Retaining current conscience regulations

8 04 2009

Ever since the threat of rescission of the conscience regulations instituted by the Bush administration (which protect the rights of health care workers), many of the U.S. bishops (including my own) have spoken out in order to protect the regulations which are currently in place. (The call of Cardinal Francis George may be seen here and the USCCB’s page dedicated to this effort is here.) We, as U.S. citizens, and especially as Catholics, are being asked to speak out to our leaders in order to prevent the government from attempting to intrude an aspect of humans which should be revered as fundamental to individual and, consequently, societal flourishing: our consciences. Granted, our consciences as a society (often enough) aren’t properly formed, but to have the ability to say “no” (without a penalty) removed for those who would refrain from doing something which they consider to be inherently evil, is, frankly, scary. In order to attempt to protect those who are affected by these regulations, we have been asked to contact those in charge. This may be done in several ways (n.b.: a sample statement to send may be found below these options):

  1. e-mail proposedrescission@hhs.gov,
  2. sending your comments via NCHLA – sponsored by the USCCB (also, it has a generic message which you may edit before sending),
  3. visiting the U.S. Government Regulations website and enter “0991-AB49” in the search box (via Word, Wordperfect, or Excel),
  4. mailing one original and two copies via snail mail to: Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: Rescission Proposal Comments, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Room 716G, Washington, D.C. 20201.

Here is an argument against the proposed rescission, which you may use in contacting them, if you so choose:

I am writing today to ask those who are in charge to retain the conscience regulations which are in place to protect health care workers from providing services which they regard as morally offensive. I find that this destroys the freedom and autonomy of the individual to act according to his or her conscience, which I find, in itself, to be morally offensive. Removing this protection would prevent citizens from acting freely, according to their most deeply held convictions (which shape who we are), forcing them either to be penalized, resign, or act as “robots” of the State’s bidding, none of which respect the dignity and autonomy of the human person to act on his or her own free will according to the formation of their conscience. It would also seem that, were this regulation be eliminated, the problem would then be prepared to spread itself throughout the rest of the institutions of our country. And then, are we all to bow before the will of the State (read: those few who are in control and want their will obeyed through the power of the State), regardless of the things which we believe and especially those which believe to be duties higher than those of the State? The consequences of eliminating these regulations would be the beginning (continuing?) of the removal of the ability of the person to act according to his own mind and will, rendering him (for all practical purposes) less than human and nothing more than a blind instrument of the State: consequences which have nothing to do with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all citizens of the United States.

Sincerely,
Name, Address, etc.
Thanks in particular to my bishop, Robert Baker, and CatholicVote.org for raising awareness of this issue.
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A reply to Mark Morford on the Pope, condoms, and AIDS

8 04 2009

Almost a week ago, I received an e-mail which I had initially assumed was related to the comment of Edward Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project for the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, which said “the Pope is correct” about the use of condoms increasing the spread of HIV/AIDS, etc., rather than decreasing them, as its supporters would have us to believe (check below for links to articles of Mr. Green’s statement). However, the e-mail was only an article written by Mark Morford of the San Francisco Gate, which was simply a lengthy character attack of the Pope. I let the e-mail hang out in my inbox for a few days, until I finally decided to respond to it. What follows is the text (minus personal elements) of my response which I now offer as a response to Mr. Morford’s article.

