Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Politics and Receiving Communion

With the 2004 election, we began to hear more and more about communion and politicians who support abortion. Several bishops from around the country made headlines when they either refused, or stated that they would refuse communion to any politician who proclaims them self “pro-choice” while still nominally maintaining that they are Catholic. This became an almost weekly news event, especially when certain high profile Catholic politicians attended Mass, and reporters waited to see if that politician would be denied communion.

Lets make one point absolutely clear in the terminology in vogue in regard to abortion. When a politician, or any other ordinary citizen states that he or she is “pro-choice” or supports “reproductive rights”, they are proclaiming themselves PRO- ABORTION. No nice little clean terms like “pro-choice” or “reproductive rights” hides that fact nor changes it, and hopefully the American people are not blind to that fact. The pro-abortion faction is also adamant in insisting that a bishop or priest denying them communion crosses the line on the so called “separation of church and state”, which is another term thrown at random by anyone who opposes anything the Church teaches. Although those people are hard pressed to show where this is supposedly contained in the United States Constitution. They are hard pressed because it does not exist anywhere within the Constitution.

The hue and cry over this began when Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still known as Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent a letter to American Bishops entitled “"Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles". Stated in "General Principles," no Catholic should seek to receive Holy Communion if he or she is guilty of "a grave sin," and abortion is a grave sin. Further, he wrote that a priest "may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,”. (An interdict, which can only be imposed by a bishop, bars a Catholic from receiving any of the Sacraments, including Holy Communion.) Banning communion is not limited to those who perform abortion Cardinal Ratzinger also wrote that it included anyone "whose personal cooperation becomes manifest," including "the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws. The pastor should meet him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of the sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Holy Eucharist."

In the end, any politician who campaigns or votes in a manner that is pro-abortion effectively excludes himself or herself from receiving Holy Communion. Further, any Catholic who votes for any pro-abortion politician based on the politicians pro-abortion stance, then that voter has also excluded him or her self from receiving Holy Communion as well. In both cases, the politician and the voter should partake in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (Confession) before going to receive the Holy Eucharist.

This does not cross the line in the so called “separation of Church and State” at all. As stated previously, nowhere in the Constitution of the United States of America, does the term “separation of Church and State” exist. Go read the Constitution yourself and find out. Don't take my word for it, alone. A well known Catholic politician once told a group of Baptist ministers that he would never allow the Catholic Church to influence any of his decisions for the United States. In essence, what that politician was saying was, that he would not allow God's One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church to influence any of his decisions, and thereby making such a statement, he was also saying, that he would not allow God to influence any of his decisions as well. No one, in any walk of life, be they king, president, politician, bishop, priest, or citizen, can not leave out God, God's influence, or God's Church from their decisions, public or private. To leave out God is to invite destruction and ruin within their lives, with those whom they lead, and with those whom they love.

Let's look at Catholic Teaching on abortion from the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”:

2258 "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being." (CDF, instruction, Donum vitae, intro. 5.)

2268 The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.(Gen 4:10) Infanticide, fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break. Concern for eugenics or public health cannot justify any murder, even if commanded by public authority.

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. (Cf. CDF, Donum vitae I, 1)

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. (Jer 1:5; cf. Job 10:8-12; Ps 22:10-11)

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. (Ps 139:15)

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.
(Didache 2, 2: SCh 248, 148; cf. Ep. Barnabae 19, 5: PG 2, 777; Ad Diognetum 5, 6: PG 2, 1173; Tertullian, Apol. 9: PL 1, 319-320)

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"(CIC, can. 1398) "by the very commission of the offense,"(CIC, can. 1314) and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. (Cf. CIC, cann. 1323-1324) The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death." (CDF, Donum vitae III)

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights." (CDF, Donum vitae III)

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, "if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safeguarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence."
(CDF, Donum vitae I, 2)

Copyright © 2005 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Comfort In Christ or Comfort In Self?

