By The Hermits, Jan 27 2015 9:03PM
THE POPE AND THE PATRIARCH
"The example I mentioned just now, about the woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven caesarean births: this is a form of irresponsibility. [Some might say:] “No, I trust in God”. “But, look, God gives you the means, be responsible”. Some people believe that — pardon my language — in order to be good Catholics, we should be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and it is the reason why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this area, there are pastors, and people are trying. And I know of any number of solutions which are licit and have helped for this. You did well to ask me this. Something else is curious, which does not have to do with this directly, but is in fact related. For very poor people, a child is a treasure. True enough, here too one needs to be prudent. But for them a child is a treasure. God knows how to help them. Maybe some are not prudent in this area, that is true. Responsible parenthood. But we also need to consider the generosity of those fathers and mothers who see in every child a treasure."
This was the somewhat controversial part of the Pope Francis’ press conference that he gave on the return flight from his visit to the Phillipines, and it gives one the impression that the Pope thinks on his feet, and that certainly gives a marvellous spontaneity to his utterances, but can bemuse, shock, and unwittingly scandalize. He has recently apologized for saying “Some people believe that — pardon my language — in order to be good Catholics, we should be like rabbits”. Then he goes on to say that there are solutions when it comes to responsible parenthood, a most unfortunate phrase that almost could be Malthusian, the very thing that he condemns in the press conference. There are solutions that are licit he informs us and then we find ourselves in the Jesuit world of casuistry. Just as we are coming to terms with this quick succession of ideas then we are presented with an absolute gem, “For very poor people, a child is a treasure”. Here I believe we have the real Pope Francis, but so often he is thinking on his feet, but not like a Chesterton, whose extraordinary absentmindedness was because he was thinking so profoundly and would then be able to make absolute sense, be coherent and wise, despite the paradoxes in an essay, which was the result of his ruminations.
Pope Francis does not have that ability to synthesize, and everything comes tumbling out. If only there was someone who was truly wise who could help him to be spontaneous, and coherent, because popes need to be coherent in a world that is fracturing by the day, and a Church that is far to influenced by that same fracturing world, and too trusting of its great gurus.
The Patriarch of Russia, Patriarch Kyrill is the first Patriarch of Russia to address the Duma, and he addressed it on abortion, urging them to ban abortion. In Russia for a very long time now, going back to the beginning of Communist Russia in the 1920’s abortion has been used as a form of contraception. So now we witness this extraordinary scene of the Patriarch exhorting the Duma to ban abortion. In many ways the Russian Orthodox Church is speaking with a rocklike confidence, which is lacking in the Catholic Church. One should not be surprised because Venerable Bartholomeus Holzhauser prophesied that in the Fifth age of the Church, it would suffer very greatly from heresy. As this fifth age began in something like the year 1517, and appears not to be ended yet, we must look to the Orthodox world to rediscover our roots. The Orthodox may have got second marriages wrong, but theologically they have never suffered from scholasticism, and that is the problem of the contemporary Catholic Church whose modern way of thinking could never have come about but for scholasticism, and Pope Francis needs not to look at the present Orthodox practice regarding re-marriage, but he must look instead at the great Fathers of the East, who along with Ambrose, Jerome
By The Hermits, Jan 20 2015 5:41AM
If a girl under the age of consent is having sex she is being raped. That is what the law says. Doesn't matter if the girl says she wants to have sex, it is rape! So why in England, Wales, and Scotland are girls as young as ten being given long term (3 year) implants of progesterone contraceptive? To make it worse the implant has not even be tested for use on women less that 18. The article printed below from Life site news, and the source article from the Daily Mail, concentrate on the physical abuse of giving contraceptives to such young girls. They do not cover the physical long term damage of giving high dose hormones to pre-teens and young teenagers whose menstral periods are not well established. How many of them will have impaired fertility later in life? How many of them will have impaired hormone balance or impaired immunity, and then there is the possible problem of increased risk of certain cancers, both due to the hormones themselves, to early multiple partners, and to sexually transmitted diseases. But most importantly of all it is corrupting the young! Leading them, indeed giving them, NHS santioned permission to sin.
‘This is rape, by definition’: UK is giving 10-year-olds contraceptive implants, records show
British girls as young as 10 are being injected with long-lasting contraceptive implants untested on anyone under 18—on the taxpayers dime.
Pro-life and pro-family organizations have spoken out against the revelations, brought to light through freedom-of-information enquiries by the Daily Mail, on the grounds they encourage the exploitation of underage girls for sexual purposes.
“Doctors who do this think they are helping the young girls deal with their own sexually active lives but they are actually part of the problem, by encouraging their sexualization and the sexualization of the culture,” Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told LifeSiteNews.
Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust agreed. He told the Daily Mail, “Fitting young girls with contraceptive implants is quite simply indefensible. It is giving them the green light to engage in illegal sexual activity and robbing them of the protection that the age of consent law is intended to give.” The age of consent is 16.
And Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told LifeSiteNews that under no circumstances should a 10-year-old be enabled to continue sexual activities. “A sexually active ten-year-old is being abused, by definition. Ten-year-olds can't give informed consent, and certainly can't give consent for sexual activity.”
