Archdiocese of Washington Offers a New Feature on Website:”Marriage Matters”

marriage_logoIf wedding bells are ringing in your near future, getting spiritually prepared is essential. Getting married isn’t just about preparing for a ceremony or a reception. It isn’t just even about preparing for a live together. It is ultimately about preparing for eternal life. Marriage is a call to holiness. What are some of the things you should know? When should you call the Church. What does the process of preparing look like?  What are some “must have” conversations? What exactly in the Christian and Catholic understanding of marriage?

Questions like these and more are dealt with at the Marriage Matters web page at the Website of the Archdiocese of Washington. You can find it here: MARRIAGE MATTERS.

At the site are links to other sites and resources including the Bishop’s Website on Marriage: FOR YOUR MARRIAGE

Websites such as these are efforts to spend extended time teaching on Marriage. It is clear today that many marriages are in crisis. Further there are attempts to redefine marriage. It is essential that we return to teaching on Biblical and doctrinal roots of this sacrament for many have more secular notions of marriage. In the predominant secular view the earthly happiness of the couple is paramount and children are more of a way of “accessorizing”  marriage should this enhance the couple’s happiness. Missing from this notion is any concept of sacrifice, self-giving, the common good, and the call to holiness (as distinct from mere emotional happiness).

It is to be hoped that we can begin to more systematically and creatively teach on the Sacrament of Marriage and recover a more Biblical, traditionally and doctrinally correct understanding of marriage. If you are married, or thinking of getting married or if you know of anyone in these categories visit the site, click on the Links and spread the Word: Marriage Matters!

In Marriages, little sacrifices can mean a lot and make a big difference. This video from the Bishop’s Website makes that point

Rosaries on the Roadway

For the past three years, I’ve been blessed in that my daily commute has not involved driving on I-495, I-395, I-95, I-270 or I-66. However, last night I experienced the pleasure of having an hour commute from University Boulevard on I-495 to Falls Road on I-270 for Catecoffeeism. (The young adult communities of St. Raphael and St. Martin of Tours host this weekly book club which began with a reading and discussion of the United States Catechism for Adults, accompanied by a cup of café. The are now exploring Mere Christianity

While driving 10 miles per hour, I was able to observe the behaviors of the different drivers (a field day for my inner psychologist): Who was listening to the radio and who was talking on the phone? Who had their windows rolled down and who had their AC on? Who seemed grumpy and who seemed content? Who let me into their lane and who didn’t? Who gave me the Thank You Wave and who waved back when I gave them the wave? Who used their blinkers and who just cut in?

But one thing really caught my eye. I was surprised by how many rosaries were hanging from rear view mirrors! Washington is not particularly known for personal displays of religiosity. On the contrary, this is a town where separation of church and state often means that we feel the need to conceal our faith. Seeing these rosaries gave me hope and pride and made me feel part of something larger: our universal Church.

When I owned my last car, I too had a cross hanging from my rear view mirror…and I think I might put it back! “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” (Luke 8:16)

Do you pray the rosary? ?Resas el rosario?

Knowing Christ

A new song by Justin Stroh for the Extreme Faith Camp this Summer.

Theme: The heart of Mary was made perfect by God and preserved perfectly by God. Her virtue is the seed bed for a full life in the Holy Spirit! Let’s entrust our lives to her motherly care. Why? Because this is what Jesus did – we simply follow Him! She then forms us in her school of prayer. Come Holy Spirit!

This video shows a simple kind of joy at being Catholic and Knowing Christ:

Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell

st-francis-with-skullTraditional Catholic theology has distinguished the “Four Last Things” : Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. We are admonished to meditate upon these things frequently. We WILL die, be judged, and spend eternity either in Hell, or in Heaven (likely after some time in purgatory). All men are appointed to die once, and after that face The judgment (Hebrews 9:27) A remarkable video was just posted  of a song by Johnny Cash on the topic of judgment. Here are some of the words:

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time, run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Go tell that long tongue liar, go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down.

We will all one day die, or as the song puts it, be cut down. We will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (cf 2 Cor 5:10;  Heb 4:13; 1 Peter 4:5).

The reality of judgment and the possibility of Hell bothers a lot of modern Christians who have had God’s love emphasized to the exclusion of just about everything else about God. For example that He is Truth, and utterly Holy, that nothing unholy can tolerate His presence and so forth.

How to explain the possibility of Hell to a generation with a rather simplified notion of God? Perhaps the word “respect” can help. God want to save us all and have us live with him forever. This is clear in Scripture. But God has made us free and wants us to freely love Him and accept His invitation. This is His respect for our freedom. Now everyone want to go to heaven as they describe it. But NOT EVERYONE wants to go to real heaven which is God’s Kingdom in perfection. You see, in heaven, God’s Kingdom,  there is love for the truth, love for chastity, love for the poor, love for justice, love for one another, mercy and forgiveness are esteemed and God is at the center. But NOT EVERYONE wants these things. Not everyone wants the truth, wants to be chaste, not everyone wants to forgive and love everyone. Not everyone wants God to be at the center, they prefer that spot for themselves or some other idol. So God invites. But not all accept. In the end, God respects our choice and this is why there is Hell, it is for those who do not want what the Kingdom of God is. God still sustains the souls in Hell but he ultimately respects their choice to reject the Kingdom and its values.

So death is on the way, sooner or later we will all be cut down. What is it that you want??

