Eighth Station

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ – Luke 23:26-29

Today is Good Friday, the day we recall the passion and death of our Lord.  Many people have reflected upon the stations of the cross on the Fridays of Lent, especially today.

The Eighth Station has always stood out in my sex addict mind.  Sex addicts, men and women alike, often engage in behaviors that are risky.  For some, the risk of an unwanted pregnancy is like the risk of getting caught in a public place.  It increases the thrill, until you are actually caught or conceive a child.

These unwanted pregnancies are a mark of behavior we regret.  While some people can welcome the child lovingly into their lives, some of us may resent the child, and many of us choose to give the child up for adoption or to have an abortion.  For both women and men, these last two choices often come with a great deal of shame and guilt.  We lose our own flesh and blood on account of our addiction.

So, indeed, we may find ourselves crying out, “Blessed are the barren!” Perhaps you’ve thought to yourself, “if I were sterile, I could sleep around without worrying about the burdens of pregnancy.” Maybe you’ve made yourself sterile for that very reason. We do some elaborate things for this master we call sex addiction.

Whatever shame and guilt you have, offer it to Jesus on the cross.  He gave His flesh to free us from the sins of the flesh.  He died to destroy our guilt and shame.  And we know that He rose to restore us to new life, not only in Heaven, but here and now.

The grace of the cross is given in the sacraments. Go to confession! God is waiting for you.

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Multiple Liturgies

In the Catholic Church, there are multiple rites, such as Byzantine, Maronite, and Western (Latin).  The essence of the Mass is the same, but the style is different.

Within the largest, the Western Rite, there are further divisions, the Ordinary Form (OF), Extraordinary Form (EF), and Anglican Use, which is set up primarily for converts from the Anglican (Episcopal) Communion.

The OF is the post – 1970 rubric that is allowed to be celebrated in the vernacular. It is the most common. The EF follows the rubrics of 1962 laid out by Pope St. John XXIII.

The EF Mass is commonly referred to as the “Traditional Latin Mass” or the “Tridentine Mass.” The OF is commonly referred to as the Novus Ordo, after its Latin title. 

Why does this matter?  You are here because you identify as Catholic.  Yet, perhaps you don’t agree with the Church’s moral teachings on homosexuality, fornication, abortion, or birth control.  Maybe you think the idea of a virgin birth or an afterlife is preposterous.  Maybe you don’t even believe in God.

Your identity as a Catholic comes from your experience as a Catholic: the Masses, the prayers, the processions, the Rosaries.  These still mean something.

After the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, there was a purposeful experiment to reshape Catholic worship and identity.  Some embraced the changes, some rebelled against them, and some simply fell away.

The internet is full of debate on what was good, bad, and ugly.  I am not here to engage in debate.  Though I prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the Ordinary Form is a valid form of Catholic worship, despite the sometimes bizarre innovations some have engaged in.

The key, though, is that the liturgy provides us a sense of identity and unity with one another.  It holds people to the faith when they might otherwise fall away.  Atheist philosopher George Satayana considered himself Catholic because of the beauty of the liturgy.  Andy Warhol, despite being gay and living a lifestyle he knew was at odds with much of Catholic moral teaching, frequently attended daily Mass.

My hope is that you will come on your own to believe that the Catholic Church is all that she claims to be.  But if you cannot accept it all right now, you can make the steps you feel comfortable making.