Friday, August 29, 2014

Reflection on August 11, 1982

Wives are not to be slaves to their husbands. If that is the understanding that people take of this Scripture, then they are not seeing the whole. Although they are to be subordinate, that does not take away any of their dignity. And the way it needs to be seen is in the context of a relationship with Christ. Husband and wife, both, are to have a deep understanding and strong relationship with God so that they can fulfill these roles in the way that the Scripture describes. If that relationship with God is not there, then yes, the idea of subordination can and probably will be abused. The husband is to love the wife like Christ loves the Church. That is not a love that would force of person in a slavery or persecution, but one that wants what is best for the other, will sacrifice for the other. Both sides are subordinate to each other then. But without an understanding of Christ and His relationship with the Church, the analogy is lost.

It feels like I go back to this point that the decline in marriage follows the decline of God in the public view, but it seems to fit here as well. If we are to understand the relationship between a husband and wife, the subordinate and the sacrifice, then we must have knowledge of Christ and the Church. If you take Christ out or distort His relationship with the Church, you will misunderstand and distort the analogy. For those in the world that deny God or have no use for religion, marriage will become less and less a necessary thing because sacrifice and subordination are negative things that have no benefit to them whatsoever. They are self centered and only care about what feels good at that moment. But even to the Christian, the one that says they don’t need religion, or the non-denominational, how do they interpret this analogy? When the analogy is husband to wife as Christ to the Church, but your view of Church is something abstract, how can you get any semblance of a correct interpretation on the analogy? The analogy only works if there is One Church the Christ is committed to because Christ teaches a husband is only to have One wife. Any understanding that multiple churches can all be Christian and feel the understand fully the union in marriage is trying to fit square pegs in rounds holes.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reflection on August 4, 1982

SJPII here, takes the entire book of Ephesians and goes over it so that we have a context for the specific section he is going to go over in detail. My take is that Ephesians appears to be a very quick manual for how to live a Christian life.

- Mystery of Christ

- Vocation of Christianity

- Christian Community

- Community of the Family

- Husbands/Wives – Marriage

- Relationships with Parents and Children

- Preparation for the Spiritual Battle

- Recommendations

It makes me want to go through and read Ephesians again. Maybe when we are through SJPII explanation I will go back and take a closer look at the whole book with his reflections in mind. It starts out very broad and then continues to narrow in to smaller groups, finally getting to the personal relationship and the personal life you live.

Reflection on July 28, 1982

The reading that we are reflecting on is often seen as a very chauvinistic Scripture and used to show the scripture is discriminatory against women. SJPII, as he has done, is going to dissect this whole passage in the context of what we have already seen and show its true meaning and beauty. My hope, is at the end, I am convinced, that not only is this not discriminatory, but that this reading should be read at all weddings as a “crowning” of the sacrament. I think many would not want it because of the reasons people misinterpret it, but marriage preparation should include working through the in SJPII’s context of Theology of the Body.

Since we have not gone through the many reflections on this passage, I will give some initial thoughts. Marriage is a Sacrament, a sign of God’s graces. It is not a contract. It is different than a contract in having a different view, a different perspective. Marriage is a union, like Christ with the Church. Christ will never leave the Church, marriage is indissoluble. Christ founded one Church, Marriage is to one other person for life. The weakening of marriage weakens our understanding of Christ and His relationship to the Church. With the growth of divorce, co-habitation, marriage bases on feelings and emotions, we have seen the growth of the non-denominational Christian. There is no commitment to another; there is no commitment to God and His teachings. There is no sacrifice for another; there is no sacrifice for God. We are in and out of relationships whenever we feel the need to move on or are not being satisfied; we pick and choose the teachings of Christ as we think the effect our lives and how we want to live. Our view of our relationship with Christ directly trends with how we view and define the sacramental gift of marriage. When you say that redefining marriage will not affect those in traditional marriage and won’t be the big of a deal, you have to understand what marriage means as a sign in teaching us about what it means to be in union with God. Deteriorate one, and the other will follow, and I think that is clear from the downward trend of marriage and Christian beliefs.

