School’s out

School’s out

The latest mess in Boston involves a closing Catholic elementary school, Our Lady of the Presentation in Brighton. Parents have been staging protests ever since the the archdiocese announced the school was closing. The parents, including Mass. Secretary of State Bill Galvin (an unannounced Dem. candidate for governor next year), have proposed buying the property and keeping their own independent Catholic school going, but the archdiocese refused the offer. Instead, they planned to move the archdiocesan tribunal and other offices from the chancery grounds, since their old offices have been sold to Boston College.

Last week, somebody realized that the tribunal also handles cases involving priests accused of abuse. That someone thought it might be a good way to stir the pot to use that to instill fear and anger in the neighborhood. Headlines in the newspapers proclaimed that “perv trials to be held at school.” Never mind that the number of such proceedings would be very small and that they’re already being held down the street at the chancery.

After that the gloves came off and the protesting parents started talking about occupying the school, in imitation of people at some closed parishes. To head that off, the Archdiocese announced that it was ending the school year two days early.

  • I have just reread the entire essay.  Not once does he mention marriage.  Not once does he mention husband and wife.  He talks about a grandmother touching her grandaughter.  But mostly he talks about the relationship of man with God.  And in the midst of this he throws out sacramental sex and compares it to eucharist.

    You can read marriage into it if you want to, but you are putting words into his mouth when you do.  He is much closer in his actual words to promoting sexual rites during liturgy than he is to promoting sexual relations between a husband and wife.

    His reference to “eucharist” and to “temple” and to “sacramental sex” bring liturgy, not marriage, to mind.

  • I share Fr. Clark’s desire that breastfeeding not become a commonplace public occurrence, but probably not for the same reasons.

    I’ve been thinking about this since reading through a portion of Amy’s thread earlier tonight.

    There is something going on here that we aren’t quite recognizing.  I think it might have to do with the innocence of the scene—of the baby.  Breasts are not thought of in our culture as being associated with innocent activity.  Breasts have been totally sexualized.  Is there perhaps some subconscious connection being made between the baby and a sex object—something that disturbs our sensibilities because we do still want the baby to be shielded from thoughts of sex?  Is our reaction to breastfeeding somehow akin to our reaction to stories of sexual child abuse?

    This came up years ago in a different forum, and it got the same reaction then.  Mothers who breastfeed see nothing to hide.  I would like it to remain hidden so as to preserve the innocence and purity of the activity from the lecherousness of our culture.

    And on another, though perhaps not totally unrelated note, I remember my mother telling stories of being late-term pregnant with me when she had to go into town, and got angry stares from people on the street because pregnant women didn’t go out in public back then.  Being pregnant was an open admission of what you had done with your husband that wasn’t discussed in polite society.  Hard to believe that only 58 short years ago things were so very different, isn’t it?

  • I hate to disagree with you, Father, but the good old days were pretty much the few Puritan- and Victorian-dominated centuries in this country and have little to do with the rest of Western history. Offense at the sight of breastfeeding has less to do with Catholic culture than it does Protestant.

    After all, images of a breastfeeding Blessed Mother, visible breast and all, are common throughout history, as this site attests:

    They were even put in churches!

    Telling a woman she must go into hiding to breastfeed (and comparing it to “natural” things that we wouldn’t do in public) is to make it into something that’s shameful and be hidden.

    What’s immodest about feeding your child? If it’s not about sex, then why is it immodest? Why should the sight of a
    2005-06-09 06:40:36
    2005-06-09 10:40:36
    I have to agree with Fr. Clark. Breastfeeding in the front pew of Church is inappropriate and shows no respect for the priest and especially his vocation.  I saw a woman who was sitting 3 feet away from a religious brother decide to breastfeed her toddler at a picnic.  And for anyone who nurses you know that you can keep a newborn covered up but a toddler is less cooperative.  Breastfeeding on a plane next to another woman is totally different. Often airlines do not let you get up from your seat, there are no empty seats available to move to and an infant will have to nurse about every 2 hours.  Let’s also be honest that with the delightful noises your little nursling makes there isn’t much quiet about it.  Everyone is the room is going to know you are nursing and with a group of women, no problem but with men present it makes them uncomfortable and I can certainly understand that. Let men be men and let’s realize that regardless of the immodesty rampant in the culture a la victoria secret, etc we should not contribute to it.  I’ve breastfed all my children (except the adopted one) and will continue to with the baby I’m expecting in September but I try to be considerate and NEVER nurse in Church- go into the Confessional if your Church still has one – it’s perfect.

