The End of the American Experiment and Falling on Christ

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Today a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about how various state level Attorney Generals are ignoring and refusing to enforce state law. In other words, they believe that they are above the law. This brazenly totalitarian move has been met with apathy and even celebration by the American people. Her status update said it all, “The American experiment is over”. And so it is. Sure, there are people who are clinging to the idea that the America of previous generations is still out there somewhere under the miles and miles of red-tape, liberty violations, corruption, and power grabs that have been going on for decades. Many cling to their political party without acknowledging that there is very little difference between Republicans and Democrats these days. Both are willing to sell their soul for power and money. There are a few left who I believe are earnest, but they are out-numbered. America was founded on a sort of Protestant nationalism with a Deist flair, so it is no wonder that folks want to hold on to this dream, but we need to start figuring out what to do with the future, now that it is here. Governments rise and fall, including our own.

Being a Catholic, I never place hope in human institutions. Our government is formed and run by Fallen men and women who are just as prone to sin as I am. The difference is that their sins tend to rule the nation. History is not a kind place. It is fraught with violence, persecution, corruption, and stupidity. The problem is that Americans, in our largely decadent bubble, have forgotten this truth. Much of that is because of the abysmal history lessons we get in public schools, which largely consist of ideological underpinnings, and the fact that we have deluded ourselves into thinking that we are indestructible. I lived under this delusion for years. 9-11 came as a huge shock to me, not just because I was a relief worker, but because I wondered how anyone could pull off such an act in the U.S.? I think a lot of people felt this way. Even more shocking is how socialism with its political partner Communism has crept into our schools and political offices.

As a former Russian linguist, I find our country’s shift towards the economic system of socialism and authoritarian power to be fascinating and frightening at the same time. The Soviet Union fell in 1991, and yet, its ideology is rampant in the United States, especially at the university level. I would suspect that the former USSR has more to do with this than we would like to admit. I also find it incredibly ironic that our country is now trying to annihilate Christianity in the public square (and soon in private), while it is President Putin who is warning the world of global Christian persecution. I feel like I live in the Twilight Zone most days.

So what as Catholics can we do in light of these changes in our nation? First, pray. Second, prepare for persecution. Third, participate in the Sacraments frequently. Fourth, serve others. I know. No one likes to think about it. We want to live in our bubble pretending that things can go on at this chaotic pace with no consequences. That, however, is not how Christ taught us, or how world history works. Read Triumph if you want to taste of what it was like being Catholic throughout history. Our government, Hollywood, and special interest groups are on the offensive and the Catholic Church and like minded Christian groups who hold to Biblical tradition are the targets. The Catholic Church is the biggest obstacle to these people’s goals. Why? First, The Church has over 1 billion adherents worldwide. Second, is because our truths do not change with the times. Christ is the head of the Church. We are subordinate to Him, not the secular world order. The only thing these people can do is force the Church underground. She will never concede and change her teaching to fit their desires, but they will do everything to make sure the Church pays dearly. I pray for these people because of their hardness of hearts and also because of what they are capable of. Prayer brings about conversion. What these people need is conversion, and so do we.

To be quite honest, my biggest struggles are not with secularists. I know that they cannot possibly understand objective truth as long as they deny the existence of evil and sin. They cannot possibly know why it is vital that we keep our desires, especially sexual ones, in check. They do not have the Light of Truth, which is what we need to bring to them through example and prayer. In other words, ‘They know not what they do’. No, my biggest struggle in praying for our persecutors, is the people sitting next to me in the pews who have chosen the secular culture over the Church. What do I mean? I mean the people who support “gay marriage”, abortion, euthanasia, and who put their political party above the Faith. The reason it is such a struggle for me is because they should know better. I was in their place once, and quite frankly, I DID know better. I honestly do not think they see the future of what these agendas will do to the Church. I think they also have not had a full encounter with the Risen Christ. In fact, it will be too late before many of them realize what this is all about. These are the people I need to learn to pray for more no matter how frustrated I get.

