Some time ago we had occasion to come face to face with a striking example of spiritual pride.  One of the members of [an A.A. group] was condemning certain ones for their failure to do what he thought they ought to do.  Then, “Take me for example, I go to Communion every morning, I teach my children Catechism — in fact I have arrived at a point where anything I make up my mind to do I can do it.” Strewing incense at his own shrine.  Stupidly glorifying himself.  The sequel? He’s still drunk.

-Fr. John Doe (aka Fr. Ralph Pfau)

Quoted from:

The following is taken from Volume 5 of Radio Replies by Frs. Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty.

513. Last year [1971] a visiting non-Catholic American professor of philosophy, Mortimer J. Adler, said government must be based on the natural law, not on positive laws only. What did he mean by that? [N.b.: Adler was received into the Church in 1999.]

By positive laws only he meant legislation made by men merely because they happen to have political power to make laws, as if there were no higher laws than those they choose to make. Granted such an idea, men in power could impose any laws they pleased upon others. Might would be right. On the other hand, by natural law Dr. Adler meant the Will of the Creator who has not only endowed man with intellectual as well as physical gifts, but obliges him in conscience to live in accordance with his true nature and with natural moral principles. This means that there are certain rights and duties not originated by men themselves, which men cannot abolish, and which all men are obliged to observe. Might is not right. It must be subordinated to right and used only to maintain and defend it.

514. Does this natural moral law apply to non-Christians?

It applies to all human beings. Dr. Adler himself is a Jew, not a Christian. Even the Roman philosopher Cicero, who died 43 B.C., and knew nothing of the Christian religion, wrote in his book “De Republica,” 3:22, “True law is right reason in agreement with nature. It is of universal application, unchanging, everlasting. We cannot be freed from it by Senate or people. This law is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens, but is eternal and immutable, valid for all nations and for all times. God is the Author of it, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient to it is abandoning his true self and denying his own nature.” Observation shows us that every creature in the universe has been given its own nature by the Creator, in accordance with which it is intended to act. Irrational animals obey the laws of their nature by instincts which the Creator has implanted in them. Whether or not, in God’s providence, this came about by means of an evolutionary process is of no importance here. As contrasted with lower animals, human beings are endowed with reason and free will. Men are moral beings who, even if they are not Christians, are obliged to conform their lives voluntarily to the natural law of God as manifested by their own intelligence and dictated by their conscience. When they do anything which is wrong of its very nature, it is because they either have warped ideas or are acting against their natural conscience through sheer bad will.

St. Paul’s List of Character Defects to the Galatians

If you need a starting place with recognizing your character defects (vices), or if you are having a hard time with your list, take a look at Galatians 5:16-25.  This was the epistle reading from the extra-ordinary form of the Mass (Traditional Latin Mass), today, the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

[16] I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. [17] For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would. [18] But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, [20] Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects,

[21] Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, [23] Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. [24] And they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences. [25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Some of the things here may sound foreign to you, but I bet most hit close to home: fornication? Check. Uncleanness (impurity)? Check. Luxury (also translated as “lustfulness” or “debauchery” or “sensuality”)? Check. Quarrels? Check Dissensions? Check. Envies? Check. Drunkeness? Check.  I can put a check aside most of those things.

These are things I can add to my list of defects, and help me with Step 8 and 9.  Whom did I envy?  Who did I hurt through my wrath and quarrels?

In contrast with these vices, St. Paul gives us the fruits of the spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity (kindness), goodness, longanimity (long-suffering, forbearance, generosity), mildness (gentleness), faith, modesty, continency (self-control), chastity.

In asking God to remove our character defects, we out to ask for the fruits of the Holy Spirit as well.  When we fill our hearts with these virtues, there will be less and less room for the vices.

 

Possible things

My confessor recommended to me that I meditate on the passion so that I can come to a greater understanding of God’s love.  His instructions were to simply read a passage from the Gospel, and quietly listen for what God has to say.  Sounds simple enough.

Yesterday I was reading the 14th chapter of Mark, when Jesus is in Gethsemani.  My eyes fell upon these words, “And he saith: Abba, Father, if all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

I stopped.  Something didn’t seem right.

So I read them again, this time more carefully.

And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.

What happened?  The first time, my brain added two letters before the word all: “if.”  I added a condition to what Jesus said.  Certainly our Lord knows that all things are possible.  I’m the one who introduced doubt, my doubt.

It made me wonder: how much of my prayer life has been conditional?  Have I been praying, “If you can do this God…” rather than “If you will do this God…” or simply, “Thy will be done”?

Jesus probably prayed more than these words.  He was there for an hour.  But the evangelist records only this one bit.  Jesus affirms the power of God.  He makes His request.  Then He surrenders to His Father.

Here we have the first three steps: we admit that we are powerless over sex addiction and that only God can restore us to sanity, we come before God with our needs, humbly and sorrowfully; and we surrender our lives to Him.

Remember the passion of our Lord when working the steps.  Remember them year round, not just during Lent.  Find an hour every day to enter the garden and pray with Him.