  • Breastfeeding screams MOTHERHOOD to a culture that has decided the role is dispensable.  Is this part of why we recoil from the image of a breastfeeding woman?

    And another thought…the argument for public breastfeeding being made by the Lactivists is a pragmatic argument.  Must everything fall in the face of pragmatism?  Is anything sacred or holy still permitted to us?

  • And those are supposed to be healthy impulses? Isnmment_author>
    2005-06-09 10:54:19
    2005-06-09 14:54:19
    Oh for pityheerios to toddlers, either.  Church is for receiving Jesus, and that’s the only food that ought to be present during Mass.  Just as one ought to take time to prepare one’s self for Mass, preparations can be made to feed the child before or after, and not during, Mass.  For those “activists” who are doing this for attention – let’s have some respect for God in His own house.  One should never use the Mass as the grounds for a political statement. 

    Outside of Church, modesty, humility and charity ought to rule the day.

  • Actually, in many circles breastfeeding is almost a religion. Take a look at the response Walters got. Is breastfeeding so critical it warrants such a reaction?

    Now, I am not against it, but I am against political correctness. Public exposure for breastfeeding may be legal, but that does not make it right.

  • It’s funny what intense feelings this topic elicits!

    I am sort of of the Fr. Clark school of thought on this one. I’m a nurse and I see all sorts of body parts and bodily functions, etc, on a daily basis, so I don’t think squeamishness about bodies is the issue for me – it just is sort of propriety for women to go to a private place to breastfeed, if at all possible. Breasts’ primary purpose is to feed babies, but they are also undeniably sexual, and I do think it’s best if they are not exposed in public, even for a noble cause.

    Those paintings were very interesting, though, Dom, and that is a part of Church history that I wasn’t aware of.

    Best to all –

  • Carrie,

    To say that body is bad and spirit is good is also a heresyone,” John Paul says, ” is capable of making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial, and thus to be a sign of itt is a profanation of the image and likeness of God.

    When God became flesh and dwelt among us, He did not engage in sex.  That speaks something to us as well.  St. Paul calls us to virginity, but concedes to sex within marriage as a concession to concupisence(sp?).  (See 1 Cor. 7)

    The body became a Godly image only one time.  The fact that Jesus assumed human form does not give us license to call ourselves “God” simply because we also have a human body.

    The image of the Trinity reflected in husband-wife-child has limitations except as it was expressed once in the Holy Family where there was only one child.  A family with numerous children does not image a God with numerous persons.

    Marriage must be possible without sex, or the Holy Family was guilty at the very least of the sin of giving scandal.  Though as we have come to define marriage by the Code of Canon Law, the Holy Family fails the test of validity.  What’s more, we have no prohibition against a man and wife past the age of sexual activity being able to contract a valid marriage.

  • Melanie wrote:

    “You can/p>

    In other words, a unconsummated marriage is still a valid marriage, but it is not a complete one either.

    Virginity is held up as a higher call by St. Paul precisely because one is giving up/sacrificing a good for the sake of the kingdom. (This is an argument for those who say that homosexuals should not become priests since they are not sacrificing a good.)

    Ok, name some of them.  The ones that would be inappropriate to do in church.

    Speaking of Mass as being church: Grace before meals, rosary, liturgy of the hours, etc.

    y became a Godly image only one time.  The fact that Jesus assumed human form does not give us license to call ourselves ubility; in Christian marriage they acquire a distinctive firmness by reason of the sacrament.

    Can. 1057 d of agree with the padre. Kinda split. G’night!)

  • I agree, tkozal!  There’s another parochial school in Brighton.  How many parochial schools does Brighton need?

  • Question:  how can there be a parochial school if there’s no parish whose mission it’s part of?

    Answer:  There can’t be such a parochial school.  The word “parochial” means “parish related,” and Our Lady of the Presentation Parish was suppressed.  Fact is, the parish and the school were growing increasingly smaller, mainly due to neighborhood demographics, and were unsustainable financially.

    But that’s all logical nonsense.  Nobody in this sorry mess cares about logic, or even appropriate distribution of resources.  Me, me, me, me, me me!

  • Of course they leave tiny details like, the disgruntled control freak parents were planning to move in to the school and hide behind the children.  They are no more concerned about the children than they claim the Arch-Diocese is.  pffft.

