Thursday 27 February 2014

Death, Dying and Dignity

Our time on Earth is brief. Every day, week, month, year just seems to elapse quicker than did the last.  None of us knows the hour of our death, which is one reason why Catholics pray to Our Lady, that at the end of our sojourn in this life we may be granted a merciful judgement, having died in God's friendship, fortified by the Sacraments.

Catholics used to describe such an end as a 'good and happy death'.  In that sense, Catholics are keen on euthanasia - which means 'good death', because while we may require purification after death, our long term vision is nothing more or less than the Beatific Vision of God Himself. That's a good death.

A bad death is the one in which a person dies in a state of mortal sin, unrepentant. Those who die in such a state, according to the Church's teaching, have their state fixed in rejection of God and spend eternity eternally separated from Him in a place we know as Hell.

So, what would constitute an ugly death? Well, actually the ugly death is every death, since death is the worst possible thing anyone can imagine. It is the separation of the soul from the body. It is the end of man's time in this World - the only World to which we are accustomed. A man may, possibly, go through a life knowing few people, he can cut himself off from all social contact if he wills, but he knows the World, for it is all he has known. The other side of the veil, to man, is unknown, and it is the unknown that strikes terror and dread into the soul of man. The end of temporal existence is a horror.

And even God, Himself, not only knows this by virtue of his omniscience, but because the second Person of the Trinity experienced it when He became Man and 'suffered death and was buried'. God, in Jesus Christ, knows the terrible reality of facing death in all its reality. Few, if anyone, would maintain that death is a good thing. Objectively, death is a bad thing - even an evil - despite the fact that it is the just penalty incurred by man in the aftermath of the Fall.

So, if death, it is universally agreed, is a 'bad thing', then why would anyone advocate either suicide or encourage or abett the death of themselves or another?  If death, terrible as it is, is an accepted part of human experience, then surely we human beings would desire that death be postponed or that life be honoured or cherished as long as it is possible. Why should anyone desire to hasten death, if it is the least attractive of all human experiences?

Euthanasia enthusiasts, or 'assisted dying' advocates argue that because human suffering, illness, and pain are so horrendous, that a person should be able to choose death over life with an incurable or debilitating disease or illness, or a condition that leads a person to a point at which their life is 'no longer worth living' or a life which is no longer worthy of being called a human life, pointing at the perceived loss of dignity that many conditions bring about.

Yet, hitherto the 21st century, human societies, largely, have held that while sickness, illness, pain, dementia, disability and the range of sufferings which afflict the human race are evils, the worst of all evils is death itself.  The idea that the best possible solution to weakness, sickness, illness, disease, suffering and the loss of perceived dignity or purpose, or the ability to be 'productive', or some human imperfection is death has historically been anaethama to the West. The only way in which death has been prescribed as a solution to humanity's ills has been as punishment for a terrible crime. This is true - that is - until Germany became the first country to legalise voluntary euthanasia under the rule of one Adolf Hitler. Aside from this, no other culture or community that has embraced suicide as integral to its philosophy has been widely condemned as the result of an either religiously motivated or pathologically-motivated cult.

So, why should it be considered that the movement in the United Kingdom advocating 'assisted suicide' as the answer to human suffering is any different to the suicide cults which have preceded it, or the voluntary euthanasia programme of Nazi Germany, that paved the way for a less voluntary euthanasia programme of which the World recoils in horror?

The argument proposed in favour of assisted suicide, by such public figures as Baroness Warnock, Lord Falconer and a growing range of celebrities including Terry Pratchett, isthat human beings have the 'right to die'. And who in their 'right mind' could disagree with that? If there is most peole agree with it is the notion that human beings are endowed with certain 'rights'. Some would suggest that these rights come from a Creator, while others would suggest some other source - for example - a benevolent and wise State.  And who, indeed, could possibly argue against the 'right to die'? The very phrase the 'right to die' has become a cry for freedom and emancipation from a State that refuses its citizens autonomy over its own personal property - our lives.

Yet, no Churchman, no serious Churchman could argue against the 'right to die', since it is a right that comes to us merely be being born into this World. What someone could question, however, is whether anyone has the right to choose when they die.

Despite the fact that death is the most feared of human experiences, precisely because it represents an unknown state as the end of existence as we know it, perversely is the very reason why advertising it as a 'choice' can be made so appealing.  Since because the hour and manner of our death, with the suffering that precedes it, is so frightening, and because it is something over which we humans have no control, if we can at least control one aspect of death - the timing - then it provides us with an illusion of safety, security and control that we do not have if we allow it to occur naturally.

And, futher, if we can convince ourselves that the manner and hour of our death are matters of our own choosing - that it can be controlled - then such a 'service' as 'assisted suicide' can even be sold to us, as it has been, most notably in Switzerland at its notorious Dignitas clinics. And being 'sold' it is, under the advertisement 'dignity in dying', a phrase to which we shall return later. But let us first consider where we are.

In order for us to be convinced that we can procure an 'assisted suicide' in good conscience, because such a service we consider our 'right', then we first have to believe that the timing of our own death is our choice. We have, too, to be convinced that our life is our possession. 'It's my life' to do with 'what I choose' is the oft heard phrase.

Catholic theology does not prescribe that as human beings we have no autonomy over our actions or lives. Society is still impressed, for example, by those who risk their lives to safe others. To do such a thing is considered still to be heroic - to show selfless love in risking or laying down your life for another. If a man pushes another man out of the way of a bus and himself is killed then he has sacrificed his life for that of another in order to defend a human life. Similarly, Christ said 'nobody takes my life away from me,' but that 'I lay it down of my own free will'. Human beings have autonomy over their affairs by virtue of our free will. So, we see, then, that the Church has no objection to the idea that we are in possession of our own lives.

But if we are to say that ownership of human life belongs to us as individuals, then we must ask the question: to whom does this life belong after death? It may be 'my life' now, but is it 'my life' after the moment of 'my death', since I no longer exist in the body? Like all human possessions, life, whether you believe in God, or not, is surely only on loan. The Catholic Church posits that, like all human possessions, whether it be an antique, a family heirloom, a favourite picture or a book, life too belongs to a person until death. Like any other possession, ownership of life must pass from the current owner onto another who is in receipt of it.

Whatever way you look at it, we can say 'It's my life' while we are living, but the claim loses all sense and meaning when we are dead since we can no longer claim ownership of even the clothes we are wearing, or the clock on the wall that tells of the time of our death. The clock will remain perhaps far long after we have been there. Perhaps the clock will tell the right time for many of its owners until the End of Time itself, but we? We shall have long gone. Even by objective standards, anyone would think that the clock is more important than a human life since it may well last and be treasured on earth for longer - far longer - than not just the person who owned it, but the memory of a person himself in the hearts of men.

The clock may be passed onto a relative or a third party in this World, but a human life can be passed onto nobody in this World. So, after death, if we can no longer say, 'It's my life to do with as I will', then to whom does ownership of this human life pass? The Catholic Church would say: to the God who made it - to the God who redeemed it - to the God who gave that individual the free will to either cherish it and honour it, or, conversely to dishonour it and to destroy it.

