On the Freedom to Be Nothing

Submission from a friend

Abstract:While many today think that true freedom entails an unlimited version of self-creation there is little discussion on the necessity of an enduring identity for an entity to be free. The purpose of this paper is to address that need and demonstrate the logical contradictions that necessarily follow upon such a radical view of freedom. In its place the author seeks to propose an alternative view that is logically consistent and authentically Catholic.

The contemporary understanding of what makes an act moral is significantly different from the views once prevalent in western society. To analyze the differences between the once prevalent views and those which are frequently expressed in the public arena of today it is advantageous to study it in the context of a concrete application such as abortion. Studying the positions of both sides on this issue can elucidate their respective principles and logical connections. There are legions of secular and religious world views regarding abortion but for reasons of brevity it is best to limit the secular view point to that enunciated by the Supreme Court and that of Thomistic moral theology. Once the contemporary view is unfolded in regards to its logical connections and foundational principles then the Thomistic view will be contrasted with it. The conclusion of this paper will analyze of which system is more aligned with reality as it is. 

Attempting to provide a legal justification for abortion the Supreme Court stated: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The first fact to be noticed is the assumption that both the universe and a living individual capable of thought are regarded to exist in some concrete manner. The second presupposition is the individual is a unique type of being that is implicitly assumed to be human. It is assumed each human actively thinks and has the right to self-determination which is not limited by anything except the individual human’s thought and the legitimate self-determination of other humans. It should be noted there is no attempt to define what type of being a human is other one that that is engaged in some nebulous act of thinking. There is no real context which places the human being in specific and necessary relations to the rest of the universe. Rather everything outside the individual is defined in terms of human thought and has no intrinsic value in itself. “One has liberty because they think.” The label “human” is relegated to an entity that is actively thinking and does not include any being that merely has the potency for thinking. An extension of this is that only those who are known to actually think in the present are considered to have rights. Prior to the active mode of thinking and subsequent to its cessation the entity under consideration is not regarded as human and therefore has no claim to human rights. 

Another problem not considered is that the act of thinking cannot be detected through our senses unless it is communicated by an entity to another in physical act or spoken word. The mere presence of electrical activity in the human brain cannot conclusively demonstrate that the subject under analysis is actually thinking. The conclusion one necessarily must arrive at then is that the criteria for the bestowal of human rights under such a system is completely subjective in nature. In other words, rights are essentially granted to human beings by other human beings who have received the ability to grant human rights ad infinitum. Yet according to all scientists it is a scientific fact that humans have not always existed. Therefore the question arises as to how humans ultimately achieved this right of determining whether another human entity possesses the subjective criteria to be declared fully human arises. Merely because the determination is made by multiple humans of the highest authority does not change this concern.  If humans have not always existed then how did the first humans obtain human rights if they are something that must be acknowledged by other humans as meeting their subjective criteria? There is no way to answer this question without an appeal to a “pre-existing entity.” 

The intimate connection of the act of thinking with rights identifies the act of thinking with rights. Thoughts cannot be fully expressed unless acted upon in the exterior manner. Thus to inhibit the thoughts/ desires of another is regarded as potentially impeding their liberty. As humans have the almost unlimited ability to think of “anything” the conclusion is that they have the right to do anything that doesn’t impede what is subjectively determined to be the just extent of another human’s freedom. A corollary to that argument is that since humans have the ability to perceive reality as to be something other than what it is, then any restriction upon that ability is an infringement upon their liberty. There is no mention of any necessity of conforming to reality as it objectively is. Rather the context indicates that the human individual can only experience liberty when they can bring reality into alignment with their subjective conception of it. 