Ponder this video:

Running Afoul of the”New Morality”

The latest edition of Gloria TV News contains the following item:

Catholics Under Pressure Because of Gay Legislation – UK  The Charity Tribunal has ruled that Catholic Care– the Diocese of Leeds’s adoption agency– must cooperate with homosexual couples who wish to adopt children. “If the charity now sticks to Church policy and continues to follow its ‘heterosexuals only’ policy it could lose its charity status and public funding,” the Daily Telegraph notes. “ It might also face discrimination claims by same-sex couples it has turned away in the past.”

This is not dissimilar to what has happened to Catholic Charities in Massachusetts and  California. Catholic Charities has largely had to remove itself from providing adoption services due to it’s inability to comply with state laws baring discrimination against gay couple who want to adopt. Church teachings and policy forbid placing children with gay couples. But State Law in both Mass. and California, forbid any distinctions being made. Attempts to pass an exemption for religious institutions failed in Mass and in California the wording of the religious exemption clause cannot be met by Catholic Charites. The clause states that only Catholics are served. Obviously Catholic Charities serves more than just Catholics.

So here is another indicator not only of where we are, but also of  the road ahead. Increasingly the Church and other Christian denominations will be forced to comply with edicts of the “new morality.” If we do not comply we can either be sued for discrimination or accused of “hate crimes.” The alternative seems to be comply, or get out of the business. The Catholic Church as a long legacy of serving the Community through our Hospitals, Catholic Charities and the like. This is beginning to erode. Increasingly we may see such services ending because of those who want to force us to comply with laws that contradict our faith. Thus, if we fail to  provide contraceptives in our health plans, a judge says we must or we violate the law and are subject to fines or worse.  If we refuse to adopt to Gay couples we are now being told we must or we violate the law and are open to lawsuits. If some elements of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) are enacted we will be required to provide or refer abortion services.  Otherwise our hospitals and clincs will be in violation of law, subject to fines, closure and desertification.

Do you see what is happening? There is a steady erosion of religious liberty underway. Advocates of the “New Morality”  have long marched under the banner of tolerance but as they gain greater power and influence, the mask of tolerance is shed and forcible compliance is at revealed as the true policy. The Catholic faith is 2000 years old. We are not some extremist group of haters. We have a long and noble religious teaching that deserves respect even if everyone does not agree with it. We should not be pressured to set aside 2000 years of religious teaching simply because some in the modern world have chosen to depart from long held and basic moral beliefs. Religious Liberty is a precious cornerstone of this Country’s history but it is being eroded by judges and advocacy groups. Pay attention.

More Self-Inflicted Wounds??

The latest issue of Gloria TV  News contains a strange and troubling event from the Church in Vienna. It appears that a rather appalling (and ugly) statue of a recently beatified saint is to go on display in St. Stephens Cathedral. Here is the text from the video:

Today, a sculpture allegedly representing Sr. Restituta Kafka will be unveiled in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Sr. Restituta was arrested and murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. In June 98 she was declared a blessed by Pope John Paul II. Her new sculpture shows a female face without veil and with big breasts. It will be placed in a side-chapel of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The bust was created by Alfred Hrdlicka, the same artist who caused a worldwide scandal with a painting representing Christ’s Last Supper as a homosexual orgy. The controversial painting was exposed in the diocesan museum of Vienna. Hrdlicka calls himself an atheist and Stalinist.

It is unfortunate enough when modern artists attack the Church and the faith of simple believers, but it is even more troubling when Catholic Church leaders accept and display such “art.” Why has the Cathedral contracted with an artist who has clearly demonstrated contempt for the faith and who apparently has a thirst for scandal?  Once the artwork was completed and so clearly vulgar and impious why does the Cathedral display it?  Where is the local Archbishop in all this? Why these self-inflicted wounds? Clearly there are many who hate and ridicule our faith and relish in scandalizing the faithful, so why are we paying for this and displaying it? I feel safe in saying this would not happen in the Cathedral of Washington.

There is another item in this news report from Gloria TV on the question of the words of consecration: The Hungarian Bishops’ Conference has decided to implement a longtime wish of the Pope. Beginning with the coming feast of Pentecost the words used in Mass during the consecration of the chalice will be brought in line with the Latin original and with the Gospels. The present wording will thus be changed to say that Christ died “for many” instead of the current “for all.” While it s true that it is the wish of God to save all, it nevertheless reamins true that not all accept his offer of salvation. In a time when many people maintain unbiblical notions that just about every one will be saved, it is important that our prayers refelct the more sober biblical teaching that many in fact are lost (cf Matt 7:14 inter al.) For this reason, and for the important reason that our prayer texts correspond to scriptural texts, the Pope has asked that incorrect translations be fixed. Here in America a new translation is coming forth that reflects the correction.

Here is the video in reference. WARNING: the video contains some vulgar photos displaying the “art” in question. The photos are presented in order for the viewer to understand the story.

Beautiful Churches

I put together a quick video program with pictures of beautiful Churches and posted it over at Gloria.tv  I hope this will be the first of several I intend to do. We have some very beautiful churches!   The music in this video is Bruckner’s Locus Iste Here is the text and translation:

Locus iste a Deo factus est,
inaestimabile sacramentum;
irreprehensibilis est.

This place was made by God,
a priceless sacrament;
beyond reproach.