The agenda of our day that will lead to virulent persecution is the gay agenda. They want to completely and utterly destroy the Church. The goal is not “equality”. That is how they sell it to people to make it more palatable. You don’t have to dig far to find out what they really mean. I always find it interesting that supporters (not really members of agenda driven groups) are convinced that this has nothing to do with churches complying. They earnestly believe that this is about “equality”. The PR folks for these groups are doing a stellar job of deluding the culture at large. Many in the pews would rather take their cues from Modern Family, than Jesus Christ. I think that part of it is that people do not want to believe that others would attack their freedoms. I admire their optimism, but it is dangerous. In fact, that does not line up with our understanding of the Fallen nature of human beings. We hurt, and at times take away freedom, from other people when we sin. The more power we have, the greater our sin hurts others. Part of the problem is that people in the pews have fallen for our culture’s sentimental version of love rather than Christ’s call to authentic love. The Church does not condemn gays. The Church welcomes them with open arms to the freedom that is in Christ, but that means working to abandon sin and falling on his mercy. That is what all of us are called to in Christ. It means no marriage, unless in a heterosexual union. It means chastity, which all of us are actually called to. Gays are not singled out by the Church. All sexual sins are on the same plane. However, a person must have real and personal encounter with Christ to believe that they can rise above their desires.

It is hard for those of us who see the writing on the wall to watch as people support this agenda and abandon the Church, while still approaching the altar on Sunday. My hope is first, that we ALL pass the test that is to come. Second, that if any of us do flee or turn others over, that we may come back to Christ before the end. The only way to survive persecution is to fully trust and give ourselves to Christ. Read Scripture, pray, and study the lives of the Saints for strength. This is something that I have to pray for and tell my self every single day. I fear that I will not pass the test either. If you don’t believe me, I would encourage you to monitor the treatment of priests and Bishops in the coming years by this agenda. As well as the continued vilification of Catholics and other Christians in general.

It has only been in the past few years that I have started to realize what it truly means to follow Christ. It means following him to the end, even if that end is the barrel of a gun. History was not kind to Christ, we crucified Him. It will not be any kinder to us. We must pray and hope. Christ has conquered evil and He will stand with us no matter what happens. The American experiment may be over, but the Kingdom of God is at hand. Now is the time for us to move away from the lies of this world towards Him. Authoritarian power is diametrically opposed to Christianity. That is why Christians will be targeted as more power shifts. It does not mean ignoring this world. We should still be out helping our neighbor, serving, praying, and raising our families. We must continue to bring others to Christ, including evangelizing those who sit next to us in the pews, and secularists. It just means that we must always be prepared for what may come. It means not deluding ourselves into thinking that things will always be the same

This is not meant to be depressing. It is hard to swallow, but quite frankly, it is something that a lot of us think and worry about. Rather, if we focus on Christ as Matthew 14 tells us to, the storm and the waves around us will not matter. We cannot constantly focus on the bad news in the world. It gets worse daily. Instead we must fall on Christ and allow Him to prepare us for whatever is to come. We need to pray for our priests and Bishops. They are taking a lot of hits and they will get worse. We should pray for Catholic schools and all who represent the Church. Pray for Catholic charities throughout the world. We should pray for our neighbors in the pews and for those in the secular order who want to silence us. We should pray for our families and for ourselves. Pray!

I have attached some links to some articles that demonstrate how this agenda will come for the Church, and already is at hand. Take heart, there is hope in Christ!

Gay Student Sues Catholic School for “Homophobia”

Two Students Try to Banish Catholic Chaplain from GWU

Gay Activist Admits the Goal is to Destroy Marriage

Homosexual UK Couple Suing to Force Church to Perform Wedding

 

Belgium Archbishop assaulted by lesbian activists

Denmark forces churches to perform same sex marriages (if you want to see our future look to Europe).

Blog Hiatus

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I have decided to take a hiatus from regularly posting on my blog for a few months.  I have two novels floating around in my mind, both of which I have begun writing.  As the mom of a toddler, I have limited time to write, and I feel like the novels should be my primary writing project right now.  I will continue to post here as I have time or a post.  I will eventually finish the series that I am in the middle of on sexual ethics.  I will also continue to write for CatholicMom.com and will share those posts here.  Thank you so much for reading.  I hope Our Lord has blessed you through this blog.  I will be back to regular writing after I have rough drafts completed of the novels.  God bless!

