This is an often difficult and confusing moral question. The church teaches that the sexual act is expressed in accord with the intention of our Creator when it is open to the transmission of life between a man and woman united in marriage. Therefore, using chemical or physical “barriers” to interrupt one of the intended purposes of human sexuality, that of the transmission of human life (the other being the expression of love through physical unity between spouses), we change the meaning of the act of sexual intercourse, whether we know it or not.

The second phase of discernment is to live constantly in God. The special ability that enables us to easily recognize and respond to the divine movements of God is the development within our interior of a spiritual sense. This spiritual sense is almost nonexistent at the beginning of our life; however, a person can refine this sense with experience by resolutely and faithfully following the path of Jesus Christ. This grace-filled gift allows us to recognize the unmistakable voice of Jesus. It is a loving instinct that permits us to distinguish the voice of the Spouse more easily in concert with all the sounds that present themselves to our hearing.

 

My name is Kevin, and I am a perfectionist.

Some will read this and wonder why I seem to be boasting. Many people think that being a perfectionist is a good thing.

Must we stay for the final blessing at Sunday Mass to fulfill our Sunday obligation?
— Maria in Jacksonville

What does the church teach/believe regarding the souls of those who passed away before Jesus’ time on earth, death, and resurrection?
— Scott in Springfield

In the past issues we have looked at the first of two phases of discernment: to recognize God as the center of my life.

What type of thoughts or feelings direct me most toward God? What type of thoughts or feelings enclose me in my own world where I choose only my will?

The action of the Holy Spirit on the person oriented toward God:

The Spirit of God always attempts to maintain and keep reason and feeling oriented toward God. The Holy Spirit will try to make the believer’s level of adherence to God not only ideal and profound, but also detached from feelings of the heart. When a person is seriously oriented toward God, the Holy Spirit nourishes his feelings with spiritual consolations.

Why does the Catholic Bible have more books than the Protestant Bible?
— Bill in Quincy

Throughout the Lenten Season, we are continually reminded of the Lenten regulations. However, it has been a long time since I've seen any mention made of the "Easter Duty." Has this been changed?
— T.J.

Sunday, 26 May 2019 17:45

My call. Your call?

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With June and the his celebration of 70 years as a priest fast approaching, Father John Ostdiek, OFM, remembers a life-changing event that happened to him 80 years ago, when he was just 16 years old.

I suspect that like me, many of you can also pinpoint some event/occasion/person in your life which brought about a significant change in direction in your life. Here’s mine.

Jean Vanier, a groundbreaking and profoundly influential Catholic activist, died in Paris, France, on May 7, at age 90.

Born to Canadian parents, Vanier told them, when he was 13, that his interest was in naval affairs. Accordingly, he proceeded to prepare for a naval career in England and had spent time with the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy by the time World War II ended in 1945, the year he turned 17.

The first of two phases of discernment is to recognize God as the center of my life. There are primarily two entities involved: God and me. In discerning, we ask ourselves:

  • What type of thoughts or feelings direct me most toward God?
  • What type of thoughts or feelings enclose me in my own world where I choose only my will?

Hey, Father! Why do Catholics have the crucified Christ in their homes and churches and even sometimes wear it around their necks?

Sunday, 12 May 2019 09:57

First time in the front pew

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I am a cradle Catholic. Like many Catholics, I prefer to sit comfortably toward the middle or back of church.

Tuesday of Holy Week, I attended the chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. In my new role with the curia at the diocese, I was tasked with taking a few photos. Unfamiliar with the best way to do this, while being discreet, I decided to sit in the front pew — the dreaded front pew. As I settled in, it suddenly hit me that people may watch the front pew to know when to sit and stand.

God speaks through our thoughts and feelings. It is of fundamental importance to know our thoughts and arguments and to understand where they come from in order to discern which to follow. The interaction between thought and feeling is important because it permits us to verify adherence to God or to the realities that take us away from God. Feelings can betray the effective adherence to God. I can have a good thought of Gospel content but associate it with a negative feeling. The question becomes: What is it that resists this thought that is good in itself?

 

As we survey the highlights and “lowlights” of human history, there is a category of achievements (or achievements’ opposite) which have been classified as “dubious distinctions.”

Especially now that baseball season has started, we may recall the obituary of Randy Jackson, who died on March 20 at age 93. His New York Times obituary noted that he hit the last home run for the Brooklyn Dodgers (Sept. 28, 1957, at Philadelphia) before the team found itself playing home games in Los Angeles. The Times called this a “melancholy achievement.”

Some final considerations: Any predominant fault will be opposed to either an active or passive pursuit of God’s will. We will either fail to actively do what God wants by disobeying, sinning against the virtue of charity or seeking our will over his own; or we will fail to passively desire what God does by rebelling against his will for us with complaining and growing impatient because things seem out of our control.