Reflection on July 21, 1982

I think we often think about the redemption of the body, but SJPII talks about the redemption of the whole world, all creatures, nature, etc. I don’t know if I have ever considered that. People talk about the disasters, war, pollution, etc. Sin brought all of that into the world and the world itself will be redeemed at the end of all things. Much like we cannot picture what our redeemed bodies will look like, I don’t think we can really comprehend the redeemed world or what that will look like. I was also thinking about global warming. I am not really a believer that climate change is solely the fault of man and there is evidence that the climate has had dramatic shifts throughout human history and before, so to think that we are totally responsible for any climate fluctuations and that government manipulation of things will automatically stop climate change is not a credible argument. But, when you look at the theological idea that sin was brought into the world, thus creating and affecting the world in a way that distorts it from what it was meant to be and climate change is part of that distortion, then man is fully responsible for climate change, theologically speaking.

SJPII tries to bring the abstract and lofty ideas of redemption down to practical application. The groaning and longing for redemption is our daily living out every day the Hope we have in the redemption. Hope of the redemption is the key, the rock we must cling to. It is not just us awash in sin, but the world which is affected. Our focus must be up, in hope, so we do not lose sight. It reminds me of Peter stepping out of the boat and walking towards Christ on the water. While his eyes were fixed on the Lord, he was fine. Once he took his eyes off the Lord, lost his focus, lost hope, he began to sink. What makes the world so dark these days is the lack of hope. The world is sinking because it has taken its eyes off of Christ. We have taken God out of schools, our of government, out of public, out of sight. Losing sight of God, we have lost our hope. We put our hope in money, in science, in celebrity, in illusions, and we sink because we see the waves, we are full of fear, and we have no Hope. Every day we need to remind ourselves of our redemption, renew our hope, and, like St. Peter, call out to the Lord when we feel ourselves sinking.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Reflection on July 14, 1982

I think it is something that is taken for granted in these talks, and in the writings of St. Paul, that sex outside of marriage is something so wrong it isn’t even really discussed, just assumed. “St. Paul … questions regarding marriage and voluntary continence (or abstaining from marriage).” Continence is not seen as abstaining from sexual activity but as abstaining from marriage. This gives a very clear understanding of what a celibate is giving up in their choice. They are giving up marriage, and what goes along with that is sexual activity. I have heard it put the other way or with marriage not even mentioned, only that celibates give up the ability to engage in sexual activity. St. Paul and SPJII, and I don’t think it is a reach to say that Christ, would say that everyone outside of marriage is to restrain from sexual activity, the choice is between marriage and celibacy. It just took me aback in the way they worded in the first paragraph that sexual activity outside of marriage isn’t even considered.

In looking at St. Paul saying continence, if chosen, is “better”, SJPII looks at the idea that marriage is tied to the world. This goes along with what Christ taught when He said in the resurrection there is neither husband or wife. Marriage is a sign for this world, an important and unique sign and sacrament, but for this world. SJPII is saying that marriage is tied to this world, where the choice of continence for the kingdom does not tie a person to this world, or it is liberating and allows the person to more fully engage God in a closer connection to what it will be like after the Resurrection. That, SJPII says, is why St. Paul says it is the “better”.

"Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer. But then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. I say this by way of concession, not of command" (1 Cor 7:5-6). I have read a lot of things and taken NFP classes and I don’t know if I have ever heard this passage referenced. St. Paul was pointing to NFP as a proper and spiritual action. He not only points to periods of agreed continence, but also the importance of uniting so that we are not tempted unduly by outside temptations and satisfy each other fully.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Reflection on July 7, 1982

SJPII tackles some of the difficult language used by St. Paul in talking about marriage. When he says that if a person cannot remain continent, then he should marry, because to lose your continence outside of marriage would cause you to be “aflame”. If you look at this one its own, you might think that marriage is only an outlet for the concupiscence of the body that SJPII has talked about through many of his talks. But he says that this isn’t the case. Much like when Christ talked about continence and the fact that those that are called to it understand it, but those that are not will not, St. Paul is saying that those that are not called to continence will not have those same graces to restrain themselves and therefore should marry because if they do not they will fall. He is saying that we are all called and made for a vocation that is our purpose. If we ignore it, we will not be truly happy because we will not be fulfilling our true purpose God made us for. Those called to continence have the graces to live that life and those called to marriage have those graces, and to ignore the call is to set yourself up to “be aflame”.

