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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Biible and Contraception

Because it is such a hot topic today, I thought that I should provide a defense for anyone who is interested in the five minute version.

So why do Catholics say that using contraception is sinful?

Catholics say that using contraception is sinful because God says that it is sinful. Now before you turn the program off give me a minute because this is reasonable.

God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. That means have babies:

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Our first parents are called to fill the earth. Now it doesn’t say to trash it, filling it and trashing it aren’t the same. The conditions on the earth at that time were, al least for a little bit – perfect. Plenty of food, water, and land to go around.
Yet they fell into sin, and the earth now is less than perfect.

Finally things get into such a terrible state that God floods the earth and begins again with Noah.

Now to Noah he gives this command:

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

God gives Noah the same command, in now what is most definitely an imperfect world. Does this mean that God wants every single person in the world to have as many children as possible, no. People aren’t even designed for that. There are certain times given to men and women for the conceiving of children, and because we are imperfect, this doesn’t always work out.

Now in Genesis 38 we have an a clear case of contraception and what God thinks of it.

Here is the situation, Judah has some sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Judah finds a wife for Er and her name is Tamar. Er marries her, but because he is wicked, God kills him. Now at that time, if your brother had a wife, yet had no children, the new brother in line would marry her, have children with her, but the children would be considered the dead brothers children.

Now that Er is dead, it is Onan’s duty to marry her and try to have children with her for his dead brother, so they could continue his name.

Genesis 38:8-10 Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother." But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother's wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and he slew him also.

Now some people have an objection here: Hey, God isn’t killing him because he spilled his seed on the ground, but because he didn’t want to give his brother children.

Now this is a legitimate objection, because it seems as though God could be punishing him for that very reason. Yet if we continue reading the Bible, we see there would latter be laws concerning giving your brother children. There would also be laws concerning what would happen if you didn’t want to do that for your brother like Onan.

Deuteronomy 25:7-10 "But if the man does not desire to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.'  "Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, 'I do not desire to take her,'  then his brother's wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, 'Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.' "And in Israel his name shall be called, 'The house of him whose sandal is removed.'

So when you do not give your dead brother children, you get your sandal taken off and spit in the face and called a name. This is clearly not the death penalty. So when we revisit Onan back in Genesis 38, we see that he was struck down by God, not for not desiring to give his brother a child, but because he spilled his seed on the ground.

This is now called Onanism. Whenever you put the seed in place it isn’t suppose to go in scripture, that is a deadly sin. Today, a mortal sin.

The Jews, and the Christians have taught this for over three thousand years until 1930 at the Lambath conference, the Anglicans said that contraception could be used in certain circumstances. Thus the protestants opened the door to contraceptives and the flood has not ended. Now not all protestants teach that contraception is ok, but like many catholics, it isn’t even on the list of things to consider bad.

What should we do?

We need to talk about it. I recently saw an add in the paper that suggested over 90% of catholic women favored contraceptives. So I called the creator of the add and told them in a charitable tone that the church is not a democracy, but a monarchy. We have a king, who is in Heaven, whom we must obey first. I then asked – so who should I choose to follow, this 98% or Jesus? The receptionist said that she didn’t understand my question. I said, I would explain it again. So called 98% of women want contraceptives, but Jesus said that using them is sinful – So who do I choose to serve? Who do I follow? She recommended that I look on their website for answers. I said – I am asking you Betty, I am asking you.
She didn’t answer. But we must keep trying, we must keep calling, we must be vocal, but overall, prayerful, charitable, and blameless

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mary as an Image of the Church

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The destiny of the Church is wrapped up in the destiny of Mary. Mary shares an intimate role as a type for the Church. She shares in the many paradoxes that our faith expresses For it is Mary who brought forth the body of Christ, yet the Body of Christ is mystically one with the Church of which Mary is a part.

We meet Mary for the first time at the Annunciation, being approached by an angel and consenting to the Will of the Father to allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow her and bring forth the Son of God. Mary then travels to Judea where the Holy Spirit is communicated through her greeting of Elizabeth . This event is repeated with the Twelve Apostles at Pentecost. Angels appear promising the return of Jesus . The Holy Spirit then comes upon the Apostles and then through their preaching and Baptism, the Holy Spirit is given to those who hear them .

At the visitation, Elizabeth proclaims that Mary is "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb !” This phrase “blessed are you” brings promises from the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New by both Mary and the Church. This phrase points us back to only two women in the Old Testament who received a similar blessing. They received this blessing because both women, Jael and Judith had defeated the enemy of their people by destroying the general of the enemy’s camp by a blow to the head . This blessing is now being given to Mary who is fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 3 “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel .” Moses records this prophecy as a curse against the serpent who is the devil , that one day a woman would come whose seed would destroy the devil and those who follow him. This crushing of the devil finds its fulfillment not only in our Lady but again in the Church. St. Paul tells the Romans, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet .”

Just as Mary became the dwelling place of God on Earth, so the church does the same. Mary in the most physical way, by being the Mother of God is temple, because it is in her the God chooses to dwell when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her . At the birth of Our Lord, it is Mary who brings Him forth and places Him in a manger giving us a figure of Christ in the Eucharist who came that we might consume Him. Likewise the Church, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit , through the priesthood gives us Christ in the Eucharist for our adoration and salvation.

In the Gospel of John, Mary is presented as a New Eve who will cooperate in the restoration of men and women and God and men . This role is fulfilled as well in the Church. John opens his Gospel with, “In the beginning… ” to put us in the mindset of that first creation . In that first creation there were two covenants made, one between God and Man and the other between man and woman. The covenant between God and Man is made when God fathers man, “in our image, after our likeness” . The covenant between man and woman is established at the creation of woman. God takes from the side of Adam a rib and from it creates his bride, Woman, saying, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh .”

As we soon find out, sin corrupts both of these covenants. There is a struggle now between not only man and woman, but between man and all men. There is now also contention between God and men.

In the Gospel of John, Mary is present at the restoration of both covenants, though never called ‘Mary’ by Jesus, she is seen in the eyes of Jesus as being a New Eve and is called ‘Woman’. At the wedding at Cana, when the wine runs dry, we see Mary who intercedes for the wedding couple and tells Jesus of the problem. Jesus’ response points us to his work on the cross, "O woman… My hour has not yet come. " He then proceeds to bring about his first miracle and blesses the marriage with not only the best wine but in superabundance. It is here at this miracle, through the intercession of the ‘woman’ with the New Adam that the church “sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence .”

Mary appears one more time in the Gospel of John at the Redemption. While Jesus is on the Cross He addresses Mary as ‘woman’ and it is at the cross that Jesus and Mary beget children not in any natural way but in a supernatural way. “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home .” Then John reports another event that coincides with Jesus’ words to his mother “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water .” This event is seen by the church as the moment of its birth, “"For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'" As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross .”

So we see that at both the wedding at Cana and the Cross there is the New Adam and the New Eve reconciling both covenants between woman and man and God and Men.

Finally, in brief, just as Mary was taken into heaven body and soul and was glorified, so the Church will one day be taken up in the Resurrection, body and soul, and be glorified.