Female Priest: What is the Big Deal?

Female Catholic Priest: They exist?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Catholic female priest. I was attending an organ donation religious panel. To my dismay, traditional Catholicism failed to make an appearance. Rather the panel had Judaism, Islam, and Protestantism represented. As I sat with my co-workers, this lady wearing a Roman Collar comes up to our table and sits down. After an exchange of small talk, she declares that she is a Catholic priest.

At this moment, my eyes got wide. She passes her business card, which read, “member of the independent Catholic Church.”

Now I started laughing on the inside about the oxymoron that is independent Catholic. You cannot be independently universal. I sighed and put the incident behind me until this year.

Opening the Door to Women

I taught 7th-grade religious education. When we got to the chapter on Holy Orders, I thought it would be good to interview a priest.

So I asked the youth to come up with questions for the priest. Inevitably the question of why priest can’t be female came up.

The priest said, “well, Jesus selected all males to be his apostles”. So far the answer is correct, but then it took a turn for the worse. “Yet we know that women are equally a part of the body of Christ. We know that some of Jesus’ disciples were women. Thus maybe women will play a larger role in the future.”

Shocked, I push back a little. “Father, I thought priest was male due to being in persona Christi and the fact that the Eucharist is Jesus’ male body.”

He replied, “that is very interesting, I have never heard of that argument.”

It honestly makes me wonder what is taught in seminary.

Argument Against Female Priest

Apostles versus Disciples

All of Jesus’ followers were disciples. Some of his followers were apostles. So- what’s the difference? This is explained in the gospel of Mark

“He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: [he appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

So apostles have authority from Christ and have permission to preach. This is all very good.

Yet some might say, Jesus was just conforming to societal expectations. Jesus chose males because in his time males had authority. We live in a different culture, thus we do not need to follow Jesus’ example.

This ignores how Jesus elevated women.

Jesus Restores Female Dignity

In the gospels, Jesus radically treated women. Women were not objects to Jesus. This can be seen in Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan women at the well. First a little context. Jesus enters the town of Samaria at noon. It’s hot at that time. Nobody in their right mind would go and fetch water at this time.

Yet Jesus sees a figure approach the well. It’s a woman. Instead of ignoring her as the culture would dictate, Jesus chooses to engage with her. He listened to her and respected her. The Samaritan woman became a witness for Christ. Speaking of witnesses, women were the first witness to the resurrection. Mary Magdalene was one of the first people to see the risen Christ. Back in Christ’s time, women were not legal witnesses. If Jesus cared about cultural expectations, his first appearances would have been to men.

Mary as New Eve

Everyone knows that Catholics honor Mary, Jesus’ mother. Most protestants argue that the legitimizing of the Catholic church led to political corruption. The practice of honoring Mary resulted from this corruption.

There’s just one problem; the dates don’t add up. Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity 300 AD. Honoring Mary occurred much earlier.

St. Irenaeus of Lyon (d.202) compared Mary to New Eve.

Just as Eve, wife of Adam, yet still a virgin, became by her disobedience the cause of death for herself and the whole human race, so Mary, too, espoused yet a Virgin, became by her obedience the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race… And so it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by Mary’s obedience. For what the virgin Eve bound fast by her refusal to believe, this the Virgin Mary unbound by her belief. (4)

This quote stresses Mary’s role as the cause of our salvation through her obedience.

Hence, Mary is honored as helping to bring about our salvation. Christ is the new Adam and Mary the new Eve.

What does this have to do with a female priest?

Well If the early Christians thought Mary should be respected, what better way to do that then make her an apostle. Yet that’s not what happened. Rather the eleven apostles drew lots and nominated St. Matthias. Thus even though Mary was the most likely choice for an apostle, they still went with a male follower.

By making Mary the new Eve, the Church demonstrates its respect for women. Yet, the early church including the eleven apostles maintained an all-male priesthood. To understand why we must understand the relationship between the Eucharist and the priesthood.

The Function of Priesthood

Old Testament

The Old Testament describes the story between God and his chosen people, the Israelites. The Old Testament describes the Israelites as a holy nation and a kingdom of priest. Yet God also set aside the tribe of Levi for liturgical worship. The Old Testament structure becomes fulfilled by Christ.

New Testament

By our baptism, we are made priest, prophets and kings. Yet just like in the Old Testament, there is a secondary priesthood. The Levi was responsible for procuring sacrifices for the Israelites. This function is fulfilled by Christ. Jesus Christ takes on death and defeats it. Because he is God, his saving act has infinite merit.