Reflection on June 30, 1982

If you just glance at what St. Paul says in regards to marriage, you might think it is his “command”, not council, to ever get married for anyone. But we know that this isn’t the case because we have already seen him speaking of marriage in other context. SJPII points out that the language he uses does not communicate a command against marriage, but a warning against the idea that it is something that is easy and without its pains. There are so many that see the choice of celibacy as a difficult one, if not impossible. There were probably those in Corinth that felt the same way. St. Paul is saying that it may be a difficult decision, but marriage is not an easy one. It will have its own pains that come from the sacrifice it requires in a person fully giving themselves to another. This is not done without loss.

Those who choose continence for the kingdom are anxious about what is the Lord’s. SJPII looks at this in 2 ways. First, what is the Lord’s is what is pleasing to the Lord, Christ. The celibate looks to fulfill this vocation by doing what is pleasing to the Lord. This is how St. Paul has described his life, doing only what pleases the Lord, never thinking of himself. That is what the calling is, what it means to give your whole self to God.

The second way to look at it is that the whole world is the Lord’s. To live a life of continence for the kingdom, to live a life pleasing to the Lord, to be anxious about what is the Lord’s, is to not only give yourself to God, but to, in a sense, give yourself in service to the whole world because it is all the Lord’s, it is what concerns Him and therefore should concern those giving themselves to God. Thus, we see the focus of marriage is the giving of one’s self to another and the focus of living a life of continence is a giving of your life to God and by extension to give your whole self out of concern to the whole world.

If you think of it this way, it is easy to see why Catholics choose to have their priest and religious be celibate. If you see that vocation as a gift of yourself to the service of the world as it belongs to God, they simply cannot do that and give themselves fully to another in marriage. One of the vocations has to suffer and be deprived because both require a full gift of self, and you cannot fully give yourself to 2 different things.

Reflection on June 23, 1982

I don’t know if I have ever heard of a distinction between council and command in this way. Obviously, we know through experience what a command is and what council or suggestions are and can tell the difference, usually. But the way SJPII describes them here with St. Paul is something I have not heard. Paul wants to make very clear that choosing continence for the kingdom is not a command, nor is getting married. They are being counseled that these 2 choices are there in front of them and that both are okay. Much like Christ, Paul does not say that one is good or one is bad. One is good, the other is better. Also, Paul points to the fact that the choice is a calling, a person is called to live one life or the other.

SJPII points out that Christ and St. Paul express the same teachings in 2 different ways. We saw this in the teachings on the beginning, the resurrection, and marriage as well. The methodology of theology of the body goes in a pattern. Lay out a teaching of Christ, dissect it, find the same teaching by Paul, dissect it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Reflection on May 5, 1982

SJPII talks about the idea that if a person is going to choose continence for the kingdom, he must fully understand what they are giving up. They must fully understand the meaning of marriage, the experience of the special union in masculinity and femininity, the lifelong commitment that this means. That makes complete sense when you recall that SJPII relates the two choices with very similar characteristics. To fully understand what is involved in marriage, a person can get a fuller understanding of what the union with God is going to be like and fully and faithfully understand what they are choosing.

What I thought of is whether those getting married have an understanding of what they are giving up when they get married. They are not only giving up the celibate life, but they are choosing to share a unique experience with only one other person for life. The idea that people get married with the understanding that they will probably get divorced is depressing. Many will say that no one gets married with the intention of divorce. Why then do we have pre-nuptial agreements. If people really had no inclining to divorce, they wouldn’t be something that people think about. But they are. Divorce has become so common that the idea that marriage is permanent isn’t even really reflected on. The non-permanence of marriage has led to its deterioration, the increases in cohabitation, the increase in single parent households. And because the idea of marriage is deteriorating, it has become vulnerable to the attacks on it by many to alter the very definition of what it means.

