Monday, November 30, 2015

ON THE WAY BACK HOME: Chapter 3 - There Can Be But One, True Religion

ON THE WAY BACK HOME: Chapter 3 - There Can Be But One, True Religion:

Chapter 3 - There Can Be But One, True Religion

But why change one's religion?  Why reenter the Catholic Church?  Isn't one religion as good as another?  The plain answer to this important question is an emphatic, No. This saying for the most part is the work of those who in reality are indifferent to all religion, and make this an excuse for their indifference.  A little reasoning should suffice to prove that one religion is not as good as another religion.  If it were there would have been no need of Christianity in the first place.  For there were other religions existing upon earth at the time Christ established His Church.  There were Confucianism and Buddhism and Judaism and Paganism.  Were one religion as good as another, it would have been sufficient for God to have allowed these religions to function without establishing another.  Christ, however, did establish another.

In His dealings with man, God has always been definite and exact.  After the fall of Adam, God promised that in due time He would send a Redeemer to satisfy for man's sin.  But in order to keep the knowledge of the one, true God among men until that time, God called Abraham to be the father of His chosen people.  Hence he established the Jews as the one true and divinely appointed guardian of His law until He should send the promised Messias.  The Jewish Church, then, was the one, true religion up to the time of Christ.  God Himself then gives the answer to the question, "Is not one religion as good as another?"  He Himself established one religion as the true religion up to the coming of Christ.  Christ in His turn established but one Church, and He proclaimed that that Church would last to the end of time.  "Thou art Peter," He says, "and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."  (Matt. 16, 18.)  Christ said "Church" not "Churches", and He meant church, not churches.  And again He says:  "And there shall be one Fold and one Shepherd."

It is evident from many other considerations that there can be but one, true religion.  As there is only one God, there can be but one, true worship of God.  Truth itself is one, and it cannot be contradictory.  At one and the same time, two and two cannot be four and six and nine.  If it were, what confusion would result in the field of mathematics.  In the field of morality, what terrible evils would result if it were equally good and true to murder one's parents and to protect their lives.  Likewise were it equally true that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and not the Son of God, if it were equally true that Baptism is a Sacrament and absolutely necessary for salvation and neither a Sacrament nor necessary for salvation, what doubt, uncertainty and confusion would arise in the minds of Christians.  The disastrous state of division and disunion that exists in the Christian sects outside the Catholic Church today is partly the result of following the theory that one religion is as good as another.  Christ manifestly would not come upon earth to found fifty-seven different churches teaching different doctrines to confuse men's minds.  He came upon earth to found the one true Church that would be the one sure and safe path to salvation. 

Photo: Morning Mass
Location: San Juan Capistrano Mission, San Antonio, Texas, 1945
Photographer:  Alfred Eisenstaedt

Vatican’s liturgy chief contradicts Pope Francis on Communion for non-Catholics

Vatican’s liturgy chief contradicts Pope Francis on Communion for non-Catholics

"A person cannot decide if he is able to receive Communion. He has to have the rule of the Church."
Speaking with Aleteia reporter Diane Montagna, Cardinal Robert Sarah said, “Intercommunion is not permitted between Catholics and non-Catholics. You must confess the Catholic Faith. A non-Catholic cannot receive Communion. That is very, very clear. It’s not a matter of following your conscience.”
In responding to a Lutheran woman seeking to go to communion with her Catholic husband, Pope Francis said, “There are questions that only if one is sincere with oneself and the little theological light one has, must be responded to on one’s own. See for yourself.”  The pope, who was speaking to a Lutheran community in Rome November 15, added that both Lutherans and Catholics believe the Lord is present in Holy Communion, and that while there are “explanations and interpretations” that may differ, “life is bigger than explanations and interpretations.”
Pope Francis concluded it was not within his competence to allow a Lutheran woman to receive Holy Communion with her Catholic husband, but to answer her question, she should, “Talk to the Lord and then go forward.”
But Cardinal Sarah, who serves as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, contradicted this suggestion.  “It’s not that I have to talk to the Lord in order to know if I should go to Communion,” he said. “No, I have to know if I’m in accord with the rule of the Church.
“It’s not a personal desire or a personal dialogue with Jesus that determines if I can receive Communion in the Catholic Church. 
How can I know that the Lord has really said: ‘Come and receive My Body.’ No. A person cannot decide if he is able to receive Communion. He has to have the rule of the Church: i.e., being a Catholic, being in a state of grace, properly married [if married].
The cardinal warned that if Holy Communion is not received correctly it would not be a benefit to unity, but quoting St. Paul he said, “We will eat our condemnation.”
See the full interview at Aleteia here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