 

Which fellowship should I join?

When someone wants to join a 12-step fellowship for alcoholism, they join AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

When they want to join a program to help with various drug addictions, they join NA (Narcotics Anonymous).

When they want to join a program to help with eating disorders, they join OA (Overeaters Anonymous).

When they want to join a program to help with sex addiction, they join SA (Sexaholics Anonymous).  Or do they join SCA (Sexual Compulsives Anonymous)? Or do they join SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous)?  Or do they join SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous)?  Maybe they join more than one.  Maybe they attend open AA meetings instead.  Maybe they join a Christian program like Celebrate Recovery which combines the teachings of the Bible with the steps and principles of AA to work on all addictive behavior (N.b.: This is a non-denominational program founded by a Protestant pastor, John Baker, of Saddleback Church).

Read more…..

Whit Monday: Paul weeps.

Today is Whit Monday, the Monday in the Octave of Pentecost.  Or it was.  But still is.  Or…wait, let me explain.

How we worship as Catholics is central to expressing our identity as Catholics, and how we relate to one another and to the world as Catholics.  There can be different modes of expression, certainly, just go to an Melkite, Maronite, or Ukrainian Catholic Church.  Better yet, go to them all.  However, all of these rites grew up organically in different cultures as expressions of their particular culture.  They were not contrived by a committee to be forced on the whole world.

In the late 60s, rule by committee is exactly what resulted in what is termed the Novus Ordo Missae or the “Ordinary Form” of the Mass.  I am not opposed to the Novus Ordo; it is not inherently defective as many opine.  It is, however, inferior to the Extraordinary Form, or the “traditional Latin Mass.”  There are many reasons I say this, but the simplest is its origin.

Without getting into any conspiracy theories (there are plenty), let me summarize my issue in a clear, non-controversial (?) statement: the Novus Ordo was contrived by a select few men and was not an organic development of the expression of the faith of a community.  For this reason, it is culturally inauthentic and inferior to other liturgies, valid though it may be.

Why am I posting about this here?  As sex addicts, community is essential to recovery.  As Catholics, our community is principally expressed in how we worship.  But the form of worship that most Catholics participate in divided us from the centuries of tradition that proceeded it.  We have divided ourselves from our elders in the faith.  I remember struggling to understand many writings of the Saints on the Mass, until I came to understand that my Mass was not just theirs in English rather than Latin; it was radically different by design.

But do you mean I shouldn’t go to Mass at St. Lively’s Catholic Community? No, I’m not saying that at all.  If the Mass is reverent and it draws you closer to God, keep going, and by all means, be active in your parish! If you tried your local traditional parish (one that’s approved by the Archdiocese such as those run by the FSSP, Institute of Christ the King, or a diocesan priest; avoid SSPX if possible until they’re fully reconciled; do not enter the doors of an “independent” Catholic Church or a sedevecantist [“no-pope”] sect like the SSPV or CMRI), but they’re all bitter fogies who are negative about everything (it happens, but it’s not common), do not think you’re obligated to go there. Pray, follow the Church, and go to confession.  My comments are my experience, strength, and hope, not my commandments.

Back to Whit Monday.  Fr. Z has shared a story over the years that is an anecdote about Paul VI.  Take it for what it’s worth, but it illustrates well this concept of division.

Some years ago … gosh, it was decades now… I was told this story by a retired Papal Ceremoniere (Master of Ceremonies) who, according to him, was present at the event about to be recounted.

You probably know that in the traditional Roman liturgical calendar the mighty feast of Pentecost had its own Octave.  Pentecost was/is a grand affair indeed, liturgically speaking.  It has a proper Communicantes and Hanc igitur, an Octave, a Sequence, etc. In some places in the world such as Germany and Austria Pentecost Monday, Whit Monday as the English call it, was a reason to have a civil holiday, as well as a religious observance.

The Novus Ordo went into force with Advent in 1969.

The Monday after Pentecost in 1970, His Holiness Pope Paul VI went to the chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red vestments, for the Octave everyone knows follows Pentecost, there were laid out for him vestments of green.

Paul queried the MC assigned for that day, “What on earth are these for?  This is the Octave of Pentecost!  Where are the red vestments?”

Santità,” quoth the MC, “this is now Tempus ‘per annum’.  It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost was abolished.”

“Green? That cannot be!”, said the Pope, “Who did that?”

“Holiness, you did.”

And Paul VI wept.

Logic

A logical argument must meed three conditions:

  1. The terms must be clear.
  2. The form must be valid.
  3. The premises must be true.

A basic syllogism looks like this:

  • Premise #1.
  • Premise #2.
  • Conclusion.

If the terms are clear and the form is valid, the conclusion must be true. Channel your inner Vulcan and put your feelings away, for no amount of hurt feelings will make the illogical logical or the logical illogical. There is no tantrum of any size that will make the true conclusion false or the false conclusion true.

What do each of these conditions look like? Continue reading