Due to this there is no provision for a common reality to which we all belong. Thus there can be no telos (the end purpose) for anything except that which a human individual deigns to bestow on it. Obviously, such a telos only has a transitory duration due to the transitory nature of human life. In some ways then everything is merely a label which has no permanence or definitive nature. There is no objective truth according to such a mode of thinking as the subjective mind is all that exists. Individuals are thought to have the right to conceive of themselves as they wish and to act according to that self-conception. They are merely a thought thinking of itself. A contradictory feature of this mode of thought is that the individual which thinks has no definitive nature and thus is what they conceive of their self at any given moment. Consequently they have no permanent identity. This conception of humanity provides no limit or content to human identity and has led to the conception of “women trapped in men’s bodies” and so on. They hold there are no absolute limits to human thought in framing of reality and the greatest good is the liberty to mold reality according their own imagination. The only way to obtain this good is to actively make reality align with their imagination of it. In a sense they create reality in their own image calling what aligns most closely with their desires good. Anything which opposes such radical attempts at redefinition of one’s self is considered evil with the degree of evil being positively correlated with the degree of obstruction to the individual’s desires. 

The contemporary view of the individual as possessing the unlimited right to conform reality to their whims is highly problematic. The Supreme Court statement has indicated that there are no limits to human rights except laws that protect the rights of other individuals. Thus it must be that they consider the right of the individual to be absolute when the individual is considered in isolation from other human individuals. This stems from a negative conception of liberty as a situation in which nothing can place just limits upon an individual except the rights of other human individuals. Even the Court itself is composed of individuals who presumably possess the same rights they have ruled others have. The first premise is there are no greater entities other than individual human beings. Otherwise it would be the case that humans were created for a particular reason and subject to the design of a greater entity. Since there is no appeal to an authority greater than that of human authority it must be the case that the Court regards humans as either having no cause, as causing themselves in an ultimate manner or being caused by inferior or equal entities. In any of these three cases it would be obvious that humans are free to do as they wish since they are not subject to other entities. 

In addition humans are regarded as essentially formless and therefore implicitly lack a permanent identity. This is the consequence of the Supreme Court effectively stating the individual is free to reconceive themselves if their reconception does not violate the “rights” of other individuals. All obstacles to human individuals transforming themselves into anything they desire are viewed as a violation of their liberty. There is no provision for the concept of human nature in such an ideology since the individual is regarded as essentially as having no permanent identity except an ability unrestricted by reality to reconceive itself and the entire universe. In that sense a human individual can be anything and everything. Yet a thing with no defining limitations, a something that can be anything, is in reality nothing. Only nothing has no defining limitation of its nature. Otherwise one poses a logical contradiction. One cannot speak of anything without limiting it to be one thing or another thing. Once a thing transforms into something else it loses its very identity and existence. If there are no defining limitations of a human individual then to speak of its dignity is meaningless. It is akin to pure potency but in actuality pure potency does not exist as it would cease to be pure potency and would be a concrete thing. Even God cannot become something other than God. In a sense He is limited by being Himself. Changing into something other than God is to cease being God. If one can become something other than they are then that identity didn’t belong to them in the proper sense to begin with. For one to lose their identity is to cease to exist. While humans are not in precisely the same situation as God, to become anything other than that unique human individual is not an exaltation of the human individual but rather an obliteration of the human individual. Essentially the Supreme Court is denying that human individuals have a permanent identity as that would impinge upon their right to liberty. This leads a denial of the reality of one’s own being. It leads to a denial of one’s purpose and declares that their life is ultimately meaningless which is illogical and leads to many psychological problems.

Obviously such a view differs from that of Thomistic philosophy. First Thomistic philosophy states that humans have a definite nature, place in the universe, and purpose. As such humans have a distinct identity that is rooted in objective reality. To share in human nature requires not the presence of actual of rational thought but the possibility of it. Since the human capacity to think entails the senses it is prerequisite to have a human body. To be human is defined not by subjective standards but objective observations that the entity has the possibility of engaging in human activity. Since humans have a definite nature as individuals each human being experiences a unique relationship with reality and therefore a singular telos. In some ways this is an obvious statement for it is rooted in the principle of identity. 

