Christ the King: Witnesses to the Messiah

Stephen Pimentel
From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

Stephen Pimentel is pursuing graduate studies in theology at the  Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. He is currently working on a series of Bible study materials integrating Sacred Tradition and Scripture. “Witnesses of the Messiah” is a ten-part Bible study of the Acts of the Apostles. This is the second installment.
Luke begins Acts with the statement that, in his Gospel, he “dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1), implying that in Acts he will deal with what Jesus continues to do and teach. Accordingly, we find that Acts concerns Jesus’ sending of the Holy Spirit to continue His ministry through the apostles. However, before Jesus sends the Holy Spirit, He further prepares the apostles by appearing to them in His risen body for 40
days and teaching them about the kingdom of God (cf. Acts 1:3). The period of 40 days recalls the similar interval that Moses spent in the cloud of glory upon Mt. Sinai:

“Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai . . . And Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Ex. 24:15-18).

While on Sinai for those 40 days, Moses received detailed instruction from God on the administration of the covenant (cf. Ex. 25-31). For the same period of time, the apostles now received instruction from Christ on the reality at the heart of the New Covenant: the kingdom of God.

Thy Kingdom Come

Jesus chose to spend His last days on earth prior to the Ascension instructing the apostles on the kingdom of God. Indeed, Acts recounts the beginning of the reign of Christ, first in heaven and then on earth, as Christ extends His rule through the apostles’ proclamation of the Gospel. The power to proclaim the Gospel and advance the kingdom does not come from the apostles themselves, but from the Holy Spirit, on whom they must wait (cf. Acts 1:4-5). The Holy Spirit, acting in and through men, brings about the reign of Christ on earth.

Jesus told the apostles that they would receive the Holy Spirit “before many days” had passed (Acts 1:5). Hence, they realized that the outpouring of the Spirit foretold by the prophets as accompanying the restoration of Israel was about to commence. The apostles therefore ask Jesus a very natural question: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

The New Israel

The import of the apostles’ question turns on the meaning of “Israel.” From the time she had entered the Promised Land, Israel had been constituted by the Deuteronomic covenant. Central to Jesus’ ministry, however, was the reconstitution of Israel around Himself and the twelve apostles. Thus, at the Last Supper, He had told the apostles:

“[A]s my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk. 22:29-30).

The “Israel” about whom the apostles now ask is therefore Israel as reconstituted around Jesus and themselves. Their question no more reflects a misunderstanding of the kingdom than does Jesus’ own statement above.

From the apostles’ perspective, the key phrase in their question is “at this time.” They are specifically asking when the restoration will be manifested. Jesus answers that they should not seek “to know times or seasons” within the Father’s plan (Acts 1:7), but as for the restoration of the kingdom, they will “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon” them (Acts 1:8). The power given to them by the Holy Spirit will enable them to
proclaim the Gospel as Christ’s witnesses and thereby advance the kingdom “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts
1:8). This geographic sequence maps out the plot of Luke’s narrative, as the apostles spread the Gospel in an ever-widening circle: first to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, then to the Jews in the surrounding province of Judea, then to the mixed remnant of the northern tribes in Samaria, and finally to the nations of the world.

Calling All Nations

Jesus’ reference to “the end of the earth” calls to mind the many Old Testament passages that link this phrase with God’s fulfillment of His promise to Abraham of blessing for all the nations. One such passage is found in Isaiah 49 and relates to the restoration of Israel by the “servant” of the Lord:

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Is. 49:6).

In Isaiah’s vision, the blessing of the nations and the restoration of Israel do not merely occur at the same time; rather, the blessing of the nations is the very means by which Israel is restored:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders’” (Is. 49:22).

Jesus’ allusion implies that, through the ministry of the apostles, Isaiah’s prophecy will soon be fulfilled. For those who have ears to hear, Jesus has answered the apostles’ question. He who taught them to pray “Thy kingdom come” (Mt. 6:10) has now given them the blueprint.

Rising to Glory

Any lingering doubts about Jesus that the apostles may still have felt were dispelled when, “as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). The Ascension itself was the definitive guarantee of the promise of power that Jesus had given the apostles, for He not only departed from earth, but also entered the divine glory. Jesus was taken up not into the clouds of the sky, but into the cloud of glory that manifests the presence of God. This was the cloud that descended upon Mt. Sinai, accompanied Israel in the wilderness, and filled Solomon’s Temple. This was the
cloud that overshadowed Jesus during the Transfiguration and from which the Father spoke. Thus, St. Paul describes Jesus as having been “taken up in glory” (1 Tim 3:16). Within the cloud of glory there is found the throne of God, and from the Ascension onward Jesus is seated on this throne at the right hand of the Father (cf. Catechism, no. 659).

The Ascension fulfills Jesus’ declaration at His trial that “from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Lk. 22:69). Both Matthew and Mark report the additional words, “and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mt. 26:64; Mk. 14:62), making it clear that Jesus was alluding to the vision of Daniel 7. In this vision, the “son of man” comes “with the clouds of heaven” from earth to the throne of God, signifying heavenly exaltation: “with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him” (Dan. 7:13). Jesus, the true
“son of man,” has ascended to the throne of God in His humanity.

The Victory of the Gospel

The Ascension marks the beginning of Christ’s rule over His kingdom and demonstrates His victory over the powers of darkness (cf. Eph. 1:20-21). Just before his martyrdom, St. Stephen “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55-56). Not only does Christ reign in glory from heaven, but His kingdom continually breaks into the earthly realm, where it is advanced through the witness of His disciples. Daniel’s vision is thus progressively fulfilled (cf.
Catechism, no. 664). The apostles therefore undertake their mission with a sure faith in the forthcoming victory of the Gospel. Although Jesus will no longer be with them physically, they accept His absence without regret, trusting in His promise of the Holy Spirit. This is why they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Lk. 24:52) rather than sadness.

The College of the Twelve

After noting their return to Jerusalem, Luke lists the names of the eleven remaining apostles, emphasizing their ongoing collective identity as a college (cf. Acts 1:13). Peter is listed first, just as he is in the Gospels. At some point during the 10 days between the Ascension and Pentecost, “Peter stood up among the brethren” to address them concerning the replacement of Judas (Acts 1:15). To “stand up among the brethren” refers to a formal speech delivered in a synagogue. By describing Peter’s speech in this manner, Luke highlights the leadership that Peter exercises at this juncture immediately following the Ascension. It is Peter who explains the necessity of replacing Judas and sets forth the criterion that candidates must satisfy.

The background for Peter’s speech lies in Jesus’ teaching that, in the kingdom, the apostles will “sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk. 22:30). Jesus’ choice of exactly twelve apostles was not random. Rather, the number symbolizes the apostles’ role as covenant representatives around whom the twelve tribes of Israel would be reconstituted. Hence, the apostolic college needed to be restored to its full complement of twelve members for the restoration of Israel to proceed. Ezekiel had prophesied that the restoration of Israel would accompany the outpouring of the Spirit, which Jesus
had said was imminent. Therefore, it was urgent that Judas be replaced immediately.

Peter begins his speech by describing the vacancy created by Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:16-19). This vacancy is the result not of Judas’ death but of his apostasy, thereby disqualifying him as one of the twelve. In contrast, when James the Elder is martyred by Herod Agrippa in Acts 12:1-2, he is not similarly replaced: Far from having disqualified himself, James had witnessed to his office with his blood.

The Testimony of the Scriptures

Peter then shows that Scripture has provided for the replacement of a disqualified apostle. He first paraphrases Psalm 69:25: “Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it” (Acts 1:20). The relevance of Peter’s reference lies in the fact that Psalm 69 is a “testimony,” an Old Testament passage that the apostles interpreted as directly pertaining to the life of Jesus. As a result, various portions of this psalm are cited in
reference to Jesus at least 11 times in the New Testament. In addition, Psalm 69 is one of the “psalms of the righteous sufferer,” in which the speaker is a suffering figure who is persecuted by the wicked for his faithfulness to God. The apostles interpreted these psalms as messianic. Psalm 69 was specifically interpreted as pertaining to Jesus’ final ministry in Jerusalem and especially His Passion. The section Peter paraphrases describes the enemies of the sufferer and the curses that befall them. Peter applies this section to Judas, interpreting Psalm 69:25 as describing the terrible end that Judas met after his betrayal (Acts 1:18-19).

Peter’s quotation of Psalm 109:8 (“His office let another take”) in Acts 1:20 is similar. Like Psalm 69, Psalm 109 is a psalm of the righteous sufferer and was applied by the apostles to Jesus’ Passion (cf. Mt. 27:39). The significance of the quotation lies in its reference to an “office.” Peter evidently considers the role of an apostle to be an office within the kingdom of Israel, one that should be filled in the event of a vacancy.

Why did Peter and the apostles take the psalms of the righteous sufferer to be directly applicable to the life of Jesus? From the distribution in the New Testament of references to these Old Testament passages, it can be shown that their interpretation as messianic predates the composition of even the earliest portions of the New Testament. For his part, Luke leaves no doubt that the framework of the apostles’ exegesis came from Jesus Himself, for He taught them how to find “everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms” (Lk. 24:44).

