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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

USCCB attorneys foresee legal action against ‘unjust and unlawful’ HHS mandate : News Headlines - Catholic Culture

The following excerpt is from Catholic Culture's "Catholic World News":
  • Attorneys for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reiterated that the HHS mandate “accommodation” offered to some religious employers is morally objectionable.

Read more by clicking the link below:


1 Kings 3: 5 - 14:At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, "Ask what I shall give you." And Solomon said, "Thou hast shown great and steadfast love to thy servant David my father, because he walked before thee in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward thee; and thou hast kept for him this great and steadfast love, and hast given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?" It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."

Because Solomon asked for wisdom...“an understanding mind”... so that he could discern between good and evil, right and wrong. God was pleased and blessed him not only with wisdom, but also gave him “what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days”.

What a great blessing Solomon received from God! What great blessings we would receive from God if we also followed the example of Solomon, and asked for wisdom. Yet, we look for blessings in other ways, in other things, and wonder why we fall short, why we fail to discern between good and evil, right and wrong.

Is that because we are too self-centered...too selfish? In some cases that may be true, but I think in some other cases we already deem ourselves “wise” in our own minds. We “think” we have all the answers and need no other guidance.

I think that we see that “know-it-all” attitude from far too many of our political leaders and others in positions of power and authority today.

Imagine for a moment... if you... if I... if all of us....humbled ourselves as Solomon did, and fell to our knees and asked God for wisdom, especially that wisdom that can only come from Jesus Christ. What if our political leaders and those in positions of power and authority would only humble themselves, fall to their knees and ask God for that wisdom.

We know from what happened to Solomon that you...that I... that all of us and all of those in positions of power and authority would receive many graces and blessings. Not just in this life but in the life to come!

All of our earthly troubles, all of our afflictions, all of sorrows would be gone if we would only ask for the True Wisdom that comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You will find below some scripture verses from the New Testament that speak of wisdom:

"At the judgment, the Queen of the South will stand up and condemn you. She came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and here there is greater than Solomon."
- Matthew 12,42

"He himself will open the way to the Lord with the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; he will reconcile fathers and children, and lead the disobedient to wisdom and righteousness, in order to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.""
- Luke 1,17

"How deep are the riches, the wisdom and knowledge of God! His decisions cannot be explained, nor his ways understood!"
- Romans 11,33

"But he is Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God for those called by God among both Jews and Greeks."
- 1 Corinthians 1,24

"But, by God's grace you are in Christ Jesus, who has become our wisdom from God, and who makes us just and holy and free."
- 1 Corinthians 1,30

"May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory, reveal himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom, that you may know him."
- Ephesians 1,17

"Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover through the Church the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled"
- Ephesians 3,10

"Because of this, from the day we received news of you, we have not ceased praying to God for you, that you may attain the full knowledge of his will through all the gifts of wisdom and spiritual understanding."
- Colossians 1,9

"This Christ we preach. We warn and teach everyone true wisdom, aiming to make everyone perfect in Christ."
- Colossians 1,28

"For in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
- Colossians 2,3

"Let the word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise."
- Colossians 3,16

"Besides, you have known the Scriptures from childhood; they will give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
- 2 Timothy 3,15

"Do not forget the comforting words that Wisdom addresses to you as children: My son, pay attention when the Lord corrects you and do not be discouraged when he punishes you."
- Hebrews 12,5

"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God who gives to all easily and unconditionally."
- James 1,5

"this kind of wisdom does not come from above but from the world and it is earthly and devilish."
- James 3,15

"Instead, the wisdom which comes from above is pure and peace-loving. Persons with this wisdom show understanding and listen to advice; they are full of compassion and good works; they are impartial and sincere."
- James 3,17

"But you have the anointing from the Holy One, so that all of you have true wisdom."
- 1 John 2,20

Friday, February 24, 2012

Do You Understand Your Faith?

Many times, I have said that the main problem within the Church, is that the laity does not understand their Catholic faith. Many attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation, yet don't know why. Some just go to Mass out of habit, and not out of conviction.

This was plainly made apparent to me when I was attending RCIA classes in preparation for my coming into the Catholic Church. I don't know how many times "cradle Catholics" would sit in on the RCIA class conducted by Father Arnsparger, and hearing his teaching would say, "I never knew that"...or..."Is that in the Catechism'?

So, I see from the news from The Vatican Information Service (VIS) that I am not alone in thinking this. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI thinks the same thing, and gave an "off the cuff" commentary after the reading of a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.

The report from VIS on the Holy Father's remarks are reproduced below. The emphases are mine:

Christians Need To Understand Their Faith In Order To Help Others To God

Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday morning the Holy Father met with priests of the diocese of Rome. Following a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Benedict XVI delivered a long off-the-cuff commentary on the Gospel passage.

The Apostle says: "I ... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

The first call we receive is that of Baptism, the Pope explained, the second is the vocation to be pastors at the service of Christ. "The great ill of the Church in Europe and the West today is the lack of priestly vocations. Yet, the Lord calls always, what is lacking are ears to listen. We listened to the Lord's voice and must remain attentive when that voice is addressed to others. We must help to ensure the voice is heard so that the call will be accepted".

According to St. Paul, the primary virtue which must accompany vocation is humility. This is the virtue of the followers of Christ Who, "being equal to God, humbled Himself, accepting the status of servant, and obeying even unto the cross. This was the Son's journey of humility, which we must imitate. ... The opposite of humility is pride, the root of all sin. Pride means arrogance, which above all seeks power and appearance. ... It has no intention of pleasing God; rather of pleasing itself, of being accepted, even venerated, by others. The 'self' becomes the centre of the world; the prideful self which knows everything. Being Christian means overcoming this original temptation, which is also the nucleus of original sin: being like God, but without God".

By contrast "humility is above all truth, ... recognition that I am a thought of God in the construction of His world, that I am irreplaceable as I am, in my smallness, and that only in this way am I great. ... Let us learn this realism; not seeking appearance, but seeking to please God and to accomplish what He has thought out for us, and thus also accepting others. ... Acceptance of self and acceptance of others go together. Only by accepting myself as part of the great divine tapestry can I also accept others, who with me form part of the great symphony of the Church and Creation". In this way, likewise, we learn to accept our position within the Church, knowing that "my small service is great in the eyes of God".