If a clear understanding of marriage is of vital importance in coming to an informed decision on whether to be continent for the kingdom, what will the deterioration of our understanding of marriage effect the discernment and quality of those seeking to make that choice? I think the answer becomes clear when you see the decline and deterioration of marriage follow the same track of decline in ordained religious and can probably be linked to the large scale of the sexual abuse scandals. When someone says that changing the definition of marriage doesn’t have any effect on people, they need to be shown what SJPII says here in regards to the importance of an understanding of marriage in the choosing of a celibate religious life.

Although living in continence for the kingdom is a renunciation of the married life, it is a unique way of understanding our human nature as a gift, fully given. That gift is a life given fully to God. Married couples are to also understand their life as a gift fully given to each other. Although the renunciation is there, they grow in the experience of understanding life as a gift in different and special way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reflection on April 28, 1982

SJPII has gone through the explanation of continence for the kingdom and arrived at the conclusion that this choice is to be in union with God in a special way here on Earth and to give up the choice to have a spousal relationship with another person. But this spousal meaning of the body is not taken away from the person that makes this choice. That spousal meaning is still there and everything that we have learned or should learn from the experience of the spousal meaning still applies.

SJPII knows the argument against celibate religious is that humans have a sexual drive that should not be denied. But what he states is that this argument diminishes the human to that of an animal. You must go back to the beginning and see that humans and animals were completely separate and apart. Man was above animals in his rationality and given dominion over them. That was diminished in the fall, but we retain our uniqueness in our ability to be rational. Therefore, to lower the argument about celibacy to one of sexual drive is to miss the meaning of being human. It is not hard to see that a world that sees the sole purpose of relationship the fulfillment of sexual desires would miss the importance of celibate religious, but that does not mean that the point is not there. “Only in relation to such a meaning of the masculinity and femininity of the human person does the call to voluntary continence for the kingdom of heaven find a full guarantee and motivation”. Outside a clear understanding of what it means to be human, what was meant for us, what we were created for, what “in the beginning” means, continence for the kingdom will not hold any sway. It is only in light of the proper understanding of the theology of the body that we get a clearer sense not only of the spousal meaning as it pertains to marriage, but also as that meaning applies to the celibate religious.

Just as, it is hoped, two people will grasp a full understanding of the spousal meaning of the body before they are married, SJPII says that before a person makes the choice of continence for the kingdom, they must know and understand the spousal meaning of the body. What a couple is joining into and giving to each other is what a celibate religious is joining and giving up to God. Where a couple is doing it for life, a celibate religious is doing for life. We recently celebrated the ordination of a very close friend of ours. After reading these sections, it is easy to see why it was celebrated in a similar fashion to that of a wedding. Both are a commitment to a person (spouse/God) fully, freely, for life, open to the fruits that that union will bear. They both reflect all that we have learned about what the spousal meaning of the body entails and how it should be lived out. I think it is fair to say that the fall and our sin, in ways that it effects marriages in adultery, divorce, contraception, abuse, will affect the union between celibate religious and God because of our fallen nature. Just because they make the vow, have the training, are given special graces, does not mean they are less fallen than those that are married.

Reflection on April 21, 1982

This talk feels like the same type of statements about continence for the kingdom expressed in a slightly different way, but the focus is on the sacrifice or what is given up. When Christ tells the disciples that this is something that they may be called to, He knew exactly what He was saying, He knew how hard it would be for them to give up, He knew the sacrifice it would be. But how is that different then many of the teachings of Christ. Those that argue celibate priest is a teaching that is too difficult is probably the same group that believe teachings against contraception are too difficult. Love you enemies, turn the other cheek, forgive those that persecute you, blessed are those that weep, eat my flesh, drink my blood, etc. Christ does not pull punches when it comes to the teachings He gives us. He never says that to follow Him will be easy. He actually describes it as picking up your cross and bearing it. Anyone that feels the need to go to a “feel good, hold hands, flowers and rainbows” type of Christian Church is not one that fully understands the Gospel. Christian Churches that insist on taking Christ off the cross miss the absolute necessity of Christ in the Cross. FOLLOWING CHRIST IS NOT EASY.