    Oh, and graduation for pre-k and kindergarten….. grrrrrrr.  Graduation is for the end of high school or college.  It marks the END.  Not from one year to the next.  Sheesh.

  • Once again, the bishops have failed to show the relationship between parish and school.  Catholics are used to Catholic institutions being “independant” and as a result, uneducated laity want the prize but don’t want to pay for it.  These schools and churches have closed because Catholics don’t go there anymore! Get a life!

  • I think this caption says it all:

    Rachel Soave, 3, of Watertown, looked puzzled as she received her diploma with her pre-school class from Our Lady of the Presentation School in Brighton today. (Globe Staff Photoomment_author>
    2005-06-10 12:47:24
    2005-06-10 16:47:24
    I’ve seen the pictures.. kids bawling worse than the two year old I saw get his haircut this morning.

  • Dom,
    I notice that you don’t respond to what Fr. Clark said. I think sometimes it is more important for you to be right than to listen to what others have to say.  You’ve determined that sex is part of the Marriage Sacrament and common sense and Canon Law and that instruction of a priest will not persuade you otherwise.  I think that’s sad.

  • Mary,

    I didn’t respond to what Fr. Clark said because he didn’t disagree with me. He straightened out the use of the terms “form” and “matter”, but didn’t contradict what I was saying about consummation being the completion of the marriage covenant.

    All of the evidence I cited from earlier sources still stands. Neither does common sense and Canon Law contradict those.

    And I notice that you don’t respond to what I said.

    Don’t turn this around to an ad hominem argument. There have been plenty of times when I’ve been wrong and gladly admitted it on the pages of the blog.

  • Carrie,

    Just because some fringe group co-opts language for their use doesn’t mean we should have to give up all right to use that language. The idea that sex between husband and wife is sacred is not some new-agey claptrap, but comes from the very early days of the Church and has been a constant teaching.


    I thought I was clear in my original post that I was talking about mothers who cover themselves while breastfeeding, not those who just whip it out wherever. I think it was others trying to make the argument against public breastfeeding who went to the extreme of using breast-baring women to bolster their claim.

  • Of, course the city councilor who was a former alterboy there doesn’t help.  In today’s Globe he uses the “us v. they” talk: 

    ‘‘It will be a long, hot summer if they think they are going to kick us out,” said Brighton’s City Councilor Jerry McDermott, a former altar server at Our Lady of the Presentation and a graduate of the parish school.”

  • Check out the activities of Philip St. Romain and the Dominican Heartland Center.  If you don’t want to take the time to look it up yourself, I’ve blogged the links.  Tantra is not only some New Agey fringe teaching.  It is has found a home within the Church.  We can’t keep teaching “sacred sex” without addressing what is wrong with the Hindu concepts of it.  If we do, we leave ourselves open to spirituality teachers like Philip St. Romain and the Heartland Dominicans.

  • Yeah, the Globe hard copy had a couple of 8 year old girls weeping copiously. Front page mind you, and above the crease.

    I wasn’t moved. For all I know, their parents just told them they weren’t going to get the “graduation” presents they’d been promised.

    And I’m tired of the “Catholic” pols weighing in on this “tragedy.” Walking through the streets of Boston and seeing the “Gay Pride” flag virtually everywhere bearing the legend “Thomas Menino, Mayor” hardly encourages me to listen to His Mumbleship on “Catholic Issues.”

    (Even if I could understand him.)

    The high ground would have been to close out the year.

    Nah…that would’ve been the silly ground.

    And count me out of your “intellectual,” Joe. Cold and heartless is, however, fine.

  • Carrie,

    Wait – some wacky Dominican center has non-Catholic teachings, perverting the truth, and that means what?  That we can’t say that sexual intercourse is a sacred act?  Why?  Because the body is bad?  So sex is dirty?  I just don’t get it.  You are not being logical at all.  The magisterial teaching of John Paul II in the Theology of the Body is something to which we owe the religious submission of mind and will.  If you don’t understand it, it doesn’t matter.  You still should accept it (that is, unless you don’t accept what the Church’s teaching on the magisterium).  If you don’t like it, or disagree with it, well, then perhaps you are being a bit intellectually proud?  Perhaps the Church’s wisdom surpasses yours?  I just don’t see any connection between this Tantra nonsense and what folks have actually been trying to discuss here about the sacredness of the sexual act.  Do you always have to be right?