According to the Mail, three 10-year-old girls were given the implant, a heavy dose of the hormone progesterone, since 2010, along with one 10 or 11-year-old, 53 12-year-olds, 281 13-year-olds, 3,000 girls aged 14 and 6,300 15-year-olds.
Though never tested on anyone under 18, the implant is known to cause nausea, mood swings, acne, and headaches among adults. The Daily Mail quoted several unnamed sources in defence of the practice, including one at the University of Leicester, which implanted one of the 10-year-olds. Said he or she: ‘Only under extremely rare circumstances would a patient under the age of 13 ever receive a contraceptive implant,” while another health official insisted the police, social workers and parents would all be informed.
The problem with that claim, said Tully, is that the law does not require parents be informed when a minor is given contraceptives of any kind, or abortions, if the doctor deems the child to be mature enough to make the decision.
Tully’s fear is that prescribing contraception to girls under the age of consent allows predators to coerce them into sexual activity without fear of being discovered. “This is likely to be regarded as a green light by those who wish to exploit these girls.”
What is more, he said, the prescribing of contraceptives to preteens will promote the agenda from some lobby groups to reduce the age of consent. “There is constant pressure on younger and younger youth to engage in sexual activity,” he said. Not only such organizations as the Family Planning Association, but teachers, schools, legal authorities, the advertising and film industries all promote the sexualization of youth, and, he added, “for whatever reason the age of menarche (the onset of menstruation) is lowering among British girls. This means that 10-or 11-year olds could get pregnant, and makes contraception seem merely prudent to many.”
“Our concern is that the child taking contraceptives is much more vulnerable to pressure to have sex and to having an abortion,” Tully said.
Tully said that there is also pressure on the legal, medical and counselling professions to acknowledge a “de facto lowering of the age of consent from 16 to 13.” Not only civil libertarians, but religious groups such as Quakers and Methodists in Great Britain were arguing as early as 1972 to lower the age of consent to 14 in recognition of the practices of youth themselves. But a BBC poll in 2010 showed 84 percent of Britons opposed.
Tully said doctors, school nurses, social workers, and police all should respond to children younger than 16 seeking contraceptives with counselling but an effort should be made to change their behavior. “In general, the law should be upheld, but I’m not saying there should be lots and lots of prosecutions.”
Dr. Harrison took a harder line: “This should be a criminal child sexual molestation case. Physicians who administer long-acting contraceptives without involving a police investigation should be considered complicit in the crime of child sexual molestation.”
If the girl’s parent or guardian does give consent, a doctor should notify police on suspicion of child trafficking, Dr. Harrison added. “There are zero circumstances under which it is OK to allow a 10-year-old-girl to undergo continuous exposure to sexual activity. Zero. None. This is rape, by definition.”
The link to the Daily Mail article is here.
The side effects of the nexplanon implant (the one they are using) are even worse than the articles cited. For a snapshot of what real women are experiencing with it, have a look at this discussion forum, and this is happening to mature women, most of them mothers, how bad will it be for girls just entering puberty?
But as I said above, the real horror of this is that it is corrupting children, girls at the threshold of life. Ones that we are commanded by Jesus Christ to care for when He said: "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin".
By The Hermits, Jan 15 2015 1:18AM
Gazans freeze amid rubble as post-war reconstruction stalls, international aid runs out
As we remember the Christ Child having to flee as a refugee from violence let us remember and pray for those still suffering in Gaza, the very area that Jesus, his Mother Mary, and St Joseph would most likely have passed through on their flight into Egypt.
This update on the plight of the civilians in Gaza is taken from RT.
Many thousands of Gazans face a freezing winter living in tents pitched amid the rubble of their ruined homes – as the UN is urging half a billion dollars in emergency aid for shelter to the war-battered region.
More than four months after the 50-day summer war with Israel, 17,000 Gazans still remain displaced, having to live in temporary shelters. A total of 120,000 homes are estimated to have been destroyed in the Israeli air strikes that claimed 2,000 Palestinian lives.
“The whole area is in ruins and it’s practically impossible to live here,” Gazan resident Mahmud Hammash tells RT. “Even the undamaged houses are not fit for living. And the freezing cold has only made matters worse. A week ago the situation for all of us was unbearable.”
Hammash refers to last week’s winter storm, which killed three infants who froze to death. Gale force winds then brought with them freezing temperatures and torrential rains which led to large areas being flooded.
The enclave’s crippled infrastructure aggravated the impact from harsh weather conditions.The situation is catastrophic, according to Amjad Al Shawa, a human rights activist and head of the Palestinian NGOs network in the Gaza Strip. He says shortly after the war the international community vowed to help Gaza. It’s still only a promise, though.
“Last October, we had the donors’ conference for Gaza construction, which was held in Cairo,” Al Shawa told RT. “There was about $2.7 billion that the international community was ready to pay… Only 2 percent of that money arrived.”
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who visited Gaza on Tuesday, urged the international community to “act rapidly to rebuild Gaza."
