Sunday, May 24, 2015

PERSPESTIVE AND PASTORAL COMMON SENSE

We know that in many places around the world if even 11% of Catholics attend Mass, that is good news. Think of what communism did to Catholicism in Eastern Europe as well as what it is doing today in Red China. Many people abandon the Catholic faith, and other Christian denominations, if it is not politically or socially in vogue to be considered a public Christian or Catholic. Yet in Communist Europe of the past and Red China of today, there were/are underground, faithful Catholics who keep the Church going even if just a mustard seed.

Right now in those places around the world where the mustard seed of 11% of Catholics are attending Mass, there is no need to go underground yet although I suspect on the hot button cultural issues concerning sexuality they need to keep their mouths shut in the public square.

Ireland is a case in point. It is Catholic in name only. But the decline in Irish Catholicism accelerated by too much of Catholicism being a kind of state religion with inept episcopal leadership in the face of scandal and the relentless march of secularism has in reality made Ireland a secular state with a secular religion more virulent and authoritarian than anything Catholicism was in her heyday. Perhaps it is the Irishness of Ireland that is so authoritarian simply picking and choosing which vehicle they will use to express it. Today it is a ruthless secularism.

The law of prayer is the law of belief. Yet we know of high Anglicanism with tasteful and exquisite liturgy and music that despite the smoke, bells, chant and elaborate ritual, Anglicans are quite content to be post-Christian. They have led the way in fact into appeasing the secular culture on everything sexual.  

How do faithful Catholic today navigate through the cesspool of secularism and the corruption it brings to Catholics and other Christians who drink of its water?

1. Love never fails. Pray for them but don't join them. This is true of family members, be they parents, siblings children or down the ancestry ladder.  One can love a relative without accepting their lifestyle. One can visit them in their homes, go out to eat with them and have them as friends. Never enable a sinful lifestyle though. But don't harangue.And if they influence your more than you influence them disengage.

2. Be compassionate and in dialogue with relatives (who want to speak to you) about their lifestyle choices. Sometimes, though, following Christ and being a Catholic estranges us from family members who aren't. This goes way back to the early Church and we have to accept this reality.

3. One commenter wrote on another thread that we should engage those who oppose us. A couple of years ago my parochial vicar was on a panel at Mercer University and the topic was homosexuality. With him was an openly homosexual Episcopal priest in a public partnership as well as others yea and nay. It was a very productive meeting and I hear Fr. Dawid represented the Church very well and was invited out for lunch by the gay Episcopal priest! That says something, no?

4. On one to one meetings with those who have same sex attractions, I think I am quite pastoral as I am in the confessional. I don't think anyone thinks I am condemning them to hell or that I find them disgusting as I don't. When they are respectful of the Church and her teachings, I think things are very productive. Sometimes while aiming for perfection we have to settle with what will do. When Jesus couldn't keep his three apostles, Peter, James and John awake in the Garden of Gethsemane, in accepting this reality Jesus simply said "It will have to do!"

5. It is better for a homosexual to be monogamous rather than promiscuous and to be in a loving, healthy partnership than in one that is unhealthy. Mortal sin is mortal sin but only God will judge why people committed their mortal sins at their personal judgment. Why are some Catholics, a few who comment here, persist in breaking the 4th and 8th Commandments when it comes to the Holy Father and others in the Church in positions of authority? Do I ban them from commenting or pray they will repent one day? Only God will judge their salvation at their personal judgement though. But for those who break the 6th Commandment (from masturbation to same sex sex)where true care and love are expressed in chaste ways, this should be encouraged and applauded.   Grace is at work. And pastoral counselors should counsel chastity, be it faithfulness to a partner or celibacy. We all know that in true marriages husbands and wives are often sexually inactive due to a variety of circumstances. In an illicit sexual partnership, chastity should be a goal as well as chaste celibacy.

The jury is out on what same sex partnerships that involve the adoption of children or children created in some fashion for the couple does to these children. We have some anecdotal evidence that it is quite harmful, but as with sexual abuse or any other type of abuse, it takes decades for people to acknowledge publicly what they experienced as children and teenagers. It will come though.  I am sure we will have studies on this in the future. It has to be damaging.

Finally, as our culture embraces the infidelity of Sodom and Gomorrah in its rejection of God (sexuality is a part of that infidelity) will we see a collapse of western civilization overrun by the barbarians of the day, be they ISIS or any other radical, death dealing group? Time will tell. We know history repeats itself.

But we also know that evil never prevails. The battle is won and this Pentecost Sunday should reassure us of the ultimate outcome!

