When someone we love is in mortal sin –

It doesn’t matter who it is, or how much we love them, or how “good” that person is:

Our affection doesn’t sanctify that person’s sin.

Okay – it’s understandable that people want to minimize and whitewash their loved one’s flaws. But when someone we love is engaged in acts of mortal sin, we must have the courage to look at those acts and to name them for what they are. I don’t care what your son or daughter or nephew or best friend is doing – if you can’t recognize that their mortal sin is just that, then you’re not loving their immortal soul.

This is called cooperation with grave matter, and it’s also a sin, by the way.

One of the most courageous couples I know did something incredibly hard and risky: they sat their lesbian daughter down and told her in no uncertain terms, “As long as you are involved in the lifestyle, you aren’t welcome here. We cannot, we will not tolerate your engaging in sin as if it were of no consequence.”

It might have been horrible – the daughter might have rebelled, she might have chosen her partner over her family, she might have estranged herself from her family for years and years. Instead, she chose her family – and because they loved her enough to tell her that sin is sin, she is now out of the lifestyle and able to look back objectively and with admirable honesty at what she left behind. At the ugly and manipulative community she escaped.

In any event, she told me, some time later, her parents had made sure that there would be someone who loved her enough to tell her the truth – that what she was doing was morally wrong, unacceptable in a Christian, and dangerous. If she ever struggled or vacillated in her choice, she had the truth echoing in her mind the whole time.

Love cannot – must not! lose sight of the fact that those we love possess a soul that is immortal, that we all will face a particular Judgment and pay the penalties – the just penalties – for our sins. And when we ourselves prevaricate, rather than facing head-on our duty to the Truth, then we compound the wrong; we take guilt to ourselves and we prolong and deepen our loved one’s slavery to sin.

Lessons of a biblical proportion

Wow. Reading through Joshua and Judges, yesterday and today (research, as well as – well, reading!), I’m struck by several things. One in particular I think worth blogging about.

Israel has come out of bondage to Egypt, been forced to wander around in the desert for forty years because Israel still doesn’t get it that God means it when he says, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt….” I’ve lost track of how many times He’s told them this.

Look. Who we worship determines what our lifestyle choices are going to be. Our morals, our ethics, our politics, our everything.

Here God is reminding Israel again and again and again, “Hey, folks, listen up: I am NOT the gods you left behind in Egypt, I’m ME, and you are my people, so prove it! – Here’s what I want from you.”

He’s given them the Law, the 10 Commandments and all those details thereof – He’s brought them twice across bodies of water, parted so they walk across on dry land (the Red Sea, leaving Egypt, the Jordan River, entering the Promised Land). He’s given them extraordinary military victories against superior political powers…

All He’s asked of them – required of them – is that they remain faithful to Him and to the covenant He made with their fathers, a covenant by which they are bound to Him as His own possession.

Part of that obligation is that they get rid of the pagan inhabitants of this land He’s given them. And guess what? They didn’t oblige. Some of Israel’s tribes let the pagans stay put. Some were put into servitude (against God’s command) and some were just left alone, in some sort of – what I expect must have been an uneasy peace.

Then the sons of Israel began marrying pagan women. The pagans began marrying daughters of Israel.

And what happened next you don’t have to be prescient to anticipate: The Israelites began worshipping the pagan gods.

AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

But here’s what’s happening: the people of God ignored the presence of the single greatest threat to their spiritual health. They ignored the pagans and all their pagan worship practices. They let those practices catch their imagination, gain a toehold on their own family life.

We live as strangers in an alien land – in a secular world dominated by allegiances to false gods. The hallmarks of that pagan world were twofold: sexual licentiousness (surely I don’t have to draw the parallels of how that’s playing out in American culture today) and human sacrifice (abortion? euthenasia?). We’re called to live as distinctive children of God in this secular culture. And we’re falling asleep at the wheel.

How does pagan culture infiltrate the Church?

What television shows do you watch? “Oh, it’s just a tv show, it doesn’t mean anything.” Well, yeah, it does. The adulteries and fornications and lies and sarcasm and lack of respect and lack of reverence and contempt for decency that you find so funny and so entertaining are like a termite infestation eroding the best part of your own good judgment, subtly persuading you that what is twisted, perverse, and unworthy of the people of God is just ordinary human behavior, nothing wrong with it.

What periodicals do you read? What values do they promote? Do they promote chastity and fidelity, or are they full of articles on getting more gratification out of your romance du jour? Do they promote modest living or acquisitiveness?

What movies do you pay to see? What sort of music do you listen to? and how much violence, profanity, and misogyny is it promoting?

