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Quotes from the great St. Paul

“For I am already on the paint of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
― Saint Paul

Theophanes_the_Cretan_-_St_Paul_-_WGA22199“Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty.”
― Saint Paul

“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12”
― Saint PaulThe Epistles of Paul and Acts of the Apostles

 

Humane Vitae: Day 23

Image @catholicexchange.com

Here, Paul VI turns his attention to various groups of people beginning in paragraph 23 with “rulers of nations”:

Appeal to Public Authorities

23. And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations. To you most of all is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. You can contribute so much to the preservation of morals. We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be undermined. The family is the primary unit in the state; do not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God. For there are other ways by which a government can and should solve the population problem—that is to say by enacting laws which will assist families and by educating the people wisely so that the moral law and the freedom of the citizens are both safeguarded.

Seeking True Solutions

We are fully aware of the difficulties confronting the public authorities in this matter, especially in the developing countries. In fact, We had in mind the justifiable anxieties which weigh upon them when We published Our encyclical letter Populorum Progressio. But now We join Our voice to that of Our predecessor John XXIII of venerable memory, and We make Our own his words: “No statement of the problem and no solution to it is acceptable which does violence to man’s essential dignity; those who propose such solutions base them on an utterly materialistic conception of man himself and his life. The only possible solution to this question is one which envisages the social and economic progress both of individuals and of the whole of human society, and which respects and promotes true human values” (See Mater et Magistra).  No one can, without being grossly unfair, make divine Providence responsible for what clearly seems to be the result of misguided governmental policies, of an insufficient sense of social justice, of a selfish accumulation of material goods, and finally of a culpable failure to undertake those initiatives and responsibilities which would raise the standard of living of peoples and their children (Populorum progressio, nos. 48-55).  If only all governments which were able would do what some are already doing so nobly, and bestir themselves to renew their efforts and their undertakings! There must be no relaxation in the programs of mutual aid between all the branches of the great human family. Here We believe an almost limitless field lies open for the activities of the great international institutions.

In addressing these various groups, Paul VI always brings us back to the universal call to holiness, that each person has the obligation to fulfill God’s will and Law by protecting the dignity of each human person.  Once again, the Church recognizes that there are challenges, but nevertheless, the well-being of each person and of society at large depends on the adherence to God’s Law.

With respect to government, it has “the responsibility of safeguarding the common good”.  The policies and laws of government need to be set up in such a way that families (the primary unit in the state) can freely follow God’s plan for marriage and family.  In this way, families can thrive, and when families thrive, society thrives.

Redemptive suffering.

Image @volkerballueder.com

My most profound and intimate experiences of worship have been in my darkest days ( I’ve lived through a few!) — when I’ve lost someone dear to me, when I’ve felt abandoned and isolated, when I’ve been out of options, when the pain is great, and I turn to God alone. It is during suffering that I have learned to pray my most authentic, heart-felt, honest-to-God prayers. When in pain, superficial prayers seem pointless. At these times of great distress the need to be near the Eucharist, to receive our Lord to be united with Him is overwhelming and urgent. I know He is always there, He will never desert me, He is constant. Reliable.

I have learned that in suffering I get to know Jesus and inch towards the understanding of why His message of Salvation and Forgiveness  is so powerful. I have learned things about God in suffering that I don’t think I would’ve learned about Him lying in a bed of roses.  It has been at those times of fear and seeking that I ‘ve come to realise my powerlessness and the reassurance of kneeling in the presence of God’s Might.

God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but he didn’t. He let those problems happen, and each of those people were drawn closer to God as a result.

Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us ….” (2 Corinthians 1:9) You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I retreat to my ‘sanctuary’, pray to God to feel safe and calm before I’m able to relaunch into the world. God is my querencia-the place in the bullring to which a bull can safely retreat from the matadors-where I can pause and gather strength before returning to the fight. I must pause, however briefly, to regain the strength needed to battle the stresses of daily living.

 

Humane Vitae: Day 18

18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a “sign of contradiction” (Lk 2:34).  She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.

Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man.

In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife. This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage “to share God’s life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men” (See Paul Vl, encyc. letter Populorum progressio).

