This is an archive for open letters and declarations, illustrations, treatises, opinion pieces, interviews and videos that support the orthodox Catholic position on the so-called "Reproductive Health Law" passed by the Philippine Legislature and signed into law in December 2012.
(NB: Inclusion of a given piece in this blog-archive neither necessarily signifies the blog owner's agreement with all of its assertions, nor does it mean that he endorses it as completely accurate or precise.)
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The Sexual Revolution and the Vitality of the Church
With this piece I am returning to blogging - CAP. The roundup of blog entries on "The Deadly Fruits of the Sexual Revolution" can be seen at the Filipinos for Life website. (LINK)
The Sexual Revolution and the Vitality of the Church
Carlos Antonio Palad
July 31, 2013
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, one of the greatest saints in the history of the Western Church, and one of the greatest leaders of what is now known as the “Catholic Reformation”, previously known as the “Counter-Reformation”. St. Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier who, after turning devout, became a pilgrim and a hermit; in the caves of Manresa he forged the beginnings of the Spiritual Exercises, and he also became fired up with zeal to convert non-Christians to the Catholic faith. Realizing the need for study, he humbly began in his early thirties to learn grammar alongside little boys, till at length he became a student in the great University of Paris, finally receiving his Master of Arts degree at the age of 42. Alongside his studies he continued with his tremendous apostolate, converting sinners and leading the lukewarm to greater piety with his preaching and his masterful direction in the ways of prayer, despite numerous misunderstandings from Church authorities. In the face of persecution he always remained a faithful son of the Church.
It would be interesting to know what St. Ignatius -- who suffered so much in order to learn philosophy and divinity, and who was often hounded by those who ought to have supported him -- thought of the numerous heretics of his time. He studied at the height of the Protestant Reformation, when so many learned men were abandoning the Catholic faith in order to propose various heresies. Many of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, starting with Martin Luther himself, were doctors of divinity and stood among the intellectuals of their day. What must St. Ignatius have thought of them, who used their learning, learning they had received in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, in order to attack the Church and to draw not just their fellow doctors but also the simple and unlearned ones into the sorry vale of ecclesiastical revolt and schism? Was he angry? Was he sorrowful? I can imagine him thinking of the great revolt against the Catholic Church taking place during his time, led by many who had been educated and invested to be her defenders and promoters, and saying to himself: “What a waste. What a waste of time, of energy, of effort, only to come to this!”
I will discuss here three different species, so to speak, of this “fruit”.
The first is the diversion of time, resources and effort from the intellectual life of the Church. Catholicism has a deep and rich theological and philosophical tradition that has been enriched from one generation to the next. This has continued even in our time, thanks be to God. Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder at how much more enrichment might have been achieved in the last 50 years, had not many of the Catholic Church’s best minds found themselves having to spend so much time and expending so much effort, perhaps even their whole adult lives, in defending the most basic teachings of the Church on family life and sexual morality. While basic matters of liturgy and doctrine have been under attack as well, there is no denying that most of the Church’s largest battles, internal and external, in the last five decades have been those pertaining to sexual morality.
There are so many theological and philosophical questions that cry out to be answered both on the academic and popular plane. There are so many wonderful topics in Church history that can and ought to be explored. The riches of Catholic worship in its historic expressions are there for endless discussion, and the delights of deeper prayer are waiting to be disclosed to Christians living in the middle of the world. The social teaching of the Church remains a hidden treasure, with far too few to bring it into the discussions of the movers and shakers of the worlds of labor and finance. Even in the best of times the Church did not have enough teachers to bring the message of the Gospel, in all its diverse riches and aspects, to all the fields of intellectual endeavor. In all but the very best of times the Church had too few minds who could deeply engage heterodox ideologies while hewing to doctrinal purity, and who read and wrote every word in a spirit of faith. Now, with the crises arising from the Sexual Revolution and all the questions of its proponents that need to be urgently answered, this shortage has become far more disastrous. The fields of theology often end up with lay professionals for whom theology is just a discipline like any other. This shortage is as tragic as the fact that many of the best minds of the Church have had to live out many years, if not their whole lives, fighting off inane attacks and crude sophistries. Their minds were fit to communicate with angels and to teach doctors; they were not fashioned to “cast pearls before swine”, but that is what they have had to do.
Will God reward them? I am certain that He will. My point is that in a healthier time they could have put their minds to other matters and their pens to better use, for the greater glory of God and for the greater extension of His Holy Church.