If you are going to rail against the idea of celibate priest, you need to come with some better ammunition than remaining celibate is too hard in this day and age. Yet, that is the argument they use for this, abortion, contraception, divorce, cohabitation, and many other teachings of the Church that are “old fashioned” and “out of date”. Yes, they are difficult, they require sacrifice, they require work, but that is what it means to follow Christ, and living in continence for the kingdom flows right into that as an example of a life lived fully for God. A spouse is called to give themselves fully to the other. The celibate religious gives themselves fully to God. To give themselves to anyone else in that conjugal and unique way would be to not be able to fully give themselves to God. But that is what God calls them to, in that supernatural motivation that SJPII describes. We should stop looking for the easiest way to live life and realize that Christ calls us to pick up our cross to follow Him. If you carry it with Him, ask Him for help, He says our burden will be light, but we need the faith to pick up the cross in the first place.

Reflection on April 14, 1982

It is very interesting to think about the relationship between those that choose marriage or continence for the kingdom. SJPII spends this whole reflection challenging any theory that one choice is better or superior to the other. Both are necessary in the Christian community, both are a vocation that a person is called to, both need love to be fruitful, and both can fail in fruitfulness without love. SJPII seems to come at the issue from a position that would argue the choice of continence for the kingdom is the preferred way of life. Choosing this will avoid the “imperfection” involved in a conjugal relationship with another and if your focus and union is with God only, you will be closer to a life of perfection. SJPII argues that choosing married life or a life of continence for the kingdom is not how perfection is achieved. Perfection has to do with the whole self, all aspects, not just the choice in vocation. A married man can be closer to perfection than an ordained priest if his life as a whole is more modeled on love than the other. The more we are a full and total gift of self to one we are united to is closer to the measurement of perfection, not the vocation we have chosen.

SJPII goes into the similarities between the 2 vocations in order to drive the point home that they are not 2 sides that need to be segregated, they are not choice of better or worse, only 2 different paths to God and to perfection. He looks at both vocations being a commitment of unity to another (spouse or God), both being fruitful when the commitment is fully and freely given, both needing to have their foundation in love to achieve perfection. There is nothing better or worse in either choice, but we are called to one or the other and the one is a supernatural call or motivation to seek out that type of life. Both are necessary, or else why would Christ mention it in such a profound way. Why would He speak of “eunuchs by choice” if there was not a purpose to it, a reason for it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reflection on April 7, 1982

There are so many that have been turned away from the Church because of the sex abuse cases. The entire situation is completely inexcusable, but if you look at when the worst cases or most significant numbers occurred, it was well before SJPII gave these talks. You wonder what the discernment of those abusers was, what hoops they went through to become priest, or worse bishops, and what questions came up about why they were vowing to remain celibate. Was something out there like this that talks about the reasoning behind celibacy, was there a questioning of a person’s motivation, were they involved in thorough evaluations to determine they had a “supernatural motivation” to be consonant for heaven. Granted, there is probably no way to eliminate 100% because we are human and imperfect, but with the significance of the issue, there had to be a failure in teaching or evaluating those that had this “supernatural motivation”. It is easy to see that if someone without a “supernatural motivation” enters a vocation in which that is required, their “natural” motivations will not keep them on the right track and cause issues and if this is allowed on a wide scale, well, we can see the repercussions. I must think, hope, and pray, that with SJPII and his Theology of the Body, this “supernatural motivation” is something that is more readily sought in those seeking the priesthood and the worst is behind us, though my thought is that it will be after my lifetime (if ever, we are still being accused of wrong doing over Galileo and the Inquisition) before we recover from the damage incurred.

Marriage is not disparaged by Christ in His speaking on continence for heaven. Those that chose continence are seen as extraordinary as opposed to the ordinary vocation of marriage, but just because something is extraordinary does not disparage the ordinary. I think if you look at all that we have read in regards to the importance of marriage, you will see how vital it is to the very foundation of society and understanding of being human. The fact that this is an extraordinary vocation some are called to does not take away anything we have already learned about the importance of marriage, only adds something to the call of continence for the kingdom. What I reflected on is not Christ disparaging marriage, but the idea that marriage, in the traditional sense, one man, one woman, for life, fully open to children, is the ordinary, makes you think how far we have moved past the ordinary, when we are destroying marriage. When you look at the opposite of extraordinary, you get ordinary. I don’t know if they are the opposites as much as a step beyond. I would think the opposite of extraordinary would be something like distorted or abnormal. That is what we are doing to our communions. People often complain about the celibacy of priest and feel we should move towards the world’s view of free love and cohabitation and gay marriage. Would they be so inclined if you told them they are wanting to move away from the extraordinary to the abnormal.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Reflection on March 31, 1982

