Monday, June 30, 2008

Church Authority

Michael Barber had a post containing a video of Scott Hahn discussing church authority. Very appropriate given the readings for yesterday's mass.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Holy Innocents Church

I had the opportunity to travel with Fr. Scott to Long Beach last week. He meets with a group of priests for an Opus Dei circle. The parish we visited was Holy Innocents and Fr. Peter is a fantastic man to talk to. His blog is very interesting and I will be adding it to our blog roll. Take a look when you get a chance. Fr. Peter is doing a great job of spreading the Pro Life message.

To go to Fr. Peters blog, click here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

40 years of Humanae Vitae

To [Christian married couples] the Lord entrusts the task of making visible to men the holiness and sweetness of the law which unites the mutual love of husband and wife with their cooperation with the love of God the author of human life. (Pope Paul VI, Humanae vitae)

July marks the 40 year anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical letter written by Pope Paul VI outlining the Church's teaching on the sanctity of life. Specifically it reaffirms the Church's teaching on abortion and contraception. Humanae Vitae is a beautiful letter that outlines God's plan for protecting the sanctity of life beginning with the marital act itself. It has also been a very controversial letter as many Catholics have rejected this teaching.

Fr. Tom Euteneuer, the president of Human Life International, is collecting pledges of assent to the teachings outlined in Humanae Vitae.

Please read the text of Humanae Vitae and then go to the HLI website to sign the pledge.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Congratulations to the Fresno State Bulldogs!

The Bulldogs Win! One of the best college championship series I've ever seen. The Bulldogs captured their first national championship in a men's sport with a 6-1 victory over Georgia last night. This is something that everyone in the central valley should be proud about. Great job Bulldogs, and well deserved!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sola Scriptura?

I have been engaged in a nice discussion with some protestant brothers on a different blog regarding the doctrine of scripture alone (sola scriptura). Time and time again Catholics are pressed by non Catholics to answer the question, "Where is that in the Bible?" They are usually referring to some doctrine that they believe was "invented" by the Church. Basically, they are usually looking for a proof text. The irony is that there is not a single proof text in scripture to defend the doctrine of sola scriptura. When pressed about this contradiction, a non Catholic will refer to "development of doctrine" or "authority" other than scripture. Both are arguments that sound awfully Catholic.
The fact is that Christianity isn't a religion of the book. It is a religion of the Word of God. God revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus taught the apostles many things and guaranteed that the Holy Spirit would "guide them into all truth." All of Jesus' teachings were either recorded as scripture or handed down orally (cf. 2 Thess 2:15). The oral teaching is what the Catholic would call "Tradition."
Don't be offended if a non Catholic asks you questions about your faith. "Be prepared to give an answer" as St. Peter tells us. But don't be afraid to ask the same question of your brother who believes that scripture is the final authority: "Where is that in the Bible?"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reflections on Fatherhood

Tomorrow is Father's Day and it is amazing to think that I have been a father for nearly 10 years. Oh, how quickly it has gone. Fatherhood isn't easy, especially when you have four boys. However, it isn't difficult for the reasons that many may suspect. I don't mind the noise, being ambushed anytime I am lying on the floor or the smells (man, can they create some smells!). The difficulty lies in realizing that I am responsible for shaping the character of four future men. So as I ponder the responsibility that I have taken on, I look at the readings for Father's Day.

The first reading comes to us from Exodus 19:2-6. In this reading God tells Israel that they will be to him a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. God calls fathers to be priests just as he calls priests to be fathers. How is a father a priest?

The priesthood of a father can be traced all the way back to Adam, the father of humanity. In the beginning, God tells Adam to "till and keep" the garden. The words that are used here are abod and shamar. Basically, these are priestly words that mean to "serve and protect." A father has the priestly duty of serving his family. Not only does a father have to serve by providing for the material needs of a family, but he must provide for the spiritual needs as well. Providing for the spiritual needs means that a father must ensure that his family is being brought up in the faith by attending Mass and frequenting the sacraments. By making sure that his family's spiritual needs are being met, the father is also protecting his family from spiritual enemies. We all know that a father must protect his family from outside intruders, but we often neglect to protect our families from spiritual intruders. Remember, Jesus told us not to fear those who can kill the body, but to fear him who can kill the body and the soul in Hell. We need to know our faith. We need to practice our faith. Our children need to have this faith taught to them. And who better to teach the faith than the priest of the family?