Further, the claim that 'it is my life to do with as I will' is given greater force and gravity by a sober assessment of the statement, since the possibility exists that the one who makes the claim does so knowing that something within himself is immortal. For if I say, 'It is my body, it is my life to do with as I will' and do not believe that something within me is immortal then I appear as a fool, since those around me know full well that while my life is my possession, the lease expires upon my death. It only makes logical sense if I say it in the knowledge that something within me belongs to me, is indeed mine, forever and that wherever it is that I go after death, I will take that 'I', that 'my' with me to that place. In order that 'its my life' make sense I have to believe I am immortal in some sense or that something within me is infinite, despite the fact that my bodily existence is finite. Therefore, the statement that it is 'my life, my body' only makes logical sense if I believe that it is also 'my immortal soul'. Now, you see the distinction, because while a life belongs to a man in this World and all life goes out of a man upon death and returns to his Creator, the Author of Life, the soul too belongs to a man, a soul which either lives forever happily with God in eternity after a period of purgation, or does not.

So, we see now that the claim to assisted suicide upon the grounds that 'its my life' is not so simple as it first appears, when we assume that we can claim it, in some instrinsic sense, forever, and that it is only when we do so that our bold claim makes sound sense. Yet, it is precisely at this point that our argument that we can procure this service of 'assisted suicide' falls down, since if I have a soul, a soul that lives forever, then I would be wise to do what I can to preserve my soul and place my death trustfully in the hands of my Creator, for He has entrusted this gift of life to me for His service and glory. For me to destroy that which He has made, even my own self, who I may either love or loathe, is to destroy that great gift of life which He gave me. Even were we not to have the Ten Commandments which help us very much in this matter - this decision of life and death - then it would be wise for me to pray fervently for guidance in this very important matter, before I either kill myself, or freely allow another party to do it for me, since if I live forever in the state in which I have died, then that decision will have serious consequences for me when I approach the Seat of Judgment which is nothing other than my Conscience in the light of God Himself.

Now, we live in a society which is vastly more atheistic and secular in belief than were previous generations and, as a Catholic, all I can say is that, given what the Church teaches about both suicide and murder as grave dangers to the immortal souls of those who commit them, the best that we can say of those Governments, parts of Governments, celebrities and children's books authors currently considering or promoting the idea of  'assisted suicide' as a potential answer to a host of modern day problems, economic problems, as well as social and societal ills, is that they have not thought them through very well. And, all I have discussed, so far, is the awful reality of death that we must all undergo, for 'after death, comes judgment'. From what I hear of the Church's mystics, even purgatory is a fate worse than physical pain and incurable terminal disease in this life.

We have not yet even considered the huge social ramifications involved in the 'assisted suicide' debate. That will have to be dealt with in the next post. Suffice to say, however, that the trends emerging in the United Kingdom, as well as other countries signalling an interest in assisted suicide, is that both the State and the Media consider that while our right to life is arbitrary and at the mercy of doctors, nurses, mothers and fathers, our 'right to die' could be deemed, in the future, absolutely guaranteed. It was guarateed already, of course, its just the timing that is so crucial.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Richard Dawkins: Poster Boy for 21st Century Eugenics

Every band needs a front man, otherwise the message is never delivered. Every song has a message, whether that song is banal, or indeed, thought-provoking. And, the more I hear from the ubiquitous Richard Dawkins, the more I suspect that the 'new atheism' that he shouts from the rooftops with his own brand of mysterious infallibility is not quite as empty a belief system as I had at first thought. Far from it, in fact, Dawkins is full of belief. Richard Dawkins is a believer. It is what he believes that makes his message so dangerous, rather than what he does not believe which is, as we know, God.

See, Richard Dawkins may be an atheist, but Richard Dawkins is not just any atheist - he's an atheist with a belief system that stems from his own education and expertise in evolution, Darwinism and genetics. His background is biology and, as far as I can see, Professor Dawkins rose to a degree of fame in the United Kingdom mainly through his Royal Institution Christmas Lectures back in 1991. Since then, through his books and excessive media grandstanding, Dawkins has received the ear of the general public of the United Kingdom to an astonishing degree which would be unthinkable for any Churchman.

It is notable that the prestigious Royal Institution lectures have been graced with some big names before Dawkins, names such as the famous eugenicist and British Eugenics Society member, Julian Huxley, the first Director of UNESCO and brother of the author of Brave New World, Aldous. Members of this society, now known as the Galton Institute, have included Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes, John Maynard Keynes, Neville Chamberlain and William Beveridge among a host of other 'luminaries'. Nowadays, the Institute is more coy of its membership. I know, because I emailed them and asked for a list of members, a request which was refused me. However, the Galton Institute's President and Vice President and supporting staff are named on its website and both are eminent geneticists. Given the history of the Institute and its well documented churning out of propagandists for eugenics and those who practiced it in their chosen specialist fields, the names now mentioned on its hierarchy are interesting.

In fact, if you read the list of those who have given the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in the past, mysteriously, some of the same names appear on the list of those who we do know are key players in the Galton Institute. Sir Walter Bodmore is one who has given a Christmas lecture at the Royal Institution. There are others. In fact, there are quite a few. As recently as 2009, Professor Steve Jones, good friend of Richard Dawkins was the President of the Galton Institute. Another sworn atheist and hater of the Catholic Church, Jones is essentially a geneticist and genetics is the field which continues to ‘pioneer’ new research into the fabric of the human DNA – and – therefore, delve into the fabric of society itself.

And in order to understand what Dawkins actually believes, you have to understand the scientific fundamentalism and empirical reductivism which he espouses so vocally. Dawkins is just one man, of course, but he is undoubtedly the voice of an atheistic movement that prizes science and empiricism above all other avenues of human enquiry. In fact, Dawkins’s atheism is not particularly interesting. What does interest me is what he does believe and in order to understand what Dawkins does believe, we have to examine Darwinism and how many Darwinists including, I would suggest, Dawkins himself, apply Darwin’s theories to the human person and to human society at large.

While many credit his Darwinism as his greatest strength, it is, ultimately, Dawkins’s greatest weakness and it is a weakness that must be exposed in order to protect society from the barbarity of the real belief system of this man and a considerable number of his associates, friends and followers. Allow me to elaborate as to why this is the case.

In the years after Charles Darwin’s death, the scientist’s explosive theories were presented as a body blow to the Church and to religions and, up to a point, they were, because the processes of Creation were cast in a new light that caused doubt in the existence of a Creator.

There can be little doubt that Darwinism shook the faith of many especially in Europe and it is an easily forgotten irony that Darwinism, having caused a great loss of Christian faith, also gave rise to an ideology that ran in total contradiction to the Christian faith and that led to the barbaric cruelty of Auschwitz, in which a huge number of men, women and children died at the hands of Hitler’s executioners. This ideology was, of course, Social Darwinism. It was then, and is now, Social Darwinism, rather than evolutionary theory itself, that poses the great threat to human society that we are now seeing ‘through a glass, darkly’ every time we pick up a newspaper.

Evolutionary theory is about examining and explaining how nature works and learning more about it. Social Darwinism is applying Darwin’s theories to mankind with inherently destructive consequences as encapsulated by the phrase ‘the survival of the fittest’.