"The inhabitants of Gaza are living through a real tragedy," he said, AFP reported.
Garcia-Margallo traveled to the war-battered region together with Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), who warned of “negative consequences" in case reconstruction is further delayed.
"The winter storms have heightened the vulnerability of a population that is struggling to recover from the 50-day conflict,” the UNRWA said in an earlier statement. “Reconstruction is slow and discontent is growing as funds and support fail to materialize.”
The agency said it has only received $135 million from the international community, and was facing “a funding gap of $585 million for shelter assistance." UNRWA says it will run out of money for the Gazans in February.
The money it has so far received was distributed among 40,000 families who desperately need to repair their homes.
One of the factors hampering the reconstruction effort is Israel's blockade of the territory.
There’s no relaxing of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in sight, now that the successful Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court have only added to straining relations between them.
By The Hermits, Jan 13 2015 1:12AM
On 28th October the Church, no doubt, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of that much lauded Vatican II document Nostra Aetate. It’s more prosaic title is The Declaration On the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, which is hardly encouraging.
Dialogue with non Christian religions, especially with Judaism and Islam has brought tolerance centre stage among Catholics, but whether it has really changed the attitude of Jews and Moslems towards Christians is rather doubtful. This curious document, from what I can gather, emerged as the result of pressure brought to bear on the Council to get the Church to apologize for its treatment of the Jews throughout Christian history, and to prevent this happening you ended up with Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism getting on this rather curious religious bandwagon. This could not have happened if the Holocaust had not taken place.
Now if you listen to some political/historical commentators you will be informed that those who control the world are ultimately the bankers, who have esoteric views of the world and the human race. It is they who masterminded the two World Wars, out of which appeared, like a new born child, the State Of Israel. This was intended to add fuel to the fire in the Middle East, and lead to a Third World War between goodness knows who. A recent article on Infowars indicates that the setting up of ISIS was all about a fomenting a war between Western Christians and Moslems. This may be the case, but one thinks the ‘Christians’ will be Westerners and not properly Christians.
Fifty years on from Nostra Aetate things between the West and the Islamic world could not be much worse, and if this is the fruit of dialogue then Heaven help us. Dialogue can only be a short prelude to preaching the Gospel. Dialogue instead has led to retreat. Pope Benedict XVI allowed a mosque to be built in Rome, but King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did not return the compliment. No Catholic church was built in Saudi Arabia. The missionary activity of the Church could not be at a more low ebb; that does not mean that there are no missionaries. What it means is that the missionaries will not be going out to convert and save souls, no they will be preaching more of the social gospel, which is all well and good, but it is not enough.
And when Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “it is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”(Matthew 4: 5-6).
Has the Word been preached over the last 50 years with passion and conviction for the salvation of souls and the betterment of the peoples? No! I fear the devil has done rather well, especially in the failure of the Church to try and convert the Moslems. They deserve to hear the Word of God in all its glory and beauty. We have failed them; dialogue is simply not good enough.
By The Hermits, Jan 9 2015 3:33AM
That this is a time of persecution for us Christians is becoming increasingly obvious. When I was young, growing up in Folkestone in Kent, there was a little targeting of Catholics, nothing serious, just some jeering when we walked home from Church with the ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, or holding our palm crosses on Palm Sunday. But now it has changed, maybe there is less jeering now that the Church of England has adopted some of the above practices as its own, but now our very government has moved against all British Christians by the adoption of laws diametrically opposed to the Laws of God and indeed natural law. This has also happened in many other countries such as the USA and Canada too. Also with the advent of the Islamic State army and the other fundamentalist armies such as Boko Haram, Christians are being martyred in the Middle East and Africa in horrific numbers.
So I thought, two days after the feast of St. Raymund of Penyafort, it would be good to post this letter writen by him in the early 13th Century. Persecution is part of following Christ, in fact it is an honour to be allowed to share in just a tiny part the persecution suffered by Jesus Christ Himself. But we all need encouragement in order to stay strong and constant in the strength of the Lord.
"If the preacher of truth is really not deceiving us when he says that all who want to live godly lives in Christ will suffer persecution, then no one, I think, is exempted from this general rule. If he is, it is because he neglects or does not know how to live a sober, upright and religious life in this present age.
I should hope that you would not be counted among their number. Their homes are peaceful and complacent. They live in securtity and never feel the touch of the Lord's rod. They pass their days in plenty and in the end go straight to hell.
Your purity of life, your devotedness, deserves and even demands that since God has made you his own and loves you, this goodness of yours should be refined into absolute integrity by many blows. Even if you are threatened with the sword two or three times over, you should consider the very threat a sign of love and a cause for joy.
Your struggles in the world and the fears in your heart are a sharp, two-edged sword. Interiorly, the threat of this sword is doubled or tripled when that cunning evil spirit disturbs the depths of your soul with his deceits and his flattery. You have already experienced a fair share of this kind of warfare, or else it would have been impossible for you to reach the splendid inner peace and serinity that you have.
The threat of the sword in the external world is doubled or trebled when persecution breaks out against the Church without reason, over spiritual things. Here the most serious wounds are those dealt by friends.