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Father do you REALLY believe all the teachings of the Catholic Church. I mean REALLY believe them. This scandalous post gives the impression that you don't. Catholicism 101, there is nothing good about choosing to do evil, nothing. Do you believe that?

Anonymous said...

CCC 1761 There are concrete acts that are always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

Do you believe that?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I believe as Holy Mother Church teaches that breaking any of the 10 Commandments as the CCC describes each of them and the implications of each of them is a mortal sin when the three criteria are present:
1. Serious Matter
2. Sufficient reflection
3. Full consent of the will

Thus,I have failed when commenters here have broken the 8th Commandment with all its implications in how they speak of the Holy Father and calumny that is present in their remarks. And as I as someone has already pointed out there aren't lesser and graver mortal sins, then this calumny is public and like a public illicit marriage be it gay or straight it is a mortal sin crying to heaven for vengeance.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have failed too when the same commenters have broken the 4th commandment which even extends to not only the authorities in the Church but also to civil authorities. Please read the CCC on all of the Commandments. It is eye opening!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Now, I would direct your attention to the 6th commandment in the CCC and how it covers all the mortal sins connected with it to include not only adultery, but fornication, masturbation, bestiality, sexual thoughts and the various perversions. This includes the use of pornography. How many here are using the internet, the most prolific way pornography is viewed today and how many who comment here have cable or satellite TV that propagates the same and in the most virulent ways? You are complicit in the scourge that is now going on in America and around the world that has led so many to embrace pagan sexual and marital practices. Are you going to Holy Communion today and will you condemn yourself on my blog?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Father, "The law of prayer is the law of belief". The very point that the Anglicans may have fine liturgy but are content to be post-Christian is because their liturgy is not based on anything solid, such as belief in the Real Presence. That is why I see some of the changes that are being suggested to improve the Ordinary Form of the Mass are really only cosmetic changes and, though the liturgy may appear more beautiful, it will still be man-centred rather than God-centred so will not make any appreciable change to the way many Catholics are now - like the Anglicans - post-Christian. The Ordinary Form lacks the emphasis on sacrifice and it is Christ's Sacrifice that we are constantly reminded of in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, together with the invocation of the saints and remembrance of the dead, which is what helps to keep us on the straight and narrow because the mind is more concentrated on the hereafter than a celebratory meal where many Catholics have the mistaken belief that everyone is saved, sin is no more and no one goes to hell, so you get the result that happened in Ireland. It is not by accident that the vast majority who attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass uphold Church moral teaching. Even though some may fail from time to time they know they have done wrong and will go to confession and start again. Whereas the vast majority of Catholics attending the Ordinary Form of the Mass do not go to confession and that tells us they believe they do nothing wrong. I am sure that the Pope Francis effect has also had a bearing on the outcome in Ireland.
Jan

rcg said...

This is a good position as an objective, but how does one execute? Specifically, people are not prepared to discuss Church positions. On most things and are often even less prepared to discuss positions on sexuality effectively. Contrasted with the extensive education and preparation homosexuals are given to defend and promulgate ther sex choices and the Catholic is often humiliated and even convinced the Church is wrong. Almost as bad is that people seeing the exchange are convinced, as well. Frequently the best that can come from this is that it is a matter of Faith which will rank this Doctrine in the same file as Nazism and justified government suppression. The sort of engagement you recommend risks being a Children's Crusade.

Finally, I disagree completely with the idea in #5 that there is a healthy homosexual partnership. Combining these two points, our weakness in this campaign is our exposed flanks that we totally ignore. That the sciences of medicine and psychology have stopped identifying homosexuality as an illness, or disorder if you prefer, and actively endorse them as valid expressions of care and affection. We must challenge these assumptions, too, because the society is always going to be secular in thought process and will incrementally expunge Catholic thought as anti-science if we allow the arguments to falsely represent the Church and Catholic inspired thinking.

Vox Cantoris said...

2199 The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it. This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.

Really? When the Lesbian Premier of Ontario is trying to force and education curriculum upon our Catholic schools that will include the "pleasure of masturbation," that gender is "fluid" that oral copulation and sodomy part of good sex and homosexuality and transgenderism is good and wholesome, I am to submit according to the CCC and this to ELEMENTARY STUDENTS starting at Grade 1?

All this whilst my Cardinal says it will taught through a "catholic perspective!"

Really?

How do you teach oral sex and masturbation through a Catholic perspective when the government pays your bills?