You see. It is no coincidence that Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes and a veritable army of eugenicists were members of the British Eugenics Society because the Eugenics Society was, and is still, as its name suggests, very much about people rather than plants. Eugenics means simply ‘good birth’. In the minds of eugenicists there are ‘good’ human births and there are ‘bad’ human births. The Galton Institute – to this very day – cherishes Darwin’s theories but more importantly, still – to this very day – applies them to human beings in its lectures and research, available on the internet, in a manner which robs human beings of their inherent dignity as human beings ‘made in the image and likeness of God’.

Historians can point to the various factors that led to the Holocaust which claimed the countless lives of those deemed by the Nazi State as ‘unfit’ for society. They can talk about the terrible economic climate of the day. They can discuss the decadence into which society in the Weimar Republic had fallen and the search for some kind of order. They can talk about the grievances held by the population in the wake of World War I. However, what historians cannot deny is the role that the ideology of Social Darwinism played in the destruction of European Jewry and a host of other people deemed by the Nazi regime as ‘unfit’ for society, including the mentally ill, the handicapped, the homosexuals, those seen as a drain on the economy and all those who Hitler and his supporters saw as ‘unfit’ for society.

With the rise in Social Darwinist ideology and its attending scientific breach in the hull of the Church and the faith of Europe came a movement so cold-hearted, so brutal, so barbaric and so reductivist of the human person and man’s place in the World that the moral foundations of that society collapsed and an extermination process so chilling that it still haunts Europe to this day became possible and executable – and it all came to pass via the powerful arms of the State. Yet, without Darwin’s theories being applied to humankind, it may never have happened at all.

After the horror of the Holocaust, eugenics received a great deal of negative publicity as it became apparent that the ideology that drove the Nazi regime and which was adopted by many in Germany (and other parts of rest of Europe and the USA) had led to human destruction on a hitherto unprecedented scale. Well, it is unprecedented, if you do not count the number of abortions which have taken place in the World since that time.

Eugenics may have received negative press in the aftermath of the Holocaust, but it is blatantly obvious that, just as Nazi war criminals managed to find escape justice and flee to safety in South America, like Dr Josef Mengele, eugenics managed to discreetly smuggle itself into the very fibre of human societies in the West – even those societies like Great Britain – which ostensibly fought the Nazis and their evil, destructive and ruinous ideology. I have already pointed out that this could not have taken place without the sexual revolution and I shall not labour the point, but in order for eugenics to become a part of British life, sexual taboos had to be broken and the fundamental underpinnings of society had to be destroyed. Without the sexual revolution, it would have been impossible for the liberal State to redefine every sphere of human activity to suit its own ends. You could not redefine marriage to include homosexual marriage without the sexual revolution.

You could not liberalise divorce law without the sexual revolution. You could not have IVF without the sexual revolution which separated the sexual act and procreation and as I’ve already said, you could not legalise abortion without the sexual revolution. It was the method by which marriage, sex, personhood, human reproduction, the family, morality, fertility and, ultimately, you and me, could be redefined. The sexual revolution was wholly necessary to placing at the very heart of society, the individual and the State, the promotion of an ideology of a latently eugenic persuasion. Because of that revolution in our understanding of sexuality and fertility, we allowed ourselves to be redefined because of the temptation that was put in our way and, as this essay will assert, as we have sown, so shall we reap,

Why? Because now that every society in the West has been persuaded to voluntarily control our fertility, buy into the notion of sex without consequences, separate children from the sexual act, redefine ourselves along the lines of sexual identity, forget or disregard the true meaning of marriage and the raft of consequences of that revolution, we run the huge risk of moving into a period in which all of these things can pass, even without our notice, into the hands of the State. It doesn’t happen overnight, of course, but slowly, surely, we can see the State asserting itself over matters which, 50 years ago, would be absolutely unthinkable, because 50 years ago, the institutions of marriage and the institution of the family and public morality informed by Christianity was far stronger. That’s not to say that there aren’t Churchmen listed in the British Eugenics Society membership list from yesteryear, but then, sadly, that’s Anglicanism for you.

So, how does this all relate to where we find ourselves today? Well, when His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI came to visit the United Kingdom, His Holiness upset a number of people in the National Secular Society for drawing a link between atheism and tyrannical regimes which disregard the dignity of the human person and destroy those who both the State and society have a duty to protect. He talked of the horrors of Nazism and linked it to atheism which denies objective moral values and thereby takes a subjective view of the value attributable to human beings, made, we would say, ‘in the image and likeness of God’. His Holiness remarked that it is when faith, religion and conscience are pushed to the private sphere and driven from the public sphere that it is then that the objective morality of societies are destroyed. It is no coincidence that His Holiness should have said such things at this time in the history of the United Kingdom because His Holiness can see that the trends taking place in the UK and Europe are only going in one direction.

One man who led the campaign against Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom was Professor Richard Dawkins. His letter to The Guardian was published in the days running up to the Papal Visit. My letter was, surprisingly, published the following day, though it was signed by ordinary Catholics, rather than a host of celebrities. One of Dawkins’s other signatories was Professor Steve Jones, the eminent geneticist, atheist and former Galton Institute President. Now, ostensibly, these two figures in British life wanted to arrest Pope Benedict XVI for running an ‘international pederast ring’ called the Catholic Church. I would assert, however, that there is far more to these two men’s deep and violent opposition to the Catholic Church than the sexual abuse crisis.

See, in the modern mind, after years of press reports, the Catholic Church is synonymous with paedophilia, cover up and corruption. However, it also stands for something else and despite the extraneous sins of some of Her priests and members it stands above all for Her Divine Founder, Jesus Christ, of course, but also for the unique dignity of every human person from conception to natural death, ‘from the womb, to the tomb’.

The Catholic Church has a totally and radically different understanding of the definition human person to that which is posited by Professor Steve Jones and Professor Richard Dawkins. These two men are Darwinists and, more importantly than that, they are Social Darwinists. They are, instinctively, eugenicists. Both are on record as holding views on ‘good births’ and ‘bad births’ that are reprehensible to the Catholic Church for whom each and every person, regardless of their condition is to be valued and treated with dignity. Richard Dawkins, as recently as this year, can be viewed endorsing the possibility of infanticide for newborn disabled babies. Professor Steve Jones’s Presidency of the Galton Institute guarantees his eugenic credentials. Why are these things so rarely discussed in the mainstream media? You might well ask, but the media couldn’t possibly comment.

And the reason the media couldn’t possibly comment is because eugenics is fashionable again. Thanks largely to genetics, the NHS and pre-natal scanning, it has experienced a revival in an age which, again, has lost its moral foundations. In the modern media, eugenics cannot be criticized without the left and elements of ‘the right’ calling anything that sounds like criticism ‘hate speech’. Few in the media, for instance, criticize IVF, even though IVF has been widely reported as being explicitly eugenic, in selecting embryos with the right colour eyes, the right colour skin, the right colour hair, keeping the ones that are healthy and destroying all the rest. Only a fantasist could observe these trends and not call IVF what it most assuredly has become – eugenics.