If something can possess the identical relationships with something else it must not merely be a clone but be identical. If there were two points of reality that were in identical relationships with everything else then they are necessarily identical. In other words there are not two things but one. Their relationship with each other would not be of two things but of one thing since to be identical their relationships would have to be identical as well. Rather the fabric of realty is so interwoven that nothing else can truly take the place of something else. This is due to all those unique relationships with not only what is immediate to each thing but what is distant due to those myriads of unique relationships that form the sum total of what we call reality. Yet if each relationship is unique then there must be a unique meaning to each and every entity that forms reality. Each relationship of every thing is not arbitrary as they are not random. Relationships flow from nature and not randomness. The very concept of relationships between things requires a certain degree of order. Order can only be perceived and created by an intellect. The order of all things can only be perceived and created by an intellect that knows all things. Intrinsic to the concept of order is purpose. For nothing can be ordered if it has no purpose. While each thing shares in possessing a unique purpose considered on a whole their purposes are united (though not identical) with that of the thing we call reality. The purpose of each individual rational thing can only be fully attained the fullest union with the Intellect that is the source of all purpose and order. The purpose of our intellects is to perceive order. In contemplating the source and order of all things our intellect reaches their fullest actuality which is our purpose. To become most fully ourselves we need to accept objective reality. To try to be something other than what we are can only lead to a denial of our very identity and purpose. If we miss our purpose in life we will always be unsatisfied as there will always be something missing. Our complete identity is only found in our fullest actuality which is only found when we completely embrace our purpose in life. It is only in that we can be completely ourselves.

According to the Thomistic philosophy the greatest happiness is found in conforming to reality as “embodied” in other things as well as the reality “embodied” in our nature. There are material and non-material aspects of humans that uniquely pertain to human nature. This entails that our bodies are an essential part of what it means to be human. If that is so then our bodies are an intrinsic component of our very identity as a human being. To reject our biological bodies is to reject our very humanity. Happiness is only found in fulfilling our purpose by living completely in accord with our nature. In a certain sense everything is dependent upon its nature. One aspect of human nature is potency for the act of reasoning- not only the act of thinking. In addition, an authentic presentation of the Thomistic view holds that human individuals cannot be adequately understood in isolation from their unique relations with other aspects of reality. As humans are mutable in their relations they are subject to change and ultimately have a First Cause that is causeless- namely God. Due to this unique relationship humans have with their Creator, human individuals have no purpose outside that of which is of Divine origin. Humanity is composed of concrete individual human beings that all have different relationships to each other and the universe. Thus each human individual has a unique purpose in the larger purpose of the total sum of reality. A corollary of this is that human individuals cannot be truly free without properly understanding their unique relationship with God. Human freedom can be obtained only through understanding the Divine purpose for humanity while simultaneously cooperating with it according to one’s particular concrete situation and unique relationship with God. 

The Thomistic view emphasizes that there is a defining limit and purpose to what it means to be a human individual. Such a limitation gives meaning and purpose to human life since it presumes a subject that has a permanent identity. This is in contrast to the view espoused by the Supreme Court which by defining liberty in a negative manner conceives the human individual as completely isolated from the restraints of nature. Such a mode of thinking obliterates the identity and consequently the freedom and dignity of the human individual. Furthermore, when a human individual is considered in isolation from its First Cause it has no purpose for its existence. Where there is no purpose there is no possibility of hope since hope requires an attainable goal. The Supreme Court’s definition of liberty as the ability to limitlessly reconceive everything also prohibits the possibility of attaining a permanent goal. Such liberty is merely the license for unending activity that has no lasting meaning or purpose. Under the guise of liberty the Court promulgated a doctrine that essentially denies any real meaning or purpose to the existence of the human individual. Is it any wonder it deems the murder of children as inconsequential? After all during the early stages of a baby in the womb it is difficult to impossible to determine whether they are capable of rational thought. Obviously babies have the possibility of rational thought but the Supreme Court requires more than that so their lives are forfeit. According to this mode of thought such children are not regarded as worthy of being permitted to live. Such callousness is the only logical outcome of such an ideology that denies purpose and an enduring identity. 