All of this is the Cross of Christ, which we should long for as the source of our happiness. Andrew accepted it joyfully, with true manliness. Paul, God's chosen instrument, tells us that we must seek our glory only in the Cross.
Look to Jesus, then, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith; he suffered even at the hands of his own people, though he was perfectly innocent, and was reckoned among criminals. When you drink from the precious cup of the Lord Jesus, thank the Lord who gives us everything that is good.
And may he, the God of love and peace, fill your hearts with peace, and speed you on your way. May he hide you for a while from all human disturbance in the shelter of his presence, until he brings you totally into the fulness of glory. There you will sit enthroned for ever in splendour and peace, in the tents of his faithful love, in abundance and at rest."
By The Hermits, Jan 4 2015 1:39AM
PRONOUNCING OF THE WORD “CHRISTMAS” IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH ON THE TERRITORIES OCCUPIED BY ISIS
This is an artical published by Pravislavie.ru (An Orthodox Russian site that I found because they published an article about Br. Damon's arrests!)
Опубликовать анонс в Livejournal
Mosul, December 27, 2014
The outrages of radical Islamists on Iraqi and Syrian territory have not only deprived Christians who live under the yoke of the takfirists of the joy of Christmas, but also alarmed neighboring regions that for the moment are free of the terrorists, reports Linga with reference to news agencies.
According to the eyewitnesses’ evidence, on the territories occupied by “the Islamic State” the very utterance of the word “Christmas” is equated with the public preaching of Christianity and is punishable by death.
According to Suleiman Yusuf, an international human rights activist, at the present time even an indirect suggestion of the festive mood that is reigning in homes of Christian families of the Nineveh Valley is dangerous. Thus, unusual activity on Christmas days may attract attention of inspectors-takfirists who take the law into their own hands and cruelly deal with “disturbers of the public peace.”
“Needless to say hundreds and hundreds of Iraqi churches have not been decorated and adorned for the Christmas feast: today rain is pouring down either on ruins of the centuries-old churches or else on deserted and desecrated altars,” he said.
Father Maysar Bahnam, Rector of the Catholic Church of St. George the Victory-Bearer in Baghdad, in his interview dispelled the myth of the safety of Christians in the Iraqi capital which is not under control of militants: “Around 400 people are present at my services; but we cannot arrange a procession of the cross or organize something for the feast outside the church—this is absolutely dangerous now.”
The days of Nativity, joyless for 250,000 Christians of the Nineveh Valley, became a hectic period for believers of Lebanon. According to Lebanese Bishop Michel Qassarji, on an average, a Lebanese community has sheltered around 1,800 refugees since the beginning of the Iraqi conflict; 25 new families come to churches every week to ask for help. “All this is very difficult. But as the Church, we are doing our best to meet the needs of these unfortunate people, particularly in food and education,” the hierarch assured the journalists.
29 / 12 / 2014
By The Hermits, Dec 31 2014 2:28AM
Before the days of internet shopping, at least Christmas Day itself was honoured by one short day of the shops being shut. But now, not only does the shopping continue, but even the 'Post-Christmas Sales' had already started on the web.
It is a crazy material world. It seems that it is difficult now to buy anything for its full price, as there always seems to be some sort of sale or promotion taking place. I am sure that I am missing some of them, but I seem to remember 'Black Friday' at the beginning of Advent, when there were riots in the superstores, which was preceeded by pre-black Friday promotions in many of the internet sites. After Black Friday there seemed to be sales for the rest of the week, then shortly after something called 'Super Saturday' which I think was in the week before Christmas, then as I said we are now in the period of the 'Post Christmas Sales' which will morph over the next couple of days into the well established January Sales just in case you have any money left over from the Feast!
Where is the Christ Child in all this? Still in the manger, being watched over by His Mother Mary, together with Joseph, and the animals in whose manger He lay. Still in poverty, still in humility, still in a world where he is unwanted, unknown, and in the main unloved.
But He is the pearl without price, the treasure which we should all be seeking. All our worldly trinkets are as naught in comparison to Him.
Let us leave this materialistic world, at least in heart and mind as most of us cannot do so physically, and hurry to worship Him, the Lord of earth and heaven, through whom 'all was made that was made'. And let us follow Him throughout His life. Joining with Him in bravely preaching the knowledge of God and His Laws to all we meet, until we accompany Him to the Cross, through which we will enter His Kingdom, and will rejoice with him for all eternity.
You will not regret not having bought that flat screen enormous TV in the 'Post-Christmas Sales' when you are in heaven!