In the modern media, abortion is criticized as eugenic and morally outrageous when it becomes apparent that doctors in London, Birmingham and Manchester are signing through abortion requests for parents who want a boy and not a girl. That’s called gendercide and the Government ‘promises to investigate it’. However, nobody, or very few, will criticize abortion on the grounds of disability, such as Downs Syndrome or even abortions procured for cosmetic reasons such as ‘cleft palate’ and ‘cleft lip’ even though both are operable and curable. We are at a stage in our history when eugenics is such a deeply embedded part of British life that doctors on the NHS express total shock and even dismay when parents tell them that even though they know that their unborn baby will be born with a disability, they don’t want the ‘seek and destroy’ order to go ahead. Professionals in the BMA just don’t understand why any woman or set of parents, wouldn’t want to destroy their unborn child because it is imperfect.

Professor Steve Jones has worked for the UCL where ‘pioneering’ research in human embryology yields few miracle cures for humanity’s ills, but humanity itself is stripped of dignity and farmed in a laboratory and has its DNA crossed with animal DNA to form hybrids in order to find cures to diseases which never appear and all with the blessing of the State.

Both the State and leading atheist and Darwinist, Richard Dawkins, are for all of these things: abortion, IVF, human embryology, eugenics, and, ultimately, the weeding out of the ‘unfit’ from human society by stealth and all with the general approval of the British public. All this has been sold to the British public as ‘progress’ and the British public, while remaining uncomfortable about aspects of all of it, go along with it because we trust our Government with all of these things, even, yes even the power over the creation of human life itself – even human reproduction itself. At the moment, these things – abortion, IVF, artificial contraception and human embryology are undertaken (aside from the human embryos destroyed in abortion, IVF and embryology) on a voluntary basis, but there are signs that suggest that this may not be the case forever.

I would say to you, ‘We had better hope that this extraordinary power over the creation and destruction of human life is not one day used against us,’ but there really is no point, because if you think that these technologies and methods of birth control were designed to just help out the odd childless couple here, or ‘assist’ the ‘reproductive freedom’ of the odd poor, pregnant mother there, then you are, at best, an optimistic and trusting individual of the State or you are a very naïve person indeed and if you think that any State with these kinds of powers is trustworthy then I would say that you are a fool, because ‘power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

Power can be no more absolute than the power to create life and to bring about death. That, after all, as the Catholic Church says and as Professors Steve Jones and Richard Dawkins deny, is the sovereign role not of some mythical ‘sky-fairy’ but of Almighty God Himself. History bears witness to the fact that, regardless of what people say of Him, God is a lot better at being God than men are and when men try to play God, or usurp His role in the giving and taking human life, the results are, without exception, disastrous, especially when the State is involved.

Of course, people like Richard Dawkins will keep talking about the ‘sky-fairy’ and a lack of ‘empirical’ or ‘scientific’ evidence for God’s existence despite the fact that Faith has seldom, if ever, been rooted in graphs and algebra. His media buzz words have to keep being disseminated to the British public, because his agenda and that of his eugenicist friends, is about demolishing Faith in order to carry out a eugenic dream which is, in their minds at least, utopian, but is, in reality, dystopian and a total affront to human dignity. Richard Dawkins has to keep talking about the God that he does not believe in because if he were to be totally honest about what he does believe in, eventually, sane-minded people of Great Britain would turn away from his doctrines in disgust. Ultimately the eugenic nightmare is not about only population control, but total control of the population in deciding who ‘fits’ in and who does not.

‘Ah’, you may say, ‘Well I don’t believe that embryos are human beings anyway.’ Well, if embryos are not human beings, then why are they called human embryos and why is it that the Government so desired that human embryos be handed over to research faculties, companies and a very eager scientific community to be tested upon, stripped of dignity, crossed with animal DNA and abused for the sake of scientific progress, the creation of ‘saviour siblings’ and ‘pioneering’ medical research? If these beings are not human, then what on earth does the scientific community want with them? Ultimately, the scientific community in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act did not want just any old embryos. It wanted human embryos.

‘Well, even so’, you may think, ‘as long as this is happening to beings inside the womb or in labs, then that is okay because it doesn’t affect me.’ My answer to that would be, it may not affect you now, but it will affect you and your children or your children’s children, one day, because one day, if the State obtains total control over human reproduction, which it shall if it remains unchecked, your grandchild may never make it into the World because he or she didn’t have the right colour hair, eyes, skin, or suffered a major or even minor, treatable medical condition because that is where this all ends. The media are always telling you to look after the environment for future generations to enjoy. If you want future generations to enjoy the environment with a measure of freedom, then I suggest you watch what your Government is actually doing in your name, to people, born and indeed, unborn.

In a way, what we are currently seeing in terms of individual ‘freedom’ at the beginning of life, in terms of abortion, artificial contraception and IVF is quite devilish. I say this because, like the Devil, the State has presented these moral evils to the population as services which can be bought, or even obtained on the NHS – an arm of the State – if citizens should choose to do so. As the Church teaches, in return for succumbing to his temptations, Satan drags you into Hell, unless you are repentant. So it is, that likewise the State has presented these ‘services’ to its population in a similar temptation – aimed at taking advantage of the population’s moral confusion, relativism and very human weaknesses. Likewise, for succumbing to these temptations towards controlling the beginnings of human life, the State will eventually drag you into Hell on Earth, because these ‘services’ can so easily become mandatory, should the State decide that it is viable to do so, with the help of a steady stream of propaganda.

The fundamental premise of this essay is to assert that none of these things were legalized, promoted and then made widespread throughout the United Kingdom because the State is generous to its people. That is what the State would like us to think but let us not be fooled. No, for if the State were generous to its people then the State would support British family life, marriage, welcome children and support the role of the Church in the public sphere, rather than exclude it, since Christians are citizens as well as atheists.

The fundamental premise of this essay is that these and other services were made available to the British public after the 1960s so that the British public would become so accustomed to them that, eventually, we would accept them as so integral to the way in which society operates that we would also accept the State’s enforcement of these provisions on us even against our own will.

All that is required for this to happen is enough propaganda through the mass media to soften the population’s position on these matters. An economic crisis, of course, also comes in rather handy - as does hysterical concern for the environment and population issues - for the State giveth 'reproductive freedom' to its citizens, but likewise, the State taketh it away. The same too can be said for end of life issues such as voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, of course, which is surely to come. We've been here before.

Saturday 15 February 2014

A Summer Theology Programme in Norcia, Italy

I thought I would let you know about this excellent programme happening in Norcia, Italy - the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. Fr. Thomas Crean, O.P., from the English Province of Dominicans will be one of the instructors, along with myself and a few others.

Contemplating the Faith in Umbria

From June 16-29th, the St. Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies will hold a summer session in Norcia, Italy. In partnership with the Monasterro San Benedetto, this will be the third year they have held the Summer Institute.

The St. Albert the Great Center is dedicated to the revival of higher studies in theology undertaken according to the mind and method of the great scholastics, and in particular the work of St. Thomas Aquinas.

This summer's program is focussing on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. With the sacred text as our primary source, we will also follow along the interpretive tradition of the Church by reading commentaries of the Fathers and in particular St. Thomas's commentary on the epistle.

In many ways, the epistle is already an early synthesis of the Faith that the Evangelists witness to, and it offers us the opportunity to explore in depth many theological questions such as grace, justification, the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New, and the salvation of the Jews, to name a few. 

Besides the daily seminars, there will be a guest lecture by Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB, the founder and prior of the monastery. The two-week program reaches its climax in an authentic scholastic disputation, moderated by one of the monks.