Yet the question remains, how are the effects of Christ’s saving act applied to us? Jesus’ sacrifice is applied to us throughout time through the institution of the Eucharist. The same body that was shed on the cross is made available to us through the transformation of bread and wine. Christ’s one sacrifice presents itself in the Eucharist. Similarly, Christ is the great high priest that works through the ministerial priesthood. (CCC 1544).

The priest, when performing his priestly duties, acts in the person of Christ. When a priest is acting in the person of Christ, the priest must symbolize what is happening. Thus, when the priest says the words, “this is my body,” the priest must have a body similar to Christ. In other words, the priest must have a male body.

Female Priest: Ultimately a Lie

All sacraments must symbolize what they represent. Water cleans objects. The sacrament of baptism cleanses us of sin. Thus, water is required to represent the cleansing nature of baptism.

In the sacrament of Holy orders, a person pledges to be Christ for the people. Christ was male. Thus, the person must also be male. Having an office exclusively for males may seem strange for today’s society. Yet acknowledging the biological differences between male and female should not diminish the dignity due to women. A woman cannot claim to share in Christ’s physical body for to do so would be a lie.

Christian Rock Music: a Defense

“Can’t you see you’re not making Christianity better, you’re just making rock n’ roll worse.” King of the Hill S08E02

My History With Rock Music

I have always liked rock music.

In elementary school, when my peers were listening to Spice Girls and Brittny Spears, I was listening to Barenaked Ladies and Lenny Kravitz.

I even sang Fly Away for elementary school talent show; hides face in embarrassment.

This love for rock music never left me even though the bands and style of music did change.

Christian Rock: How it Snuck Into My Playlist

In college, I stumbled on a band called The Letter Black. I am not sure why or how this indie Christian band was featured on a secular music review site.

Not knowing what I was getting my self into I took a listen. The song Best of Me took hold of my heart and would not let go. What stood out to me was the lyrics:

If I could find yesterday

I would take You back to where I’m coming from

Cause You can see the way

All these scars have kept me running

And chasing down the past

But I’m not done, I’m turning back

I swear, You’re the only reason I keep breathing

I swear, You keep on giving me the reason to keep believing

Finally I’m worth it, though I’m not perfect

It still feels right, and I keep on giving

Trying to make a difference, in my life

But I know another way to show

Everything I can be for You

You’re all that I’ll ever need

I’ll give you the Best of Me

If I could read tomorrow’s mind

I would know exactly where You’re taking me

If I’m going to slip away

Or if I stay and give You all my trust

You will keep me safe

I know You won’t let me fade

I swear,…

This blew my atheistic mind. Why?

Because I had never considered religion to bring out the best in people. Rather I always thought religion was a crutch for people to rest on.

Yet 1st John 4:19 says

19 We love because he first loved us. (RSV 2nd Catholic edition)

At the time I had a lot of scars (still do). I attempted to find my worth in being perfect. This song explicitly states that she is worth it despite her imperfections and scars.

This message brought healing to my soul.

Overcoming Trauma:

In 2011, I was diagnosed with a herniated disc.

The news devastated me.

I had to leave school and take a leave of absence and spend 3 long months in the hospital.

For the uninitiated, there isn’t much to do in hospitals.

Thus, I listened to Christian rock music.

I need hope that secular music just could not provide.

One time, in particular, stands out.

It was the middle of the night. The nurse comes in to make me go to the bathroom. I had yet to go all day. The circumstances made the hospital staff understandably worried. They catheterized me.

Fear swirled through my head.

“What if I’ve lost my ability to go to the bathroom on my own”, I thought.

With that thought, tears came. The nurse tried to comfort me to no avail.

As the nurse left the room, I decided to turn on music.

No sleeping now, I thought as I cried.

The following song came on the radio: On The Front Lines by Light Up the Darkness

Can You comfort me when I call / Is my voice bouncing off the wall

As the weeping prophet my tears still fall

Not unlike my words upon deaf ears

I’m standing on the front lines with Jesus on my right side

I’m not defeated / I will stand tall

And my armor is fitted / And I will not fear

You held my hand / You led me here

You can defeat the enemy

I hear his cunning whispering words / I despise the enemy’s call

He tries to slay me with his lies

and I cannot compromise on the Solid Rock I stand

I don’t think that song would have the same emotional impact outside of a rock song. If it was a pop song or traditional praise song, It may have very well come across as cheesy. Yet Christianity attracted me, not through everlasting joy, but by the battle motif. Jesus is king standing on the front lines with us. He is battling the principles of darkness.

Is Screaming a Form of Praise?

