In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you”…During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Luke 1:26-28; 39-45
From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God…We believe … that something preternatural has come into the world specifically to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the [Second Vatican] Ecumenical Council, and to prevent the Church from breaking out in a hymn of joy for having recovered in fullness the awareness of herself.
Pope Saint Paul VI, Homily on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1972
July 25, 1968.
It was perhaps the darkest day in the history of the post-Vatican II, modern Church. On that day, the reigning pontiff, Blessed Pope Paul VI, in response to the call of many in the church to revisit the Church’s longstanding teaching against the immorality of contracepted sexual acts (artificial birth control) within marriage promulgated the encyclical, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life).
It had been known (and still is) that many (perhaps even most) Catholics do not follow this teaching of the Church anyway, so many in the Church thought it was time to revise this long-standing teaching.
Now, on the 50th Anniversary of this monumental encyclical, the onslaught continues, with many even at the highest levels of the Church still trying to manipulate her authentic and unchanging teachings.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.
- Luke 12:6-9
As my development and healing continued, after I had children and had established myself as a husband and father, I was in the habit of cutting my own hair with an electric shaver. I never cut it all the way down, instead opting to use the plastic guide coverings over the shears that allow you to cut your hair down to the desired length.
One day, I accidentally forgot to put the guide on and put the shaver to my head. To my horror, I saw a perfect shaved rectangle right in the middle of my head. After calling my wife in to see if there was any way we could think of to fix it, we decided that the best thing for me to do was to shave my entire head.
I didn’t like it.
By the time David finished speaking with Saul, Jonathan had become as fond of David as if his life depended on him; he loved him as he loved himself. And Jonathan entered into a bond with David, because he loved him as himself.
- 1 Samuel 18:1-3
Many times when God gives us crosses to bear, we bear them as though we are cursed; we may even curse God for sending them, as I did.
Even the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 21:22-23) confirm, “Cursed is he that hangs upon a tree.”
We can tend to get so wrapped up in our own suffering that we sometimes fail to see that our crosses, although at times, extremely painful and burdensome to carry can also be our greatest blessings.
It was three days before Christmas.
My wife and I had just begun our nightly routine of getting our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter prepared for bed when we heard the sirens.
Hearing fire engine sirens during any other time of the year would cause us to stop what we were doing and say a quick “Hail Mary” for whomever the truck was intended.
But sustained fire sirens just before Christmas causes a thrill of excitement in me.
Santa is coming!
For a minute I seriously considered reading Father James Martin's controversial book, Building a Bridge.
As a Catholic man who has struggled with same-sex attraction and runs a website about the subject, the topic obviously has great importance to me.
I have read numerous reviews of the book and engaged in discussions with folks all over the theological spectrum, particularly among those who find themselves primarily attracted to their own sex. Some think the book is great; others think it's awful and still others every shade in between.
The sacrament, as a visible sign, is constituted with man, as a body, by means of his visible masculinity and femininity. The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus be a sign of it. So in man created in the image of God there was revealed, in a way, the very sacramentality of creation, the sacramentality of the world.
- Pope Saint John Paul II, Theology of the Body, February 20, 1980
What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” (John 6:30)
This is the question posed by the unbelieving Jewish authorities to Jesus. Although their intentions may not have been the most pure, the fact is that we all look for signs of one sort or another. We are truly a symbolic people and without symbols, it would be difficult to assign meaning to anything in life. Whether it is a simple stop sign or a complex literary piece, it seems like part of the human condition to look for the symbolic, to look for signs.
Saint John Paul II really drove this point home in his great catechesis known as Theology of the Body, where he proposes Christian marriage as the closest sign on earth to the mystery of Blessed Trinity. More on that later.
When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.”
This reading from Genesis describes Adam and Eve after the committed the Original Sin. Recall that originally they were both naked and felt no shame either in being naked before God or before each other. That all changed after the Fall. Adam used to walk through the Garden of Eden with God and never even gave his nakedness a second thought.
The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.
In today’s sex-obsessed society, it is a word that usually has erotic connotations. In the beginning, however, the Holy Scriptures tell us that this was not the case. Nakedness is really the expression of one’s maleness or femaleness; nakedness without shame is the person’s acceptance of his or her own sexuality as God created and intended. Unfortunately, in today’s world, this primordial meaning has been horribly skewed.
I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God…
A while back, a friend let me borrow his copy of a film called Fight Club, which was based on a book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. I did not really know what to expect when I watched the film, except what could be obviously gleaned from the title, that it was violent. Since it was such a cult classic, I decided to sit down and see why. What surprisingly followed, despite its violence and gratuitous sex scenes, was a film that really hit on the essential core or my masculine being.
This post is my honest response to a question posed by one of the readers of this blog. Here is the question:
"Does homosexuality can actually go away or is it more like it's still there but you can minimize its effect? The reason I ask this is because the American Psychological Association (APA) has been pretty clear on its stance that homosexuality is something that can't be changed."
This is a really great question and one that is very controversial even among those of us who have struggled with same-sex attraction yet are committed to living at chaste life in accordance with the Church's teachings.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.
As a man who has struggled with same-sex attraction and has experienced great healing in this area, one of the key steps in reconnecting with the masculine world is finding great examples of good, masculine men to emulate. I'm talking about truly virile men who used their strength and power in the service of others.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10
So, this is my first shot at writing a book review.
I recently had the pleasure of reading Donald Dorman's Then I am Strong.
Although this is not strictly a book about same-sex attraction, Dorman does touch on a lot of issues regarding the development of masculinity and the things that can stunt it's growth. Even by the very title, Dorman alludes to the very essential male question of strength.
As instruments of Her Immaculate Heart and soldiers under her command in service of our great King, with St. Michael, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Joseph as our model Knights, we pray that we become the heel of Mary. May our daily prayers and sacrifices be used to crush the head of the serpent out of one another's lives, out of Franciscan University, and out of the world, so that through her, the perfect reign of Jesus Christ might come over all.
- from Knights of the Holy Queen Household Covenant
So, it was one thing to relate to men as individuals but I still somehow needed to get into the world of men. I now needed to learn how to relate with other men in general. For that, the Lord would send me away again to a strange land. As I prepared to graduate from college, I began to feel that He was calling me to discern graduate school, specifically to pursue a Master’s Degree in Counseling at a very unique school.
At the start of my college career, my little secret was hidden safely away from prying eyes. I had imprisoned myself in my own loneliness, allowing no visitors to my tortured soul. Gradually, this loneliness gave way more directly to anger at God, whom I perceived to be the Cause of my malady. Why would God give me these painful and sometimes consuming passions only to forbid me to act on them? Why did He persist in His torture of me? What did He want? I had already resolved not to seek a sinful path. Why then couldn’t God leave me alone, then? I struggled so hard. I knew in my heart what was right. Why this awful conflict, I cried to Heaven? I hated myself. Why was I like this?