Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it

Icon-of-the-Holy-Family-of-Nazareth-PhotographWithin weeks the people of Ireland will be asked to vote in a referendum that will change the meaning of marriage in the Constitution of Ireland.

Marriage is of fundamental importance for children, mothers and fathers, and society – all of us need to reflect deeply before changing it. We ask the people of Ireland to consider very carefully the profound implications which this constitutional amendment would have on the family environment and on our understanding of parenthood.

We respect the views of people who think differently to us, trusting that our sincerely held views, grounded in faith, will also be heard and respected.

We come to this debate believing that the union of a man and a woman in marriage, open to the procreation of children, is a gift from God who created us ‘male and female’. Reason also points to the truth about human sexuality that makes the relationship between a man and a woman unique. Mothers and fathers bring different, yet complementary gifts and strengths into a child’s life.

We cannot support an amendment to the Constitution which redefines marriage and effectively places the union of two men, or two women, on a par with

We are concerned that, should the amendment be passed, it will become increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman. What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage? Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience? Can a way be found to protect the civil rights of gay people without undermining the fundamental meaning of marriage as commonly understood across cultures, faiths and down the ages?

Already, in The Children and Family Relationships Bill, it is proposed to remove mention of mothers and fathers from a whole raft of previous legislation.

We encourage everyone to think about these issues and to vote on May 22nd. The effects of this proposed amendment will be far-reaching for this and for future generations. We say to all voters: Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it.

We invite people of faith to bring this decision to prayer. In the coming weeks, and particularly in May, the month of Mary, we call for prayer for Marriage and the Family.

Catholic Bisohops of Ireland

Did The Catholic Church Prevent People From Reading The Bible?

Myth: Luther and other Reformers were the first to translate Scripture into vernacular languages, which the Church had previously forbidden

A main tenet of the false narrative about the origins of Protestantism is that the Catholic Church prevented people from reading the Bible. Enter John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, and others to translate Scripture into vernacular languages so that the people could be free of Roman tyranny.

From its beginnings, the Church recognized the crucial role of the written portion of divine revelation in fulfilling its mission of evangelization. Once the Church finalized the canon of Scripture in the fourth century, efforts began to make it more accessible to the laity.

Perhaps the most famous translation of Scripture is known as the Vulgate. The name comes from the fact that the translation, by St. Jerome (342-420), was from Greek and Hebrew into Latin, the “vulgar” (meaning everyday) language of the time.

The Church was not against vernacular translations of the Bible (indeed it actively fostered such translations), but was only against bad vernacular translations, which could easily lead to heresy and even violence.

The Church also dealt with the issue of “private interpretation” of Scripture during the fourth century, when a pernicious new heresy that denied the divinity of Christ arose in North Africa and quickly attracted millions of adherents. Arianism would plague the Church for centuries, proving extremely difficult to eradicate. One reason it spread so rapidly and endured so long was that, with the Roman Empire at peace, people had the time to debate theological matters.

Many used Scripture to justify heretical positions. Jerome lamented this when he wrote, “Builders, carpenters, workers in metal and wood, websters and fullers, makers of anything, cannot become an expert without a teacher; physicians are trained by physicians. The art of the Scripture is the only art which is claimed by all.”

Martin Luther is most often credited with freeing Scripture from its suppression by Rome by making it accessible to the people. An Augustinian monk, Luther earned a doctorate in theology with an emphasis on Scripture in 1512. He was sent to teach at the University of Wittenberg, and on October 31, 1517, he posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church. His document’s attack on papal authority led to a summons to Rome (which he ignored) and his eventual condemnation by Pope Leo X in the 1520 bull Exsurge Domine. Heresy was an ecclesiastical and civil crime at the time, so in 1521 Emperor Charles V (r. 1519-1558) invited Luther to the Diet of Worms to give him an opportunity to repudiate his condemned works. Luther refused to go, prompting Charles to issue the Edict of Worms in which Luther was “regarded as a convicted heretic.”

Heresy was a capital crime in the temporal order, so Luther went into hiding in the Wartburg castle for almost a year. It was in his self-imposed exile that Luther began work on a new German translation of Scripture, which was published in its entirety in 1534. Luther was scornful of the Vulgate; For instance, he sneeringly dismissed St. Jerome’s translation of the angel Gabriel’s name for Mary as gratia plena (“full of grace”). “What German would understand that if translated literally?” Luther wrote. “He knows the meaning of a purse full of gold or a keg full of beer, but what is he to make of a girl full of grace? I would prefer to say simply, Liebe Maria (Mary, full of love).” Concerning translation of the Old Testament, Luther hoped to “make Moses so German that no one would suspect he was a Jew.” Contrary to popular belief, Luther’s German translation was not the first in that language, as there were thirty-six previous translations.

The Real Story: The Church has always supported the translation of Scripture into the vernacular, because it is charged by Christ to spread the Gospel throughout the world. It has opposed only faulty vernacular translations by heretics who used them to spread their errors.

Fertility treatments and pediatric neoplasms of the offspring: results of a population-based cohort with a median follow-up of 10 years.

Wainstock T, Walfisch A, Shoham-Vardi I, Segal I, Harlev A, Sergienko R, Landau D, Sheiner E.

OBJECTIVE:

Studies have questioned the long-term health effects of offspring conceived after fertility treatments.

METHODS:

We aimed to evaluate whether an association exists between mode of conception (in vitro fertilization, ovulation induction, or spontaneous pregnancy) and neoplasm risk (both benign and malignant tumors) among the offspring; we observed the offspring for up to 18 years.

STUDY DESIGN:

A population-based cohort analysis was performed that compared the risk for neoplasms among children (up to the age of 18 years) based on mode of conception. Neoplasm diagnoses were based on hospital records of the same single tertiary center in the region. All singletons born during from 1991-2013 and discharged alive were included in the study. Offspring with congenital malformations were excluded from the analysis. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were constructed to compare cumulative neoplasms incidence; multivariable survival analyses were used to control for confounders that included gestational age, pregnancy complications, and maternal factors.

RESULTS:

During the study period, 242,187 newborn infants met the inclusion criteria: 2603 (1.1%) were conceived after in vitro fertilization; 1721 (0.7%) were conceived after ovulation induction treatments, and 237,863 (98.3%) were conceived spontaneously. During the follow-up period (median, 10.55 years), 1498 neoplasms(0.6%) were diagnosed. Incidence density rate for neoplasms was higher among children conceived either after in vitro fertilization (1.5/1000 person years) or ovulation induction treatments (1.0/1000 person years), as compared with naturally conceived children (0.59/1000 person years; Kaplan-Meier log rank, P<.001). The association between in vitro fertilization and total pediatric neoplasms and the association between any fertility treatments and malignancies remained significant; we controlled for confounders such as gestational diabetes mellitus, hypertensive disorders, preterm birth, and maternal age (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.71-3.50; and adjusted hazard ratio, 1.96; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-3.36, for all neoplasms and all malignancies, respectively).