The second reading comes from Romans 5: 6-11. In this passage, we read that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus sets the perfect example of a servant leader. He puts the needs of his bride, the Church, ahead of his own. Jesus is the perfect example of a husband. The best gift that a father can give to his children is to love their mother. Jesus shows us how to do that. He empties himself and becomes a man. He then gives himself up in sacrifice for people who are sinning against him. Fathers must love their wives.

As fathers, we must remember to keep our priorities in order. God, Family, Work. In that order. Most of us inherently know that family should come before work. After all, no one carries around pictures of their office. However, you will find many "proud daddys" toting pictures of their families. Our job requires vacation, but our family is our vocation. No matter where we go, or what we do, we will always be fathers.

May God grant us the grace to love our families as he loves us.

Friday, June 13, 2008

President Bush To Cross the Tiber?

I found this article in a post on the Theology of the Body blog and thought it was interesting. At this point, it is speculation, but if President Bush became Catholic, that would be a pretty high profile conversion. Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, recently converted as has the President's brother, Jeb Bush. Maybe the Pope's visit to the U.S. will have a lasting effect.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Should We Be Surprised?

As we all know, the California Supreme Court recently decided to make same sex marriage a fundamental right. Needless to say, this has created quite a stir. Michael Uhlmann states in his article A New Sexual Constitution?:

On May 15, a 4-3 majority of the California Supreme Court rewrote the state constitution and decreed that same-sex marriage was now a “fundamental” right. In a stunning display of disingenuous humility, the court had the brass to assert that it was not stating a policy preference, but only interpreting the people’s will as expressed in the state’s highest law. But California’s constitution says nothing about same-sex marriage, and the people of California made their will abundantly clear as recently as 2000, when they overwhelmingly passed a legislative initiative defining marriage as a union between man and woman.

The thing that strikes me about this is that four people made this decision for the entire state. Four People! I have no idea how they find same sex marriage addressed in the constitution. But, then again, I am not a lawyer. Chief Justice, Ronald M. George wrote the majority opinion and was quoted as saying, "I think there are times when doing the right thing means not playing it safe." I agree with that quote. Doing the right thing does mean not playing it safe; especially when one is defending the rights of others, which is what the Court believes it has done.

The problem is that they are dealing with marriage. The sacrament of matrimony is more than just two people who love each other getting together to share a life. It is more than being able to file a joint tax return or reap legal benefits granted by the government. Matrimony is about the communion of persons as God intended from the beginning. Look no further than Matthew 19 to see Jesus' teaching on marriage:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" [4] He answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, [5] and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? [6] So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

Notice that Jesus is referring to the "beginning." Genesis 1:27 states: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Male and female make up "man." And "man" is created in the image of God. Male and Female image God in the one flesh union of the marriage act. That can't take place in a same sex union. It requires a male and a female. Why?

If God is a communion of persons, then we are to be a communion of persons. But wait, God is the communion of Three Persons in the Blessed Trinity and Man is just a communion of two persons. Where is the third person of the human communion of persons? Well my wife and I have four of them. They are named Dawson, Nevan, Aidan and Jabin. The love between a husband and wife is so real that a third person is created. That is how we image God.

The problem is that many of the folks who are screaming about the sanctity of marriage don't see it that way. With rampant use of contraceptives most married couples have negated the third person of the family by reducing the marital act to a pleasurable experience. Husbands and wives are simply using each other for pleasure. How is that different from that which a same sex couple can accomplish? The thing that sets a marriage apart is life giving love. If the life is taken out of the equation by way of contraception, then it is no different than any other act between two people who "love" each other.

If we want to protect the sanctity of marriage, then we better take a hard look at how we can protect the sanctity of life. When it comes to life and marriage, God has brought them together, let no man put them asunder. So really, should we be surprised?

New Catholic Website

There is a great new website that I just found called The Catholic Thing. The first column was published on June 2. Check it out and tell me what you think.