By The Hermits, Dec 21 2014 11:46PM
ADAM AND EVE,
JOSEPH AND MARY
Normally we identify the term “The New Adam” with Christ and rightly so but in the marriage of Joseph and Mary we something of the New Adam in Joseph. Let us see what St. John Paul has to say in his Apostolic Exhortation “Redemptoris Custos”
“We see that at the beginning of the New Testament, as at the beginning of the Old, there is a married couple. But whereas Adam and Eve were the source of evil which was unleashed on the world, Joseph and Mary achieve the summit from which holiness spreads all over the earth. The Savior began the work of salvation by this virginal and holy union, wherein is manifested his all-powerful will to purify and sanctify the family - that sanctuary of love and cradle of life."(17)
With these words St. John Paul gives us Joseph and Mary as the New Adam and New Eve. Mary is perfectly the New Eve, whereas Joseph is not the “New Adam” as Jesus is the “New Adam”. Only Jesus can save the Human race, Joseph is so to speak closer to us in his creatureliness.
Adam’s behaviour at the Fall has been illuminated for me in a quite wonderful way, when recently I read a wonderful book by an American Evangelical writer called John Eldgredge called Wild at Heart, Discovering the secret of Man’s soul. It is one of those books that come along once in 10 or 15 years and in many ways is a masterpiece. Brother Damon recommended it to me. I was a bit sceptical because Eldredge who is involved in Male Spirituality which emerged on to the scene in the early 1990’s as a response to the emasculation of men by the feminist movement. It’s secular prophet was the American poet Robert Bly. Eldredge’s understanding of Adam’s behaviour at the Fall is superb.
“Adam was not deceived by the serpent. Did you know that? Paul makes it clear in 1Timothy 2:14 ------Adam did not fall because he was deceived. His sin was different; in some ways, it was more serious in that he did it with open eyes. We do not know how long it lasted, but there was a moment in Eden when Eve was fallen and Adam was not; she had eaten , but he had a choice. I believe something took place in his heart that went like this: I have lost my ezer kenegdo, my soul mate, the most vital companion I’ve known. I do not know what life will be like, but I know I cannot live without her.
Adam chose Eve over God.” ( Eldredge John. Wild at Heart, Discovering The Secret of a Man’s Soul, Thomas Nelson, 2001; pp.115-116)
Now let us look more closely at Adam and Eve, and Joseph and Mary. Both couples must undergo a test. Adam and Eve are told that they can eat of all the fruits of the trees in the Garden of Eden, but they must not eat of the fruit of the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. We know that Eve falls and then so does Adam. They fail the test.
We come to the Annunciation and we see as the Fathers of the Church note, an Angel and a Virgin. It is a re-run of Eden but it is different, for here the Angel is good and like Lucifer is an Archangel. The test for Mary is a different one from Eve’s and far more wonderful and serious. Gabriel asks Mary if she will consent to be the Mother of the Messiah, the Mother of the Son of God, the mother of the God Man. She says “Yes!” What is the difference between Mary and Eve. One very small but tremendous thing. Mary trusts God and believes that he loves her, and she will do whatever he asks. Now what we have to ask is this; what was Adam doing when Eve was being tempted by the Devil? He was close by to her when she offered him the fruit. There is no indication that he was far away from her. She eats the fruit and then offers him some. “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” The horrible reality of their sin invades their souls, and they are overcome with fear and remorse. They see that they are naked. Their eyes are turned in on themselves. Can we see that in this they make themselves into objects, they see themselves as such, and from this wound comes all the sins but particularly those that involve sexual sin, jealousy, anger, remorse.
Adam gives his life for Eve, but in the wrong way. He was meant to lay down his life for her, as Christ will lay down his life for his spouse, the Church. He is meant to protect Eve from the Devil, but he takes the easy way out. As Eldredge says Adam chooses Eve over God, and that is why we Men are in the mess we are today. Eldredge’s thesis is a very simple one.
Men look to women for their strength when they should be looking to God the Father for their strength. Women look to men for protection. In every woman there is a desire for the man to protect her, save from dragons, rescue her from castles. Women want to be cherished and adored in the right way, but because men have chosen to look at Eve rather than God, they have idolised woman. Thus men and women are looking for the wrong thing.
Mary and Joseph right this wrong, and in them we have the image of what a man and a woman should be, and an image of what a family should be.
Joseph, a new Adam, but not “The New Adam” is faced with a test. He is not offered the forbidden fruit, instead he is overwhelmed by the fruit of Mary’s womb. He does not know who the child is. Taking the view of St. Jerome, and St. Bernard, he is absolutely convinced of Mary’s innocence, but nothing makes any sense at all. It is a mystery too deep for him. He is literally in the dark, and the only thing he feels he can do, is put Mary away privately, and hope for the best. He no doubt, was tempted to believe that she was guilty as we know how skilful the Devil is, but he wrestles with the mystery, and in this terrible torture of the mind, he falls asleep, and then the Angel, no doubt Gabriel makes everything clear to him;
Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you call his name Jesus for he will save his people from his sins. (Matthew 1: vv.20-22)
He is that just man who is doing his very best in the most difficult circumstances. He loves Mary but totally differently. It is a wonderful, and in these times an inconceivable love, for it is a virginal love. His love for God is above his love for Mary. He feels that he must obey God whatever the cost, and if that means putting Mary away privately then he will do it. See how different this is from Adam, who will hold onto Mary if that means disobeying God. How often do we see men who foreswear the faith to marry a woman who, for them, becomes more important than God.
