MEN AND WOMEN, LOVE AND SEX, GOD AND FREEDOM


I read a page on Facebook, of all places, that actually drew my attention to something wrong and something good.  I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.  The subject is pornography.

The page on Facebook correctly said that porn kills love.  It becomes an addiction that can destroy human relationships.  This is true.  To this must be added what this “new drug” does to our spiritual life.

cross_window_brick_wallAnything that becomes an obsession, porn, gambling, drinking or other disordered forms of pleasure and “recreation,” will create a wall between God and us.  It is not God who builds the wall.  On the contrary – God wants nothing more than to save us.  He has spent eternity tearing down the walls that man builds to keep Him out.

We believe that God made us in His image and likeness.  However, the porn industry tells us that we are created to take pleasure from each other.  Nowhere in the industry do we find the word, love.  Sex is completely divorced from love.  It is for pleasure and for profit.

Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are made to love.  God brought us into existence, not because he needs us, but because he loves us.  Out of love, he gives us knowledge, free will, the capacity to love, the ability to transcend from our world into eternity, and an immortal soul.  These are attributes that God shares with us.  Hence we are truly created in His image and likeness.

upset_coupleWhen someone caves in to porn or any other addictive and disturbing behavior, he or she starts down the path of slavery, because this becomes an obsession.  Gradually, our brain’s hardwiring is altered to the point that we no longer make a free choice regarding love, sex and interpersonal relationships.  We are driven by a hunger for something else; in this case it’s porn.

Here is the problem.  When man becomes driven by his obsessions, this drive erodes his free will to the point that the obsession becomes an addiction and that gift of free will that God gave us is forgotten.  We no longer choose to love.  On the contrary, in the case of this type of addiction, one is trapped in mythological love.  Myth is not real.  Therefore, what we see on the screen is not real love, but fantasy.  Since it is not real, it never fully satisfies our need to give and receive love.  When one’s need is not satisfied, one tends to seek a higher dosage and more frequent dosage of whatever drug one believes will “fix us”, hence the term, “a fix”.

Not all is lost.  On the contrary, there is hope and salvation from our addictions and disordered sexual drives.  The most powerful medicines are found in the sacraments.  Eucharist and confession are not magical solutions to life’s problems.  God is not a magician.  Eucharist and confession are acts of love.  Christ shares his life with us.  He restores us to health because he loves us.

Having said this, God builds on nature.  He does not change it.  There are some things that we have to do and that we can do to overcome our addictions and sexual obsessions.  We begin by examining how we view men and women.  A heterosexual male may see women as subordinate to men and see other men as antagonists.  021001-N-3228G-008He has to compete with other males or he has to refrain from seeing the good and the beautiful in other males, because it’s not the “manly” thing to do.  He has to prove to women that he is powerful. None of this is helpful thinking.

We must recover God’s vision of men and women.  We must remind ourselves tbride & groomhat men and women are our brothers and sisters.  They are equally beautiful and equally worth our attention and love.  Both sexes have much to offer through friendship, marriage, camaraderie, collegiality and other healthy relationships.

This must be followed by concrete action.  One must decide to change one’s behavior.  One of the best programs for people with addictions is the 12-Step program.  It works one day at a time.  Just as no one gets addicted to porn in 30 seconds or less, no one gets off it in 30 seconds or less either.  It’s a daily task.  The good thing is that God does not ask us to live more than one day at a time.  For all we know, today may be our last day on earth.  We must plan for today and as Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow.”  When tomorrow becomes today, we plan for that day.  Each day, we plan to live that day free of our addiction.

We must not forget the importance and the power of prayer.  Contrary to what some may believe, prayers are answered.  We may not always like the answer, but we receive an answer nonetheless.  The most powerful advocate and mentor in our struggle to live free of addictions and obsessions is the Immaculate.  She can stand as a barrier between us and that which can hurt us.  She soothes bruises that are often the product of our behavior.  Mary is the mother who reminds us that if we “do whatever he tells you” everything will be alright.

prayer_Our_Lady

I’d like to add the importance of community.  One need not join a community such as the Franciscans of Life to experience the common life.  But every man and woman must engage in relationships with other men and women.  These relationships must be productive; meaning that the relationship does well for the other person and for us.  We have to take the risk of friendship, real love, and openness to others.