The same is true of the modern exaltation of sodomy and attempts to change the gender of human individuals. According to that mode of thought there is no consideration that bodies have unique and complementary purposes and therefore are not meant to be used interchangeably. When archaeologists find a primitive tool they try to determine its function by considering its design. That the purpose of something is inherent in how it was designed is common knowledge. To use something contrary to its design is to act contrary to its design. For example a cell phone makes a poor hammer but an effective means of communication. If someone were to use a cellphone interchangeably with a hammer they would lead a very frustrated life. If we regard something as basic as a hammer to have a unique purpose then why is the human body which is much more complex considered as not having a unique and more consequential purpose? After all, the human body is even more fragile in many ways than a cell phone. It too can be damaged or broken if not used in a manner consonant with its design/ purpose. To constantly use one’s body contrary to its design would bring much more dissatisfaction to a person than using a cell phone as a hammer. An individual’s body is much more an intrinsic aspect of their very identity than any cell phone could ever be. Therefore damage to one’s body would cause much more damage to their very identity than any injury to a mere material possession. Since the body is an intrinsic part of the identity any use not in accord with its design would also injure the non-material part of a human’s identity. Injuring one’s self never takes the pain away but only magnifies it. To frustrate one’s purpose is to destroy one’s identity. Destroying one’s identity doesn’t lead to a metamorphosis but rather to more pain and degradation. Such tenets lead to a debasement of the value of the human individual and encourage an unrealistic vision of happiness that can never be obtained in any permanent sense. If the grass can always be greener on the other side of the fence then there is no way one can ultimately attain the fullness of happiness. Sadly, such modes of thinking teach people to hate what opposes their futile pursuit of happiness. In doing so they reject the only means by which they can find lasting happiness.

In closing it seems paramount to acknowledge that true freedom can only be found by living a life in accord with a definite purpose rooted in the totality of reality- particularly the reality of one’s nature. If we fight reality or human nature, we destroy ourselves. True freedom is found not in being “anything” but in living out our unique purpose and reaching the fullness of our identity. It is only in accepting the truth presented by reality and becoming all that we are meant to be that we can find true happiness and liberty. The Thomistic view in its defense of human nature and the necessary limitations objective reality places upon us through natural law makes it clear that an authentic definition of human freedom needs to be based on a correct ontological understanding of what a human individual is. Ultimately our purpose is only found in a unique communal relation with God.

Homily on the Transfiguration

Submission from a friend

And He was transfigured in their sight. It seems to our modern minds almost impossible to believe. Most of us never experience such extraordinary events in our lives. One may ask what does this have to do with my own ordinary life- it seems to have no relevance. We may even say it could never happen to me. However, its application to our lives is not so distant in time or place.

In 1858 a poor girl lived in France. In fact her family was so poor that her younger brother spent much time in church not praying but scraping the wax off the floor to dull the pains of hunger. Few of us have ever tasted the painful effects of such ordinary poverty. Such was the life of Bernadette Soubirous. It was to her that our Lady appeared in February of that year during the dead of winter. It was during those visits that Bernadette herself was transfigured with a light not of this world. Even her own mother once gasped saying she couldn’t recognize her own daughter- such was the change effected in Bernadette. We even have the testimony of many other eye witnesses who had originally come to the see her not out respect or belief but curiosity. Yet they who had moments earlier belittled Bernadette and the apparitions were struck to the heart with awe before the sight. The universal testimony of all the witnesses corroborated the extraordinary nature of the event. Still some doubted for faith does not believe in spite of the testimony of our eyes and minds. Rather faith believes despite the prideful conception of our own intelligence- it is a grace granted to those who are poor in their own sight.

Perhaps we may wish that we too could see the glory our Lord as the disciples did on the mountain or even its reflection in Bernadette. It all sounds so romantic. We believe that if only we could see a miracle all our doubts would be removed and then we could be like the saints. We over estimate ourselves and fail to see our true state. Perhaps we would even belittle St Peter for saying Lord it is good for us to be here. Let us build three booths for you Moses and Elijah. After all it would seem that he of all people should have more presence of mind. Yet all too often we also want the Lord remain with us on our own terms. We want not to take up our cross and follow Him but to stay where we are and have God cater to us. We want the glory without the inconvenience. We want the transfiguration without the cross. 

 Yet God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. The purpose of the transfiguration was to help the disciples realize that Jesus did not come so that they could remain on the mountain forever to behold the glory of his transfiguration. Rather our Lord came to open the doors of heaven itself. We are called to even greater heights than any mountain on earth.  The transfiguration that St Bernadette experienced was a mere reflection of the glory and freedom of her lot in heaven. It was a reflection of Our Lord’s transfiguration which we also are called to share in. 

