We all have needs

We all have needs

One day last week, I found myself helplessly stuck in a conversation during a long trip on an even longer highway with a person I very quickly wished was making the trip in a different vehicle, or not at all.  Useless details aside, it came up that I was Catholic and she was Jewish.  Of course this was not religiously Jewish, but culturally Jewish as she’s never been to temple, believes in Karma, and supports the Palestinians “right” to their own country. At one point in the trip, she asked for my opinion regarding the celibacy of priests.  I told her I believed it was a wonderful thing that priests devote their entire lives to serving Christ’s Church, and make a beautiful sacrifice by being celibate.  She quickly piped in, “But priests have needs too,” completely missing my comment about sacrifice and going straight on to the nonsensical idea that sex is a “need” in which all living creatures must indulge. One seriously scary and very dangerous line of thought in our current time is that sex is a need, and that this need must be quenched in any way we desire.  Society no longer believes in any sexual disorders, and actually works to prevent those who suffer from sexual disorder from receiving psychological counseling and treatment.  Such a mindset has permeated so not only is same-sex relations generally accepted, but there was little outrage over the fact that Amazon allowed a pedophile manual called “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure,” and that President Obama’s “safe schools czar” openly promoted same-sex relations of/with minors.  I blame the prevalence...
First things first

First things first

I think I first read Thomas Sowell describe the effectiveness and diminishing returns of pollution controls. In an area where the air is 50% polluted, it is pretty easy and inexpensive to reduce the pollution to 20%. The cost and effort rise in getting the air to 10% polluted, and it can be extremely expensive to get to 5%. In other words, even though we want to achieve 100% clean air, it is extraordinarily expensive. Therefore, we learn to live with imperfections even as we keep perfection as a goal. What better spiritual guides can we have on the Way of Perfection than St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and (for moderns) Fr. Thomas Dubay? I believe it was in Fr. Dubay’s Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer that he mentions the paradox of a person being able to overcome difficult, habituated mortal sins relatively easily but can’t shake more trivial, venial sins. A person hitting rock bottom may quit a years-long drug or alcohol addiction cold turkey but can’t seem to stop casual cursing in conversation. So, cleaning the air and cleaning our souls can apparently follow a similar pattern. If our souls or lives are 50% polluted with sins it can be relatively easy to spot the big, burdensome things that need removal to get our souls to the 20% level. Once the big pollutants are gone only the minor ones remain, though the minor ones seem to be the hardest ones to scrub out. Yet how easy it is for us to rationalize living with “only a little” pollution in our lives! Perhaps our plan of attack is...
Keep it in context

Keep it in context

At the risk of overexposing our readers to the debate surrounding Chick-fil-A, I’d like to offer a completely new perspective.  Over the past week, a handful of friends posted this graphic on their Facebook pages. My gut reactionNearly every claim is false or completely out of context was that the creator of this statement greatly understated the scope and importance of the Chick-fil-A support day for the sake of making it seem silly or trivial.  The punchline takes the point entirely out of context, thus making it sound insignificant.  After another second of contemplation, I responded to my friend that the guy’s opinion is not the “one thing that motivates people to speak out.”  Chick-fil-A is one in a long line of activism committed by conservative Christian Americans and others who may espouse similar beliefs. With regard to that which is frequently called “gay marriageImpossible seeing as the government didn't create marriage, God did.“, the American public has prohibited “gay marriage” in 42 states, whether by popular vote of the people or by legislative actionThe only states in which gay marriage is legalized did so by the legislature or the courts. Democratic votes of the people have resulted in the prohibition of gay marriage, TWICE in California.. For those who have the memory of a goldfish, there were Tea Party events nationwide, a huge rally in D.C., a and a very successful 2010 election season.  Two weeks ago, I took the opportunity to travel to Dallas for the Glenn Beck “Restoring Love” rally where 65,000 people attended and a large portion of whom participated in service projects throughout the...
Spiritual healing? That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout

Spiritual healing? That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout

If you’re anything like me, you’re a perfectionist and maybe even a little neuroticto the bone.  Everything must be perfect all the time.  I’m the first-born perfectionist of two first-born perfectionists, so when people comment on my insistence of perfection, I can truly say that I was born that way.  Of course, the need for perfection doesn’t only apply to menial tasks, but to my spiritual life as well. In a much earlier post, I explained that the soul is like a radar, and the more in tune your soul is with Christ, the more sins your radar is able to detect.  My radar not only detects sins as the approach, but also works retroactively, detecting sins I didn’t realize were sins when I committed them.  (Sound familiar?) On one hand, discovering that what you did/said/omitted fifteen years ago was sinful can produce good fruit if you choose to learn from your mistakes and then move on, leaving them in the past where they belong.  On the other hand, scouring your past life and dwelling on those sins is a quick road to misery. So what do you do when your mind and soul are haunted by past indiscretions?  Pray.  I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, that’s some handy advice.  Did you come up with that all on your own?”  I had the very same reaction.  Sure, we all know how to pray the rosary, and a handful of other prayers, but it can be very difficult to determine precisely the spiritual ailment and request the proper remedy.  Yes, God knows our hearts, but doesn’t he also want us...
Hell, Mortal Sin and the Loss of Freedom

Hell, Mortal Sin and the Loss of Freedom

My mind inhaled sharply and I immediately began to think of how I could do damage control with anyone who would listen.  While God may be Just, I found it difficult to believe that He would end up vying for the scraps falling from the Devil’s table. Certainly, one can do the moral math and probably come to the same conclusion: 1) Mortal sin causes “the eternal death of hell” assuming grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent. 2) Among instances of grave matter are premarital sex (as well as a variety of other sexual sins), missing Sunday Mass, eating meat on Fridays during Lent, drunkenness (also drug use), etc… 3) A great number of individuals are involved in at least one of these sins. When it comes to Church teaching, especially on moral topics, there is often an inverse relationship based on how specific a given situation is.  Generally, a broad situational example can be given a narrow and specific answer: Q. What happens to a man who commits a mortal sin and then dies? A. He goes to hell.  Conversely, the narrower the example, the broader the answer: Q. A homeless Catholic man is full but not sure of the next opportunity to eat a meal consumes a hamburger on a Friday during Lent – Is he in mortal sin? A. It depends… ultimately, only he knows. In order to shed a bit more light on the situation of moral actions, it is helpful to address the fact that the severity of sins can be reduced based on the circumstances; usually having to do with a person’s...