The Bible talks about shouting a lot. The most famous example is the battle of Jericho.

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Joshua 6:20-6:22 (RSV 2nd Catholic edition)

Now we can read this as a historical narrative. Yet I also believe in a personal interpretation.

I believe that the walls represent obstacles in our lives. Things that keep us from our divine given purpose. Thus, screaming and shouting is a permissible form of praise. Our screams anticipate God’s intervention. Thus we can enter into eternal city of the new Jerusalem. Something is freeing about shouting out for God and watching the walls fall in our lives.

Christian rock: a Gimmick?

So does Christian rock music make actual rock music worse?

My answer would be, “it depends.” Artistic intentions play a large role in the integrity of the music choices. If the intention is to make Jesus seem cool or edgy and contrary to what Jesus is really about, then yes it is not authentic. Firstly, be a musician. Secondly, write meaningful messages about faith that can only be conveyed by rock music. Thirdly, don’t do it to try to spread the gospel to the masses or tap into the Christian market. We, Christians, have Christian Contemporary and praise music for that purpose.

Free Will and God: Am I Free?

The past two post I’ve talked about freedom: Finding Freedom Through Unbound and Freedom From Perfectionism. Yet neither blog post makes sense if we are not free agents. So I decided to ask myself, how do I know I have free will?

Well the easiest answer is that the Church teaches it to be so

God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him. (CCC 1730)

But that wouldn’t be any fun and a very short blog post. So today, I am tackling the question of how we have free will.

The Topic of Free Will

Buckle up, dear readers, we are in for a bumpy ride. This topic is so challenging and yet fascinating to me. It intersects with a wide variety of fields of study. You have theological questions: If God is all-knowing, doesn’t God predetermine our choices? Philosophy questions exist: what is the nature of this kind of control: does free will exist at all. Lastly, you have ethical questions: is it possible to be held accountable if there is no free will?

To keep it short, I will focus on the theological question.

Theology and Free Will

Theology assumes the existence of a free will. The Bible states,

It was he who created humankind in the beginning,

and he left them in the power of their own free choice.

If you choose, you can keep the commandments,

and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.

He has placed before you fire and water;

stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.

Before each person are life and death,

and whichever one chooses will be given. (Sirach 15:14–17 (NRSV))

So if free will exists, how is that compatible with God’s omniscient? Two major thinkers addressed this question: St Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is often misunderstood. His teachings are often exaggerated to support ridge predeterminism. Yet the reality is that St. Augustine believed in free will. According to St. Augustine, God has an infinite store of motives. God also has the foreknowledge of motives to which the will of each human will consent.

I know it is confusing, but maybe an example will help.

Imagine you are standing in line at a hamburger and hot dog stand. The stand is cash only. Hamburgers are $5 and Hot Dogs are $1. You see that the person in front of you has only $2 in cash. Thus you know that the person in front of you will be buying hot dogs. God’s foreknowledge is similar to knowing how much cash the person has in front of you.

St Augustine’s teachings would be the beginning of the Church’s theology regarding free will.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas built on the foundation of St. Augustine. In some ways, St Thomas Aquinas may have complicated the relationship between free will and God.

In order to understand free will, we must first understand the nature of the will. Aquinas borrowed from Aristotle’s understanding of the nature of man. Both Aristotle and Aquinas think that man has rationality. This rationality contains the will.

So What is the Will and Is it Free?

Aquinas divides rationality into two parts: the intellect and the will. The former has three functions: Understanding, judgment, and argument. The will has two parts: free will and motive.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, all humanity is motivated by the good. In other words, no one intentionally does evil. All actions are done for the good of the person. Humanity is still open to choose from a multitude of good things.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, man has free will as a rational agent. Yet this will is moved towards the good by God.

Wait, what, how can God move our will and still be free?

How God Fits In?

St. Aquinas a much smarter man than me anticipated this question and responded to it.

it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither for one thing to be cause of another need it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature.(ST. I. Q83 A1 ad 3)

What on earth is St. Aquinas saying?

Basically, he is saying that God caused the world to act the way it does. Yet God is the originator of everything does not take away our freedom. God created us to desire the good. Yet we are still free in our choices of the good.

Example from my own life. I can choose to read or I can choose to watch Netflix. According to Aquinas, I am going to use my intellect to choose the one that will lead to my ultimate happiness. My free will must choose the one my intellect deems appropriate.

Does the fact that my will is influenced by an outside force make me less free?