Lack of humility destroys the unity of Christ's Body. Yet at the same time, unity cannot develop without knowledge. "One great problem facing the Church today is the lack of knowledge of the faith, 'religious illiteracy'", the Pope said. "With such illiteracy we cannot grow. ... Therefore we must reappropriate the contents of the faith, not as a packet of dogmas and commandments, but as a unique reality revealed in its all its profoundness and beauty. We must do everything possible for catechetical renewal in order for the faith to be known, God to be known, Christ to be known, the truth to be known, and for unity in the truth to grow".

We cannot, Benedict XVI warned, live in "a childhood of faith". Many adults have never gone beyond the first catechesis, meaning that "they cannot - as adults, with competence and conviction - explain and elucidate the philosophy of the faith, its great wisdom and rationality" in order to illuminate the minds of others. To do this they need an "adult faith". This does not mean, as has been understood in recent decades, a faith detached from the Magisterium of the Church. When we abandon the Magisterium, the result is dependency "on the opinions of the world, on the dictatorship of the communications media". By contrast, true emancipation consists in freeing ourselves of these opinions, the freedom of the children of God. "We must pray to the Lord intensely, that He may help us emancipate ourselves in this sense, to be free in this sense, with a truly adult faith, ... capable of helping others achieve true perfection ... in communion with Christ".

The Pope went on: "Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".

"Where there is truth, there is charity", the Pope concluded. "This, thanks be to God, can be seen in all centuries, despite many sad events. The fruits of charity have always been present in Christianity, just as they are today. We see it in the martyrs, we see it in so many nuns, monks, and priests who humbly serve the poor and the sick. They are the presence of Christ's charity and a great sign that the truth is here".

You can find more information at:
The news items contained in the Vatican Information Service may be used, in part or in their entirety, by quoting the source:
V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service.
Copyright © Vatican Information Service 00120 Vatican City

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Note from Steve Smith: This is part 3 of a series of three talks given by Carla Neupauer. Carla has most graciously offered these to Faith of the Fathers blogs for our readers.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
By Carla Neupauer

I want to start off by first stating that we are all sinners and that there is “Good News” in being a sinner. Why? Because we are the people that God came to earth to save. My personal prayer is that you soften your hearts enough tonight to realize the TRUTH that God did not come to earth in the form of Jesus to condemn us but rather to seek us out and save us. As St. Paul States:

“Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners- and I was the greatest of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as an example to show everyone how patient he is with even the worst sinners, so that others will realize that they, too, can have everlasting life.”

Based on this scripture, a favorite quote of mine is- “every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” We must realize and admit that we are all sinners. It wasn’t long ago when I lived very a sinful life. I’d try to justify my behavior by rationalizing- God has got to understand today’s world, times have changed, everybody sinning, God can’t possibly send us all to hell. However, if you read the bible, the truth is today’s world is no different from biblical times. The world has always festered with sin and this is exactly why we need our savior, JESUS.

Our modern day society is very successful in desensitizing us against sin and dangerously leads us to believe that we can determine for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. This thinking is dead wrong. Only God possesses the divine authority to determine what is right and good and what is wrong and bad. Our “FREE WILL” only allows us to choose between doing right or doing wrong- we don’t in any way determine it. So yes, we can all choose to go to hell by our own choices. But know this, God doesn’t send anyone to hell- we freely choose to go there ourselves.

I personally know that when living a life of sin against God you are not whole and complete. You are empty, restless and life seems totally meaningless. After I surrendered my life to Christ one of my saddest realizations was that a lot of people on this earth die before they ever truly live. I know for a fact that new a car or a bigger house will never complete you. In St. Augustine’s words “our hearts are always restless until they rest in You.”

I want to share with you that from the moment I met my husband, I knew he was a gift of my prayers. In college, I denied my Catholic faith and I essentially became an atheist/agnostic. When I completed college and was truly on my own I began praying again- it was out of complete emptiness and pure desperation. I truly believe my husband was an answer to my prayers because when I met my husband, one of the first, most beautiful things he did for me was he brought me back to the Church. And he brought me back on a regular basis- as opposed to when it was just convenient for me to attend.

Within two short years of when my husband and I first met, we were married. God has blessed us with a wonderfully strong marriage, not always an easy marriage but a strong marriage. I wholeheartedly believe that our marriage is blessed because before we sought the sacrament of marriage, we both first sought the sacrament of reconciliation. I now understand that at the moment we decided to first seek the sacrament of reconciliation prior to the sacrament of marriage we were both consciously seeking to place God at the center of our marriage. Subconsciously, Jim and I knew we both had barriers or walls of sin in our life that would prevent us from fully receiving all of God’s love and blessings in the sacrament of our marriage.

For me, just the thought of going to confession after living a life of sin for so many years gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. However, I wanted nothing more than God’s entire blessing on my marriage to Jim so I died to pride and that dreaded feeling inside of me and surrendered my life to God. I actually physically shook and cried inside the confessional as I confessed all my past failings. Then, when I finally finished, the priest simply and lovingly replied, “Welcome Home”. That was a truly pivotal moment in what I now recognize as my long and continual spiritual journey in faith. All I thought is that God truly loves me and wants me here despite the fact that I am a sinner. So in the confessional, which at that time, was the weakest and scariest moment of my life God began to make Himself known to me. God is unconditional love- God is good, kind, and extremely merciful to a sorrowful, humble heart. God hates sin BUT He loves the sinner.

It was many years and many struggles later that I realized that it is in the solitude of the confessional when I most live by the way (or power) of the cross. It is in the confessional that I become soulfully naked and surrender my sinful life to God. He then gifts me with new life (His Grace). It is through God’s grace that the possibilities for life become endless and exciting. Philippians 4:13 reads “I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” Realize the sacraments are living. God is actually present in the sacrament of reconciliation through His grace (the power of the Holy Spirit). God loves humility so when I completely reveal my weaknesses and failings to God in the sacrament of reconciliation, God gifts me with His grace and through His grace HE inwardly strengthens me against future sin and temptation. The Holy Spirit fills me with love, joy, peace, true happiness and a feeling of being content no matter what my life circumstances may be. Ultimately, in the confessional, I am slowly being set free from the bondage of sin because in my deepening love for God I loose desire to sin.