CONCLUSION:

Children conceived after fertility treatments are at an increased risk for pediatric neoplasms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28153657

Were John Calvin & Martin Luther Holy And Pious Men?

Myth: The Reformers were holy men who struggled heroically to free the true Christian faith from the superstitions of Rome

Martin Luther (1480-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564) are generally regarded as holy and upright men appalled at the impiety, superstition, and corruption in the Catholic Church, and dedicated to returning the Christian faith to its pristine original form. But a closer look at their lives reveals that, in truth, they were arrogant men bent on refashioning the Christian faith to their own liking.

Luther suffered throughout his life from various physical and spiritual problems. He was desperate for certain knowledge of his own salvation, and came to believe that it is through faith alone that one is saved. He adopted the heresy that Scripture alone is the authoritative source of divine revelation. Luther’s image of God, which may have reflected that of his abusive father, was extremely negative and influenced his theology and his conflicts with authority. To Luther, God was not a loving father, as revealed by Christ, but rather was a tyrannical and wrathful judge who delights in tormenting sinners. As he later wrote, this belief drove him to “the very abyss of despair so that I wished I had never been created. Love God? I hated him!”

Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. Although many of the theses dealt with ecclesiastical abuses, Luther’s contention that the pope had no authority to grant indulgences was outright heresy, and in 1520 Pope Leo X condemned it and forty other erroneous teachings. Luther’s response in the form of three treatises published late that year laid the foundations for his revolution against the Catholic Church. In these treatises he appealed to the German nobility to nationalize the Church in Germany and free it from Roman control. He also attacked the sacraments, denying that they are channels of efficacious grace when faith is absent. In the treatise he addressed specifically to Pope Leo, he denied free will; and he later called for the suppression and eradication of the Mass.

Luther’s revolutionary writings led to outbreaks of violence throughout Germany. By 1525, mobs had destroyed churches, burned sacred art, and profaned the Eucharist. Nobles sympathetic to Luther’s teachings appealed to him for help ending the violence.

In response, Luther wrote a pamphlet titled Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants, in which he called on the nobility to suppress the rebellion with all necessary violence, which they did with ferocious efficiency, killing 130,000 peasants. That same year Luther married a former nun whom he helped “escape” from the convent. Several years later Luther’s break with Christian teaching on marriage was made complete when he advised Philip, landgrave of Hesse, that he could enter into a bigamous marriage so long as he kept it secret. When word of it leaked out, Luther advised Philip to deny it, writing, “What harm is there in telling a good bold lie for the sake of making things better and for the good of the Christian Church?”

Toward the end of his life Luther wrote On the Jews and Their Lies, a treatise in which he put forth an eight-point plan to rid Germany of its Jews. “If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt,” Luther wrote, “we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country. We must drive them out like mad dogs.” In Luther’s last treatise before his death in February 1546, Against the Pontificate at Rome, Founded by the Devil, he called for the torture and murder of the pope and cardinals.

John Calvin was of a different temperament than Luther. Whereas Luther was bombastic, rude, and vulgar, Calvin was studious, quiet, and refined. Despite their differences, though, Calvin was just as much a revolutionary, and it was he who began the “war against joy” in Geneva. Hilaire Belloc pointed out that “it was the French spirit, but the northern French, the less generous, the people that have no vineyards, which produced Jean Calvin.”

By 1545 Calvin had created a theocracy in Geneva which enforced its own version of Christian morality upon the citizenry. Citizens were sometimes required to confess their sins in front of a civil magistrate, and were subject to biannual visitation by a commission of elders and ministers who investigated whether they attended church services regularly and lived moral lives in accord with Calvin’s creed, and classified them as “pious,” “lukewarm,” or “corrupt” in their faith. The death penalty was prescribed for adultery, blasphemy, idolatry, pregnancy out of wedlock, and striking a parent. It was also against the law in Calvinist Geneva to dance, sing (outside of church services), stage or attend theatrical plays, wear jewelry, or play cards or dice.

Calvin also railed against fellow Protestants when their theology did not agree with his. The most famous case involved Michael Servetus (1511-1553), whose 1531 work Seven Books on Errors About the Trinity landed him in trouble with the Spanish Inquisition. He fled Spain for France, where he began writing letters to Calvin asking his opinion on various points of theology. Servetus disputed Calvin’s answers, as well as many of Calvin’s teachings in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. When a marked-up copy of the Institutes arrived from Servetus, Calvin became incensed and vowed, “If he [Servetus] comes [to Geneva], I will never let him depart alive.” When in 1553 Servetus did come to Geneva he was spotted by Calvin, arrested, tried for heresy, convicted, and burned.

The Real Story: Martin Luther and John Calvin were complex men who were anything but the pious reformers of modern myth. They viciously attacked their critics. Luther’s writings spurred an armed rebellion in Germany that had to be forcibly put down by the nobility. Calvin created a theocracy in Geneva that interfered in the private lives of all citizens. Both men rebelled against the Catholic Church and contributed to the fracturing of Christendom, which persists to this day.

Why The Pagan Influence Theories Are A Bunch Of “Horus Manure”

Myth: The Christian Faith is just repackaging of pagan myths.

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was an author and expert on the subject of mythology. His interest in myths began when, as a boy, he saw his first Native American totem pole. A practicing Catholic until his thirties, Campbell was fascinated by the seeming similarities among the myths of different cultures.

In books such as the perennial bestseller The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell argued that these similarities can best be explained as projections of a universally human “collective unconscious” (he was heavily influenced by Carl Jung). In a famous interview with Bill Moyers, Campbell explained the importance of learning the myths of other peoples: “Read other people’s myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts—but if you read other ones, you begin to get the message.”

The belief that religious faith is based on myths is not new, but using apparent similarities among the beliefs of different cultures and peoples, even across different historical time periods, is a relatively new tactic used by atheists, neopagans, and others hostile to the Catholic Church.

One of the most influential purveyors of the claim that the Catholic Church is the reincarnation of a pagan mystery cult was Alexander Hislop (1807-1865), a Presbyterian minister in the Free Church of Scotland and a virulent anti-Catholic. His 1858 book The Two Babylons: The Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife continues to sell and to persuade Protestants that the Catholic Church perverted the Christian faith by adopting paganism.

