Another Vasectomy Question

From a commenter to my post, Vasectomy and the Catholic Church: Search Engine Q&A:

My wife has had repeated miscarriages since she has gotten older (seven so far). We have been abstaining to avoid another miscarriage. I believe it would be acceptable in God’s eyes for one of us to have a procedure that would make it impossible for her to become pregnant, but she does not. What does The Church say?

My response:

Dear ___________:

I received your question concerning the situation with your wife having had a number of miscarriages. As someone who has experienced (as a husband and father) two miscarriages myself, I am very sorry that you and your wife have had to go through this. Depending on how far along into a pregnancy the miscarriage occurs, it can be very traumatic and painful.

I’d suggest that you first go to a priest who you know and trust and talk to him about this situation. Since you earnestly asked the question, I assume you want to find answers that are authentic reflections of what the Church actually teaches. On occasion priests can be found who will put a “rubber stamp” on things that are pretty questionable. Such priests actually make things worse. If you don’t have a “go-to” priest, maybe begin by asking a trusted friend who he or she would see about this concern.

Please understand that *I* am not an authority on official Church teaching. But I can tell you that my *understanding* is that the Church’s view on “having a procedure that would make it impossible” for your wife to become pregnant would not be favorable.

This is because, first, there are other NON-PERMANENT things that you and your wife can do that don’t affect either your or your wife’s reproductive capacity. For example, many Catholic couples, for a variety of reasons, practice Natural Family Planning, which allows the couple to observe the wife’s cycle and determine which days she might be fertile or ovulating. The rest of the times during the cycle the couple need not abstain. There may also be other options that could be discussed further with a trustworthy priest.

There is also a second serious problem that would arise with a permanent procedure, which is that sexual union between spouses is intended by God to reflect the “unitive, procreative, and donative” elements of marriage. “Unitive” is essentially what Jesus talks about in the Gospel when he refers to the two becoming “one flesh”. “Donative” is the free giving of self to one’s spouse, which isn’t entirely possible once one intentionally interrupts the part of oneself that leads to procreation. “Procreative” is the part that brings about children.

When we talk about these elements, we can’t give what we don’t possess, and sometimes that’s not our fault. If a person is born sterile, it doesn’t mean they can’t marry. But we aren’t free intentionally remove our own “faculties” either. Doing so is essentially a rejection of a gift from God. We are, in the moment, returning the thing that God gave us for our own good and happiness and choosing something else that God did not intend.

“Unitive, procreative, and donative” aspects of sexual expression also help us understand *why* sex is reserved for marriage. It simply isn’t possible to do what God intends for us in the sexual act with a partner outside marriage. We might be “having sex”, but at least one (if not all) of the elements intended to present in the act are missing.

When we turn one or more of these elements “off” within marriage, we run the risk of harming the marriage itself.

Please know that I will be praying for you and your wife, and wish you a very blessed Easter.

Eros Grossly Misunderstood

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 5.51.35 PMIn perusing Facebook, today I noticed a discussion concerning “The Erotic Powers of the Holy Spiritby Elizabeth Duffy at Patheos Catholic.

Everyone thinks they already understand the quest for transcendence, including sexual transcendence. While contraceptives may well impede it, transcendence shouldn’t be a primary aim in itself, and certainly not a point for evangelizing.

What we Catholics preach with our vans filled with kids is that more than even transcendent sex, the family is the center of the Catholic universe, and Mom and Dad don’t presume to say anything other than “Yes” when God sees fit to expand the universe. It may be potentially exciting, in some weird, crazy “I-love-our-family-and-I-love-you-and-I-would-welcome-another-you-and-me-to-this-world!”-way, but that is merely a by-product of the meaning behind it.

According to Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Deus caritas est, the word eros appears only twice in the Old Testament, and not at all in the New Testament, for the writers of which there is a “…tendency to avoid the word eros,” which “clearly” points to “something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love…” Through the Enlightenment this led to the charge that Christianity had “…poisoned eros, which for its part, while not completely succumbing, gradually degenerated into vice.”