  • You cite “Theology of the Body”.  If it is truly an Orthodox Catholic teaching, you will be able to cite others who say the same thing.

    Which Church Father spoke of sacred sex?  Please quote him.

    What did St. Thomas say about sacred sex?

    What did St. Augustine say?

    The Church did not begin with John Paul II, and unless his teaching is in accord with those who went before him, there is no obligation to accept it.  A pope cannot invent doctrine.

    If sex is sacred, there is no reason it would be an inappropriate activity to take place in church.  Those who believe sex is sacred incorporate the act into their religious rituals.  Pagan Rome did so.  Egyptian cults did as well.  If you are going to hold to sacred sex, it is silly to claim that it has no place in church.

  • Dom:  Would you be so kind as to once again share the secrets of italicization and boldness (not your personal boldness, but the literary type).  Perhaps in the forum so we of limited memory capacity can always reference back?

  • I think we don’t know quite how bad the occupation of OLP would have been.  Since they already had all the politicians lined up, my guess is that it would have made Ronnie Coyne’s look like good PR for the Archdiocese.

    The comments made by government officials about “ownership” are quite disgusting, BTW.

  • I do think it was handled a little ham-handedly, but I actually don’t think the archdiocese is completely without basis to fear for something like a sit in, given what is happening in the closing parishes elsewhere.  There is of course legitimate furor against the Church that on account of the priestly abuse, but I think that furor is being stoked by interested parties like the Globe and liberal dissenting Catholic politicians into a broader attack on the Church and the Catholic faith in general, and things like parish closings and school closings are not the government’s affair.  Howie Carr and others are of course entitled to their opinion.  Even politicians I suppose are entitled to express their private opinions on a religion (although I wonder how tolerant the liberals would be if a politician made a private statement that was critical of Islam), but they need to make clear that they are speaking in a private non-official capacity.  It galls me to hear Attorney General Reilly and Mayor Menino grandstanding and making broad statements about how the Church has to change.  The government has no right to tell the Church to “change” without specifying what the particular harm is that must be changed.  It has a right to tell individuals to stop criminal activity.  That is perfectly justified.  But to simply state that the Church must change in unspecified ways as opposed to saying that the Church must stop specific criminal practices is irresponsible, and if it could be interpreted as official statement, inappropriate from a public official. 

  • +J.M.J+

    Above, Carrie provided links to:

    >>>Sacred Sex website

    >>>Itcreative and life-giving, a God-given way for humans to participate in His creative work.

    (Of course, I am speaking of normal conjugal relations, not perversion which isn’t life-giving.)

    Is this proposal acceptable?

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • Does anyone know exactly what Mass. Sec. of State Bill Galvin and those parents who are proposing buying Our Lady of the Presentation School and “keeping their own Catholic school going” would be intending to have as a curriculum regarding sexual morality taught to these children?  I could be wrong but I thought that Bill Galvin supports same-sex sex acts as good acts to be applauded. In his desire to be elected governor of Mass., has he publicly declared himself to be in agreement with the teachings of the Catholic Church on the issue of same-sex sex acts?  I certainly haven’t seen such a statement being made in the media. Has anyone else seen his position publicly stated?

  • Well….I can see that I should set my watch to EST in order to keep up with this theological tennis match.  Nonetheless, I am going to be contrary, and go back to the original topic, and the idea of public breastfeeding. 

    Obviously, Fr. Clark would know about this particular woman’s circumstances, and I do not.  For instance, was she a regular parishioner, or a visitor accompanying someone, a married woman, or perhaps a single woman who didn’t have the luxury of leaving baby at home with husband and a bottle for an hour?  Perhaps she is just thoughtless, and perhaps she didn’t know where else to go.  There are so many unseen circumstances to people’s lives.

    I offered rides home from Mass, years ago, to an angelic-faced girl with a tiny infant because I saw her waiting for a bus outside the church.  She was barely out of her teens, and as it turned out, lived with a musician who was quite hostile to the idea of being a father.  She still went ahead and had this child, when she had another terrible option easily available in Los Angeles.  Our faith demands support of women and children, and perhaps a well-constructed inquiry in certain situations: “Is that comfortable feeding the baby in a pew?  Did you know that you can go to (_______) and still hear Father?” 

    Adding our own disapproving stares is just one more voice in the chorus of the anti-baby, anti-life force.

  • +J.M.J+

    >>>What did St. Thomas say about sacred sex?

