Humans + Animal Behavior: Offensive or Not?

The Internet seems to have lost its collective brain cells again, this time thanks to boxing superstar and pride of the Philippines Manny Pacquiao’s statement on same sex “marriage”, saying,

Common sense lang. Makakita ka ba ng any animals na lalaki sa lalaki o babae sa babae? Mas mabuti pa iyong hayop, [chuckle] marunong kumikilala kung lalaki lalaki, babae kung babae. O di ba?  Ngayon kung lalaki sa lalaki o babae sa babae, e mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao.

Celebrities, politicians, and other netizens took to social media to express their disgust and disapproval…. and this is where it gets funny. People are so offended that Manny Pacquiao compared homosexual behavior to animal behavior, AND YET, they use ANIMAL BEHAVIOR to defend homosexuality! In fact, animal behavior was the number one argument they used.

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So let’s get this straight. When it’s Manny Pacquiao comparing them to animals, it’s offensive, because RELIGION… but when they compare themselves to animals, it’s not offensive, because SCIENCE?

Thus it is NOT that Manny Pacquiao compared them to animals that’s offensive here, oh no, it is that Manny Pacquiao DARED to point out THE TRUTH as consonant with his religious beliefs.

Let’s have a moment of honesty here, shall we, folks?

Following animal behavior defenders’ logic, Manny Pacquiao’s views on homosexuality would be ACCEPTABLE if only he didn’t express them from his point of view as a person of faith. If Manny Pacquiao were an atheist saying homosexual behavior is animal behavior, he would be embraced by the LGBT community for proclaiming exactly THE TRUTH that they use to defend themselves!

You know, there used to be a time when being compared to an animal was considered an insult. Parents taught their children civilized behavior. Table manners, learning to take turns and share, treating others as one would like to be treated… inside and outside the home we expect people to act exactly like they’re supposed to: like human beings.

We took pride in being CIVILIZED, EDUCATED, even WELL-BRED. Many of those behaviors that we call MORAL were/are part of the whole Judeo-Christian set of beliefs, though we rarely thought of them that way. But now we find it offensive when we are reminded to act like human beings. What have we become?

Besides the obvious cognitive dissonance, one can’t help but question the animosity displayed towards Manny Pacquiao. Everyone is proud of him, proud of him representing the Philippines at the boxing ring, but please oh please keep your religious beliefs to yourself because you then become a national embarrassment? Who’s discriminating now? Tolerance for all, but not for Manny or anyone else unless they (we) all buy into something that goes against their (our) faith?

For the record, Manny Pacquiao has apologized for his words. Indeed, it is not charitable, Christian behavior to compare people to animals, no matter how they act, precisely because we were created to be higher than animals.

God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female — He created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food, and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. – Genesis 1:27-30

This is why we think, we reason, we love, we exercise self-control. We have intelligence far above animals, and we can put our instincts, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, under the control of our will. We can make decisions on wrong and right behavior. We understand concepts like “common good”. We know that all our actions have consequences, and can therefore choose, time and again, to behave in a manner that neither hurts another person or ourselves, and that includes, whether we like it or not, sexual behavior.

Intimacy Through the Lens of Fear (Part 2 of a Series)

fearintimacy

The fear of intimacy is neither rare nor new. Every person has this fear, though we experience it to different degrees.

Its root of course is a fear of rejection. As we raise our children, it is our constant challenge to love them unconditionally, so that they never feel rejected and don’t leave our home with so much emotional baggage that they cannot develop or sustain meaningful relationships as adults.

Thus it is beyond worrisome that so many of our young people today seem to be disproportionately afraid. While self-preservation is a natural instinct, taken to the extreme it can be debilitating and drastically affect our quality of life.

The fear manifests itself in myriad ways, and contribute to the crisis of humanity that’s our society today.

We have the crisis of manhood. (Thank you very much, radical feminism and misandry.)

We equate intimacy with sex, then compartmentalize and micromanage it to death. We depend on birth control and claim that we can divorce the act from the psyche, “no strings attached”. We resort to pornography and masturbation to get our physical “fix”. Anytime we need an emotional high we turn to one of our many virtual relationships. We delude ourselves into thinking we’ve unlocked the mystery of the other, but we often encourage falsehood and discourage authenticity.

We take shortcuts, choose efficiency via the swipe of a finger, except that efficiency and human relationships aren’t exactly a good mix. We insist on consent, as if consent frees us from being objectified and commodified. We use the terms power and winning in relation to sex, and ignore what we know in our hearts: that sex is anything BUT a game.

We get preoccupied with image, embrace worldly “perfection” and allow fantasy to grip us. We buy into the notion that we have unlimited time, unlimited health, unlimited number of people to have “relationships” with. We get sucked in by the illusion of control: hands on the keyboard, hands off reality. We convince ourselves that digital, ambient intimacy is good enough. Whereas there has always been a communication gap between the sexes where intimacy is concerned, technology has allowed us to widen that gap even further. In this age of Photoshop manipulation and Instagram filters, we wonder if we can ever truly bridge it. Still we shrug our shoulders and refuse to rock the boat, settling instead for status quo.

We go for superficial solutions, get comfortable with playing mind games, and wonder why the end result is still dissatisfaction. We feel used, abused, objectified, but we’ve distorted the language to describe what we’re going through, and the closest label we can find to summarize our experience is “rape culture”, so we go with that.

We welcome the attraction to distraction. Like birds that forget to fly south for the winter, we flit from tree to tree, seeking warmth where we can and failing that, comfort ourseves with the thought that there are billions of other birds just like us.

We end up desensitized, plagued with an inability to read each other’s cues. We get frustrated at being clueless about each other’s intentions and expectations, and yet exposing our authentic selves is just too emotionally taxing — who can afford to do that? So we decide we can’t talk about real needs and wants, and we either make hasty decisions, sweep problems under the rug, or we give up on dating/courtship/marriage altogether. (Or we marry a warehouse or a bridge or a robot, since real love and intimacy seem impossibly out of reach anyway.)

We hear the oft-spoken platitudes: love is not feeling, love is not emotion… but those ring hollow, because if it’s not those then what is it supposed to look like, sound like, feel like? We are told that love is a choice, love is a verb, love is self-sacrifice, and yet none of those ring true to us either, because we’ve made choices, we’ve done deeds, we’ve sacrificed our very bodies, yet we’ve come no closer to the truth.