It is true that human relationships are risky, because we can get hurt.  However, the hurt that we may experience in a human relationship is much easier to overcome than an addiction.  This hurt is the product of love.  We hurt because we first loved.  Had we not loved, we would not hurt.  Addiction is not the product of love, nor does it lead to love.  It’s not even self-serving.

When we remember that Christ is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, we begin to heal as we view men and women through the eyes of Christ . . . as family, not prepackaged satisfaction.

B. Jay

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St. Pius X – our “Brother Giuseppe”


We are celebrating today the feast of a Franciscan saint, Pope Pius X. Born Giuseppe Sarto, he entered seminary at 15, was ordained at 23 and became pastor of Salzano (province of Venice) at age 32, where he remained for the following eight years.

Young_St_Pius_X

It is during his residence in Salzano where he became a professed member of the “Ordo Franciscanum Saecularis”. Originally known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, this was the third order founded by St. Francis after that of the Friars Minor (the Franciscans) and of the Poor Ladies (the Poor Clares). It welcomed those who wished to follow the life of the Gospel but could not join the “regular” orders – this included married men and women, diocesan clergy, and also those who were single but discerning the call to marriage.

“Brother Giuseppe” was known for his kindness to the poor. He restored the Church of Salzano, enlarged the hospital, and was known during his years as bishop of Mantua to give copies of texts of dogmatic and moral theology to poor seminarians.

Upon election as bishop of Rome, with the name of Pius X, he followed his spiritual father St. Francis in promoting devotion to the Holy Eucharist, even when this meant breaking with long-established customs in the Latin Church.

He encouraged the faithful to receive Holy Communion daily in a time in which frequent communion was far from being the customary practice. He also dispensed the sick from the pre-communion fast, which at the time was due from midnight of the previous day. Furthermore, he strongly promoted giving First Communion to children as soon as they manifested sufficient discretion, lowering the “age of reason” from 12 to 7 years old. Finally, he urged the frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to worthily receive Holy Communion.

Intending to “restore everything in Christ”, he began a series of extensive reforms of the liturgy.

SMaria_degli_angeli_Porziuncula

The Porziuncula, a simple church where the first Franciscans praised and glorified God

The first step he took in this direction was to affirm the primacy of Gregorian chant in the Latin churches, but not for the reasons that some today wish to attribute it… He did so because it represented a much simpler musical style than the theatrical style that was predominant at the time, namely Classical and Baroque compositions. His intent was all-encompassing: by restoring the chanting by the people, he wished to restore the active participation of the faithful in the liturgy. In this he would be echoed by his successor to the Chair of Peter, who insisted that chant had to be restored to the use of the people since “it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers“.

Insisting in the importance of the participation of the lay faithful in the life of the Church, St. Pius mandated that catechism classes be established in every parish in the world, and redacted a Catechism known for its “simplicity of exposition and depth of content”, which found its worthy successor in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not StPiusXatDeskaimed to the use of the clergy but to the entire People of God.
His most encompassing reforms were of the Code of Canon Law and of the Divine Office. The former received a universal structure. The latter was a major revision: he abolished and forbade the Breviary established by St. Pius V, promulgating a revision that rearranged the psalms, dividing them when too long, and significantly reducing the individual Hours. The changes also made necessary a reform of the Roman Missal, which was completed in the 1920 typical edition by his successor to the Apostolic See. This was the fourth revision of the so-called “Tridentine Mass” since the day that St. Pius V established it as the norm for most diocesan clergy of the Latin Rite.

During his pontificate, St Pius X was very close to the people in times of natural disasters – we recall the earthquake of Calabria and the eruption of Mount Vesuvio – and showed his paternal care towards the Secular Franciscan Order by asking the Franciscan friars to take spiritual care of them (see the Latin document here). The Franciscan spirit which permeated his life and pontificate could be summarized by his words concerning the Catholic attitude towards the Holy Father:

“How must the Pope be loved? Not in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth. When a person is loved, one tries to adhere in everything to his thoughts, to execute his will, to interpret his desires. When we love the Pope, we make no arguments around what he disposes or demands, or about how far obedience must go, and in what things one must obey; we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough…we do not place his orders in doubt…we do not limit the scope in which he can and should exercise his authority; we do not set above the authority of the Pope that of other people no matter how learned who dissent from the Pope, who may be learned but are not holy, because he who is holy cannot dissent from the Pope.

