Immaculate Heart of Mary, Ora pro nobis.

This blog is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in reparation for all the sins committed against Her Most Pure Heart. May Her Immaculate Heart draw us closer to Her Divine Son, Our Most Precious Lord.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tomorrow's People

Twice in as many days, I have been involved in different conversations on Facebook regarding some modern issues---one regarding a personal decision, really, and another regarding a rather scandalous subject.  These discussions, as they typically do, became heated fairly quickly.  But when the progressives became unable to defend their arguments or answer perfectly rational questions, they end the conversation by throwing out the Judgmental Card.  It's a rather annoying practice and it has become quite common.  It's so common that is has me wondering whether or not people really know what they are saying or what it means to be non-judgmental.  I also wonder if, as Catholics, we should avoid these conversations all together, keep our mouths shut, jump in with both feet, or just pray more Rosaries.
     When I was growing up Protestant, I heard rather frequently the Biblical quote, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."  Most of the time, though, I heard it when a person was defending some sinful behavior they didn't want to be admonished for.  It was usually followed by the declaration that all of us are sinners anyway.  I always found it rather insulting and slightly Eyorish.  Why bother trying to be better or do better?  After all, we are all sinners anyway.  It just always seemed, well, cowardly.  It never occurred to me though, that this non-judgmental attitude was not really part of of Christianity, even Protestantism.  Well at least I never quite thought about.  Until now.
     Way back before the 1930s or 1940s, I don't think there was that much difference in the behavior of Catholics and Protestants.  Divorce was neither widespread or widely accepted.  Sexual  promiscuity was frowned upon and birth control wasn't readily available.  Lying, cheating, and stealing were viewed by just about everyone as degenerate behavior.  Whether you were Catholic or Protestant, if you did something morally wrong, someone was going to admonish you for it.  Period.  Misbehave at school?  Mother knew before you got home.  Steal eggs from the market?  Grocer Johnson called your Dad.  Got pregnant by your boyfriend?  Shot-gun wedding or sent to help Aunt Betty for a few months.  Almost everyone lived by the same moral standards of behavior.  Heck, our laws even reflected this moral code.  Stealing is a crime.  Murder is a crime.  And yes, adultery is a crime.  During this time, what was considered normal social behavior closely reflected Christian moral behavior.  As such, if some person was criticized for their immoral behavior, no one was screaming about being judgmental.  Instead, most people either corrected their behavior, or in the case of the incorrigibles, they became more discreet.
     But during this time period our society was slowly progressing.  What had once been considered normal Christian behavior, now seemed to be unattainable for large majorities of people.  During the Depression, women resorted to prostitution to put food on the table.  Protestant Christians were given permission to use birth control methods to limit their family size in the face of poverty.  Husbands abandoned their wives. A lot of women were left to give birth to their babies alone. Alcoholism increased.  And at the same time, psychoanalysis became dominant, and social work became an profession.  These social problems didn't seem to be going away, not even with the help of priests and ministers.  In fact, they seemed to get worse and the people themselves seemed to be suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicide.  And then came Psychologist Carl Rogers and his Person of Tomorrow.
      Now before I explain what Dr. Rogers has to do with any of this, let me give you some background.  He was born in 1902 into a Protestant Evangelical family.  At first he wanted to become a minister and he headed off to seminary.  Unfortunately, he rejected his entire religious belief system and left.  Instead, he went on to study psychology and earned his PhD in 1931.  In his personal life, Dr. Rogers embraced Eastern mysticism, spiritualism, and the occult.  In the 1970s he reported that he developed much of his humanistic approach theory to his study of Taoism.  Fundamentally, he taught that people were basically good, and that they only needed to self-actualize.  To do this, they needed to do what feels right for them.  In this way they could become a "fully functioning person."  As such, a therapists goal in helping his clients "self-actualize" was primarily to listen---to be non-judgmental---to make no values judgment on their behavior or attitudes---only to help them figure out what was right for them.  Self-actualized individuals he called Persons of Tomorrow and outlined in a book the qualities of such a person.  You can read about that here.  Good people, to Dr. Rogers, make their own moral judgments, are caring and empathetic without making moral judgments towards other people, and trust very little except their own experiences.  His humanistic approach was novel when he introduced it in 1951, but it is absolutely predominant today.