The Need for Conversion: Catholic Sexual Ethics

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I have decided to add another post into my current series on Catholic teaching on sexual ethics and “gay marriage”. In a perfect world, all of us would fully assent to Church teaching before we professed to be Catholic. We would still sin, but all of us would, at least intellectually, assent to infallible teaching in love obedience, and humility. We would not put ourselves in grave danger by ignoring Church teaching and blatantly doing the opposite. For many of us, that just is not the case. It may be because we have never fully understood that, as Catholics, we are required to submit to Christ and His Church, including the hard teaching. A lot of priests and catechists have led people astray on this point over the last 50 years. Somehow our own conscience has begun to supersede the Church, in a nod to Descartes and the rampant relativism of our day. This is false, but is prevalent within the Church. I have done it in the past myself.

First of all we need to ask ourselves if we have really encountered Christ. Are we actually converted to Him. Are we ourselves evangelized? Is Christ the center of my life? Do I love Him more than anything? This takes a lifetime to do. Do I want His will over my own? Do I believe that the Church is headed by Christ, not men? Do I understand and believe that the Church’s teachings are in fact Christ’s? Do I believe that the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, not a symbol? That is our starting point. Can I honestly say that I love and want to follow Jesus Christ? Then the rest comes into play.

I think that many people are ignorant of the Church and her teaching. They go to Mass on Sunday and think that is enough. They rely on their grade school level catechesis and think that is the end. There has not been as much emphasis on adult education until recent years. And even when these programs are available, the same 20 people show up. Many people do not think, or even realize, that study of the Gospels, Church documents, lives of the saints, etc. is a lifetime endeavor. I think many parents, in a striking similarity to the dominance of public education in this country for the past 150 years, think that religious educators, like myself, are responsible for teaching their children the Faith. This is also false. Parents are the first teachers of the Faith. I just help out.

Many families do not even pray outside of Sunday Mass. I have been astounded over the years as a catechist at the lack of prayer in family homes. I guess it should not surprise me, because it was not prevalent in my own home growing up. Once again, I think that families do not realize that being a Catholic is an all encompassing way of living. It makes us “not of this world, but the next”. We are planted here on earth, but Heavenly pursuits are our aim. It takes a lifetime to let go. Prayer begets prayer. The more we pray daily, the more we desire that prayer and union with God. Prayer leads to conversion.

Church teaching on sexual ethics in the face of an over-sexualized culture such as ours is hard to swallow. Mainly because people do not take the time to understand, or even teach (including way too many priests), the beauty that is God’s plan for the human person, which encompasses Theology of the Body. Most of us are told don’t do XY and Z, but never told why. As someone who abandoned Church teaching and lived with a boyfriend in her mid-Twenties, I can tell you that the WHY matters. So does orthodoxy. If you tell me you ignore Church teaching on one issue, then why should I not ignore others? This is the dictatorship of relativism that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI warned about. From the outside looking in, if you blatantly ignore it, then why shouldn’t I, is a terrible way to evangelize. This is how I felt back then. I am examining my own example in the past here. If I don’t fully live the Church’s call and her teaching, then I cannot evangelize. People want examples not words.

Conversion takes time. It takes prayer and it takes the Sacraments, especially Confession. I know. Constance, are you bringing up Confession again? I cannot tell you how important Confession truly is for the soul and for our path to holiness. Think about it this way. Blessed John Paul II who is about to be canonized went to Confession at least once a week. Many of the saints went daily. They are saints and feel the need for that frequent of Confession. I am not nearly a saint, so how often should I be going?! OFTEN! The Church’s requirement of once a year, except for mortal sin (it must be Confessed right away), is a minimum. I personally cannot go more than two weeks without needing Confession, and I am not even dabbling in the mortal sin arena these days. Not everyone is like that. Some people need monthly or bi-monthly. Figure out what is best for you, but go more than once a year. Take your kids to Confession!

Conversion may take serious prayer and many discussions with a priest. For me it was an “ah-ha” moment at a Theology of the Body seminar and a realization of my own incoherence at claiming to be Catholic, but ignoring Church teaching. Once I understood, I was all in. I still struggle at times. I have had three miscarriages, so it can be hard for me to want to get pregnant again. Using NFP is not easy, but it is the only option in line with God’s plan, until things stabilize for me. As hard as it is, I want to learn to live in line with God’s will, not my own. So I embrace it through the difficulties and fears.

We also live in a culture that thinks that marriage is about “me” and that is why no fault divorce and “gay marriage” are two sides of the same coin. If marriage is about “me” and not children and God’s plan for man and woman, then anything goes. Why limit it to just two people? What about inanimate objects? A woman married a bridge last year. Or why not marry myself, which is becoming popular? We live in a society that puts “me” and my desires at the center of all things. This is diametrically opposed to the Catholic worldview. I am not the center of all things, Christ is at the center. My husband and daughter are more important than I am. Sure I have to take care of myself, but my wants and desires are not primary. This is a major struggle for me in my sinful nature.