    Well, I don’t know if he ever said anything about “sacred sex,” but he did teach that, had Adam and Eve never sinned, they would have procreated through intercourse:

    Summa Theologica: In the state of innocence, would generation have been through sex (coition)?

    I find that very interesting.  But I will continue looking through the Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles for what else the Angelic Doctor may have to say about the conjugal act.

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • Consider the Reply to Objection 3:

    This is what Augustine means by the words quoted, which do not exclude intensity of pleasure from the state of innocence, but ardor of desire and restlessness of the mind. Therefore continence would not have been praiseworthy in the state of innocence, whereas it is praiseworthy in our present state, not because it removes fecundity, but because it excludes inordinate desire. In that state fecundity would have been without lust.

    Perhaps it offers what may be a compromise for this discussion.  It is reasonable that sexual relations before the fall may have been sacred because they were generative on every occasion and engaged in for the reason that they were generative.  This would be like the animal kingdom rather than like the human use of the sexual act.  If each act were intended to be generative, God would have played a significant role in the creation of the new human being.  This would be significantly different from the way that sex today, plays out in marriage.

    Vatican II acknowledged that marital relations are unitive as well as procreative.  Perhaps before the fall that was not the case.

  • +J.M.J+

    You make some good points, Carrie.  Sex is intended by God to be a sacred act, but the Fall often taints this.

    But maybe we should dig a little further as to the meaning of “sacred.”  Don’t we often say (or hear it said) that “human life is sacred?”  What does this mean?  Does it mean that all human beings should live in church buildings?  Or that women should give birth in churches?  Obviously not.

    In this context, “sacred” means something like “Made by God and not to be destroyed or tampered with by man.”  So perhaps the phrase “sex is sacred” means that it was made by God for the purpose of procreating human life (a kind of “co-creation” with God) and is not to be abused and perverted by men.

    I’m just throwing out some ideas on how the term can be understood without raising the specter of tantrism or other such heresy.

    Lastly, I do think that marital relations would have been unitive as well as procreative before the Fall, because after the creation of Eve and before the Fall narrative, Moses comments: “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” (Gn 2:24)  That is an expression of the unitive nature of marital relations (see I Cor 6:16), which apparently is based in the creation of woman from man’s side.

    Of course, the procreative end also existed prior to the fall, according to Gn. 1:28, “And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.”

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • One more thing: perhaps there is a confusion here over what “unitive” means.

    I’ve always understood “unitive” to mean “uniting the two in one flesh,” which is a prelude to the procreative end.  The conjugal act unites husband and wife in one flesh, which results in the conception and birth of a child who literally is a “one-flesh” union of the two – a mingling of their chromosomes!

    That’s why the unitive and procreative are inseparable; the unitive is a hidden reality and the procreative its outer manifestation in offspring.

    Lust enters into the picture when we consider what “remedy for concupiscence” means, but that’s a whole n’other discussion!

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • +J.M.J+

    But human life is also sacred when not in a church building.  In an emergency I suppose someone could live in a church, but human life is sacred in non-emergency situations as well.

    Again, in an emergency situation a woman could give birth in a church, but that does not mean that all women must always give birth in churches.  A church is not the normative place for childbirth.  Yet human life is sacred wherever one is born.

    My point is that sometimes we say that something is “sacred” without implying that it should only be done in a church.  Prayer is a sacred act wherever it is done, whether in church, at the dinner table, in a restaurant, by a bedside or walking down the street.  Human life is sacred inside or outside of a church.  A human life is sacred even if a person never darkens the door of a house of worship in his life.

    At any rate, orthodox Catholics who say that “sex is sacred” do not mean that conjugal relations should be done in church or as part of religious/magical rituals or whatever.  They mean something to the effect that the marital act was created by God for the sacred purpose of bringing new human lives into existence in cooperation with God, and that abusing or perverting the act is sinful, possibly even something akin to sacrilege.

    Again, though, I’m not sure whether the late JPG ever actually said “sex is sacred,” since no one has yet produced a quote from him as I requested.  So I don’t know whether that is a valid understanding of the Catholic POV on sexual relations or just something some TOB teachers say.  I’m simply saying that the term can be understood in ways that do not teach heresy.

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • My point was not that all childbirth should take place in church any more than I was suggesting that “sacred sex” meant that all sex should take place in church.  My point is that the act, if it is sacred, is acceptable for doing in church, because church is a place for sacred things.  It would not scandalize if it took place in church.  You cannot say that about sex.  The argument that sacred activities take place outside of church is extraneous to the issue at hand.