We mistake intimacy as knowing what the other looks like underneath his or her clothes, when real intimacy is knowing what the other looks like underneath his or her fears. And we’re not sure we really want to know.

We look at married people around us, and see that they’re just as confused if not more so. If marriage is just more of the same, then why even bother? It’s scary enough now just breaking down these walls one brick at a time; how can marriage possibly be better?

More next time.


How a Culture of Distraction is Keeping Millennials from Marrying

Let’s Talk Submission, Part 3: Last Thoughts

Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert
Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert

Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
Let’s Talk Submission Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions


I’d like to go back to some women’s concerns about their husband’s inability or unwillingness to lead, and ways to help with that.

Try writing out a family mission statement. That way both you and hubby can focus on the goal, and as long as there’s progress no matter how incremental, you can learn to find peace in that and not be so control-freaky. Growth is a lifelong process after all.

One way to grow a spiritual leader is to buy him books. My husband and I regularly send each other articles that would be helpful to the other. If my husband needs help with a specific concern, I find books that contain the information he needs, i.e., apologetics books so he’s better prepared when they have friendly office debates.

My husband and I don’t regularly hang out with lots of people, but we do enjoy occasionally spending time with families like ours. Getting our husbands around godly men, who are also working hard on their holiness and their vocation, is another sure-fire way to expose them to positive examples of manhood and fatherhood.

As women we are nurturers. We are daughters of Mary, and our strength isn’t in lording it over the men in our lives. God gave us dignity and beauty, and when we use these to cultivate kindness, modesty, obedience, and order, then we are using our gifts to the full.

We are not trying to CHANGE our husbands. The raw material is already there to begin with. We’re here to cultivate our husband’s gifts as well. I often ask my husband questions on how to deal with this and that person or this and that behavior from the kids. It’s not because I don’t have any idea how, but because I would benefit from my husband’s perspective on things.

God is also a God of order, and the ability to listen and follow at the right time is part of that. Obedience manifests itself in the way we live our lives, in our schedules, and in our possessions. What we allow into our homes and our lives needs consideration (again, speaking to myself here). We could very easily fill our lives with clutter that doesn’t enrich us. We build the atmosphere in our homes such that our children grow up knowing their rightful place as men and women of God. Notice that so much of today’s “programming” (there must be a reason it’s called that) continues to promote the idea that men are idiots. If that’s the kind of propaganda our children are exposed to on a daily basis, they will bring that notion with them into their teens and adulthood, and into their marriages. This means we control and monitor input — books, movies, TV shows, and music. While we cannot shield our children from all the garbage, we can teach them to sift and be discerning about what messages they receive and keep in their heads. Our behavior reinforces those lessons.

One last thought about obedience. When I got married, I did not have this down and I’m very much still a work in progress. But there’s an incident that always reminds me of why it pays to submit:

When our first child was 3 years old, my husband wanted me to meet his family in the Philippines for the first time, by myself, with our child. I threw a fit and didn’t want to go, but he wouldn’t budge. So I obeyed, resenting him the whole time. The year after we went home and met his family, his dad died. If I had not listened, I would be beating myself up for that decision for the rest of my life.

Our marriage isn’t perfect, but those times when I swallowed my pride, said yes, and left everything up to God, I’ve never had reason to regret.

Some helpful reads:

The Authentic Catholic Woman
Simplifying Your Domestic Church
The Privilege of Being a Woman
Mulieris Dignitatem
True Consecration to Mary
JPII’s Theology of the Body Audiences

And on my list to read this year, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)’s Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
Let’s Talk Submission Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions

Let’s Talk Submission, Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions

Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert
Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert

Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts


We can do a lot towards rebuilding the husband’s role in our marriages:

  • We need to stop being control-freaks (speaking to myself here really) and let men take the lead whenever possible. Especially when it’s not life and death, or risking our children’s spiritual, emotional or physical well-being, then we can pick our battles and tame our tongues. Husbands have a natural need to be protector, defender and shepherd. It is by leading that my husband gains that confidence in his abilities to shepherd our family.
  • We can speak to each other with a respectful tone at all times, but especially in front of the children.
  • If I need my husband to take the leadership role on an important issue, simply telling him that that’s what we need from him and encouraging him can make a huge difference. This should not be difficult in a marriage where honesty and transparency are cultivated. I keep it straightforward: “I need you to take the lead on this.”
  • Presenting a united front when dealing with issues is key in teaching children the teamwork that goes into a marriage. Differences can be ironed out between spouses, in private. Children should not be made to feel like they have to take sides. What they need to see is that dad and mom are on the same page especially on things that may be confusing or troubling to them.
  • While discipline might require tag-teaming , the spouse who’s home the most plays the bigger role, just because he/she would have a better handle on habits that need correction, timeline of events, or whatever pertinent information there is. Whether it’s the husband or the wife is not the point. We have each other’s backs on everything, and reinforce whatever lessons we need to teach the children by referencing each other’s authority. Children need to see this interplay because it will be their pattern for when they have their own families.
  • Whenever a child questions my judgment, and especially if it’s a boy, I say, “Talk to Daddy when he gets home.” This demonstrates to my child that Dad’s viewpoint is necessary and important, something our sons need to internalize for the day when they need to lead their own household. If need be, I give Dad a summary via text or e-mail or a brief phone call, so he’s prepared to deal with it when he sees the child.
  • Consecration to Jesus through Mary helped me a lot in thinking these things through. Mary is our model for obedience. Of the very few quotes we have from her in Scripture, her speaking to Jesus at the Wedding at Cana shows a woman who brings her concerns to Christ but then lets Him take the lead, while she teaches others to “Do as He tells you.” Letting my husband lead doesn’t mean we say or do nothing. It means developing an awareness for what needs to happen in a situation, giving my husband a quick assessment of things from my view, and then letting him decide what action to take, if any.

    There will be times when we do need to take charge and grab the reins. My goal in my marriage is to make those times few and far between. I want to be a wife who has absolute confidence in my husband, and I want him to know it, and know it with a certainty that makes him believe in himself and his capabilities. Our husbands are under so much pressure these days to perform and to provide. On top of that, we have a culture that pulls him in so many different directions, putting temptations in his way. It should go without saying that we need to be praying for our husbands at all times, for him to not lose faith even in the face of failure and challenges. When he knows he can come home to a wife who trusts and believes in him, to children who see him as their mentor and guide, not someone who just metes out punishment when things have gone awry, his confidence in his ability to lead is magnified, and that’s exactly what we need to happen.