Our Lady once told Bernadette that she did not promise her happiness in this world but in the next. So it is with us. That is why we should not seek to find lasting happiness in our job, possessions, or even those dearest people we love on earth. We cannot remain here forever- our passage through this life is brief and short. The same applies to the things we love on earth. Rather we are called to ascend to a higher mountain- that of Calvary for that is where our cross is. It is there that we will meet our Lord face to face and behold his glory- for that is the pathway to the highest mountain- heaven itself. How does this relate to our everyday life? It means that those annoying or painful events and even the people who cross us are our pathway to heaven. They are the cross which we are called to embrace as Jesus bore our sins and those of the whole world. Therefore let us patiently love others realizing that it is through those little crosses we enter the joy that is heaven. Let us daily be merciful to others and patient with God’s love for them. Let us sacrifice ourselves for the heavenly good of our neighbor by sharing the love of the Good News with them in deed and word.  Let us not be ashamed of the cross. Despite the fact that our everyday life often seems ordinary and commonplace it is by our faithful struggle to climb those ordinary mountains of life by which we ascend to heaven.

 With the love of God and for the crosses of Christ let us now prepare to receive with love and reverence Jesus whom lovingly bore us as His cross.

A Pre-Cana talk in a Post Christian Culture

Submission from a friend

Welcome to the first in a series of pre-Cana conferences. I am grateful to have the opportunity of being with you as you are laying the foundations of your future as a married couple. I am sure that many of you are looking forwards to sharing the wonderful mystery that bonds a husband and wife. The vocation to the married life is a beautiful gift from God. When a man and a woman marry they are meant to be God’s gift to each other. No doubt each of you in this room can testify to experiencing God’s gift of beauty in the person you are preparing to marry. If that were not the case no one would be here in this room. 

Naturally we are drawn to what is good by nature. The power of desire that draws us to what is good is what we often called love. Now when we say to someone the words “I love you” we are implicitly saying that there is something good and valuable about that person and therefore they are worthy of being loved. When we are drawn to the good in another we are seeking what we do not already possess for if we already possessed it we would not pursue it. We only seek what we do not yet have. Once what is naturally good is obtained, which was not previously possessed, it completes the person who gains it. The lover seeks the beloved because they seek completion.  The goal and purpose of marriage is perfection of the spouses here and for the life to come.

In fact when the in the account of creation, presented by the Scriptures, God calls everything that He created to be good. Man is created but then God said it was not good for man to be alone. In response to that God created the first woman and established the first human marriage. It was only after this that God calls everything very good. The reason for this is that men and woman in marriage naturally complete each other. In a certain sense according to the Scriptures the establishment of marriage completed God’s act of creation and laid a foundational order upon which the entire world was created for. Yet in as much the spouses complete each other the attraction is not towards the self but to the other. While each spouse is drawn towards the good that is in the other neither spouse is yet perfect. For if that were the case each spouse wouldn’t be drawn towards each other as they would already possess all that is good and therefore would have no desire for the other. In a sense the imperfection of each spouse provides a foundational vocation for the other spouse. When we love something we desire to make it better and more perfect. If a man and a woman love each other they desire the best for each other. If spouses can obtain for the other something that is perfect and will last forever then that is what a true love will sacrifice itself for. Yet nothing that exists solely in this life will last forever. Even the most beautiful diamond ring can eventually suffer from the ravages of time and be turned to dust. The best material gift is but a mere shadow of the treasure that is fitting for a strong and deep love. If one’s love boils down to baubles and trinkets that will disintegrate with the passing of time then such a love is not lasting nor worthy of the name. If one’s love is based only on the physical attractiveness of the lover then such a love is nothing but a weak imitation of love and is properly named lust. As such it should be spurned and shunned. 

