The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Non Mœchaberis

I recently got into a spirited debate on forums section of (my handle is StC'sDavid) regarding whether one could commit adultery with one's own spouse. The discussion was around message in Matthew 5:28 during His Sermon on the Mount when Jesus states that lustfully looking at woman is committing adultery in one's heart. The controversy surrounded whether one's wife gets included in those women that experience a husband's lustful gaze.

Pope John Paul II spent a great deal of time on this particular topic in his Theology of the Body. His conclusion was that Christ calls for a conversion of the interior with regard to this whole issue of lust, and that any woman, including one's wife, is covered by Our Lord's statement. Ergo, it is possible to commit adultery with your wife.

That's a hard message for men to hear.

"What do you mean I can't lust after my wife!"

In our fallen American culture, men grow up with the view that sex is something that demands their full attention. We are conditioned by society and supported by our friends to "get some" whenever and wherever possible. So when a man gets married, often he believes that, at last, the hunt is over, and he can finally express all of his sexual desires carte blanche.

That myth is quickly dispelled by his lovely bride soon after the honeymoon ends, and so he is left with a dilema. All his life he's been trained to pursue the female organs of generation, and now reality has reigned him in. He has to learn a new way, and while most men make the transition, many don't. These are the ones you hear about having affairs or you see their cars parked at the local strip club. Okay, that's an oversimplification. I get that, and I know many wives contribute to the equation with their own sexual politics.

I do posit; however, that all men are guilty of committing adultery in their hearts with their wives during their marriage. And I'm sure it works both ways, but I can only speak from the male point of view here and my own experience. Given how a male gets conditioned, it is nearly impossible for one not to lust after one's spouse. I'm not talking about the natural, beautiful gift of sexual attraction for your wife. I'm talking about seeing her as an object to satisfy your most banal or prurient needs. I'm talking about substituting her humanity and dignity with a simple means to an end.

Part of my own conversion experience has been studying this Theology of the Body as put forward by our late Holy Father. It has been more than a eye opener. It has been a revelation, an awakening, an epiphany, and a source of freedom. Oh, I'm not perfect in this area. I married a very beautiful woman who stirs my concupiscence in the most delightful ways, and I still fall back into the old habits from time to time; however, now I have the tools to recognize that I have drifted off course, and Theology of the Body has provided a much needed compass to return to the Christ-like path.

It's intersting to me that the Latin word used in the Vulgate for "to commit adultery" is mœchaberis, which tranlates to defile, corrupt, or falsify. I'm trusting the University of Notre Dame's online English to Latin dictionary on this as I'm far from a Latin scholar. As I evangelize in the future, I'm going to use that with my fellow man.

"Why would you want to defile or corrupt your wife in your heart? That is what you do when you lust after her versus seeing her as a your spouse deserving the dignity all children of God should have."

I'll be interested to see the response I get from that, and I'll continue to ask John Paul II to pray for me for my own continued conversion.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Doers of the Word

Today is the memorial for the Roe Vs. Wade decision. For most people, the day will come and go with little notice. They might happen to catch a news story, if there is one, but for the vast majority of Americans, this day is a non-event. It's just another Monday.

For the Respect Life Committee at my parish, this day is a big deal. Every year we hold a prayer service marking the event. My wife and I volunteered to lead the effort for our group this time around, and I think we have a pretty good service planned for this evening. We have some very talented people in our community so most of the work has been simply giving, for lack of a better term, marching orders to the people involved.

Our service will include some beautiful music, Benediction and exposition of the blessed sacrament, a candle lighting ceremony, a brief talk by our Deacon, and a litany for life. I will be making the opening speech, and I wanted to share it as I , well, was kind of pleased on how it came out. The author is the Holy Spirit. I simply type.

Good evening, and welcome to our annual prayer service marking the memorial of Roe versus Wade. Tonight we turn our hearts and our prayers to healing. Before we begin, please bow your heads and let us observe a simple moment of silence.

(pause for 48 seconds)

We’ve just observed a little less than a minute of silence, 48 seconds to be exact. That’s enough time for two abortions to have happened in America. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, and in each one of those minutes, on average, two abortions occur.

That stings.

It physically hurts our hearts doesn’t it?

Each of us in this church tonight probably knows someone whose life has been impacted by this national tragedy. We were drawn here tonight by our mutual recognition of the evil that abortion has brought to our culture, our community, and even into our own families. And while we gather tonight to be among friends and to worship together…to be among like-minded people… tonight is not about us.

This night is more for those who are not here. You see as Catholics, we have the healing sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, and Eucharist. We have the truth of the Gospel. We have the gift of faith. We have each other. Tonight let us unite our community in prayer for those who are outside of this communion of believers.