And, let me tell you, the world’s definition of “love” is not enough to maintain a marriage. To have a strong marriage there must be three people involved- you, your spouse and God. You and your spouse’s relationship with God will have a direct and powerful effect on the strength of your marriage. Including God at the deep center of your marriage will keep your relationship alive, strong, and exciting. But, it is up to you both to actively pursue God through the beautiful life-giving sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. If you do not seek and pursue God, you cannot receive the grace and healing God has to offer you. To quote Luke 11:10-13, “For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks.” If you had not actively pursued your fiancé seated next to you, do you think you would have fallen in love? God is always waiting for us to pursue a relationship with Him so we may totally and completely fall in love with Him. If you allow God, He will transform you inwardly by a complete change of mind and heart.

God has the gift of a new life waiting for all of us who choose it. However, contrary to modern society, the new life involves a lot less of me and a lot more of the other person. We live in an I, me, and my society. What’s he/she doing for me? I need more time for myself, I need to spend more time with my friends, I need to go to the gym again, I need more affection and attention- it’s endless. This is a deadly pattern of thought. Because of our original sin, we tend to think too highly of ourselves and think we always deserve something more from others- particularly our spouse. Your spouse is not your savior and through original sin we are all born very selfish and unwilling to sacrifice. Only through the grace of God can we turn our inner selfishness into the mind and heart of Christ. Christ’s love is a TRUE love that desires to give rather than receive. Jesus fully portrays this true love for us at the cross- this is my life and body given up for you. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized we aren’t just called to recall the very important scripture of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection; we are called to relive this Scripture on a daily basis. To quote Luke 9: 23-24, “If you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow me. For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake, you will save it.” 
The sacrament of confession unveils us and humbles us before God. Confession removes barriers of sin so that the love from the Father can be completely received by us and then we in turn are strengthened to return that beautiful unconditional love back to the Father and share it with others around us, particularly our spouse. Christ conquered the death of sin at the cross- He became sin itself, died and defeated it through the resurrection. Ironically, it is through Christ, that our sin brings us to new life. The more we reveal of ourselves, the more we are forgiven- where there is much forgiveness there is much love and gratitude. Our anger dies, our bitterness dies, our resentment dies, our critical spirit dies, and our desire for revenge dies. We are now set free so that we ourselves may forgive and live a joyful, fulfilling marriage in and through the grace of Christ. (And, believe me, in marriage there will be no marriage if there is not much forgiveness.)

My prayer is that you don’t miss out on all the good gifts God has to give you to maintain a strong loving marriage. The world and society that we live in is against you and the beautiful sacrament of marriage. The traditional family of mother, father and children all living together in one house and getting along in a civilized manner is becoming extinct in today’s society. I want you to think about building your marriage on the rock of the sacraments and not the sand of society.

I know that the wedding planning and preparation for the ceremony is now very important to you. However, please realize that the ceremony will quickly come and go but your marriage is to last a lifetime. Please prepare for this very important sacrament of marriage by first partaking in the sacrament of reconciliation. Don’t foolishly only be concerned with cleaning and dressing yourself outwardly but more importantly cleanse and prepare yourself spiritually. May there be no barriers of sin between you and God on your wedding day so you and your future spouse may fully and completely receive all the love and blessings God has waiting for you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Note from Steve Smith: This is part 2 of a series of three talks given by Carla Neupauer. Carla has most graciously offered these to Faith of the Fathers blogs for our readers.

Nobody Can Be God for Somebody Else
By Carla Neupauer
I am going to being discussing the Sacrament of Marriage and how we are to live out that sacrament according to God’s word. It may seem that I am unfairly directing most of my talk to the women and, I am, because as a woman I am very much aware of our sinful tendencies. However, the sacrificial life that I am proclaiming applies to you both- you are simply each called to die to one another in a different way.

Now, I want to begin tonight by first stating that our current culture is really hard on men. Ladies, I truly want you to realize as I speak tonight that men are not bad; they are just different. And that goes vice versa men. And, by the way, those differences that truly make you crazy are a gift; they are actually a gift from God. I know that may seem very hard to believe but right here and right now I’m going to attempt to explain how your annoying differences in marriage are actually meant to assist and help you in your our own salvation.

Unfortunately, over the years our culture has successfully stripped men of much of their God given authority in the family. Present day culture frequently portrays men as bumbling idiots. Women, on the other hand, are constantly portrayed as the heroines who know everything and can do & fix anything. This cultural attitude has resulted in much confusion, misery and unhappiness for women today. After being married for a while, the thought process for women typically goes something like this- “I can’t believe I married this idiot who has no idea how I feel or what I think…I’m not at all happy in this marriage and it’s all his fault”. “If he would just------ fill in the blank-----then I’d be happy.” I’m sure men go through a very similar process.

Additionally, our culture feeds both sexes the false message that if you just do it all right, you can have it ALL. You simply need the right career, the right neighborhood, the right friends, and the right soul mate and, Voila- complete fulfillment is achieved. This cultural notion results in nothing but a life of empty searching and continual disappointments.

With all that being said, I want to make the clear statement that nobody (not even your future husband or wife) can be God for somebody else. Therefore, tonight I am asking you to seek your Savior and your happiness in Jesus Christ and not your future spouse. I want to challenge each person here to become more introspective. I want to challenge each of you to stop focusing on what may need to change in your fiancé to make you happy- instead; I want you to redirect that focus to what needs to change in you to make you happy? Now, I’m not in anyway insinuating that your significant other does not need to change too. I’m simply stating that it is not your job to change them. One of the most detrimental false expectations in marriage is to believe that it is your spouse’s responsibility to make you happy. I know, because MY believing in this false notion caused both my husband and me much pain earlier in our marriage. Believe me, I can truly attest that this simple shift in your focus will have a phenomenal effect on your future marriage.

Now- before I move on I want to clearly address the issue that my talk does not in any way apply to an abusive relationship. If there is name calling, humiliation, isolation from family & friends, control issues, verbal threats, pushing, slapping or any other type of physical abuse, drug or alcohol abuse- this talk does not apply to your situation. Women and men should NEVER stay in an abusive relationship. If you are involved in an abusive relationship, you need to leave the relationship immediately and seek professional help.