    Three weeks ago, my husband and I gave a talk to young Couples for Christ in Toronto. My talk was about “Becoming A Woman God Can Use” — God can’t use us when we don’t take the time to listen. As married women, God uses us THROUGH our marriages. And He can’t use us in rebuilding family when we are part of a culture that seeks to destroy manhood and men.

    Some last thoughts on this, tomorrow.


    Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
    Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts

Let’s Talk Submission (Part 1)

Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert
Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert

Let’s Talk Submission Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions
Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts


Last week, a friend asked me if I had a blog post on submission. She asked,”Does that mean we (women) don’t get to have opinions?” I promised her a more detailed answer, but assured her immediately that the answer to her question was NO.

Why is submission so misunderstood? When we talk about the husband-wife relationship, it seems to be the one word that makes everyone bristle, men and women alike, which is a pity, because understanding what submission is could be very helpful in our marriages, our families, and our faith.

I will hazard a guess that the misunderstanding is related to the hypersexualized language we have these days, as evidenced by a peek at Google.

What I’d like to present here is the Catholic viewpoint, with a few practical hints thrown in for good measure. But first let’s start with the Scripture that’s most quoted when talking about submission:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:22-33, RSVCE

St. Pope John Paul II talks about submission several times in his Theology of the Body audiences. In the various examples he gives us, it is clear that submission is meant to be understood as submission to God’s will. Because of concupiscence, we are born with a spirit of rebellion, and it is in the learning to crush this spirit that we work out our salvation.

We know that marriage as an institution has already been damaged by a contraceptive and abortive culture, divorce, cohabitation, and the legalization of same-sex “marriage”. We also know that rebuilding a culture of life means we have to rebuild marriage and family. Submission plays a large role in that.

In order to follow God’s will, we need to be attuned to His Voice.

We are our children’s first authority figures. As they grow, it is through our example of surrender, obedience and submission to God’s will, that they also learn to see God as the ultimate Authority in their lives. I submit to my husband because I want my kids to learn what it means to submit to their father. In so doing, I am also teaching them what it means to submit to their Creator.

I am blessed in that I am married to a man who takes his role in the domestic church as seriously as he does, but one common lament I’ve heard from some married friends is that their husbands won’t lead, or don’t know how. I’ll tell you now, my husband has GROWN into that role through the years. While he was strong spiritually when we got married 25 years ago, he is even stronger today and is more comfortable and decisive about being our spiritual head and moral beacon here at home.

Misdirected feminism, unfortunately, has given us many emasculated men. It might take some retraining for them to assume that role, especially if they didn’t have adequate preparation prior to marriage, or received the wrong messages early on.

More tomorrow.


Let’s Talk Submission Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions
Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts

100 Ways to Rebuild the Culture of Life

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Family

  1. Celebrate life: birthdays, name days, anniversaries.
  2. Celebrate the living. Spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.
  3. Get your marriage right. Seek spiritual direction if you need to, as individuals or as a couple.
  4. Have kids, have more kids, adopt, or sponsor a child.
  5. Nurture relationships within the home especially among siblings.
  6. Document your family’s important moments. Take pictures. Start a family journal if you don’t have one yet.
  7. Teach and model self-sacrifice.
  8. Be joyful as you serve one another.
  9. Learn/teach how to value internals over externals.
  10. Teach and model delayed gratification — material, spiritual, physical. Learn/Teach the difference between want and need.
  11. Be kind. Learn your spouse and children’s love languages. Speak them.
  12. Cultivate a spirit of detachment and poverty. This will determine daily decisions. Abby Sasscer’s book might be helpful.
  13. Teach your kids the concept of “offering it up”.
  14. Pray for and model grace in suffering.
  15. Talk about natural death — it’s part of who we are. Pray for a happy death.
  16. Don’t be afraid to shepherd your children. Fear is not of the Lord.
  17. Moms, teach modesty and model it for your daughters. Dads, teach chivalry and model it for your sons.
  18. Hold on to your children’s hearts, especially during adolescence — it doesn’t have to be the nightmare people say it is.
  19. Your kids are paying attention to what you’re watching, reading, or listening to. Be a good example.
  20. Date your kids. Have late night conversations. Whatever it takes for them to be able to pick your brains and get answers to life’s most important questions. Don’t forget the hugs!
  21. Meet your kids where they are. Some of them will be voracious faith-wise. Don’t worry if they seem to outpace you.
  22. Let your children teach you as well. They have unbelievable insights about life!
  23. Be a parent first and foremost. Sometimes they’ll need you to be their friend, but more than anything they need you to be the parent.
  24. Teach and model how to be discerning with regards to friendships.
  25. Get your/their hands busy, cooking, baking, making, building, growing.
  26. When you need help as a parent, default to Scripture, the Catechism and your own experiences.
  27. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids about mistakes you’ve made. It helps them to know you’re not perfect either.
  28. Don’t forget the 4 most important things you can say to your children: Please. Sorry. I love you. Thank You. Say them often.
  29. Set the bar high, but make it a different kind of bar; raise children for heaven, not Harvard.
  30. Learn to relish swimming against the tide, as individuals and as a family. Read Familiaris Consortio and take it to heart.
  31. When they make mistakes, forgive, and help them move forward.
  32. Tackle the difficult topics: sex, drugs, alcohol, violence. They need to know they can come to you with ANY concern, and they will be treated with respect and understanding.
  33. Be their first role model and their first line of defense.
  34. Pray for their vocations and their future spouses.
  35. Fill your home with good music and art.
  36. Keep sacramentals and use them.
  37. Surround your family with reminders of your faith.
  38. Know where your food comes from. If you can, grow your own. Eat meals together.
  39. Keep physically fit.
  40. Develop awareness for spiritual oppression. Be quick to recognize attacks on the family, so you can immediately take recourse in prayer.
  41. Get out and enjoy God’s creation whenever possible.
  42. Education

  43. Build your library. Fill it with classics and wholesome literature that teach virtue.
  44. Raise readers, thinkers, writers. The world needs more of these.
  45. Study biology, paying special attention to the life issues. Older kids read Fides et Ratio.
  46. Study the encyclicals, particularly Evangelium Vitae and Humanae Vitae.
  47. Read and digest JPII’s original Theology of the Body. Bit by bit.
  48. Teach your kids the five non-negotiables.
  49. Stay away from pornography. Remember, Once In, Never Out
  50. Teach your daughters to chart their cycles — this is real empowerment.
  51. Understand the sexual revolution and how we got to where we are today.
  52. Teach and model Ephesians 5.
  53. Teach and model 1 Corinthians 13.
  54. Read Divini Illius Magistri. Homeschool if you can.
  55. Learn history.
  56. Faith