That same over sexualized culture makes things like pornography and promiscuity normal. Books like 50 Shades of Grey, Anne Rice, or certain romance novels convince women that they are not committing the sin of pornography when they actually are. Women are not as visual as men, so books are the preferred pornography. Reading about S&M could not be anything, but pornography. Anymore, rated “R” movies tow the line of pornography with graphic sex scenes and many wives see no harm in their husband’s Playboy subscription or occasional dabbling on the Internet. Pornography violates God’s desire for us because it makes human beings into objects of our own lust. Regardless of how we intend to watch or read something, sexual responses are a part of being human. Even if a character is fictitious it is meant to invoke lust in us. I will get more into this when I write about Theology of the Body at a later date.

Here is the crux of it, being Catholic is hard. Following Christ is the hardest thing we will ever do. No one said it would be easy, least of all Christ. Many of us in this country feel safe and secure, as if no one would ever attack us for our Faith. First, this is ignorance of American history and the Catholic Church and second, it ignores Scripture. We are promised persecution by Christ Himself. Being Catholic is “weird”. I personally love that weirdness, but it can be hard for others to swallow. Look at it this way, I am even weird in Catholic circles these days.

Here are some examples: We do not watch shows like Modern Family or anything that is meant to support the “gay marriage” agenda. Not because I do not like gay people, I love them and have had gay friends, but because I know the intent is to indoctrinate me. We do not watch rated “R” comedies anymore because they are sexually vulgar and mock our understanding of the human person. I do not read popular fiction, especially those which I know are pornographic. I know that Disney has jumped on the “gay marriage” band-wagon. I pray at Planned Parenthood. I boycott companies that support abortion and “gay marriage”. Church functions and requirements supersede all secular engagements in my week. My child will not play sports on Sundays. I read Catholic items before secular. I see the world as a Catholic. The Faith is the center, the very life blood, of my life. It makes me weird. I am okay with that. It is one of the many reasons I am a Lay Dominican. That is how Dominicans live. I am not a saint, but that is my goal, God willing. It should be every Christian’s goal.

Pray for conversion daily. We all need God to ‘help us in our unbelief’ in one way or another. Read up on what the Church teaches. Study the Faith. Pray about the Faith. Being Catholic is to delve into the deepest of oceans and then go even further on to Eternity. It would take so many lifetimes to take in the richness of the Faith. Talk to an orthodox priest. Let Him tell you the truth and help you reach that point of conversion. Find a good spiritual director who knows and loves the fullness of the Faith. Put Christ first in your life. Radical things will begin to happen.

Why Many Catholics Ignore Church Teaching on “Gay Marriage”

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Today I am going to write about what I see as the most controversial subject of our time: “gay marriage”. I also believe that this agenda will lead, and has led, to persecution of Catholics and other orthodox Christian churches. It will get very rough in the years to come. This particular series is meant for those who profess to be Catholic. First, I want to start with some observations about people within the Catholic Church and then broaden to wider implications. I will probably write a series, with this one focusing primarily on what the Church teaches about sexual sin.

The Catholic Church is losing the “gay marriage” debate within its own pews at this point in history. That will change as my generation rises up, but for now, many Catholics do not submit to Christ and His Church on this teaching. Quite frankly, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. Large groups of Catholics ignore Church teaching on sexual matters. So let’s clear up some confusion first. A grave sin is a grave sin. Redundant? Yes. Here is what I mean: To knowingly (knowing Church teaching) and willfully use artificial contraception, get a tubal ligation or other types of sterilization, have an affair, engage in premarital sex, divorce and re-marriage (without an annulment), use (look at, watch , read) pornography, masturbation, use IVF, get an abortion, or engage in homosexual acts are all grave sins. There is no difference. Homosexual acts are not somehow more grave than heterosexual ones. For some reason I think that there are people who think that this is the case. Perhaps this is part of the reason individuals who struggle with same sex attraction are so hurt by the Church. Somehow their sins are worse than those of a heterosexual couple. This is categorically false.