Marriage for the kingdom has a “fundamental, universal and ordinary value”. We have seen this throughout this talks in looking at what we learn through the union in marriage and how it relates to us our relationship to God. Continence for the kingdom “possesses a particular and exceptional value”. It is chosen “for supernatural reasons”. Choosing this continence chooses “a particular participation in the mystery of the redemption”. I have never heard it explained this way or expressed in such a manner. Whenever I have heard of the celibacy of priest, it has always been in the sense of a sacrifice, of what they are giving up to be priest. I have never heard it explained as an attempt to reach closer to that state we will be in after the Resurrection, when our unity will be with God, when they will be neither husbands nor wives. Then, our unity will be with God. Here on earth, those that choose continence for the kingdom are choosing that union while on earth to be an example for us and a gift to God.

I thought it was very interesting to think of the “supernatural motives” to choose a life of continence for the kingdom. Whenever I have talked to a priest or listened to them talk about their choice of celibacy, I have never found their reasoning motivational at all. I have never felt convinced by their arguments or understood their choice. After reading about the idea of “supernatural motivation”, that makes perfect sense. I have not been given the supernatural motivation to choose that life and so I will never understand their motivations. It made me think about the couple of people I have known that went to seminary and left early and are married. That supernatural call was not there. They may not be able to explain why they left other than someone came into their lives, or maybe it happened earlier than meeting someone, but it makes so much more sense that there is a supernatural motivation to choose that life.

I have heard, and I don’t know how reliable it is, that Mary had chosen to remain a virgin for life. She had made a commitment to that before she ever met Joseph and the even though betrothed, they would never consummate the betrothal. If that is true, such a choice would have had a negative reaction when we see how the Old Testament looked upon the lack of children in a person’s life. But Christ wants to change our perception of that choice. First, by choosing it Himself. Second, by being born from a virgin, possibly being born someone that would always be a virgin by choice. He shows us, by this choice the fruitfulness that can come from choosing continence for the kingdom, as Mary may have.

Kind of off topic, but there are many that do not believe Mary was “ever virgin” but that Jesus had other brothers and sisters. Just realistically speaking, does this make sense at all? How would St. Joseph approach Mary after God came forth from her body? He can show love and affection without the sexual act (a lesson the world could use) and it doesn’t follow at all from the humble obedience that we see from Joseph that he would deem himself worthy to consummate their marriage after she has Christ. Second, how could Christ have siblings without them feeling completely and utterly resentful of all He was? The “brothers and sisters” (cousins and kin) of Christ did not believe in Him and were surely jealous, how much more a sibling? Would God really put a person in the situation of being sibling to Christ? That doesn’t seem a likely position God would put them in.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reflection on March 24, 1982

Here on earth the spousal meaning of the body is shown through the union of man and woman in marriage. But after the Resurrection, when they are neither husband nor wife, the spousal meaning of the body does not disappear. SJPII points that the spousal meaning of the body is perfected in its union with God, and in that way, union with everyone else in the Communion of Saints. The spousal meaning of the body, seen through a dirty lens here on earth, is perfected after the Resurrection in union with God. Those that choose continence for Heaven while here on earth are a sign to us of that perfected union with God that is to come. Obviously, it is only a sign, not a reality, because we are human and fallen. But we are to see in that choice a glimpse of the spousal union with God through their choice to stay continent for Heaven.

I don’t know if I have ever thought about the significance of Mary’s virginity as it relates to the Old Testament understanding of that being shameful, for lack of a better word. I have always seen the birth of Christ as a miracle, something showing God’s power. But Christ, with His birth, immediately takes the shamefulness away from the choice of virginity. (I have heard some say, and I don’t know how much of this can be relied on, that Mary also asked how this could happen because she had pledged herself to always be a virgin. She had made a vow at some point and even though she was betrothed to Joseph, she was never going to consummate the marriage. Therefore, her question as to how what not only because she had never been with Joseph, but would never be with anyone. If that is true, it further shows God’s choosing of her moves the pendulum on the attitude towards virginity.) The reason it is so important to reflect on the importance of the virginity and Christ “approval” of it is because we have gone back to a world where virginity is seen as a blemish, not a beauty. We need to recall the importance of virginity and what it means to our experience and our understanding of humanity.