Benedict states that “purification and growth in maturity” do not “reject” or “poison” eros, but rather “heal it and restore its true grandeur.” He states that this is first due to the fact that “Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly overcome when this unification is achieved.”

The Christian faith “…has always considered man a unity in duality, a reality in which spirit and matter compenetrate, and in which each is brought to new nobility. True, eros tends to rise ‘in ecstasy’ towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing.”

To the extent that Benedict indicates that eros and agape (“ascending love and descending love”) “…can never be completely separated,” he states that the more the two, “…in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized.” To become, as the Lord tells us, “a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:37-38)… one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (cf. Jn 19:34).”

Likewise, any comparisons of “Communion with the Holy Spirit” as sexual in nature, and the “meditative art” of the “feminine climax” as “acted upon externally… by the Holy Spirit” do not properly reflect the “ascent, renunciation, purification and healing” that is described by Pope Benedict with regard to our understanding of eros.

Here we find an attempt to divinize sexual pleasure, and — more troubling still — to impute such notions upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, along with the suggestion that the Holy Spirit employed upon her “erotic powers… to inseminate and co-create“. Unfortunately, Ms. Duffy does not stop there, and invokes her own marital relationship, penetrated with what one friend termed “weird, new age sex magic concepts.”

At his General Audience of November 14, 1979, Pope St. John Paul II, as part of his series of audiences commonly known as the “Theology of the Body”, stated that the “meaning of man’s original unity, through masculinity and femininity, is expressed as an overcoming of the frontier of solitude.” Man’s solitude, JPII teaches us, is also presented as “the discovery of an adequate relationship ‘to’ the person, and therefore as an opening and expectation of a ‘communion of persons.'”

JPII suggests that if we wish to draw from the concept of “‘image of God’, we can then deduce that man became the ‘image and likeness’ of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons which man and woman form right from the beginning… Man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion.”

Thus, JPII states that the “original meaning of unity” will “possess” an “…ethical dimension, as is confirmed by Christ’s answer to the Pharisees in Matthew 19… [and] a sacramental dimension, a strictly theological one, as is proved by St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians… And this is so because that unity which is realized through the body indicates, right from the beginning, not only the ‘body,’ but also the ‘incarnate’ communion of persons.

Through the sacrament of marriage God lends further order to the natural appetites of men, and delivers grace to truly live out the vocation. Marital ceptive sex is pleasurable and possesses a spiritual quality. However, the “feel-good” of sex (for humans, beyond pure biological function and encompassimg emotional and spiritual elements) does not merit the suggestion that husbands “must be Christ in the flesh” for their wives when it comes to the “spiritual drama in the marriage bed.”

I’m not looking for that sort of mystical union, but thanks anyway.



Thank God the Pope isn’t supposed to be Infallible when he Appoints Bishops

Francis Cardinal George, pray for us.

It appears, according to this, that the Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, adheres to the notion of “primacy of conscience” with respect to communion for the divorced and remarried, and, for those individuals engaged in a same-sex relationships.

He says, “If people come to a decision in good conscience then our job is to help them move forward and to respect that. The conscience is inviolable and we have to respect that when they make decisions, and I’ve always done that.”

It is a grave injustice for Archbishop Cupich to disregard the fact that for a conscience to be “inviolable”, it must also be well-formed. Without this essential element, which he as a pastor owes a duty to support with clear teaching and example, the moral conscience “…present at the heart of the person,” which enjoins the person “at the appropriate moment to do good and avoid evil,” ceases to be what it is entirely. (CCC 1777).

“Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis)”. (CCC 1780). Where this perception is woefully lacking, conscience is (at best) gravely impaired.

Conscience includes the application of principles of morality “…in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods.” (Ibid.). Where one’s (mis)application leads one to directly violate a Commandment, one can objectively conclude that conscience is (at best) gravely impaired.

Where one’s “conscience” fails to lead one to proper “…judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed, the truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason,” there is no way to practically recognize the prudence of the individual in question on a particular issue (which is defined as choosing in conformity with this judgment). (Ibid.).