This “pagan influence” attack against the Church grew in popularity through much of the nineteenth century; many new sects such as Seventh-day Adventists, the Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses were born during that time.

Some critics claim that the early Christians adopted elements of ancient Egyptian religion, basing Jesus on the Egyptian god Horus. This false narrative was the construct of Gerald Massey (1828-1907), an English poet and amateur Egyptologist. He wrote three books on the subject, including The Natural Genesis (1883). He linked Jesus to Horus by claiming both were born to virgins on December 25, both were crucified, and both were raised from the dead three days later.

Massey had no formal education in Egyptology, but his claims are still advanced as authoritative by the likes of D.M. Murdock (in his 2009 book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection), and Tom Harpur (in his 2005 book The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light). Even the comedian and satirist Bill Maher advanced the Jesus-Horus theory in his 2008 “documentary” film Religulous (a combination of the words religious and ridiculous).

Maher asserted that both Jesus and Horus were born to a virgin, baptized in a river, crucified and then raised from the dead three days later. Maher cites the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead as his source material. The problem is that it is not in fact a single “book,” but a collection of spells to help the soul of the deceased navigate the afterlife.

Another problem with the Horus connection is that there are many variations of the Horus story, which forces proponents of this myth to cherry-pick elements from different time periods.

Interestingly, Roman pagan propagandists who wrote tracts to prevent conversions to the Faith did not see it as having ancient pagan origins; rather, they criticized it for being too new.

Celsus, writing in the second century A.D., argued that the only acceptable religion is one that can trace its origins to the past. He believed that the older a faith is, the better and truer it is. This was “because the men and women of earlier times, especially those who lived very long ago, were thought to have been closer to the gods.”

The pagan myth theory also falls flat when the writings of the early Christians are examined. Nowhere in these writings is paganism looked upon favorably; rather, Christians prided themselves on being different from pagans. Indeed, it was this difference that led Rome to persecute the Christians, as St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) confirms in his First Apology: “And this is the sole accusation you bring against us, that we do not reverence the same gods as you do, nor offer to the dead libations and the savor of fat, and crowns for their statues, and sacrifices. [And we] have now, through Jesus Christ, learned to despise these [pagan gods], though we are threatened with death for it.”

The Real Story: Claims that the Christian faith is simply a repackaged paganism are specious. The early Christians did not see any similarities between the Faith and paganism, but rather significant differences, which is one reason why the membership of the Church grew so rapidly; the Church offered what paganism did not.

The best defense against this myth is to turn the argument around and show that the few similarities between the Christian faith and the myths of other cultures are not the result of a collective unconscious or of the co-opting of Egyptian fables by Christians, but rather an illustration of how God’s divine drama was prefigured in the beliefs of other cultures before its fulfillment in the true story of Jesus Christ.

Cannabis: an overview of its adverse acute and chronic effects and their implications.

Abstract

In many communities, cannabis is perceived as a low-risk drug, leading to political lobbying to decriminalise its use. However, acute and chronic cannabis use has been shown to be harmful to several aspects of psychological and physical health, such as mood states, psychiatric outcomes, neurocognition, driving and general health. Furthermore, cannabis is highly addictive, and the adverse effects of withdrawal can lead to regular use. These in turn have adverse implications for public safety and health expenditure. Although the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to have positive health outcomes with its antioxidant, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, high-potency cannabis is particularly damaging due to its high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), low CDB concentration. It is this high-potency substance that is readily available recreationally. While pharmaceutical initiatives continue to investigate the medical benefits of CDB, “medicinal cannabis” still contains damaging levels of THC. Altogether, we argue there is insufficient evidence to support the safety of cannabis and its subsequent legalisation for recreational use. Furthermore, its use for medicinal purposes should be done with care. We argue that the public conversation for the legalisation of cannabis must include scientific evidence for its adverse effects.

Ford, Hayley, Downey, Parrott.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28707583

Don’t throw out the baby with the antenatal consultation!

While respecting autonomy: don’t throw out the baby with the antenatal consultation!
Michael van Manen

Antenatal consultation is recognised as a core activity of specialists in neonatal–perinatal medicine. Fundamentally, the intent is for practitioner and parent to meet prior to the birth of a child to contribute to the care of the mother and also the newborn. Antenatal consults may therefore serve a multitude of purposes such as obtaining informed consent, relieving parental anxiety, elaborating medical treatment plans and supporting parenting practices depending on the various situational and contextual factors underlying the consult.

Gaucher and Payot propose a model for antenatal consultation, ‘relational autonomy’, whereby they encourage clinicians to explore and support patient experiences through trusting and empowering relationships [1]. Relational autonomy is presented in opposition to past individualistic models of autonomy that are historically rooted in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Of course, it has always been questionable whether people can truly be autonomous in their moral actions and ethical decisions in practical circumstances. Moral principles at times are too abstract to give practical guidance in everyday life, especially in the context of health care. And yet, however limited the concept of self-responsible autonomy must be, we cannot do without it. Therefore, a relational autonomy model has merit as Gaucher and Payot rightly argue that an individualistic model risks compromising ‘the ethical imperative to care, support, or engage with patients in more meaningful relationships [1]’.

What remains absent, however, from the model of Gaucher and Payot is that the relational ethics of antenatal consultation are complicated by the fact that an antenatal consultation needs to anticipate how the presence of the newborn may profoundly change the perinatal decision-making reality of all partners and players in the health-care setting. Health-care professionals know that the experience of making decisions for a baby may be quite different prior to and following birth. Decision-making is subject to contingencies, uncertainties and unsuspected sensibilities [2]. For many parents, discussing the withholding of medical treatments is a fundamentally different relational experience when a baby has been held and touched compared to prior to birth. The corporeality of the birth experience may change the parent’s emotional self and moral being. Health-care professionals too may be stirred by changed relational responsibilities to infants before and after birth. In other words, the birth of the newborn may alter everything (including the sense of autonomy). So, I would urge readers of Gaucher and Payot to consider that a ‘good’ antenatal consultation is not necessarily simply a consult that supports the relational autonomy of parent decision-makers. Rather, a ‘good’ antenatal consult anticipates and considers the increased relational complexities of parent, health-care professional and pointedly the newborn child.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apa.13624/full

1 Gaucher N, Payot A. Focusing on relationships, not information, respects autonomy during antenatal consultations. Acta Paediatr 2017; 106: 14–20.Wiley Online Library |
PubMed
2 van Manen M. On ethical (in)decisions experienced by parents of infants in neonatal intensive care. Qual Health Res 2014; 24: 279–87.