Now, moving forward, a Dr. Paul R. Giblin points out in his article, “Stages of Growth in Marriage” that there are essentially four stages that we cycle and recycle through in marriage:

Stage One- Romance & Passion
Stage Two- Settling Down & Realization
Stage Three- Rebellion & Power Struggles
Stage Four- Discovery, Reconciliation and Beginning Again

We must see life as a movement. Life is a verb or action word. Life involves changing and adapting. Life involves marriage and marriage involves life. We need to understand and accept that our marriage will change for better or for worse from day to day, month to month and year to year. As we cycle and recycle through the various stages of marriage, our primary focus needs to be on Christ and our relationship with Him- not our spouse. So for a moment, let’s set our fiancé aside and focus for a moment on Jesus and on how he loves us. Realize:

It is Christ who loves us anyway….
Even though we disappoint Him, it is Christ, who loves us anyway,
Even though at times we ignore Him, it is Christ, who loves us anyway,
Even though we may ridicule Him and get angry with Him, it is Christ, who loves us anyway,
Even though we sin against Him daily, it is Christ who loves us anyway.

Christ’s love for us is completely independent of how we behave- we nailed Him to the Cross and it is Christ who loves us anyway. And Christ specifically tells us in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Therefore, fulfillment and joy in marriage can only be achieved through Christ and the way of the cross. Only in death can new life be found. When we die to our selfish ways, Christ fills our empty tanks so we may properly and completely love our spouse the way Christ loves us…. Christ, He loves us anyway. At this point, I’d like to share a little of my own story with you.

For those of you who don’t already know, my husband’s name is Jim. Jim is the love of my life and father of my 3 beautiful children. Do I always Love Jim- Yes, I choose to. Do I always “feel” Love for Jim- No, sometimes I’m “feeling” anything but love but I choose to love him anyway, regardless of my “feelings” for him at that moment. Understand... true, mature love is a choice and not a feeling. Regardless of the challenges, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and disappointments that we deal with as a married couple….I choose to love Jim anyway…. and my prayer is that Jim continues to grace me with that same type of heavenly mercy and that he chooses to love me too.

Life became seriously challenging for me sometime after the birth of my third baby…my sweet, little girl, Dana. After her birth, I became clinically depressed- I was absolutely miserable and it was all Jim’s fault…not at all true but that was who I was blaming. Even today, I really don’t believe Jim can fully comprehend exactly how far gone I was. If he were honest, I believe he simply saw me as a miserable, overbearing, controlling, screaming “you know what” back then. And, it is true; I was not a gentle, loving wife or mother at the time. I needed help- help to see myself for who I truly was and help to become the person that I really wanted to be. I can only thank God and His good grace that I began to stop blaming Jim for my own unhappiness.

I remember the day I surrendered my life to Christ quite vividly….I was having quite the conversation with God while ironing that day. Truthfully, it really wasn’t a conversation; it was me really hauling off on God. See each day I had a plan and an agenda and God wasn’t fulfilling His end of the bargain by assisting me to get done all that I deemed important and necessary. God wasn’t helping me, my husband wasn’t helping me and my new baby, 2 ½ year old & my 4 year old sure weren’t helping me either. I felt so alone, empty and absolutely miserable. Did I mention we were newly relocated to the Bethlehem area and I was an at-home-mom with no girlfriends…I was truly hopeless. I don’t remember at what point in the “conversation” I submitted to God but I did. I actually said, “OK you win, at this point forward my life is yours. You are now completely in charge of me. I don’t want to be in charge anymore. I give it all to you.”…. And I fell to my knees beside that darn ironing board or what I fondly consider “my iron cross.” There were a lot of tears but there were no bells, singing angels or funny lights; however, I stood up with a renewed sense of self. I stood up with hope and I made a call for an appointment to discuss my depression with my doctor.

I died that day…I hung on my own personal cross that day and I died with Christ. And, Christ being my Lord and my Savior blessed me with new life from that day forward. I would never want to live my old life ever again. That is not to say that my new life in Christ is without struggle or hardship…I wish it was but that is not true. The difference is that Christ leads and I now follow not vice versa. Now when I enter a valley, even though His presence may not always be evident to me, I know Christ is with me and in time He will lead me out to safety. Following Christ affords a peace that this world cannot give.

Now…I found my true Savior in Christ and I was set free to love Jim for who he really was, my husband. Life began to dramatically improve not because Jim had changed (not saying he didn’t also need improvement at the time) but that fact is life became enjoyable and fun again because I had changed. I immediately began praying and petitioning the Blessed Virgin Mary to assist me in being a kind, patient, gentle, loving wife and mother. Mary, my sweet Mother, she is my inspiration and love who leads me to Christ.

Mary, in her great wisdom, gentleness, meekness and mildness never steals the show from Jesus. She never fought the crowd that she should die instead of her Son. Mary formed Jesus by directing the attention away from herself to her Son, so he could live out His destiny as our Lord and Savior. When Mary was advised that they were out of wine at the Feast of Cana, Mary did not handle the problem herself. Mary called for Jesus and she told the waiters to do whatever “He” tells you to do.

Click…the light went on for me as to what my role is as a wife and mother. In Eph. 5:21 we are told to, “Honor Christ by submitting to each other.” As a wife and mother, I am not called to headship of the family. I am not called to death for the love of my family. Eph. 5:25 states, “And you husbands, show the same kind of love to your wives as Christ showed to the church when he died for her…”- that’s my husband’s job and I’m not complaining. The wife is called to deeply respect her husband. Eph. 5:33 states, “So again I say, a man must love his wife as part of himself; and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband- obeying, praising and honoring him.” God is sooo funny… Notice, He does not command the woman love her husband. Loving is easy for women. The command is obey and honor; here comes death again. This submissive role into which God is calling us as women involves a death to self, a death to our pride and a call to humility. And, humility is not that we think less of ourselves BUT that we think of ourselves less.

Ladies, we all have a little bit of Eve in us (me, I had a lot). I’m still working on getting her to fully vacate me. Eve is that modern day, take charge; I can do it all sort of woman. Eve is so powerful and overwhelming that when trouble pops up in the Garden, Adam is sure that she wants to handle it all and he happily steps aside and may even hide to protect himself from the chaos that is sure to ensue. See, by nature and because of our original sin- this is typically the unhealthy role we fall into as husband and wife. Christ and Mary, not Adam and Eve, are whom we need to emulate in order to have a good, healthy, strong and happy marriage- notice, I did not say easy.

