Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why do we treat homosexual sins differently than other sins?

A mere five to ten years ago, the following was considered a tolerant and acceptable stance: Openly supporting and promoting natural marriage, while also being kind and loving towards our homosexual brothers and sisters. Today, that same stance is considered "bigoted hate", and its purveyors must be silenced, shamed, and ruined. To hold such a stance (publicly) is now unacceptable. The haters include the Catholic Church and all faithful Christians who speak up against gay "marriage".

The reaction to the simple and clear teaching on homosexuality is so visceral, so violent, so dark, that even otherwise outspoken and proud Catholics are gun shy on this particular issue, telling me that they are afraid to say anything, nervous to be labeled as evil and heartless, preferring to stay silent. This bullying is occurring in the whole western world at the moment, and it's so awful that even some gay people have (mostly quietly, for their own protection) decried what they see happening.

The Church is pretty much the only voice in the world that is not afraid to speak up against this sin (as she has done with other popular sins in the past), standing clearly for what is True. When the Pope and other Church leaders are bold, the rest of the flock finds the courage to speak as well.

But here's something that I don't understand, and it's perplexed me for years. For some reason, many faithful Catholics treat the sin of homosexual acts and gay "marriage" differently than any other sin, sexual or otherwise.

No faithful Catholic is afraid to say boldly that lying, cheating, stealing, blasphemy, greed, adultery, abuse, fornication, abortion, surrogacy, human cloning, contraception/sterilization -- all are grave sins. All have serious spiritual consequences, and we cringe and hurt to see our loved ones committing any of those sins. We hate those sins! We love the people, but we would never hesitate to speak or write on the wrongness and even the evil of those sins, many of which we have ourselves repented of.

But for some reason, active homosexuality sort of gets a pass, and we're told not to be so hung up on the gay "marriage" issue. I've even been told (more than once) that we should not be voting against gay "marriage" or engaging this issue in the public square, because to do so would make Catholics look "mean" and it will make people dislike us! There is a certain sympathy about this particular sin, and a reluctance to condemn it forcefully, that I don't see in any other area.

After the tragic vote in Ireland ushering in genderless marriage, I was heartened to hear the clarion statement given by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, calling it "a defeat for humanity". There is no question where the Church stands, and firmly. Yet, while I rejoice in the Cardinal's courage, other Catholics believe that statements like this are unhelpful at best, cruel and harmful at worst. They have great concern that such blunt and sweeping statements will not be received well by the LGBT community, that those souls will turn away from the Church, and that evangelization efforts will be hampered.

Here's what doesn't make sense to me about that. Let's say that a once-Catholic nation had been the very first in the world to pass a referendum in which the populace overwhelmingly and joyfully approved abortion. Or adultery. Or euthanasia. Or fill-in-the-blank sin.

Would a forceful Vatican statement against any of those sins be met with disappointment or frustration by the faithful? Would any of my Catholic friends be saying, "We really should not speak that way about [lying, cheating, stealing, blasphemy, greed, adultery, abuse, fornication, abortion, surrogacy, human cloning, contraception/sterilization] because we will offend and alienate [women, doctors, young people, corporate heads, pagans, adulterers, surrogates, etc.]."  Probably not, and yet those groups of people might feel excluded or marginalized or unloved, too. (I'm not being sarcastic, I really mean that.) So, is it that we think of active homosexuality as somehow different from other sins? Or even worse -- is there a sort of soft bigotry going on, where we don't think gay people are capable of hearing and handling the Truth as well as everyone else can?

I've been told that we need to love people, not "condemn" people or make them feel "unwelcome" by speaking Truth out loud and unvarnished. Yet, this is a false dichotomy! We don't choose between Love and Truth. We choose both Love and Truth. In his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis goes over this, time and again.

There is a micro way to talk about things and a macro way. In the micro, we speak personally to individuals, we get to know them for their own sake, we laugh with them, break bread with them, love them. When sensitive questions arise or questions are asked, we speak the Truth. We are gentle and kind and respectful to all, and if we are not, then woe to us! It will not go well with us as we stand at our Judgement.

But in the macro, the Church as Teacher needs to be unambiguous and clear (and we laity have every right and obligation to repeat that Truth). The moral law is a beacon. It is True for everyone, and when the moral law is transgressed by entire nations, then yes, it is a blow not just to the Church, but to all of humanity. We say this clearly. We don't mince words. We speak the Truth in season and out. Who else will? Who else has been charged by Christ to do so? When we watch a traditionally Catholic nation embrace grave sin with shouts of celebration, we should be heartened, not concerned, to hear our Church speak with a clarion call, denouncing the evil we see.

In the macro, there are millions who do not understand that the Church will never change her teaching on homosexual sin. Most people assume change is coming just around the corner and so settle comfortably in their sin, even feeling "a step ahead" of the lagging Church. In the west, the comfort level for this sin is growing, and more people, not fewer, are becoming lost. If it were any other grave sin, every faithful Catholic would be fighting hard against it, and vocally.