  57. Get serious about passing on the faith. Learn apologetics.
  58. Hone your children’s thinking and their argumentation. Kids who know how to think critically won’t be prone buying the lies that society tries to sell them.
  59. Learn the basics of natural law.
  60. Join pro-life groups; there are many to choose from.
  61. Encourage your college-aged kids to get to know their professors. Chances are, even in a secular university, they will find one or two faithful Catholic professors who will be willing to give off-hours lectures or seminars for Catholics. Take advantage of those.
  62. Read Mulieris Dignitatem. Get to know women in Scripture: Sarah. Rachel. Hannah.
  63. Read about the saints and cultivate a devotion to them. Let the kids pick their favorites.
  64. Invoke the help of St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother at all times.
  65. Go to Mass regularly, daily if possible.
  66. Go to Confession regularly.
  67. Pray for souls in purgatory. Pray for those who don’t have people to pray for them.
  68. Spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
  69. Pray the Rosary daily. Encourage your children to make the consecration.
  70. Say the Prayer for the Unborn.
  71. Have your child attend Catholic youth conferences. Go with them if possible.
  72. Go on pilgrimage at least once a year. Masstimes.org is your friend.
  73. Cover your children in prayer.
  74. Live the liturgical year.
  75. Retreat periodically from the world, even for just a few days at a time. Learn to appreciate silence.
  76. Let the kids go on missions.
  77. Pray for our religious, our priests, our bishops, and our Pope.
  78. Church and Community

  79. Build relationships with fellow Catholics, young and old. Hang around other Catholic families. You are each other’s support group.
  80. Involve your kids in Trail Life, American Heritage Girls, and other Christian youth organizations. Better yet, get involved yourself.
  81. Keep abreast of current events. Add Catholic sites and blogs to your reader.
  82. Develop an awareness for what’s happening globally. Be thankful for your blessings. Read Laudato Si’.
  83. Volunteer at church — have your boys help as altar servers. Be cantors, lectors, etc. Get to know your fellow parishioners.
  84. Tithe. There is no way to outgive God.
  85. Get your kids around good nuns and priests. Encourage a vocation to religious life. Pray for it.
  86. Encourage your young adult to join local Catholic young adult groups. Have their friends over and get to know them.
  87. Encourage your young adult to attend Theology on Tap and other Catholic functions, so they can meet other people their age who are also on fire for their faith.
  88. Establish lending libraries.
  89. Support Catholic businesses. Buy titles by Catholic authors. Listen to Catholic radio. Purchase works by Catholic artists. Watch movies that promote Christian family values.
  90. Get to know people around you — neighbors, people at work, people on the street, etc.
  91. Cultivate relationships with young families. Mentor young parents.
  92. Pray at abortuaries.
  93. Help out at pregnancy centers. They’re always in need of something.
  94. Study the Church’s social doctrine — great material for discussion at the dinner table.
  95. Volunteer. There’s always some local charity or soup kitchen the whole family can support.
  96. Make sure your children understand the political process. But don’t fall into the rut of thinking that politics is THE answer.
  97. When your kids are old enough, discuss Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v Hodges.
  98. Learn to navigate and make good use of social media. Involve your kids in the new evangelization. Populate social media with what’s true, good, and beautiful.
  99. Find ways to serve those with special needs or are disabled.
  100. Keep care packages in the car, to give out to the homeless.
  101. Support local farmers.
  102. Pray for our nation’s leaders.
  103. Pray for peace.

Related reading:

Catholic Families in Crisis: New Study Finds Catholic Homes Are Spiritually Bankrupt
Are You Ready to Change the World?
Recovering God’s Plan for Marriage and Family: A Sermon on the Feast of the Holy Family

Christianity vs. The New Orthodoxy

SELF
Then: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
Now: Me + Feelings + Hormones + Surgery = Gender-fluid I create myself.

MARRIAGE
Then: When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. – Genesis 2:23-24
Now: (You+ feelings + hormones + surgery) + (I + feelings + hormones + surgery) + (other self-creations, as we see fit) = And we will call ourselves __fill in the blanks with one or more of the 63 (for now) options__. And the two (or three or four or whatever number we choose) of us = “Marriage”.

CHILDREN
Then: And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” – Genesis 1:28
The Year Contraception Was Created: Be fruitful and multiply, but only if you really really really want to. Because trees.
Now: Go forth and find a surrogate and/or go forth and in vitro fertilize.

FAMILY
Then: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. – Exodus 20:12
Now: Honor your Parent #1 + Parent #2 (+Parent #3 + Parent#4, etc etc if applicable).

MEDICINE
Then: Do no harm.
Now: Harm? What’s that?

THEN:
noahmultiply

NOW:

Source: http://www.deonvsearth.com/supreme-court-rules-same-sex-marriage-is-constitutional-right-in-all-50-states/
Source: http://www.deonvsearth.com/supreme-court-rules-same-sex-marriage-is-constitutional-right-in-all-50-states/

The Pope Didn’t Say “Divorce”

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What he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: We know well that every family on occasion suffers moments when one family member offends another. Through our words, actions, or omissions, instead of expressing love for our spouse or children, we can sometimes diminish or demean that love. Hiding these hurts only deepens such wounds, leading to anger and friction between loved ones. If these wounds are particularly deep, they can even lead a spouse to search for understanding elsewhere, to the detriment of the family, especially children. Being one flesh, any wounds that spouses suffer are shared by their children, born of their flesh. When we remember how Jesus warned adults not to scandalize little ones (cf. Mt 18:6), we better understand the vital responsibility to maintain and protect the bond of marriage which is the foundation of the human family. We thank God that although these wounds may lead some to separation, even then many men and women remain true to their conjugal bond, sustained by faith and by love for their children. For those who enter into so-called irregular situations, we must reflect on how best to help and accompany them in their lives. Let us ask the Lord for a strong faith to see with his eyes the reality of family life, and for a deep love to approach all families with his merciful heart.

