The attack on marriage is really an attack on the human person, and his dignity, for the devil seeks to pervert our true purpose, to pervert God's holy design. For many of us, we cannot march in protests or write dozens of letters or call numerous times to urge legislators to vote for the Truth. But one thing we can all do is pray and fast. We have designated one day each week to fast for these intentions:

1. That marriage may be preserved, promoted, and understood as God's plan for creation.

2. For all marriages that they may reflect the love of the Trinity.

3. For broken marriages that Christ bring healing and conversion to the spouses' souls.

4. For those who are married, for the sanctification of their marriage and their spouse. For those who are single, for their future spouse and vocation.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Painful Pleasure


In the movie Toy Story 3, the tyrannical bear, Lotso, who rules the daycare facility, Sunnyside, tells the new toys that daycare is a dream come true because there are no owners, and therefore no heartbreak.  Here is a place where the fun never ends, and the heartbreak never begins.  The toys don't belong to anyone and therefore cannot be hurt by anyone.  Sounds like a familiar line of reasoning, no?

Birth control eradicated the need for commitment in a relationship before relations were had.  Free of commitment, intercourse (and subsequently what people thought was love) became conditional.  There is no ownership, no belonging, and so no heartbreak.  But then there is also no real love.  True love is unconditional, for Love Himself makes no conditions on His love for us.  True love demands a complete gift of self in a covenant where each belongs to the other.  True love expects faithfulness, and so does not fear heartbreak.

The theme of the sexual revolution was "pleasure without pain": get all the highs without any of the lows.  It was an easy sell, and so attracted many eager buyers.  Yet with it came a hefty price tag: "free love" meant an empty life.  The line of the sixties was "peace, love, joy".  Ironic, because a person may be able to experience pleasure without pain, but not peace, love, or joy.  Peace comes from living a life in conformity with God's will, in conformity with the natural law written into our hearts.  Rebellion against this law brings only violence and destruction to the peace of our souls.  To love is to give oneself totally and completely; to pervert our purpose, and to thwart God's design creates a civil war within ourselves.  The peace that resides in the humble soul, produces the joy that illuminates his life.  One who knows how to love is full of joy, full of peace.

Believing in a self-serving love, one allows himself only to love himself.  He never opens his heart to the purifying fires of a self-sacrificing love.  Those fires and trials that purify his heart, draw him closer to the source of Love itself.  People believe that there is pleasure without pain, but ironically pain is all they are left with.  Going from one relationship to another, never fully giving themselves means they never fully receive another, never fully feel the love of another.  One may choose to love; but he also is choosing not to be loved.  And so what happens?  People who have bought this lie are not full of hate, but full of callousness and indifference, the opposite of love.

It is a struggle to love, it is a daily and constant sacrifice to love completely.  But the joy and peace that emanate from this love are everlasting as opposed to the brief pleasure that is derived from a loveless life.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

St. George the Dragon Slayer


Today is the feast of St. George, the dragon-slayer.  Here is brief account of his life from the EWTN library:
"According to the account given us by Metaphrastes, he was born in Cappadocia, of noble Christian parents. After the death of his father he went with his mother into Palestine, she being a native of that country, and having there a considerable estate, which fell to her son George. He was strong and robust in body, and having embraced the profession of a soldier, was made a tribune, or colonel, in the army. By his courage and conduct he was soon preferred to higher stations by the Emperor Diocletian. When that prince waged war against the Christian religion, St. George laid aside the marks of his dignity, threw up his commission and posts, and complained to the emperor himself of his severities and bloody edicts. He was immediately cast into prison, and tried, first by promises, and afterwards put to the question and tortured with great cruelty; but nothing could shake his constancy. The next day he was led through the city and beheaded. Some think him to have been the same illustrious young man who tore down the edicts when they were first fixed up at Nicomedia, as Lactantius relates in his book, On the Death of the Persecutors, and Eusebius in his history. 
The reason why St. George has been regarded as the patron of military men is partly upon the score of his profession, and partly upon the credit of a relation of his appearing to the Christian army in the holy war, before the battle of Antioch. The success of this battle proving fortunate to the Christians, under Godfrey of Bouillon, made the name of St. George more famous in Europe and disposed the military men to implore more particularly his intercession. This devotion was confirmed, as it is said, by an apparition of St. George to our king, Richard I, in his expedition against the Saracens; which vision being declared to the troops, was to them a great encouragement, and they soon after defeated the enemy. 
St. George is usually painted on horseback and tilting at a dragon under his feet; but this representation is no more than an emblematical figure, purporting that by his faith and Christian fortitude he conquered the devil, called the dragon in the Apocalypse."

Considering St. George is the patron saint of England, Brad Birzer (a blogger at Catholicvote) reminded his readers of  a famous English poem written by William Blake and set to music by Hubert Parry, called Jerusalem:
AND did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
It is certain that there are still some in England that seek to build up the "New Jerusalem" (the Kingdom of God) on its land.  Though the Western world, and in particular Europe, is in spiritual and cultural decay, one should never despair because the presence of the good, the true, and the beautiful in our world will never cease and will always point to its Source.  Here is a wonderful example of beauty in England during last year's Royal Wedding when the whole congregation (and onlookers outside) sang this beautiful hymn together.   Hopefully (and probably) there were some that were drawn closer to Christ by the beauty of the words and music.  Here is the short video clip:

Happy Feast Day!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good Friday Fast

". . . And those that passed by derided Him, wagging their heads, and saying, 'Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!'  So also the chief priests mocked Him to one another with the scribes, saying,' He saved others; He cannot save Himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.' Those who were crucified with Him also reviled Him.' (Mk. 15: 27-32)
Meditating on these scripture verses concerning the crowd that surrounded the Cross, one cannot help but also remember the words from the Presentation in the Temple:
". . . and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His Mother,'Behold this child is set for the fall and the rise of many in Israel and for a sign that shall be contradicted. . ." (Lk. 2:34).
The Cross is the sign of our salvation and yet a sign of contradiction.  The people shout that they will believe if only Christ comes down from the Cross.  Fulton Sheen often said that people will believe in anything but the Cross, but suffering.  Even those that suffer (like the ones who were crucified with Him, and "reviled Him") refuse to believe in its merits.  Christ came to die so that we might have eternal life.  Yet, we must die to ourselves if we are to inherit the victory Christ has already won for us.

Easter Sunday is a beautiful feast, but a hollow one indeed if we do not first live through and experience the Passion and Cross of Good Friday.  The Crucifix must be a powerful reality in our lives; not just a symbol of our faith, but a constant call to a radical vocation.  Sacrificial love cannot be a high ideal, a romantic notion; it must be a way of life for us as Christians.  

The Cross and suffering are realities, whether we choose to embrace them or not.  But by ignoring the Cross, we also refuse the hope that it contains: the hope of salvation.  And the knowledge, and the peace that comes with it, that the Cross is the Way to Heaven, to Eternal Happiness!

Persevere in your fasting and sacrifices, and have a blessed and holy Easter!