One more thought, and it's personal. For every sinner that is "turned off" or stung by the Church pronouncing unambiguous Truth, there are others, like I was, who desperately need to hear it.

When I was in high school and in the midst of grave sin, I turned to the girl I saw as the most serious and devout of my Catholic friends. I asked her what I should do, whether I should continue on as I had been, down this sinful path (but one I was happy to be on). I will never forget her response. I even remember where I was standing. She placed her hand gently on my forearm, gave me a loving smile, looked me straight in the eye and said: "Leila, I just want you to be happy. You do what makes you happy."

At that moment, I decided to stop worrying about my sin.

She soothed and affirmed me when what I needed to hear was, "Leila, what the hell are you thinking?? You snap out of it right now, turn to God and stay on the straight path! I love you, and I am here to help you!"

I needed her to be the Church for me, not the world. Sure, I felt "loved" in that moment, and that comforting feeling led me to turn from the Truth, for at least a decade.

There are many millions like me out there, who need to hear the Truth clearly, who need to be held accountable to that Truth in order to change. Let's not forget about them and their spiritual needs.

Praise God for the Truth-tellers, and the ones who are not afraid to face the consequences of doing so.

I love being Catholic.

And I'm sorry for rambling and redundancy. It's very late here (early), and I'm just going to hit "publish".



Related: This thoughtful atheist gets it! Check it out:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Little Shares: Housekeeping items (and braggy mom!)

Lots of miscellaneous stuff! Housekeeping in my brain commences here....


Can a proud mama brag for a moment?

Our eldest son Eric (number two in our lineup) just graduated from college! I have no picture to share in cap and gown, because he opted to skip the ceremony and come home early (he's not much for drawing attention to himself), but he graduated from the University of Arizona with honors, with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Basically, that's his pre-med degree, and now he's off to medical school! He will be attending Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine in North Carolina, speciality to be determined later. We are so proud of you, Eric!

And, oh by the way, he's single. And looking. He's a faithful Catholic, and would love to marry and have a big family! I know that Belmont Abbey is just about three hours from his medical school, and it's full of wonderful Catholic women, so if any of you know someone....  ;)

Hopefully he won't be too upset that I wrote that last part. But I don't think he reads my blog too often, ha!


On the subject of Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, some people are confused about DOs, so here's a short primer: a DO trains in the same course of study as MDs, is eligible for the same residencies, and  has the same ability to become a surgeon or any specialty. However, because of the more holistic philosophy of osteopathic medicine, most DOs tend to become primary care doctors, i.e., family physicians, internists, obstetricians, or pediatricians.

I suspect that people tend to confuse DOs with naturopaths (who do not have medical degrees and are not doctors). My father and uncle are MDs, so I didn't know much about DOs until recently, and it's been interesting to learn. My own family physician is a DO, as is my NaPro doctor and several of the partners in my OB/gyn's office and our pediatrician's office. And that's my PSA for today!


I am more and more drawn to the truth that the crosses in our own lives are our path to sanctity, the ladder to the Father. The personal cross is something inescapable, and yes, when approached with surrender and acceptance, it is beautiful and transcendent. And it is surely a sign of contradiction in a world that seeks comfort and pleasure above all.

Ann Coakley, as many of you know, lost her husband Paul to a fast moving cancer this year. Ann is raising their four small children (including a son born after Paul's death), and has been a source of wisdom and inspiration for thousands, including me. She wrote something today on her Facebook page that needs to be shared. Today would have been their seventh anniversary:

7 years ago today I walked up the aisle of St. Peter's. My eyes were locked on Paul who had tears escaping his own eyes. It was the most beautiful and perfect day of my life. In Paul I recognized the love God has for me, his lowly daughter whom He loves beyond measure. Paul loved me in such a way that was as close to a perfect love as you can experience in this life. It was a fore taste of heaven. A heaven that my saintly husband is now experiencing because he understood love & sacrifice better than anyone I've ever known. Our vows are complete. We loved each other through everything this life threw at us and we held onto each other up until the end. God gave me a miracle in the reassurance that Paul was going to Him when Paul lifted off his bed, raised his arms and went to the One who loves him more perfectly than I could. One day my beloved will be waiting for me to close my eyes and wake up in the true reality that we had helped each other attain during this life. I joyfully await that day. Until it comes I will make both God and Paul proud of me by focusing on our babies and living this life the way Paul lived his life. Happy anniversary, sweetheart. I love you and miss you. Please keep helping me on this path to heaven.

