Jan. 20 at 3:12pm
An acquaintance from many years back, in Steubenville, sent a note just now:
I just came across today, by accident as it were, one of the old articles
which you wrote for the university concourse some time ago.
I thought I would write you to let you know that I think your assessment of this matter was “spot on”! It’s too bad that so many people are still tying themselves up in knots trying to figure this one out. I’d encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to republish this article on the
personalist project web-site. Hope all is well.
I think perhaps I have posted it here before, but, no harm in repetition.
The topic of came up for me again too recently, when my newly engaged daughter mentioned she has friends in college who hold that NFP is seldom justified, that most Catholics who practice it do so with “a contraceptive mentality.” I think they’re wrong. Seriously so. In the article I try to explain why.
In brief, providentialism represents and perpetuates a false view of human sexuality, of marriage and of the Christian moral life—a view that malforms consciences, grievously burdens families, and misrepresents the Church to the world.
I've been reading a lot lately about alcoholism and related 12 step programs.
I few things stand out especially.
1. Addictions cripplie us in our will, our moral agency. We cease to be captains of our own souls, as Oscar Wilde put it.
2. The first step of the solution is admitting that we've lost control. That is, we stop trying to succeed with will power.
3. The rest of the solution depends on three things: Asking for the grace of God and relying on, accepting the help of others, and committing ourselves to serve others in the same condition.
Look at how personalist all this is, and how like the gospel!
We are impotent to save ourselves. We have to turn to God and entrust ourselves to Him. But His way of working with us is through and with other persons, both fellow believers and unbelievers.
Persons are both individual and community. We are selves who need others, and who are called to give ourselves to others.
Seeing all this gives me hope and joy. Addictions seem to me a major modern path to redemption and reality.
Sep. 15 at 9:07am | See in context
"I am seeing more and more how the human idea of mercy is protection from truth. True mercy [divine mercy] is an encounter with Truth—which is extremely painful."
That is very well put, Katie. it is an excellent point as well, that this is what purgatory is about. The truths about ourselves regarding our sins and weaknesses, the sufferings we were trying to escape by running away from these truths, will become our purification in the afterlife. We will have to face up to them and see them for what they are. The idols we failed to give up will have to be burnt away from us, and this will be painful.The difficulty there, of course, is that we can't take a break from this purification, which is something we can do here (and often do to the point of trying to run away from it completely).
Sep. 11 at 5:55am | See in context
Katie, I was thinking more of people who value relationships but want to claim absolute authority over how much they encroach on the self--like people who marry "as long as we both shall love" or a man who fathers a baby but reserves the right to ignore it from then on. They value relationships, but they don't grant that once you (validly) marry, from then on you are that person's spouse, or once you've procreated, you are a mother or father. It changes you ontologically. Who you are is not separate from who certain relationships have constituted you to be. Does that make sense?
Of course this is not to say that mothers may not work outside the home, or that annulmnets or separation or civil divorce may not be necessary. It's not to reduce the person to a certain, narrow understanding of what a wife or mother or father is supposed to be. It's not to deny the person's legitimate autonomy.
Sep. 7 at 1:08pm | See in context
I love that Weil quote!
I remember feeling like I had crashed because I'd been "hydroplaning" through life. I wasn't getting any traction.
Sep. 4 at 10:26am | See in context
Thanks, Kate and Katie! You are right, Katie. One doesn't even realize that one is "unreal and earthbound", before one is being stripped. One thinks that a general wanting to do God's will and be holy (and even working hard at it) is enough to make this happen; but it isn't. Suffering has a way of anchoring one in reality that is hard to achieve otherwise. To quote approximately one of my favorite philosophers, Simone Weil: we live in a dream-world, lying to ourselves about our past, present and future; only great affliction, the close-encounter with extreme evil or sanctity pull one out of it.The question remains then whether we follow up on this or try to blend it out again by diverting ourselves. If one does not embrace the cross, then addictions appear or become stronger, and one easily becomes cynical and bitter.
Sep. 4 at 8:27am | See in context
One of the things that consoled me during the early days of my personal crisis was the discovery that Kant had gone through something similar, and that he held that virtually everyone does. He apparently thought that up until forty, no one has what can really be considered character. Character is what comes through the experience of our emptiness and the recognition of the need for us to take ourselves in hand and choose to live well.
Until then, we are too driven by illusions and situations. We don't know the real value (and disvalue) of things...
Sep. 4 at 7:35am | See in context
I love this post! It matches my experience. (I'm nearly 10 years into my own "midlife crisis.")
I think what I mainly sensed is that up until I was close to 40, I was operating under many illusions and still had "great expectations" for myself and my life. I had to be stripped of those in order to get real. It was extremely painful.
But, as you say, it opened space in my interior for true good, true growth, true personality, true contact with the divine, and new grounds for authentic, loving relationships with others—something I hadn't realized I was missing. I hadn't known my objectives were all wrong—unreal and earthbound.
This part resonates especially:
It is an illusion, of course, and only postpones ineffectually the recognition that the cross is unavoidable, though one might try to escape it until the end. We can spend our life deceiving ourselves, always setting up new objectives in the hope that the next thing will satisfy us.
Thank you, Marie!
Sep. 4 at 7:29am | See in context
This is beautiful. Thank you.
Sep. 3 at 8:44pm | See in context
Hey, no one likes a busybody. I like the idea of invitation. We shouldn't guilt people into coming to the feast; we just need them to know they are welcome and that the food is good.
Sep. 3 at 11:44am | See in context
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