Officers of the New Temple

Peter concludes his speech by stating the fundamental requirement that any candidate to replace Judas must meet: he must have been a disciple “during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21-22).

Such a candidate would not only have heard Jesus’ teaching firsthand during His ministry, but would also have witnessed Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances, enabling him to “become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:22). This requirement establishes an essential distinction between the apostles and the bishops (overseers) who will be appointed later in Acts (cf. Acts 20:28): The apostles are eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection, whereas the bishops, in general, are not.

The apostles then nominated two men, Joseph and Matthias, who met the above requirement. However, rather than choosing between the two candidates on their
own authority, the apostles ask God to “show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside” (Acts 1:24-25). The method used by the apostles to ascertain God’s will in the selection was to cast lots. The casting of lots was a traditional Israelite means for determining God’s will and, from the time of David down to the first century A.D., was used to select Aaronites to serve in the Temple. 1 Chronicles 24 describes how David organized the families descended from Aaron into divisions of roughly equal size. On a periodic basis, lots
would be cast to choose which division would perform the offices of their ministry in the Temple [1]. The Aaronites thus chosen to serve in the Temple are described as “officers of the sanctuary and officers of God” (1 Chron 24:5). Likewise, the apostles see their role as that of officers serving in the new Temple of God, the Mystical Body of Christ.

[1] For further discussion, see Timothy Gray, “Replacing Judas: A Lot MOre Than Meets the Eye?” Lay Witness (Sept. 1997), 4-5.

Questions for Discussion
1. Pope John Paul II has proclaimed the necessity of a new evangelization of the West. How should the reign of Christ from heaven and the unfolding victory of the Gospel govern our attitude and approach toward evangelization?

2. Jesus promised the apostles a kingdom in which they would “eat and drink at my table” (Lk. 22:30). How is the Eucharist at the center of the kingdom of God? How does our participation in the Eucharist relate to the advancement of the kingdom?

3. In the Our Father, we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Is the kingdom entirely the work of God, or must we work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit for its advance? How does the apostolate relate to the life of prayer?

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Book Reviews – March 2000

From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

Patrick: The Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland
An Analysis of St. Patrick’s Confessio and Epistola
by Máire B. de Paor, P.B.V.M.
reviewed by Helen M. Valois

Veritas, 1998. Parades, rowdiness, and T-shirts sometimes amusing, sometimes obscene-this is what we have come to associate with “St. Patrick’s Day” today. Even those who are able to look beyond the excesses of American culture are generally unable to say much more about this mythologized saint, who is almost as removed from
reality as jolly old St. Nick. What’s the deal with St. Patrick? Did he really get canonized for snake handling? In an intellectually challenging study, Máire de Paor offers an illuminating analysis of the teaching of a fifth-century saint of such compelling stature that his spiritual children in Ireland are one of the last (alas, crumbling) holdouts against the secularization of the present age.

Completely bypassing all popularizations, de Paor deals directly with the historical evidence Patrick left us regarding his life and thought. This evidence consists of two documents, the Confessio and the Epistola. Since neither of them are autobiographical in the modern sense of the term, they do not tell the story of Patrick’s life in any systematic way (a task which would probably have struck the saint as vain and pointless in any case),
but they do provide details of his experience which the reader can piece together. More importantly, as de Paor reveals, they focus on the theology behind Patrick’s phenomenal apostolate-a deeply held, well thought-out theology based, in terms of its elaborate literary structure, on the Gospel according to Mark, and drawing heavily on Old Testament imagery as well, particularly the psalms (p. 10). In fact, the literary structure of Patrick’s documents is so elaborate that it is the modern reader who ends up feeling rusticissimus (very rustic) and indoctus (untaught) as opposed to this saint of the supposedly “dark” ages, who professes to be these things. The reader who truly hopes to grasp what Patrick wrote and taught should take literally de Paor’s suggestion that one read her analysis with the Confessio and Epistola on one side and Sacred Scripture on the other.

Of the two works which the Apostle of Ireland left to us, the Confessio is the longer and more profound. In describing it, de Paor explains:

The Confessio is a literary genre, of which two major extant examples in ancient literature are the Confessions of St. Augustine . . . and the Confessio of St. Patrick. . . . [W]hile a refutation of both the Arianism of the fourth century and the Pelagianism of the fifth are
implicit in Patrick’s Confessio, it does not appear to be its overt purpose; nor would Patrick have considered himself qualified for such an undertaking. He was not, after all, a professional theologian, nor did he claim to be a philosopher. As priest and bishop, he was pre-eminently a good shepherd, a contemplative in action. . . . His Confessio, therefore, defines itself by its own title. . . . While his initial inspiration may well have been the refutation of certain allegations made by his enemies against him and his mission, it evolved into something greater, something more timeless and universal, in the process (pp. 9-10).

Those who have found themselves moved and inspired by the Confessions of St. Augustine, then, ought to delve into this literarily similar, if less renowned, work as well. They will no doubt find themselves in agreement with the “growing number of scholars (who) now maintain . . . that the writer of the Confessio and Epistola to Coroticus is clearly a person of intellectual stature” (Bishop Thomas A. Finnegan, Foreword, p. 2), despite
de Paor’s justifiable insistence on Patrick’s primarily pastoral identity and purpose.

St. Patrick’s Epistola is a different kind of document altogether. Predating the Confessio, it was “written after the soldiers of a British ruler named Coroticus had raided the Irish coast and had conducted a cruel massacre of Patrick’s newly-baptized Christians” (p. 167). The exact identity of this Coroticus, and the location where the martyrs died, is historically disputed. What is not in dispute is that the Epistola is actually the second time Patrick denounced the tyrant for this crime, calling for repentance and the release of the remaining captives from the raid. The response to Patrick’s first letter, now lost to us, was merely “scorn and contempt” from Coroticus and his court (p. 170). Therefore he issued his second, extant Epistola, “which is both a formal excommunication order administered in the name of the Church as well as an ostracization of Coroticus” (p. 170).

While less theologically weighty than the Confessio, the Epistola is of greater historical interest. Its incidental descriptions shed much light on conditions in the Church and society at large during the tumultuous fifth century. This helps us to understand events like the raid on his father’s British villa, in which Patrick was originally taken captive and held in bondage in Ireland, only to return later of his own free will, a slave now of Christ alone.

This St. Patrick’s Day, then, let’s take a look beyond the legends. Any saint meriting mockery all the way from the fifth century down to the beginning of the third millennium surely deserves serious consideration. Máire de Paor’s presentation of St. Patrick’s writings is a challenging but solid place to start.

Beyond Gay
by David Morrison
reviewed by Helen M. Valois

Our Sunday Visitor, 1999. Regarding the politically vexed subject of homosexuality in its modern American manifestation, one would think that pretty much all has been said
that can or need be said. One would think so, that is, until picking up the new book Beyond Gay by ex-homosexual activist, former Anglican, and now committed Catholic, David Morrison. Although the battle lines are clearly drawn, the fray underway, and the discussion just about as polarized as it possibly can be, Morrison has managed to contribute an autobiographical meditation on the subject that is refreshing, positive, and fair. Beyond Gay contains seriously thought-provoking theology, packaged in contemporary allusion and captivating prose capable of shedding new light on a subject as old as Sodom and Gomorrah. Whether one’s interest in the problem of same-sex attraction is personal, pastoral, academic, or merely passing, one will find in these pages plenty to challenge the deadlocked clichés of both the “liberal” and “conservative” outlooks.

Beyond Gay is best characterized as an “autobiographical meditation” because in it, Morrison’s life experience and his honest, profound reflections about that
experience are intrinsically interwoven. It would not be accurate to say his experience “as a homosexual,” because the point the author drives home the best is that same-sex attraction is something felt by certain persons, not something that replaces or defines their personhood. To recognize that “people are more than the sum of their temptations” (p. 127) is to begin to understand homosexuality and to assist homosexuals in healing-just as it is the starting point for grasping and overcoming any other habit of serious sin as well. When, instead, both sides of the contemporary dialogue succumb to “treating people living with same-sex attraction as icons of a broader issue” (p. 122), the debate is ipso facto lost. In this case, everyone has become convinced of the homosexual lobby’s fundamental error: that people suffering from and/or succumbing to this particular temptation are a different kind of people, subject to different rules and living lives which the heterosexual community can’t be expected to understand. In truth, there is only one “kind” of person-the “gendered, fertile” (p. 127) kind which God in the beginning created, whose nature has been wounded but not destroyed by the tragedies of original and personal sin. It is this insight, primarily, that lifts Beyond Gay beyond the polemics that mar other works of its

It is this insight as well which eventually led Morrison into the heart of the Catholic Church. “The crucial point is this,” he explains:

[S]ame-sex acts or inclinations do not define or determine the personhood or identity of people living with same-sex attraction. We are more than what we do or even what we are inclined to do. . . . In the Church’s view, when it comes to seeking to follow Christ, people living with same-sex attraction are every bit as loved, desired, called, chastened, encouraged, and blessed as anyone else. . . . I find this a very humanizing perspective in the midst of a discussion that is more often dehumanizing on all sides. . . . It is her lack of determinism, her complete willingness to deal with each of us first as individuals, that lifts the Church’s view of same-sex attraction head and shoulders above everyone else’s. . . . In that she is (as far as I know) unique (pp. 121-22).