Source: General Audience of 24 June 2015

What mainstream media heard/reported:
Yahoo: Pope says family separation can be ‘morally necessary’

which quickly mutated to

New York Post: Pope Francis: Divorce can be ‘morally necessary’
New Zealand Herald: Pope admits divorce may be ‘morally necessary’
Premier Christian Radio: Pope Francis: Divorce sometimes “morally necessary”
from the “Catholic” US Catholic: Can divorce be morally necessary to protect kids? Pope Francis thinks so
Kenya Today: Pope Francis: It is sometimes ‘morally necessary’ to divorce your partner
Australian Women’s Weekly: Pope Francis says divorce is sometimes “morally necessary”
RT.com: Pope Francis: Sometimes divorce can be a ‘moral necessity’

Does mainstream media even do any real reporting anymore?

On the contrary, Pope Francis was emphasizing

When we remember how Jesus warned adults not to scandalize little ones (cf. Mt 18:6), we better understand the vital responsibility to maintain and protect the bond of marriage which is the foundation of the human family.

Even this statement, We thank God that although these wounds may lead some to separation, even then many men and women remain true to their conjugal bond, sustained by faith and by love for their children, can in no way be interpreted as “divorce may be morally necessary”.

It is the same conjugal bond which St. Pope John Paul II talks about in Familiaris Consortio:

Like each of the seven sacraments, so also marriage is a real symbol of the event of salvation, but in its own way. “The spouses participate in it as spouses, together, as a couple, so that the first and immediate effect of marriage (res et sacramentum) is not supernatural grace itself, but the Christian conjugal bond, a typically Christian communion of two persons because it represents the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and the mystery of His covenant. The content of participation in Christ’s life is also specific: conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter- appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility (cf Humanae vitae, 9). In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.”

The Holy Father isn’t saying anything different from what is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Marriage under the regime of sin

1606 Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.

1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble.

ETA:

Further clarification from Canon Lawyer Ed Peters:

Of course, say “separation” these days and the world hears “divorce”; mention “divorce” and the world immediately assumes a “right to remarriage”. Francis, however, mentions neither divorce nor remarriage. He could have, if he so chose, reminded his audience that even civil divorce (which does not destroy a natural marriage bond, let alone a sacramental one!) is a morally licit option under certain circumstances (see, e.g., CCC 2383), but he would never have suggested a divorced person’s simply proceeding to remarriage, for such would be contrary to the plain teaching of Christ. But civil divorce and remarriage are complex topics that do not lend themselves to adequate presentation to a crowd of pilgrims standing under the hot summer sun.

Life-Making, A Story

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Part 2 is up over at Fathers for Good — wherein I talk about marriage.

Great love stories often involve tremendous conflict and heroic resolution. By that standard, the story of my husband and me is pretty run-of-the-mill. I hesitate to write this column because our marriage has been so stress free, and people may think I’m smoothing over the rough parts. But our story is real, and maybe it needs to be heard, because our world doesn’t have enough happy marriage stories.

Getting To Yes

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When my family migrated to the United States in 1986, I had no idea what God had in store for me. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to finish college and settle down with whomever God had picked out for me, at age 27, after a courtship of at least five years… but God laughed at my plans.

I met my husband the year after we moved here. A serendipitous moment for certain, as we had almost met at least a couple of times before, but finally met under circumstances brought about by people whom we didn’t expect would play a part in our story.

Though he and I were fast friends, he made it clear almost from the start that this was a courtship in progress. He was a man on a mission and he was out to get me, simple as that.

This may sound weird but even as a teen I looked at every guy who expressed interest from a marriage standpoint. Perhaps it was my own parents’ happy marriage that gave me this particular lens. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy male friendships for what they were, but I learned early on how to distinguish boys from men, and I knew I couldn’t marry a boy.

My husband and I had both been broken by heartache, but we were both prayerful people, and we do believe that God designed us for each other. When we met we found that we could go beyond just healing together. By the time we got to pre-Cana we knew each other intimately and knew that married life wouldn’t bring us too many unpleasant surprises.

When I met him, my husband was working for a testing lab, while at the same time completing his Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I witnessed firsthand how he worked in this small laboratory filled with machinery and all kinds of materials and greasy tools. I saw a person not afraid of hard work.

We had frequent one-on-one dates, but we also spent lots of time with family and friends. We grew as a couple through these interactions and at the same time built up a support group around us, made up of people who shared our values.

I was not the only one he courted. He paid attention and was kind to the rest of my family, especially my grandfather and my two younger brothers. None of it was a put on to impress me. To this day, he’s the same thoughtful man: when we visit my parents he takes the time to check their car, their faucets, their heating, to make sure things are in working order. And he still coaches my brothers from time to time on jobs and other life decisions.

My husband knew he had something good to offer and all he had to do was convince me to accept the gift. He was basically asking the question, would I build a life with him, and carry his crosses and share his joys with him? It wasn’t difficult to get to yes.

Courtship and dating are so misunderstood these days. Many seem to think of them as a dichotomy, but I would like to posit that they are overlapping parts of a healthy whole, and romance an essential element of building intimacy that cannot be overlooked, because it sets the tone for the relationship and how it will grow through the years.

Feelings and emotions have been getting a bad rap lately, but we cannot dismiss them as though they are faulty components of the human psyche. Though our intellect should not be set aside, we are also emotional beings after all, and romance is what feeds emotion. It’s all about developing a couple language, and we developed one that we have been conversing with for the last 25+ years.

While chocolates, roses, songs, and love letters have always been part of the picture where my husband and I are concerned, the enduring themes that I’ve seen played over and over in our relationship are service and sacrifice. I’ve always thought of courtship as a “selling” of oneself, not as a commodity, but an offering or a gift, and here was a man who from the beginning offered me both eros and agape, his hands open, his sincerity unwavering.

My heart breaks when I hear stories today of young people having lost the ability to date, who have no notion of courtship. When he was courting me, I got the message that this man was willing to give up his life for me. Here was someone I could follow, because he follows Christ. And saying yes to my husband was ultimately saying yes to God’s plan for me.

No To Divorce (A Guest Blog Post)

[This is a blog post from Veronica Cleofe-Alejar. Nikka is wife to Dong Alejar, and mother to four, two girls and two boys ages 2 to 10. She gave up her broadcasting career after the Lord converted her, but continues to use her skills and talents in the service of the Lord in church activities. She is also a baker and co-owner of Veronica’s Kitchen. You can read her whole life story and eventual spiritual conversion in Peaceful Wife Philippines.

As a young teenager, I would usually get teary-eyed at old couples who held hands in church. I would stare from my pew, and pray to God, “I want to grow old with my husband like that…”

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Well, God answered my prayer and I am growing older with my bestest friend in the world who still holds my hand, kisses me in public, and considers me the “hottest woman on the planet”, eleven years after our wedding and after four (body-altering) children.