I have read and skimmed through the article which you have sent me and have discovered that the clip in the e-mail would have been enough to suffice for what was to follow in the rest of the article. It is, from beginning to end, simply an attack on the character of a man with whom the author does not even seem to have any familiarity at all – else he would not lower himself to speak so superficially and dismissively about him. Nor would he have any reason to hold the Dalai Lama up on a pedestal (also a religious leader) while simultaneously attempting to attack a man who sticks to what he believes to be true – a characteristic in men, I think you would agree, that is lacking in our day in time (and is consequently a courageous thing, in my opinion). My question to him would be, how quickly would he remove the Dalai Lama from his pedestal were he to pronounce a statement against the same issue? The answer to me would appear to be that because the Dalai Lama has not pronounced anything against contraception, he is fair game to be used as an example to be followed – but, were he to do so, were he to pronounce something against what this author holds to be “good,” “right,” “just,” etc., he would write the same scathing article denouncing him. Now, the question then to ask is: who set him up as the dogmatic figure who may pronounce what is truly good, right, and just? He only supports the Dalai Lama because he supposes that the Dalai Lama falls in line with his beliefs – not because he actually cares what the Dalai Lama says. At the pinnacle of irony, who set him up as Pope? This, to me, is as “dogmatic” as it gets. But, this problem continues to multiply as you have multitude upon multitude of Mr. Morford’s running around declaring that what they think to be good, right, and just truly is, because they say so. And on what authority? With the Pope, there is only one figure who has been granted authority by Christ (who we, as Christians, believe to be God in the flesh) to sustain unity of belief (i.e., what God has revealed to us both through nature and through Scripture and Tradition) among His children.

Now, I know that we are coming from two different angles on the authority of the Pope and religion, etc., but I think that we can both agree that having millions of “popes” rather than one is a source of tremendous confusion and turmoil: if there are millions of different views of what is truly “good, right, and just,” then there’s not really unity – there’s just people doing what they want to do when they want to do it. How can any society (regardless of what its Constitution says) be expected to run something that is chaotic to the very core? I think that we can both see the manifestations of this at work right now. But, the thing that we have to come back to is that there’s only one truth, only one reality: the tree that you see is the same tree that I see; the Abita Amber that you drink is the same Abita Amber that I drink; the Mississippi River that you (hopefully ;) don’t swim in is the same Mississippi River that I don’t swim in. And this remains true even if one of us decides to deny the reality that is before us. If we were standing together in an open field with only one tree, and we go back to our friends and I (confused by the glare of the sun, but nonetheless fixed in my conviction), say “we stood by an elephant,” while you (unaffected by the sun because of your Ray Ban’s) said “no, we stood by a tree,” the truth remains (no matter how adamantly I believe and speak of my elephantile misperception) that I did, indeed, stand by a tree. The truth remains true regardless if one sees or believes it. And so it is with everything else in our universe – things seen and unseen – because truth is not created by us, it is received by us.

Now, back to the Pope and Mr. Morford: on what authority do they stand?

Mr. Morford: as far as I can perceive from his writing, a man with an axe to grind because a religious leader doesn’t conform to his beliefs. Where do his beliefs come from? I would surmise that his beliefs largely come from himself and what he “feels” to be “good, right, and just” by “his own” conscience, which could very well conflict with the respective consciences of his many fellow world-inhabitors. For, if there is no God (or we have killed Him, as Nietzsche wrote), what else has man left but himself to look to? Now, why would I want to follow my own, much less the beliefs of another man who stands by himself (i.e., on his own authority) in asserting what is objectively “good, right, and just,” regardless if it corresponds with what is actually true? Should one of our friends, visiting the field and seeing not an elephant, but a tree, stand with me who proclaims that the tree is an elephant because I say so? Or should, he, seeing the tree, stand by you, who stood by what is really true?

The Pope: a man who, on being elected, stated that he was but an unworthy laborer in the vineyard of the Lord, which says from the get-go that he is not laboring for himself (and even didn’t want to be elected, but wanted to retire and to finish his life writing books). Where do his beliefs come from? His beliefs are the beliefs which the Catholic Church has always taught, which, he believes were and are the teachings which Christ (God) Himself gave to the world in His time on earth. The authority on which he stands is the authority which Christ granted to the Apostle Peter, of whom he is a successor. Therefore, his responsibility is to hand on the objective truth about what God has willed for our universe and for our race. That is, God Himself, in human flesh, gave Peter (and his successors), whom He knew personally, authority to proclaim the one Truth, Himself, Who is found in everything which is true – seen and unseen. To end the contrast between the two, the Pope isn’t arbitrarily dogmatic, just because he believes it to be true, regardless as to whether it actually is, but proclaims that which God has entrusted to him to proclaim. He is “dogmatic” in the sense that the office which God has given him is to preserve those things which are always true, regardless of times and cultures. He stands by you, proclaiming that the tree is actually a tree, and not by me, who proclaims that the tree is an elephant, when it is only my misperception and adherence to it which I adhere to. A tree is a tree, regardless if I believe it or not. In the same way, murder is murder and is wrong, regardless of the time and culture it happens in.