There is a most disturbing trend today, and that trend is going unnoticed and unchallenged by a great number of people, especially, in the Christian Community at large. It is something that has began slowly, and continues to grow at an alarming rate, and within every community in the United States, Canada, and around the world in general. That trend is called “Political Correctness”(PC), and people have been beguiled into being “PC” at the expense of their own self-respect, and even more disturbing to the point of denying their faith, and even being ashamed of their faith.

An even more alarming trend, is that “PC” has governments from the local, to the state, provincial, and national levels passing laws with the intent of inhibiting, and in most cases prohibiting Christian morals and Law being expressed from the pulpit. If a Catholic priest or Protestant minister gives a sermon in which homosexuality as seen in God's Law is the subject, they can be charged in many places with inciting “hate crimes”(as if perpetrators of hate crimes need inciting), and face fines and/or jail time. If a Christian opposes heterosexual couples living together outside the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony they are seen as repressive, puritanical, and “old fashioned”. Christians opposing abortion are seen as being “invasive of privacy”. Does Freedom of Religion no longer apply in Christian teaching on morality? Does only freedom from religion apply? Sadly, the answer to both questions is... yes.

This trend raises several questions. Why have people, particularly Christian, people remained so deafeningly silent with the passage of these laws? Why are we allowing ourselves to be so blinded by “PC” that we will not see that we are being told to deny GOD in a very open and yet subtle way? Why do we remain silent on these issues? Why do we want to seem “nice”, “progressive”, or “open minded” when these are code terms for denial of God? Why do we use the feeble excuse, that it “doesn't matter because it doesn't affect me”?

When Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, the great Bishop of Smyrna, was martyred, he was asked to deny Christ by the proconsul, and he refused. When threatened with the “wild beasts” by the proconsul his reply was, “Call them then, for we are not accustomed to repent of what is good in order to adopt that which is evil; and it is well for me to be changed from what is evil to what is righteous”. In essence, Polycarp proclaimed himself Christian, and refused to exchange God and Eternal Life for what was absolutely evil and unholy. Where is this Spirit of Faith today? Does it exist? I am afraid it exists in too far small numbers anymore, especially with todays “PC” mentality. It is apparent, that today there would be a very, very few who would and could stand like Saint Polycarp did, like Saint Ignatius of Antioch did, like the Apostles did, and not “repent of what is good in order to adopt that which is evil”.

We have become unwilling, even afraid to call sin just what it is...SIN! We don't do this for the other person, no not at all. We do it for self! Because self has become more important to us than God! We want people to think of us as “nice”, as “kind” and we think only of how we appear to people, when we should be more concerned about how we appear to God! Whenever we say that what God calls sin, is not sin, but, that it is alright, it's OK, then we are denying God and God's Law! When we say what someone else does has no affect on us, we just lied to ourselves, because by saying evil is just, we have called God unjust, and that most assuredly does affect us!

Granted, we are not called to judge, we are not to condemn, because “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”. Yet, we ARE called to correct and by not correcting we fail to properly instruct those who falter. We as Christians should place our trust in God who will uphold His Law and those who follow His Law through Christ Jesus and not deny Him by any word from man or man's law.

Luke 17:1-3 He said to his disciples, "Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil's snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will.

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 4:14-16 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour.

Copyright © 2005 Steve Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Why Women Can't Be Priests

How can a bride marry The Bride

The Ordination of women into the Priesthood seems to be the burning question for this particular century. It has brought much pain and anguish to some Catholic women both laity and religious and also much anger, why is this so when the Church's position has not changed over the centuries?

If women feel they are being unjustly treated or are being disregarded as to their value within The Catholic Church, then contrary to their 'perceived' erroneous opinion that The Church devalues women, in favor of a 'Patriarchal' hierarchy, they are then misinformed. One must then draw the conclusion that outside of the facts the women who feel themselves degraded or devalued is of a personal nature, rather than Church policy!

God did not differentiate between the sexes, He created in ardent Love both man and woman. If one group is thought less than the other then that is a man made concept devoid of love, for God created in each individual irrespective of gender the sacredness of being.