An authentic love is not what usually appears in the movies. Nor is marital love merely an emotion. Such love is only for those whose feeble imitation of love is too weak to withstand the storms of life. It lacks commitment and a sense of duty. Furthermore it lacks any sense of honor or nobility as it seeks only to fill an immediate desire and gives little or nothing of itself in return. Such a version of love feeds like a parasite on its partner and when the partner has nothing more to feed off of or when it finds a more delectable host it leaves. Such is the “love” which society holds up as an idol for us these days. Such love is properly called an infatuation as it lacks a firm commitment and the self-sacrificial nature of an authentic love. Its foundation is merely a combination of utility and emotion. It will never last the all the storms of life as it is based on what the other can give and not out of a genuine concern for the other person. One should flee from such infatuous love as it feeds on the beloved like a vulture feeds on a carcass. It is only there because there is something to eat.

Real love reaches far beyond itself and seeks eternity. It drinks deeply of the dregs and gives all that is in its power to its beloved. Genuine love gives all of itself and more. Marriage is not for the faint hearted. When a man and woman come before the priest to be married they are making the commitment to become one flesh. In a certain sense they are no longer two separate individuals in regards to their earthly existence. Rather they are united so deeply and intimately by a bond that can only be dissolved by death. Yet Christ raised marriage above the earthly level of existence and made it a sacrament. In elevating marriage Christ made Christian marriage a source of graces for those whom are united by the bond of matrimony. As a sacrament the foundational purpose of a sacramental marriage is founded in and orientated to heaven. 

In Genesis after uniting Adam and Eve in marriage God told them to be fruitful and multiply. One of the main reasons marriage was instituted was so that couples may cooperate with God’s creative action in bringing humans into existence. As the human person is created for union with God so marriage was created in order that those whom are united in marriage can participate in God’s plan of salvation. Having said that if a couple seeks the carnal pleasures of marriage while trying to avoid the responsibilities of marriage they cannot enter into a sacramental marriage. It would be like trying taking a car home from the dealership without any intention of paying for it. If you are not willing to live up to the obligations of buying a car then you do not own it. 

In God’s plan marriage is not orientated only to the salvation of the spouses who have contracted marriage but also to their children. One of the main purposes of marriage is that married couples participate God’s plan of creation. In the act of procreation married couples participate in God’s act of creation of the human person whose intended destiny is heaven. It is God who infuses the soul into the body which the married couple has cooperated to bring into existence. By design each human person was created for the love of God. It is through a deep and abiding love that God accomplishes His plan of salvation. By nature God has designed each one of us for heaven. In a sense marriage is God’s means for creating heaven. While sadly not all souls attain heaven nevertheless it is the purpose for which we are all created. 

It may seem a harsh statement that not all souls attain heaven. Yet heaven is merely another word for communion with God and therefore those who love him. No one can force someone to love them- love always involves a free choice. It would be wrong to try to force someone to love them against their will. Someone who tries to force someone to love and marry them against their will does not genuinely love that person. Yet God loves us so much that He respects our free will and will not force us to love Him if we make a firm decision not to. In heaven our love is purified and completed for each other and for God. The genuine love of a married couple for each other is but an earthly shadow of the love we are created to experience in heaven. Heaven is the full consummation of the love only foreshadowed by the love of a husband and wife for each other. 

If heaven is to be a communion of persons it requires a relationship of persons. Obviously for a relationship to exist there has to be more than one person involved or else there is no relationship. If heaven is designed to be the perfection of our relationships here on earth it is a sad thing that those God created for relationship never experience its fullness. Yet what about those persons whose very existence depends upon the choices of other person’s? What of those souls God has created for the possibility of sharing their lives here on earth and whose purpose is heaven? I speak of children for they are created to be the fruits that grace a happy marriage. I say a happy marriage since to be truly happy is to love and be loved. 

To love and be loved means to share one’s very being with another. Lovers enter marriage to experience this love in its fullness and God has ordained that such a love is by nature fruitful. It is to reach out through the expanses of time and space to those in a distant era. For in raising children spouses share their love with those who are to come. No wonder in the very beginning of the Scriptures it says that God said “it was not good for man to be alone.” For it is through communion with the perfect that the imperfect is perfected. 