I think it is also interesting to reflect on the fruitfulness that is in continence for the kingdom. Wait, what is that? Continence means you are not doing something, specifically, remaining chaste. That means there will be no reproduction, the exact opposite of fruitfulness. But there is more than one kind of fruitfulness and Christ shows. We see that Mary, through her continence for Heaven, did bear fruit, in bringing forth Christ into the world. All the priest and religious, living continence for Heaven, provide much fruit by their lives and can look to Mary as the example of the fruit that can come from the choice to remain continent for Heaven.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Reflection on March 17, 1982

Continence for the kingdom. This is obviously one of the main Scriptures that Catholics point to when we talk about the celibacy of priest and religious. SJPII seems to think that Christ understands this will be a difficult lesson for the listeners and goes through the Old Testament tradition in which continence was not something normal. Old Testament Jews would have seen choosing to be continent on your own as a strange custom and perhaps even an ill omen. We see how they looked upon women that were barren and it is always with the thought they have deserved this for something wrong they have done. Christ turns the choice of continence, when done for the Kingdom, into a spiritual choice, one that brings you closer to God. He never says it is an easy choice and never says it is for everyone, but does specifically say that it can be a calling for some.

Beyond the priesthood and religious, I was wondering if you can use the idea of continence for the Kingdom to further understand the importance of waiting until marriage. I think we have discussed the importance enough in reflecting on the idea of the uniqueness of the gift, the giver and receiver, the importance to the experience, and it being wholly given and how not waiting chips away at that experience and what we learn from it. But here Christ is also saying there is something to celibacy that brings us closer to God. The world always focuses on what we lose by waiting, but here Christ talks about what we gain, a closer relationship with God through chastity. I think it is important to point out this because there is such a huge acceptance of sex outside of marriage. For all the reasons discussed in looking at the “Beginning”, sex outside of marriage is wrong, but here we see that not waiting will cause us to lose a chance to grow in relationship with God. You can see that God developed this plan, that 2 people wait, grow in relationship with God, so that when they do meet and are married they both bring that relationship with God into the marriage and then continue to grow closer to God together as one in their unique relationship. Many lose that by not waiting, they do not have that relationship, then come into marriage with a distorted idea of love, God, marriage, unity, etc. By promoting the idea of not waiting we have seen the deterioration of marriage, as evidenced by the numbers of divorce. God’s plan of waiting until marriage is the way God gave us for our best chance of success.

I was also thinking about the idea of virginity in the Old Testament and Mary. With Mary being the virgin mother, Christ turns the negative into a positive. Add the raising up of Mary’s virginity with Christ saying that choosing that lifestyle for the Kingdom further shows the shift away from its negative connotation in the Old Testament. Mary, also as a model for a life given to God, shows that continence for God is a calling that should be prayed about.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Reflection on March 10, 1982

It is an interesting thing to think about, the celibacy of priest and religious. It is something that many think is holding the Church back in the numbers of ordained. There are also many that believe this was one of the main reason for the sexual abuse scandal. I don’t believe either. To the latter, there sexual abuse cases throughout all professions that deal with children. That is not an excuse for the priestly abuse, there is no excuse and it should never happen. It is an argument against the idea that celibacy is the reason. And I don’t believe it would mean an increase in vocations. I think religious vocations all over Christianity are struggling, whether pastors are allowed to be married or not. Plus, I cannot see how a priest could give the devotion that is needed to a parish and not neglect their family, or the other way around. I love the fact that priest are not married. I think it shows devotion that I find inspiring.