Why then is there such conjecture and controversy over the ordination of women?

We must look at early Church Teachings and Traditions, espoused by the Early Church Fathers. When we read the documents from the Early Church Fathers, we must also read it in its context with due consideration to the society values of that particular era. The writings of many of the Church Fathers may seem harsh or outmoded in our modern democratic society, but even though the language may be of another century, the content of the said documents still stand as truth, both Sacred and Inviolate, in the Tradition and Teachings of The Catholic Church!

The Sacrament of Holy Orders when conferred on the male makes him the spouse of The Bride which is The Catholic Church. It is from this deeply Mystical Union that the Priest bears a Supernatural and Holy love for The Bride and is Faithful to Her Teachings and Traditions; the Priest is in effect as Christ, with Christ and in Christ. Therefore the Priest is obligated to love the Church as Christ Himself Loves Her. Therefore no one may change what Christ Himself instituted when He chose the Twelve Apostles in the Birth of the Judea/Christian Church, therefore no community can take the place of Christ who instructs the Faithful through The Holy Spirit in matters of Church Doctrine, when conferring men into the Priesthood. For it is Christ who calls, consecrates and sends forth Ministers in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

The Catholic Church is merely following what Christ Himself instituted when He called the twelve Apostles, to follow Him and become fishers of men, even though many women also followed our Lord they were not included in the twelve, from which Christ chose.

But Christ also honored the specific role of women and overturned long entrenched Law imposed by the Pharisees and Saducees, when it pertained to discriminating against women such as the case with the woman caught in the act of adultery. Christ also showed compassion unto scandal, when He healed the woman from her bleeding, and also broke the Law when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. For Christ came to fulfill the Law in His Messianic Mission but also to bring a new Law of 'love God and love thy neighbor as thyself', and to free both men and women from the sting of Death!

It was under Divine Inspiration when Peter proclaimed who Jesus was and is, as he said "You are the Christ, the son of the living God"! Upon this prophetic announcement it was Christ who commissioned the Twelve, and Peter as The Rock upon which He would build His Church, and not even the gates of hell would prevail, giving them the Power and Entrustment to bind on earth what will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will also be loosed in Heaven! This also came unto Divine enlightenment at the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the bread and wine as His Body and Blood, only the Twelve Apostles were seated with Jesus at the table, even though one of them would betray Him!

So as Christ instituted and ordained the Church, so too must the Pontiff and the Magisterium, stand firm when in matters of Doctrine and Tradition, and not be swayed by different winds. For even when Judas Iscariot killed himself and another was chosen to complete the twelve, it was Matthias under the Inspiration of The Holy Spirit who was called and not any of the women who may have been present.

The role of women within the Catholic fold IS integral and valuable as is shown by Mary's obedient "FIAT" and her Holy obedience to God, in bearing the Son of God which in effect makes Mary, The Mother of God, in which she is the Theotokos! Through her obedience and her free will she becomes with her Son and Savior Jesus Christ Co-Redeemer, but Mary within herself is not the Source of Grace but the recipient of Divine Grace, through which the Holy Spirit distributes Grace through Mary.

Mary the Theotokos at no time describes herself as equal with her Son, nor imposes upon The Divine Prerogative to make her more than what she is, the Handmaid of the Lord, and through her Fiat and obedience she joins her Son in His Salvific Mission to undo the sin of Adam and Eve. It is through the example of Mary that we gain our Dignity of purpose, to become Servants of the Most High God, and to live out the meaning of humble obedience to the One Triune God, in which Mary is our Exemplary and most perfect example, in which all women must follow.

For to sum up, if women were meant to be Priests, then this most August Mission would have been conferred on Mary The Theotokos, but, that is not what Christ instituted, which is not to negate women within the Church, but, to ennoble women in their attitude to Serve God as humbly as did our Perfect example, Mary the Mother of God!

For further information please read:

Vatican Documents:
Inter Insigniores Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

Early Church Fathers:
John Chrysostom

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.


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