Europe in Anguish: Benedict XVI

Note: Please Check News Digest for links to several Euro stories.

Ratzinger advances steadily and inscrutably through history like a Panzer crossing enemy terrain, unflinchingly recording his Church’s losses and gradual collapse.

DOMENICO PACITTI

Research and assignments often take me to Europe. My great fortune has been to meet and work with incredible Christians whose zeal and tenacity are an inspiration. Over the last ten years I have seen both green shoots of hope that Europe will recover her faith, and sickening signs of decay. I fear the decay is wining.

Churches used as bazaars or museums was disheartening enough, but churches used now as mosques chills my blood. Worse, the apathy with which this misuse is received by Catholics in Europe is beyond my comprehension: I assume that I’ve simply been in denial, wanted to see the positive, searched out the lay groups that work tirelessly to promote the faith.

Pray for Europe. But read what Pope Benedict XVI has written on Europe. His is no Pollyana puffery. One senses that he understands not only the decay, but it source and timeline. A central theme of Pope Benedict’s papacy has been his defence of core Christian values in the face of what he sees as moral decline across much of Europe.

In Salt of the Earth then Cdl. Ratzinger suggests that we Catholics are in for a hard pruning before any “springtime” can flower. I begin to see his point.

My intent in this post is not to point fingers at European Catholics, but to plead with American Catholics–what you see in Europe is coming soon to America–unless, unless, unless…we simply cannot remain idle, every heart and soul must make recovery of the faith their number one mission in life.

How will YOU help?

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Sins of Omission

The readings for Mass today and yesterday were from James. Yesterday’s verses included this:

“for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.” OUCH!

I’m guilty.

Then this, from the Catechism:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

– by protecting evil-doers.

In a free society where every opportunity exists to speak and work against evil, and we fail to do so, and or cooperate with those who do it, we are responsible for the evil among us.

This is a reflection that I have often during times of political tension–election cycles and the passage of anti-life laws. We have abortion, and same-sex “marriages” and embryonic stem cell research because we permitted it; we said little, we continued to give to our alma mater when horrors happnend in its labs, or the Vagina Monolouges came to campus…when we do business with people and firms whose profit comes from sin…the list is long.

But most of all, we fail to speak out against the evil in our midst.

Woman, Recover thy Heart!

Today I’ll be discussing Pope John Paul II’s Dignity and Vocation of Women (Mulieris Dignitatem) with Dina Marie Hale of KBVM Radio in Portland Oregon. This is part of a year long celebration of the 20th anniversary of this crucial Apostolic Letter written in the Marian Year of 1988.

How important this message is to women in the current moment when women, on the way to “modern” life imagined by radical feminists, have lost too much of what it means to — first-– be WOMAN.

The feminine nature was created to be receptive. This receptivity is literally built into the feminine body as a physical reality, a sign and function of our inward being-ness. Women are not only receptive in biological and reproductive terms, but we are receptive in our means of relating to other persons, and to the world socially and culturally. In its simplest application, this receptivity means the feminine mode of being is relational. We see events and circumstances through a prism of relationships. We consider other values in life such as competition, productivity and efficiency as secondary to the impact on relationships.

But what does that really mean?

Jesus instructs the religious leaders of the time on the meaning of the relationship between men and women by reminding them that their current social construction which permitted divorce was  in error. Jesus is forthright: “in the beginning it was not so.” The first relationship that Man had with Woman was “bone of my bone” and not subject to the sundering of divorce.

This teaching is underscored in Mulieris. The point is that Man was alone. He lived in the glorious world untainted by sin, he named the animals and lived in harmony with nature…and yet, something was lacking. Man had no relationship with “one like him.”

Eve, the Woman, was created for Adam as a gift to satisfy is heart’s deep desire for a relationship with one like him, but not him: “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,” but utterly and delightfully different.

Eve never experienced the lonely life of Adam. Despite all his experiences in Eden, despite possession of all that he saw, Adam was unsatisfied, a deep need was unmet. Eve did not share this first life in loneliness. She was created expressly for relationship.

Every social innovation that ignores that primary feminine reality is sure to fail–and cause immense heartache in that failure.

The very nature of the human person is under attack today in every arena of life–social, cultural, political…this means that the distinctive nature of men and women as human beings with separate modes of being is also under assault.

It is women who must re-learn the truth about the feminine nature and to then insist that our social structures respect that truth. A world where the true feminine is marginalized or even erased (transgenderism, androgyny) is a world where human beings are thrown back into a lonely existence devoid of authentic relationships. There is no loneliness on earth worse that the alienation of being surrounded by many bodies, even having “encounters” with other bodies, an yet, having no relationship.

This modern alienation is cataloged in art, sociology, psychology and philosophy. It is why nihilism is rampant in our times. it is why our young cut and pierce themselves so that they can “feel alive”, the pain is preferable to being overlooked, of not belonging.

The Woman is the key to recovery of the culture gone cold from the loss of an authentic femininity.

Women must speak in favor of natural families, true marriage, and against all de-humanizing trends such a s human cloning, homosexual “marriages” and euthanasia.