In addition to the academic program, we will, of course, be participating in the daily life of worship (High Mass, Divine Office) of the Benedictine monks who live and pray at the birthplace of SS. Benedict & Scholastica. There will be excursions to Assisi and to Cascia, as well as attendance at the Papal Mass in Rome for the Feast of SS. Peter & Paul at the conclusion of the program.

For more information, visit their website:

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Cardinal Burke to offer Solemn Pontifical Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, 25 Oct 2014

Then Archbishop Burke offering Solemn Mass in the
Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica, 18 Oct 2009.

The Cœtus Internationalis Summorum Pontificum is happy to announce that His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, will celebrate the Solemn Pontifical High Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, on Saturday, October 25, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, at 12:00 Noon, on the occasion of the Third Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to Rome.

Read the rest here.

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Monday 10 February 2014

Be Wary When the World Says, "There Are No Sexual Sins But Child Abuse and Rape"

The Holy See is under fire from the UN
When the UN, or even the whole World, maintains that there is no sexual sin but child abuse, be sure that the World is just years away from condoning child abuse. If child abuse is one of the few remaining sexual sins a person can commit, then we should be certain that even widespread opposition to child abuse hangs by an incredibly loose thread.

Why do I say this? I say this simply because the terms of reference for the sexual morality of the age are grounded in nothing objective at all but natural revulsion against a minority who abuse children. Widespread revulsion at child abusers and abuse is understandable and natural, but for how long will it last? For the time being, at least, we can all agree that child abuse is a monstrous evil against the innocent child. What we cannot all agree with is the premise that this is the only sex-related evil a person can commit. Some reading this would balk at the suggestion that child abuse could become accepted in the West, but there is no real reason why it should not be. I say this for good reason, because we live in times in which children are primed for sexual activity at a younger and younger age.

The rejection of both natural and divine law

The vast array of sexual sins and vices that were once deemed to be 'taboo' in the West have systematically and overwhelmingly been overturned, leaving the World with a distorted and blunted view of sexual ethics proposing that personal autonomy in sexual relationships is paramount and to be cherished above all else. Any criticism of sexual behaviour that deviates from what was once the accepted norm - a monogamous sexual relationship within the confines of marriage - is now quickly dismissed as evidence of 'bigotry' - or a form of imposition of an alien, repressive morality to the majority. This is grounded in a wholesale, widespread rejection of both natural and divine law supported by the mass media and now even accepted in most schools.

As Western countries, we are deceived if we believe that the rejection of both natural and divine law by adults has no consequences for children. Notwithstanding that a culture that defines the limits of sexual morality to the subjective only is in danger of becoming so permissive that children can more easily be brought into the realm of sexual excitement for adults, the single premise upon which rests the West's opposition to child abuse would appear to be the issue of 'consent'. Rape is deemed, rightly, to be an offense to the compliance of a party to a sexual encounter. Likewise, it is universally held in the West that child abuse is an evil because a child can never give 'consent' to an abusive sexual relationship in which the victim is weaker. The child, obviously, is in a position of vulnerabillity compared to the aggressor.

The Age of Consent

Yet, 'consent' is a particularly tenuous and precarious foundation upon which to build any society's sexual morality. Do we really wish to see, for the future generations, among whom are billions of children with their own hopes and dreams, a society so sexually liberal and so highly sexualised that any sexual relationship is perceived to be normal except any sexual relationship that does not involve 'consensual sex'?

Consent has become the primary issue in recent times in the UK, with some adult 'campaigners', among whose number is the 'gay-rights campaigner' Peter Tatchell, calling for a lowering of the age of consent in Britain to 14. The State has become so all-pervasive in society that those who seek to change transform society through Parliament cite evidence of underage sexual activity taking place among a highly sexualised youth as propaganda material for new laws recognising the 'sexual rights' of children. We live in an age - a brave and new age - in which sexual relationships are framed in the language of personal and autonomous rights and 'freedoms'.

The successful destruction of Christian morality has enabled those with a particularly destructive, liberal agenda to gain access to children's minds, distorting children's views of sexuality. In the UK, nearly every child is taught about sexual relationships in a way that encourages children to think of sexual activity outside of the parameters of marriage. Few children, it would seem, are 'waiting for the right' person in marriage. Children, as is evidenced by media report after media report, have been educated successfully to think of sex as recreational activity with few, if any, moral implications. In other words, at their most delicate and formative years, children are educated to treat sex as something that has no real objective morality underpinning it. Children - indeed, your children, are being 'groomed' in schools and by the World's mass media, to accept sexual relationships from a tender age as normal. They are shown often explicit material in schools, are bombarded with information about sex with nearly no moral content and are given the 'facts of life' at a younger and younger age, as the State responds to calls to educate children so that they will be equipped with the 'resources' to make an 'educated choices' about sex even though most parents would not feel their children are 'ready'.

Perhaps not entirely surprisingly, teenagers have responded to this new form of State parentage positively, indeed, that they are contracting and passing on sexually transmitted diseases, engaging in casual sex with different partners, experiment with members of the same-sex and even text explicit images of one another to one another over their mobile phones.

When criticisms of the current approaches to 'sex education' are made, critics are told that it is too late to change the curriculum, that the same approach will yield benefits if more sexual education is given to children at a younger age and that they need more 'resources' on sex in order to make wise choices. Yet, the children themselves are given no objective moral education on sex that would lead them to consider guarding their virginity for the special person who they wish to unite with in a sexual relationship in marriage. Instead, their inhibitions are systematically broken down by a ubiquitous message of sexual enticement from the mass media and an education system that holds up to them an entirely confusing message about sex and human sexuality. No role models are offered to them. There is no 'normal' for them, as there were for generations before.

Children are being sexualised by an 'adult world'

So it is, then, that children are being sexualised in and by an 'adult world' that presents sex as a thing of recreation, a way of keeping fit, enjoyment, pleasure, excitement and joy, but completely divorced from its intended purpose - the ultimate expression of mutual love between married couples and for the purpose of procreation. If sex was presented to children within the traditional (and natural) framework of the sanctity and joy of marriage, citing love as the reason for the teaching, not all would respond favourably to it, but society would perhaps start to recover from an atmosphere of sexual licence that was so predominant that teenagers, already full of hormones, pump themselves with yet more hormones in a desperate effort not to have an 'unwanted pregnancy', use easily breakable condoms to 'prevent' sexually transmitted diseases and try their best to pretend that their deepest sexual longings are being fulfilled, if only by a young person who has no real understanding of the bond of sexual intimacy as an expression of love, and desires only to use the other person for his or her own sexual pleasure.

The pressure on children to have sex early and to give 'consent'

Miley Cyrus: Unusually pictured in clothes...
Teenagers and children are also presented with a stark and dangerously morally vacuous message concerning sex that leads not only to a relentless barrage of sexually explicit imagery in the mass media, as well as from sex education in schools, but also an historically unparalleled 'peer pressure' placed upon them to 'have sex' at an earlier and earlier age. Young pop stars, like Miley Cyrus, through scantily clad music, almost pornographic videos perpetuate an image of sexual availability and of sexual licence. Traditionally, children were taught to 'wait for the right person' in marriage not in order to repress them or injure them, but to care for their welfare, so that they may make a truly free choice to love and be loved by someone, when they are adult enough to make that decision, in the security and safety of married life. Yet this has been rejected nearly outright by society in which children are raised by music videos, magazines, internet and State educators. Who benefits from the new teaching on sexual ethics for children? Few, it would seem.