For all his praise of the Church and his able exposition of her various teachings, however, Morrison does not lose sight of the fact that the immorality of homosexuality is rooted in natural law rather than in ecclesiastical discipline or insight. This is why he characterizes his abandonment of the homosexual lifestyle by saying, “in a very deep way my life entered reality” (p. 162). Amidst the clamoring for the Church to “change” her stance on homosexuality to a more “compassionate” one, Morrison remarks bluntly: [T]he Church’s teaching on sex needs to be seen as the reflection of reality it is rather than as
arbitrarily assigned rules.

The Church’s teachings on sexual morality are much more akin to Newton’s laws, which primarily describe objective reality, than to national mores from which a government might make law. Just as physicists have no power to simply reverse the law of gravity, the Church has no power to simply change moral reality. One thousand bishops meeting for one thousand years could declare each year that premarital sex, divorce, masturbation, pornography, adultery, or same-sex acts are acceptable or even praiseworthy. But their thousands of declarations would not change the natures of those acts and would not stop human beings from paying a physical, emotional, and spiritual price for them (p. 112).

As someone who has nursed his own friends through HIV and AIDS and seen so many of them die prematurely, Morrison surely knows what he is talking about.

Anyone looking to Beyond Gay for an explanation of the psychological genesis of homosexual orientation, however, will be disappointed. Noting that the Church herself has kept silent on a subject which social scientists have not fully clarified (pp. 120-21, citing Catechism, no. 2357), Morrison also spends little energy on elucidating the problem through his own experience. Refreshingly, he openly eschews the “naval-gazing” approach, stating that American popular culture is now mired in a tendency to blame the parents for the problems of the children, but I will not do that. I have no desire to
trash my former nest. My parents did the best with me that they knew how. . . . The problems my decisions have brought me are my responsibility and belong to me (p. 28).

In the same way, he doesn’t attempt an explanation of why some people overcome an attraction to the same sex, while others seem unable to do so. In the face of the allegation that change is impossible, he simply states:

I have written what has happened because it is true and because someone needs to step forward and testify to the reality of God’s power in an individual life. I can’t say why I have experienced the healing I have. I don’t know why others have not. . . . But I must testify that despite the complicated web of wounds both real and imagined, deep longings and insincerity, doubts, failures, and desires, Christ stepped forward with the knowledge, resources, and the wise and loving friends I needed to break free. For this I am deeply grateful (p. 101).

What more can any of us say in the face of God’s overwhelming and mysterious grace?

All the titles reviewed in this issue may be ordered by calling Benedictus Books toll-free at (888) 316- 2640. CUF members receive a 10% discount.

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Character: The Missing Link in Sex Education

Eduardo J. Echeverria
From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

T.S. Eliot (1886-1965), poet and critic, wrote that modern thinkers are always “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.” Some views of sex education display this mentality. They assume, in Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s words, “a deeply technocratic understanding of teenage sexuality.” In other words, “once teenagers acquire a formal body of sex knowledge and skills, along with the proper contraceptive technology, they will be able to govern their own sexual behavior responsibly.”

Responsible sexual behavior, in this view, does not involve virtuous ordering of one’s sexual feelings, passions, and emotions for the sake of making morally good choices. Rather, all that’s required to be sexually “responsible” is a condom. Allegedly, one can avoid both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases with this contraceptive technology. It is the quick fix, technical solution for avoiding harm, in short, “safe sex.” The assumption seems to be that harming one’s health is the only issue at stake. Totally ignored is the question of harming one’s character, of being morally good. Indeed, as William Kilpatrick rightly says, “The link between sex and character is a missing link in sex education.”

Some defend this technocratic approach to sex education by claiming that it is realistic. It faces head-on, they say, the fact that young people these days are sexually active. Thus, we should provide them with the necessary knowledge-of reproductive biology and sexual development- and technical (contraceptive) skills to fend off harm. Also, this approach respects their sexual freedom, encouraging self-expression by removing the chief obstacles to responsible sexual behavior, which are ignorance, guilt, and shame. In addition, it is a morally neutral approach because young people discover for
themselves their own moral values about sex, rather than those handed down by others.

These claims are mistaken, however. First, a weak relation exists between sexual knowledge and sexual behavior. Considerable evidence shows that the technocratic approach to sex education reduces neither the rate of sexually transmitted diseases nor pregnancies among young people. Why are we surprised? We forget that young people-like all of us- don’t always act upon what they know. Most significantly, they are not taught the virtue of chastity. Chastity enables them to exercise self-mastery over their sexual desires and affections, taking possession of their sexuality, and learning that
responsible and meaningful sexual love-total self-giving- is only realized in marriage. Thus, we should not be surprised that without the virtue of chastity their impulses get the better of them, even to the extent of falling into hedonism.

Second, the term “safe sex” is actually a misnomer, given the rate of condom failure. Numerous studies show that the failure rate of condoms which resulted in unplanned pregnancies is 10 percent overall and 18 percent for women under 18. Also, these statistics refer only to pregnancy rates and not the rate of effectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of the AIDS virus. Bear in mind that, unlike pregnancy, one can get this virus any day of the year, that this virus is 410 times smaller than sperm, and that it is 1/10 to 1/3 the size of the smallest detectable hole (1 micron) in a condom. This adds up to the potentially life-threatening conclusion that you have a better chance of getting the AIDS virus than getting pregnant when using condoms. In addition, as Jacques Suaudeau says, “The more someone multiplies his sexual experiences, convinced of the impunity given him by condoms, the greater the probability of contamination.”

Third, it is profoundly wrong to think that young people in contemporary American society are unable to take responsible self-possession of their sexuality because of ignorance, guilt, or shame. As Mrs. Whitehead rightly says, “The MTV generation may indeed have a distorted image of sex, but it has not been distorted by shame or repression.” Quite the opposite! Television programs, pop music, movies, educators, and others routinely expose young people to a philosophy of sex where the essential purpose of sex is pleasure, where how we use sex is a purely private matter and not really relevant to our character,
and where all views and sexual choices are of equal moral value. In short, we are free to make whatever we choose right, and hence “anything goes” in sex.

This approach is hardly morally neutral. It encourages sexual license by implying that sexual morality is a matter of choice-not choosing the right thing but simply choosing. But neither is it sexually liberating-it turns sex against itself by depersonalizing it, making it recreational and an object of disordered self-love. This servile pursuit of pleasure is destructive to self and to others because it disorders a person’s capacity for self-giving in
love. It becomes a chief obstacle to sex’s own fulfillment in the mutual, self-giving love of marriage, and the fruitfulness of this love in procreation.

In addition, the contraceptive mentality is a leading cause of abortion. As Janet E. Smith of the University of Dallas puts it, “No longer can we think that greater access to contraception will reduce the number of abortions. Rather, wherever contraception is more readily available, the number of unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions increases greatly.” For, says Smith, “contraception leads to more extra-marital sexual intercourse; more extra-marital sexual intercourse leads to more unwanted pregnancies; more unwanted pregnancies lead to more abortions. Not many women intend to use
abortion as a ‘back-up’ to failed contraception, but it is undeniable that it is often so used.” Even the 1992 Supreme Court decision Casey v s . Planned Parenthood gave this as a reason for maintaining the legality of abortion.

Finally, considerable evidence exists suggesting that a moral approach to sex education, which doesn’t separate responsible sexual behavior from marriage, procreation, and child-rearing, is a great source of freedom to young people. “They gain,” as the Catholic bishops wrote, “freedom from early pregnancy and childbearing, freedom from sexually transmitted disease and AIDS, freedom from the trauma of abortion, freedom from anxiety over disappointing parents, freedom from regret, guilt, and loss of self-esteem.” Above all, however, they gain the “freedom to develop control in making decisions, freedom to select
a life partner based on love, knowledge, communication, and friendship.” For these young people, there is the inner strength and self-possession of mature chastity, enabling them to do the right thing and give the very best of themselves.

Dr. Eduardo J. Echeverria writes from Savannah, MO.

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In Brief – March 2000

From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

The Holy Father’s Intentions

Pope John Paul II has announced the following general and missionary intentions for March and April 2000:


That the Holy Year, a favorable time for repentance and mercy, may foster in us deep and lasting conversion.

That the Virgin Mary,Mother of the Savior,may protect and sustain missionaries in their apostolic work.


That through Christians’ generous welcome, refugees and immigrants may experience God the Father’s goodness.

That the peoples of Africa, torn by discord and wars, may find in the Gospel the strength to repress any urge to revenge and violence and to open their hearts to mercy and reconciliation.

Orthodox Apologetics

Autographed copies of CUF President Emeritus James Likoudis’ new booklet The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy are available from CUF. Author of the scholarly Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism, Mr. Likoudis’ latest work is a powerful defense of the perpetuity of Peter’s primacy of universal jurisdiction in the Church and a brilliant refutation of Eastern Orthodox claims to constitute the Church of the ancient
Fathers and Councils. Examining the historical evidence found in the first millennium of the Church’s history, he shows the first millennium Church’s belief in papal supremacy and infallibility as taught in the documents of Vatican I and Vatican II.