Final Thoughts

When I started researching and writing for this blog post, I thought for sure that free will entailed both being free from external forces and free from deterministic inner motives. Yet the more I read about St.Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine the more I’m persuaded otherwise. Obviously, in today’s society, we take the free will for granted. We assume blindly that free will exists. Yet the implications of such a statement greatly influences both theology and secular ethics. I believe that as long as I am free to make choices, the presence of inside or outside influences do not affect me.

For more on St. Thomas Aquinas and free will, watch Thomas Aquinas on Free Will

Title Recovering from perfectionism written above crucifix

Recovering From Perfectionism

I have a confession. I am recovering from perfectionism.

On the surface, perfectionism doesn’t seem like a bad thing. After all, what is wrong with wanting the best. According to Robert McGee in Search For Significance perfectionism can lead to compulsion or withdraw. Lately, I have seen this vicious cycle in my own life.

For those who don’t know, I have been looking for a job for the past couple of months. I tend to go after jobs with a lot of energy. Submitting resumes and writing cover letters with gusto, until I get rejected. Then I fall into despair, feeling angry, frustrated, and like a failure.

Rinse, recycle, repeat. If only there was some truth that could set me free from this vicious cycle.

To all the perfectionist out there, I bring you the good news.

Jesus bought you through his sacrifice on the cross.

The basic gospel message: Jesus paid the debt that we could not pay to free us from sin. So your performance doesn’t matter. Jesus has done it all. Just believe in Jesus and he will look on you as righteous.

It sounds good until you start asking questions.

Who did Jesus pay? If it’s God, well then God doesn’t sound very loving. What kind of loving father would condemn his only son to a painful death to satisfy some sick sense of justice? If it’s the devil then that’s even more problematic. Jesus aka God shouldn’t owe the devil anything. Maybe it is the debt of sin itself? Yet if that was the case, why not just cancel everyone’s sins? You don’t need the theatrics or the sacrifice.

Also, why would God be merely content to call us righteous rather than making us righteous? After all, didn’t what God spoke in creation come to pass? For example, didn’t God say let there be light and there was light? So when God calls me righteous, wouldn’t I become internally righteous?

We must have a proper understanding of justification and atonement, otherwise, we fall into either despair or perfectionism.

Justification: the Truth that Combats Perfectionism

Robert S. McGee states that to eradicate the fear of failure, we must accept that Christ died for our sins. We must accept that Christ takes our sins and covers us with His righteousness. Since Christ has done it all, there’s nothing I can do. It all just seems too easy. Thus, justification is the forgiveness of sins and the declaration of righteousness.

Is it just me or does it feel like something is missing? Under this framework, there is no room for becoming a new creation. Yet St. Paul clearly says,

17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17

God does justify us as a free gift in response to faith. This justification accomplishes two things. First, it forgives our sins, and second, it makes us a new creation. God is not content to declare us righteous rather he wants to make us righteous.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him, we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

Since Paul says we can hope in sharing the glory of God, we know that we do not yet possess the glory of God. Likewise, we know that God prepares us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) and we know that God will complete his work in us (Philippians 1:6).

Hence justification is not a one-time declaration, but rather it is a lifetime of growing in righteousness.

Atonement: An Act of Love

God is not angry at us. God did not punish his son, Jesus, to appease his wrath. Rather, Jesus came to restore our relationship with the father. Jesus took on flesh to elevate our own human nature. Jesus freely chooses to become satisfaction for our sin. Thus he lovingly frees us.

When I look at the crucifix, I do not feel shame nor condemnation. Rather I feel joy and overwhelmed by the father’s gift of love. His body is broken for us, not for us to remain sinners, but to become like God through self-giving and mercy.

I do not become like God through merely assenting to what Christ has done. Rather, I become like God by relying on God’s supernatural grace that God freely gives me through prayer, sacraments, and works of love.

Goodbye Perfectionism

When I first became Catholic, I was worried about scrupulosity. I worried that I would feel this pressure to do good works in order to earn my salvation. Yet a funny thing happened. I became less ridged. The church’s expectations are clear. if I follow them I will receive supernatural grace. I do not earn the grace due to my effort, but Christ promised to aid his bride, the church.

I ask the Christ will aid me knowing that the work he began in me at baptism, he will finish in me until I am the spotless bride of Christ.

Finding Freedom Through Unbound

I am weak! I need freedom from my weakness. This is how I used to think. Now I am attempting to embrace my weakness.

No, I am not throwing myself a pity party, nor am I being self-deprecating. Rather I am attempting to exercise my freedom. Confused? Let me explain.

Society states that what is important is success, wealth, and happiness. Al these things we should strive to grasps or possess. But what if you don’t have those things? Are you helpless? Are you unlovable or discontent?