In other words, there is no way to recognize that the “conscience is inviolable” without first recognizing that the Commandments of God are inviolable, and thus, the conscience is inviolable only insofar as it remains within the individual “as the witness to the universal truth of the good.” (CCC 1781).

The person who knowingly violates his conscience by doing evil is arguably on safer ground than the person who refuses to recognize the objective evil of a particular act, because “…the verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God.” (CCC 1781).

God does not force us to repent. In that sense, a “conscience” is inviolable. But without a conscience that properly “attests to the fault committed”, forgiveness is never sought, and thus, the soul remains in peril.

Let’s pray for the Archbishop’s conversion of heart on this issue. The Year of Mercy begins soon.

A Round-Up of Articles I’ve been Meaning to Blog About

Things have been a little extra frenetic lately, and I haven’t had a chance to cover some of these items that I found of interest:

Apple’s co-founder: We’re all going to be robots’ pets one day – From Fortune Magazine. Somehow, the Woz isn’t too worried about it.

Historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox head ‘getting closer’ – From The Independent (UK). For a millennia-long schism, “getting closer” could still mean decades (or centuries) before actual movement.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 1.11.41 PMSpaceships That Could Eat Star Destroyers for Breakfast – From; someone took every sci-fi ship from every television and movie series and drew them to scale in one giant diagram. So you can see how the various incarnations of the U.S.S. Enterprise would look in a confrontation against say, the Battlestar Galactica.

From Shea’s Blog, The Prophet GKC on the Culture of Polymorphous Perversity – In case you were thinking that there is something novel or surprising about recent events:

“THE next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery nor Puritanism nor Socialism to hold them back… The roots of the new heresy, God knows, are as deep as nature itself, whose flower is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life. I say that the man who cannot see this cannot see the signs of the times; cannot see even the skysigns in the street that are the new sort of signs in heaven. The madness of tomorrow is not in Moscow but much more in Manhattan — but most of what was in Broadway is already in Piccadilly.” ~G.K. Chesterton: “G.K.’s Weekly,” June 19, 1926.

Denmark: First to Legalize; after less than 50 years: Catastrophic Disaster

This article in the Guardian (before following the link you should be aware that it contains a picture at the top of the article that is NSFW) almost defies belief.

Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography (in 1967). A recent study indicates that in Scandinavia, 99% of boys and 86% of girls have viewed pornographic films by the time they’re 16 years old. Mandatory sex education has been the law in Denmark since 1970, and in some schools already includes a pornography component.

Prof. Christian Graugaard of Aalborg University in Denmark suggested on public television that pornography should be shown in the classroom in Danish schools. This, he claims, is preferable to sex education classes that are “boring and technical.” Of young Danish teens, Prof. Graugaard says that “They should become conscientious and critical consumers.”

We are in trouble.

Age of Euphemism in UK says Sex between 13-year-olds Kids is “Normal”

Our culture has surrendered to sexual deviancy. Period. There are those involved in one form of sexual sin or another who would prefer escaping judgment for whatever it is they are doing. To avoid hypocrisy, tolerance of what others choose to do is required.

For boys and men, we’re told that males are more visual than females when it comes to sex, so there is a plethora of imagery presented for consumption and gratification: commercial use of women as sex objects for the sale of products. Secondarily, pornography, which is ubiquitous and nearly inescapable. Finally, the allure of “free sex”, where males are free to be completely unaccountable, guaranteed by condoms, contraceptives, abortions, and if all else fails, simply bugging out on any parental responsibility.

For girls and women, there is the presentation that what makes one most valuable is serving as an object for sexual gratification. Hemlines get shorter, behavior gets more overt and over the top, and the belief that a girl’s availability for “free sex” will lead to some kind of “empowerment,” which is based chiefly upon the lie that everyone should prioritize sexual pleasure, and so long as a woman can attain what pleases her in bed, she will be happy and fulfilled.

Which brings us to where we are: In the United Kingdom, educators are being instructed to consider sexual activity among 13-year-olds as normal, and also that kissing and masturbation among 9-year-olds is okay too. This, btw, is at the urging of pro-abortion groups (I wonder why).