To obtain an autographed copy of  The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy, send a donation of $15 or more to CUF, 827 N. Fourth St., Steubenville, OH 43952, or call toll-free (800) MY-FAITH (693-2484).

Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism may be ordered by calling Benedictus Books tollfree at (888) 316-2640. CUF members receive a special 40% discount on this title!

Keep Your Money!

Maryland Conservative Society (MCS) president Aisha Jaleel recently returned $2,000 to the University of Maryland’s Student Government Association (SGA) in response to the SGA’s condemnation of MCS’ pro-life views, thereby severing all ties to the University of Maryland’s Student Government Association. ”

Apparently the SGA and Mr. Holmes feel like free speech only applies to groups agreeing with their liberal values,” Jaleel said. “MCS won’t be associated with any person or group that discriminates against anyone for any reason.”

The SGA Resolution of Condemnation was sponsored by student legislator David Holmes after he received a complaint from leaders of Women’s Circle, a selfdescribed feminist student group, about MCS activities to promote a speech on campus by Carol Long-Tobias of the National Right to Life Committee. Specifically, Women’s Circle leaders complained to Holmes that they were offended by announcements chalked on campus sidewalks saying, “Abortion is Murder,” “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart,” and “Abortion Kills Future Feminists (Doctors, Lawyers, etc.).”

“Mr. Holmes has admitted that activities like chalking sidewalks have happened in the past. I have to wonder why he decided to take action only when a pro-life group does it. As a woman who believes in the traditional family, I’m offended all the time by what groups like Women’s Circle put on the sidewalks, but free speech is free speech. I guess Mr. Holmes and I disagree on that,” Jaleel said. “He actually accused us of ‘denigrating abortion,’ as
if such a thing were possible.”

The $2,000 returned by Jaleel and MCS represents 100 percent of the annual funding they receive from the Student Government Association. “I don’t care if this bankrupts our organization, I won’t be part of a group that discriminates based on political beliefs or for any other reason,” Jaleel said.

The Maryland Conservative Society is a non-profit, non-partisan student organization founded and run by University of Maryland students to promote the discussion of public policy issues on campus.

Magdalen College Accredited

Magdalen College has recently been accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE), a national accrediting agency for liberal arts colleges. In the AALE evaluation team’s report, Magdalen College was commended for many aspects of its program. The college was praised for the integration of the program of studies, the “substantial writing requirements” in the program, the regular and ongoing evaluations of each student, the process of curriculum development, the goals of the curriculum and their reflection of the institution’s purpose, the academic advising that is “more comprehensive than at other institutions,” and the campus life, which provides “an atmosphere of extraordinary intellectual, spiritual, and social support for the

“The college is very happy and grateful for the AALE accreditation,” said President Jeffrey Karls. “The AALE is dedicated to preserving and promoting outstanding liberal arts education and that has always been the goal of Magdalen College, too.”

Magdalen College is a Catholic liberal arts college that was founded in 1973 and is located in Warner, New Hampshire. It offers an integrated curriculum of philosophy, literature, science, mathematics, art, music, language, and Catholic catechesis. An active teaching faculty and a limited student body ensure that students receive a personal, wellrounded education.

For more information about Magdalen College, please contact Mr. Jeffrey J. Karls, President, or Mr. Paul V. Sullivan, Director of Admissions, Magdalen College, 511 Kearsarge Mountain Road, Warner, NH 03278, or call (603) 456-
2656, or email .

The Pope’s Paper

Readership of the Pope’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, is growing by leaps and bounds in North America. After 31 years in existence, the English edition is now printed and marketed in the United States and is reaching more people than ever before. Readership in the United States and Canada has increased by 40 percent since early last year.

In January 1998, the Cathedral Foundation in Baltimore began printing and marketing the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano in a partnership with the Holy See designed to bring more attention to the Vatican’s official newspaper.

Daniel Medinger, CEO of the Cathedral Foundation, describes the arrangement. “It is exciting to use the internet to publish L’Osservatore Romano  in the United States simultaneously as it’s being printed in Rome,” Medinger said. “This technological connection allows us to reach more readers in a timelier manner.”

The Cathedral Foundation has recently launched a marketing campaign that includes advertising in Catholic magazines and newspapers around the country. Lay Witness magazine is participating, along with about 20 other publications. We consider L’Osservatore Romano the most important source of Church news and are delighted to make this valuable resource available to our readers at reduced rates.

“Many Catholics don’t know the Pope has an official newspaper,” said Rachel Box, marketing coordinator for L’Osservatore Romano. “The Catholic publications that run these ads are directly involved in the mission of the Holy See to increase readership of L’Osservatore Romano. They are a valuable link between the Vatican and Catholics across the country.”

The campaign offers subscriptions at a deep discount off the regular $151 annual price. “Our mission is to reach as many readers as possible with L’Osservatore Romano. Part of our strategy is to make subscriptions more affordable,” Box said. “It’s a challenge because the newspaper carries no advertising, but the more readers we add, the more discounts we can offer.”

The initial growth of L’Osservatore Romano in the United States and Canada is expected to continue. “Readers who want the most comprehensive authoritative reporting of Church events are turning to L’Osservatore Romano,” Medinger said. “It’s their direct link to the Vatican, and we’re excited to be part of it.”

To order L’Osservatore Romano, see the ad on page 53.

Latin Mass Confusion

The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) last summer answered a series of questions concerning the celebration of the modern Roman rite (“Novus Ordo“) by priests who are members of institutions that enjoy the faculty of celebrating according to the Roman Missal of 1962 (commonly referred to as the “Tridentine” Mass). The Congregation affirmed the right of such priests to concelebrate Novus Ordo Masses and to celebrate the Novus Ordo when he celebrates a Mass for a community where Mass is celebrated according to the current Roman missal.

The Vatican’s response raised some concerns in some Latin Mass circles, particularly the Fraternity of St. Peter, which claims to have the right to celebrate the Tridentine Mass exclusively. The Fraternity, erected in 1988 with special faculties from the Holy Father, has seen substantial growth over the past decade.

To help clarify the situation, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei released a statement on November 14, 1999, which provided in part:

‘The responses [of the CDW] constitute a statement on the juridical level: those who have the privilege of celebrating according to the liturgical books in use prior to the reform of Paul VI do not lose for that reason the right to celebrate according to the Missal of Paul VI-a right which belongs to every priest of the Roman rite. It is nowhere stated that these priests are obliged to do this, but that they have the right, and that no superior can forbid
them from doing what the general law of the Church allows them to do. “An exclusive right” to celebrate according to the 1962 books does not exist and has never existed, and no official text makes such a mention. The texts of the Congregation for Divine Worship are very clear and leave no room for doubt on this point. It is then utterly false to talk about taking away from the Fraternity its exclusive right, because such a right never existed. On the other hand, it should be understood that there is no intention of taking away the privileges conceded to the priests and to the institutes attached to the Latin
liturgical tradition.

Concelebration is a manifestation of the communion which exists between the bishop and the priests who have a pastoral mission in his diocese. This sign of communion, reintroduced in the Church by the Second Vatican Council, plays an important role today as an expression of communion between priests, traditionalists, and the bishops in the dioceses in which they work. One cannot refuse this liturgical sign without giving the impression that one refuses communion itself. This is why the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei exhorts these priests to accept concelebration with their bishop since its
task is precisely to facilitate this ecclesial communion of priests and faithful while guaranteeing the respect for their spiritual and liturgical traditions.

For the full text of the responses of the CDW and additional information on this subject, call CUF toll-free (800) MY-FAITH (693-2484).

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You Bet Your Life

Leon J. Suprenant, Jr.
From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

One of my fondest childhood memories involving my father is going to the horse races with him. As the child of his later years, I was often allowed to go with him to nearby Santa Anita, a thoroughbred racetrack in Southern California. Whether we were arguing about who was going to win the fourth race or discussing whatever came into my mind, this was my time with Dad, and I still cherish it. While this assuredly wasn’t as wholesome an activity as playing catch in the yard or going fishing, it did provide us an opportunity to spend time together and share a common interest.

But there’s another, much uglier side to the world of gambling, a world that now constitutes a $600 billion-a-year (and rapidly growing) industry. I have seen firsthand how the urge to gamble can become what the Catechism calls an “enslavement” (no. 2413) or what psychologists and counselors call an “addiction.” Reputable reports indicate that 15-20 million Americans are addicted to gambling and-tragically-many of them are adolescents.

The Book on Gambling

The Catechism treats the subject of gambling in the section dealing with the Seventh Commandment (“You Shall Not Steal”):

Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to
provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement (no. 2413).

Thus the Church does not consider gambling to be an intrinsic evil. It does, however, recognize the serious dangers in habitual or excessive gambling. For many people, especially those of us with gambling “in our blood” from our earliest years, games of chance provide an almost irresistible occasion of sin.

Governments are well aware of our human frailty. Ten years ago gambling was legal in only two states. Now it’s legal in 48. State-sponsored gambling has become the most insidious and fundamentally unjust system of taxation used in this country, and families are the big losers.