Our stand on marriage, family and human society

black-marriageThe Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria would like to once again reiterate the perspective of the Church on more recent developments concerning the sanctity and dignity of human life and the institutions of marriage and the family all across the world. The recent rise in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activism, the popular vote in the Republic of Ireland and the Supreme Court decision in the United States of
America will tend to provoke a notable and rapid shift in public opinion about the nature and meaning of marriage and family as it has been known for millennia. This, in many countries, has inevitably led to powerful legislative and judicial manoeuvres to redefine marriage in order to include “same-sex marriage”. We wish to state that this is a sad, unjust and lamentable situation based largely upon a distorted perception of natural law, the will of God and human nature.
Canada, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Ireland and most recently United States of America are some of the countries that have gone down this path. They are nations who undeniably have cultural, social and economic influence upon many African nations including Nigeria. Mozambique has not yet accepted same-sex marriage instead they have struck down their legal ban on sodomy, thereby opening the door to the festering of the homosexual culture/subculture within their society. Our people daily interact with the Western nations mentioned above at different levels. These countries also generate a lot of the media content consumed in our country and continent as well as much of the educational materials used in our schools. They also give generous humanitarian aid to various establishments and projects in our country and continent. In these ways, their views, thoughts and trends are easily embedded into the heart of our society and influence many people especially the impressionable young ones.
As Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, we are grateful for these interactions and support. We are however also concerned for the influence which some of these trends could have on morality and values We therefore hereby express our concern with regard to the persistent and continuous propagation and globalization of the homosexual lifestyle and the effort to redefine marriage which is a distorted view of human sexuality, coming especially from the Western world.
We call on our leaders to be circumspect. Accepting this western trend by officially endorsing homosexual unions or “same-sex marriage” will be devastating and detrimental to our nation, Nigeria as it will lead to the inevitable deconstruction of the family and the society at large with other serious but negative implications.
On our part we hereby re-emphasize that Marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman for the begetting and care of children. It forms the core of the family which is the bedrock and foundational cell of our civilization and as such it is sanctioned by God, upheld by our culture, celebrated in our society and protected by our government. The family deserves the protection from all civilized institutions as it predates society and is not subject to it. So our role is to promote it, protect it and preserve it at a time like this when many countries have unfortunately chosen a different path.
We call upon President Muhammadu Buhari and all our esteemed leaders, legislators and judges to shun all pressures and protect all Nigerians from the growing but dangerous influence of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender propaganda. We appeal to professionals in the domains of media, music, entertainment, education, medicine, marketing and business to become faithful gatekeepers by protecting the public from the infiltration of this propaganda which is often spread through various media and fora. We encourage parents to teach their children the immutable meaning of marriage so as to strengthen them to stand fearless by the indelible truth in a rapidly changing world. We urge young people to learn and hold firmly unto sound religious and cultural values that celebrate the beauty and blessings of marriage as the lifelong union between one man and one woman.
Finally we pray that God will grant us all the courage, integrity and perseverance needed at this time to uphold the unchangeable truth about the dignity of human sexuality and the sanctity of the institution of marriage.
Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama Most Rev. William Avenya
President, CBCN Secretary, CBCN

Brothels: “Like animals in cages”

On the internet sites they are described by customers from  all around Europe as heaven where sex is easy and safe and where one can choose the body that he likes the most, and the “freshest” meat. The German brothels frequently  appear also in the media as perfect companies with easy profits even for the women who want to sell their own body, safe from the  health point of view and  in compliance with the taxation system.

But there are those who do not think in the same way. Already in 2007 Germany has been reported by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODC) as one of the destinations that are most frequently used by exploiters of victims of trafficking in human beings. In fact it seems that many come from Romania that is one of the main sources of “human goods” according to the UN.

Every year thousands of women and girls, some just 13 year old students, are primed with promises of jobs well paid or marriage to be instead sold to criminals who then lock them in brothels. In 2014 also spread the Manifesto of the German therapists on the trauma against prostitution on the initiative of a traumatologist, Dott.ssa Ingeborg Kraus, who exhausted herself to work and repair the damage of women raped in those closed brothels.

According to a former prostitute Marie Merklinger, inside the brothels you do not find satisfied escorts but rather  women mistreated like animals in a cage. She also intervened several times in Italy in support of the draft law on the criminal responsibility of the customer. Her story is similar to so many other girls in Germany where prostitution is legalized. She however is German, and does not come from any of the Eastern countries  as in the vast majority of cases, and has chosen to begin to prostitute herself at the age of 40 years – as a necessity thinking of being able to choose how to manage the market.

Did you start because you were unable to find a job?
“Yes, I tried to look for a job but I could not find one stable that allowed me to live well. Then I thought that there was still something that I had not yet done so, I simply connected on the network, stated the cost of my service, 30 euros, and the brothel where I work and its done. My first experience was with eight men. It was a trauma. I discovered immediately that this work could not match my sexuality but I only had to satisfy the fantasies of men. You have to deal with disgusting people and you must continue to deal with them while they abuse your body and you must also pretend to be their girlfriend. I was no longer myself, I could not recognize myself”.

But other women talk about earning a lot of money and to feel good …
“It is not the truth. Even today when I enter the brothels and I talk to the women who work there and even when they tell me that they did this as a free choice, then slowly in trust they open up and reveal the disgust that they feel. The truth is that in Germany the situation is out of control and even if the government insists on separating trafficking from prostitution, the two phenomena cannot be separated. The police can not easily enter the brothels. Most of the women come from countries which are very poor like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Even a politician of those countries has declared ‘those women are animals and do not interest us’”.

But how is the daily life inside a brothel?
“Women live in the same rooms where they receive their customers. The room costs 150 euro per month plus 30 euro taxes. The performance ranges from 5 to 50 euro. We are forced to receive upto 60 people per day and we have to be honest: many customers also want the performance without protection. The  new and inexperienced girls endanger their health and suffer to be able to pay for the room and for the taxes. For this they work from 12 to 14 hours”.

A German psychotherapist, Dr Michaela Huber, argues that ‘the alienation is necessary to get penetrate many times by strangers. But one leaves behind only an empty shell that can still make some gestures and movements”…
“Yes alienation makes you resist but in reality within yourself you feel bad for the abuses inflicted. You must submit to the pleasures of men and nothing else. You do not even have the force to leave because you enter in a kind of vortex. And you really risk going crazy. The problem is precisely that the customers have the  image of yourself as an object. In order for the  people to understand that women are treated like animals, I always  relate the example of the advertising of the brothel of my city: ‘Sausage, beer, xxxx: 50 euro’”.