* * *

On the battles we face, I am encouraged each day by the words of St. Catherine of Siena:

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.”

California: The Perfect Storm

RADIO ALERT:  I’ll be discussing the California Court’s decision and the importance of marriage tomorrow (may 21) on KBVM 88.3 FM at 8:00 am PST.  (Portland Oregon and surrounding area)

Listen LIVE: www.kbvm.fm

UPDATE: Will California Court’s decision stand?

This morning the state of California’s Supreme Court voted overwhelmingly to overturn the California citizens’ ban on same-sex unions. This is a very significant set back for marriage in the USA because they ruled a right to marriage to be a “natural” right on par with free speech. Very troubling is the fact that the majority of the judges were republican, as is the “Governator” who has said he will support the ruling.

California voters will again vote on the matter in November’s general election–the people have raised the required number of petition signatures to put a marriage amendment on the ballot. But even if they pass a Marriage Amendment, this same state supreme court will likely over turn it again.

Add to that California’s ruling that against homseschooling and we have a “perfect storm” brewing. Where same-sex unions a legal, “married” homosexuals will be demonstrative i public, text books, children’s books and every cultural venue will feature images of homosexuality.

Those families whose moral, ethical and religious convictions oppose same-sex unions will be subject to some version of “hate speech” ordinances/legislation. Those who can will move from the state. Also, those couples whose unions are not legal in their home states will migrate to California.

Florida and several other states now have marriage amendments on the November ballots. In each state the homosexual lobby is poised to challenge the outcomes.

It is not difficult to see a very troubling horizon.

Abuse of Girls Done Clinically

Those of us who research and follow developments that examine contraception and abortion, those women’s health issues that correlate to both, and the cultural disintegration that is the product of the assault of the feminine are alarmed by the growing “forced contraception” against pre-teen and young teen girls.

This is clinical abuse of the girl child. It inevitably leads to sexual abuse. The child is implanted with a contraceptive device or medication that she cannot control. And, typically, the medication is long lasting–up to three years. There are serious side effects to such medication, but the simple truth is that the abusers–parents, local governments and family planning agencies fear a potential pregnancy more than they fear injury to the girl’s health or her use and abuse by men who know no impregnation will result.

A corollary is that depression is a frequent side effect of Norplant and Depo-provera –favored long-term contraceptives. These powerful progestin hormones added to the hormones of puberty make depression in the young particularly acute.

When Humane Vitae was written, Pope Paul VI predicted that women would be hideously devalued.

"the man" will lose respect for "the woman" and
"no longer (care) for her physical and psychological equilibrium" and will
come to "the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish
enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion."

Tragically, his prophecy has been borne out.

So too has Paul VI’s prediction that government power would be used against women:

“dangerous weapon… in the hands of those public
authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies.

[In a related trend, Genevieve Kineke at Feminine Genius has a post on the “gay baby boom” that is grim reading, but necessary information for those who fight the good fight to recover the culture]

May Heaven have mercy on us.

The Culture War: To recognize evil, first know good.

Note: Blog Stats indicate many readers of this blog click on the post about the Inquisition. There is a fine new article on the Inquisition by Fr. Brian Van Hove, S.J. at Ignatius Insight, here.

Note: New column at Inside Catholic.com on the how the U.N. robs the poor is here

I’ve been thumbing through Peter Kreeft’s How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis.

Each time I revisit this book I am struck by some pithy observation that jerks me up short with an “of course!” exclamation. This time the point was: When we sin, we do the devil’s work. (p.30) –and by extension that to recognize evil, one must know the good.

Does that stop you in your tracks? We too often think of our sins as minor failings. We think of it as simply “falling short of the mark.” We are out of the habit of thinking of sin as an objective evil. But where I sin, I aid Satan. (“He who is not with me is against me.”)

It seems to me that the culture war is more than bringing morals (Not “values”) back to the public square. Hard reality check: Most people, including Christians, no longer know what is good. They know longer know the WHO who is Good. No wonder the culture war is such a sticky morass.

To win this war in whatever corner of the public square in which we fight, we must first show others what good looks like. IN a culture where the “good” is “the freedom to do my own thing” too few know what an actual tangible good is!

How to do this? First of all, sin less. Don’t “go easy on yourself” when you “sin a little bit.” Then our own attitudes and behavior will be demonstrably different. People will notice.

Next, I think, we must make beautiful things. Grow a beautiful and productive garden. Promote good cultural events–art, music, ballet. Form a book club and introduce others to great literature. Organize a movie night once a month for friends and family. Discuss themes of sin and grace, good and evil, acts and their consequences. Sponsor symposiums on topics of interest–perhaps about local history, or local heroes. Help build healthy community identity.

Visit the ill, the elderly, the lonely. Impress upon them that they are part of the community still–that their prayers are what helps sustain those at work, school, home. A neighbor invites women recently released from jail to come to her home to cook and share a dinner and a movie. Reinstate a family Sunday and invite other families for some games.

Our every engagement need not be overtly “religious.” Christians can evangelize by spreading what is truly beautiful. We can build a taste for, a desire for the “higher things.”

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