    There is no way to legitimately say that “sacred sex” is unacceptable for taking place in church while at the same time maintaining that sex is sacred.  You would be contradicting yourself if you did.  There is something fundamentally wrong here.

    Meanwhile Fr. Rolheiser takes it one step further and calls “sacramental sex” “eucharist” in his essay titled “In Praise of Skin.”  If you explore the ritual called the “Gnostic Mass” practiced by the Ordo Templi Orientis you will discover that the eucharist there is composed of bodily fluids and must be heated to a certain temperature in the preparation process so as not to transmit AIDS.  And I’m not talking about blood here.  If we are going to accept the concept that “sex is sacred,” we are going to put ourselves on the road to Gnosticism, as Fr. Rolheiser demonstrates.

  • +J.M.J+

    I read Fr. Rolheiser’s article, and I don’t see any evidence that he is promoting a “Gnostic mass.”  By “sacramental sex” he appears to mean sex within the Sacrament of Matrimony, though I could be wrong.  Also, he clearly uses the term “eucharist” figuratively; he’s not talking about a literal eucharist involving sexual activity.

    Here’s the key paragraph:

    For Christians, however, the body is not something from which one is ever meant to escape. Rather the body is to be understood as a temple of the holy spirit, a church, a sacred place where God can come and make a home. Skin then is sacred, deserving of praise. This is true, especially true, when skin meets skin, in sacramental sex, and temple commingles with temple. Not an easy thing for us to accept. It seems too earthy to be spiritual. Consequently we generally lack the courage to accept a theology of sexuality that is earthy enough to do justice to how shockingly physical the incarnation really is. In sacramental sex there is eucharist, just as in eucharist, God enters, caresses, and kisses human skin. Andre Dubos, the Cajun essayist and novelist, used to say: “Without the Eucharist, God is a monologue.” Well put, especially in what is implicitly affirmed. With the eucharist, God becomes more than words, more than a belief, more than a teaching. In the eucharist, God, like Brenda Peterson’s stepgrandmother, becomes the great healer who touches, caresses, massages, and kisses our skin.

    He seems to be comparing conjugal union to receiving the Eucharist, since in the former the two become one flesh while in the latter Christ gives us His flesh sacramentally and so we become one with Him.  I can’t find any evidence in the article that he is talking about “ritual sex” or Gnostic “masses” or anything like that.  He does seem to be a bit “progressive,” which makes me wary but please show me where Fr. Rolheiser promotes the “Gnostic mass.”

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • Why not just sale the school to the parents? The diocese needs money and a sale is a sale, isnr_url>
    2005-06-08 22:28:57
    2005-06-09 02:28:57
    Please don’t make the mistake of linking two un-linked things.  It is quite possible to object to ubiquitous bikini-clad models and Victoria’s Secret catalogues while at the same time objecting to public breastfeeding.  The “culture of sex” doesn’t have anything to do with what is a matter of basic courtesy.

    I know I’m going to get some heat for this, so feel free to fire away, but I for one am tired of being forced to avert my eyes when a woman in the front pew (YES!  believe it!) decides to whip out her breast and nurse during my homily.

    And I know that there must be a goodly number of women who “cover,” there are plenty who don’t.  Believe it.

    Look, I’m in favor of breastfeeding.  I don’t think it’s tainted with “sex.”  But I DO think that modesty still has a place in our Catholic culture.

    What’s wrong, I ask you, with a mom seeking out a private place to breastfeed when possible?  Instead, the lactivist activists are insisting that it’s a God-given right to nurse anywhere the mood strikes them (or their infant).  What happened to the good old days when mom took baby into another room for this very personal moment?  Barbara Walters’ seatmate could very easily have gone to the rear galley and nursed there—I doubt it was absolutely necessary that she do it right then and there.

    There are a lot of “natural” things that we all do each day.  None of us would dare argue that, since they’re “natural” we should therefore have license to do them when and wherever we choose.  Even though we COULD, we DON’T—because we care about the sensibilities of others.  That’s part and parcel of what it means to be a Christian, I think—to at least take into account the feelings of others before we do what we want to do.

  • +J.M.J+

    I said that the term “sacramental sex” sounds like a reference to the Sacrament of Matrimony, but that I could be wrong about that.  As I mentioned briefly in my last post, Fr. Rolheiser is a progressive.  Progressive Catholics sometimes use slippery language.