Ultimately when the world is old and tired and no longer can stagger on for lack of strength love will not die. Rather than perish with what changes love will meet its perfection. Nothing God has created will truly perish until it has attained its purpose. As God is all powerful when He creates something its eternal purpose is never is lost. As the final purpose of love is completion and union with God real love will never die for true love is only found at its source in God. 

The purpose of marriage is eternal union with God not only for the spouses but for their children, their children’s children and so on. Marriage is not for the faint hearted but for those who love can meet eternity. Yet what can be said of those whose love is so feeble that it has no taste for eternity? What of those whose love can only encompass the here and now and has no vision of eternity? Such love will eventually perish for it can’t reach further than itself in the here and now. So it is with those who are unwilling to share their love with something greater than themselves. Sadly they miss the eternal purpose of love for others and in doing so they will lose it in the end for themselves.

Today as you all begin to prepare for entering the holy bond of marriage I ask each one of you to seriously consider are you willing to give of yourselves to each other for something that will last beyond your death in this life. When you come before the altar your commitment is not only to each other during your lives but also to all those who will come after you and to God Himself. If one cannot accept the whole they will lose even that part that they try to hold onto for in doing so they mar its beauty and refuse to let it take shape according to its own nature and design. In clutching the part they want they rend the very fiber of its being. this is why when a man and women come together before God in marriage they must be willing to accept all the love that God sends them. To practice contraception and sterilization is to refuse God’s entrustment of a child. In doing so the spouse seeks to destroy the very foundation that their love is built upon. A marital love that refuses to embrace the gift of a child becomes stunted and will never reach its eternal purpose. Sadly many couples these days live in such a manner but rarely do they realize what nor whom they are missing. Their happiness in this life will never be complete because someone is always missing. In heaven they may find healing for that emptiness as only God can fill such a deep hole. A job, money, travel, social class nor even friends can fill those empty seats at the dinner table or answer for our lack of love. For a married couple to reject the love of a child is to reject the God who sent them. It is to deny God the possibility of participating with the couple in fashioning a soul whose purpose is heaven. 

No wonder so many who have rejected children in this manner are sad towards the end of their lives. They finally begin to realize that everything they valued most in life will have to be left behind in death. The only things we can hope to receive again after death are the love of God and those who have journeyed with us towards Him. Everything else is lost forever. 

So in closing I would like to encourage each one of you to be open to God’s love and gift of children. Love begets love in truly receiving love our love grows deeper. Some of you may have many such gifts. Some may not have any. The important thing is not how many children a couple has but their openness to receiving and returning God’s love and the love of their spouse. If we do that then we should have accomplished our purpose in this life and shall attain the eternal consummation of that love in heaven.

Poetry From a Friend

Once I spoke a Truth Untold

Once I spoke a truth untold, it grew and grew uncontrolled.

It swallowed mountains deep and made my valley’s weep

Smothered all love I had known and so the seed was sown.

Brightly shined and glinted as a sword newly minted.

Beloved wounded fierce, through my heart were they pierced.

I sought to spare them pain yet despite all my gain

All I most valued was lost- such was the baleful cost.

I promised heaven and withheld leaven.

For a smile and with all guile, blind through all the wile

In darkness without light still bereft of guided sight

Leading those following me whom never did they see.

In obscurity gloss such was our grievous loss.

No star of truth to guide our way to our ever great dismay.

All for lack of Truth unchanging, nothing else dare remaining.

In the end we stood there before all completely bare

As the dead clothed in unseen thread which we wed.

What do you have to say to me?

Unseeing eyes of darkness search for light. 

Seems all hope has taken flight.

Silence fills each night by night

While morn past is crucified.

Now the dark chasm opens wide 

For those who can’t see inside.

What do you have to say to me

Who sails beyond the veiling sea?

You who dwell on the shore 

Basking in the light of yore.

Enveloping Darkness me

That you do not see.

You who live in light

Enjoying passed delight

What do you have to say to me?

Many words or silence still

Offer ye yourselves until

Nothing is left and all is nil.

This endless hole you cannot fill.

What do you have to say to me?

Weak our feeble light 

Compared to this dark night

Soon it too will come for you

What can you say for me?

Mortally wounded in the duel

Passing thought seeming cruel.