How am I to submit to these civil and ecclesiastical authorities?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I condem myself on your blog. I am a miserable sinner who falls time after time. I do not go to communion if I am in the state of mortal sin. But the difference is I don't rationalize my sins the way those in authority have been doing for 50 years. When I commit sin it's because I have made the choice to turn away from God. That doesn't mean the teachings of the Church are wrong or outdated or need to be modified to suit me. I NEED TO CONSTANTLY CONVERT. I need to. Pick up my cross and keep going. I fall time and time again. But so far I have gotten up, acknowledged MY PERSONAL SINS, confessed and have made an effort to change. That isn't what is being taught today. The pope is wrong to open up to discussion things that aren't open for discussion. He knows he can't change Church teaching. But the real damage is being done now by allowing the impression that doctrine doesn't matter and is actually a stumbling block to experiencing the mercy of God. I know I am a sinner and fall short a lot of the time but it's not the Church's fault, it's my fault.

Anonymous said...

In response to your comment at 7:12 AM. It's best to argue your point without emotion and stick to what the Church teaches. This is what the Church teaches in regards to sins that are so evil they cry to Heaven for justice . And this is what the Church says, and criticizing a pope who is causing confusion isn't one of them. But it is actually one of the Spiritual works of Mercy, to admonish the sinner.

CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.

Anonymous said...

Reading your post again no 5 in particular is problematic to me, Father. Because, although Our Lord told the woman at the well, "Neither do I condemn you" he also said, "Go and sin no more". He didn't say, "As long as you stick to the latest man - although he's not your husband - then I'm okay with that because you're doing your best to stay in a monogamous relationship". No, it was "Go and sin no more" full stop.

Also, I'm assuming that the advice you're giving is in a confessional whereas what bloggers write - if they go over the line - cannot be compared to a confession or a request to a priest for guidance. If you view what is written by a blogger to be seriously wrong you tend not to publish it, borderline you tell them where they're going wrong.

Sometimes people make rash statements on blogs without carefully considering what they're saying, therefore there cannot be said to be full consent of the will involved. That is far, far different from someone who chooses freely - consent of the will - to live in a state of mortal sin and will not desist from it. The bottom line then is that that sin, if continued, may condemn them to hell.

I think that every sinner must be told that, in particular by a priest, otherwise they may continue in that sin simply because the priest failed to address it.

No one likes to hear that they are commiting sin, least of all mortal sin, and they may react against what a priest says. But to avoid telling them that their soul is in grave danger is not just or merciful. It offends God and I believe it offends against the sinner. I would think it would put the priest's own souls in jeopardy - thinking of Our Lord saying about the millstone "Harming the heads of the little ones" because that extends to all souls in the Church who are the little ones.

I have heard of sinners who years later have repented, even though they may have not accepted what a priest told them at the time. A statement that a particular lifestyle is harmful to the soul can be said by a priest in a kind and non-condemnatory manner and a priest is there to save souls.

Jan

Jenny said...

Father, I do think rcg and Vox deserve a thoughtful answer, as perhaps does Anon 9:01? It might just foster more reasoned and unemotional dialogue?
Every one of us "cries out to heaven" pretty much daily in our troubles/prayer life. The Psalms (upon which the liturgy of the Hours centers, of course) are full of that sort of prayer. You are absolutely right that we should never indulge in excoriating each other, or our Holy Father, or our President; admonishment must always be done in love and respect for human dignity. But to overlook evil is, in the end, to promote evil. Our country and our world desperately need to hear the truth, as it is the only thing that will set all free. We must walk the walk and talk the talk of Jesus the suffering servant.

George said...

Whenever I've been around someone who was homosexual ( or seemed that way-there have been times that I wasn't sure, and I never ask),I've always related to them with magnanimity. I treat the person and relate to them no differently than I would to anyone else. There are times I wonder if I've taken the right approach. Should I have "admonished the sinner"? Also, "Charitable engagement" is only as good as whatever prayers and sacrifices are paired with it.Did I pray for the conversion of the sinner? So far, I have never been asked about same-sex marriage, but if asked I will tell them it is wrong. It is not uncharitable to tell them this (although it can be done charitably).
One thing that can be observed is that Catholics and others are being told in so many ways to quit being "mean-spirited" and to get in line with the mores of modern culture. No matter how we are attacked, although we must be charitable, we can not do this. There are so many sins being committed today with pornography being so available along with contraception and abortion, but homosexuality is more and more out in the open an therefore more of a public scandal which influences our young people to accept it as being normal.
There is not only the Subjective reality of sin ( whether there exists personal sin- mortal or venial), but the Objective reality. When the Aztecs offered infant sacrifice to their "god" were they guilty of mortal sin? What was mortal sin to them?The Spanish missionaries who went into what is now Mexico, knew that this practice greatly offended God and must be ended. We know now that the large numbers of the Aztecs were converted (thanks to Our Lady of Guadalupe) and this abhorrent practice did end.
It matters not whether a practicing homosexual believes he or she is committing a mortal sin. The sin greatly offends God. When one looks at the world today, there is an increasing acceptance of homosexuality as normal (which of course is not how the Catechism characterizes it) and an increasing push to make same-sex marriage a sacrament. The parts of the world that are holding back against this are certain parts of Asia and especially Africa, which areas where Catholicism is the strongest. Catholicism is no longer predominant in those European countries it once was and in many of those countries there has been a legitimizing of of same-sex marriage. This is no a coincidence. The world is suffering the effects of the increasing sinfulness of man.