This is the cry of a hurting heart, that with deep bitterness I express, not for your sake, beloved brothers, but with you in order to deplore the conduct of many priests, who not only dare to debate and criticize the wishes of the Pope, but are not ashamed to reach impudent and shameless disobedience, with much scandal for the good and with so much ruin of souls. (Discorso 18-XI-1912)”

In this he echoes the words of the Seraphic Father who writes:

“Brother Francis, and whoever may be at the head of this religion, promises obedience and reverence to our Lord Pope Innocent and to his successors. And the other brothers shall be bound to obey Brother Francis and his successors. […] Let all the brothers be Catholics, and live and speak in a Catholic manner. Let none of the brothers preach contrary to the form and institution of the holy Roman Church. (Rule)

The Lord gave me and still gives me such faith in priests who live according to the manner of the holy Roman Church because of their order, that if they were to persecute me, I would still have recourse to them. And if I possessed as much wisdom as Solomon had and I came upon pitiful priests of this world, I would not preach contrary to their will in the parishes in which they live. And I desire to fear, love, and honor them and all others as my masters. And I do not wish to consider sin in them because I discern the Son of God in them and they are my masters.”  (Testament)

St Pius was known to have said: “I was born poor, I lived poor, and I wish to die poor.” Falling ill on the feast of the Assumption, also weighed down by the distress of the First World War that he had tried so difficultly to prevent, he expressively prohibited the embalming of his remains and was buried in a simple, unadorned tomb in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica.

tomb_Pius_X

To him the Lord entrusted the Church at a very difficult time – when the world was transitioning into the Great Wars that would forever change its face and usher a new era for civilization in terms of destruction and reconstruction. We are all indebted to him for the courage and simplicity with which he embraced the task of laying the foundations for a comprehensive renewal of the Church.

For those who wish to read some of his writings, you may visit the page dedicated to him on the website of the Holy See, here.

 

 

“Never Forget to Love”


St. Maximilian, Pray for us.

St. Maximilian,
Pray for us.

On Friday, 14 August, the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe.  Many know that Saint Maximilian Kolbe was a Conventual Franciscan friar who gave his life, in a concentration camp, to save the life of a young man who was a husband and father.  More here

Maximillian, along with the Immaculate and Saint John Paul II, is patron of the Franciscans of Life.  Maximilian also founded the Knights of the Immaculate, movement to promote devotion to the Mother of God, devotion that allows her to point to Christ as she did at Cana.  This he did after he consecrated his life to the Immaculate.    The Church has named Maximilian the Patron Saint of those who work for the Gospel of Life.

In honor of Saint Maximilian, the Franciscans of Life will gather for a festive supper and solemn vespers on the evening of August 14th.  There will be food, music, pictures, games and a great deal of fraternal spirit.  Please keep the Franciscans of Life in your prayers this day.

Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life . . .” (Evangelium Vitae).

FFV On The Web


Br_BC

A brother writing for the blog

This year the Franciscans of Life, ever faithful to the inspiration of St. Maximilian Kolbe, have dedicated several blog posts to articles on a variety of topics spanning from Franciscan studies to theology, to current Church issues to life issues.

We have also embarked in a full redesign of our website, franciscansoflife.org, that was launched in June.

Besides our own modest publication efforts, other sources have kindly featured our content. We are very grateful to them and we wish to recognize them. If we missed any, please let us know 🙂

In January, the Archdiocese of Miami “Let’s Talk” Blog featured our May 2014 article “What’s a brother? Do we really need them?” under the title “What is a brother?” (they even provided a Spanish translation: “¿Qué es un hermano?“).

In February, St. Bride’s Catholic Church in Bothwell (Scotland), a parish to whom an enclosed community of Poor Clares is attached, featured our  January 2015 article “Conscience in crisis” in their parish newsletter (click here).

In May, Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami featured content from our April 2015 article “Project Joseph – Better Men, Better Dads“, including the Youtube video presentation that we produced, on their new web page about Project Joseph (click here). They also mentioned that FFV provides initial and ongoing formation for Project Joseph mentors.

In June, the Institute on Religious Life featured our emerging community in their Vocation Blog (click here).

 

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Published in: on August 1, 2015 at 3:00 PM  Leave a Comment  

Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap. on abortion and the “throwaway culture”


Sean Cardinal O'Malley, OFM CapCardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued a response to recent videos showing leaders from Planned Parenthood discussing the provision of fetal organs, tissues and body parts from their abortion clinics. You can read the full statement on the website of the Archdiocese of Miami.

 

 

Published in: on August 1, 2015 at 2:28 PM  Leave a Comment