As Mary formed Jesus, we need to form our husband. Form, not change. Mary formed Jesus by directing others to His authority. She never did for Jesus what she knew He had to do Himself for our salvation. Ladies, my point is in marriage please give your husbands their God given authority in the family. If you don’t humble yourself before your husband, like Adam (by nature), your husband will happily step back and allow you to do it all. Then, as a woman, our favorite mantra is “He never helps me”…believe me, I know!

O.K. so when you are married and the children misbehave, direct your husband to handle it and allow him set the punishment. No comments or interference, please. When problems arise in your household ask for your husband’s input, advice and counsel…and heed to it. You may not always agree with him but he has does have the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the family. Give the authority to your husband as Mary gave the authority to Jesus. Believe me, this is easier said than done. Over 10 years of having come into relationship with Christ and I still struggle.

You may ask what do I do if my future husband refuses this headship? Maybe, in your relationship your fiancé has already gotten very comfortable with you handling it all and quite frankly he has no desires for the responsibility. Chances are your relationship did not start out this way. But, overtime, you took on more responsibility and your fiancé slowly relinquished his authority. It did not happen overnight and if you are interested in correcting the problem- that won’t happen overnight either. Remember, Mary never once interfered or tried to stop Christ’s suffering, she stood by Him and she suffered with Him- Mary did not physically assume any of the suffering for Christ. Ladies, in the future, if you fail to allow your husband to assume headship out of fear of the suffering that it may cause you or your children you are hindering God’s work in your family.

Mary is the “elicitor” of manhood. Mary called man forth- she drew Christ forward to be our Redeemer and Savior. Again, when Mary told Jesus at the Feast of Cana that they have no wine, Jesus replied, “Woman, how does this concern affect me?” Even in the face of this sharp retort, Mary continued to trust in the power of the word of Jesus; again, she said to the waiters, “Do whatever “He” tells you.” Mary patiently waited for Jesus to take over…and thank God she did.

I can assure you of this- I found hope, freedom and happiness through submitting to God and His will for me as a wife and mother. I changed by falling into a submissive relationship with Christ and when I did this I slowly began to be the wife and mother that God wants me to be. My marriage improved, my children weren’t so bad after all and I became filled with peace, joy and happiness. Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior- Jim was off the hook for my happiness and I assumed that responsibility for myself.

My advice in marriage, please don’t have over-expectations, unrealistic or unjust expectations of what your future spouse should be doing for you. Only God can truly measure-up. Life is so much more enjoyable when we realize that pure, complete joy is neither possible nor attainable here on earth. Learn to enjoy life for what it is- imperfect. Stop placing false pressure on yourself and fiancé. Have a humble, grateful attitude- count your blessings daily rather than counting what you think you should have (but don’t) and what you believe you are entitled to from others. Live a life of humility, submission, obedience to God and you will discover freedom, joy, and happiness. And, in order to help us accept the limitations and imperfections of life, we need the Church, the sacraments, family and friends.

Remember, perfect joy is reserved for heaven in our true and complete union with God. Marriage & family is simply the boot camp for heaven. As husband and wife joined in the Sacrament of Marriage we cannot ever expect not to disappoint and upset one another. Our spouse is a Gift from God to draw us outside of ourselves into the deep needs of the other. Love is not with limits or restrictions. True love challenges us, true love involves total commitment, true love involves setting your own wants and desires aside to fulfill the needs of the other. Marriage involves continual dying and rising with Christ. Marriage involves dying to self and Christ is the provider of new life through His grace. There are two sides to every cross- the place of Death and the place of New Life. We must embrace the death in order to experience the new life. If we fight or refuse the cross, we will never have the opportunity to experience the new life it has to offer.

The resurrected life or the resurrected marriage only comes out of loss and a personal death. Self-pride and entitlements must die, self-centeredness and self-pitying must stop and you must relinquish control to God. Do not hold onto anger, bitter thoughts, or past resentments. These deadly sins in marriage hold us prisoners to misery. And, of course, to begin anew as many times as necessary you simply need to take a long honest look at yourself and do a good confession. John 8:32 states, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” When you are blatantly honest and truthful in the confessional, God’s infinite love and mercy fills you with new life. You begin to change and grow in ways you never imagined, so that you may love as God loves you; He loves you anyway. Praise God for His endless mercy and love.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

An Introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body

Note from Steve Smith: This is part 1 of a series of three talks given by Carla Neupauer, Family Life Coordiantor, Office of Family Life Ministries, Allentown Diocese.. Carla has most graciously offered these to Faith of the Fathers blogs for our readers.

“Sex and Marriage”
By Carla Neupauer

When you begin to study Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body the first thing you realize is that our cultures view and denigration of the human body is a far cry from God’s original nuptial meaning of the male and females sexes. For most of us, the last place we would look for the presence of God would be our body and the gift of our human sexuality. But Pope John Paul explains that in understanding God’s original plan for marriage and the meaning behind our sexuality we find the very meaning of life- a “communion” of persons. I ask you please remember the meaning of life- a "communion" of persons because I will return to it throughout this talk. Unfortunately, today we tend to associate sex with profanity instead of the original sacredness and holiness that God intended. Why? Well, I believe Satan hates God and he attacks what is most precious, sacred and Holy to Him- our sexuality. But, thanks to the blessing of Pope John Paul’s teachings, we are now openly proclaiming the profoundly beautiful and sacred meaning of our human sexuality.

To begin, I must first talk about God and “man” and with the word man I am referring to both the male and female gender- Biblical correctness not political correctness matters to me. So before I move into the discussion of the man/woman – husband/wife relationship, I first need to discuss God and man as God created him. I am going to start by restating Gen 1:27, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Here we should understand that, sexually, God (Himself) is neither male nor female- God is completely beyond a gender. We are in likeness and image to God only in so far as the kind of relationship that should exist between the male and female sexes. So, it is through our relationship as a married couple, that we are being called by God to make visible the invisible eternal exchange of love that exists in the Holy Trinity. God’s three unique persons in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit) relate so intimately that the three Persons are actually ONE unified being… And, similarly, as husband and wife we are called by God to “become one flesh”- one unified being in likeness to the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – Husband, wife, child. Remember, God is love and love is generative- real love always moves beyond itself and into a "communion" of persons- the very meaning of life.