What we see in Joseph is that marvellous mixture of courage, humility and real love. It is that kind of love that women so often crave for. For women want to see in their husbands, not only the lover, but something of the Father.
What is commonly called the father wound, and which particularly causes harm to men is also felt by women. However they can see the Father in their husbands, whereas a man cannot see the father in his wife. Eldredge quite rightly claims that men see in women the beauty of God, which he does not ascribe to any one of the Trinity, but would seem to be the Holy Spirit.
Here he explains what the woman wants and how she suffers.
“Every woman can tell you about her wound; some came with violence, others came with neglect. Just as every little boy is asking one question, every little girl is, as well. But her question isn’t so much about her strength. No, the deep cry of a little girl’s heart is am I lovely? Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen. This is the core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God. Will he pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me? And like every little boy, she has taken a wound as well. The wound strikes right at the core of her heart ob beauty and leaves a devastating message with it: No. You’re not beautiful and no one will really fight for you. Like your wound, hers always comes at the hand of her father.”
It comes ultimately from the first earthly father Adam. Cain is a murderer. And very interestingly we have the names of only three of the sons of Adam and Eve, but of the daughters we have no names. So even in the beginning we see the father wound. With Cain the feeling that God does not love him, with the daughters a strange anonymity.
Thus the marriage of Adam and Eve is unbalanced from the start. Eve loved knowledge over God, and Adam loved Eve over God. Mary and Joseph love each other in the Father’s love. Their love for each other is in the service of a greater love. That is the only way that marriage can work.
Maurice Zundel who was a Swiss priest and theologian who died in 1975 in writing about St. Joseph and Our Lady’s marriage and marriage in general has this to say>
If marriage is called to this height, if it is in Christ the sacrament which represent and in a certain manner accomplishes the mystery of the Church, it is no matter for surprise that the union of two Christians should be in the full stream of the supernatural life, under the primacy of Divine Charity, whose ineffable altruism it symbolises in the flesh and confirms in the spirit.
Clearly we must expect to see marriage, obedient to the movement of grace, tend towards the virginity of heart which flowers in the flesh in a flesh that has become as though interior to the spirit --- so that one thinks not of the soul as in the body but of the body in the soul..............
Surely we can hope that an ever wider recourse to the sources of the mystical life will direct Christian feeling ever more closely to the ideal represented at its highest by the marriage of Mary and Joseph: so that, in the light of the Wisdom which reconciles extremes by impressing upon all aspects of being the God centredness of charity, conjugal love itself will become the guardian of virginity, bringing to life a tenderness wholly of God, in God and for God.
Thus the acceptance of God’s plan for both Mary and Joseph and their total obedience to God’s will restores to marriage its dignity which was destroyed by Adam and Eve’s sin, whose different desires relegated God to second best. Joseph and Mary however become that perfect husband and wife that God intended Adam and Eve to be, and in so doing through their respective vows of virginity, become the parents of Jesus who is Christ the Lord, the New Adam in which humanity and all Creation are redeemed.
SHEPHERDS AND WISE MEN
What connects shepherds and wise men you might ask; a short answer would be vigilance in regard to the truth and the night sky. In the case of the shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem and the Wise men we could add the word danger. After all the shepherd had to protect the sheep from the wolf and presumably sheep stealers. Let us look firstly at the shepherds.
What sort of men would the shepherds be? Well they would be very simple. The Pharisees looked down on them, much as we used to look with a critical eye on the lapsed. Today, however, there are so many lapsed, or to use the old term public sinners that shock is no longer in our emotional arsenal. The reason for the Pharisees looking down on the shepherds was that their lifestyle meant that they could not keep all the laws that the pious Jew was meant to keep. Today the equivalent might be the unemployed. The shepherds were the target of the pious man and woman’s snobbery. Amazingly it still carries on today. The shepherd was very much the second class citizen, which is odd as the greatest of the kings of Israel was a shepherd, namely David himself, and Christ will describe himself as a good shepherd, and bishops have crosiers which are of course shepherds’ crooks. I have only met one bishop who has literally been a shepherd and that was the Conventual Franciscan bishop, Bishop John Jukes. Also the rabbis had obviously forgotten that Abraham and Moses were shepherds, and that it was when Moses saw the burning bush he was tending sheep. Here we have a prophetic allusion to the star. The bush is made radiant with the glory of God, and the shepherds are overwhelmed with the glory of Heaven, where God dwells.
The shepherds are watching over their sheep when suddenly an angel appears with the good news that the Messiah has been born in Bethlehem:
And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying : Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. ” (Luke 1: 12-14).
The shepherds do as the angel tells them, and find everything as he has said. God always reveals himself to the humble, and the simple. That is why Our Lady so often appears to children. They are too young to be taken up with themselves. From adolescence into the 20’s and 30’s and even into the mid to late 40’s too often we are taken up with jobs getting on, dreaming of a better future, or regretting blighted hopes and ambitions. In our present Western Society we are so taken up with analysing why we do things and the keys we use, namely politics, sociology, anthropology, and psychology are the wrong keys. They are badly made, doubtful in their use or success. Our minds if not full of dreams and ambitions can be overwhelmed by computers, I pads, I phones, and goodness knows what else. They have now made a hologram that you can touch, and most of these extraordinary things are not reality, but the shepherds who, like fisherman, have to spend a lot of time by themselves dealing with the elements, and this is still true today in the more ancient societies, still live a life that has been lived for thousands of years are very realistic people.