It does not benefit sexually active children, it does not benefit society. It does benefit abortion providers and it does benefit those who seek to corrupt the morals of children to eventually accept every kind of sexual relationship as long as it rests upon the premise of 'consent'. Yet children and teenagers, earlier and earlier, seemingly 'consent' to sex with different children of their own age even though they are properly deemed not to be 'mature enough' to have sex with adults. There is a logical, perhaps deliberate, inconsistency in the message received by children to accept sex as a 'fact of life' devoid of any objective moral principles, while pressure is placed, through media and peer pressure, to give consent to sex because sex is fun, enjoyable, pleasurable, satisfying, recreational and many other things, but no longer for set in the context of a loving marriage to the exclusion of all others.

If a 13-year-old girl gives 'consent' to sex with a 13-year-old boy, even though she is not yet 'mature' enough to make an 'adult decision' regarding the sexual relationship, what possible objection is there to the idea of a 13-year-old boy, or a 13-year-old-girl 'experimenting' sexually with an adult who is more 'experienced'. In the first case, it could be deemed there is 'consent', even by a High Court Judge who is lenient in his application of law, yet in the second it is universally declared that there can be no 'consent' to sex with an adult. Yet this is surely a fallacy. Who is an 'adult' and who is a 'child' if the age of consent is lowered, since the loss of virginity is powerfully pervasive in being perceived as a 'rite of passage' into adulthood?

Why would adults deem that a child is 'ready' for sex with another child but reject that a sexually active child would definitively reject sex with an adult? It is an area in which an entirely subjective criteria would seem to be applied. This may sound horrendous (and indeed it is), but once a child of 13, 14 is sexually active, his or her fantasy may well be a sexual relationship with an adult - for example - his or her favourite pop star or celebrity. We see, therefore that 'consent' is a barrier that can, if social reformers wish to see it occur, be overcome by sexualising children earlier and making sex with adults attractive, because, in the minds of highly sexualised teenagers and even children, this is exactly the message being given to them in the media and it will quite plausibly yield exactly that response.

Child abuse, rape and abortion

Other beneficiaries of the current high rate of sexual intercourse among children include abortion providers and makers of abortion pills and artificial contraceptives. A highly sexualised and sexually active youth yields good revenues for such companies that sell them. They, too, stand to benefit from a lowering in the age of consent and in liberal attitudes to sexually active teenagers. Do such companies and 'charities', like Marie Stopes and BPAS have children's best wishes at heart? Secondly, such facilities are incredibly helpful in enabling the abuse of minors. Young girls, if found to be pregnant by an abusive parents, carer, guardian, step-father may not desire to go to the Police if they are being abused. How much easier it is for such victims, then, to visit an abortion clinic in order to save their abuser and protect their 'future' by calling a confidential service that will remove the 'problem' and leave them free to deal with their abusive relationship without the added social horror of pregnancy in such a traumatic situation? How much easier it makes for abusers to go undetected by the authorities when abusers can coerce girls into having an abortion or into taking abortifacients, or implantable artificial contraception, in order for their crime to go unpunished by the law of the land.

Same-sex relationships, homosexuality and same-sex marriage

The new law of 2014 concerning 'same-sex marriage' will undoubtedly have huge implications for how children are taught about sexual relationships and marriage in the future. Stonewall along with other LGBT pressure groups will most likely gain unprecedented access to the minds of children through resource material and the propagation of LGBT material in schools. The net effect will do more to de-moralise children, as these campaigners, under the guise of ensuring that 'gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and 'questioning' or 'unsure' children will have their sexual expressive rights respected in the education sector, without the knowledge or permission of parents for their children to be exposed to their material.

The traditional view of marriage, too, will come under threat, as natural marriage and the formation of the natural family will be undermined by the presentation of this wholly natural state of affairs as 'one option among others'. It will not be presented as 'the better option' because that will likely be deemed by the establishment to be 'discriminatory' to children and to the LGBT community. An educational establishment now forging the social re-engineering of the nation's youth away from traditional married life, towards alternative sexually based lifestyles will most likely create more disharmony in the lives of children, opening them up towards an even more 'experimental' vision of sex and sexuality and make children more vulnerable to the advances of adults who see in children nothing but sexual objects to be used for personal sexual gratification. The proportion of the gay community who favour sexual relationships with younger men who are, in all honesty, boys, will also receive from the educational establishment a generation of children who have been well and truly groomed by LGBT resources to see in their sexuality an adventure of self-discovery, more vulnerable to the advances of adults than ever they were before.

Pornography in Schools

Through a highly sexualised and liberal adult society that takes no heed to the protection of the innocence of children, with sexually graphic images all across a vastly unrestricted and unpoliced internet, the very young, on mobiles, laptops and even home PCs can access pornography at will. The adult world's permissive attitude towards sex has become so prevalent that even children cannot easily be safely protected from it. The solution, it is now posited, is for schools - yes, schools - to teach children about pornography, so that they may make 'educated choices' and be able to distinguish between 'good pornography' and 'bad pornography'. At no time is it questioned by the authorities whether children should be exposed to pornography by adults in the setting of a classroom in what previous generations would describe as a flagrant attack upon the innocence of children and a form of abuse.

SPUC have launched a campaign opposing pornography in schools
Instead, the State, it is argued, should educate children in the use of pornography, for the sake of their 'welfare'. Adherents of this position neglect to mention that parents have no say, in this situation, in the controversial matter of whether the State should, through the educational sector, be able to show children sex taking place between 'consenting' adults in pornographic films or programmes.

Just as a highly sexualised generation of youngsters are thrown into a society that feels unable to 'dictate' to them the dangers of alcohol and the lowering of inhibitions that it entails, so will that same society be powerless to intervene in a state education system that 'educates' children in pornography. As well as the apparent promotion of sexually graphic literature in schools, there is a trend among the educational establishment to accept, in principle at the very least, the idea of adults showing children sexually graphic films in the classroom. The unintended, or perhaps intended, effect of showing children pornography and 'educating' them in it will ensure that pornography is a feature not just of a percentage of children's lives, but all children's lives, including the children of responsible parents aware of the threat of pornography on their children's understanding of sex.

It will also ensure that exposure to sex taking place between adults and footage of explicit scenes of adult sexual relationships will, most likely, become normal in State schools. Who benefits from this? Not children, for whom all pornography is an attack on their innocence, purity and welfare. Who does benefit? Certainly, among those who benefit, will be those who see in children recruits to a new understanding of sexuality that does not object to being introduced to viewing explicit adult sexual relationships at a delicate time in their moral formation. The natural barriers and inhibitions of children will, through propaganda, even through pornography, to sexual relationships with adults will quite obviously be lowered. For parents not to see that this makes their children more susceptible to abuse, or not to recognise that showing pornography to children is abuse, would suggest a naivety that borders on a wilful refusal to recognise what is planned for their children and is, through explicit literature, already happening. Among those campaigning to stop pornographic material in schools, SPUC is taking a leading role, with very little support from other charities associated with child protection. Click here to join their campaign.