She then linked to the following page on her blog, from 2009, "Catholic Symbolism in our Marriage", and she mentioned elsewhere that this is her favorite image from her wedding day. Note that Paul is washing her feet (as the Lord washed the feet of His Apostles), as a sign of his tender love and eternal service to his bride:

Paul and Ann Coakley


Just for fun, here are two of my very, very, very, very (did I say "very"?) favorite blog posts of all time, from Bad Catholic. I know it's a good blog post when it doesn't leave me, and when I keep returning to it, after years have passed. I think you guys will enjoy them, either again or for the first time:


Okay, this made me so sad! Look at how the activist author of this blog describes herself:

She regularly annoys her 6-year old son ... by grounding him whenever he attempts to rescue a princess.

My heart breaks! The beautiful, unique, God-given instinct of a boy or man to be protector, provider, hero, is disparaged and punished! The attempt at some kind of social consciousness here may be well-meaning, but this mother's sentiment is terribly misguided. Every boy, every man, wants to be a hero. The masculine heart is made for such things. In this culture, the part of boys and men that we should want to nurture more than anything is their desire to willingly sacrifice themselves for others, especially women and children who are in danger. If we dampen or (shockingly!) punish this instinct in men and boys, then we kill that part of them that gives them purpose and mission.

Oh, I cannot tell you how eagerly I await Bishop Olmsted's Apostolic Exhortation to the men in our diocese, on the masculine nature. We desperately need it! Our boys are floundering, and punishing them for desiring to "rescue the princess" is a blow to their nature and mission, a crushing of the masculine heart and soul.



A few weeks ago, my daughters and grandbabies came to visit!!! Their trips home overlapped by two days, so the cousins got to meet!

Felicity will be ONE next month!!

David is two months old today!!

I hope you all survived the cuteness overload. I believe I warned you.


If you are seeing this or any post in script, it's not me, I promise! It's your computer or your browser. Rest assured, I would never make you wade through all these posts in script!


Have a most blessed Memorial Day, and as a reminder (because I never used to make the distinction), here is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day:

Memorial Day (Monday) commemorates those who lost their lives serving our nation. Veterans Day (always November 11) is for celebrating all of our veterans. So, this weekend specifically honors those servicemen/women who were killed in the line of duty.

May God rest their souls and reward their sacrifices, and may He comfort their family and friends. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My burning question about gender issues

Here's what I don't understand.

I have talked to and debated countless people who assure us that there are no real differences (outside of incidental genitals) between men and women. No difference in essence at all.

They have told us that it absolutely does not matter if a child has a father or not, or whether a child has a mother, because mothers and fathers are completely interchangeable. Mothers and fathers can perform the same functions, we are told. They can cook dinner and make a nice home and they can "love". Gender is meaningless.

They tell us that gender is fluid (unlike one's sex, which is the incidental genitals that I mentioned above), and that any perceived differences are social constructs. To think otherwise, they say, is narrow, bigoted, foolish, archaic.

And yet the same people -- the same people -- tell us that gender differences are so real, so important, so crucial, that people who merely think they are a different gender have a right to surgically mutilate their genitals to get their incidental physical bodies to conform to what they feel in their minds, what they feel is their essence. That to surgically alter their bodies is, quite literally, a matter of life and death, so much so that even prisoners have the right to have taxpayers pay for their gender reassignment surgeries, and small children who are conflicted about their gender vs. genitals need to be put on hormone treatments without delay.

So, which is it? Is one's gender a matter of such essence and import that it means life or death, or is it something so insignificant that mother and father, bride and groom, woman and man are indifferent, meaningless designations that must be ignored or done away with?

Please, I'm sincerely asking: Which is it? And if it can be both, then how?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Whereas a seventeen-year-old sums up Truth. Thank you, Anthony Skikos!

In light of our ongoing discussion about Truth, I was blown away to read this poem, written just days ago by my son Paul's lifelong friend, Anthony Skikos. This poem on Truth ("Veritas") was written in one night, before a school competition. Yes, he quickly whipped up this glorious verse, which speaks of a Truth outside of ourselves, to be sought and found and received, like a lover. Gives me hope for our future and joy for the Church who can raise up such incredible young souls. Enjoy!

Lux Aeterna

by Anthony Skikos, age 17

I stand and stare out o'er the sea
And wonder how I might find thee
Thou lie outside the darkest cave
And free man from his living grave
Thou dost stand steadfast, glist'ning star
Though shadows flicker, near and far
Eternal lasts thy fiery light
Though thou art hidden in the night
And though thy light, oft hard to bear,
May not seem pleasing, soft, or fair
'Tis greater, far, to know thy face
Than live with darkness in thy place
And so, O Goddess, beautiful
Do seek thee I with all my soul
And know now as I stare across
'Tis thee I love O Veritas 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ongoing Dialogue, Part IV

We continue here. Please make sure to catch all the comments on the last thread (that went over 200 comments) by clicking on "load more" at the end of the thread.

Okay, carry on!