Signs of the Times

A few years ago, after getting a new pair of glasses, I started taking a renewed interest in billboards and signs. Over time I noticed an unmistakable trend: If a church sign had a quote from Scripture, it wasn’t a Catholic church. If, however, a church sign gave information on “bingo night,” then it was a Catholic church.

Clearly there are many uses for church signs besides Scripture quotes (for example, Mass times, fish fries, Catechism quotes, invitations to RCIA or other programs, etc.). And surely there are serious reasons why some parishes have deemed it necessary to have institutionalized bingo. Often the parish school-or even the parish itself- seemingly hangs in the balance.

Still, for those of us who are simply driving down the street-Catholics and non-Catholics alike-the widespread association of the Catholic Church with bingo is a scandalizing, not evangelizing, phenomenon.

There are of course some parishioners who go to bingo to socialize and to support their parish. However, this often is not the experience. Typically, people are drawn in from the surrounding community-not because they’re necessarily interested at all in Jesus Christ or His Church, but because they’re looking for some “action.” In many areas, someone looking to gamble can go to a different Catholic church-sponsored bingo hall every night of the week.

I think a good analogy can be drawn to alcohol. The Church clearly teaches that consuming alcoholic beverages is sinful only when done to the point of excess (cf. Catechism, no. 2290). Yet I don’t think we’d want our parish to finance its school or religious education program by running a cocktail lounge!

Corrective Vision

There are many variables when it comes to parish-sponsored bingo, raffles, “Las Vegas nights,” and other fundraising efforts that need to be taken into account. Yet in every case there must be the desire to lead people into the heart of the Church. Something is amiss if the parishioner’s primary-or only-church involvement is the weekly bingo game. And to the extent the bingo game is advertised to the general public, reasonable efforts should be made not only to welcome the individual’s bingo money, but also the individual himself or herself. The fact that bingo is being played in a church building doesn’t mean that people will soak in the Catholic faith through osmosis. In other words, if we’re going to take their money, we should at least offer them faith in Jesus Christ, the most valuable prize there is (cf. Lk. 15:8-10; Phil. 3:13-15).

The current year of Jubilee is often presented as a release from the slavery of all that holds us back. For those parishes that are willing and able to take this bold step, the Jubilee offers a fitting occasion to experience liberation from the slavery of bingo. This freedom could be a scary thing. It would present a new set of challenges and call for creative ideas to compensate for the loss of bingo revenue while providing new opportunities for Christian fellowship.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

This brief discussion of church bingo should lead each of us to examine our consciences regarding our church support. Churches and dioceses often feel compelled to use bingo and other subtle forms of taxation because they’re looking for ways to make up for our own lack of generosity.

Generosity is the virtue directly opposed to selfishness, which is the refusal to give of ourselves. The choice to be generous-to give of ourselves to God and neighbor-is nothing less than charity lived out in concrete circumstances. Christ Himself, in word and deed, taught that such self-giving is at the heart of the abundant, Trinitarian life He has come to give us.

In this life, generosity involves sacrifice and even death. This is the test of faith-to give in the midst of suffering. Our society doesn’t understand “sacrifice,” and consequently we are prone to selfishness in all phases of our lives, including our relationship with the Church. We’re a far cry from the Church of previous generations that was willing to build parishes, schools, and facilities with its own blood, sweat, and tears. If generosity literally
means “full of giving life,” then it’s not a stretch to see that selfishness plays a significant role in what our Holy Father calls a “culture of death.”

Giving with All Our Mite

As we strive to fully avail ourselves of the graces of this year’s Jubilee, particularly during this Lenten season, let’s look at ways that we can grow in generosity.

First, are we generous with God Himself? Is prayer a regular, vital part of our daily lives, or is it merely a weekly obligation or something we do only in times of need? Perhaps this Lent we could set aside time each day for personal prayer, preferably before the Blessed Sacrament, giving Our Eucharistic Lord the gift of our time and presence.

This sometimes apparent “waste” of time does not “change” God, but it does change us and is a source of profound blessing. Catholic author Peter Kreeft once told me that when he is generous with his time for God, God blesses the rest of his day such that his time seems to multiply, like the loaves and fishes in the Gospel (cf. Mk. 6:35-44).

Second, are we generous in our support of the apostolate, putting our time, talents, and checkbook at the service of the Gospel? Do we tithe? Do we give our “first fruits” or our spare change? Do we give only out of our excess, or do we give whatever we can, like the widow in the Gospel (Lk. 21:1-4)?

Third, are we generous to others? Are we generous with our family, especially with our spouse and children? Are we generous as married couples, opening our home to another child or perhaps a family member or even a stranger in need? Are we sensitive to the needs we see all around us, looking for the “hidden Jesus” in the poor or forgotten in our midst?

This generosity will go a long way toward reinvigorating our own lives of faith and will help build up the Church around us. Our Blessed Lord will not be outdone in generosity. Let’s put Him to the test (cf. Mal. 3:10) this Lent.

From Our Founder

Truly, His mercy is on those who fear Him, from generation to generation. And what is that fear of the Lord? It is a bowed reverence filled with love which opens the human heart to receive the gift of forgiveness filled with love: an eager, humble, childlike confidence which opens wide the doors to the Redeemer.

H. Lyman Stebbins
December 4, 1983

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Painting to the Glory of God: Salt of the Earth

Molly Mulqueen
From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

For Kentucky artist Gloria Thomas, her pictures are worth 2,000 years-of Church history, that is.

Last year, Gloria completed her incredible “Panorama of Christian History: A Jubilee Art Exhibit for 2000 A.D.” It consists of 21 awe-inspiring paintings, one for the life of Christ and one for each Christian century. The originals have been displayed in several churches in her hometown of Lexington. And thanks to the St. Martin de Porres Lay Dominican Community of New Hope, Kentucky, reproductions of Gloria’s project have been packaged in an exhibition kit available for sale to churches, schools, and other institutions all over the world.

Gloria said that the project was the brainchild of her enthusiasm for the celebration of the Great Jubilee. “I was thinking what a great thing this occasion is-the Jubilee, 2000 years of Christianity. And I was hoping that the Church would just blossom forth in all manner of praises and thanksgiving to God,” Gloria told me. “I thought the great thing would be to do a long series of paintings about the history of the Church because it was something that I
would like to know about. And if I could do it and present the history in a very brief way, that would make an entrée for an awful lot of people who wouldn’t have the time to sit down and read a lot of heavy history books.”

The scope of this artistic pilgrimage through Christian history was huge, from both the research and the technical artistic standpoints. Each of the 21 panels, painted in oil on canvas, features six landmark motifs of that century, which are, for the most part, arranged chronologically. Choosing from the thousands and thousands of people and events which have shaped the history of the Church was particularly challenging.

“I got a number of resource books on Church history. I established a system so that I would be studying one century at a time. I studied the century that followed the century I was painting, so that I was reading and painting at the same time. When I wasn’t painting, I was reading. It was a very intense time,” Gloria recalled.

“I read a synopsis of the century from several sources and underlined everything I thought was important. Then I would go back over just the underlined [material] and red sticker those things that I thought might be motifs. Then I would make a list of all the red stickers and try to combine anything that I could. Then I would just choose, ” Gloria explained.

“Very often, some very important person had one foot in one century and one in the other, and you know, where are you going to put him? Clovis is in for one century, and his wife is in the next. It was difficult in that way. But I didn’t worry about it too much because I had so much historical material that goes with the exhibition,” Gloria said.

Her choices were keenly astute. Among the images on the 21 panels: the early martyrs, Constantine’s conversion, the Benedictines, the Crusades, Scholasticism, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Sprinkled throughout are saints such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Dominic, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Joan of Arc, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and St. Maximilian Kolbe, to name but a few. Eminent Church historian Warren Carroll, Ph.D., founder of Christendom College, joined the project to write a commentary about each of the centuries and the images featured on the paintings for the exhibition kit.
Also included is an audiotape “tour” of the exhibit in which Gloria talks about each panel from the artist’s perspective.

When she began this project, Gloria presumed she could qualify for some grant money to keep it going, but she was turned down because of the religious nature of the project. Providence kept the project alive. Gloria said that during this time, she sold nearly all of the paintings in her studio to support herself and her art.

Gloria had to employ her accomplished artist’s imagination to create many of the images on the paintings. As she pointed out, there is no naturalistic historical image of people who lived before the Reformation. “So it’s anybody’s guess what any of these people looked like.”

It turns out that Gloria has been guessing what many of them looked like for a long time; first in her mind’s eye when she was a Baptist child who studied the Scriptures and the religious art in her family’s Bible; and later, on canvas during her 30-year career as a professional Christian artist.

She studied art as an undergraduate at Indiana University in the 60s.

“Of course, all the training then was the abstract minimalism that was the big deal at the time. Then I went to graduate school in New York City at Queens College and it was more of the same. During my second year there I just realized that I didn’t believe in that. I felt it was a dead end,” she said.