How did you manage to get out of the circle?
“First I asked for help to the health service but they only gave me forms to fill out. Then I tried other services but they replied that it was strange that I wanted to exit from prostitution. Then my therapy was my rage. And I found an association that took care of me and the many other women. I was able to find support thanks to Solwodi, that in several European cities helps the victims of prostitution. And today together with other women from different European countries, I am part of the organization of the Space international that seeks to give voice and support to women that have survived the abuses of prostitution and I travel throughout Germany trying to help those who want to get out and also to promote everywhere the Nordic model which criminalizes the client who buys the body of woman”.

di Irene Ciambezi – www.interris.it

Give me a sweet and humble heart

trevisani_francesco_005_madonna_con_bambinoHoly Mary, Mother of God,
preserve in me the heart of a child,
pure and clean like spring water;
a simple heart that does not remain absorbed
in its own sadness;
a loving heart
that freely gives with compassion;
a faithful and generous heart
that neither forgets good
nor feels bitterness for any evil.
Give me a sweet and humble heart
that loves without asking
to be loved in return,
happy to lose itself
in the heart of others,
sacrificing itself in front
of your Divine Son;
a great and unconquerable heart
which no ingratitude can close
and no indifference can tire;
a heart tormented by the glory of Christ,
pierced by His love
with a wound that will not heal
until heaven.
– Fr. Leonce de Grandmaison

Abortion and the morning-after pill. Caution

fetoAbortion: The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor!

The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having it done.

Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.

As well as the mother, there are often other people too who decide upon the death of the child in the womb.

Sometimes the woman is subjected to such strong pressure that she feels psychologically forced to have an abortion.

But in fact, “from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. This has always been clear, and … modern genetic science offers clear confirmation.

John Paul II: I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.

The morning-after pill:  is a hormone-based preparation (it can contain oestrogens, oestrogen/progestogens or only progestogens) which, within and no later than 72 hours after a presumably fertile act of sexual intercourse, has a predominantly “anti-implantation” function, i.e., it prevents a possible fertilized ovum (which is a human embryo), by now in the blastocyst stage of its development (fifth to sixth day after fertilization), from being implanted in the uterine wall by a process of altering the wall itself.

The final result will thus be the expulsion and loss of this embryo.
Pregnancy, in fact, begins with fertilization and not with the implantation of the blastocyst in the uterine wall, which is what is being implicitly suggested.

Useful numbers:
You’re pregnant? Want help with an unwanted pregnancy: SOSVITA tel. 800 813000 www.sosvita.it

You discovered to wait a sick child?
Want support for pathological pregnancy and help center for terminal fetuses:
LA QUERCIA MILLENARIA tel. 320 8010942 www.laquerciamillenaria.org

You want to heal the wounds of a voluntary abortion
LA VIGNA DI RACHELE tel. 099 7724518 www.vignadirachele.org

33. Good and evil: am i not the only judge of all that concerns me?

Man was created free and always relishes in himself the taste for freedom which is expressed, in particular, in his choices and decisions. It can even be said that an act is human only insofar as the act is free.

  • Nowadays, many people think that because they are free, no one has the right to tell them what is good or evil. Obviously, certain rules are still more or less accepted, for example, the one that prohibits murder or the scandalizing of children, but this is not the case in all matters.

Very often our judgment is influenced by the most widespread opinion and behaviour of others. Surely, an opinion is not true simply because many share it. Deep down we feel that this is not always the case. Sometimes we engage ourselves in certain actions, which in the depths of our heart, we reprove ourselves for.

  • We do not invent good and evil. They are not dependent on our own opinion or on the opinion of others. Because it is created, there is an order in the world, sometimes referred to as natural law. This is expressed in the Book of Genesis when it describes the fundamental commandment which God gave in the Garden of Eden: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen 2:17). Thus, it can be said that original sin (see also Q. 31) consists in man’s attempt to replace God in determining good and evil.
  • Since we do not determine good or evil, how can we distinguish one from the other? Every person is endowed with what we call a conscience. It is “the most secret centre of man, the sanctuary where he is alone with God and where His voice can be heard.” (Vatican II, The Church Today, 16) It is the conscience that directs each person to orientate himself towards the good. For this to happen, we need to listen. Furthermore, our conscience must be enlightened and trained in the habit of doing good acts (virtues) and by the inspiration of the Spirit of God received in prayer: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer.31:33). And finally, we need to listen to the Church who guides us in discerning good and evil in the light of Christ.

Most Teens Aren’t Having Sex, and They Deserve More Support for That Choice

A friend recently alerted me to a disturbing Teen Vogue article that is best described as an explicit “how-to guide” on anal sex for adolescents. In the piece, sex educator Gigi Engle uses dehumanizing language at times (like “vagina owner” for adolescent girls) to paint a positive picture of a sexual activity the CDC says is the highest risk sexual behavior for HIV for men and women. To be fair, the article was “recently updated” to emphasize the necessity of condoms because “STIs are widespread and abundant.” Engle concludes the piece by telling adolescents that anal sex is “awesome” and “if you want to give it a go, you do that. More power to you.”

Teen Vogue is obviously targeting the general content of its magazine toward sexually active teens—many, who, let’s face it, have been exposed to online pornography from a young age. In the magazine’s view, if teens are doing it, considering doing it, or being pressured by a partner to do it, then the responsible thing is to give them all the tools they need to do so as safely as possible. It’s a common argument we often hear in sex education disputes.

But this vision of young people ignores the majority who are not sexually active. These young women and men are swimming against the cultural tide that says everyone they know is “hooking up” and that even the highest-risk behaviors are acceptable, as long as they are done “right” and the person is willing. It also ignores the overwhelming majority of teens who express support for postponing sex, along with a desire for more encouragement for that decision.

Instead of giving them that support, content like this Teen Vogue article leaves teens with the mistaken impression that most of their peers are sexually active, which, as a recent Harvard study found, can put a lot of pressure on young people. Richard Weissbourd, the study’s lead author, told ABC News, “these overestimations of the size of the hook-up culture can cause young people to have sex or to hook up when they’re not really interested, and they’re not really ready.”

Last month, the CDC’s National Centers for Health Statistics (NCHS) released its latest report on teen sexual activity and contraceptive use, which is based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). Not surprisingly, the news that more sexually active teens today are using contraception generated a good bit of media attention. One headline from CNN read, “Teens Are Still Having Sex, Most Use Contraception.”