Next, I want to call your attention to John 1:14 where God again points to our bodies. John states, “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” In scripture, God calls attention to our bodies or flesh because we (man- as created by God) are a united body and soul- we are not separate but a united body and soul. Our body is the vessel that makes visible our invisible soul. St. John tells us, God is Love and Jesus Christ is divinity or God’s love made flesh. So when we gaze upon the face or “personhood” of Jesus Christ, we are actually looking through a window and getting a vision of God, our loving Father. Therefore, we should understand that “body” of Jesus makes God who is invisible, visible to us. John 10:30 states, “I and the Father are one.”

Now from this understanding of who God is and who we are in relationship to God, I want to move to God’s love story of Creation with Adam and Eve. This story is not a scientific explanation of our beginning but rather a letter of love from God. When God first created Adam in the Garden, God had Adam name all the animals of the earth. In naming all the animals, Adam realized that he was alone. Adam longed for someone like himself to love- see from the very beginning; God created us with a strong desire to love- a strong desire to have a "communion" of persons. Now, to fulfill His plan, God placed Adam in a “deep sleep” and created Eve from his rib. Upon waking, Adam declared, “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen 2:23). Adam was joyously declaring that finally this is a person that I can love. And, in the beginning, Adam and Eve loved one another as God loves- their love was free, faithful, fruitful and total.  Their love was a sincere and total gift of self. There was no shame in their original nakedness. However, after Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge, that all changed. When they defied God and ate the forbidden fruit, they lost God’s grace and holiness and shame entered into the picture with lust taking over their hearts.

Adam and Eve gave into the lies and temptations of the serpent or Satan. The serpent cleverly first addressed Eve, bargaining that Adam would not step up to defend her. Adam stood by and watched Eve as she boldly grabbed the apple from the tree of knowledge. She wanted to be like God and possess God’s knowledge of good and evil. Eve dismissed God’s fatherly love and acted directly against his word. She desired to decide what was best for her rather than trusting in her loving Creator and Father. And where was Adam??? Well, as we already know, he was standing by watching Eve fall to sin. See the serpent was right- Adam was afraid to protect and defend Eve from the lies. He was afraid the serpent would kill him should he try and defend his love. Adam selfishly put himself and his own welfare before Eve. Understand the exact opposite of love is not hate- No, it is selfishness. The serpent bargained that Adam would be selfish and care more for himself than for Eve and the serpent was right. So rather than defend Eve, he joined her in sin. Adam and Eve both failed God.

God’s love story of our beginning enlightens us as to why we need a Savior. We, alone, are not humanly capable of responding to God’s love in such a way as to reconcile ourselves to Him for our sins. We are all born with a strong propensity to sin (to be selfish) and only Jesus Christ (who points us directly to the Father) can save us from this “original sin”. Here on earth, we all need to reopen ourselves to God’s grace and holiness that was lost in the Garden. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit can we again be liberated from sin- particularly, the sin of lust. It is obvious that today, most of us act no differently than Adam and Eve and, guess what, the serpent is more alive than ever. Our culture tells us that God’s commandments are not for our happiness…And, by the way, they are not really commandments either. At best, they are probably just some good suggestions. And of course, to be “politically correct" these suggestions are not for everyone because what each of us believes as an individual is in fact the truth for that person- in other words “Divine Truth” does not exist. Our culture tells us that man creates his own Truth. All this is the lies of Satan and we continue to believe these lies. It is so easy for us to embrace lies rather than follow the Truth. Our culture screams that God has too many constraints- he is not a loving Father and is he not interested in our happiness…we, as individuals, know what’s best for our happiness and well-being, not God. To this day, we continue to eat the forbidden apple.

Let me assure you that God does love every single one of us and does in fact know what is best for us as individuals and on a societal level. God is not hiding from us. However, Satan is doing an excellent job in continuing to deceive us to this day….. But I’d like to expose some of those lies to you. Pope John Paul II’s teachings are instrumental in exposing one of Satan’s biggest, most harmful lies- the naked human body is profane; it does not merit dignity and respect and, sexually, its main purpose is self-gratification. The TRUTH is God wants us to intimately know Him through the beautiful, sacred gift of our human sexuality and the fruitfulness of our bodies. Our bodies are beautiful and sacred- not “dirty” and profane, as Satan wants us to believe. The Sacrament of Marriage is truly a physical or outward sign of God’s own love in this world and that is why I believe it is very much under attack today.

Let’s ponder the continuation of humanity for a moment. A man in and of himself makes no sense and a woman in and of herself makes no sense. But remember God states in Genesis, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The result of this loving, faithful, complete union is children. Love freely, faithfully, totally and fruitfully given and received between a husband and wife is the visible image of God’s own Trinitarian Love and this is clearly evident through understanding that the eternal love shared between God the Father and God the Son which is freely, faithfully, totally & fruitfully given and received begets the Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian type of love relationship is God’s plan for marriage and the means by which we attain an intimate relationship with Him. Wow, who would have ever dreamed that the physical union between the husband and wife is meant to icon or image the Holy Trinity? Now, knowing this Truth, from this point forward, your nuptial union should never be the same again. Remember, we are created in God’s image (we are created to be generative or fruitful), so allow me point out that by respecting and honoring the natural fruitfulness of our bodies through the practice Natural Family Planning our marital union will logically form a deep dependency and trust in God. When we don’t barricade God out with contraception, our intimacy with God and our spouse naturally increases. God is life-giving love and we are here to icon or be a visible image of God’s love- Ladies, I need to point out that there is no room for artificial contraception in God’s plan for marriage. Again- the meaning of life is a "communion" of persons.

As I mentioned earlier, Adam and Eve failed at fulfilling God’s Plan for love. However, the good news is, Christ (the new Adam) was a complete success. But Christ did not work alone. Christ too worked in communion with others. To explain this lets look at our salvation on a deeper level. First, God the Father had to humble Himself to actually want to enter into our humanity- Divinity coming to dwell among us. Now, if that isn’t humility nothing is. Next, and it’s a biggie, Mary then had to say “yes” to God for the birth of our Savior to actually happen. Mary had to willfully and positively respond to God’s love and submission. Now, with Mary’s “yes” to God she in turn humbled herself as God’s servant or handmaiden. So our Savior was actually delivered to us through a "communion" and mutually submissive relationship between God and Mary. Through God’s own example here, we need to recognize that this type mutually submissive relationship is Holy.

