Martyrdom and Encyclical Anniversary


In Italy I visited the tombs of Saints Peter, Andrew, and Matthew. But not St. James. Because…

He’s the patron of Spain. All able-bodied Catholics in Spain have to go to Mass today.

Among the Apostles, St. James suffered martyrdom first. He drank Christ’s chalice: Offering your mortal life for the glory of God, with total trust in heaven. We will consider this in more detail on Sunday–the trust of the holy Apostle, submitting to death, like the Lord Jesus did.

Speaking of trust. Fifty years ago today… Pope Paul VI gave us the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Soon-to-be-saint Pope Paul preserved the true meaning of marriage. He saved human sexuality from the clutches of modern technocratic mistrust of God and His Providence.

As the Catechism puts it:

Spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God. They co-operate with the love of God the Creator. Parents are, in a certain sense, that love’s interpreters. (para 2367)

Trusting God, trusting the spouse, trusting your own body. Fifty years ago today, on St. James’ feastday, Pope Paul affirmed the wisdom and beauty of that kind of trust. He was a hero then, and everyone who trusts like that is a hero now.

Raincoat? No, I’ll Stay Dry the Gandhi Way

Summertime definitely in full swing.

In Rome, things usually quiet down considerably this time of year.

But 46 years ago today, a thunderbolt broke the late-July languor of St. Peter’s Square. Monsignor Ferdinando Lambruschini announced that, when it comes to artificial contraception, Pope Paul had put the Church squarely on the same side as Mahatma Gandhi–and against all the creepy people like Margaret Sanger and Bertrand Russell.

The Pill is a No NoNow, I may not be the one to talk to, when it comes to artificial contraception. Ever since I was a mere youth, the idea of using artificial contraception has struck me as both preposterous and pitiful.

Back in the 80’s, supposedly well-meaning educational professionals continually shoved condoms into our teenage faces. I would think to myself, ‘Why in the world would I want to do anything with that? I would prefer to play basketball. At least then I could actually sink a layup or a jumper, without having to cover the top of the rim with a garbage bag, just because I’m not married.’

Now—over a quarter-century later—I can say that I have fewer regrets, and more happy memories, than the other boys who did not think like I did. Many of my high-school friends have grown up to be unhappy divorcees who spend too much time on facebook.

Anyway, I will have more to say on this and other related subjects at the talk I am going to give on the 1st, 6th, and 5th Commandments, called “Conservative Enough to be Liberal.”

Psst INTERWEB ONLY Here’s the outline: Continue reading “Raincoat? No, I’ll Stay Dry the Gandhi Way”

What Even Paul VI Couldn’t Prophesy

view from Blue Ridge Pkwy clothTuesday evening I was driving west at sunset, heading home after a Richmond meeting. The Blue Ridge came into view, and I thought to myself, “Sure do love Virginia!”

As any nine-year-old could tell you, the ensuing question is, “So do you want to marry it?”

Back in my early days in the seminary, the cool people regularly harped on how His Holiness, the late Pope Paul VI, correctly predicted what would happen in the latter part of the 20th century. He warned the world about the proliferation of artificial contraceptives, that it would lead to widespread abortion, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, increased objectification and disrespect of women.

Hearing this, my budding Thomistic mind said to itself, “These were not exactly ‘prophecies’ in the strict, supernatural sense of the term. But, indeed: Humanae Vitae has some remarkably prescient passages.”

Mark Herring

But even the great Pope could never have predicted this. Even he did not foresee that what would eventually land us in jail would be our refusal to allow two members of the same sex (!) to get married (!!!) in our churches. (Just a matter of time now till some of us go to jail over this.)

Humanae Vitae gave us what we needed to hear, in so many ways more than one. The whole business of how we come into the world makes such perfect and beautiful sense by the light of the encyclical’s teaching. Orwell’s 1984 has certainly arrived, when we read in all the papers about the “children” of two men or two women.

May it please the Lord to choose us to die in jail for the truth. The madness that artificial contraception has unleashed in the Western world can only last so long. Because masturbation–which all sex becomes, in the contraceptive culture–really is just pathetic. People who like to see the sun rise and breathe the crisp air don’t have time for it.

So the nonsense can’t last forever. But some of us are going to have to go to jail in the meantime, so let’s be ready.