But the NCHS report also tells us that teens who have not yet had sexual intercourse make up well over 50% of the teen population (57.6% of teen girls and 55.8% of teen boys), similar to the “levels seen in 2002 and 2006-2010.”

In terms of overall trends, as the figure below indicates, the percentage of teen girls “who had ever had sexual intercourse” fell from 51.1% in 1988 to 42.4% in the most recent survey, and for boys it declined from 60.4% to 44.2% (there was a slight increase for boys between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, but the NCHS says the change was “not significant”). The report also notes, “This pattern across recent decades sheds light on the contribution of sexual activity to the pattern of decline in the teen birth rate in similar time periods.”

Perhaps we should focus more of our collective attention on the majority of teens who are delaying sex and the reasons motivating them, as well as the factors most likely to influence teen sexual decision-making. Importantly, the NSFG survey asked teen girls and boys who said that they were not sexually active, “What would you say is the most important reason why you have not had sexual intercourse up to now?” The most common reason cited by girls was “against religion and morals” (35.4%), followed by “haven’t found the right person yet” (21.9%), while for boys, the two most common reasons were “haven’t found the right person yet” (28.5%) and “against religion and morals” (27.9%).

What does this information tell us about teen sexual decision-making? First, it tells us that values matter more to teens than avoiding STDs or even pregnancy (which was third on the list for both boys and girls). And the people who most strongly shape young people’s values about sex, including what type of relationship signifies the “right person,” are parents, who are consistently shown to have the biggest influence on teens when it comes sex. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy explains:

Teens who are close to their parents and feel supported by them are more likely to abstain from sex, wait until they are older to begin having sex, have fewer sexual partners, and use contraception more consistently.

But parents matter to teen sexual decision-making in another big way. The structure of a teens’ family life is also linked to their sexual debut. For both male and female teenagers in the survey, a significantly lower percentage were sexually experienced if they lived with both biological or adoptive parents when they were 14, as the figure below shows.

The bottom line is that parents still wield the most influence over teen sexual decision-making, and ideally, parents should be the primary resource for schooling young people on the ins and outs of sexual behavior, the best time to have sex, and how to form lasting relationships.

Moreover, we know from recent surveys that teens not only support delaying sex but want more support for that decision, as well as more guidance from their parents and other trusted adults in their lives. For example, a 2014 survey of young adults by The National Campaign found that: 86% said it is important for teens to know “it’s okay to be a virgin when you graduate from high school,” and 66% said they think it would help teens delay sex longer if they knew less than half their peers were sexually active. And according to the previously mentioned Harvard study, “70% of young adults wish they had received more information and guidance about finding lasting love from their parents,” and 65% wanted more guidance from a health or sex education class “on some emotional aspect of romantic relationships.”

In light of the support and guidance teens say they want, our messages about sex should go beyond the benefits of avoiding disease or pregnancy to emphasize how postponing sex protects young people against a host of negative outcomes, including emotional heartache, and helps keep them on a path to success. Research shows that teens who delay sex not only have fewer lifetime sexual partners but are also more likely to graduate high school and go on to college. This is an opportunity to make the “Success Sequence” part of our discussions and messaging about sex, which should include connecting marriage to parenthood for teens, who are growing up in a culture where cohabiting parenthood is increasingly accepted as equal to having and raising children within marriage.

The door is wide open for parents, religious communities, educators, and other trusted adults to do more to combat our sex-obsessed culture and support young people in making healthier choices about sex and relationships. This should include the message that most of their peers are not having sex and that delaying sexual activity—ideally until marriage—is best for their overall health and future success.

by Alysse ElHage
Institute for Family Studies

Surrogacy: An LGBT Equality Advocate’s Perspective

My name is Gary Powell. I have been an advocate for gay, lesbian and bisexual equality since my late teens. I also oppose surrogacy: both commercial surrogacy, and so-called altruistic surrogacy. I do not believe there is any universal human right to be a parent, and I do not believe that the campaign to legalise and facilitate surrogacy has anything to do with LGBT equality.
When I was at Oxford University in the 1980s, one of my tutors was the philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock, who had just chaired the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, which led to the famous Warnock Report. This influential report in turn led in the UK to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, regulating human fertility treatment and human embryo experimentation, and also the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985.
Baroness Warnock and I once discussed the ethics of surrogacy, and I recall her support for surrogacy arrangements so long as they did not involve commercial payment. To me at the time, that seemed to be a reasonable position. However, recent years have led to me finding out more about the issue of surrogacy, including how it can involve the exploitation and commodification of women and children, as well as medical and psychological harm.

We know that the surrogacy process can cost up to $100,000. If surrogacy does provide equality to wealthy gay people in terms of enabling them to become parents, then it mainly provides this equality to those who enjoy the inequality of great wealth. Commercial surrogacy is mainly the privilege of the wealthy. I also regard so-called altruistic surrogacy with significant expenses payments as commercial surrogacy. There is apparently no legally-defined upper limit for such expenses in the UK. The usual expenses sums I have heard of amount to a salary in my view.

There have been some worrying developments in gay and lesbian politics in recent years. In the West, the progress in acceptance and legal equality has been phenomenal, and I applaud that wholeheartedly. However, as is the case with other minority groups, a position has been reached where many people have become eager to virtue-signal their support for LGBT rights, and frightened to say anything that might get them accused of “homophobia”. This encourages a reluctance to challenge unfair demands and behaviour, and encourages positive discrimination, where LGBT people are treated more favourably than non-LGBT people, and it is wrong. Positive discrimination in favour of person A is necessarily negative discrimination against person B. This has never been what I campaigned for. I am seeing it again and again. The worry is that, having made so much progress, there are sections of the LGBT community that are overreaching themselves, looking for new issues to commandeer as gay rights issues, in quite an aggressive and unreflective way.

The claimed right to have children via surrogacy risks becoming one such issue. I have already seen surrogacy being referred to as an LGBT rights issue. What seems to happen is that such claims can end up achieving a critical mass of support among LGBT people and well-meaning supporters. When that happens, they risk becoming mainstream.
If a pretended right to surrogacy eventually succeeds in becoming a mainstream LGBT rights issue, people will start to get shouted down when they express opposition to surrogacy, and accused of homophobia. More people will be frightened to express doubts and concerns. More and more bandwagon virtue-signallers, as well as genuinely well-meaning people, will sing the praises of surrogacy as a putatively beautiful way of promoting LGBT equality. It will be very difficult to row back from that point if it arrives.