“At the same time, I had a very deep religious conversion. So, I just returned home to Kentucky and decided to paint to the glory of God. I began a long search, trying to define how it would be that I would be able to praise God in painting in the 20th century. I have been a religious artist since the time that I left graduate school.”

“It was about 10 years from the time of my conversion experience in New York until I actually became a Catholic. I became an Episcopalian for a while,” stated Gloria.

“And then a wonderful old man, a retired chemist, who has since passed away, decided to devote the rest of his life to create a Catholic information center here in Lexington. He rented an old storefront and stocked it full of good, old Catholic books and I began to go in there and buy books from him. After about five or six years of that, I was Catholic!”

And the way Gloria tells the story of her conversion, it was really just as simple as that.

“I loved the Scriptures and was very acquainted with the Gospels, and when I would read the Catholic exegesis of the Scripture it was just convincing me that this wasn’t any struggle. It was the easiest thing in the world. The closer I came, the easier it was. I just kept walking forward, picking the flowers, really. It was the foundation that was laid in my Baptist faith that made me a Catholic and made me so able to appreciate it. I think it [the
Catholic Church] is the repository of such an immense treasure of scriptural erudition. It’s wonderful what’s available to the Catholic who wants to understand Scripture in terms of the patristics.”

There has been a lot of interest in the exhibition kit of Gloria’s project that will take it far from its Kentucky home. Over 70 have been sold already, one as far away as Thailand, another to Australia, and the Jubilee year celebrations have only just begun. Gloria said that the kit is “very mailable” and has been put together in such a way to make it easy for parishes and schools to host an exhibition.

“They can put it up on a Saturday morning and all their young people can learn something of the history of the Church, and probably a lot of their older people can, too,” Gloria said.

She hopes that the originals of her “Panorama of Christian History” can find a permanent home as part of the art collection at a Catholic college. As a working artist, Gloria has already moved on to other projects. But all of Gloria’s work is meant to find a place out in the world where it can glorify God.

“Artists certainly don’t paint for themselves. God gives you the gift to be given away. I think of Our Lady, who had the greatest of all gifts. But all of that was for her to be our mother and our sister-it was all to be given away,” Gloria said.

And Gloria’s millennium project is a Jubilee gift to all of us.

For more information about this Jubilee project commemorating 2000 years of Christian history, contact the St. Martin de Porres Lay Dominican Community at (800) 764-8444. Also, see the ad on page 35.

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Good-bye Cinderella: A Parent’s Response to Coed Sleepovers

Mary Ann Kuharski

From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

Anyone who has ever been a parent knows what it’s like to be finessed or finagled by a child. When they want something bad enough they will try talking, tantrums, tears, and-when all else fails-pouting.

Sometimes we give in when they’re still in the talking stage. Other times it may take a little convincing or “getting us when we’re in the right mood,” as my kids would say. And then there are the issues we just don’t budge an inch on.

I will admit, I’m just as guilty as the next parent when it comes to giving in on something to which I initially said, “Absolutely no!”

“Mom’s turning into a real marshmallow,” my older son Charlie has been known to say when home on visits upon discovering that his younger brothers and sisters are allowed to wear, do, have, or attend something he never could.

“That’s what you get for being one of the oldest,” I tell him. “Parenting is like riding a bike. We were just learning and practicing on you older kids. Now we’ve got it honed down to a science, and we pick and choose the battles we really want to hunker down and go to war over!”

Okay, we’ve loosened the leash on a few things. Clothes and curfews to name two: We bit our lips over the baggy jeans and “worn-a-bit” wardrobe, and we bent some house rules on curfews for those formal nights or “special occasions.”

But all in all, it’s the same rules.

But something has changed. Not with the kids, but the parents. Gone are the days when I could pick up the phone and call just about any  parent who had a son or daughter in one of my kid’s classes, and know we shared a common concern, i.e., protecting our young from the harmful, dangerous, or what we knew in our hearts to be an “occasion of sin.”

No more.

Now, a parent may have to search for that lonely voice in the wilderness who timidly echoes back over the phone, “We don’t allow that either.”

Yes, kids face an avalanche of peer pressure every day. But so do their parents, with pressure from other adults to conform and “go along.”

“After all,” as one dad told me scoldingly, “Lighten up! They’re just kids. They’ve got to have some fun!”

We know about the parents who look the other way at R-rated videos in the home, and the folks who tell their kids they’re “old enough to set their own limits” when it comes to curfews. And we’ve heard about parents who rent hotel rooms for their kids and those who supply booze for teen parties. The consequences for one Minnesota dad was a stint in jail and the haunting memory that the result of his hospitality ended in a fatal car crash, leaving one teen severely injured and another dead.

But what’s irking me today is the growing number of parents who host coed sleepovers for their kids and friends after special events or formal dances.

Most, I’m sure, are good people with the best of intentions. They sincerely think: (1) It keeps the kids off the roads late at night when accidents can happen; (2) We know where the kids are and what they’re doing; and (3) It’s parent-sponsored and supervised- what could be better?

In three words? Their own home.

This year two of our high school-aged daughters attended formal dance events. On one such occasion, six of the young couples gathered for picture taking at our home. The parents came too. It was a fun time, until I learned that all of the young people-guys and girls-were invited back to one of the parents’ homes for an after-prom party and “sleepover.” As if the evening wasn’t complete after an elegant dinner and dance.

At first I thought I had heard wrong. “You mean a sleepover for the girls,” I said to the couple correctingly. “John and I made that mistake-once  when we allowed one of our daughters to invite four or five girls back to stay all night after a dance and believe me-never again. All it took was seeing that group of groggy girls the next morning after they’d camped out on our sofa, love seat, and floor, to realize that this was no way to end a
beautiful evening.”

But the father broke in: “I can tell you one thing, I’ll be keeping an eye on the boys, and there won’t be any funny business while I’m on watch,” he said half-assuredly. I didn’t care if the Pope shared his watch, my daughter was coming home.

Even Cinderella had a curfew. She went home in her gown, and the prince kept his vision of her beauty and goodness. Not so in the age of little restraint, where it’s almost as if the parents are afraid to tell their young, “There are limits!”

And so shortly after midnight, it’s “Good-bye Cinderella” and “Hello casuals” for many prom-goers who reach in their duffel bags to exchange tuxedos and evening gowns for swimsuits, jean shorts, and sweats, to get ready for the rest of the night (day) with its bonfires, swims, videos, or hot tub extravaganzas-planned and hosted by well-meaning parents. So much for the elegance of the evening!

When did a youngster’s dance or event become a reason for parents to turn it into an all-night affair? And what’s wrong with ending an evening?

But the real jolt came later, when I learned that such sleepovers are not girls-in-one-room-boys-in-another. No, according to the “Monday morning at-school gossip,” many couples not only slept near each other, but some “shared the same sleeping bag!”

Now if this isn’t tempting to healthy normal teens, they need a thorough medical exam-beginning with their heads!

Sadder still, the sleepovers I am talking about involved Catholic high school students and their parents- the very adults that should be leading the opposition.

Has no one considered the message to the teens and its long-range effect? After all, these are the same young people who will be leaving home within months for college, the military, or work, and it will be the informality and relaxed restraints that are most vivid as they encounter new dating or party situations. The logic may be, “Well, we did it in high school. We’re on our own now and can make our own decisions. Why not?”

The increasing occurrences of date and/or drug rape should be reason enough not to give young people the wrong message.

And what about the social barriers that are breaking down in the rush to “help the kids have a good time?”

Lastly, but most important, is the “occasion of sin” that such evenings present to young people. There are enough sexual temptations as it is-especially for young men who at times may have all they can do to muster self-control and will power. The thought of sleeping near a beautiful young girl or girls may not cause sinful desires or deeds at that time, but it could be a setup for later when resistance is low and no adults are on site.

Let’s be honest, we’re talking about healthy young men and women with hormones in prime time. Rather than contribute to their temptations, parents should do all in their power to minimize the possibilities and instead foster virtuous behavior.

Even many professionals who deal with young people, including child psychologists, are warning of the “negative” consequences of permissive parenting.

Christian parents should lead the way and set the stage, rather than be part of the problem. We must join together and have the courage to tell our young:

No boy-girl visits in each other’s bedrooms. This is not a place to do homework, listen to music, or entertain the opposite sex. This is a bed room. No co-ed sleepovers because:

It is an occasion of sin, exposing you to compromising or tempting situations which may cause you (then or later) to commit sin.

It is a breakdown of conventional behavior and a weakening of social barriers. Sleepover settings with young men and women abandon formality and offer too “casual” and cozy a setting-a potential time bomb waiting to explode when an adult is not “on watch.”

It’s just too tempting. Period. There should always be an element of reserve between unmarried men and women. It’s not only common sense but how God intends us to behave.

We love you too much to even risk the possibilities! “And these,” I remind my kids, “are the things we don’t budge on.”

Mary Ann Kuharski, homemaker and mother of 13, is a regular columnist for Lay Witness.

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Letters to the Editor – March 2000

From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

The Church’s One Foundation

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed reading Dr. Alan Schreck’s article on Church history (January/February ‘00), but I would like to advance some points with which I believe Dr. Schreck would agree. While it may be argued that Jesus Christ didn’t give a detailed blueprint for the Church He founded, I think it’s important to affirm some basic points.