     Unfortunately, as the Catholic Church began to lose influence in the culture, especially in the United States, the door was opened for society to become increasing shaped by modern psychology and social work.  After Vatican II, priests became "servant-leaders."  They became counselors instead of confessors.  They began to focus on the social needs of the faithful instead of their sacramental and spiritual needs.  As such they encouraged the faithful to focus on their social and mental well-being.  Fraternal correction was replaced with unconditional positive regard.  As Catholics, we are now chastised for admonishing sinners.  Instead, we are told we need to value each person as they move through their life journey, no matter what they choose.  And this is absolutely, positively UN-Catholic.  In fact, it's the exact opposite of Catholicism.  It is a rejection of everything Our Lord taught us, in favor of the teachings of Laozi.
     Our modern society has devolved rapidly.  It is absolutely NOT Christian in any form.  This non-judgmental psychotherapy approach to our family, friends, and even strangers is not helping them.  In fact, it is dangerous for them.  And if you are a Catholic reading this, you might want to take a look at yourself if you have adopted this attitude.  In fact, fraternal correction, i.e. admonishing the sinner, is an obligation.  Admonishing sinners is, in fact, one of the seven Spiritual works of mercy.  As Catholics, we are bound under pain of mortal sin, to perform these works!  So when we are quietly "valuing" people on their personal journeys, we are committing mortal sin.  When we are avoiding correcting peoples ignorance regarding Catholic teaching for fear of confrontation, we are committing mortal sin.
     So, yes, when someone sins, we are bound to correct them with charity.  We cannot be mean, emotional, or irrational.  We cannot call them names or shun them.  But we must correct them privately, gently, and lovingly.  St. Thomas Aquinas considered fraternal correction a great act of mercy.  But sometimes correction can not be made privately but has to be made publicly.  Today, I think that probably means in a forum like this one, a blog, a newspaper article, or some other social media.  When can we do this?  When the offense is public, when it effects a third party or the community, or when it causes scandal.  Does this give us license to be cruel, through slurs, or damage a person's name or reputation?  Absolutely not. It simply means we are bound to lovingly correct and instruct them.  Perhaps they don't know what they are doing is wrong.  Perhaps that person doesn't really understand what they are doing.  Perhaps no one has even bothered to point them in the right direction.  Unfortunately though, most of the time these people just continue down their own path of destruction.  What are we to do then?  We are to leave them alone and pray.
     While I have brought up psychology in this post, I do not want this post to be about psychological principals  I addressed Dr. Roger's and his humanistic theories simply to show how modern social work and psychology has shaped our thinking, replaced Christian principals as a way of living, and confused us regarding Catholic teaching.  This non-judgmental attitude is absolutely not Catholic.  If you hear a priest or bishop or pope suggest that we are to ignore people's sin and simply value their life journey as persons, then close your ears.  This is New Church Speak, not Catholic teaching.  When you hear your friends admonish you for being judgmental, remind them that you are Christian and have an obligation to correct sinners.  When they call you a hypocrite or a hater, just bear it patiently for Our Lord.  But most of all pray.  Pray that the Church is restored soon.  Pray that faithful Catholics can save themselves from the New Church.  Pray that the people you love will allow their eyes to be opened.  And pray that we all remain charitable, loving, and humble as we share and defend our Catholic faith.