Mary went on and nursed, taught, and cared for Jesus. Mary ultimately formed or helped Jesus to become our Savior. Mary fulfills God’s Plan for femininity when she becomes Jesus’ or God’s helper- in Genesis 2:18, God assigns the married woman the responsibility of being a helpmate to her husband. Not for reasons of inequality but for reasons of order. Jesus, likewise, is the authentic male role model for men. Jesus did not stand quietly beside Mary and allow her to die for us- Jesus sacrificed Himself to demonstrate his great love for us. Adam watch; he failed God. Jesus sacrificed and died; He fulfills God's plan for salvation. Also ladies, for the Eves’ in all of us, Mary did not scream and fight with Jesus’ persecutors that she should die instead of her Son…. think about this huge sacrifice moms. Mary was the quiet strength and support for Jesus. Mary knew God’s will and she actively participated and formed Jesus to fulfill it. Through the "'communion" of God, Jesus and Mary- Jesus was formed as our Savior to die for us. What I’m attempting to show here is Mary and Jesus perfectly fulfill God’s original plan for marriage. Men, you are to love your wives so much that you would die for her (I’m not necessarily talking a physical death but a death to self- that you place your wife’s needs before your own selfish wants and needs) and ladies you are to form and help your husbands to serve and protect you- please do not allow your husband’s to take a passive role in the family (no Adams allowed). Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reads, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the wife is a symbol of the Church and the husband a symbol of Christ. Men like Jesus are to serve, not be served- Christ laid down His life so the Church may live. Men are to protect their wives and family from sin- they are not stand by idly and do nothing as Adam did. Women we need to allow our husbands to be the men God created them to be. Do not overpower or manipulate your husbands- do not crush their spirit or make them doubt their position of authority in the family. Women respect and support your husbands and allow them to love you so much that they would lay down their own life and die for you. This is God’s Plan for marriage- that you work together and in complete unity and "communion" to eventually get each other to heaven.

Here on earth- we essentially have the choice between two different types of marriages. We can choose a marriage from hell or a marriage made in heaven. I believe all of us would prefer the latter of the two but, unfortunately, in today’s culture we have an over abundance of marriages straight from hell. What we need to remember to get started on a marriage made in heaven is the unity and "communion" of persons. In likeness to the Trinity, unity is essential in marriage. In fact, in order to have a satisfying, fulfilling marriage there must be a union or "communion" of the entire persons- body and soul. Remember, physical or bodily union is meant only to express a deeper spiritual and personal intimacy between the couple. Ultimately, bodily union is always meant to be the end result of something larger- the joining or "communion" of the souls. Sex is never to be an end in and of itself; it may be hard to believe but God did not create sex to be just a self-satisfying sport. God gifted us with the ability to “become one flesh” not only to be fruitful but to also make physically visible the deeper union or "communion" of the souls. And again, let me repeat that love is free, faithful, total and fruitful. Total means total person- union or "communion" of body and soul.

Now, right here, is where some real differences become very evident between the sexes. By nature, men can be quite easily be satisfied with the mere act of the physical union between husband and wife. However, this physical act alone can no way meet a woman’s deep inner desires and longings for a soul connection (a "communion" of the persons). Because of this significant difference between the sexes, a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and conflict develop in the husband/wife relationship. But, as we previously learned, God created us for self-giving or self-less love. Again, Satan is the one who entices us to succumb selfishness, which is the exact opposite of love. Godly love or real love is self-giving love and we clearly see this love demonstrated by Christ on the cross. Therefore, when a husband and wife each individually die and give in different self-sacrificing ways they become fully and totally satisfied and achieve the union or "communion" of body and soul. It is no accident that God created the basic male & female needs to be so different.

Women, it is not o.k. for husbands to think of sex merely as a physical act with their wife who happens to give them pleasure- this is not love but a selfish exploitation of his wife. And, women, husbands need to know that we are not stupid and we easily discern and at times deeply ache from a lack of sensitivity and concern for us as a person. Yes, it is true, wives can and often do feel used in marriage. Let me explain the vicious cycle we often move into- the consequence of a woman feeling used by her husband is the woman withholding sex from her husband. Now, with the sex being withheld, the husband begins to feel undesired and unwanted by his wife. He begins to doubt his own manhood because sexually his wife no longer desires him- the husband now begins to also feel rejected and unappreciated as a person. In this type of relationship, there is no fulfillment, just emptiness. Here we see neither spouse is happy and neither spouse is looking to fill the deep needs of the other. In this scenario, each partner is only selfishly looking to have their own needs met and blaming the other person for their own unhappiness. At this point, if a husband and wife fail to deepen their understanding of the true meaning of marriage, the marriage will end OR, if it endures, it will be living hell for the next 30 or 40 years.

It is of utmost importance to realize that God created us differently as a couple so we may help each other to grow in holiness- let me repeat that, we may help each other to grow in holiness (HOLINESS, not happiness). The vocation of marriage is to draw us outside of ourselves into the needs of the other (whose basic needs by nature are very different from our own). Here, in unity and "communion", we find fulfillment in marriage. True love is sacrificial love- meeting your spouse’s needs and then your spouse freely, faithfully, totally and fruitfully accepting that sacrificial gift and then returning that love again and again through sacrifice after sacrifice. Remember, through God’s own example in His relationship with Mary, we have learned that mutual submission is Holy. Understand, that true love is not about having someone else always make you feel good or feel happy. Your personal Savior is Jesus Christ. Your inner joy and peace can only be found in Jesus. And yet even in our life with Jesus we have struggle- Jesus never promised to remove our struggles; He does, however, provide us with new sight so we may view those struggles differently (Jesus makes the blind man see and we are all born the blind man). Think for a minute of St. Paul- forever struggling but forever joyful. We only ever meet Christ face to face at the cross- Therefore, our own crosses or struggles are what actually bring us into an intimate relationship with Christ. After we realize this, we slowly begin to no longer view our suffering as suffering but as an opportunity for growth in our loving relationship with our Savior. What we need to understand is that we can only sacrificially love others after we first experience Christ’s deep love for us. So, please realize, that a sacrificial love relationship with your spouse is only possible through your own loving relationship with Jesus Christ. We can love only because He loved us first.

