Level 7 Member
Sunday, May 11, 2014, 5:49 AM
Language Of Love,' Bishop Conley Teaches
LINCOLN, NEB., March 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Bishop James Conley of Lincoln hopes his new pastoral letter on the sacrificial "language of love" and the disruptive immorality of contraception will be received "with open hearts and open minds."
"My hope is that people, Catholic couples especially, and also Catholic physicians and pharmacists, will be willing to look at this issue again," he told CNA March 20.
"The Language of Love" is Bishop Conley's pastoral letter on the sacrificial nature of love and on contraception, officially promulgated March 25 -- the feast of the Annunciation, when the Church celebrates Mary's assent to becoming the Mother of God. The letter can be read in full, and listened to, here.
Bishop Conley said Paul VI's 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which rejected contraception as contrary to Christian ethics, had a "prophetic message" that was "good news for all Catholics, since we know that the contraceptive mentality has been so pervasive and so devastating."
He said he hopes that couples using contraception, and physicians prescribing it, will "think again" about their actions, and turn to "God's tender mercy by making a good heartfelt confession."
"Sacrifice is the language of love," Bishop Conley wrote in his pastoral letter. "Love is spoken in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who poured out his life for us on the cross. Love is spoken in the sacrifice of the Christian life, sharing in Christ's life, death, and resurrection. And love is spoken in the sacrifice of parents, and pastors, and friends."
"We live in a world short on love," he lamented.
The pastoral letter warns that "when it rejects the gift of new life, through the use of contraception," American culture is rejecting love.
"Husbands and wives are made to freely offer themselves as gifts to one another in friendship, and to share in the life-giving love of God."
He said God created marriage to be unifying and procreative, joining husband and wife "inseparably in the mission of love, and to bring forth from that love something new."
"Contraception robs the freedom for those possibilities," he continued, warning that the use of contraception "gravely and seriously disrupts the sacrificial, holy and loving meaning of marriage itself."
He said marriage is a call to "loving as God loves... freely, creatively and generously."
The letter will be delivered to every registered family in the diocese, and will be made available as a podcast and as a broadcast on Nebraska Catholic radio.
Bishop Conley voiced gratitude for the example of the "hundreds of families" who have "opened themselves freely and generously to children."
While this requires sacrifice, he said, "sacrifice is the harbinger of true joy."
"The Language of Love" was inspired by a 1991 pastoral letter, "In Obedience to Christ," issued by Bishop Glennon Flavin, who shepherded the Lincoln diocese from 1967 to 1992.
Bishop Flavin's letter had discussed contraception's incompatibility with Catholic married life and medical ethics, and is regarded as a landmark in the history of the Diocese of Lincoln.
Bishop Conley said that his predecessor's letter had "a profound effect" on him as a young priest in the Diocese of Wichita.
When he became Bishop of Lincoln in November 2012, he began to think how he could re-present Bishop Flavin's "wonderful, beautiful teaching," which led to his preparation of "The Language of Love" as an update to his predecessor's teaching.
Bishop Conley told CNA that Catholics who reject or ignore the immorality of contraception should look to the Church and to the teachings of Christ as "a message of love and mercy," a message proclaimed by Pope Francis.
The bishop's letter specially addressed Catholic physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals. He praised their efforts to help their patients, but at the same time he said no Catholic health care providers should engage in medicine "by undermining the gift of fertility."
Health care, he noted, is "the art of healing," while and contraception and sterilization "denigrate and degrade the body's very purpose."
John Brehany, executive director of the Catholic Medical Association, told CNA March 20 that he welcomed the pastoral letter as "a clear, compelling call to fidelity on an issue that is central to human happiness and health," saying the letter has an "inspiring and constructive explanation" of Catholic teaching on contraception and sterilization.
Brehany said the letter can benefit faithful Catholic health care professionals through its "high-quality reaffirmation of Church teaching."
"Even the choir needs to hear good sermons from time to time."
The letter can bring clarity to health care professionals who are confused or ignorant of their moral obligations related to contraception and sterilization; Brehany said he knows many Catholic physicians who did not know about the immorality of these practices for many years.
"People respond to the truth, especially when it is spoken with clarity and love," Brehany continued, encouraging lay Catholics to read the letter and to "share it with confidence."
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 10:40 AM
Losing and Gaining Our Lives
The great paradox of life is that those who lose their lives will gain them. This paradox becomes visible in very ordinary situations. If we cling to our friends, we may lose them, but when we are nonpossessive in our relationships, we will make many friends. When fame is what we seek and desire, it often vanishes as soon as we acquire it, but when we have no need to be known, we might be remembered long after our deaths. When we want to be in the center, we easily end up on the margins, but when we are free enough to be wherever we must be, we find ourselves often in the center.
Giving away our lives for others is the greatest of all human arts. This will gain us our lives.
(In my inbox this AM}
Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 4:55 AM
"No one is a martyr for a conclusion, no one is a martyr for an opinion; it is faith that makes martyrs" (Cardinal Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations).
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 9:40 PM
“The creator of the world called her ‘Mamma.’ She held him in her arms and cradled him at her breast. The little one who was there under Mary's eyes was continuing to act creating the world; he was creating and maintaining his mother in existence.”