Anonymous 2 said...

Father McDonald:

Thank you for this post. I believe I may have been the commentator referred to in point 3. Indeed, I was thinking about that Mercer program as I wrote my comments yesterday. Unfortunately, because of a communications breakdown within Mercer I did not know about the program until after it was over and I cannot find a video-recording of it (as I can for the program on abortion seeking common ground between the pro-life camp and the pro-choice camp in order to find workable strategies for reducing the number of abortions).

In my view this is the way to go with public discussions, and I am heartened that Deacon Arthur (I believe he is deacon not a priest in the Episcopal Church by the way) invited Father Dawid to lunch. I wonder how the lunch went. I must ask next time I see one of them. I feel sure that Father Dawid represented the Church’s position well but respectfully and not in an alienating way at all. But we need to broaden out such engagement into smaller discussions, including one-on-one discussions, conducted in the same spirit. As for pastoral one-on-one discussions in the confessional, I can well believe what you say about your discussions with people with same sex attractions because I know you to be a kind and compassionate confessor at the same time as you uphold the teachings of the Church. Although I experience no same sex attractions myself and therefore am not tempted sexually in that direction (and indeed find such inclinations very hard to understand despite having had many friends and colleagues over the years who have them, beginning with my college roommate), I have plenty of sins of my own, as do we all.

I find my colleague David Gushee’s evolution on the subject instructive – and cautionary. In 2011 David articulated the Lockean position that the Church should not oppose civil recognition of same sex marriage while at the same time opposing them morally and religiously:

http://rosemarieberger.com/2011/05/07/david-gushee-a-conservative-support-for-gay-marriage/

But this year he has shifted from this position and declared that the Church (he is Evangelical) should fully accept LGBT relationships. It seems that the suffering of his lesbian younger sister may have had something to do with this change of position:

http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/24/david-gushee-lgbt-homosexuality-matters/

In one way David’s public change of position is courageous because he is speaking out for what he now truly believes despite the strong reaction from more conservative Evangelicals. According to the article he does not necessarily expect his opponents to follow him but “[h]e only hopes that those on the right will help end the bullying of LGBT persons, stop using harmful rhetoric, and resist laws that are punitive against sexual minorities.”


Clearly the Catholic Church will not do what David did but we (and here I include “conservative” lay Catholics who often have very strident and militant views on same sex issues) could perhaps learn something about the experiences of gay and lesbians and the suffering they have experienced through rejection, and in this way leaven our defense of Church teaching with compassion, as you do in the confessional and as you urge in your post.


Anonymous said...

"5. It is better for a homosexual to be monogamous rather than promiscuous and to be in a loving, healthy partnership than in one that is unhealthy."


Father:

Where does Our Lord say, or the Catholic Church teach, that a "gay" partnership even has the capability of being a "loving, healthy partnership"?


DJR

Bee said...

Father McD said, "But we also know that evil never prevails.'

True. But it does a heck of a lot of damage before it's stopped.

Charles G said...

A sexual relationship outside of true marriage (i.e. one man and one woman) is by definition not a healthy thing. Chaste friendships are one thing, but the sexual activity, especially if homosexual, is highly sinful. I find the positive evaluation of such relationships scandalous. It is like the Catholics who say homosexual civil unions are OK but not same sex marriage. Either way, the state is encouraging the sinful and immoral activity, and in no way is that helpful to those who experience same sex attraction. Fortunately, Courage doesn't encourage such. I have to wonder how many bishops and clergy really believe that homosexual activity is immoral. I certainly have my doubts about those like Archbishop Forte and the German bishops who talk about the goodness of homosexual sexually active relationships.

John Nolan said...

The adoption of children by same-sex couples is 'gravely immoral', irrespective of how they may have been conceived. This is nothing to do with good or bad parenting; it is that such children are exposed to immoral and unnatural behaviour and are taught to believe that such behaviour is both normal and moral.

This is the Church's clear teaching, reiterated at the time when 'civil partnerships' were mooted. I see no reason to question it.