“It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching”.  That’s putting it lightly!

Paul VI speaks of “outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication”.  This was written in 1968 – decades before Twitter, Facebook, and even the Internet itself as we know it today.  It is these means of communication that have made the voice against the Church much louder and (if you spend any time reading comboxes – which I would not suggest doing) more obnoxious.

I think that Paul VI’s reminder that the Church, like her Founder, is “destined to be a sign of contradiction” is quite comforting.  If you are a voice for life, and you find that you are encountering opposition, take comfort.  This is as the Lord warned us it would be.

The bottom line here is that the Church in upholding the sanctity of marriage, family, and life, is doing so for mankind’s own good.  “She is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization”.  We can see in our day the destructive effects of an anti-life culture.

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Humanae Vitae:Day 15

Lawful Therapeutic Means

15. On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.

Recourse to Infertile Periods

16. Now as We noted earlier (no. 3), some people today raise the objection against this particular doctrine of the Church concerning the moral laws governing marriage, that human intelligence has both the right and responsibility to control those forces of irrational nature which come within its ambit and to direct them toward ends beneficial to man. Others ask on the same point whether it is not reasonable in so many cases to use artificial birth control if by so doing the harmony and peace of a family are better served and more suitable conditions are provided for the education of children already born. To this question We must give a clear reply. The Church is the first to praise and commend the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator. But she affirms that this must be done within the limits of the order of reality established by God.

If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained.

Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period butcondemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process. It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result. But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.

Today, because paragraph 15 is very short and self-explanatory, I will treat it together with paragraph 16.

Man is a rational and intelligent creature. That ability to reason is what sets us apart from animals. And so it is good for man to use his intelligence with regards to questions having to do with procreation. But wisdom places man’s intelligence at the service of God and what He has established.

Paul VI goes on to say that married couples may “engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile”. This is a way that the couple can space births using that which is natural (hence, Natural Family Planning).

NFP is not “Catholic contraception” as some mistakenly call it. Using contraceptives is a deliberate obstruction of the procreative process using artificial means. The use of contraceptives is a conscious decision to be closed to life. NFP is open to life. It places no such articifical obstacles in the procreative process, instead using what God has given naturally, i.e., periods of infertility.

Humanae Vitae: Day 12

”Union and Procreation

12. This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.

The reason is that the fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.”

Sex is ordered toward union and procreation.  Or as Dr. Janet Smith would say, sex is for babies and bonding.  This is how God ordained it.  This is His eternal plan, and man on his own initiative cannot break this inseparable bond.  Contraception, sterilization, sex outside of marriage, and homosexual acts are all contrary to God’s divine plan.

I think the last line was thrown in there to point out that this is common sense stuff.  It’s not merely a “religious” topic.  If you have sex, it is natural for the woman to get pregnant.  Pregnancy and fertility are not diseases that need to be treated.  Children are meant to be born within families where there is a father and a mother.  And Paul VI reminds us that “this teaching is in harmony with human reason.”

 

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Father says…

Today’s readings:

Job 7:1-4, 6-7      

Psalm 147:1-6                                                                 

1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

Mark 1:29-39                                                                                    

For a commentary on the readings for today click here: http://www.salvationhistory.com/homily_helps

Our Parish Priest’s homily focussed on the importance of  sharing The Good News. As Christians and followers of Christ we are called to share God’s plan for Salvation through our lives, words and actions. He then went on to use the example of  St. Vincent de Paul‘s life to demonstrate how an ordinary  Catholic made huge changes in the society in which he lived. Indeed, it’s an inspirational story! Read more here: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=326 Prayer too,  was highlighted in the homily tonight, as it is through regular and consistent conversation with the Lord  that we get to know Him and His will for our lives.

Image from Catholic Online

Naturally, I thought about what I need to do in order to improve my attempts on sharing the The Good News, and how much I still have to learn along the way. As usual, I am still contemplating the readings and mulling over Father’s  words of wisdom.

What a beautiful, meditative mass. Thank you Father!

I looked up the logo for the SVP Society in England and Wales. The message is clear.