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.
My background is in theology and in nonprofit business/administration. As such, I have sought ways to combine the best business practices within ministry. And, with that in mind, I have wanted to “measure” what makes a successful parish. What can we examine and evaulate to deem that a parish is doing well and another is not. Or are we just to throw everything up to, “We will see the fruits in heaven?” There are many things we can analyze: offertory, mass attendance, number of baptisms and weddings, etc. While these would give us some perspective into the success of the parish, I think that they can be attributed (good or bad) to other factors outside of the parishes control. And, in some cases, I think these are additional by-products or secondary measurements caused by good catechesis and evangelization.
The two measurable areas that I think one could use to gauge a successful parish are the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life and the size of ones Rite of Christian Initiation Program (R.C.I.A.).