Jesus did reconstitute Israel through the twelve apostles. In doing so, He restored the house of David with Himself as King and the pope as His prime minister. Jesus thus provided the essential foundation of a pastoral structure for the Church.

In addition, while Jesus may not have directed His disciples to formulate liturgies or doctrine, He did institute the Mass, as the Gospels affirm in their accounts of the Last Supper, and as St. Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians 10-11. As the Catechism teaches, Jesus established all seven sacraments and there is biblical evidence for each.

Regarding doctrine, Jesus did provide the apostles authority to govern His Church, make disciples of all nations, and teach people to observe everything that He commanded them (cf. Mt. 28:18-20). He also promised that the Holy Spirit would come to guide them in this doctrinal/pastoral project (Jn. 14:26, 16:13).

Scholars may debate whether the early Church really anticipated an imminent second coming, but I think it’s clear that Christ provided the Church the fundamental structures for the missionary long haul.

-Rosemary Didonato
Ann Arbor, MI

When in Rome

Dear Editor,

Having read the letter of the Rev. John DeCelles in the November ‘99 issue of Lay Witness and his kind remarks about me, I hope he will not deem me ungracious if I continue to press my point regarding use of the expression “Roman Catholic.”

Fr. DeCelles offers many examples of the expression, but none of them proves his point. For example, when Vatican I or Pope Pius XII speaks of “the Holy, Catholic, apostolic, and Roman Church,” that is not the same as saying “Roman Catholic Church.” Indeed, we see the two adjectives deliberately separated. Official documents do not hesitate to speak of “the Roman Church,” in the sense of the “Church at Rome,” presided over by the Bishop of Rome, who is thereby Universal Pastor. The texts of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops mentioned are, of course, not “official” or truly magisterial documents.
When Cardinal Ratzinger or Cardinal Law use the term, one notes that it takes place in an ecumenical context. In other words, out of courtesy to other Christian bodies who also like to consider themselves “Catholic,” we choose not to arrogate to ourselves the exclusive use of the word. That is ecumenical sensitivity (and legitimate), but not theological precision.

I should also point out that if we are going to be ecumenically sensitive (and I think that important), we need to be even more sensitive to those who are in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, namely, the Eastern Catholics: If they find “Roman Catholic” problematic, ought we to disregard their sensitivity out of hand, simply to please those who are not in full communion?

That speaking of the Church as “Roman Catholic” is “always permissible,” as Fr. DeCelles argues is, obviously, absolutely true. My only point is that we should be aware of the history of the expression and- if possible-opt for something more precise.

-Fr. Peter Stravinskas
Editor, The Catholic Answer


Dear Editor,

Words cannot express strongly enough just how impressed I am and appreciative for all your recent help regarding the information I called you about. The personal letter from your staff was very informative and the FAITH FACTS are fabulous. Such a blessing!

I wholeheartedly support this apostolate of yours and wish to become a member. Be assured I will joyously spread the good news of Catholics United for the Faith! You’ll be in my prayers.

May God richly bless you for doing His work and spreading the truth of His Gospel.

-LuAnn Simons
Huntington Beach, CA

Defending Our Rites

Dear Editor,

Recently, I listened to a debate between CUF apologist Thomas Nash and Fr. Peter Scott of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on the Catholic Family Radio network. Tom did a superb job in refuting Fr. Scott’s dubious arguments regarding the status of the Society.

Schismatic traditionalists like the SSPX adherents, the Feeneyites (who espouse the late Fr. Leonard Feeney’s rigorist and erroneous interpretation of the doctrine “Outside the Church there is no salvation”), and the sedevacantists (who believe that there has been no valid pope since Vatican II) all reject the Second Vatican Council and its legitimate liturgical reforms. They reject Vatican II because it seemingly “contradicts” previous infallible magisterial teachings. Of course, this is simply not possible because the Church has always taught that an ecumenical council is guided by the Holy Spirit and thus
protected from error. The apparent “contradictions” are actually developments of doctrine. Remember St. Thomas Aquinas’ rejection of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception? Schismatic traditionalists like Fr. Scott also rant and rave about the “blasphemous” Novus Ordo Missae.

Not only is this an ignorant and absurd position, but it also smacks of a “more Catholic than the Pope” mentality. Indeed, it is my opinion that the Novus Ordo Mass-if celebrated according to the rubrics-is just as reverent as the traditional Latin Mass.

But the most troublesome aspect about these “traditional” Catholics is the utter contempt they show for our beloved and courageous Pope John Paul II. Their literature is so rife with gross slander and distortions that it rivals even the most bigoted propaganda of the anti-Catholic Protestants!

I hope CUF will take this disaffected element head on, including promoting Jim Likoudis and Ken Whitehead’s excellent and scholarly book The Pope, the Council, and the Mass-a must read for any Catholic who is having “schismatic tendencies”!

-Matt C. Abbott
Chicago, IL

East of My Brethren

Dear Editor,

While rereading my November ‘99 issue of Lay Witness, I came across Jeff Ziegler’s positive review of Msgr. Peter Elliott’s fine book, Liturgical Question Box, Answers to Common Questions About the Modern Liturgy. I happen to have a copy already, and by coincidence I had underlined Monsignor’s clear statement on the encouragement by the Congregation of Divine Worship to priests to celebrate the Mass ad orientum
[toward the East, that is, facing the same direction as the congregation]. This, of course, was emphasized by the late Msgr. Gamber in his excellent work on the liturgy of the Mass, and is being given current reemphasis by Cardinal Ratzinger in his forthcoming book. Almost simultaneously, the Bishop of Birmingham, Alabama, has issued a directive, invoking canon law, prohibiting any priest in the Diocese of Birmingham from celebrating the Mass ad orientum, claiming it is a “political statement” and “divisive,” among other things.

After enduring 20 years of iconoclasm, stripping of the altars, and other things in the name of the “Spirit of Vatican II,” I really don’t know what the bishop means by such statements. To quote Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., “I am neither theologian nor liturgist, Deo gratias.”

But was it St. Teresa of Avila who said one was likely to suffer more from the Church than for the Church?

-Michael A. Plunkett
Charleston, IL

Homosexual “Marriages”

Dear Editor,

The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that there is no difference between married husbands and wives and so-called homosexual “couples who have lived together in committed relationships” with respect to the goal of promoting the security of children and the community as a whole. Therefore, marital rights must be granted to homosexual couples either through granting them the right to “marry” or to enter into a “domestic partnership.” This is the first time in the history of the world that such a decision has been made by a court of last resort.

Homosexuals have every human right as individuals. However, homosexual relationships are intrinsically disordered since they are contrary to human nature. While we are called to love the homosexual and have compassion for his/her disorder, homosexual relationships should not be legitimized by the state. Homosexual persons are called to chastity, and they can strive for it through self-discipline and prayer.

The law has always recognized that married couples should have special rights. To extend these rights to homosexual “couples” is against the common good and will destabilize society. This principle is as old as the Greek philosopher Plato and our Western legal tradition. Homosexuality has always been recognized as an abomination before God and a defilement of the land in which it is practiced (cf. Lev. 18:22, 25).

The Roman Emperor Nero had both an incestuous relationship with his mother and a homosexual relationship with a man whom he “married.” The Roman Empire disintegrated. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The court has opened a Pandora’s box of evil. May God have mercy on the State of Vermont and its Supreme Court!

-Daniel J. Lynch
Alburg, VT

For more information on issues raised in these letters, contact CUF’s Information Services by writing CUF, 827 N. Fourth St., Steubenville, OH 43952, or calling toll-free (800) MYFAITH (693-2484).

Address editorial mail to:

Editor, Lay Witness
827 North Fourth St.
Steubenville, OH 43952
Fax: (740) 283-4011

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The Virtue of Unselfishness

Donald DeMarco
From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

“HeartBeats” is a regular column on the virtues by popular Lay Witness contributor Donald DeMarco. Dr. DeMarco is a professor of philosophy at the University of St. Jerome’s Collegein Waterloo, Ontario. Later this year, Emmaus Road Publishing will release The Many Faces of Virtue, a collection of essays on the virtues by Dr. DeMarco. For information on other DeMarco titles, call Benedictus Books tollfree at (888) 316-2640. CUF members receive a 10% discount.

The story is told of a Chinese hero who acted with remarkable unselfishness during an earthquake. From the vantage of his hilltop farm, he noticed the ocean swiftly withdraw, like some prodigious animal crouching before a leap. He knew that the leap soon to take place would be a tidal wave. At the same time, he realized that his neighbors, working in the low fields, were in danger of being swept away by the ocean’s fury. Without a second thought, he immediately set fire to his own rice ricks and furiously rang the temple bell.

The hero’s unselfish act prompted his neighbors to act with similar unselfishness in coming to what they believed to be his aid. The paradox here is that, by acting unselfishly, the neighbors saved their own lives. This paradox is consistent with the Gospel instruction that “[w]hoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Lk. 17:33).