These are the thoughts I wrestle with and it is easy for me to fall into despair. Yet the good news of Jesus Christ frees us from these thoughts and attitudes. It tells me that it is okay to be weak. The God, who loved me, created me with all my imperfections, doubts and fears. Freedom comes when we receive the good news.

How I viewed Freedom

Often it’s easy to view freedom as walking away from something rather than walking towards someone. I heard the following example:

Imagine you are a slave. You are being bided on when out of the corner of your eye you see a man. He pays the highest price for you. You cautiously go up to the man worried about your fate. Then you hear the words, “I freed you.” The man tells you to go live your life, but don’t fall into slavery.

I know that in my own life that is how I viewed God. To me, God is like the man, who paid the highest price. I thought I was right with God if I did not fall into sin. Yet my thought process is slowly changing.

“ Freedom is not just the absence of slavery to sin, but the presence of a love relationship with God”

My thought process began to change when reading the above quote. While I strive to not sin, to be in freedom requires more. It requires a relationship with God my father.

Freedom Through Unbound

I first read the quote in the workbook for the Unbound course; so what is Unbound?

Unbound is a book and class that offers Christians a practical guide to Deliverance. Now when my small group leader approached me about doing this course, I had no opinion. I didn’t really know about deliverance.

Honestly, If I had known I probably would have stayed away. I tend to be rational and logical. I am not the type of person to diagnose every problem as a spiritual disease.

But I knew nothing and therefore have sat through three lessons on deliverance. So what is deliverance?

Neal Lozano defines deliverance as, “ the breaking of power behind habitual patterns of thinking and acting that limit our freedom to accept God’s love and turn away from that which blocks His love.”1

Thus deliverance is much less about casting out evil spirits. Rather it is about renouncing the lies the spirits make us believe.

What I Want From Unbound

I am excited about the journey. God wants to deliver me from lies of my own making. I have come to realize that I lack trust in God’s promises. I want to be able to say with the Psalmist:

Even though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff

they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (RSV second Catholic edition)

I want to know that God’s got me regardless of the circumstances. I think renouncing fear will help me trust God’s goodness. Renouncing perfectionism will help me rely on God and not myself.

I am weak, but my God is strong.

  1. Neal Lozano, Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverence(Chosen Books 2010), 67

Click here if you want to learn more about freedom.

picture of library with statue of stoic philosophers

Stoic Philosophy

Lessons It Can Teach Christianity

So it should be no secret by now that I love philosophy. Recently I started reading about philosophy more and more. I also recently started using Apple News app. Found an interesting article on Stoic philosophy.

It all started when I realized that I wasted so much time on mindless social media and Netflix.

So I took drastic measures. I deleted Twitter, Netflix, Youtube and Youtube TV off my phone. Now I had a problem. What could I do when I needed to actually waste time? Enter Apple News.

Apple News allowed me to educate myself during those rare moments of downtime. And wouldn’t you know it, they have a philosophy category.

One day while skimming through the category, a headline caught my eye. It read Is ancient philosophy the future? Intrigued, I decided to read.

Is Ancient Philosophy The Future?

Donald Robertson wrote a fascinating article about the rise of ancient philosophy among young people. He seeks to address the question, Why the rise in Stoicism in modern society? He ties the answer to the core principles of Stoicism.

The Core principals of Stoic Philosophy

To be a stoic, you must believe the following:

First, must adopt a rational framework when confronting today’s problems.

Second, you must differentiate between what you can control and what you can’t.

Third, you must recognize that the judgments you make about certain situations change your emotional state. For example, the judgment you make about rain effects your attitude about a rainy day. The rain itself as nothing to do with your emotional state.

Fourth, you must recognize that you live for a higher purpose.

Master, all four and you are on your way to becoming a Stoic.

While Donald Robertson article did not convince me to be a stoic philosopher, it did tell me a thing or two about evangelizing young people. So many core principles of Stoicism can be found in Christianity. Donald Robertson even draws a comparison between Stoicism and St Francis Serenity Prayer. So why is Stoicism growing and Christianity shrinking?

Five Things Stoic philosophy emphasizes better than Christianity.

1. Rationality

Let’s face it Christianity has a bad representation as anti-science. Even if most of the blame goes on protestant evangelicals and creationist, The Catholic Church suffers from this stereotype as well. Just the other day someone asked me if I believe in dinosaurs. Yet as controversial as the Big Bang is, very few people know that a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître discovered it. Faith is rational, let’s embrace that.