Now that I have listed some sexual sins, let’s look at heterosexual couples. A large contingent of people who profess to be Catholic in the pews are engaged in the use of contraception, sterilization, pornography, cohabitation, etc. (I highly recommend investing in a Catechism of the Catholic Church. Every Catholic home should have one!!!! ) They either blatantly ignore Church teaching, putting their souls in great danger, or some may not know Church teaching. Ignorance of teaching does not meet the criteria for mortal sin. However, once you are aware that these are grave sins you are required to go to Confession and stop the sin. If you refuse to stop, I encourage you out of love of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and you as a member of His Mystical Body, to refrain from the Eucharist until you have been converted to the truth. Pray for conversion. Taking the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin greatly endangers your soul. I say this as someone who has done it in the past. That is about as theological as I want to get in this post.

So why is the Church currently losing this battle in the pews? First, because many people who say they are Catholic are ignoring Church teaching. If they ignore Church teaching on these matters, why not support “gay marriage”? After all, they love each other. Second, there is a deep misunderstanding of what love truly means. In our society it seems that feeling, sentimentality, and attraction are the biggest components. Do homosexuals love one another? Yes, I am sure they do on some level. However, a proper understanding of love is as St. Thomas Aquinas tells us: “to will the good of the other, as other”. Third, I think that many Catholics think that celibacy is too hard for homosexuals. It’s too harsh to expect them to refrain from sexual activity, is one of the complaints made.

The Church’s, God’s, teaching on human sexuality is not meant to be a list of rules from some angry old man in the sky. Rather, since God is pure Love, he knows what is best for us. He knows how we will thrive and attain holiness. Our Lord knows what will kill a soul and He wants to do everything in His power to prevent this from happening. That is why the Church, His Bride, is our guide on this side of Heaven. Most of us would rather listen to the culture, but the culture is leading us to death. Christ leads us to life, and with that comes major sacrifice. It also requires that our lives be blatantly counter-cultural and it also means persecution. Christ was killed on a Cross, what makes us think that we are any different as His followers?

Within a Christian context love means that we desire what is best for someone even if they do not know what is best or choose what is bad for them. Part of the reason Christians are opposed to sexual sin is because they, when grave, kill a person’s soul. If I love someone do I want them to do something that would kill their soul? Not only that, Christ called us “to love our neighbors as ourselves”. That is a tall order and means that we must lovingly bring people to the Truth. So when someone tells me that they blatantly use contraception, cheat on their spouse, or engage in homosexual activity should I just say that is not my concern? As a member of the Mystical Body of Christ does this fit my Baptismal call? No. So the next time someone calls you out on a grave sin, remember it is out of great love and concern for your very soul.

Regardless of what our culture tells us, love requires great sacrifice. If you want to know what real love looks like, take a look at the Cross. Love is total self-emptying. It is the giving of everything we have, and then giving more. Do we all fall short? You bet! That is why we are sojourners. We are on a journey to holiness. It takes a lifetime, and for many Purgatory too. But, the Cross is the ultimate example of how we are to live our lives. That includes fighting against a culture that worships at the the altar of the false god of sex. Sex in and of itself is not love. It is a total self-giving. It is the uniting of one man and one women who have taken been joined in a covenant before God. Two become one flesh.

There are many Catholics who say that it is too hard for homosexuals to be celibate, or chaste. As a Catholic, this is a rather silly assertion. There are hundreds of thousands of priests, nuns, sisters, and brothers who live celibate lives throughout the world. Celibacy has always been seen as a loving sacrifice to Christ, which is why virginity is celebrated in the Church. But, if you don’t believe me, look at the stories of individuals who struggle with same sex attraction who live celibate lives as Catholics. Here is one example.

We must remember that as Catholics we are not called to be a “good person” we are called to be holy; to be saints. They are not the same thing. Hopefully, now you more fully understand God’s desire and love for you. If you are struggling with Church teaching then you need to discuss it with your parish priest. If, Heaven forbid, your priest does not fully submit to Church teaching, then find one who does. A lot of people have been hurt and led astray from “the spirit of Vatican II”. Humanae Vitae and other similar documents require our submission. They teach timeless truths. I pray for your conversion, healing, and strength in the years to come. The next part of this series will discuss how the “gay marriage” agenda is the greatest threat to our religious liberty that we face today. I will then write a post on parenting in an over sexualized culture that wants to convert us to its beliefs, and quite frankly, wants our children.