I am confused about holy days of obligation. What or who decided that if the holy day falls on Saturday or Monday, we are not required to go to Mass unless for certain feast days? From childhood, it did not matter what day the holy day fell on, it was still a holy day of obligation. In addition, how come some dioceses and the requirements to attend Mass on these days sometimes differ?I am confused about holy days of obligation. What or who decided that if the holy day falls on Saturday or Monday, we are not required to go to Mass unless for certain feast days? From childhood, it did not matter what day the holy day fell on, it was still a holy day of obligation. In addition, how come some dioceses and the requirements to attend Mass on these days sometimes differ?— Dorothy in Springfield

Hey, Father! Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just go directly to God?
— Maddison in Springfield

The examination of conscience is indispensable for gaining self-knowledge. Frequent confession and spiritual direction are also wonderful aids in finding our predominant faults.

We must seek to divide and conquer. Trying to root out all of our faults at once will only unsettle us and we will lose heart. It is not possible to do this anyway. Aim at only one objective at a time.

Hey, Father! Why can we not eat meat on Friday during Lent? Where in the Bible does it say that? Also, isn’t fish meat? That seems to contradict meatless Fridays.

 

I was shocked when, on visiting Ireland at Easter 1981, I discovered that St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is Anglican (“Church of Ireland”), not Roman Catholic!

I did, however, find some consolation at this cathedral.

I had written my first high school term paper on a portion of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (born at Dublin, 1667; died at Dublin, 1745). When I wrote the term paper, I consulted a number of commentaries on the book; what I did not do was read a biography of Swift. I kept wondering why the commentaries referred to him as “Dean Swift.”

Sunday, 03 March 2019 00:55

Penance and Purification

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Lust, gluttony, avarice and sloth of the seven deadly sins

In the previous issue we examined the deadly sins of pride, anger and envy. We continue that examination of the seven deadly sins with those of lust, gluttony, avarice and sloth. The purpose is to enable an honest evaluation of our weaknesses and begin to take steps toward a positive change in our lives and to embrace our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness.

Hey, Father! Why does the church teach purgatory exists? Where is purgatory in the Bible? I thought Jesus’ sacrifice of himself was enough?
— Dale in Mattoon

Sunday, 03 February 2019 08:47

It is not about us, but him

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For several decades now, well-meaning catechists, priests and deacons have told candidates for the sacrament of confirmation something along the lines of this: “Confirmation is when you decide to accept the Catholic faith for yourself.” If this were true, it would mean that my own reception of the sacrament of confirmation means nothing because I was confirmed the same day I was born; at such a young age, I could not possibly make such a momentous decision. The sacrament of confirmation, then, cannot be about an individual’s choice. Indeed, such an understanding was never present in any official document or prayer of the church.

Sunday, 03 February 2019 08:46

What Covington can teach us

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Students from Covington Catholic School in Kentucky went to the March for Life, advocating for the most defenseless among us — the unborn. When they left Washington, it was those students who felt defenseless after a barrage of inaccurate reporting in the mainstream media and attacks on social media hit them like a ton of bricks.

A viral video showed one of the students, Nicholas Sandmann, and Nathan Phillips, an activist for indigenous people’s causes, confronting each other. The video showed Phillips beating a drum while Sandmann stood there with his group. At one moment, Sandmann smiled. Someone took that picture. And in that moment, everything changed.

Before moving forward in A Disciple’s Journey to Holiness, let’s review the four R’s of mental prayer: read, reflect, relate and resolution. We end our meditation by choosing a practical concrete resolution to keep in mind and live throughout the day. Resolve to apply the grace from this meditation to transform you. You can, also, take a phrase or word that struck you—and repeat it throughout the day. This will keep your mind on the meditation and help to focus your thoughts and heart on God and following the example of Jesus.

Sunday, 20 January 2019 16:25

Sharing in the Life of Christ

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Many centuries ago, Pope St. Leo the Great wisely said that “what was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries” (Sermon 74.2). He spoke these words concerning the ascension of Christ and in this way referred to the relationship between the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus and the Sacraments of his Body, the Catholic Church.

Sunday, 20 January 2019 16:24

Called to resolve this new year

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It is January, the season of resolutions. As most people did, I took some time to think about my resolutions and how I wanted to start 2019. After looking at my list, it occurred to me that my resolutions this year, and honestly most years, had a lot to do with me. That may seem obvious; they are in fact my resolutions. However, I started to wonder how many people resolve to help the poor, the marginalized, the hungry or the homeless. If you are reading this and you are someone who did that, I applaud you. If you are like me and your resolution was to drop 20 pounds and helping the poor did not hit your resolution list, here is my challenge to both you and me.

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