2. Stoics Teach How to Live a Good Life

Sometimes Christians can get so weighed down by what not to do that we forget why we’re doing it in the first place. Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly. Christians are called to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, generosity, and self-control. Yet most of the time we walk around with a chip on our shoulder and a holier than thou attitude. Christianity is meant to give us a good life, not outwardly, but inwardly. We need to emphasize the goodness of Christianity more.

3. Stoics Have Deep and meaningful conversations

Don’t rock the boat. Sometimes we take Christian meekness to the extreme. We are afraid to be raw and vulnerable because we don’t want anyone to discover what a horrible sinner we are. Instead, we have surface level conversations. Likewise, we are so afraid of losing our faith that we don’t dare entertain opinions outside of our own. Yet deep conversations require a vulnerable confrontation with someone not like you.

4. Stoic Philosophy Offers Emotional Resilience

This is something Christianity should offer in abundance. Most of the modern churches fail to deliver. St Paul wrote,

for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. Philippians 4:11a-14

St Paul knows the secret to being content is having confidence that comes from trusting in Jesus. Yet we never hear about this inner freedom thatGod promises. You hear about the next life and the freedom that awaits us. You hear that God wants to bless you now. If you’re not blessed you lack faith. This is not the Christianity St Paul describes.

5. Stoic Philosophy Performs Action

Unlike Christianity, stoicism emphasizes being a good person. There is no gospel to be proclaimed or preached. Rather, a person exemplifies Stoicism by transforming their character. Christian have made a blind confession of faith the only requirement for membership. Yet the Christian gospel demands transformation. Too many Christians pay lip service to Christ without radically changing their heart. The moral is that if you’re going to preach the gospel, your behavior better conform.

Conclusion

The world is hungry for guidance in these chaotic times. They long to know answers to questions such as why are we here and what is our purpose. Young people value deep radical friends, who know how to have intellectual conversations. If Christianity is going to evangelize it needs to be rational. It needs to offer a community that is not superficial, but intellectually rich, where people practice what they preach. Until then philosophy will remain an appealing alternative.

Read more about Philosophy here

Don't miss out!
Subscribe To Newsletter

Receive Genesis Devotion and updates on the latest blog post 

Invalid email address
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.

The Indianapolis Archdiocese made the correct decision.

A Reflection On The Debate Regarding Gay Teacher

Headlines filled my twitter feed. Indianapolis archdiocese removes Catholic standing from Jesuit school over a dispute regarding the gay teacher.

Immediately, the usual suspects begin rushing to the school’s defense. They cite unjust discrimination. Catholic Church only cares about sexual sin. They target gay and lesbians to make themselves feel more righteous.

I have heard it all and I’m here to set the record straight. This is about authority. It has nothing to do with the teacher’s sexual orientation.

Let me explain.

Defending the Indianapolis Archdiocese

Public verse Private Sin

So the Archdiocese justifies the firing by saying,

All faculty are ministers and as such, they’re public and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic teachings.

But the liberal Catholics cry, why don’t you fire every Catholic, who uses contraceptives?

When I entered into the Twitter debate, my favorite example was why don’t they monitor food intake and fire people for gluttony and greed.

The problem with all of those examples is that they are all private sins. Gluttony requires a person to take pleasure in food.

Thomas Aquinas said it best, “too soon, too expensively, too much, too eagerly, too daintily.”

There’s a certain internal attitude one must have to be greedy or gluttonous.

Contraception is something a person does in the privacy of one’s own home.

Just like the government, the Catholic Church can’t invade the privacy of the marital chamber.

Marriage; however, is a public declaration. It is a signing of a piece of paper that becomes part of a public record.

The Catholic Church believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

By participating in a same-sex marriage, the teacher has publicly declared an opposing view on marriage that is contrary to church teaching.

Anytime anyone publicly declares anything contrary to church teaching, that person will be fired.

An analogous situation would be participation in a black mass or working for an abortion clinic.

I believe that if the man had not been married and just in a homosexual relationship, there would have been no justification to fire him. Thus it is not an attack on his orientation.

Rather it is a direct attack on the Archdiocese’s authority over marriage.

Speaking of authority….

Who’s the boss? Archdiocese or Brebeuf Jesuit preparatory high school

First, What does Catholic mean?

At its very basic Catholic means universal.

To be universal, the church must be united.

To achieve this unity, a Catholic organization must be united with Catholic authority.

The bishop is the supreme authority over Catholic organizations in a diocese.

The school wants to be independent. They say, “always maintained control of our school’s operations and governance, including our personnel decisions.”