May what is dark be made bright?

Can hope be returned to sight?

What do you do you have to say for me?

Only eternal Sun conquers endless night

With resplendent brilliant light.

What do you have to say to me

Who sails beyond the veiling sea?

Homily on the Hemorrhaging woman

Submission from a friend

There is a true account of a woman, Hodierne of Villetaneuse, in France. For eleven years she suffered from a devastating illness until she could only leave her bed once a year. It appeared her lot was an early and painful death. Then she heard of the miracles occurring at the tomb of a saintly king and made the journey. Grasping his tomb and a briefly praying she was miraculously healed. Such is the power of faith.

In a certain sense there is almost no relation to the Gospel. No story fully describes the divine actions of our Lord Jesus. All comparisons pale beside the light of the divine source of Truth itself. The eloquence of a preacher is a mere window dressing. At most it’s an earthen vessel holding heavenly treasure.  Experience tells us what contains a treasure often hides the treasure’s true value. The wrapping of a gift is usually thought worthless and thrown away. So it is with the preaching of the Gospel. Why do many not listen to a priest’s homily? Often the vessel or in this case the messenger obscures the message of our Lord. We only see the vessel that veils the treasure of our Lord and not God’s message to us. Yet the hidden treasure is there if with eyes of faith we go through the veil and enter the inner sanctuary to see God face to face. 

 In the gospel a woman suffered twelve years from an illness no doctor could relieve. Desperately she sought Jesus for she believed by touching his cloak she would be healed. Her sickness made her a pariah. All she touched required purification- persons and things. This sounds strange to us but some illnesses in the Mosaic Law symbolized the danger of sin and its harm to our relationship with God and others. By mingling with the crowd and seeking to touch Jesus she risked punishment. She believed Jesus was more powerful than her illness, impurity and the Law of Moses. She dared to touch His cloak. 

Matthew and Luke provide more details than Mark. They say the woman touched the tassels on Jesus’ cloak. Did this flow only from fear? No, else she would have cried out from afar as others did. There must be another reason. The answer is hidden in what she grasped. In Deuteronomy 22:12 and Numbers 15: 38 Israelites are ordered to wear blue tassels on their cloaks. In ancient times this color signified royalty for it was very expensive. In the Middle East blue tassels declared to Jews and Gentiles the owner’s special status and relationship with God. All God’s people were royalty. In 1 Samuel, Saul seized the tassels of Samuel’s cloak, tearing it. The symbol of royalty was torn from Samuel’s garment as the kingdom was from Saul’s hands. This woman grasped the very symbol of royalty and power. 

We can now grasp what the woman did as she grasped the tassels of our Lord’s robe. Tradition claims she was a Gentile.  Either way she desired entry to the kingdom of God.  Zechariah 8:23 says in the end days Gentiles of every language shall come to one Jew and grasp the tassels of his cloak saying we want to go with you for God is with you. Who else can be the Savior of all except he who is called Emmanuel or God with us. She is one of the Gentiles who grasp the mercy of the One who contains all the promises of the Old and New Covenants in His person- Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is king of heaven as only through the triumph of His Passion, Cross and Resurrection we enter heaven. In grasping the tassels she seized the symbols of Jesus’ kingly power seeking to be received into his kingdom.

Jesus says her faith has healed her and to go in peace. In Greek the words have overtones of spiritual salvation. The power went forth from Jesus due to the woman’s faith that He would heal her body and soul from the power of sin. In recognizing Jesus’ power she recognized His kingship. Only God has all power and authority over sin, illness and death. Both women recognized the status and power of those they sought healing from though it was cloaked by a veil. Both knew the power came from Jesus Christ as God and King. Both died in the end as do we all. God healed their bodies a sign of His power and promise to raise all his children up on the Day of Judgment to experience His Love and Justice for eternity- free from all sickness and harm at last. His kingdom has and will triumph.  Faithfully both women saw the treasure cloaked by a veil and entered the holy of Holies to see the very face of God. Let us also firmly grasp the mercy of Jesus who is Christ the king and our God and Savior. Let us by the grace of faith ask Him to receive grace of salvation as they did. Let us seek the face of God.