Suppose that a group of Catholic priests publicly held this view. Does anyone doubt that Satan, always most capable when he plays the fence, wouldn’t coax out cries of “We wonder why!” from the seculars?

In opening up the possibility of greater tolerance, given as consideration for non-judgment of one’s own activities, there are greater opportunities to destroy the very small pockets of innocence left in our culture. For some reason, innocence must be obliterated. Why?

Now that the Age of Euphemism openly posits that a 13-year-old is capable of giving consent for sex, how long will it be before consent is possible not just with another 13-year-old, but with anyone of any age?

Houston’s Mayor and Her So-Called “Bathroom Bill”…..

…..Must be marinating in the stench of bovine feces, for trying to flush out and publicly shame Christian pastors. Suggest anyone who wishes to address the Mayor and City Council stand at the back wall of the chamber to avoid the noxious odors. Or better yet, wear a gas mask.

14801535173_f06e3cb5e0_oHouston’s new “non-discrimination” law provides, inter alia, that it’s discriminatory for men to be required to use the men’s restroom and for women to be required to use the women’s restroom at public places.

Opponents of the law filed a lawsuit against the city. The city, ostensibly at the direction of its mayor, issued subpoenas to a few of the pastors of the 400 area churches involved in a coalition opposed to the law (but who are not parties to the litigation), demanding copies of “any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor.”

Because only Christian haters are guilty of bullying and intolerance.

Cardinal Walter Kasper

His is a name that might be familiar, especially if you are paying attention to the Synod of Bishops in progress, or follow Vatican politics.

Anyway, the Cardinal was interviewed by Zenit:

ZENIT: It has been said that he added five special rapporteurs on Friday to help the general rapporteur, Cardinal Peter Erdo. Is that because he’s trying to push things through according to his wishes?
Cardinal Kasper: I do not see this going on in the Pope’s head. But I think the majority of these five people are open people who want to go on with this. The problem, as well, is that there are different problems of different continents and different cultures. Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.
ZENIT: But are African participants listened to in this regard?
Cardinal Kasper: No, the majority of them [who hold these views won’t speak about them].
ZENIT: They’re not listened to?
Cardinal Kasper: In Africa of course [their views are listened to], where it’s a taboo.
ZENIT: What has changed for you, regarding the methodology of this synod?
Cardinal Kasper: I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. But they should not tell us too much what we have to do.

The interview ends with the Cardinal saying “We live in a globalized world and you cannot govern everything from the Curia. There must be a common faith, a common discipline but a different application.” [Just not so “globalized” that it includes African and Asia.]. Read the rest here.

“Catholic” Notre Dame University and its Summer “Scholars”

According to this article at, the University will host a “Summer Scholars” course in 2015 for highschoolers entitled “Gender and Culture in American Society.”

The description of the course at ND’s “Summer Scholar” website begins with the following introduction to the topic: “Are you male or female? How do you know?”

Dumb questions cloaked in rhetoric and euphemism: hooray for scholarship!

Similarly, a person who has brown eyes but feels he should have blue eyes may close his eyes and declare: “I don’t know! Since I feel that I should have blue eyes I must have blue eyes! They might seem brown but you should follow my lead and call them blue. I’ll wear these colored contact lenses to help bring you into my reality.”

There’s an intellectually dishonest premise — promoted by the secular culture at large — embedded in the questions presented: that sex and gender are not objective realities for an individual, but rather feelings that are dependent on individual perspective.

In other words, gender and sexual identity are fungible; they are not immutable; they can be freely changed at will. Even anatomical and reproductive facts do not assist in settling the question.

It continues: “Gender theorists argue that gender – our masculinity or femininity – is a performance rather than an innate characteristic.” As used here, “gender theory” is nothing more than a manufactured relativism intended to justify sexual aberrancy.

Compare the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para. 2333): “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.”

God, in His creative goodness, makes each of us a certain way, in His image and likeness. An individual is unique, unrepeated, and specially loved by God. God does not mistake.