For all the arguments about equality and progress advanced by the supporters of surrogacy, there seems to be scant consideration for the well-being of the people brought into the world via this route, or for the women psychologically and physically harmed by this process. As these issues were covered in the film Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, and as they are likely to be spoken about by other panel members, I will avoid detailing the potential physical and psychological harm caused to children and to birth mothers in this brief introduction. I would like to stress, though, that the risk of harm to children implies that surrogacy is a safeguarding issue. Safeguarding issues tend to be taken seriously in the West these days, but it does not yet feel as though the safeguarding concerns associated with surrogacy are getting proper recognition. Surrogacy is also an issue that must include discussions about the exploitation of economically poor women, and about the risk to women’s health.
Gary Powell *
(LGBT equality advocate| Anti-surrogacy campaigner| Educator| Germanist| Buddhist)

*these are remarks prepared for a panel discussion in Madrid, Spain, 26 April 2017

So that Rosary is Prayer with the Heart (Father Andrea Gasparino)

Fr. Andrea Gasparino from Cuneo, Italy is famous for his teachings on prayer, which he has been holding for more than 40 years. He teaches the prayer of silence and of the heart, and has always called himself an enemy of oral prayer. In the following interview, held on Radio Maria, the Father clarifies some doubts.

“Without contemplation of mysteries Rosary is lifeless”

Q. I pray the Rosary every day, but I don’t know if I pray with my mouth or heart, for at times my prayer is arid.

A. You need to change your prayer, for when you truly pray, as Our Lady wishes, your life changes. The Rosary is a typically oral prayer unless you work at it. Paul VI, in his encyclical “Marialis Cultus” (no. 47) said: “Unless it is a contemplative prayer it is a lifeless corpse”. Your Rosary is worth little if it is not contemplative prayer. So when you recite the Rosary take time over the mystery and see if there is something practical you can do. At each mystery ask Our Lady for light. Try reading the mystery as it is told in the Gospel, because just simply announcing it does little for you. Take a little longer to meditate the Rosary, then fix your attention on a word of the “Hail Mary.” For example, when you say “pray for us sinners now,” stop at the word “now” and you will understand that perhaps in that moment you need to forgive, or line up your will with that of the Father’s, or correct something in your behaviour. So fix your attention on one of the words from the prayer and you will see how the Rosary will convert you. Rather than say many Rosaries, say a briefer one, but the way Our Lady wishes, so as to communicate with her. It might happen that half way through you realize you have yet to communicate with her, that your thoughts are miles away; so wake up and say, “I want to communicate with Our Lady,” and fix your attention on a few words. This is the real Rosary.

Prayer of listening must change us

Q. I pray often, but I cannot reach true communion with God. I tend to speak to God, so I do not use prayer of silence.

A. It is easier to speak with God than to listen to Him, but remember that what you have to say to Him is less important, because He already knows everything. To the contrary, what He has to say to you is very important. Each time you pray stop for a lengthy pause of silence to put yourself in God’s presence. Think of Him, the Holy Trinity, present in you and ask Him: “Lord what do you want to say to me today?” Help yourself a lot with the Word of God, the Gospel. Ask for example, “What do you want to tell me today about charity, my duties, or the way I take Communion?” If you do not receive an immediate answer, remember that the Lord always speaks in a veiled manner: the wait strengthens our faith and humbleness. If your question is straightforward, the reply will come, perhaps during the day. Practise the prayer of listening. Ask the Lord every day to give you the grace to be able to pray, to know how to listen to Him, and repeat: “It doesn’t matter what I want, it only matters what You want,” and a flower, the most beautiful one, will blossom from your prayer.

Q. I belong to a Charismatic Group, but the prayer is lengthy, confused and there is a lot of gesticulation.

A. Prayer must be contact with God. Ask yourself after prayer in the group if you communicated with God, heart to heart. You probably won’t have, because of the environment. It is good to participate in community prayer, but remember that first you need to communicate with Him in the secrecy of your heart. To pray well in the group you should get used to praying for half an hour each day with prayer of silence. Without personal prayer everything is arid. All that crying out does not remove your faults; it doesn’t let you descend into your conscience. You have to descend into your conscience and listen well to what God wants from you, and you can only do this with the prayer of silence. With personal prayer your participation in the group will be sincere and real.

Q. I pray a lot, but I have the habit of naming people and their problems one by one to God to ask for His help.

A. You need not worry about that because God does not need information, however, it is good that you care and implore the Holy Spirit upon others so that He can act in them. It is a good thing when you pray in particular for another person to ask the Lord, for instance, what you can do for them, so that your prayer is concrete.

Q. My life is concentrated on God, but I cannot pray the way you suggest.

A. It is good to communicate with God all day long through your work and your encounters with other people. The important thing is that you communicate profoundly with God every day. Do not pray only while you work. You must listen to God and give a part of your day to Him; at least half an hour. You must say: “my prayer is put to good if I listen to God.” You need to understand what the Lord asks of you at home and at work.

Humility as a Key to Prayer (Father Andrea Gasparino)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18: 9-14

Begin your prayer by  squarely facing the truth about yourself. God is truth; he does not tolerate deceit. When you come before him, be honest. Stand before him as you are: lazy, distracted, tired, wretched. To be sincere is to be humble. To begin with humility is a great psychological importance. Jesus taught us this when he drew the picture of the Pharisee and the Publican for us. Humility is the first component of love: humility is the hallmark of true Love.

The poor publican made no promises to God. He did not even have courage to raise his eyes to him, but simply acknowledged himself as a sinner. This is all he does: he acknowledges his utter wretchedness and brings it to God, like a beggar showing his rags to the passer-by and it is then that the miracle happens.

It take very little to move the heart of God. Jesus seems to be saying : just be honest, take off your masks and God fills you to the brim with his grace.

Don’t think that starting your prayer like this is a waste of time. It is not just a preparatory step to prayer, it is real prayer,  in fact, it is already love.

The Prayer of the Heart, Andrea Gasparino

I Asked God (Kirk Kilgour)

I asked God to make me strong
To carry out marvellous plans:
He has made me weak to preserve me humble.

I asked God to make me healthy
To carry out great exploits:
He’s given me pains to make me understand health better.

I asked Him richness to own everything:
He has made me poor so I could not be selfish.

I asked Him Power
Because men would need me:
He has given me humiliation because I would need them.

I asked God everything to enjoy life:
He has left me my life because I could appreciate everything.