But beyond all that, SJPII talks about the special reason for celibacy and the special calling it requires. Christ does not say you need to do this, He does not say one way is better than the other, and there is not a better way. Christ says that there are some that are called to live a life of celibacy for God. Christ speaks very clearly that you have a choice and that you need to discern what the choice is for yourself. Marriage has it values and its guiding principles and its importance. Celibacy has its importance as well. “Some will make themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven”. There seems to be a trend against marriage right now. I can see some using these verses as a validation of that choice. If you are choosing a religious life as opposed to marriage, then I think your interpretation would be correct. But if you are choosing to stay unmarried because you like the freedom it gives you, you don’t want to be tied down, don’t like the lifelong commitment of marriage, and then you’re missing the point. The alternative to marriage is living a chaste life for the Kingdom of God. Making that choice for selfish reasons is exactly the opposite of what Christ is saying.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Reflection on February 10, 1982

St. Paul talks about the fallen body, more or less, as a seed of what we are to become after the Resurrection. What we are now is unique to us, just as a seed is to a plant, but totally different than what it will become. Many do not think about looking at a seed and then looking at the plant it will become and thinking about how much change has occurred, yet they are still connected in a unique way. We are planted here to develop and die so that we can grow into what we were made for after the Resurrection.

We also see the idea that we have touched on before. St. Paul may be pointing back to the beginning, before the fall, as something like what we will be after the Resurrection, but it will be different, grander, than that. SJPII labeled before the fall an authentic subjectivity and after the Resurrection a perfect subjectivity. St. Paul seems to be seeing the same type of distinction in what we were before the fall and what we will be after the Resurrection. With that in mind, I thought about what would have happened if there were no fall? Adam and Eve, having not fallen, would have still been glorified in a new way to be more closely unified with God for all eternity.

This idea of the seed and plant imagery, I think, is also important when reflecting on the idea and understanding that after the Resurrection, we will be both body and spirit still. We will not be pure Spirit like the angels, but our bodies will be fully joined, spiritualized, “spiritual bodies”. We have no earthly example or understanding about what this might look like except to know that it is more than the fully united bodies of Adam and Eve. Imagine the first person to ever look at a seed and if they had to picture what it would look like after it was planted. Imagine if they have no concept of plants at all, but simple are handed a seed and told to plant it in the ground. That is where we are in our understanding of what it will be like after the Resurrection. Now imagine the awe as they watch what a seed was, sprout, grow, bloom, etc. That is the awe we should have in the hope of what will be after the Resurrection.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Reflection on February 3, 1982

I am not sure I like the analogy of Adam and Christ being seen as two poles. Poles, in most circumstances, means they are completely opposite. I just don’t see Christ and Adam being completely opposite. I know Christ is the new Adam, but is He the opposite of Adam. In the sense that Adam made the wrong choice and Christ makes the right one, Adam’s choice led to sin entering the world and Christ choice brings about redemption from sin, I can see the poles forming. But Adam, before the fall, was “very good” in the eyes of God. I would not see that in opposition to Christ. Adam represents a life lived totally for Earthly belongings and Christ for Heavenly eternity, that I can see, but I didn’t feel it was as easy as they are just two opposite poles.

One thing that it does allow for is the image of what magnetic poles do. If you have two poles, the closer you get to one or the other, the stronger that pull becomes. Think of what life is like when you grow closer to God, you will want more and more of what He offers, growing every closer, wanting even more. The same goes for moving away from Him, seeking the world, gaining some increases your longing for more, causing you to move further away from God. That attraction in relation to closeness to the poles is very relatable.

I had a real struggle with paragraphs 4 and 5, but here is what I think it is trying to say. There are 2 different ways of looking or describing eschatological man. Christ relies on the beginning and the end to describe what we are meant for, what we were made for. He goes to the beginning in order to show us what God planned. He talks about the end to give us an idea of what that will entail. He uses those book ends to help us understand what eschatological man will look like.

St. Paul uses what we are now, fallen man, as an antithesis for Christ to describe what we will become. I think Paul sees man, fallen man, and that is what he has as an example to help us understand eschatological man. What he wants to describe is, take a look at what we are now, take all of our flaws, and perfect them, take all that we do good, and perfect it in abundance. That is eschatological man. SJPII points out the 2 ways but, as we have seen, they all point to the same understanding, the same foundational Theology of the Body, even though they come to it from different paths.