John Paul II writes in His Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio that, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” In reflecting upon these words I have reached the conclusion that if we want to build a better world, then we must have a network of nations committed to the principles and values of God. And, if we want to build a nation committed to the values of God, then we must work on the creation of states focused on His ways of truth and love. In order to create these states, to build a nation, to change a world, we must first have a community willing to serve their Creator and most especially their Savior. To have such a community who will engage with like-minded communities, to form loving states, that build nations committed to God, in order to effectively change our world, we must first and foremost have better families that are centered on Christ. To have such families that properly formed will change a world, it is imperative that we have better marriages that are indwelt with Christ and of which Christ radiates from. The council of Vatican II says as much, “The well-being of the person and the human and Christian society is intimately connected with the healthy state of the community of marriage and the family.” The evangelization of the world that the Church is entrusted with and commanded (Matthew 28) to do, must have the promotion of the “domestic church” as its top priority. To accomplish these goals the couples have to both be focused on Christ. They will get closer and closer to each other as they get closer and closer to Christ. But more than each running their own race towards Christ and marriage being thought of as a trio (husband, wife, Christ), it is rather as St. Augustine says, “One Christ loving Himself.”
Almost 15 years ago, before I was Catholic, I sat across a table and asked my Protestant pastor a question that would forever change my life, “What in God’s eyes defines two people as married?” Dating at the time, I wondered why one had to be married in a church, wear a ring, and say vows? Why couldn’t one be married in private between God and the couple apart from churches, pastors, friends, and witnesses? Where in the Bible did it say marriage needed to be done in such a way? My pastor’s answer astounded me. “It doesn’t.” He simply had no idea of what defined a marriage in the eyes of God. I then asked why we as Protestants do such and then I answered my own question, “It’s tradition.” Tradition! But, we don’t have tradition, we only believe what the Bible says to be true and no where does it talk about rings, vows, churches, white dresses, best men, etc. I filed this away at the time thinking I had found an inconsistency within the Protestant worldview not realizing that I had discovered a Sacrament, the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Pelagianism is a heresy that began in the 4th century, denying original sin and the necessity of grace. Pelagianism bares the name of moralist and theologian, Pelagius. While little is actually known about Pelagius we can come to understand his teachings from letters and books by his opponents: Augustine, Jerome, and others. It is thought that Pelagius is from Britain or Ireland although he spent much of his adult life in Rome and Palestine. Although he wasn’t a priest he was viewed as a learned and holy man. As a theologian he was concerned with man’s nature, relationship to God, and his moral obligation. Pelagius was well versed in Greek and Latin. He was well read in regard to the works of Augustine, Jerome, Rufinus, and Origen. In fact, it was from Augustine’s book Free Choice (written between 388-395) that Pelagius got many of his ideas and thoughts regarding free will and the nature of man. Pelagius was a strong opponent of the Manicheans, arguing with Augustine against their determinism and fatalism, while in Rome from 380-411 AD. After the destruction of Rome in 410 he briefly stopped in Northern Africa. From there he went to Palestine where his views were more accepted, until confrontations arose with Jerome. Jerome saw Pelagius’ beliefs as extensions of those of Origen and Rufinus. Jerome argued vehemently against Pelagius concerning his viewpoints of man’s capacity of sinlessness apart from Christ.
NFP is 100% natural, has no artificial preservatives, is completely organic and is the only green option!
In my working with couples preparing to be married I have discovered that while many of them know that the Church is “against” birth control, pre-maritial sex, and cohabitation, they have no idea why. They hear the Church saying, “No, no, no” but are not taught what the Church is for and what the Church is saying, “Yes, yes, yes” to. The couples seem to believe the Church is out of touch and out to lunch on these issues. And they certainly have never heard that within marriage there is an alternative that embraces the openness to life, and allows the couple to be a discerning, co-creator with God. This alternative is called Natural Family Planning (NFP).
However, one of the many reasons I give, as a male working with couples, is that Natural Family Planning is pro-women. It respects the femininity of the female and does not ask her to be something she is not. In articulating my point, I have changed the name from “Natural Family Planning” to “Organic Family Planning.” I even joke that my wife and I are “Organic Certified” and I have thoughts of producing t-shirts to wear to that effect.
Thanks to Michael Barber for pointing this video out on Facebook, and our friends at the Sacred Page for bringing to our attentiion. We too couldn’t help, but share with you all. This is a good example of the new evangelization!
“Man Is the Way of the Church, and Christ Is the Way of Man”
HOMILY OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
BEATIFICATION OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
ST PETER’S SQUARE
1 MAY 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!
As Christians we are called to “love our neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31) Too often, however, as we become more and more engaged with our faith and the community where we worship, our neighbor tends to look more and more like us. As humans, our tendency is to hang out with those who share our passions, worldview, and goals for life. Our small group interactions are with Christians like ourselves and before we know it all our friends are Christians. We fill our time with activites that are faith based narrowing our network to those that agree with us and our worldview.
And the irony is that for those that take their faith seriously and that of their surrounding network they have a desire to live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), but they have no immediate network to actively do so outside of “cold calling.” To be a Great Commission people, we need to expand our network of friends and associates beyond our Christian ones. To do so demands an intentional effort on our part to make friends beyond our inner circle. How do we do this? We do this by getting involved in activities (not sinful) that enable us to meet new people and expand our sphere of influence. In secular terms this is called “networking.” For the Christian, proper networking could have eternal significance.