We are called by Christ not to be messengers of condemnation, but ministers of healing. We are called by Christ to be “doers” of the word. And so we are here tonight to do something for our brothers and sisters who are in need of healing. We are here tonight to do something for our nation in need of healing.

In just a moment, Deacon Hammes is going to lead us in Benediction of our most Blessed Sacrament. We are going to bring Christ before us in adoration. Tonight, as we kneel before Our Lord, let each us bring with us in thought and prayer someone we know who’s life has been some how impacted by the legalization of abortion in America. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a brother or sister. Maybe it’s a son or daughter. Maybe it’s a neighbor’s kid.

Maybe it’s you.

As Deacon Hammes exposes the sacrament, bring these souls to Christ in your prayers. He wants to heal them. His mercy is big enough for all of them, and He directs us on how we are to participate in this healing process.

Listen to these beautiful words from scripture.

A reading from the book of James:

Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise.
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

The word of the Lord.

(Thanks be to God)

The prayer of the righteous has great power in its effects.

Yes, we need to lobby our legislators to change laws that promote death. Yes, my brothers and sisters, we need to elect officials who believe in the sanctity of life. These are good things…necessary things. But in between elections, we have something more powerful than human strength. We have prayer. We have the power of God, the love of Christ, and the action of the Holy Spirit.

Tonight, let us bring to Christ our nation, our loved ones, our friends, ourselves, and all those women who have no one to pray for them and who harbor their pain.


So as you go through your day, try to remember that the world is missing about a third of a generation due to abortion on demand. Remember that the Supreme Court was swayed by two attornies with an agenda to push forward a distorted view of womens' rights. Remember that abortion is legal in all 50 states and in many it's legal through the ninth month of pregnancy.

Most of all...remember to pray. Pray for the day when your grandkids will be able to ask you,

"What did you do back when they were killing babies?"

And pray you have a good answer. Be a "doer" of the word.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Beautiful Mind

I've been pondering sin this week. Not comitting sin. There's no need to dwell too long on that as it's a daily happening in my life. Rather I've been thinking about the condition of living in a fallen state and the ever presence of evil. It seems as I have grown more aware of the splendor, beauty, and love of Christ in my life there has been a heightening of my recognition of that which is not of God. And these are not external things. Any true look into one's conscience, habits, or general thought patterns will reveal the very texture of sin and at the same time point to the foundation of hope, which is Our Lord.

These internal characters of our fallen state I liken to the hell that is lived by one suffering from schizophrenia. One movie I really enjoyed was A Beautiful Mind. The movie is based on the true story of Dr. John F. Nash, a Nobel Prize winning mathematician who suffers from schizophrenia. Throughout the movie we learn that many of the people in Nash's world are figments created by his disease. He moves through various stages in dealing with these imaginary characters who appear very real to him. His embracing of these shadows nearly destroys his life, and it is only when he comes to grips with the fact that not all that he sees or feels is reality that he is able to find peace with their continuous presence.

In the same regard, sin is like that in our lives. It's potential is always there. We cannot think it out of our lives. We give the characters in our world names like Lust, Pride, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Greed, and Wrath. Our coming to grips with these elements is first recognizing that they are a distraction to the true reality which is the Kingdom of Heaven. They seem real, even enticing, but they represent a false reality.

Look at the billions of dollars spent on entertaining Lust. Our culture has made porn stars into acceptable celebrities, and one can barely surf the Internet without encountering a link to a site that promises a party for one's concupiscence.

Pride? Oh, he has his following, too. How many relationships do you know of that have been ruined by this wicked foe of God? How many wars have been fought where pride was the root cause of the conflict?

Christ came to deliver us from these fallen realities created when we were evicted from Eden. It is part of our ontology that we have these actors in our lives. Like Dr. Nash, we must recognize that these characters of sin are very real images, but that's where they stop.

It is not easy. As our associate pastor mentioned in a wonderful homily he delivered yesterday, our culture used to have the Christian mind at the forefront of its decision making. Everything from how laws were written; how people treated one another; and what was taught in school was done using this mind. That's not the case today. Our society has changed its mind and now has distorted the truth and supplanted humanism for Christian thought.

Said another way, our American mind has embraced these characters of sin; these figments of truth; and given them legitimacy. In this fantasy world lust of the flesh; the lust of the eyes; and the pride of life underpin our decisions.

How long will this last? It's difficult to find any culture that has been able to sustain itself for long using moral relativism as its foundation. My own opinion is that it will take a few generations to get us back on track. Lord knows the Babyboomers won't fix it. The tragedy is that there will likely be some societal disasters along the way. We may indeed have to hit bottom before we can push our way back up.