    For instance, a progressive dissident may say something like “sacramental sex,” hoping that traditionally-minded Catholics will hear that and think, “Oh yes, the Sacrament of Matrimony,” but they really mean that “sex is a sacrament” (as Fr. Greeley is fond of saying) or something like that.

    Also, his statement “In sacramental sex there is eucharist” sounds like Amchurchese to me.  Some modernists like to use the term “eucharist” without a definite article to mean something different from THE Eucharist – the Blessed Sacrament, the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.

    For instance, you’ll sometimes hear them say “We become eucharist to one another;” meaning that we become Christ to one another, that we help one another, that we fellowship with one another, something like that.  They say this because many progressive Catholics believe that Jesus’ presence in the congregation supercedes His presence in the Blessed Sacrament, or even that Holy Communion is just a “sign” of our unity in Christ (I’m no sure whether Fr. Rolheiser believes the latter, though).  The most important thing in their view is not that He comes into our midst and receives our worship under the forms of bread and winem, but that “we become eucharist” (a kind-of screwed-up transubstantiation).

    This is similar to how they drop the definite article before “church,” as in “We are church.”  Again, they’re not talking about the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Bride of Christ and our Mother.  They mean something different.

    So when Fr. Rolheiser says, “In sacramental sex there is eucharist,” he’s not advocating ritual sex during Mass.  He’s saying something to the effect that, in sexual relations (married???) Christians can “become eucharist” to each other; that is, they give themselves to each other as Christ gives Himself in the Blessed Sacrament.

    Yes, he is using the language of liturgy – but figuratively, not literally.  The references to “temple” are specifically to the human body as a temple of the Holy Spirit (an image he ripped from Scripture, of course).  He’s not calling for ritual sex in church but drawing a comparison between the Eucharist and intercourse.  To say that he’s advocating sexual rites during liturgy is to put words into his mouth.  Ask him if that’s what he intends and I’m sure he would say “Heavens no!”

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • If he said “yes” about how long would the orthodox among us postpone raising the alarm?  A progressive can only go so far, no matter what he thinks.  Once one shocking idea comes to be accepted, another can be built upon it.  After a few of these take place, you find yourself with a whole new religion.  Remember, Teilhard is the darling of the Neo-Cathars.

    The liberal version of Catholicism—Rosicrucianism—would be content doing away with sacraments altogether and finding God in each other because, you know, we are all God.  So you are not far from the mark here.

    Now remember that this priest gives programs to seminarians.  What will they do in their time of teaching with the concept that “sacramental sex is eucharist”?

    “Slippery language” is part and parcel of the morphing of theology.

  • +J.M.J+

    If he said “yes” he would have to be corrected.  We would have to alert the CDF right away.  But I doubt he would say yes.

    BTW, I’m not defending Fr. Rolheiser, just trying to figure out what he’s really saying.  He’s speaking Amchurchese, which is questionable at best and heterdox at worst.  But I doubt this fuzzy language in an obscure article by a priest most of us probably never heard of before is going to lead to widespread consumption of bodily fluids at quasi-tantric “masses” in Catholic churches.  I can’t totally rule it out (ya never know with Amchurch), but I doubt it.

    After all, the Gnostic mass was the perverted spawn of sick minds like Aleister Crowley.  It did not result from progressive Catholics talking about “sacramental sex,” let alone orthodox Catholics saying “sex is sacred.”

    I agree that we should be careful what we say and how we define our terms, however.  As you said, progressives love to use vague, undefined terms; all the more reason why orthodox Catholics should be crystal clear.

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • Just goes to show you that the debate on public displays of breastfeeding ranks right up there with taxes, abortion and euthenasia. 

    Melanie summed up my thoughts in the first comment.  I really believe that people are offended by public displays, not because it is “inappropriate” but because it diminishes the sexual mystique of the breast.  Once it has been seen as a functional part of a woman’s body it becomes much like an elbow.  That is in direct contradiction to what our society wants the breast to be.  To which I say, “Too flippin bad”.  Women cannot pick and choose when to breastfeed.  If its lunchtime, its lunchtime.  There is nothing inappropriate about feeding a child in public.  To the contrary, one can (and should) make the argument that providing sustenance is sacred in itself.  What is wholly inappropriate is denying or delaying food to an infant for societal reasons.

    I firmly believe that if our culture would accept public displays of breastfeeding, all the strip clubs would shut down the next day. 

