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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Traditionalists Screw Up NFP

Some Catholics are upset with recent statements by Cardinal Kaspar concerning natural family planning. According to the UK Telegraph:
Cardinal Walter Kasper said it was “the responsibility of the parents” to decide how many children they should have.
Correct. The Church does not mandate that every married couple have a certain number of children or, that once they are parents, they must have a certain number of children in order to avoid being in sin. So how is this new? And why would Catholics object to any priest or cardinal pointing this out?
He also said that so-called natural family planning, which is promoted by the Church as an alternative to contraception, also has an “artificial” element.
Correct again. There is nothing natural about a thermometer (only invented in the 1600s) and there is nothing particularly natural about observing cervical mucus and using one's reason to discover why it looks the way it does. Human rationality is participation in the divine rationality of God - it is supernatural, not natural. The charting of days, the use of paper, pencil and mutually agreed meaningful signs (writing) on paper by the pencil in order to keep track of the signs of fertility - exactly how is this not artificial, that is, how it is NOT the result of artifice?

Do you see squirrels and moose engaged in such behaviour?
If so, why is the video not on Youtube?
Please.

Kaspar is giving standard Catholic teaching.
The newspaper is putting a secular spin on it.
This shocks someone?
Seriously?

Ladies and gentlemen, it's called "natural family planning" not because it is what the birds, bees, flowers and trees do, but because it is in accord with human nature.

Sadly, even Catholics no longer appear to understand this...

And since I see the traditionalists yelling about this the loudest, I must conclude that they are the most ignorant of these points of Faith.

Again.

Sigh.

Update
Look, here's a thought experiment:

Let's say we have two identical heterosexual couples, in both of which the woman is carrying a child who will be born prematurely. The first couple gives birth in the woods, amongst the birds, bees, flowers and trees. Seeing the child's precarious state, they immediately abandon the child on an anthill after giving birth. This allows the forest to benefit from the child's death as the various vegetation, insect and animals slowly consume the dying child and the nutrients from the resultant corpse.

The second couple, however, gives birth in a hospital. This child is immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). While in NICU, the child is hooked up to literally dozens of beeping machines, is subjected to constant needle sticks and computer monitoring as dozens of technicians work to save the child's life.

Which is more natural?

According to natural law teaching, the second is natural, the first is not. In the first birth, the parents act against human nature by refusing to image the loving God who gives existence to all things. They refuse to assist their own child by trying to keep him alive. Instead, they act like animals and abandon their child to the elements.

Meanwhile, the second couple acts in the image and likeness of God by trying to help another image and likeness of God, their own child, live. Not only that, the entire community answers the call to image God, and everyone works to care for, love and save the child's life, offering up their work, tears, sacrifice and prayers so that the child might live.

The cross was made with human hands. The bread and wine at the altar are the work of human hands. The work of human hands is artifice - it is, technically, artificial. Artifice, also known as "art", is an act of creation that uses created things, forms them in new ways, and thereby attempts to image the original Divine creation of the universe out of nothing.  There is nothing wrong with creating or using something "artificial" - we are supposed to do that. It is, as Tolkien points out, one of the ways we image God, by being sub-creators.

The error comes when we use artifice, the artificial, to avoid imitating God. The natural law encourages, even requires, that we create and use artificial things. We must, if we are to imitate God, if we are to use our reason to its fullest extent. It is only when we use the artificial to shut God out instead of invite Him in, it is only then that we have violated the natural law.

The natural law isn't about Nature, red in tooth and claw. It is about the Natures that, in the person of God, were nailed to the Cross and sanctified by the red Blood and Body of Christ. The Cross is the result of artifice, it is artificial, but because it unites us with God, it sanctifies the artificial. Thus, it is actually a compliment to call NFP artificial, if we use it to draw closer to God.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mocking the Mass


This photo was posted by a priest who likes "Catholic traditionalism". Some of the responses from his Catholic friends and followers:
"hahahaha" 
"Excellent!"
"WOW..."
"that's cool"
"Took me a minute but I like the idea now that I got it. You don't want the driver facing you. You want him facing the direction you are all going."
"Hilarious! Well, whether or not one cares for the implications of the cartoon, the end result has proven to be accurate."
"WOW really Fr Jeff???"
"Though to be fair, facing the people isn't necessarily an aspect of the OF. My parish uses both forms, both facing the correct direction."
"the one with the driver looking where he's going"
"That is too funny" 
"Love it!"
Now think for a minute.
When I am sick, do I want the doctor facing away from me or towards me?

The priest is celebrating Mass, not driving a bus. Both facing towards and away from the people are reasonable positions - neither one is "better" than the other. It is just a question of whether or not you want to view the priest as primarily presenting the people to God (as the Jewish priests did) or presenting God to the people (as Jesus did).

The High Priest, standing alone in the Holy of Holies or at the altar of sacrifice, faced towards God on behalf of, and in spiritual union with, the people because he was man, but not God. Jesus, hanging on the Cross, faced towards the people, because He was fully God, and not just fully man. So, the "traditionalist" Catholic priest is acting as the Jewish High Priest acted, while the Novus Ordo Catholic priest is acting as Jesus on the Cross acted.

The Catholic priest is only a man, but while celebrating Mass he is in persona Christi, Who is both High Priest and Victim, thus either stance is fine.

But consider the responses. The cartoon mocks the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The priest who posted it has now mocked the Mass. Most of the Catholics who found it impressive or funny have participated in mocking the Mass. Mocking the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should really be reserved to dissenters, it should not be the habit of Catholics.

Now, to be fair, there IS a strong tradition of making mockery of the Mass, but this is mostly a tradition popular among non-Catholics. Unfortunately, this non-Catholic tradition appears to be a habit among "Catholic traditionalists". This makes me think "Catholics traditionalists" are definitely into tradition, they just are not into CATHOLIC tradition. 

"Catholic traditionalists" spend a lot of time on little "t" visions and mockery. They don't seem to register the fact that ALL liturgy is holy - an odd lacunae for both Catholics and those who claim to adhere to Tradition.

Now, a deacon responded to all of this by saying:
"What seems to go sadly unnoticed in these threads is that in these two priest-centric cartoons is that, in either 'form', the children aren't paying any attention to him...they are simply looking out of the windows.
What does that tell you?"
It tells me the Mass was created for adults, not for children. And it WAS created for adults, not for children. As I point out in my book, the Catholic school system actually encourages adults to leave the Faith, and this is one of the ways the schools do it: they put the smallest children at the front of a school Mass, the oldest at the back.

Over the course of years, this rotation teaches the oldest children an important lesson - as you get older and more mature, you should move closer to the door. Really mature adults stay as far away from the Mass as possible. 

You want to get the little kids? Don't let them see the Mass. Put them in the back. Tell them they aren't old enough, mature enough to really fully participate. Only adults get to sit near the front. Then watch the kids clamber over each other trying to prove they are big enough to do it.

Unfortunately, Catholic schools subtly teach a meta lesson.
Catholic traditionalists teach a complementary meta lesson.

Both lessons are designed to destroy the Catholic Faith.

Good job, Catholic traditionalists - you are driving home the very point made so subtly by the Catholic schools you so adore. Another home run for you both.