This is nothing short of a miracle considering that the marriage of my parents was far from ideal. It was full of deafening silence and a dearth of warmth. I do remember thinking to myself that when I did get married, I wanted it to be full of joy and laughter, because I seldom heard my parents talk to each other with fondness, and they rarely exhibited loving gestures to one another. They even slept in separate beds! I remember that our family outings were the most awkward ever, but despite this, we were a unit. They almost separated at one very low point in their lives, due to the extreme jealousy of Mama over an alleged affair of Papa… but, thank God, they still managed to stay together.

Some would think that given my parents’ “miserable situation”, they should just have separated. “It would be better for the kids to have their parents separate than to be witness to a ‘loveless marriage’”; “If the husband philanders, the wife should not put up with it and leave him to show him that she is not a martyr.”; “The modern woman must not put up with any failings of her husband. After all, he is just a man. One can find another husband!”… or so the modern and feminist society says.

Well, they stuck it out with each other! This, despite that Mama was every bit of a modern, feminist woman. She, it was, who believed so much in superstition, she stepped on her groom’s foot after the wedding, so as not to be “under” her husband. She, it was who had a kick-ass career and who competed with Papa in terms of achievements… But, despite her unsubmissive nature, she stuck it out with Papa even when she could have very well given up on him and their marriage.

When she got cancer in 1992, it was Papa who took care of her. Whereas before, I never saw them hold hands, I then saw them giving each other tender kisses on the cheek or on the lips, and would even hear them locking the master’s bedroom’s door! On Mama’s death bed, she told Papa, “If God would give me a second chance, I will make our marriage work. I will prioritize you…” But that was not the Lord’s Will for her. She died at the young age of 43, but not without first realizing that “Ah, mahal pala niya ako…”

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I am now nearing the age that Mama died. In three years, I too will be 43. I have been married for 11 years to a very loving (and handsome) man — my best friend, my lover, my greatest moral support. We were not without our own trials though. I got my mother’s feministic streak and refused to submit to my husband as head of the family. Before the Lord converted me and transformed me in September 1, 2013; I was very prideful, judgmental, self-righteous and controlling. I was, unsurprisingly very miserable and seething in resentment against him. But, if there is one thing I learned from my parents, it was that “marriage is ‘for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part’.” It was from having observed this, that despite our lowest point, I told myself, “I am in this for the long haul, even if it seems so bleak right now…”
Mama was not given that chance to “fix her marriage”. But with God’s Grace and Mercy, I was able to “fix” mine. My whole life journey leading up to that could be read in the blog that the Lord directed me to write and which my husband encouraged me to do after my spiritual conversion. My journey from frenetic wife to peaceful wife can be read in http://peacefulwifephilippines.blogspot.com.

Divorce is never the answer. The person you said your vows to before the Lord is a flawed and imperfect human being. But wonderfully enough, these very same flaws and imperfections are the very means by which the Lord will use to hone us, smoothen our rough edges, and mold us according to His Image. Marriage, as a sacrament, is truly a married person’s means towards holiness. Use Holy Matrimony as your means to get to heaven.

“Catholic” Marriage in the Philippines

Image Credit: Daxx Bondoc
Image Credit: Daxx Bondoc

The conversation on legalizing divorce in the Philippines continues unabated in my circles, and last night’s discussion led me to an AHA! moment.

It is common knowledge that the Philippines is “a Catholic country”. However, lately it’s become clearer that many Filipino Catholics have not internalized their faith. It is but natural, therefore, that the Catholic approach is too often seen as harsh, unfeeling, or out of touch, even by those whom we expect or hope would know better. We wrestle with finding an answer that would explain the unremitting tug-o-war between Church and state, and a solution that satisfies all. Where do Truth, Love and (perceived) Need intersect?

We assume that Filipino + Catholic + marriage = a predictable, positive result, but it’s high time we asked hard questions and faced painful facts:

I am waiting for the official quote and reference from a friend who knows these things, but according to him, only 30% of marriages in the Philippines are Catholic marriages, surprising in a country that’s supposedly 90% Catholic! It’s yet another sign that there are deep-seated problems which need addressing.

In online discussions over weddings, concerns over cost seem to overshadow everything else. Many think that it costs thousands to get married in church, but closer inspection shows this is untrue. See this 2013 breakdown of wedding costs in one of the Philippines’ major cities. Of the total estimated average wedding cost of PHP250,000-500,000 (about $5,650-11,300), PHP5000 (roughly $113) goes to the church, a measly 1-2% of the total cost. Air-conditioning in a tropical country is costly, so tack on an additional $300 or so for electricity and you have a whopping PHP20000 or $452 as your “church cost”. Clergy have also tried to assuage the cost concern by offering free or low-cost mass weddings. It helps, but misunderstandings still abound.

Touristy spots and historical settings, patriotism, old world architecture and sentimentality, the sound system (yes, I’ve heard this), the perfect combination of food and wine… all these figure in many wedding plans. Notice that they don’t constitute THE ONE NEEDFUL THING: the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Other problems surfacing:

– People equating “Catholic wedding” to “Catholic marriage”.
– Too many wrong expectations of what marriage is, not to mention Catholic marriage.
– A horrifying lack of intentionality with regards to following Church teaching.
– People want the blessing, but the rules are seen as burden, hence the Church becomes the enemy when they want out.
– Church wedding/blessing is little better than superstition, something people regard lightly but nevertheless partake in to avoid reproach or ruffling feathers.
– Fulfilling cultural expectation, wanting to satisfy the demands of family, friends, authority figures. “It’s what we do.”
– Marriages of mixed faiths, where one of the spouses is a faithful Catholic and the non-believer agrees to have a Catholic wedding, simply to appease.
– Modern ideas taking hold, people equating happiness with warped concepts of liberty and license.
– Permanence and indissolubility, the cornerstones of a Catholic marriage, are foreign concepts. Nice sounding, but not necessarily applicable to reality.

What’s really going on? We may all be using English (or Filipino), but we are definitely NOT speaking the same language. Our conversations amount to nothing, when our definitions of truth, sanctity, marriage, happiness, love, vocation, family, sacrament, are fundamentally different. That’s where the severe disconnect comes from.

There is no magic trick that will make it all better. There are those who will continue to see divorce as panacea even after the havoc that it’s wreaked on families and societies in other countries. But there IS a solution for anyone wanting to get married from here on out. If you think about it, it’s the simplest one.

