Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Friday... what's happening out there?

Here's a bit of a round-up of a few interesting things.

Robert George of Princeton has an excellent essay on how changing the definition of marriage must in practice also entail a loss of freedom for those who uphold traditional marriage:

Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union—not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it—they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else. This is despite the fact that the conjugal conception has historically been embodied in our marriage laws, and explains their content (not just the requirement of spousal sexual complementarity, but also rules concerning consummation and annulability, norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence of commitment) in ways that the sexual-romantic domestic partnership conception simply cannot. Still, having adopted the sexual-romantic domestic partnership idea, and seeing no alternative possible conception of marriage, they assume—and it is just that, an assumption, and a gratuitous one—that no actual reason exists for regarding sexual reproductive complementarity as integral to marriage. After all, two men or two women can have a romantic interest in each other, live together in a sexual partnership, care for each other, and so forth. So why can’t they be married? Those who think otherwise, having no rational basis, discriminate invidiously. By the same token, if two men or two women can be married, why can’t three or more people, irrespective of sex, in polyamorous “triads,” “quadrads,” etc.? Since no reason supports the idea of marriage as a male-female union or a partnership of two persons and not more, the motive of those insisting on these other “traditional” norms must also be a dark and irrational one.

Thus, advocates of redefinition are increasingly open in saying that they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of reason, enlightenment, and equality—those who would “expand the circle of inclusion”—on one side, and those of ignorance, bigotry, and discrimination—those who would exclude people out of “animus”—on the other. The “excluders” are to be treated just as racists are treated—since they are the equivalent of racists. Of course, we (in the United States, at least) don’t put racists in jail for expressing their opinions—we respect the First Amendment; but we don’t hesitate to stigmatize them and impose various forms of social and even civil disability upon them and their institutions. In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination,” liberty—especially religious liberty and the liberty of conscience—and genuine equality are undermined.

Note how the arguments in favor of redefinition of marriage are, at root, irrational and arbitrary; and note how that irrationality translated into intolerance of those who defend traditional marriage.  I think George is correct in his analysis.  From this he concludes that we must continue resolutely to defend marriage, "evangelizing" as it were about this.  For us as clergy or future clergy, "evangelization" is exactly the right word, since we don't separate our arguments from faith and from reason, in practice.  But the arguments from reason for what marriage really is need to be used as often as possible.

On a related note, Joe Heschmeyer (a shameless papist) at Shameless Popery  lists three arguments against atheism from Pope Benedict.  These are nice capsules of even more profound arguments, and are presented in a very accessible way - the Holy Father is an excellent teacher!  (Joe's posts aren't too shabby either.)

Lastly, here are two parts of a four part series from San Antonio, on Martha Fernandez-Sardina's talk show, featuring Martha (who spoke at our 2011 Ministries Conference) and the irrepressible Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (who has also spoken here in the Diocese previously), about Verbum Domini.  Some great stuff coming out in these two talks; well worth a viewing.  (I can't find the first two parts, and I don't know if Martha had a different guest for those.)

PS - Please join me in praying for the repose of the souls of those killed in the theater shooting in Colorado, and for the healing and consolation of those injured, and of all family members, and for the conversion of the shooter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Prayer for rain

"O Lord, almighty God, who desist not from pouring out upon men a superabundance of heavenly dew and the substance of earth's richness, we render thanksgiving to Thy most loving Majesty for all Thy gifts.  We continue to beseech Thy clemency, that Thou would deign to bless, preserve, and defend from drought and from every injury the harvest of our fields, mercifully sending rain to nourish them.  Grant, likewise, that having had our desire for earthly needs filled, we may bask under Thy protection, praise Thy goodness and mercy without ceasing, and make use of temporal goods in such a way as not to lose eternal goods.  Through Christ our Lord, amen."

(adapted from Benedictionale, #107, Blessing of granary or harvests (Roman Ritual, Vol III))