Consent: A wall that can so easily be eroded

Nearly every taboo within society concerning sex and sexuality has been overcome by the social reformers who see in liberalism a utopian ideal of personal freedom that creates many victims along the way while creating an entirely dystopic future for children of a corrupt, depraved and therefore illegitimate British State 'democracy'. Nobody has ever voted for what the corruption of their children's minds. Yet that is what we now have in British schools and in British society. The hollow, diabolical lie that sexual activity has no consequences, despite all the evidence pointing to a generation of jilted youth, rife with sexual diseases, many sexual encounters with different partners, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexual objectification must be opposed by the Church and by those of goodwill towards Her unless we wish to see parentage of children pass entirely to a State with no regard whatsoever for the welfare and aspirations of children.  In all of this the Church would appear to be an unlikely figure of authority and leadership, but of all institutions that have learned the hard lesson, the hard way, there is much wisdom in this area that the Catholic Church can impart.

Children are in danger, over the next few years,  more than at any time since these isles were converted to Christianity, to scandalous abuse by adults despite even the best child protection procedures because the sexual hysteria of the age sends out confusing and conflicting messages to children about sex and sexuality. Consent, as the sexualisation of children becomes more intense, as society loses its moral foundations and fundamental principles in an age of unfettered personal sexual freedom, is a barrier, a wall that can so easily be brought down. Why? Because in a new age in which children are educated to think about sex and sexuality all the time, children, younger and younger, will be educated not to consider abuse acceptable, but to fail to recognise or be passively unaware when they, the poor lambs, are being abused. The great irony will be that when the Church stands up for the defence of the child, it will be howled down in derision by the very same people who were indignant at its leadership for lamentably failing to protect children. A supremely ironic, if supremely saddening day that will be, not just for the Church but for the whole World.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother to all the children of the World, pray for our country, that children will be protected not only from predatory and wicked clergy, but also the plans of those placed in authority over us who should work for the welfare, rather than the abuse of the child.

The annual Belloc Society Sussex talk...

Chris speaking at The George last year

I’m very pleased to announce that Chris Hare will be giving another talk at The George and Dragon, in Amberley, on March the 1st. Chris is, amongst many other things, a local historian and folk singer. Indeed, he is at the forefront of the revival in Sussex folk music. In this respect he perpetuates the worthy musical tradition which Bob Copper inherited and passed on. 

Chris will be examining, and reading, Belloc’s Sussex poems. It is said, that Belloc was to Sussex what Wordsworth was to the Lake District. The poetic cord between the County and Belloc will be examined in some detail.

Last year a good time was had by all and I'm sure this year will be just as convivial. 


There will also be a mini-bus departing from Clapham in London. Seats will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. If you would like to book a seat, please e-mail be at the address listed above.

The talk will begin at 4.30 PM but it will be preceded by lunch and folk singing between 1.00 and 2.30. There will also be a bracing walk onto the downs after lunch (bring your waders!). Thereafter, we return to the pub for the talk.

The George and Dragon is a splendid old pub which dates back to the Middle Ages. We will have exclusive use of the function room.The nearest station is Amberley and although one could walk (ten minutes) the road is busy and so a taxi would be preferable (over the bridge in the opposite direction to the village):

Castle Cars: 01903 884444
Cathedral Cars: 01903 889688
MJ Cars: 01903 745414/01798 874321 (6 seater)

If you wish to have lunch at The George you must phone ( 01798831559), or e-mail, the pub to advise them of this. Otherwise you will be left feeling rather peckish:

Now for some more background on the speaker:

Chris Hare was born locally in 1962. Since 1987 Chris has been writing on local history and local interest topics. He is a graduate of the University of Brighton and has an MA from the University of Sussex. He has written nine books and some two hundred articles on historical and Sussex topics.

Sunday 9 February 2014

Welcome to the New Look Guild Blog...

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma has been given a design overhaul, in order to give it more of a 'magazine feel'.

I hope that readers enjoy the contributions we receive at the Guild from a collection of Catholic bloggers committed to spreading the Catholic faith through the internet.

We are happy to receive contributions and articles to the Guild's blog and encourage Catholic bloggers to join the Guild and to contribute their reflections to the website.

If you would like to join the Guild or to contribute writing to the Guild's blog, or both, please contact the chairman of the Guild at

Friday 7 February 2014

What is Purgatory?

I shall write one more after this to complete a little trilogy. Of course, it shall be labeled "What is Heaven?"

But, before heaven, one must be purified.

Christ Himself, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, stated this:

Matthew 5:48

48 Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect
And in answer to this question, Christ listed a rather daunting list of criteria for perfection:

Mark 10:17 Douay-Rheims 

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, a certain man running up and kneeling before him, asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may receive life everlasting?
Christ answered with a list most of us know we have not accomplished. The list is not a "pick and choose" list, but an "all" list. Here is the whole passage from Matthew:
Matthew 19:16-22 Douay-Rheims 
16 And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have 
life everlasting?
17 Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt 
enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit 
adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness.
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith to him: All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me?
21 Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, 
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.
22 And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad: for he had great possessions.

Only the perfect see God and this new age idea, rather popular in England, that one does not have to pursue purgation of the mind, senses, soul and heart, as well as the heresy of universal salvation, has created a sub-Catholic culture which emphasizes still, an "I'm OK, you're OK" mindset, which is deadly.
Purgatory is simply the purgation of the senses and the spirit which one did not agree to while on earth.
All of us are called to perfection. Those who are canonized saints found this perfection on earth. Many suffered terribly for that unity of God before they died.
Those of us who do not cooperate with the gifts of the Spirit, daily examining our consciences and repenting, yes, daily, will see a time of purgation.
No one should say, "I shall be glad if I make it to purgatory." Or worse, no one should deny purgatory. What people do not think about is that if they are not purified, they are weakening the Church from within. If we are running around out of imperfection and sin, thinking we are doing good deeds in the Church and not detached from seeking comforts, we are simply "doing our own thing" and not God's "thing".
Only those who reach the Illuminative State, such as SS. Benedict, Francis, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, Therese of Lisieux and so on can do the great works of building the Kingdom of God without egotism.
But, this state should be our goal are well. This state is not impossible. On the contrary, it is the state to which all the baptized are originally called.
Most of "our" works are either "our" works and not God's or tainted by self-centered-ness and our predominant fault, which must be attacked and cleansed out of us before we die if we are to enter heaven.
The predominant fault is discussed at length on my blog, when I did an unpacking of Garrigou-Lagrange and other writers on perfection and in the Doctors of the Church series on perfection. Over 600, more than 10% of my postings are on the subject of perfection. This is the hidden fault from which we must be purged in order for the virtues and gifts of the Spirit to be fully implemented in our lives. We cannot even experience the life of the virtues on earth without purgation. 
One of the great regrets we shall have if we do not bend to this purgation on earth and enter after-death purgation is the loss of merit we shall see we could have obtained if we had agreed to our purgatory on earth. We shall see the good things we could have done in the state of illumination and unity we did not accomplish, because of our sins and predominant fault.
Purgatory is not just about punishment for mortal and venial sins. It is about being made perfect so that we can see God. "Only the perfect see God." This means complete death of the ego.
I can share one section here which may help those who doubt purgatory, for the teaching is that we are all called to perfection.