Parents shouldn’t expect adult children to suddenly act Catholic when they didn’t do what it takes to make sure their children grow to own their faith. If we want our children to have the blessing of the Church on their marriage, then by golly, we need to take our Church and our Sacraments seriously, and that means living the faith at home. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect people to embrace what a Sacrament is all about when they don’t even know what it means.

Clergy needs to support the parents in this endeavor. They need to do a better job teaching from the pulpit, so their parishioners don’t just receive Sacraments blindly. This applies to all Sacraments, of course, not just Matrimony.

Schools need to decide whether they’re Catholic or not; there shouldn’t be compromise in this area at all. If a school doesn’t intend to teach and uphold Catholic teaching, then they really shouldn’t advertise themselves as Catholic. That’s deception, period. Parents need the reassurance that whatever they teach at home isn’t undermined at school.

All the above — parents, clergy, and schools — have to actively work together in the formation/information of children. We’ve had enough of the pretense; now let’s get back to basics and do things right.

Couples looking to marry need to figure out what they really want, and honest discernment is needed here. As a friend put it, “Till death do us part” HAS to count for something. In the Catholic Church, we take these words to heart, and for good reason.

Belief and action go together. A Catholic wedding does not a Catholic marriage make, any more than going to Mass at Easter and Christmas makes one a practicing Catholic. If a couple doesn’t like Church teaching, they really shouldn’t get married in the Church. When they want out, there won’t be a problem. They get a civil wedding, and if they ever need to, they can get a civil annulment. No beef with the church necessary. End of story.

Helpful reading: Ten Things Every Catholic Should Know About Marriage

No Need for Divorce in the Philippines, Part 3 (Q&A)

Image Credit: Maria Go, https://marythedefender.wordpress.com/
Image Credit: Maria Go, https://marythedefender.wordpress.com/

Link to Part 1.
Link to Part 2.

Q. What about people who can’t afford legal services?

A. There are legal aid offices which provide free legal services in the Philippines, though not many.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines has chapters all over the Philippines.

If they are in Manila, they can try the University of the Philippines Office of Legal Aid. This is the legal clinic of UP Law, where all UP Law students have to do internships, under the supervision of a lawyer.

There are two kinds of annulment: civil and church. If someone got married in church, then they he/she would need to get both a civil and church annulment. The first step would be to see the parish priest where the couple got married.

Re church annulments: A church annulment because church tribunals are understaffed. There very few canon lawyers, and canon law procedure is different, so they have to think about matters that non-canon lawyers don’t have to think about. The tribunals are overworked. That said, there are grounds that do not need too much investigation. For instance, if a person was not of the right age when he/she got married, all he/she has to show is his/her birth certificate and the wedding certificate. There cannot be 100% free annulments because there are administrative concerns and those cost money.

If a psychologist is needed, there are low-cost, competent psychologists with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).


Q. Divorce allows an abused woman to leave the relationship *and* remarry. Are you against an abused woman remarrying?

A. Several points here.

  1. Abuse itself isn’t solvable by divorce. With regards to abuse itself, there is already Republic Act No. 9262, although as I’ve pointed out before, it only addresses women and children. There is no such corresponding law to protect abused men.
  2. Remarriage sounds easy to “prescribe” for abusive relationships but
    • While we want to be benevolent towards the victim, divorce will also allow the abuser the opportunity to marry and abuse another victim.
    • There are exceptions, but some women have a pattern of getting into abusive relationships. It’s not their fault that they’re abused of course, but the pattern does exist. Abuse is a HUGE issue with so many other interconnected, underlying issues, that we cannot possibly cover it adequately here. Suffice it to say, the answer isn’t a simple “She needs a new husband.” (See Page 2 for a preliminary list on revictimization and other related issues). Note that RA 9262 only covers Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) but abuse in relationships can happen to men or women and everyone else in between. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the law is useless for those whom it benefits.
    • Acrimonious relationships don’t go away just because of divorce. Consider this nugget from Wallerstein, Lewis and Blakeslee, authors of the book The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce:

      In our study, a third of the couples were fighting at the same high pitch ten years after their divorce was final. Their enduring anger stemmed from continued feelings of hurt and humiliation fueled by new complaints (child support is too burdensome or too little) and jealousy over new, often younger partners. The notion that divorce ends the intense love/hate relationship of the marriage is another myth of our times. Like many divorced people, Karen’s mother frequently called her ex-husband and got into shouting matches. As a result, the children were exposed to the hurt and anger that led to the breakup throughout their growing up years. Millions of children today experience the same unrelenting drama of longing and anger that refuses to die.

      (Source)

    • Divorce may seem like an easy escape, but nothing is easy when it comes to abusive relationships. Divorce can just as easily exacerbate the long-term negative effects on everyone involved. There are no guarantees.

  3. Remarriage may seem an attractive option when we look at things from the emotional standpoint; sob stories abound. And from the Western/modernist point of view, any discussion about divorce is moot. It’s taken for granted that marriage is no longer the permanent institution people once believed it to be.

    But what we do know is this. Divorce has not solved the problems it was supposed to solve. We have more messed up people and marriages today than we did 10, 20, 30 years ago. The sexual revolution has been tried and found severely wanting; divorce is only one of its fruits. Therefore the discussion on marriage and its permanency and indissolubility shouldn’t be tabled.

  4. Neither divorce nor remarriage occur in a vacuum, therefore they need to be evaluated not only in terms of the spouses but everyone else in that immediate circle, especially children.
  5. Once remarriage is allowed into the equation, one has to discuss subsequent marriages. It’s not about thinking “too far ahead” but simply taking the logic to the next step: If I can have a second marriage, why not a third or a fourth?
  6. It’s telling that in the US, “No longer are abuse and infidelity the main reasons given for divorce (although some research suggests infidelity occurs around the time of most divorces). Rather, divorcing spouses routinely claim they have simply “grown apart.” (Source)

What’s really needed:

  1. better preparation before marriage, so people don’t end up marrying the wrong person
  2. better support system — society, friends, programs like retrouvaille for troubled marriages — that help shore up and strengthen marriages rather than help break them down.