~ Pere Jacques (Lucien-Louis Bunel)
Monday, April 21, 2014, 6:17 AM
Ordering Our Desires
Desire is often talked about as something we ought to overcome. Still, being is desiring: our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls are full of desires. Some are unruly, turbulent, and very distracting; some make us think deep thoughts and see great visions; some teach us how to love; and some keep us searching for God. Our desire for God is the desire that should guide all other desires. Otherwise our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls become one another's enemies and our inner lives become chaotic, leading us to despair and self-destruction.
Spiritual disciplines are not ways to eradicate all our desires but ways to order them so that they can serve one another and together serve God.
In my inbox this AM
Saturday, April 19, 2014, 8:58 PM
To love people as Jesus loves them is to wash their feet, to serve them in humility; it is to help them to rise up in truth and love.... To love is to live in communion with others.
Saturday, April 19, 2014, 6:33 PM
Gerard Manley Hopkins captured the faith view that I want in his poem “God’s Grandeur.”The world is charged with the grandeur of God. . . . Nature is never spent; there lives the dearest freshness deep down things. . . ."
In her book Poetry as Prayer: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Maria Lichtmann quotes from his spiritual notes: “All things therefore are charged with love, are charged with God, and if we know how to touch them, give off sparks and take fire, yield drops and flow, ring and tell of him.”
Hopkins knew “how to touch” them and how to see God’s presence. As a youth, “he loved to climb to the top of tall trees and enjoy the view.” He could spend hours fascinated by an ant hill or studying the ice crystals in a puddle of water on cold mornings. He also knew dryness, frustration, rejection, and depression as his “terrible sonnets” reveal. “Send my roots rain,” he pleaded in his poem. “Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend with Thee.”
Like St. Francis, he lived the Paschal mystery
Saturday, April 19, 2014, 6:23 PM
Saturday, April 19, 2014, 4:18 AM
Christ the Friend He rose for us. He came to earth for us, he suffered for us, and he rose for us. Nothing in Christ was for himself. Nothing. He is all love, all self-giving, all obedience to the Father’s will for the sake of our salvation. He rose so that we might rise with him. In his Resurrection, we see what he is preparing for us. How eagerly he looks forward to that day when he will “wipe away every tear” (Revelation 7:17) from our eyes and welcome us into the fullness of life that is his eternal kingdom! The more faithful we are to him now, the more we will share in his glory when he raises us from the dead. Good friends fill our lives on earth with joy and comfort; only Christ can offer a joy that will keep growing forever.
Christ: I know it’s hard for you to feel the power and the joy of my Resurrection. You still need to grow in your faith and humility to be able to feel it. But you don’t need to feel it in order to believe in me. Think of my Resurrection often. The more you turn the eyes of your heart towards it, the more its light will illumine and warm your heart, until your whole life is gradually bathed in its power and joy. And I have given you a reminder – the sunrise. Each day, the sun comes up and brings light to the world, just as I rose from the darkness of death in order to conquer it forever with the light of my life
Friday, April 18, 2014, 8:25 PM
This powerfully poetic sermon on the Cross of Christ as the Cosmic Tree was preached during Holy Week in the early church, somewhere around the 5th century, by someone whose name has been lost. It was wrongly attributed to the great preacher St. John Chrysostom. Pseudo-Chrysostom Homily VI for Holy Week (P.G. lix, 743-6).
This Tree is my eternal salvation. It is my nourishment and my banquet. Amidst its roots I cast my own roots deep: beneath its boughs I grow and expand, revelling in its sigh as in the wind itself. Flying from the burning heat, I have pitched my tent in its shadow, and have found a resting-place of dewy freshness. I flower with its flowers; its fruits bring perfect joy - fruits which have been preserved for me since time's beginning, and which now I freely eat. This Tree is a food, sweet food, for my hunger, and a fountain for my thirst; it is a clothing for my nakedness; its leaves are the breath of life. Away with the fig-tree, from this time on! If I fear God, this is my protection; if I stumble, this is my support; it is the prize for which I fight and the reward of my victory. This is my straitened path, my narrow way; this is the stairway of Jacob, where angels pass up and down, and where the Lord in very truth standing at the head.
This Tree, vast as heaven itself, rises from earth to the skies, a plant immortal, set firm in the midst of heaven and earth, base of all that is, foundation of the universe, support of this world of men, binding-force of all creation, holding within itself all the- mysterious essence of man. Secured with the unseen clamps of the spirit, so that, adjusted to the Divine, it may never bend or warp, with foot resting firm on earth it towers to the topmost skies, and spans with its allembracing arms the boundless gulf of space between.
He was All, and in all, filling it with himself; stripped naked for battle against the powers of the air. . .
With him two thieves were extended, bearing within themselves the marks of those two peoples, the marks of those two types of mind. . .
When this cosmic combat came to an end ... the heavens shook; almost, the stars fell from the skies; the light of the sun was extinguished for a time; rocks were split asunder; the entire world was all but shattered ... But great Jesus breathed forth his divine Soul, saying: "Father, into Thy hand I commend my spirit." And lo, even while all things shuddered and heaved in earthquake, reeling for fear, his divine Soul ascended, giving life and strength to all; and again creation was still, as if this divine Crucifixion and Extension had everywhere unfolded and spread, penetrating all things, through all, and in all.
0 Thou who art alone among the alone, and all in all! Let the heavens hold thy Godhead; and paradise, thy soul; and earth, thy blood ... For the Indivisible has become divided, so that all might be saved, and the world below might not remain ignorant of the coming of God...
We beseech thee now, Lord God, Christ, eternal King of souls: stretch forth thy mighty hands over thy sacred Church, and over a holy people for ever thine