God enters the uncluttered mind, the simple heart, and above all appears before the child’s gaze, even if that child is an old man, or old woman. The proud, educated person usually has a closed mind, and is too often a prey to the latest fashion.
At the other end of the spectrum we have the humble but brilliant Magi. Who were the Magi? They appear to have been a mixture of astrologer, academic, and important leader of sorts. As they came from the East it is more than probable that they came from Persia or what had been Babylonia. One theory is that they were spiritual and intellectual descendants of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So they were acquainted with Daniel’s prophecy regarding the coming of Christ. The star that they saw in the East was then no surprise. It would be something that astronomers would be expecting.
The star is something that continues to fascinate. Frederick A. Larson, an American lawyer has produced a very glossy DVD that is extraordinarily professional, very persuasive, but the facts are rather forced and it depends as to when Herod is meant to have died. He is convinced that Herod died in 1 B.C., and maintains that the later copies of Josephus’ account of Herod’s death are wrong due to a copyist’s error. He also presents his theories as if they were original, but most of them have been proposed by other people. He holds that the star was a combination of light from Jupiter and Venus. He then draws together scripture, the constellations, and the names of the planets into a marvellous synthesis, whereby what is seen in the night sky is Our Lady, standing on the moon, clothed in the Sun with 12 stars as a crown, and the Dragon is Herod. Larson does not tell us whether the stars being swept down from Heaven are the holy innocents, which would be a very peculiar interpretation of the text.
Dr.Hugh Ross a Canadian convert to Christianity and an astro physicist gives a somewhat different interpretation of what the star might be:
“From an astronomical perspective, one remaining candidate would be a recurring nova. The nova (plural, novae) is a stellar explosion that produces a sudden increase in brightness followed by a gradual dimming (within a few months or years). This type of event lacks the brightness of a supernova and yet would be clearly noticeable to a careful observer. The brightest novae are about as bright as Polaris, the North Star.
Nova events are sufficiently uncommon to catch the attention of observers as alert and well trained as the magi must have been. However, nearly all novae that occurred during the Roman Empire era were sufficiently unspectacular as to escape the attention of casual observers. Chinese astronomers recorded a nova in the constellation Capricorn in March-April of 5 BC, and Korean astronomers noted something in 4 BC that could have been either a nova or a comet. These two sightings are the only ones on record near the estimated time of Christ’s birth.
Most novae experience a single explosion, but a rare few undergo multiple explosions separated by months or years. This repeat occurrence would seem to fit the Matthew 2 indication that the star appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared. According to Herod’s murderous decree, the time separation between the first and second appearance of the star would have been somewhere between 15 and 30 months. Unlike other suggestions for the identity of the Christmas star, a recurring nova would appear and then reappear in exactly the same location on the celestial sphere.
Let me emphasize again that my suggestion represents nothing more than a possibility. Matthew provides the only record of this star, and his record gives us insufficient data to make a definitive conclusion.”
Recently Hugh Ross has seen this as even more likely given the latest astronomical data. However at the end of the day it does not matter. I am inclined to think that the star was miraculous and that it was like the miracle of the Sun at Fatima.
Far more important however is the faith that spurred the Magi on. This spirit of adventure is so important for the spiritual life. Too often we lead lives of “quiet desperation” as Thoreau says. It is not what the Christian life is about. Somebody who followed her star was Jackie Pullinger the famous Christian Evangelist who on the basis of a dream in which her aunt was pointing to Hong Kong, she took it as a sign that she was meant to go. She had no idea why she was going. She got on a slow boat to China, and when she arrived was nearly turned back, until she mentioned that her mother’s god son was a member of the Hong Kong police. She still was no further to understanding what God wanted from her, and found herself at a prayer group of Chinese Pentacostalist Christians who prayed over her, and she found that she had been given the gift of tongues, which she found rather odd, and then even more strangely she began her mission, which was to convert drug triads in the Old City.
God will do wonderful things in our lives if we let him. We cannot play safe with the Christian life. Mary was open to the will of God, and was silent about what God had done in her. She could have been accused of adultery. Joseph might have decided to not be just, and in doing so ironically endanger Mary’s life and reputation. Putting Mary away quietly which would break his heart seemed the best thing.
The shepherds were used to life being dangerous, and were considered of no importance so it did not really matter. They could afford to be open; there was nothing to lose. They were truly the Anawim “The Quiet in the Land”. The Magi in following the star and coming from very far away were risking their reputations as men of learning, if they came back having found nothing. They would have been the laughing stock of their servants and those who journeyed with them and they would have been in danger from robbers, and thus in danger of losing their lives, and Herod would have had no scruples in killing them if they stood in his way.