St. Catherine of Alexandria: A Guide in Our Call as Christian Witnesses

St. Catherine of Alexandria: A Guide in Our Call as Christian Witnesses

St. Catherine of Alexandria: A Guide in Our Call as Christian Witnesses

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria. She is the patroness of preachers and philosophers. The reason for this will become quite clear. Tradition tells us that Catherine was born in Alexandria and was the daughter of Constus, who was the governor at the time. She was a studious child and greatly enjoyed learning. She received a vision of the Madonna and Child and converted to Christianity. Persecutions were becoming increasingly more brutal under the emperor Maxentius during her lifetime. Being the daughter of the Governor, she went to Maxentius and rebuked him for his cruelty and persecution. It was then that the emperor called his fifty best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute her claims of the validity of Christianity. Instead Catherine won the debate and quite a few of her adversaries converted to Christianity due to her gift of eloquence. Those philosophers and orators who publicly declared themselves Christians after the debate were quickly put to death.
Catherine refused to denounce Christianity and was scourged and imprisoned by the emperor. Many people came to visit her while she was imprisoned, including Maxentius’ wife. It is said that all of her visitors converted to Christianity and were martyred. Maxentius continued to have her tortured, but she refused to renounce the Faith. At one point the emperor proposed marriage and she declined telling him that Jesus Christ was her spouse and she had consecrated her virginity to him. Eventually the emperor had her condemned to death on a spiked wheel, but tradition says it shattered at her touch. She was finally beheaded and martyred at some point in the early 4th Century.
The historicity of St. Catherine has been difficult to pin down. Her story is one that seems to have originated in oral tradition during the Roman persecutions of the late 3rd to early 4th Centuries before Christianity was finally legalized under Constantine. The cult surrounding St. Catherine, not surprisingly, became popular in the Middle Ages. Given her gift of rhetoric, reason, and theological understanding in engaging in discourse with interlocutors, it is not surprising that a time of great learning was when her following developed.  With the reported discovery of her body at Mount Sinai in 800, many pilgrimages began and a great interest in Catherine among the faithful developed. By the end of the Middle Ages a great following was established and she was seen as a powerful intercessor in the Medieval period. She was revered as one of the most important female virgin-martyrs.
In many places her feast was celebrated with the utmost solemnity, servile work being suppressed and the devotions attended by great numbers of people. In several dioceses of France it was observed as a Holy Day of Obligation up to the beginning of the 17th century, the splendour of its ceremonial eclipsing that of the feasts of some of the Apostles. Numberless chapels were placed under her patronage and her statue was found in nearly all churches, representing her according to medieval iconography with a wheel, her instrument of torture.
Regardless of the exact historical details of her life, there is much that can be learned by her life, example, intercession, and pious following.


It is no mean thing to challenge an emperor who is known to put Christians to death. St. Catherine saw the injustice of the system and chose to do what she could about the evil she witnessed. While not all of us are called to march into the offices of heads of state, truth-be-told, we wouldn’t even get close to them these days, we must remember that we are called to defend the faith in charity and truth. There will be moments in our lives when we must ‘give an account for what we believe’ and that is very true in a culture that is becoming increasingly more intolerant of Christians. The Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was this past Saturday. Who do we say Jesus is? Is He the King of the Universe and the King of our own lives? There will be times when we must answer the charges, ignorance, or even hatred of others towards our Catholicism with great courage. Catherine of Alexandria is a great example of this courage in the face of persecutors and those who do not, or will not, understand.


Not every Christian is called to be a scholar, but every Christian is called to study and know the Faith they profess. Catherine’s example is a reminder to us that study is of great service in our own spiritual lives, as well as in those times we must engage with others. Study is something that should be done daily. In fact, Advent is a wonderful time to focus on studying the eschatology of our Faith and the Incarnation. It is in that season we wait for the Second Coming and the birth of the Word made flesh in a manger. Study allows us to grow in a deeper understanding and can also enrich our prayer life.


We live in a world where traditionally Catholic countries are falling into secularism while other countries, especially in Africa, are rising up in the Faith. There is a great need to evangelize a culture that has lost sight of Christianity and has replaced it with a listless nihilism. The symptoms of this abandonment should be obvious to us in light of what we see on the news daily and in much of the garbage that passes as television these days. We live in a culture that cannot even see that it is suffering and without purpose. It is our call as members of the laity to bring the world into conformation with the Blessed Trinity through His Catholic Church. And why wouldn’t we want to? We have been given the peace and joy that surpasses all understanding. We have been given Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, fully present in the Holy Eucharist. We have the answer to all of the pain, violence, and despair in the world. It is a gift that once poured into ourselves overflows out to all the people we meet in our daily lives.
Those who visited and were open to the truth professed by St. Catherine of Alexandria encountered Christ. They saw Him through her life. They converted to the Faith and they even gave their very lives as martyrs. Martyrdom does not come down from a water-down, bland version of Christianity. The courage to die for Christ is a profound grace, but it also comes from a great love, a real encounter. Those Christians dying on the beach in Libya not too long ago gave their lives because they knew Christ is King. They knew in the end; He is all that matters. How are we witnessing in our own lives? How are we bringing others to Christ in a world with so much darkness in it? St. Catherine gave every waking moment and every encounter to Christ and because of it, many came to Christ. It is time for us to rise up and bring others to Christ. Loving others means helping them to find the ultimate longing of their hearts and the very purpose of their lives, which is found in Jesus Christ and His Church. Let St. Catherine of Alexandria be a guide and intercessor in your life as you encounter others and live a life of holiness.
St. Catherine of Alexandria, ora pro nobis.


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, online high school theology teacher, and a graduate student. She is pursuing her Master's degree in Theology and considers herself to be a Thomist wanna-be. Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, holiness, the Sacraments, theology, philosophy, and Catholic Culture.  You can reach her at

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Homosexuality Is Not Sexuality - Crisis Magazine

Homosexuality Is Not Sexuality - Crisis Magazine

Homosexuality Is Not Sexuality

(c) The Royal London Hospital Museum & Archives; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Events of recent memory have left my head spinning in disbelief—”Caitlyn,” same-sex so-called “marriage,” three women “marrying” in South America, and, yes, “gay Catholics” and “chaste gay couples.” With me, you may wonder how all this has emerged in a short few decades of social upheaval.
I may have an answer: Society has constructed an unreal cultural landscape in which things that are not sexuality are passed off as sexuality. 
Even a majority of Catholics are, perhaps unwittingly, swallowing this unreality, hook, line, and sinker.
The fabric of this false landscape is language—language that frames everyone and everything in a way that fundamentally relativizes the truth about human nature and God’s real plan for us and our sexuality. I’d assert that this process all started with a single word: homosexuality.
Think about it. By all accounts, the word “homosexuality,” used in contrast to its also-coined counterpart “heterosexuality,” is just about 150 years old. Before this time in human history, there was no such thing as the conceptual construct of “orientation.” Sexual attractions did not define the human person, and people did not presume to assail God’s plan for human sexuality by categorizing attractions in a way that reduces God’s plan to one mere possibility among an ever-growing number of other “identities” and so-called “sexualities.”

A Flash-Flood of UnrealityFast-forward to the present. The 150-year-old crack in the dam has become a gaping fissure that allows modern minds and hearts to be flooded with some muddied and foul waters. Now everything is up for grabs because both our behaviors and our identities have become as fluid as the floodwater. Culture now grants us absolute permission to equivocate authentic sexuality with myriad counterfeits. This permission is safeguarded by coining even more terminology designed to protect the original insult to truth about sexuality, bringing about deeper and more deadly moral collapse.
This original “either/or-ing” of human sexuality—”orientation”—has made a mess of things. Now the meaning of God’s original plan for us is obscured and, worse, viewed as pure bigotry. Now it’s absolutely okay to be gay or straight or queer or genderfluid, or, or… Now we deal with sexual “minorities” who claim “erasure,” “homophobia,” and “othering” if you commit the cardinal social sin of … heteronormativity!
Now men who “feel” like women (and vice versa) must be affirmed rather than healed. Now men who know they are men are merely “cisgendered” out of relativistic respect for those who are “transgendered”—all because fluidity—not authentic sexuality—must be maintained at all costs. Now, even “gay sex” is treated as real sex rather than the unreal and aberrant mutual masturbation of deeply confused souls.
By saying all this, by the way, I’m the worst form of “hater”—worthy of condemnation and perhaps prosecution and imprisonment.

Let Sexuality Speak for ItselfToo often, we get caught up in the wrongness of the unreality without focusing on letting the reality—sexuality—speak for itself. It’s time to get back to basics—time to re-set the high bar of God’s plan as a high bar rather than as one mere “flavor” of sexual “identity” or “orientation” or behavior among many “okay” options. So, let’s answer this question: To what is sexuality ordered? In doing so, it should become crystal clear why homosexuality is not, in fact, sexuality. In the following assertions you’ll notice that I avoid using the terms “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” in favor of “same-sex attraction” and “sexuality,” for the sake of illuminating the realityof what is described by the terms.

Sexuality is ordered toward complementarityThis is so simple that even the youngest child “gets” this. There are two and only two sexual “identities”—man and woman, boys and girls. And they are made for each other. Complementarity is really “complete-mentarity.” As a man I do not possess what it means to be a woman, and vice versa. We complete each other. Same-sex attraction involves objective redundancy, not complementarity.

Sexuality is ordered toward total self-giftOnce we understand complementarity, we can understand that this “completion” necessarily involves a covenantal exchange of persons. Sexuality is not merely about an exchange of pleasure, or rights, or services, etc. It’s a gift of self that requires two things. First, self-mastery or self-possession. We cannot give what we do not possess. Second, a capacity to receive the other’s total self-gift. With SSA, “you cannot receive that which you already possess.” A man cannot receive a total self-gift of the person, body and soul, from another man. It’s impossible. The “ache” of sexual desire is the longing for completion that comes from the covenantal, personal exchange of man with woman.

Sexuality is ordered toward consummation. The mutual, complementary, total self-gift finds its fullest expression in the indissoluble unity of body and soul that takes place when husband and wife (not just sex-less “spouses” but male with female) come together in marital relations. With same-sex attraction, no such pathway toward consummation is even conceivable. Sexual acting out between two men or two women is brute parody of the reality of consummation.

Sexuality is ordered toward the good of permanence. The magnitude of the meaning of “consummation” cannot be exaggerated. There is no such thing, this side of Heaven, as a temporary “total self-gift.” The pathway to permanence arises precisely because a husband and wife (a man with a woman) are capable of willing the covenantal bond that can and must last for as long as they both shall live. It can and must find permanent expression (until death) in the mutual gift of self expressed fully in marital relations. Again, this is utterly inaccessible to two men or two women. Two people with SSA may say they “choose” permanence, but it’s an objectively “human-willed” and not “God-ordained” choice because they are incapable of “enfleshing” an authentic and total covenantal exchange of persons.

Sexuality is ordered toward the good of fidelity. Part of the “permanence” of total self-gift is the exclusivity of “forsaking all others.” Again, it’s irrational to suggest that someone can make a total self-gift to more than one person. Sexuality is ordered toward “the one.” Thus, another tenet of the unreal secular embrace of “orientation” is exposed here—namely, that sexuality is not concerned with any abstract or generic information about the kind of person that attracts you. Sexuality is about prayerfully discerning who the one real person might be with whom you can mutually make a covenantal self-gift. The abstraction of “orientation” is a distractionfrom the real purpose of sexuality. SSA again provides no avenue for the exclusivity that total self-gift requires.

Sexuality is ordered toward the good of children. Finally, sexuality offers the human person the possibility of “imaging” God’s love and likeness in a unique way—through pro-creation, creating “with” God. This is not merely about raising children (though the “education” of children is certainly just as much a primary end here as is procreation), but about raising up children with God. Our “consummation” of covenantal self-gift is, like the Blessed Trinity’s own, fruitful, moving beyond the “selves” of husband and wife and toward an immortal form of “consummation”—a child. In Heaven, by God’s design and plan, there will be one lasting fruit of earthly marital union: our children. Same-sex attraction obviously is utterly sterile, not in any way ordered toward this immensely meaningful finality of authentic sexuality.

Let’s Get RealNeither same-sex attraction nor the coined term “homosexuality” can rightly be considered either a form of, or a participation in, real sexuality. The reality that is same-sex attraction exists in total opposition to the reality that is sexuality. Perhaps this is why one finds this sentence in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Sexuality is ordered toward the conjugal love of a man and a woman. (CCC 2360)
Maybe this is also why the next paragraph in the Catechism (CCC 2361) quotes a crucial phrase from St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio (FC 11):
Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.
More important: Can we all pray that more people will stop cooperating in the failed social experiment of homosexuality, heterosexuality, orientation, etc.? The only “truly human” way to “real-ize” (as in make real) our sexuality is when it is properly ordered toward marital love.

