hands using the power God gave them at ordination. The Churches will be cleaned of modernist rot and will once again be full. We know that the world happily dives into hell and will martyr us all if they had the chance, but the Church does not fail. We are built on Rock and the gates of Hell will not prevail against us.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pray for those who have no one to pray for them

Now, we all know that we are supposed to pray for the poor souls in purgatory, because if we don't pray for them, who will? But there are more souls for which we must pray. There are many sinners in this world that have no one to pray for them. There are many people that fall away from the faith into lives of sin. They spend time with those who either fell away from the faith as well, or never were a part of it. They share a common life of sin. They have no one that they know that practices the faith. That means that no one in their life is praying for their conversion or reversion. They are poor sinners that have no one to pray for them. They are people for whom we must pray because if we don't pray for them, who will? Demons have tempted them into sin and many once were beautiful souls. Many were baptized as infants. They were beautiful. But as they fell away from the faith, their soul weakened and died. Now they are not exposed to the faith at all except for the distorted reports in the liberal media. Like Satan, they were once beautiful, but have now become Satan's slaves in sin. Unlike Satan, they are one good confession away from sainthood. In confession, they arrive in chains. They have been tempted by a demon and are slaves to sin. When they confess their sins, they are freed from those chains and the demon who tempted them is bound in his own chains. The confessor is their hero who has come to save them; he is an Alter Christus. By the Sacrament of Holy Orders, he is arrayed in battle gear to save souls from Satan's demonic army. He fights the demon and binds him with his own chains. Bound and defeated, the demon is smashed and banished back to hell by the words of absolution, which are a death blow to him. I always have the image of a demon being defeated in battle by a knight in shining armor and imprisoned in a large gemstone, which is then smashed with a large hammer into a thousand tiny pieces, banishing the demon back to hell. It is as decisive a victory as possible. The priest finishes the battle for the person's soul by saying, "Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat: et ego auctoritate ipsìus te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis, (suspensionis), et interdicti, in quantum possum, et tu indiges." Now comes the death blow for the demon and victory for the priest and the sinner: "Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis, in nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.". The sinner is free and once again beautiful. We have easy access to these words as we frequent the Sacraments, but many sinners have no one to pray for them. They have no contact with those who practice the faith. We must pray for them, that they might find Christ as their mystical lover in the sacraments, because if we don't pray for them, who will?