Lord, I have not received what I asked,
but you has given me what I needed
and quite against my willing.

The prayers I did not say were answered.

Be praised my Lord, among the men
None has what I have!

Kirk Kilgour was a USA Volleyball athlete. He came to play in Series A in Italy in 1973. Due to a training accident he became paralyzed on his limbs. He passed away in 2002, he remains in history for his profound humanity in front of suffering.

You loved us first, oh God – Soren Kierkegaard

amare per primiYou loved us first, oh God.
Alas, we speak of it as if you loved us first one time only, historically speaking, when in very truth, without ceasing, you love us first all the time.
When I awaken in the morning and my soul turns at once toward you, you are first. You have already turned toward me.
If I rise at dawn and in the very first second of my awakening my soul turns to you in prayer, you have beat me to it.
You have already turned in love toward me.
Thus, we speak ingratitude if, unthankful and unaware, we speak of you as having loved us first only one time.

32. How does erotic movies hurt relationships?

Impurity blinds the heart and mind:

  • Warps perspective
  • Enslaves
  • Perverts love

Indeed, day after day, insidiously, men and women see each other as objects to be used for their personal pleasure. Our view becomes biased. Instead of discovering our fiance(e) or spouse in the fullness of their personality including their corporal, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and sensitive dimensions, we become set on a single pursuit, namely sensual indulgence.

  • In relationships with friends or in professional life the prevailing attitude becomes centered on sex as the memory is saturated with erotic images. Our relationship with others becomes blurred.
  • Pornography destroys love in a marriage. Indeed, true love is expressed by the gift of self, in listening to one another, considering one another’s feelings, in tenderness and attentiveness to each other. But here, our heart experiences blindness, stifled as it were by depression and disgust, the result of eroticism.
  • But the Creator, we realize, inscribed in the depths of our being a longing for purity. Such a longing is always present in us even when much has been done to damage it. It is always possible to regain purity whatever our situation or our past.

This comes first of all in receiving God’s forgiveness. In everyday life this continues through an inner attention: this requires an inner resolve to ward off simply but firmly all that might soil our heart (Controling one’s imagination, avoiding obscene publications and posters, looking the other way… )

  • We can be sure that, little by little our good will will gain the upper hand, and we will rediscover peace and joy of heart.
Personal Experience

Claire and I lived the first years of our married life like a young worldly couple with outings, friends, theatre, plays, videos and movies. We wanted to explore and experience everything. It was with such inclinations that we frequented erotic films.

We would come back full of laughter from such outings but not without a tinge of uneasiness and even disgust. We didn’t want to fall prey to guilt. But then in our sexual intimacy Claire was no longer the real Claire and vice versa. Mental perceptions get wedged in most insiduously driving us apart from each other.

A major family crisis made us question ourselves and our lifestyle more seriously. We came to realize that the erotic images, as they pervaded our memory, were gradually stifling our love. We decided not to go to such films anymore and, in general, not to go “grabbing” for everything under the pretence that it was the current fashion. We could now enjoy a life more in harmony with our deepest aspirations.

Stephen

A new text from Benedict XVI (Easter 2017)

Ever since I first read the Letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch in the 1950s, one passage from his Letter to the Ephesians has particularly affected me: “It is better to keep silence and be [a Christian] than to talk and not to be. Teaching is an excellent thing, provided the speaker practices what he teaches. Now, there is one Teacher who spoke and it came to pass. And even what He did silently is worthy of the Father. He who has truly made the words of Jesus his own is able also to hear His silence, so that he may be perfect: so that he may act through his speech and be known through his silence” (15, 1f.). What does that mean: to hear Jesus’s silence and to know him through his silence? We know from the Gospels that Jesus frequently spent nights alone “on the mountain” in prayer, in conversation with his Father. We know that his speech, his word, comes from silence and could mature only there. So it stands to reason that his word can be correctly understood only if we, too, enter into his silence, if we learn to hear it from his silence.

Certainly, in order to interpret Jesus’s words, historical knowledge is necessary, which teaches us to understand the time and the language at that time. But that alone is not enough if we are really to comprehend the Lord’s message in depth. Anyone today who reads the ever-thicker commentaries on the Gospels remains disappointed in the end. He learns a lot that is useful about those days and a lot of hypotheses that ultimately contribute nothing at all to an understanding of the text. In the end you feel that in all the excess of words, something essential is lacking: entrance into Jesus’s silence, from which his word is born. If we cannot enter into this silence, we will always hear the word only on its surface and thus not really understand it.

As I was reading the new book by Robert Cardinal Sarah, all these thoughts went through my soul again. Sarah teaches us silence—being silent with Jesus, true inner stillness, and in just this way he helps us to grasp the word of the Lord anew. Of course he speaks hardly at all about himself, but now and then he does give us a glimpse into his interior life. In answer to Nicolas Diat’s question, “At times in your life have you thought that words were becoming too cumbersome, too heavy, too noisy?,” he answers: “In my prayer and in my interior life, I have always felt the need for a deeper, more complete silence. … The days of solitude, silence, and absolute fasting have been a great support. They have been an unprecedented grace, a slow purification, and a personal encounter with … God. … Days of solitude, silence, and fasting, nourished by the Word of God alone, allow man to base his life on what is essential.” These lines make visible the source from which the cardinal lives, which gives his word its inner depth. From this vantage point, he can then see the dangers that continually threaten the spiritual life, of priests and bishops also, and thus endanger the Church herself, too, in which it is not uncommon for the Word to be replaced by a verbosity that dilutes the greatness of the Word. I would like to quote just one sentence that can become an examination of conscience for every bishop: “It can happen that a good, pious priest, once he is raised to the episcopal dignity, quickly falls into mediocrity and a concern for worldly success. Overwhelmed by the weight of the duties that are incumbent on him, worried about his power, his authority, and the material needs of his office, he gradually runs out of steam.”

Cardinal Sarah is a spiritual teacher, who speaks out of the depths of silence with the Lord, out of his interior union with him, and thus really has something to say to each one of us.

We should be grateful to Pope Francis for appointing such a spiritual teacher as head of the congregation that is responsible for the celebration of the liturgy in the Church. With the liturgy, too, as with the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, it is true that specialized knowledge is necessary. But it is also true of the liturgy that specialization ultimately can talk right past the essential thing unless it is grounded in a deep, interior union with the praying Church, which over and over again learns anew from the Lord himself what adoration is. With Cardinal Sarah, a master of silence and of interior prayer, the liturgy is in good hands.

Benedict XVI, pope emeritus

Vatican City, Easter Week 2017

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