I vs. We

At the heart of the paradox is the truth of the human being as a person and not a mere individual. If a human being were merely an individual, unselfishness would be a vice, selfishness a virtue. But a human being is a person whose communal dimension is an inseparable part of his reality. Unselfishness is a virtue because man’s destiny is to be whole. And he cannot be whole if he remains a solitary individual.

In her book The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand makes the mistake of opposing individualism with self-defeating altruism rather than a liberating personalism. She does not understand how self-respect and love for another can be harmonized. She does not see the truth of man as a person, that is, one who, in loving, simultaneously affirms both himself and those he loves. Therefore, in her narrow context of individualism, Miss Rand extols “the virtue of pride, which is based on the fact that man ‘is a being of self-made soul.’”

Communion of Persons

Marriage is a beautiful illustration of how reciprocal unselfishness is expansive and mutually beneficial, not “morally cannibalistic” and “parasitic” (to use Miss Rand’s images). In Shakespeare’s King Richard III, Richard, as Duke of Gloucester, speaks these tender words as he proposes marriage to Lady Anne:

Look, how my ring

encompasseth thy finger,

Even so thy breast encloseth

my poor heart;

Wear both of them, for both

of them are thine.

(I, ii, 203)

Why are these words so moving (if we can consider them apart from the rest of the play)? Why do they appear worthy of a future king addressing his queen-to-be? Is it not . because they highlight a truth about marriage as a communion of persons?

Cause for Celebration

Husband and wife encircle each other’s souls in Holy Matrimony. As they give themselves unselfishly to each other, their souls expand, not contract. Their love for one another allows them to transcend their mere individualities and find a richer existence as two persons in one. This is why marriage is a public celebration, whereas divorce is a private sorrow. People rejoice at the spectacle of a husband and wife enriching their lives as persons by pledging to share them with each other.

Sharing is closed to the strict individualist. Divorce is not the triumphant ascent into individuality. It represents a personal failure, and this is why it is not celebrated. When Adam and Eve impaired their relationship with God, they impaired their relationship with each other. As a result of original sin, they fell into individuality. The central meaning of redemption is to recover one’s personhood.

The reason that the family, and not the individual, is the basic unit of society is because the family has a program for unselfishness. The individual, by definition, cannot have anything larger than himself as a focus. For this reason, staunch individualists such as Ayn Rand and others denigrate unselfishness. They see it as a threat to the only reality they hold sacred, namely, their own individualities. Individualism, however, can lead only to
social anarchy and personal inauthenticity.

More Blessed to Give

Authenticity for the human being means living fully as a person. The cult of individuality is a fairly recent notion in the annals of human history. The 19th-century author and statesman Alexis de Tocqueville remarks in his essay on the French Revolution that the word

individualism was unknown to our ancestors, for the good reason that in their days every individual necessarily belonged to a group and no one could regard himself
as an isolated unit.

People do need each other. Economic and cultural deprivations can underscore this mutual need in very dramatic ways. But the virtue of unselfishness is established independently of external conditions. It is a self-forgetful expression of love for others that has the paradoxical effect of enriching the life of the giver.

And the reason it is more blessed to give than to receive is because giving is the most fundamental act of a person. To be a person means to give unselfishly. On the other hand, to be an individual means to consume, and a life of consumption leads to boredom. “As persons we rule the stars,” the saying goes, but “as individuals we are ruled by them.”

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Lent and the Great Jubilee: A Contradiction?

Fr. Charles Mangan

From the Mar 2000 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine

Here’s a novel idea for a more joyful commemoration of our Great Jubilee: Do away with Lent this year. There’s no reason during 2000 to pray, fast, and give alms during the six weeks before Easter Sunday in atonement for our sins. The Jubilee is all about Christ risen and alive 2,000 years after His history-changing birth. Lent doesn’t fit this year-let’s get right to Easter.

Such a fresh proposal initially may seem attractive. After all, the Jubilee demands rejoicing because we happily and fervently recall that silent night on which the God-Man came forth from His Mother’s chaste womb.

But one can’t really dispense with Lent. “These 40 days” are to Easter what the baseball is to the bat, the teacher is to the classroom, the bird is to the sky, and the ever-virgin Mary is to Christmas. The way of the cross must precede the empty tomb. There can be no other way.

The rightful rigors of Lent aren’t meant to hinder our joy-whether during the Great Jubilee or some other time-but rather to enhance it. To travel along the path to Calvary with the now-grown Babe of Bethlehem is to prepare for the untold glory of our own resurrection. Our prayerful penance and charity united to the suffering Christ will one day give way to complete and unending bliss with Him in paradise.

Why do prayer, self-denial, and service to the needy sometimes seem to go with a general attitude of sadness and even despair? Must Christian asceticism be an exercise in sorrow?

Perhaps our Lenten practices have been misrepresented throughout the centuries as “lifeless” and “drab.” Those who follow Jesus and His Church, according to this assessment, are mere “doomers and gloomers” who despise joy, preferring instead to make themselves-and others-miserable by their pitiful stab at prayer, mortification, and good works.

This isn’t the Lenten posture which the Church, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, commands of her children. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving cut off from the authentic joy discovered in the risen Lord are unworthy of their names. We engage in these spiritual activities precisely because our cherished Master died and rose from the grave, and presently anticipates our homecoming in heaven. We wish, through our grace-inspired efforts, to celebrate the living Christ who desires that we embrace His death and Resurrection, both of which are indispensable components of the arduous pilgrimage which leads to everlasting life.

The crucified and risen Jesus Himself bids us to pray, refrain from legitimate pleasures, and give to those who lack. Once we acknowledge and respond to the triumphant Jesus who conquered sin and death, then we will experience that inner, abiding joy-regardless of our heavy and persistent burdens-which only can be enjoyed in the One who has rendered Satan absolutely powerless over those who know, love, and serve God.

Real joy springs from patiently and obediently accepting suffering as a precious gift from the hand of almighty God. Consider Mary, the Mother of the long-awaited Messiah. Her heroic cooperation in her Son’s redeeming act atop Calvary reverberates even still. She, the Mother of Sorrows, freely participated in our necessary reconciliation with the Father. We may go so far as to assert that the Sorrowful Madonna joyfully yielded to all
that Christ asked of her as she stood below His bloodstained Cross.

This seems like a blatant contradiction! The Sorrowful Mother joyfully offered her guiltless Son to His Beloved Father?

Yes! When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Our Lady at the Annunciation, Mary consented to the mysterious, life-bestowing plan of God. She pronounced her
“let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38) to all that would follow- the manger, the wedding feast, the hill. Surely, the Mother standing on Calvary suffered the overwhelming grief under which any mother or father labors upon the death of his or her child. But Mary was filled with an unmistakable peace and receptivity to what the Almighty allowed, which couldn’t be erased by the deafening sound of the ungrateful jeers of the onlookers
or the stirring vision of her Son’s incomparable agony.

Jesus and Mary are the examples of loving surrender to the Father. On Calvary, the inviolate Mother’s spirit continued to rejoice in God her Savior as it had at Nazareth (cf. Lk. 1:47). What she did with Christ on the first Good Friday was to present herself without reserve to the Father. She gladly contributed her significant and irreplaceable part to the sacrifice of Jesus.

The late Fr. William G. Most, in his valuable volume entitled Vatican II-Marian Council (Athione, Ireland: St. Paul Publications, 1972), quoted Pope John XXIII (1958-63) who, on September 13, 1959, in a radio address to the 16th Eucharistic Congress of Italy, expressed his deepest hope that the Italian faithful would find “in her [Mary] the most perfect model of union with Jesus, our Head . . . [and] will join Mary in the offering of the Divine victim. . . .”

Pope John captured an essential truth of the faith: As Mary offered her Son to the Father, so we, too, offer Christ to the Father by our cheerful acceptance of all that God permits in our lives. The Mother’s offering on Calvary begs for our sincere imitation. We are to become “presenters” of the victim to the Father. We unite ourselves to Christ and His redemptive suffering.

The sacrifice of Christ becomes our own sacrifice because of our proximity to Jesus and our submission to the inscrutable divine plan. He is not only our Savior but also our Brother. We treasure the opportunity to join ourselves to our oldest Brother and His sacrifice. We want to offer our entire lives just as He offered-and continues to offer-Himself to the First Person of the Most Blessed Trinity in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

We confess how difficult it is to present ourselves totally to God given our undue attachments, selfishness, and inclination to sin. Our Lenten prayers, fasting, and almsgiving strengthen our resistance to all that is repulsive to our human nature and thus are crucial in the quest for Christian sanctity. By our cooperation with God’s grace in these Lenten works, we become better prepared to make the sacrifice of ourselves that the Lord mandates.

The eternal Father invites us to follow the lead of His Son and that of the pure, Jewish maiden by giving ourselves entirely to Him. The prayer, penance, and charity of Lent are meant for the praise and honor of God, the salvation of souls- including our own-and our gradual conversion to a life in which we more consciously offer ourselves to our Creator with hearts brimming with joy and gratitude.

Our joyful sacrifice of ourselves to the Lord demonstrates our already existing bond with Jesus and His Mother and our hope of sharing in permanent, celestial joy.

Fr. Charles Mangan, a priest from the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD, is currently studying Mariology in Rome.

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