Christ called each of us to come to Him as a child. Children may sometimes enjoy imaginary friends, but they're not the same ones we adults lend credence to. Perhaps purgatory is a final letting go of these fictional leaders so we can finally run to Our Lord free of the burden of giving attention to the constant voices of sin.

When we meet Christ it will be with His beautiful mind.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


It's been hard finding time to write this last week. It was one of those weeks where in addition to my regular nine-to-five job, I had something going on every evening, nearly all if it church related. I'm deep into planning two events. The first is a prayer service marking the anniversary of Roe Vs Wade which happens on January 22nd. The second event is a presentation of John Paul II's Theology of the Body as presented (via video series) by Christopher West. That starts on February 1st. I'm the chief planner for the Roe V Wade event for the simple reason that I said I would versus any assessment of real ability. I'm relying heavily on the guidence of the Holy Spirit and of course the help of some beautiful people at our church.

So thus far, it's taken you about twenty-four seconds to read this post. And during that amount of time, on average, one woman in America has had an abortion. It takes less than a minute for two innocent lives whom we as a nation have decided are either too small, too dependent, or just too inconvenient to be determined worthy of our most basic right...the right to simply exist.

"I do not read the court's holdings today as having the sweeping consequences attributed to them by the dissenting justices; the dissenting views discount the reality that the vast majority of physicians observe the standards of their profession, and act only on the basis of carefully deliberated medical judgments relating to life and health. Plainly, the court today rejects any claim that the requires abortions on demand."

That was what Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote in his concurring opinion in the Roe Vs Wade case. He was right in that the vast majority of physicians do observe the standards of their profession, but it only has taken a small minority of doctors to kill more than 47 million babies since Justice Burger wrote those words.

"Elaborate argument is hardly necessary to demonstrate that childbirth may deprive a woman of her preferred lifestyle and force upon her a radically different and undesired future."

Those were the words of Justice William Douglas in his concurring opinion. Again, truth is expressed here, though the judge totally ignores that the child may find getting sliced and diced in his mother's womb less than preferable and being killed is certainly not a desired future is it?

"I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the court's judgment. The court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes."

Justice Byron White authored his dissenting opinion as one of only two justices that sided for the defendant. William Rehnquist was the other judge who sided for Wade. What happens when the highest court in the land begins writing law from the bench instead of interpreting it? In this case, the result has been nothing short of a national tragedy.

Linda Coffee, one of the lead attornies for the plaintiff, Roe, clearly has little remorse for the consequences of this decision. In a recent interview she stated:

"I would have guessed the question of abortion would be pretty passé now. I thought there would be more progress in birth control by now."

Alrighty, then. Coffee is now a bankruptcy attorney in Dallas.

The clock keeps ticking. How many seconds has it taken you to read this entire post? Divide that by 24. That's how many babies have been murdered. 3,600 per day. Is this a great country, or what?

So are you okay with that? Do you sleep okay knowing that 1.3 million babies are uncermoniously disposed of every year in these United States? The answer is likely, "yes." It's such a large number that the mind can hardly grasp it; so we file it under interesting, perhaps tragic, trivia.

But it's a real number. The deaths are real. The impact on our American culture is very real.

Oh, and just so you the time that's elapsed since I told you that Linda Coffee was a bankruptcy attorney...yeah, that's right...another baby has been legally killed in America.

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Today is Jonny's Funeral

Those of you who've been reading my blog for awhile (all two of you) will recall my previous reflections on my friend Jonny. We learned this week that on December 28th, John passed. Today we will honor him at his funeral.

Upon hearing the news, the guys in my office displayed the typical male bravado. There were no tears. We immediately started telling stories of Jonny; commenting on how we admired his never letting on about the pain he was experiencing; and joking that he should have known better than to have his funeral on a Saturday when Friday at noon was the typical quitting time for us marketing and sales folks. One guy lamented that he gave up his Seahawks tickets for the funeral. We assured him that John wouldn't have minded and is probably looking down and calling him a stupid S.O.B. for giving up his tickets for this.

A few days before his death, one of our group called John to see how he was doing. He simply said, "I'm f*$#@!" My prayer for Jonny is that he has discovered otherwise. Released from his pain and placed into the hands of Christ and His divine mercy, I pray he now knows how very blessed he really is.

Last week, I prayed for the soul of a man, Saddam, who did nothing redeeming in his life and mostly spread pain and death. Today I pray for the soul of a far better man, who though he didn't proclaim the Gospel, in many ways he lived it, imperfectly like all the rest of us, but in general he always strived for good. I send up my prayers to offer for this good man before our Lord and call on the saints to do the same. This morning as I receive our Lord in Eucharist, I will receive it for Jonny, too.

John was a big fan of a good cigar. This Arturo Fuente Rothshild is for you my friend. Robusto. Of course, Robusto.