The point I want to drive home is we all need to come to accept Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior. Jesus is the only one who is able to re-gift us with the grace we lost in the Garden. We need God’s grace or His life in us to sacrificially love our spouse or anyone else for that matter. Not one of us is capable of living this type of sacrificial life without the Grace of God… And the means by which we readily receive His Grace is through the living sacraments- particularly the repeatable Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. In marriage we need to work in true unity and "communion" with Christ and with one another so our hearts may experience the beautiful, transforming true love that God has to offer (receive the grace you need to sacrifice for your spouse as Jesus sacrificed himself to the Father). Remember, as I stated earlier, Pope John Paul explains that in understanding God’s original plan for marriage and the meaning behind our sexuality we find very meaning of life- we are called to form a “communion” of persons. God’s own example of sacrificial love is what makes a marriage made in heaven right here on earth. I pray that you please remember something my husband always says, “sacrifice equals love and love equals sacrifice”- know that real love is always by the way of the cross.

In conclusion, Pope John Paul believed that a culture that does not respect the truth about human sexuality is doomed to be a culture that does not respect life- it is doomed to be a culture of death. I believe that we are now living in that culture of death. And let me just boldly state, that if we are to rebuild this culture of death, we are obligated as individuals to understand and spread the truth about our bodies and our human sexuality. God bless.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Divinity of Christ

Part Two

God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo

In Part One, I discussed the assertion of some “theologians” that Jesus Christ was unaware of His divinity until His crucifixion. I disproved that theory with the accounts of the Gospels of Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke and Saint John. Here in Part Two, we will disprove the absurd notion of some “theologians” that Christ had dark, evil, and even lustful thoughts.

This convoluted idea that Jesus Christ had dark, evil, or lustful thoughts goes entirely against everything contained in Holy Scripture regarding Him. We know from Scripture that Jesus Christ had no sin and that He took on our sins and paid the price for us by His sacrifice on the cross. We have these words from scripture:

2 COR 5:21: Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him

HEBREWS 4:15: For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.

1 PETER 1:17-19: And if you invoke as Father Him who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every one’s work: converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here. Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.

1 JOHN 3: 4-5: Whosoever committeth sin committeth also iniquity; and sin is iniquity. And you know that He appeared to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.

We know that Jesus became lower than the angels and took on flesh, and became man. He was true man in every respect except His being sinful. His body was a natural body like our own, and He experienced the same natural weaknesses we experience in our bodies, such as hunger, thirst, sufferings, and death. Because however, His body was conceived miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit, He did not have those infirmities that result from our sinful fallen nature.

To say that Jesus had dark, evil, or lustful thoughts can be disproved entirely from Scripture, especially in the Gospels. We know that after He was baptized by Saint John the Baptist, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert where He was tempted by Satan:

MATTHEW 4: 1-11: Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

Jesus also taught that to have evil thoughts was to sin, as we see from these verses:

MATTHEW 5: 27-28: You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.

MARK 7: 14-15, 17-23: And calling again the multitude unto Him, He said to them: Hear ye me all, and understand. There is nothing from without a man that entering into him, can defile him. But the things which come from a man, those are they that defile a man. And when He was come into the house from the multitude, His disciples asked Him the parable. And He saith to them: So are you also without knowledge? understand you not that every thing from without, entering into a man cannot defile him: Because it entereth not into his heart, but goeth into the belly, and goeth out into the privy, purging all meats? But He said that the things which come out from a man, they defile a man. For from within out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile a man.

So we can see from these instances of Holy Scripture, that unlike us, Jesus was able to overcome temptation from the devil, and that He taught unequivocally that dark, evil, or lustful thoughts were sins which defiled a man. Was Jesus defiled? Of course not! For anyone to say that Jesus Christ had evil dark thoughts is to accuse Him of sin who did not have sin. Further, to accuse Christ of sin is to call His sacrifice on the cross meaningless and without any merit whatsoever. If Christ had had sin, then He could not have taken on our sins, and His death on the cross would have been meaningless. Therefore, the teaching of these theologians calls Christ's death on the cross without merit. If His death was without merit, then we would still be under the penalty of eternal death and there would be nothing that could give us the salvation we need.

Have you ever wondered as I have as to how or even why some of these people became “theologians”? The dictionary gives the following definition for theology: of religion: the study of religion, especially the Christian faith and God’s relation to the world; 2. religious theory: a theoreligious theory, school of thought, or system of belief; 3. course of religious training: a course of specialized religious training, especially one intended to lead students to a vocation in the Christian Church. It also gives this definition for theologian : specialist in theology: somebody who is an expert in or a student of theology.

Now, let me point out a couple of things here. First, because one has the title of “theologian” it does not necessarily follow that he or she is also a Christian. In fact, it is not even certain that some theologians have any belief system at all. Indeed, there are those who study, have degrees in, and are teachers of theology, who are not nor ever have been Christian. It is easy to ascertain who these non-Christian “theologians” are, when they make strenuous efforts to disprove and repudiate Jesus Christ and His Church. These are the same “theologians” who repeatedly refer to such things as the Gospel of Judas and Gnosticism as “Christian”, which if they were true students of Christianity, and had true knowledge of such heresies they would know those things were everything but Christian. I have even seen one “theologian” who said that Saint Paul never had a vision of Christ when he was converted on the road to Damascus. He said that Paul met with Christ who was living in Syria at the time. Yes, these are theologians. So once again, let me say, Lord, save me from theologians. Especially theologians who make it their life work to deny Christ.

Please don't think that I am dismissing all theologians as anathema, I am not. The history of the Church is replete with many great theologians such as Saint Albert the Great, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Augustine of Hippo just to name a few. Today we have very able theologians such as Pope Benedict XVI, Scott Hahn, the late Father John A. Hardon, and Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio among many others. The thing to remember is, if a theologians work seems more inclined to oppose Christ, His teaching, and His Church, then don't waste your time with their work. Compare it to the work of the theologians listed in this paragraph, who always proclaim the Gospel and the Church. Beware of men who write for the admiration of other men, and follow those who write for their love of God.

Copyright © 2009 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved.