Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Person and Chastity

                                                THE PERSON and CHASTITY
                       from "Love and Responsibility" and how it relates to Theology of the Body.

                                 The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (2337)

“Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of man and woman.”

The beginning of chapter 3 is entitled “The Rehabilitation of Chastity” and in fact we don't have to look too closely to see that this title alone can sum up the entire work of Pope Saint John Paul II's “Theology of the Body”. At the heart of the TOB is God's self giving love that is rooted in the Holy Trinity, Pope Saint John Paul II writes about the nature of what it means to be human and made in the image of God as well as reaffirming the essential goodness of the human body. In his TOB Pope Saint John Paul II starts to speak of the original solitude1, original unity and original innocence of man.2 This original state has been corrupted and Pope Saint John Paul II explains that chastity is not evil, it is the foundation of true happiness, freedom, love. Chastity is a virtue to moderate or adjust the sensual experience of man of attraction or sexual impulses to the reality that is in front of you, a person.The culture that we live in today is a pleasure seeking only culture, and on the surface it sounds like seeking pleasure would be a good thing, but that is not what we are made for. In fact since the sexual freedom of the 1960's it could be hard to argue against that the world has become even more morally corrupt.Today people believe happiness is found in individual desires. We are a society based on secular humanism where we seek pleasure and consumerism, it is not about one's soul.But if we look at chastity in it's proper sense it can be beautiful. It enables man and woman to be free from being enslaved as objects for pleasure use only , chastity is rooted in an “attitude toward a person of the opposite sex which derives from sincere affirmation of the worth of that person”.3

                                                  Fr.Pablo Santa Maria RCAV

Pope Saint John Paul II emphasizes that neither sensuality nor carnal desire is itself a sin and that Catholic theology sees in concupiscence not sin, “but the germ of sin”4. Sin enters only when the will consents, and “sinful love is often saturated in emotion not leaving room for anything else.”5 This results in the false conclusion that what is pleasant is good. So the will is very important, the will can prevent the misguided approach to love, “the will can and must be guided by objective truth.”6 Chastity is linked to the cardinal virtue of temperance.Using the theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas7 Pope Saint John Paul II stresses that Chastity is “simply a matter of efficiency in controlling the concupiscent impulses”8 As we can see chastity is a positive virtue, it is saying 'yes' to the value of the human person, it enables a person to come into possession of his sexual desires and feelings, not to be controlled by them. Humans have a fallen nature and sex will always remain a temptation just as much or more than material items.The pride of life can take over people when they are filled with the desire for power and prestige, people will only find true happiness when they are in union with God, filled with the life of God.9 A lustful man is not capable of living the way God wants, of us being a gift to one another. For a long time I resented the virtue of chastity, although I always respected those who upheld the virtue I have always felt that it is only for a chosen few and not for everyone, especially myself. I suppose part of this problem had to do with the culture I am brought up in of hollywood films and television where there is very rarely anything of moral value especially in the realm of romantic relationships. I have learned that anyone can have feelings and desire for another person, but not everyone has the virtue and commitment to make self-giving love possible. I have experienced that a man without chastity cannot selflessly love his partner for who she is as a person, because my heart was so preoccupied with the emotional and sensual pleasure I would receive from her.

                                                        Fr.Pablo Santa Maria RCAV

Pope Saint John Pul II looks at shame and writes about the shame of love as well as shamelessness. Pope Saint John Paul II claims shame comes “when something which of its very nature or in view of its purpose ought to be private passes the bounds of a person's privacy and somehow becomes public”.10 It has already been discussed that the existence of each person is an interior one and a person can only reveal themselves to those who they choose to reveal to, a person will experience shame when their interior is exposed unwillingly to others.A person feels shamed when their sexuality is regarded as an object of enjoyment. This is why the world needs a modern modesty approach to sexuality. Modesty is in fact “to avoid what is shameless”.11 Shame can be seen as a natural form of self defence for each person, this shame can be absorbed by love, absorption does not mean that it is eliminated but rather it is reinforced and this is where true love can be realized.This is especially true for spouses who are (or should be ) united in a person affirming love. The Saint writes “sexual intercourse between spouses is not a form of shamelessness legalized by outside authority, but is felt to be in conformity with the demands of shame” unless “the spouses themselves make it shameless by their way of performing it”.12 Only true love, one that is rooted in the will to affirm the value of the person, can absorb shame.There are three types of shame: cosmic shame, man naked in the universe and is incredibly vulnerable and is now subject to nature, imminent shame, which is an interior shame that can be fear generated ( living in a world where we have no control) and finally relative shame, the shame we experience when we have interaction with others.13 Pope Saint John Paul II also wants to distinguish the difference between physical and emotional shamelessness. The former describes “any mode of being or behaviour on the part of a particular person in which the values of sex as such are given such prominence that they obscure the essential value of the person” and the later “consists in the rejection of that healthy tendency to be ashamed of reactions and feelings which make another person merely an object of use because of the sexual values belonging to him or her”.14

Towards the end of chapter 3 Pope Saint John Paul II discusses continence. A continent person is one who can control his sexual desires and this is needed if love is to flourish. Continence says the Saint is the efficiency in curbing the lust of the body by the exercise of the will and it is indispensable for self mastery.But self mastery is not all that is required.15 Lust destroys the original idea of union and it causes people to use other people, lust should not define us.One needs to recognize the superiority of the individual person over sexual urges towards that person. For the full virtue of chastity to exist “the value of the person must be not merely understood by the cold light of reason but felt.”16 Above all says the Saint “continence cannot be an end in itself”.17 Tenderness originates in sentiment which is the “tendency to make one's own the feelings and mental states of another person” and “ whoever feels it actively seeks to communicate his feeling of close involvement with the other person and his situation”18 Tenderness is very different from sensuality, which is oriented to the body as a possible object of enjoyment, because it is oriented to a human being of the other sex. Sensuality needs to be educated by continence, which is rooted in the will.In the conclusion of this chapter on The Person and Chastity Pope Saint John Paul II enforces the consequences of original sin and points out that only self sacrificial love revealed in Christ can enable men and women to be fully chaste. “The Gospel teaches continence as a way of showing love.”19
Our bodies have a nuptial meaning because they reveal the difference between men and women and the call to holiness, which is what we need to be a gift in the image of God.”The human body includes right from the beginning the nuptial attributes, that is, the capacity of expressing love.”20 Jesus gave us a new commandment to love one another as Jesus loves us ( John 13:34). This is the spine of the Theology of the Body. Both male and female are called to be a gift and remain in the image of the Holy Trinity. It is only through this gift that we can fulfill the meaning of our existence.
In the Gospel of Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” This verse ( along with many others) could sum up the teaching of the Gospel. If you have a pure heart, you will see God. A heart that is free from attachments to physical and material items. Having a pure heart is required, that is how it was in the beginning and what Pope Saint John Paul constantly refers to throughout Theology of the Body, to return to the beginning of man's original state.

1Man and Woman He Created Them Page 150 audience 5:6
2Love and Responsibility Page 145
3Ibid Page 146
4Ibid Page 162
5Ibid Page 163
6Ibid Page 166
7Ibid Page 168
8Ibid Page 169
9TOB lecture notes , Oct.7/13
10Love and Responsibility
11Ibid Page 177
12Ibid Page 185
13 Lecture Sept.25/13
14Love and Responsibility 187,188
15Man and Woman He Created Them Audience 46-47
16Ibid Page 199
17Ibid Page 197
18Ibid Page 201, 202
19Ibid Page 208

20Man and Woman He Created Them Page 161, 162

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

You Can't Stop Whats Coming


Here I am reflecting on one of my favourite films.

"No Country For Old Men"

There are many key moments in this film and in fact there are no wasted moments at all (as far as I can tell) every shot is for a reason.I will discuss a few key elements but the underlying main theme of the film which is reflected in its title is people keep thinking as they get older that things are changing around them as they age, when in reality, nothing in the history of any society has changed ever. Technology is different,music evolves,people invent different ways to kill each other but the crime of murder,the thought of evil,the sadness of aftermath and collateral damage is always the same, at the heart of it all its always the same cycle.It is the inevitable fall of the old guard as society evolves into something more uncontrollable and machinist, evil has taken a hold and it is not quantifiable even for established lawmen like Ed Tom Bell. 

Anton Chigurh represents a different type of moral, probably the most realistic moral that people accept today, that randomness by large, controls your fate as opposed to Bells’s dream which is a life that resembles most conventional stories.

It's a humbling & hard lesson when a man finally realizes he has little control of things close to his heart, regardless of what his expectations were. Llewelyn Moss comes across a drug deal in the desert that has gone bad and the desert floor is littered with bodies.One of the men is still alive although close to death and begs Llewellyn for water, which Llewelyn claims he has none.He does not try and help the man nor does he go seek the police for help. Llewellyn then tracks down the “last man standing” along with a sacthel filled with 2 million dollars. This gives Llewllellen a another important moral choice, should he take the money or turn it in. He takes the money and by doing this he co-operated with evil, which leads him to be pursued relentlessly by the Machiavellian Nihilistic  Anton Chigurh. Lewellyn convinces himself that he can get away with taking the money. He obviouly believes the risk is worth it and that lady fortunae is on his side, so he wants to take advantage of it. The relentless pursuit of Chigurh is a perfect symbol of how evil is always after us and will not let us go, we try to play a self deceiving game where we convince ourselves “I can get away with this” But evil will have its way once we get involved with it.

In the film Chigurh kills good people and bad people and sometimes he will decide his victims fate with the flip of a coin.Chigurh is a great symbol for the inevitability of death, in our daily lives we don’t give much thought to death, we attempt to avoid it, block it out but it eventually will break through. Chigurh just like a lawman values justice, but a justice that was on his terms and his alone.Chigurh’s principles and adherence to his "moral code", evil as it may seem,I think did represent the pervasive evil in society, which is why it would make sense for his character to go on in the end of the film.Moss’ intentions might have been noble, i.e. retire his wife, but he was attached to nothing but the money and that is what influenced his every move and that was ultimately his downfall. In contrast Chigurh had no attachments, but stuck to his mission of recovering the money, for an unknown source. Chigurh seems to be the devil with principles, but in comparison to Moss and Bell has the most principles. Chigurh is the most untainted character in the film; there are numerous shots of him washing his hands, making sure his boots don't get dirty, taking off filthy socks, ect. And then there is Bell's perplexed reaction to Chigurh, coming across as frustrated and uninterested. Bell did not want to face this evil. In contrast, Moss was willing to gamble and face evil head on at whatever expense.

Chigurh cannot control the flip of the coin but he controls which of the victims he offers the coin toss in the first place. With this logic when Chigurh feels like killing someone to save his own ego he can flip a coin giving himself a 50-50 chance of being able to kill and pass the act off as God’s will (fate ) rather than his own. Hence the avoidance of personal responsibility.His aim is to make his victims feel as if it is their own fault that they are going to die. He makes them question their own life decisions and actions so that the victims cannot hold Chigurh accountable.

As stated above there are many “key” revealing scenes to this film however the crux scene for me is when Bell goes to visit his uncle Ellis.
“the more time you spend trying to get back whats been took from you,the more thats going out the door”
Moss contemplates that good and evil aren't meaningful and that life is just random and chaotic events. This scene shows that Bell has succumbed to a meaningless life (he feels he has lost god, lost his place in the world and that morals and ethics are fading in his area). Bell never confronts Chigurh and Chigurh is ultimately bested by his own principles of chance and fate with the random car crash at the end.

 "After awhile you just got to get a tourniquet on it."

The other man in the room (the accountant?) then asks if Chigurh is going to kill him. Chigurh says, "That depends. Do you see me?" That's called foreshadowing, folks! Chigurh is there in room 114 (at least for a while). Bell just doesn't see him, but notices the dime on the floor is showing heads. Remember, that's what the gas station attendant called (and won with).
I feel it symbolizes the duality of Bell-Chigurh. And what about the parallels between the three characters? Chigurh says "Hold still" and the next line of the movie is Moss saying "Hold Still". When injured, both trade shirts for cash. Chigurh and Bell drink milk and watch their reflections in the TV set. They all share traits and they never meet each other.

He doesn't want to meet something he "don't understand.”

 The world isn't descending into moral incomprehensibility. The world has always been this way:

Bell feels "overmatched" by the evil he has been facing. And God doesn't look like He's going to rescue the situation.

A few valid points were taken from Word on Fire Ministries.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blessed Be God

                                  This is one of the best prayer books I have ever owned.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pope John Paul II Funeral

Soon to be canonized, I was there 9 years ago. Here are some photos from my trip.

Saint Pope John Paul II ora pro nobis.