Sorry, you can’t be independently universal. That makes no sense.

Final thoughts

Ultimately liberal Catholics will make this story about unjust discrimination.

Don’t be fooled, it is solely about authority.

Does the church have the authority to define marriage? Does the bishop have authority over Catholic organizations?

Any Catholic in good standing should answer yes to those questions.

Yet a Brebeuf Jesuit preparatory high school wants to answer no to those questions and cries when their hand gets slapped.

Catholic means having universal assent with church teaching. There’s no room for individual conscience.

Thus the Archdiocese is right.

Bishops Say The Craziest Things

a Reflection on USCCB General Assembly 2019 June

Hating on the bishops is the latest fad on Twitter.

I can understand why. The latest sexual abuse scandal has broken everyone’s trust. I feel like the bishops are out of touch. I feel it especially when they tweet out:

Problem with Bishops’ Statement

At first glance, I did not think much of the question. Yet I could not let it go. The problem is that everyone should have the same answer as Simon Peter

” Jesus said to the twelve, “will you also go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life, and we believe and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-68a RSV Second Catholic Edition

I stay not because the homily is good or because the music moves me. Faith formation programs while important are not the reason I stay. Rather I stay because somewhere along the way, I became convinced that the church through Jesus had the word of everlasting life.

Problem With Communication

Bishop Barron’s solution

I stay because the Catholic Church is the truth. Perhaps then people leave because the truth is poorly communicated.

Bishop Barron seems to think so. Twitter criticized Bishop Barron for suggesting that the church imitate the style of Dr. Jordan B Peterson.

Now I had never heard of this guy. A quick google search reveals that he is a psychologist with moderate political videos.

He is not a devout Catholic. If anything, he flirts with Christian morality when it fits his agenda.

To be fair, Bishop Barron did say to imitate the style of and not the substance. But why? Christianity should be all about proclaiming the truth.

Yet people join the ranks of the religious unaffiliated not out of ignorance, but out of lack of relevance.

Parish’s Disfunction

I don’t want apologetics!

I want community.

Thus the below tweet intrigues me.

_

Is USCCB right? Are parishes dysfunctional?

Yes and no.

First, we need to understand what a parish is.

I have written about parishes before. In that post, I said, “I think most Catholics leave, not because protestant services are more entertaining or because they don’t understand the Eucharist, but because it’s easier to feel like you belong.”

I stand by that statement. Most parishes are awful at fostering that sense of belonging. Furthermore, parishes have no incentive to foster belonging. A parish receives its authority based on geography. That’s a shame for all those people driving 20 or more minutes away.

This also explains the Latin Mass phenomenon. Despite what your Trad friend would love to brag. The Latin Mass feels like a community because it groups together like-minded people. It has nothing to do with pre-Vatican II Liturgy.

Bishops so close, but not exactly

So I do agree parishes don’t work. Yet parishes don’t work, not because younger people migrate. Rather they never found that authentic community. Most of what parishes offer appears inflexible and unwelcoming. Most people do not know anyone’s name or notice when they don’t attend.

So we should do away with the parish right?

Rather I think a change of attitude is in order. Parishes are not merely places to procure the sacraments. They become places where the community is found. After all, when two or three is gathered in Jesus’s name, he promises to be there.

Interested in learning more? I’ve written on how to foster community and still stay reverent here

Psalm 139, Politics and Pride

I never thought of Pride Parades when thinking about Psalm 139:14

Psalm 139:13-14 happens to be my favorite scripture passage.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

Psalm 139 reminds me of my identity in God. Often I’m tempted to identify myself as something other than a child of God.

Sometimes I am the helpless girl in a wheelchair.

In those times I recite Psalm 139. It reminds me that I am wonderfully made by God my father.

That was true until I heard about the controversy.

David Haas and Psalm 139

I have an embarrassing confession.

I like David Haas’s music.

My traditional Catholic friends can laugh, but David Haas made Catholic hymns accessible to me.

My love for David Haas music began with the song You are Called.

You see, I remembered You Are Called as my favorite childhood hymn. I decided to look into the composer.

That is when I discovered, With You By My Side.

This glorious hymn even has as an electric guitar solo.

Obviously, my taste and criteria for a good hymn have changed. Yet I still have a soft spot for David Haas music.

David Haas disappointed me!

David Haas, according to HuffPost, created a song based on Psalm 139:14 called You’ve Made Me Wonderful.

Cool, I thought to myself, until I read, David Haas dedicates this song to the LGBT and those celebrating pride.

Ouch, I have whiplash from the way the Catholic Church has treated LGBT over the years.