What entertains you? How do you spend your leisure time? Would you want the Final Judgment to descend upon you as you engage in these? Do you want to be held accountable for the destructive influence these recreations are having on the children in your households?

These are the subtle ways in which the Enemy of our souls is undermining and sabotaging our best spiritual life – our fidelity to our God.

And, if we don’t regain our senses, the same fates of judgment, destruction, and slavery await us – just as they did Israel.

Celibacy

Actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Of course, it sounds like desert-style deprivations and repressions, psychoses and irrational inconveniences, right?

Of course it does! If it didn’t sound so awful, more people would be willing to adopt it as at least a temporary lifestyle and would speak very positively about it. But, oh, no! it’s too “unhealthy” to go without sex!

Actually, I’ve found it extremely healthy to go without these past (ahem, cough) years. Haven’t always thought it so – sometimes it is lonely and unpleasant. But then comes the breakthrough, a breakthrough which can only come when one isn’t distracted by the inebriating effect of one’s raging hormones and narcissistic drive for gratification…

Huh? -Let’s look at that again, shall we?

Sex produces hormone shifts that demand, insist upon, mandate satisfaction. A kiss and a cuddle sets these hormones into overproduction at astonishing rates – gotta have more! and not just more of the same, you’ve got to go a bit farther along the process in order to attain the same level of thrill…

It’s like a drunk or a druggie who has to up his intake in order to reach the same level of “buzz” he used to enjoy – instead of two beers or a shot, it goes to twelve in quick succession and the whole bottle; his body has become acclimated to the substance, so much more is required to get the desired effect.

Sex does that, too, and in this severely disordered culture we’re living in, that insists on instructing young prepubescent children about condoms and masturbation, that places disordered information about sexual “normalcy” into our homes and minds day in and day out – well, we get warped, and our expectations of our spouses’ or partners’ PERFORMANCE becomes warped (after all, it has become a matter of performance, not of real love-making any more) …

and it’s no wonder people have gotten into rotten unsustainable sex-based relationships and basically screwed up their own lives (pardon the pun) and made themselves miserable.

I watch – not only women, men do this too! – getting into, locking themselves into these cheap, abusive, inferior relationships because on the one hand they are driven by fear of solitude (and of being “not normal”) and by sexual hormones, and on the other hand by a deep innate realization that we’re supposed to bond with one another and create families and be together in a deeper sense… and sex is supposed to be the most profound of the “togetherness” and yet somehow it’s all escaping us and what are we supposed to do?

Well, helloooo!!! When we hop into the sack as a matter of course in a nonmarried relationship, we have the euphoria of an artificial “intimacy” which, because of the drugging effect of the hormones, deprives us of the genuine intimacy of spirit we long for!

Celibacy gives one room and freedom to pull focus and to think beyond pushing for the next thrill: What is important to me in a relationship? What sort of character do I want in a spouse? What values are important to share – and which ones are nonnegotiable, and which ones do I have some flexibility with? (Fidelity of body and will is mandatory; preferring ACC sports over professional hockey not so much so 😉 ) How shall I live out those values with integrity in a relationship? How well do we know one another in matters of genuine character and spirit? Is this a person who I want to be identified with for the rest of my life? – a person I can trust and admire, whom I am proud of? or will this person shame and humiliate me with a low unscrupulous character?

Celibacy. It gives us a chance to know what we want. It allows us a clear enough head to know what we want in a life partner, a spouse – and to be able to see in truth whether this particular man or woman can live up to expectations and prove himself worthy of our devotion.

And – surprise and joy! – it gives us an opportunity to discover our own worth, into the bargain, as nothing else, out of our sex-driven culture, can do. Sex costs me all I am – my heart, my devotion, my loyalty, my whole self in unstinted donation to my spouse. I discover myself to be a “pearl of great price,” a prize of inestimable value; I will, therefore, give myself only to the man who is willing to pay my price to own me: his whole self, in all that he is.

Once falsely accused –

I’m home from Mass today because of knee and back pain. I had to call Fr N to let him know of my absence, and he had some shocking and very distressing news for me: one of my dear priest friends has had his priestly faculties suspended in the wake of accusations that he behaved inappropriately toward a then-minor girl, back in the early ’80s.

I’ve known Fr K for more than ten years. He heard my first Confession, and numerous subsequent ones, and he has always given me solid, sane, spiritual counsel. He’s been a good friend, and a great support during a particular difficulty he happened to walk in the door to face… and I’m having a very hard time believing this accusation.