There is then in the Christmas story elements of danger. Going to Bethlehem was dangerous for Mary and Joseph. Anything could happen on the way. Mary could have had her baby prematurely. Where were they going to stay? These are things that afflict so many of us, but Joseph and Mary trusted totally in God. Do we? The Magi believed that God was leading them by a star, and were not deceived. The Shepherds were so open to God in their simplicity that they saw all Heaven thrown open to them.
Frederick Larson might be wrong astronomically but not theologically. The journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus, and the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt was the vision of the Woman clothed in the Sun. And so I finish with a quote from John Eldredge again.
“As Philip Yancey says, I have never seen this version of the story on a Christmas card. Yet it is the truer story, the rest of the picture of what was going on on that fateful night. Yancey calls the birth of Christ the Great Invasion, “a daring raid by the ruler of the forces of good into the universe’s seat of “ Spiritually speaking, this is no silent night. It is D-Day. “It is almost beyond my comprehension too, and yet I accept that this notion is the key to understanding Christmas and is, in fact, the touchstone of my faith. As a Christian I believe in parallel worlds. One world consists of barns, politicians and shepherds watching their flocks by night. The other consists of angels and sinister forces” and the whole spiritual realm. The child is born, the woman escapes and the story continues like this.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring ---- those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17)
Behind the world and the flesh is an even more deadly enemy... one we rarely speak of and are even much less ready to resist. Yet this is where we live now --- on the front lines of a fierce spiritual war that is to blame for most of the casualties you around you and most of the assault against you. It’s time we prepared ourselves for it.” ( Eldredge; pp. 154-55)
By The Hermits, Dec 19 2014 1:10AM
My thanks to an Orthodox Religious site who republished this report about Professor Paul McHugh of the John Hoskins Hospital in the USA.
Although it was published in the Wall Street Journal last summer (2014) it is not surprising that somehow the media didn't make it well known. The transgender lobby does not like to have its views challenged, especially by such a well respected figure.
August 25, 2014
Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.
Dr. McHugh, the author of six books and at least 125 peer-reviewed medical articles, made his remarks in a recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal, where he explained that transgender surgery is not the solution for people who suffer a “disorder of ‘assumption’” – the notion that their maleness or femaleness is different than what nature assigned to them biologically.
He also reported on a new study showing that the suicide rate among transgendered people who had reassignment surgery is 20 times higher than the suicide rate among non-transgender people. Dr. McHugh further noted studies from Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic of children who had expressed transgender feelings but for whom, over time, 70%-80% “spontaneously lost those feelings.”
While the Obama administration, Hollywood, and major media such as Time magazine promote transgenderism as normal, said Dr. McHugh, these “policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.”
“This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken – it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”
The transgendered person’s disorder, said Dr. McHugh, is in the person’s “assumption” that they are different than the physical reality of their body, their maleness or femaleness, as assigned by nature. It is a disorder similar to a “dangerously thin” person suffering anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are “overweight,” said McHugh.
This assumption, that one’s gender is only in the mind regardless of anatomical reality, has led some transgendered people to push for social acceptance and affirmation of their own subjective “personal truth,” said Dr. McHugh. As a result, some states – California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts – have passed laws barring psychiatrists, “even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor,” he said.
The pro-transgender advocates do not want to know, said McHugh, that studies show between 70% and 80% of children who express transgender feelings “spontaneously lose those feelings” over time. Also, for those who had sexual reassignment surgery, most said they were “satisfied” with the operation “but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery.”
“And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a ‘satisfied’ but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs,” said Dr. McHugh.
The former Johns Hopkins chief of psychiatry also warned against enabling or encouraging certain subgroups of the transgendered, such as young people “susceptible to suggestion from ‘everything is normal’ sex education,” and the schools’ “diversity counselors” who, like “cult leaders,” may “encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery.”
Dr. McHugh also reported that there are “misguided doctors” who, working with very young children who seem to imitate the opposite sex, will administer “puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous – even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility.”
Such action comes “close to child abuse,” said Dr. McHugh, given that close to 80% of those kids will “abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated ….”
“’Sex change’ is biologically impossible,” said McHugh. “People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”
By The Hermits, Dec 18 2014 5:05AM
The Supreme Court has ruled today that the conscience clause does not apply to any health worker except those actually physically killing the unborn baby. This means that pro-life GP's, Gynaecologists, and others have to refer patients wanting abortions to doctors willing to carry the murders, that pro-life senior nurses and midwives have to send other nurses to become murderers or to help in the murder, where will it end? In my past life as a Consultant in Accident and Emergency I remember having to support a Nurse Practitioner who in conscience could not prescribe the (abortionafactant) 'morning after pill' when her seniors did not want to acknowledge that the 'conscience clause' should apply to those who realized the action of the morning after pill, which prevents the tiny human being attaching to the wall of its mother's womb, so that it falls to its death through the cervix.
Here is the link to the full article in the Life Site News.
Please pray for all those involved in health care who are affected by this ruling, that they will have the strength to stand up against this wicked law, even though it may well affect their jobs and therefore their lives.
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