Editor’s note: The image above is a detail from “The Marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales” painted by William Powell Frith in 1878.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Living the Motto of the Saints

Living the Motto of the Saints

Living the Motto of the Saints

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!”
“Never give up!” That is a very popular message on t-shirts here in the Philippines. I don’t know the history of this message on the shirts and why is it so popular. But this message always leaves me thinking, “This is the motto, the slogan, and the mindset of the Saints!” The saints are not those who never had failures in life or who never had grave sins in their lives or who never had struggles and sufferings in this life. The Saints are not those with a perfect history or a blissful future. The Saints are simply those who just chose never to give up.
Never gave up on what? Today’s First Reading from Revelations addressed to Christians being persecuted in the Roman empire of the first century A.D shows us three things in which the saints never gave up. First of all, they never gave up on belonging completely to God. They had been marked as belonging to God before the times of devastation, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servant of God.” God claimed them as His own even as they faced hardship. They never stopped acting out of the conviction that they and everything that they had now belonged to God.
Secondly, they never gave up on hoping and expecting all things from God. We find this in the song of the saints in heaven, “They cried out, ‘Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.’” Salvation and the means to attain it all came from God.
Thirdly, they never gave up on the life of bearing witness to Jesus Christ even in all the trials and distresses of life. “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Like Jesus, the faithful witness, they too bore witness to Him even to the point of death as they shared in the power of His blood shed for them.
By virtue of our being incorporated into Christ in Baptism, we are really marked as belonging to God as His own Children won by the blood of Christ. In the words of St. John in the Second Reading, “Beloved, see what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God. Yet so we are.” By virtue of this indelible mark on us as God’s children, God will never give up on us no matter our sins, failures, pains, worries, etc. This is not a feel good statement but one that should lead us not to give up on hoping in God completely and in witnessing to Jesus in all things. “Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as He is pure.”
St. John’s vision of the saints as “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue,” give us added reason not to give up – there is room for us too among the saints no matter what life has been like for us. We can receive forgiveness for all past sins through a good confession no matter how grievous or how many the sins may be. We can receive the grace to start again from prayer and from the sacraments especially the Eucharist. We can break from sinful addictions and tendencies and persevere in a life of sanctity in this world. We can receive the awesome and encouraging examples and supporting prayers of our saint brothers and sisters.
Jesus invites us to the blessed life of the saints through the Beatitudes in today’s Gospel. But we cannot live the beatitudes if we do not have the never-give-up attitude of the saints, never giving up on belonging completely to God, never giving up on hoping on God alone for everything, and never giving up on witnessing to Jesus in our life. How can we be poor in spirit or meek if we give up on belonging to God as His beloved children? How can we strive for a clean heart in this world of impurity if we give up on giving witness to Christ? How can we hunger and thirst for righteousness or bear persecution for the sake of righteousness if we give up on expecting all things necessary for this from God?
The life of Mary, Queen of all Saints, shows us that the saints are those who never gave up because they knew that God never gave up on them. Mary knew that she had been marked as belonging to God and that God would never give up on her as per the words of the Angel Gabriel, “Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God.” She never gave up on hoping to receive all things from God as she sang in her magnificat, “My soul rejoices in God my Savior.” She never gave up on giving witness to Him as she did at the wedding of Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.” At the Cross, during the darkest moment of her Son’s life on earth, Mary never gave up on belonging to Him, she never gave up on hoping and believing in a Resurrection and she never gave up on bearing witness to Jesus at a time when Jesus’ closest friends were too ashamed to associate with Him.
I have no doubt in my mind that Mary is in the business of making saints today because she helps us to cultivate this never-give-up attitude if we approach her with the right disposition to learn from her and to be the saints that we have been chosen and marked to be as God’s beloved children. When we turn to her in sincere prayer, she gives us a motherly reminder that we and all that we are belong to God now by virtue of our baptism, she shares with us that intense hope of hers that expects all things from God and she inspires us to continuously bear witness to Christ Jesus her Son even in the darkest moments. This is how we too will mature in our never-give-up attitude in imitation of the saints.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in world of pain and sin, where evil seems to triumph over good sometimes, where prayers seem to make little or no difference and God sometimes appear so far away from us, where it is more convenient to blend with the crowd than to bear the light of Christ in the world, etc. The temptation to give up is so strong. Today’s solemnity should remind us of our saintly brothers and sisters who passed through all these too and are saints today because they never gave up. We too can and should do the same.
Every Eucharist has two effects – a deepening of our consecration to God and a message of hope. As our belonging to God is strengthened in this Eucharist, we also hear the message of hope in Jesus’ words of consecration spoken over the bread and wine, “This is my body….This is my blood.” The message of hope is loud and clear – God never gives up on us as His own. If we too choose never to give up, we will live the motto of the saints here on earth and we too shall sing with them the hymn of the saints for all eternity, “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!”
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at