In 2017, Chicago diocese withheld funeral rites to those in open relationships.

In 2019, we have Catholic music composers dedicating hymns to the LGBTQ

All the while, faithful Catholics are confused about how to respond.

Not very universal for a supposed universal church.

My main point is that we need to not be afraid to stand for truth.

Psalm 139 is proclaiming the truth that all humans are wonderful and full of dignity and that God can be found everywhere.

Let’s stand on that, no political pandering necessary.

Black Mirror: Striking Vipers

Social Commentary About Porn and Love

Black Mirror spoilers below

Black Mirror is one of my favorite Netflix shows.

It combines all my favorite things: Philosophy, sci-fi, and technology.

Seasons 1-4 always made me think. In fact, while at Yale Institute for bio-ethics, a bunch of students got together and had an informal discussion on the ethical issues in the episode The Entire History of You.

Thus when I discovered season 5 was out, I knew I had to binge watch it.

Sadly season 5 of Black Mirror was disappointing.

In my opinion, the only thought-provoking episode was Striking Vipers.

As I watch Striking Vipers, I couldn’t help but wonder if Black Mirror producer, Charlie” Brooker, intended to say something profound about porn and love. Let me explain.

Synopsis of Black Mirror’s episode Striking Vipers.

There are three main characters. Danny and Karl are best friends from college. Danny has a girlfriend, Theo, who he eventually marries. Since starting a family with his wife, Theo, Danny has become estranged from Karl. On Danny’s birthday, Karl gives Danny a gift, Striking vipers, a game similar to Mortal Combat. This game is played in Virtual Reality. The game allows the players to take on different avatars. Karl takes on the female avatar Roxette and Danny takes on the persona of Lance.

That is when things start to get weird!

Danny and Karl enter into a sexual relationship in the virtual reality game. Lance (Danny) has sex with Roxette (Karl).

I am not sure what it means for each person’s sexuality. Are Danny and Karl homosexual? Is Karl living out transgender fantasies? Maybe, the Virtual reality game is no different than porn?

The show leaves these questions primarily open-ended. Yet it does suggest that both Karl and Danny are not homosexual.

What’s interesting to me is what the game does for Danny and Theo’s relationship. Danny becomes more addicted to having sex in virtual reality. He pulls away from his wife and family. She eventually finds out why.

Their solution is to have one night where they both get sexual gratification. Danny gets to play the game and Theo gets to go to the bar without her wedding ring.

Black mirror’s commentary

The premise of Black Mirror is to use technology as a commentary on societal issues.

I believe VR technology reflects the issue of porn in modern society. Porn gives us unrealistic expectations. Thus, the reality is no longer satisfactory.

While playing the game, Danny can no longer be satisfied by his wife. He gets his satisfaction from the unrealistic avatar in the game.

The show seems to say that playing the game is similar to the wife picking up a man. Both people are not faithful. When someone watches porn, they also are not faithful. They are using someone else for their own gratification.

Black mirror: Happy ending?

Some people cite the ending as happy. Both parties were able to compromise. Yet they ignore what Theo, Danny’s wife, said,

If I wanted to I could have anyone I wanted..but I’m loyal. I make sacrifices because it is a partnership. Does marriage get boring and dull, yes, even I find it boring. So tell me if I’m not wanted.

In modern society, we tend to equate love with the warm feelings we get or how attracted we are to a person. Karl embodies this philosophy in the show. He chases after Danny because it is the “best sex he has ever had” Karl tells Danny that he loves him. This makes Danny realize that they must face the reality of their feelings. Yet in reality, it isn’t love. We need to reclaim the ancient philosophical notion of love

Aristotle’s Notion of Love

Aristotle says that in order to love the other, we must love ourselves. If we truly love ourselves, we will not use anybody else for our own gratification. Rather love is doing for the other’s stake. In other words, if we love ourselves, we will want to pursue a virtuous life. As part of the virtuous life, we should extend unearned love to others. Likewise, one needs the community to be virtuous. This notion of love can also be seen in Catholic teachings.

Catholic Church on Love

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: “so they are no longer two, but one flesh.”153 They “are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving.”154 This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together. (CCC 1644)

For Catholics, Love is giving of oneself to another. This includes sacrifice. We are called to lay down our lives for our spouse. This is hard work. We don’t do it alone. We do it with the grace of Christ.

Black Mirror shows the consequences of our modern hedonistic lifestyle when given the right technology. Maybe we should reinterpret love as the act of self-giving.

Want more commentary on Love? Check out Matt Fradd’s interview with Christopher West