By charity we become the temples of the Holy Ghost: "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us." (18) Lastly, the more we love God, the more we know Him by that entirely supernatural, quasi-experimental knowledge that is divine wisdom. This is what made St. Paul say to the Ephesians (3: 17-19): "Being rooted and founded in charity, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth: to know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge; that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God."

St. Paul is speaking here not only to privileged souls, but to all the faithful. After meditating at length on these words in the presence of God, can we say that the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith is not in the normal way of sanctity? Care must be taken before formulating a negative proposition of this sort, for we must remember that reality, especially the reality of the interior life such as it is willed by God, is richer than even the best of all our theories. Philosophical and theological systems are often true in what they affirm and false in what they deny. Why is this? Because reality, as God made it, is far richer than all our limited and narrow conceptions.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in our philosophy." (19)

To deny this would be to lose the meaning of the mystery, which is identified with contemplation. To deny it would be to impoverish singularly the words of St. Paul which we have just quoted: "Being rooted and founded in charity, you may be able to comprehend, with all the saints," that is, with all Christians who reach perfection, "what is the breadth and length and height and depth" of the mystery of Christ. . . especially of His love, and "that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God." (20)
St. John gives us the same doctrine, particularly in his First Epistle (4: 16-21): "God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him. . . . And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God love also his brother." Likewise St. Peter writes in his First Epistle (4: 8): "But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins." Christ said of Magdalen: "Many sins are forgiven her, because he hath loved much." (21) . . .
According to this doctrine, perfection does not consist chiefly in humility, nor does it consist especially in poverty, nor in acts of worship or of the virtue of religion, but it lies primarily in the love of God and of one's neighbor, which renders the acts of all the other virtues meritorious. "Poverty itself," says St. Thomas, "is not perfection, but the means of perfection. . . . But since the means are sought not for their own sake, but for the sake of the end, a thing is better, not for being a greater instrument, but for being more adapted to the end. Thus a physician does not heal the more, the more medicine he gives, but the more the medicine is adapted to the disease." (22)

The Church has not "done away" with purgatory. Here is a section from the CCC:

1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608
1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

Monday 3 February 2014

What Is Hell?

In 1973 and in 1983, two books hit the best seller lists for a very odd reason. These two books dealt with the mystery of sin and evil.

The first one, Dr. Karl Menninger's famous Whatever Became of Sin? highlighted the problems with modern psychiatrists preoccupation with guilt and the setting aside of the age-old shared values which marked Western Civilization. Dr. Menninger clearly stated that immorality had become a question of what was legal, rather than what was right. He was the first major psychiatrist to reveal the growing relativism of moral standards in America. 

He wrote of conscience and love of neighbor. His book was popular, but then succumbed to the "you're ok, I'm ok" genre of subjective morality.

In 1983, M. Scott Peck wrote the startling book, People of the Lie. This psychiatrist explored the reality of evil, and even more fascinating, the fact that some people actually choose evil on purpose, rather than the good. Peck pointed to self-deceit, laziness or sloth, and narcissism as some of the roots of evil.

Both of these good men warned us of the coming age of evil, which, so many years later, we must admit we are witnessing. What I learned from these books helped me to avoid not only certain lies which we can all adopt under selfishness and other destructive behavior, but to make better choices in my life. 

The nature of evil is to dominate, to subjugate and to avoid detection. Being a Catholic and raised on the old Baltimore Catechism, I knew deep down inside that the main sources of sin were the capital sins-"The chief sources of sin are seven: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth; and they are commonly called capital sins." The CCC states this: "1780 The dignity of the human person implies and requires uprightness of moral conscience. Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed. The truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the prudent judgment of conscience. We call that man prudent who chooses in conformity with this judgment.

1781 Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice. The verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God:"

One learns as a Catholic moving into adulthood, that each one of us is responsible for seeing the root causes of sin in ourselves and asking God to purify us in order to be free of these "predominant faults".

That we are forgiven is a tremendous relief.

But, what of those who refuse forgiveness, or who have allowed the "truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason" to be lost? Those who fall into mortal sin, the serious sin which causes death to the soul and destroys sanctifying grace in the soul, also fall into a darkness of the mind, a clouding of reason, one of the results, by the way, of Original Sin.

The two most common heresies in England are those of Pelagianism, which denies the need for grace for salvation, and that of universal salvation. These two heresies block the good discernment of those who deny that one can judge actions, and even intent, as intention without action can be a serious sin.

What serious sin does, as the two eminent psychiatrists above knew, is to divide the person into two-to allow a lie to separate a person from reality. The reality of immoral actions dictates guilt and demands a clear evaluation of how the soul, the psyche, reflects on the person and others. Ironically, in 2014, denial of guilt and denial of sin cause more mental illness and depression, as M. Scott Peck described. The unnaturalness of sin destroys the balance in the human of the interplay of the soul, which is the form of the body, and the mind.

Odd that two men who were not Catholic could come to the same conclusion medically as the Catholic Church morally; that free will in order to be free must be clear of sin, of deceit, or manipulation, and that to live in serious sin, in mortal sin, is mental suicide.

Dying in mortal sin is a reality to many people in our sad world. The real sadness is that they are already dead, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically.

When I was twenty-one and twenty-two for about a year and a half, I fell away from the Church by believing the lies of Marxism. I was an arrogant college student who was supposedly throwing off the constrictions of thought of my long line of Catholic forebearers. I doubted that Christ was God. I lived in an existential hell. To fall away from the Church is to fall into mortal sin. I became depressed.

Visiting a convent of sisters who had a retreat house, all friends of mine, and some former theology professors, I expressed that I was suicidal and going to kill myself. Sister Elizabeth said to me "You might as well, as you are dead already."  I was shocked into the reality that the form of my body, my soul, was indeed dead, so that the eternal death and separation from God was the logical result.

Thankfully, she suggested I repent, and go to confession and start over again, with Christ. I had to choose then and there either to follow Christ and His Church, or remain in the stubborn darkness of sin, doubt and "isms".

I chose life. The resulting immediate reconciliation to God and the Church not only filled me with joy and new purpose, but healed the darkness of doubt, depression, and separation. Indeed, after absolution, I heard the voice of Christ clearly, "Never doubt that I am God."  To this day, I have not.

Dying in mortal sin brings about the logical consequence of eternal death. People think that hell is only a punishment for sin, which it is. But, more than that, it is the choice of living away from God and His ways. Hell is merely the extension of the choices one makes on this earth. It is a mere continuation forever of self-hatred, hatred for God, and a rage against His Will.

Those who deny hell or that anyone is in hell do not understand sin or evil. They do not understand that we are all called to be one with God in love and peace forever, but that our own stupid choices, the preference of the lies of evil, lead us away from the loving God.

It is ironic that as one who stood on the edge of the abyss and looked into that eternal darkness, I can say 43 years later, that one can either have heaven on earth or hell on earth, and that death just makes the situation permanent.

Pray for those who may be dying in mortal sin. God is always there to forgive and give life. But, death decides the fate of all of us. We live the fate forever into which we die.

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