I am certain that many who have researched, written or anthologized in defense of Catholic teachings on human life and the sexual morality would have preferred to spend that time on other precious tasks. I am one of them: when I look back at the amount of time I spent on the “Catholic Position on the RH Bill” blog, I wish that I instead had that time to perfect my knowledge of Classical Philosophy and to write out the treatise on Theodicy I have been thinking about since I was an undergrad. This is not to say that I and many other pro-lifers did what we accomplished out of a burdensome sense of duty. We did all of that out of our generosity and love (albeit imperfect) for the Church and for our fellow men. Nevertheless I am sure that many of us dreamt of spending all that time and effort not in defenses and counter-attacks, but in building up the edifice of the Church in other ways.
The second species of this “fruit” of the Sexual Revolution inside the Church is the waste and corruption of so much missionary love and talent. Many of the strongest enemies of Church doctrine today, especially on matters relating to family, human life, and sexuality, are drawn from those religious institutes and educational establishments that were created to give her the best and brightest defenders possible. Their purpose has been overthrown and now, as the saying goes, corruptio optimi pessima. When I read about elderly priests and nuns spending their last remaining years continuing to preach heresies that are so dated, so ‘60’s , heresies usually linked to the Sexual Revolution, I marvel at how they could have come to this. Many of them did not start out this way. Many of them entered the religious life before Vatican II, and surely imagined that they will spend their lives extending the reign of Christ the King in an ever more visible way over fields far and near, in city and forest, among pagans and Christians, the nominal and the devout. Instead, in defense of the passions unleashed by the Sexual Revolution they have spent their lives tearing down that upon which they had set out to build. In their wake are numerous broken religious congregations, stripped of vocations and reduced to staffing empty seminaries where only the birds sing.
The third “species” of the fruit that I describe in this article is the loss of vitality that could have been dedicated to other apostolic works. Many reproach the Church for allegedly spending too much time on sexual topics – “why”, they ask, “does the Church spend so much time trying to correct sexual expressions instead of helping the poor”? This reproach is as about as sensible as reproaching a nation for casting aside everything else in order to throw back a military invasion. Of course the Church has to “cast aside” so many other things to defend chastity, purity, fidelity and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman! Of course the Church has to defend the normative character of heterosexuality! Without these things being accepted by her own flock the Church cannot preach sanctity, and even the sacraments of the living become useless! What most people of our time simply do not understand is that the Church has no other choice but to defend the consistency of her doctrinal teaching through the past two millennia. Otherwise she forfeits the right to be seen as who she claims to be: the one true Church founded by Christ, for whom there can be no straying in doctrine and no error in anything essential to salvation from the Ascension until the Second Coming. Pope Francis, a spiritual son of Saint Ignatius whom so many would like to baselessly claim as a secret supporter of the Sexual Revolution, had this to say in his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, no. 48: “Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. Each period of history can find this or that point of faith easier or harder to accept: hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety (cf. 1 Tim 6:20) and that all aspects of the profession of faith are duly emphasized. Indeed, inasmuch as the unity of faith is the unity of the Church, to subtract something from the faith is to subtract something from the veracity of communion…” (Emphases mine.)
Yes, the Church really should be spending more time on other apostolic tasks: adding splendor and depth to her worship, sending missionaries to the ends of the world to peacefully proclaim Christ as the sole Way of salvation, as He Himself said; doing more to improve the lot of the people, believer and unbeliever alike, in the name of justice and charity; doing more to catechize the faithful, doing more to ensure that those already churched are not satisfied to be mediocre Christians, but will want to be saints of mystical prayer. However, I would like to ask the critics this question: don't you think the Church can devote more time and effort to these things if she didn’t have to spend so much of her time fending off those who would like her to change her teachings to fit the passing moods of the times?
Mark my words: the Church stands and falls on purity. The Church seeks to unite man with God, and as Christ Himself said, it is the pure of heart that shall see God. This is not to say that the Church should only consist of holy men and women with chastity untouched; many of the Church’s most loyal sons and daughters live their lives struggling to be chaste. I am one of them, and I will not be ashamed to admit that I have had my falls and failures in this regard. However, for us, our personal weaknesses are not a reason to reject the Church’s teachings. It is we who adjust to the Church and not the Church that should adjust to us, because if our weaknesses are the measure of the Church, then it is a Church that we do not need. We cling to the Church precisely because her teachings challenge us and she is worth clinging to only to the extent that she challenges us to transcend our weaknesses and reach out to God above the vicissitudes of culture.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, whose life is one great hymn to the power of repentance to transform a sinner into a beacon of light, knew this more than most. He would not have become a great saint if he had not allowed himself to be challenged by the holiness of Christ and his saints. He would not have become the founder of the Society of Jesus had he settled for his weaknesses and demanded that the Church tell him that this was “okay”. Today we look to his example; may this inspire us in our fight for the culture of life. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.