Finally, from this to the complaint of the article: by not allowing the use of condoms (or, rather, not adhering to the dogma of Mr. Morford), the Pope is condemning millions to die. The fact is that, the Pope, by the authority with which he has been entrusted, is reaching to a deeper truth about man than simply a superficial “use of condoms.” From the way which I have argued thus far, he is saying that condoms engender an attitude, an inclination, in man which is contrary to the way in which God created us (and, I think, STD’s are an indication that “things aren’t supposed to happen this way”). Condoms are promoted as a way to have “safe sex,” but in reality, it promotes sex without consequence [and is even ineffective as a method of prevention – the safest condom in the world only offers an 85% chance of effectiveness, and none of them are tightly woven enough to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS through the condom] , i.e., it provides a way for man to not control his sexual inclinations – not controlling them by the gifts of reason and free will (which distinguish us from other animals), but submitting (and becoming enslaved) to them, thereby lowering us beneath the dignity which we have been given. It’s like putting an infectious band-aid on a wound that needs stitches: it’s only making the underlying problem worse. As the recent statement [here or here] (which I initially thought your e-mail was related to, as your article and this one came about around the same time) of Edward Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project for the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, of the conclusions of their research shows, the promotion of condom usage is directly related to the increase and not the decrease of AIDS/HIV, etc. It is this way for the exact reasons which the Popes have always taught about contraception: using condoms promotes sexual promiscuity (a “disordering” of the way we have been created) and it is patently obvious that sexual promiscuity was and is the cause of STD’s. I mean, remove promiscuity, and there are no more STD problems. It is a matter of self-control, of mastering oneself (which the Greek philosophers understood even before Christ’s taking on flesh, i.e., through reason), which is further supported and enlightened by God’s revelation (i.e., through faith) about man.

I know that we’re coming from two different perspectives on this issue, but I think that the facts (as supported by Edward Green of Harvard) are confirming what the Popes have been saying ever since this has been a problem (which did not begin in the 60’s, though it has certainly been a prevalent issue since then). In this case, I think that Mr. Morford is crying “elephant,” all the while the Popes have been standing by the tree and calling us to look deeper than the surface and to heal the deeper wound of selfishness and self-gratification with self-gift and self-sacrifice – which must be present for authentic love – not by furthering the damage with a tool which only makes the wound become more infected and further from healing than it already is.





Awaiting “greater” things…

11 02 2009

In my first weeks back at home from seminary, I was extremely content with the position in which I’d found myself. I’d just made an enormous decision in my life, and was looking towards the bright future which awaited me. I had set very general plans for the direction which my life was going to be taking. “I’m gonna get a job and work for awhile, maybe I’ll meet ‘someone,’ and just see where life takes me. Maybe I’ll want to go back to school; I really enjoy writing.” And so I went about my days doing my part around the house, tying up loose ends, catching up on some reading, watching an occasional movie, visiting with family, etc. Not only did I do these things, but I did them with great joy (quite the accomplishment for me ;)) – even in the midst of the insecurities of transitions.

But, for the past few weeks, I’ve found myself increasingly discontent with my life. I, like a good percentage of Americans, find myself looking for a job in an extremely difficult period in our nation’s short history. And so, many of my days are spent waiting for one of the companies to which I have applied to respond. Fortunately for me, I am able to stay with my parents until something does come through (at some point in the unknown). But (with the exception of the illness of my grandfather), nothing has really changed between then and now, so why do I find myself discontent?

At the root of it is something which is my own fault, and that is the slippage of my prayer life. It started out strong, vivified by the recent changes in my life. But, gradually, I became more consumed with things that were both important and not important. I began to lose the balance in my prayer life, devoting more time instead to the now “urgent” necessity of finding a job and to the increasingly “routine” chores around the house. I had let go of the opportunity to invite God into my job-searching and dish-washing, and they became boring. They became important. Other things became more “important” and “serious” while God became “unimportant” and “unserious.” And He very gradually began to take the backseat while I took the reigns. I lost sight of God and saw only myself.

It’s because of this that I’ve come to the (low) point in which I’ve found myself for a few weeks. Job searching has reached near despair, time with family has become less important, chores have become a pain: I’ve lost touch with the world around me because of my consumption with my little problem. These things have lost their “littleness,” their unimportance, their unseriousness, because I’ve lost sight of Who makes them unimportant, and I’ve lost the joy that is possible in everything that I do because I’ve lost sight of the One Who gives me a reason to be joyful regardless of where I find myself – from cleaning the dishes to looking for a job to doing something that I enjoy.

It was when my “plans,” ever so general, became my source of happiness – my god – that I began to be discontent. And, the longer that I’ve allowed this to go on, the worse I’ve gotten.

Whether I am in a constant state of anticipation of things to come or whether my “plans” come out how I wanted them to, the thing that is most important, which I have missed out on in the past few weeks, is that God is in the midst of them all. When the time comes for things to start coming together, for things to start “happening,” that’ll be great; but, in the meantime, God is still present, even when I don’t want to be, when I don’t want to accept how things are, when I would rather navel-gaze because things are not how I would have them to be according to my “plan.” Meanwhile, I’m missing out on the life which God wants to give me where He has me at now: doing dishes, spending time with my family, applying for jobs, and other “normal” things.

Why not allow these little things to be unserious? Why not make them fun? 

Why not allow His life to fill mine? What greater thing am I awaiting?





Conversion

9 02 2009

I looked and searched
but could not see,

could not see,
‘cept the wrongs in me.

I searched for peace,
but could not find –
where do I get this “peace of mind”?

To me, I looked;
to Him, I cried,
“Why do I have this fear inside?”

“Look at me,” He said,
“and you will see,
there’ll be no fear … just gaze at me.”

But Who is –
what is this which I see?
Why such peace in front of – He?

He … looks from afar
as I at a flea,
but there’s something … so much different
about the way He looks at me.

His eyes so fierce,
a gaze, a pierce,
and yet, look how tenderly.

Why, O Why does He look at me so?
I look, I see my enemy;
yet, He, look at He;
see, still, His gaze set on me.

O what does He see
when He looks so at me?

“Only in Me,” He says,
“will you see what I see –
the beauty which you have,
it comes all from Me.”

“But all by yourself,
you see not Me,
not who it is that I want you to be;

for without Me, there is no you.
I AM the One Who made you to be,
therefore I see,
I see the man who gives glory to me.”

“How? How do I give glory to Thee?”
“Relax, rest, my child…
remember always this gaze which you’ve seen.”

“Then all that you need is to be who you be.”





On being broken

8 02 2009

In the journey through our daily lives, we are all faced with an ever-present reality, and this is that of our own brokenness, our limitedness, our inability to be whole. This is made especially apparent when we are directly confronted with that aspect of our present state that has been the case since the fall of our first parents. And that reality is suffering.

We are each presented with particular sufferings and each face them as unique individuals who approach our sufferings in a particular way. But, despite each of our unique ways of dealing with suffering, I think, in the end, each of us (in every occasion of suffering) make one of two basic choices in dealing with suffering and our own brokenness. Hanging from early Christian tradition, we can call these two basic decisions “the path of light” and “the path of darkness.”

For example, say that one’s life is overshadowed by the anxiety and the preoccupation with a decision that has to be made. This fear pervades seemingly every moment of everyday, and brings with it the thrashing of violent surges of emotions that, in the end, paralyze the person from being their self. Because of the constancy and the intensity of the fear that is experienced, the person is, in effect, isolated from the rest of the world, that is, by allowing the fear to garner so much control over them, they are cutting themselves off from reality, and (unknowingly) allowing the fear to control them. At its worst, the fear becomes a sort of god that the person bows down before in every instance, often being driven into inaction (despondency, disconnectedness) because of the constant preoccupation with the fear (and really, a fear of the fear itself, i.e., an inactivity, indecisiveness, and even insecurity, which is borne out because of fear of arousing the fear: “can’t think that because the fear will come back,” “can’t do this because it’ll arouse the fear.”). These things I would liken to the worshiping of the god. Consequently, this way, this response to dealing with a form of suffering is the path of darkness, which, if not overcome, leads us to death (or in a sense, directly to death, as it quite literally kills the life inside of us). This way of “darkness,” chosen by us (though the “choice” is less apparent/explicit when this is our normal habit of acting) appears to be in direct opposition to the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel (10:10): “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

But why, when we have the option to do otherwise, would we ever choose the path of darkness? Once we realize that there is another option, why would we choose to be miserable, to be disconnected, to be self-centered? Why would we will our own unhappiness? Why would we choose to remain in the dark? It seems that in normal circumstances of everyday life, when we are presented with a choice that would increase our happiness versus one that would increase our sadness, we would unanimously say that we want to choose the thing that would make us happy, that would bring us to a greater appreciation of life. If this is true in everyday practical situations, then why wouldn’t we do the same for the spiritual and psychological realities of our lives? Are these realities impenetrable?

I have been listening to a lot of music which further illustrates the above points. Take, for example, Nirvana’s “You Know You’re Right,” Seether and Amy Lee’s “Broken,” and many of Staind’s songs. While I very much appreciate the honesty and the integrity with which these groups convey their (seemingly terrible) pain, I can’t seem to escape the fact that when the song is over, they’re stuck with the pain, the hurt, and the anger with nothing to draw them out of it. I have to admit the music itself is a definite start in the right direction, but, once the articulation and/or venting and processing is over, there’s not often a “light at the end of the tunnel,” that is, a reason for not re-entering another painful event in the same way. And so, without a greater hope than that which we are able to humanly deal with (by reflection, etc.), we are destined for repeating the same actions in the same way; there is nothing that pulls us out of (or away from) ourselves and to something which is greater than ourselves.

So, what are we to do with our suffering? If remaining simply on the human (or merely the emotional) level isn’t sufficient for truly allowing us to “have life in abundance” –  even when we are suffering in some way – then what is the other option? What is the “path of light”?

Going back to the particular situation, we need to remember that we are presented with a choice. On the one hand, I can wallow in my misery, allowing it to kill the spark of life in me, or I can take the other option which is not possible without the gift of God’s grace. The “path of light” is a trust and a hope in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have to remember that regardless of the circumstances which surround us, no matter how deep is the suffering, how sharp is the pain, no matter how much we don’t want to turn to Him, or how much we feel as if He has abandoned us, He is indeed walking with us in our suffering, He is leading us through our suffering, and if we will allow Him, He will bring us to life through our suffering. This is the hope which enlightens all of the darkest places that we each encounter, for through His death and resurrection, God killed the “dark.” It is done and all that we have to do is to realize this in our daily lives and live them in accordance with this hope. Death has died, and I now have the option to walk in the light that was given to me, or to remain in the darkness that is destroyed, which is, in the light of Christ, irrelevant.

Now, this is by no means to say that suffering will no longer hurt. Suffering hurts, period. And when we experience it, the first thing that we are inclined to do is to avoid it, to become or remain “happy” in a false sense. Or, as illustrated earlier, it could be allowed to be so overwhelming that it becomes godlike for us. But, in these experiences of suffering we are able to recognize our oneness with God; it stresses the meaning of a “personal relationship” and we come to realize God’s loving presence with us through our suffering. Indeed, we become aware of the suffering of God with us, through our suffering. We cannot think that God is not affected by our suffering. If that were the case, then what was the point of the Cross? If God was indifferent to our suffering, why did He waste His time coming down to earth, to live a fully human life, to suffer, to die, and to rise? For people He doesn’t care about? God showed us His intimate closeness with us in our suffering through His actions in this life, especially in obedience to a command from His Father that terrified Him: to be mocked, spit on, slapped, scourged, humiliated, crucified, and suffocated until He died. And He did this for us – not just some abstract “humanity” but for you and I: for each of us, as individuals who are specifically loved by God.

What is necessary for us to walk the “path of light”? We have to recognize that the Cross was not the end for Christ. He had the final word in His resurrection from the dead. Through our trust in this life-giving action of God, we are able to live in the light, as “children of the light,” because the path has been illumined by His resurrection. The crucifixion happened, no doubt, and there would have been no resurrection without it, but the fact remains that Christ destroyed death and restored life to us. He doesn’t want us to turn in on ourselves with our experience of suffering, rather He wants us to be freed from the power which death and darkness had over us before He destroyed it. If He wanted us to remain where we already were, there would have been no resurrection (indeed, no Christ) and there would be no reason to believe in the Messiah Whom God the Father sent to be the spotless Lamb slain on our behalf. He died that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” He did not come so that we may remain in the grip of death and be paralyzed by despair. His whole life as witnessed in the Gospels testifies to this reality. He came to free people from all forms of slavery: from sins, hypocrisy, demons, illnesses, and fear, and in this newfound freedom to freely choose Him, to freely choose life over death, light over darkness.

But, many of us have previously heard these things (possibly many times); so what is it that prevents us from embracing this freedom which has been given to us through the person of Jesus Christ?

I honestly believe that one of the greatest barriers to having “the freedom of the sons of God” is simply a matter of habit. I think that we too easily forget that we are, in fact, creatures of habit, and too often suppose that “one day I’ll get better” or “one day I’ll be better,” as if this were going to magically happen just by thinking it, with no real effort, no real commitment involved. But, following from the teaching of the Church and, recently, of John Paul II, it is our actions that define us and not our words nor our wishful thinking. It is what we do with what we have that matters – not what we think about our situation in life.

But, it seems, because the issue of habit is so easily forgotten or otherwise looked over, I think that it’s necessary to turn the habit of choosing the path of darkness into the habit of choosing the path of light. How this will be implemented in our daily lives can be as unique as each of us are. When we are feeling down, disconnected, overwhelmed, paralyzed, it’s of utmost importance to first recognize that God knows this and wants to free us and wants us to live in His light and to be wrapped in His love. Then, we can make an act of faith: as often as it occurs (and even when it doesn’t) call on His name, invite the Holy Spirit to come; be reminded of what God has already accomplished and what He wants to accomplish. The important thing to remember is that we have to be diligent, both in our awareness and in our practice of choosing to live life in God’s light. God will bless our virtuous attempts to arise from darkness through the grace which inspires us and enables us to take such a step towards Him. Gradually (this is a battle, after all), the grace-led struggle to choose light over darkness will become ingrained in us, part of us, and we will more naturally turn towards God, not only in our struggles, but also in the rest of our lives, because we are cooperating with Him: His grace is flourishing through our effort; He is working with us and we with Him. We are seeking to live the life of abundance which our Lord promised that we may have in Him, and because we actively seek, “we will find,” because we knock, “the door will be opened to us.”

And what is the door at which we knock? I think that it is the door which opens us to the ever present moment which God is always in: the moment of now. Rather than turning in on ourselves and falling into the black hole of navel-gazing darkness, becoming disconnected from the present moment: ourselves, others, work, leisure – whatever is in front of us – we are enveloped in the things that are most important, those things that are part of our day-to-day lives and, in a sense, we become one with them. We become transparent and “caught up” in existence, which brings us to God, for He alone is the source and master of those things which truly are, which truly exist. In other words, by choosing to live in the light, we are choosing to remain in the only place that we really are anyway (and everything else is): not in the scruples of the past, nor in the uncertainties of the future, but in the bliss of the present moment, where God is always found, pouring forth His light and His grace which sustains us in our faith, in our hope, and in our love.

It is only by choosing to remain in Him that we see our smallness, for the greatness of His light illumines the vastness of created things and the little place that we occupy in the midst of them. We are given a glimpse of humility, seeing and accepting things as they truly are, seeing things how God sees them. There is no doubt in my mind that sometimes this is with sorrow, but never without seeing it for what it is: a passing shadow in the midst of a grander picture, a picture which always shows forth the unsurpassable joy, love, and freedom which was won for (and is always available to) us by our loving God in and through Christ Jesus.





The Sacraments of Initiation in the Council of Trent

3 01 2009
The Sacraments of Initiation in the Council of Trent THUMB

The title of this paper turned out to be a little misleading. I was assigned this topic by my professor, and when I asked if he could recommend any sources off of the top of his head, he replied, “the Council documents would be a good place to start.” Hah. So, I did. I had also recently read Hilaire Belloc’s How the Reformation Happened, which had given me more insight into the developments which had occurred during this period of history. I soon realized that it would be impossible (and less interesting) to write this paper without taking into account the historical context.

So, borrowing from Belloc’s brilliant ability to get to the heart of the problem, I discuss the underlying problems which led the Reformers’ to act as they did; the rejection of authority because of the poor choices and behavior of some of the members of the Church, which led them in the only direction they could possibly go: to sola fide and sola Scriptura, which (as we continue to see in our own day) has as its fruit numerous “popes” and “magisteriums.” That is, because there is no longer a central authority preserving the unity of the Church in and through the Chair of Peter, we now have a multitude of “popes” and “magisteriums” handing on their version of Christianity, their interpretation of Scripture, as the “true” interpretation. This rejection of authority and necessary turn towards justification by faith alone through the individual’s interpretation of Scripture is the foundation of the rest of Protestantism. Everything Protestant rests on the above mentioned points. This will underly the rest of my arguments in this paper, from the Protestants’ positions on the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist), to the Church’s response in the Council of Trent as deliberately attacking these fundamental positions.

Although I was not terribly excited to be assigned a topic (he did give us chance to change it), this turned out to be an enlightening paper which gave me the opportunity to improve my understanding of the Reformation.

This was written in my third semester of theology at Notre Dame Seminary for The Sacraments of Initiation.





The Search for Intimacy in the Celibate Life

2 01 2009

The Search for Intimacy in the Celibate Life THUMB

A big part of my discernment in seminary was about the issue of intimacy and how it is lived out. I wasn’t for sure what I was going to write about for this class, but since: this topic had been so prevalent in my discernment, we were going through John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and I like to write about things I’m interested in, I decided to dig into this topic and see what I could come up with. I enjoyed the research and I learned a lot about intimacy, especially through John Paul II’s beautiful work on the spousal meaning of the body.

In the paper, I look at what intimacy means, especially as viewed through its relation to the spousal meaning of the body, then I discuss the manner in which intimacy is lived out in the married life (i.e., total, exclusive gift of self to an-other), and I close by moving into how intimacy is lived in the celibate life (i.e., total gift of self to an-Other and others), finding some very interesting parallels between the two ways of life.

This was written in my third semester of theology at Notre Dame Seminary for Human Sexuality and the States of Life.