I’ve been falsely accused. When the ex- and I separated, he told his parents (and who knows who else) that I was having an affair with one of my professors (I was in college at the time). I suppose I can see how he found it easy to foster this idea: after being treated like an idiot unworthy of simple conversation in the privacy of our own home, I was deliriously enthusiastic about being in an academic setting where brilliant people, and this professor in particular (who had a reputation for being difficult to get along with) treated me as if I were someone special, possessing brilliance, even. I thought the world of this professor who opened the world for me, and he seemed rather partial to me – within the confines of the classroom.

HOWEVER, a mutual admiration society is not adultery, and the closest we came to even a social relationship was a brief exchange we had by the milk case of the local grocery store, that July –
Laura: Hey, Dr. B – how’s summer school going?
Professor: Laura, I swear, the incoming freshmen are getting dumber every year. I can’t wait for the regular term to begin so I can be with my upperclassmen again!

I really thought adultery was supposed to have a bit more to it than that? be a bit more exciting? a bit more wicked?

But somehow quite a lot more was added to the story during the translation, it appears. And, of course, there are those foolish people who will always love a scandal more than the truth. We just have to live with that.

There are a lot of factors that motivate people to lie – on both sides of the fence, let me add. The guilty are almost always going to vehemently deny culpability, even when caught in the act (just ask anyone who’s been married to a drunk caught in any one of a thousand lies), and for some reason I simply cannot fathom, sometimes people lie about the innocent.

It’s terribly hard to be a priest these days. It’s never easy – the self-abnegation required is unimaginable for folks like me. Folks just don’t have an idea what priests go through, day to day, in solitude, often without adequate fraternal support and comaraderie. And it’s open season on Catholic priests anyway.  Hardly a week goes by that a preacher or youth minister in some Protestant group or other isn’t reported by our local news outlets to be arrested and charged with some form of abuse or misconduct, but none of those denominations, seminaries, or camps go through the scrutiny or public insults that our good Catholic priests suffer.

Pray for our priests. Pray for the accused, and the accusers. Pray for Truth and justice.

* * * *

On another, but not unrelated note:

A well-known pro-life activist reports that another well-known pro-life activist suffered a bit of public humiliation over the weekend of the National March for Life. Names don’t matter for the point I want to make.

That point is this: that we who call ourselves by the name of Christ have a greater obligation to conduct ourselves appropriately in public, not to glory or wallow in gossip, not to rejoice in a fellow Christian’s downfall.

Akin to this situation is the uproar that occurred when Pat Robertson made his perhaps-indiscreet remarks about voodoo having something to do with Haiti’s current misery in the wake of the horrible earthquakes it has suffered this past week and a half. Mr. Robertson was called a number of immature and offensive names in Facebook and around the internet media. I rebuked one young man for using an offensive word as a predicate nominative –

We have to be above such behavior, if we’re going to make a difference in the world. Okay?

Pray for priests –

Looking online for a book about Fr. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus,for a customer, I came across a blog by a priest calling for a boycott of the Knights because of its opposition to a GLBT agenda.

This priest is one who created a terrible scandal in the Diocese of Fresno a year or so ago when, in opposition to Proposition 8, he “came out” to his parish. That a priest would give rise to scandal and confusion in his parish is sad enough, but that he – and the priests who post to his blog demanding that the Church give in to their prideful demands – should be so utterly devoid of understanding and so willful of their own way is heartbreaking.

The Catholic Church is truly at a crisis. Pray for her without ceasing.

Local news outlet reports on a gay father finally getting his “rights” with his children.

I say, Three cheers for the former judge who was able to recognize that children are adversely affected by a parent’s homosexuality and by close exposure to the gay lifesyle.  How many more children will have to be damaged, wounded, scarred and warped before this society realizes that the romaticizing of homosexuality is damning all of us to misery?

And how long will it be before NARTH or some other organization has the ability and the stimulus to study the impact on spouses and children?

Thank you, I am NOT interested

… in penis enhancement products, pills or potions or lotions to enhance my libido (The Vixen is alive and well, thank you), weight loss products, shoes, cosmetics of any description, or any other of the products being promoted in the spam that has hit my Inbox.

Of course, most of it is computer-generated. And it’s a little amusing when five or six product adverts come in from the same online numerical address…

It’s downright funny when a comment is posted to something totally silly and inconsequential – “Thank you for posting this. I have been pondering this matter for some time now….” – and of course then there is the product advert just below…

Pray for us over at Deliberate Engagement. We’re “conversing” with some pro-aborts over at a website called ‘Topix.” Some of the conversation toward us is quite courteous – and I’m noticing that even posters who can be hostile toward others are reducing or avoiding altogether the name-calling and insults that mark their posts to other pro-lifers. We’ve directed several people over to DE, especially to Matt’s essay, “How to Debate.”

Pray we make a difference for good!