But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. ~ Matthew 18:15-17

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Begone, Satan!

 Here we are, quickly approaching an end to our Lenten Season, anticipating the Holiest time of the year, Our Lords Resurrection.  I am ready for it to end, not because I want to gorge on chocolates and eat regular meals again, but because I am spiritually exhausted.  Usually, Lent in our house is mostly peaceful and relaxing.  Lots of Monopoly, less bickering, quiet conversations after dinner, more prayer, more time for spiritual reading.  But this year has been different.  See, I was actually tempted by the devil.....and he almost won....
     When I was an evangelical Protestant, we were taught to see the devil everywhere.  Got car trouble?  It's probably the devil.  Took a wrong turn?  Again, probably the devil.  The devil is talked about so much that it almost becomes paralyzing and one fears you can't really escape him.  Ironically, when I became a Catholic, the devil was talked about fairly infrequently.  So little, in fact, that one gets the impression that perhaps the devil doesn't really exist at all.  But it has only been in the last few years really, that I have come to understand the devil and how he works.  I owe that, honestly, to the instructions of a very good priest and traditional Catholicism.  I am really grateful for this because I am not sure I would have had the graces to resist the devil just recently.  Truthfully, I don't think I would have even realized I was being tempted at all.  See this is how the devil works, actually.  He is pretty wily.  The less you recognize his temptations, the more freely you will succumb.  
      A few weeks ago, the devil was really working on me.  Unfortunately, I didn't really recognize it.  I just thought our family was having a financial crisis and that we would someone work through it.  But it was more than that.  It was temptation knocking and I almost opened the door.  Let me explain a bit.
     It is incredibly difficult to be a traditional Catholic in modern society.  Everyone is modern.  4 out of 10 households have a mother who is the sole or primary breadwinner.  And 75% of women with children work outside the home.  I have no idea how this translates to Catholic women, but among the Novus Ordo women my age or younger, I knew very few who stayed home and/or had large families.  It seemed to me, then, that our family was out of place in our local parish, especially when we had our 6th (and later 7th) child.  Later on, when we decided to homeschool, we had friends who actually questioned our sanity.  But once we found our way to traditional Catholicism, we found our  SILK (single income lots of kids) way of life was pretty normal.  Almost everyone we know in our traditional Catholic circles homeschools.  And for the last 4 years we have been getting along pretty well.  But then things changed....
     For the last decade, my mother has been living with our family.  Its been sort of a symbiotic relationship really.  She was disabled and needed care, which we gave willingly, and she contributed financially with groceries, homeschool supplies, holidays, birthdays, and college.  But in December, just before our son graduated from college, my mother had a massive stroke.  It almost claimed her life.  Instead, she is now living in the nursing home under constant nursing care.  I am truly grateful to the Lord for her life and the wonderful nurses in charge of her care, but in addition to the loss of her financial assistance, I have to contribute a small portion the cost of her care.  It has been a stressful time just dealing with her health issues, but also making the necessary adjustments in our personal life as well.  And this is when the devil hit me....
   Day after day, he planted in my mind the idea that I needed to go back to work.  This would help, he said.  You only need  a few hundred dollars each month, he said.  Your working is the simplest solution, he said. Don't cut your grocery budget, he said, just go back to work.  Oh, yea, and put your kids back in school. It will be alright.  They will adjust, make friends.  And the voices around me, my own grown children who are fully modern, kept saying the exact same things.  I was ready, really ready to give in.  Until I saw the robins dancing in the yard....
   In the midst of my anxiety, I realized that I hadn't prayed in over a week.  I had been so focused on money and finances and worrying about making ends meet and buying groceries that I hadn't bothered to ask Christ for help or direction.  I hadn't prayed a rosary.  I hadn't sought the intercession of a single saint. I had just given into to despair and depression.  But one morning last week, in anticipation of spring, I saw two robins dancing with each other outside my kitchen window.  It was a reminder that this long, hard winter was drawing to a close and that spring was coming.  And some how I heard these words:  "All these things I will give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."  It settled in my heart, I heard it, and I heard the twisted, lying voice who said it.  
     Through my fast, through my preparations, the devil had tempted me.  I wasn't prepared.  I almost caved.  I was willing to put our children in public school, to risk their loss of morals and purity and innocence, their loss of faith, for a few dollars and a few groceries.  I was willing to take myself, the mother, the heart of the home, away from the home, for a new car.  I was willing to put myself into the workforce with all its sexual temptations, for a vacation. The devil had convinced me that evil was good, and I was willing to compromise my values and just do it!
     The devil has one goal---to keep us from heaven.  He searches and waits and plots and plans his attack.  He creeps up on you and whispers things in your ear.  He doesn't come to us in ugly forms because we would recognize him easily.  Rather he comes to us in pleasing ways, in compromises, in practicalities.  Once upon a time, the Catholic Church spoke out against evils and the whole world listened.  In 1930, Pope Pius XI, in Casti Connubii, warned about the dangers of women working outside the home.  He called the so-called emancipation of women a crime.  He warned that it would lead to the loss of dignity of motherhood, the debasing of women, and a danger to the husband and children who would lose a wife and mother.  How prophetic!  Strange how the New Church, led by Wojtyla and Ratzinger, have encouraged women to work outside the home and pursue their interests and have given them prominent roles in the New Church!  What the Church once called evil, it now calls good.  Is this even possible??
       Fortunately for me, I have been given graces immeasurable these days.  I have come through this temptation.  But I am exhausted, both physically and spiritually.  In the kitchen that morning I cried out loud and clear, "Begone, Satan!  for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou worship and Him alone shalt thou serve."  I've survived this temptation.  Our family will weather this storm, this financial crisis.  And we will continue to put our faith and trust in the Lord.
   Pray many rosaries!  Ask for intercession in these dark times!  Never doubt that Our Lord will provide for us!  And never forget the devil lurks like a serpent waiting for just the right moment, in your hunger, in your weakness, in your loneliness.  He will tell you all sorts of things, convince you of anything, speak to you through your family and friends.  So be prepared always!  So stay true to your Faith.  Know it.  Study it. Cling to it!  For without the Faith, we have nothing, and we certainly can't resist the temptations of the devil.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, ora pro nobis!

St. Joseph, Protector of the Church, ora pro nobis!

Above image:  Satan Tried to Tempt Christ:  James Tissot, 1895