Suggested Reading:
The Lamest and Most ‘Gasgas’ Excuses for Divorce in the Philippines (Updated)
Is Divorce the ‘Fire Escape’ of Marriage?
20-point critique of the Explanatory Note in HB 4408: Introducing Divorce in the Philippines

No Need for Divorce in the Philippines, Part 2

Image Credit: Daxx Bondoc
Image Credit: Daxx Bondoc

I received several comments on my previous blog post on divorce, so here’s Part 2.

Mostly what I’m seeing is that people have a lot of misconceptions about what divorce is vs. annulment. I myself am not an expert and rely on people to educate me on these things, but I did find this useful link from the Archdiocese of Baltimore: 12 myths about marriage annulments in the Catholic Church. I suggest that readers look at that list to get basic questions answered. Here’s a more detailed discussion on annulments, from Catholic Culture: Isn’t It Just a Catholic Rubber-Stamp on a Divorce?. Beyond that, I’m not an expert, but I will forward any questions to those who know the answer and will be happy to write about them here.

Whether all of these will be applicable to the Philippine situation is unknown. But based on those, and my conversations with people on the ground, here are some additional insights:

  1. There’s no reason to believe that annulment will be more expensive than divorce if the bill passes. The cost could be more or less, but there are no guarantees. There is nothing in the proposed bill that regulates lawyers’ professional fees. Unless charges are subsidized by the government, the idea that divorce will equalize rich and poor has no basis. One article says the average cost of divorce in the US is $15000-20000. Converted to Philippine pesos that would be PHP600K+. A friend who has gone through the annulment process told me that the average cost comes to PHP300K.

    From a lawyer friend: “I don’t know if regulating lawyers’ fees will work. The intent may be good in principle but there might be unintended consequences, such as lawyers deciding not to practice law anymore and going for more lucrative jobs (contrary to popular belief, not all of us lawyers earn that much money), and thus making legal services less available in general. Plus, lawyers may not be motivated to provide quality services if there’s a limit on what they can earn. Definitely lawyers should be encouraged to be reasonable in setting their fees, but to impose an all around ceiling might do more harm than good.”

  2. On the subject of abuse, note that in the US:

    No longer are abuse and infidelity the main reasons given for divorce (although some research suggests infidelity occurs around the time of most divorces). Rather, divorcing spouses routinely claim they have simply “grown apart.”

    (Source)

    Note also that having had divorce legal since the 18th century hasn’t solved the problem of intimate partner violence in the United States, as shown by a 2014 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which in fact says that married people are less likely to be abused than those who are divorced or separated.
    IPVstats1
    Source: Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003-2012

  3. And of course, in this discussion, we can not afford to forget children, who are the main casualties of divorce.
  4. The question of legitimacy was brought up in one of the comments. The first and second links provided above answer that question as well, but in addition, consider this: If children truly ARE a concern, then that concern needs to go beyond legitimacy. There are more consequences tied to being a product of divorce or annulment than simply that one issue. Helpful reading: Annulments, from the site For Your Marriage

There is more to discuss but it will have to wait until next post. I have a confession to make: I do not enjoy writing about divorce at all, as it is depressing, draining, and exhausting, so I will try to limit myself to one post a week on this matter. Next time, perhaps we can look at things from other people’s point of view.

Recommended reading:

Adam and Eve After the Pill

Link to Part 3.

When the Cake Becomes the Cross

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Today, while my hubby cleared spaces of dried brush and old wood, our 6-year-old ran around enjoying the sun and the chill air; I planted seeds. “As soon as the ground can be worked”, said most of the packets. This was as good a time as any to get started. I’ve had one heck of a Lent, how about you?

Lent means withdrawing into silence, to spend time in communion with our Lord, to listen most of all. And yet this year, out of that silence, many of us were drawn and challenged to speak, almost against our will, like Simon of Cyrene.

The past weeks, we have been hit with news and issues ranging from pizza to cake to the RFRA to Obergefell vs. Hodges, Patricia Jannuzzi, the PCUSA, Archbishop Cordileone, to Dolce and Gabbana, to Ryan Anderson, to divorce. And as we fight here for religious liberty, elsewhere fight for their very existence.

Stepping back and surveying the landscape, these questions appear at the base of the chaos. What is marriage? What is family? What is love? The world asks us to define these things, but no longer is the Christian answer taken at face value, for we have failed. Confronted with horrible examples of this once-respected institution, too many people now look askance at our definition of marriage and family, because it lies in stark contrast to what they live with and see around them daily. It has become more difficult to speak in truth and with charity, because even our truth and charity are suspect. We may speak the same language, but the words come off as gibberish. Our words ring empty and we can’t seem to reach each other’s hearts.

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI said,

It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.

I watch as others try to grapple with these issues. Fr. Zuhlsdorf and his commenters offer some ideas, as do Marvin Olasky and his readers.

Whether we can arrive at one answer that works for all remains to be seen. Sometimes cake is just cake; sometimes the cake becomes the cross. As when the Pevensie children got pulled into Narnia without warning, it feels like we are hurtling into something dark and unknown. We want more time to plan out our responses, put together a plan of action, but the time is denied us, because tolerance is over. And yet despite feeling powerless, we crouch down on the ground, kneeling, planting seeds, praying that we’re still making a difference somehow. Let it not be said that we didn’t do or say anything, especially for the voiceless and the persecuted.

As a Catholic homeschooling mom, I look for teachable moments. And this Lent, we have had a hundred thousand of them. But not every moment is a teachable moment. As the seed packet reminded me today, the seeds need to be planted “as soon as the ground can be worked”. Much of the ground we have to work with these days is either yet untilled, or lie frozen under the snow. Some of it will warm up naturally with the sun, others will require more gentle, maybe even rough, digging.

This pithy comment struck me, from King Prawn, over at Ricochet:

The natural question will be: what are we to do now that the ship has sailed? I agree entirely that marriage as understood as a permanent, exclusive, and complementary relationship between a man and a woman fulfilled by the bearing and rearing of children could never have been attacked by gays if it had not already been dismantled almost entirely by straights. Now that we have done this to the institution it sometimes seems a lot hypocritical to man the barricades against assault by those who simply want to share in the despoiled social convention we are only now so protective of.

The world is hurting, begging to know what love is, and all they can see are fragments of truth here and there, with no cohesion or integrity. The message of the Cross seems blurry as of late. Like some I beg for more time, or at least more wisdom. But as Archbishop Chaput reminds us, now’s the time. We hurriedly plant these seeds and point to Christ’s cross, its shadow cast on the ground, in the magnificent light of His Resurrection. Perhaps right now, that’s all we’re called to do. The seeds will grow in His most perfect time.