Lately, I have been struggling with some issues of morality. I think that as we look into the future, this area will not get any easier to deal with or handle, unless WE change society. Since WE are society, WE can change it, but it will take a concerted effort to do so. That being said, I would like to share a couple of things with you. They are rather personal, so I will be intentionally vague, but I think that after some prayer and reflection, I am able to share them.
First, more than anyone, I know that I am a sinner. I sin more than the average person. Because I do this, I have the need and the responsibility, as a Catholic, to utilize the Sacrament of Penance more than the average Catholic. It has been my habit for a number of years to confess once a week. Lately, I have been lax in that and I have suffered for it. I got myself into a situation which required some serious advice and I was able to overcome it, but that was not before I made some big mistakes which led to me needing to go to confession. I have since done so and the absolutely liberating feeling of relief has washed over me like a dew cleansing a field of grass on a spring morning. THAT is what confession feels like for me, after I emerge from the box. Praise God for that.
Next, I would like to give some advice, which I had to give myself and come to understand, before I could blog about it. That is why there has not been a blog for several days. I have been reflecting on just how to approach this very timely, but sensitive issue. As Catholics who live in America, we have an obligation, not only to live in the world, but to promote Catholic values to other Catholics and Protestants (this is catechesis), to promote Catholic values to the Orthodox (this is ecumenism) and to promote Catholic values to the non-Christian (this is evangelization). By doing this, we authentically engage in the "New Evangelization" which His Holiness, PP. Benedict XVI has implored of us.
I have posted on and I have spoken about the controversy regarding sexual ethics recently. If we are to be authentic Catholics, we must promote Chastity. Being Catholic in today's world means that we must live according to our states in life. Those states are these: single, married, or consecrated.
For the human person to be chaste, he must live as the Church teaches. He must refrain from those actions which close the possibility to human life. He must understand that the sexual actions which are so flippantly thrown around today are to be held very sacred. He should know that the sexual action is a gift from God, by which he participates fully, but under conditions which are advantageous not only to himself, but also to his spouse and to God. The participation is always threefold. That is why man procreates, and not creates. This being said, the sexual act is threefold as well, it is Sacramental; it is Unitive; and it is Procreative. The Sacramental aspect is that the sexual action consummates the sacramental bond of Matrimony. It is Unitive insofar as it draws and bonds the spouses together in that Sacramental bond. Finally, it is Procreative, insofar as the couple must be open to the idea of bringing children into this world, if possible.
Another aspect of chastity is that the Catholic must be opposed to abortion and contraception. If he is not, then he is not being chaste, because he is not open to the Procreative nature of the sexual action. Abortion, for obvious reasons. Also, contraception, because it cheapens the sexual act to one of simple unity. If it does not fulfill the three aspects of authentic Catholicism, then it is an immoral action. For the Catholic, this is exactly why he cannot support contraception. When one lessens the sexual action, which is threefold in participation, he eliminates God and simply makes it a banal and instinctive response. For the human person, this is beneath him, because he does have the ability to reason. Once reason is removed, morality no longer exists. Again, the human person will always have the ability to reason, so mere instinct is never a justification for an action; this includes the sexual action.
Obviously, there are other moral aspects which apply to each situation, but I am speaking of a very specific set of criteria in this blog posting.
Knowing these things, we must promote a proper understanding through reason, as to why we do what we do. There is more to being a human person than just being an animal. God did not create man for that. God created man to do two things...to love Him and to worship Him. Because the sexual action properly includes God in it's action, it does embody love toward God, through the consummation of the Sacramental bond and it also promotes proper worship of Him, because procreating is a means by which God continues his adoration and worship through purely natural means.
To remove morality and reason from the sexual action and to simply make it pleasure based or instinctive (just because it feels good), the closure of chasity. These ideas apply equally and commonly to all states in life, mentioned above. For the single person and the consecrated person, the abstinence from the sexual action is necessary because he has either chosen, freely to abstain from the sexual action or has not yet found his spouse. For the married person, he must understand that even in his marriage, he may be unchaste, if he does not fulfill the the threefold reasons for the sexual action.
It is imperative that in today's world, we promote proper morality. We must on all fronts, whether it be sexual or otherwise. When we fall, we must go to Confession and take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance. We must make a firm resolution not to do it again and we must assume that all Catholics do the same. The teaching does not change, the application does not change. But when we know that someone is not being authentic, then we must help him seek out the proper answer. It is not always simple and it is not always cut and dried, but it is something that through faith and reason, man can embrace. We must hope that all Catholics accept the teaching and when they don't....we must admonish them to do the right thing. Go to confession and make a firm resolution not to do it again.
Please pray for me, that I continue to do the right things in my life, so that I may be a faithful and good servant to the Lord God. I know that I fall, but I also get up, brush off my knees and move forward. God's love for my fellow man dictates that when I see another fall, I will help him; just as I hope that others will help me every time I fall.
I ask you today....have you come to understand how morality impacts your life? Are you doing what is necessary? Are you loving your fellow man with agape, in conjunction with filial and/or eros? Those are the questions which we must answer for ourselves. Reach out, even when you don't want to, your fellow man needs your help, daily.
May God keep you close.