  • Carrie,

    I think the basic problem you are having is that you insist that your definition of “sacred” is the one and only way to interpret that word. When people disagree on the definitions of the terms they are using, true conversation is impossible. You have defined the term “sacred” to mean something that happens in Church. I’m sorry, but that is not what I mean when I say that something is sacred. As long as you continue to distort my words, we can’t really communicate.

    What I meant by “sacred” is something set aside, dedicated to God. Like we set aside a church and it becomes God’s house, the place where He dwells. Or we set aside a cup and it becomes a sacred vessel to hold the Precious Blood.

    “Sacred” is not associated with the trinitarian being only, as you insist. It is not merely the immanent trinity. It also involves the economic trinity, God active in the world, which involves the sacraments
    Every time a married couple has sex in which they are mutually giving and open to new life, they are sealing the covenant of the sacrament of marriage which they have made between themselves and god. it is sacred.

    God did not engage in sex when he became incarnate because he already IS the creator. If sex, in marriage is an image of the trinity, WHY WOULD A MEMBER OF THE TRINITY ENGAGE IN AN IMAGE?
    He already IS part of the trinity.

    But Jesus is a unique case in history. The Holy Family is a unique case.

    We can not measure married life by that. He performed his first miracle at the wedding of cana, for crying out loud! The lord’s supper, the Eucharist, is the marriage feast of the Lamb, the cross is the consummation, the wedding bed (he cries out on the cross: Consummatum est). The Church is the Bride of Christ, born from his pierced side as Eve was born from Adamly. When used improperly, it is desecration. The devil will sully anything he can. Sex is so important and such an amazing gift that it is built into our very bodies, and we must all of us deal with it. We are all beings who are innately physical, and in our physical selves, we are sexual. Male and Female he created us in the image and likeness of God. Be fruitful and multiply. It is one of our greatest gifts, and it is therefore one of the first which the devil attacks and seeks to turn to his perverse purposes. This is possible because sex is such a great gift. It is capable of being so terribly perverted because, properly ordered, sex is indeed sacred. The celibate life is a holy calling, not because sex is bad, but because sex points to a higher good, and it is not wrong to forego a lesser good and seek the higher. It is wrong to seek the lesser without allowing it to point to the higher good.

    And yes, we must address the abuses of sex. That is implicit in proper teaching and raising of our children, and proper catechisization of our converts. But that does not mean dropping this essential truth and giving into untruths which were denounced so very very long ago. It means that when we teach our children “sex is sacredp:comment>


    2005-06-13 22:01:34
    2005-06-14 02:01:34
    I am a 45 yr old mother of four who breastfed for more than ten years. I came from a family that was definitely squeemish. My dad requested I not breastfeed in front of him, but ironically the baby was nursing as he spoke!! And that, so to speak, broke the ice.
    Breastfeeding was not only my children’s sole source of sustenance, it was our only form of child-spacing. I did not regain my fertility post-partum for a good 24 months. So yes! Modesty is vital; it’s our duty in charity. But God intended our young nurslings to be where we are and what fun is it to nurse, what encouragement is there in long-term nursing, when you’re relegated to the public toilet, or to an empty room?

    On the more weighty topic of the dangers of focusing on kooky theology, especially in the arena of sexuality …

    Let me start from this angle: as a younger woman, I would go to Mass somewhat “expectant” of zany action from the priest, and when it happened [and Lord knows, it happened!] I would stew about it for the rest of the Mass.  One day I realized that my duty at Mass was to keep my eyes firmly fixed on the Lord – figuratively, and literally – to be anywhere else [especially in a huff about the priest!] was a triumph for the devil, whose sole intention is to influence us to take our eyes off of Christ.
    Likewise, reading up on Tantra [a thing I never knew existed, and I could have survived 45 more years w/o knowing about its existence, thank you very much!!!] and other assorted perversions, heresies and aberrations takes our eyes off of Christ. Now, some people in the Church probably have to pay attention to such things, and I strongly believe God gives them the grace needed to delve into that world unscathed. The rest of us need to focus on what’s good and what’s true and what’s beautiful. If you’re immersed in the Good, the True and the Beautiful, then when ugly lies happen to come your way, unbidden, you will know them for what they are and repel them.
    We Catholics have a lifetime’s worth of wonderful reading! Focus on what will get you to know Christ and His Beauty.
    Curiosity can be a portal to sin; it often is. Over-concern about “what can go wrong” can lead to heresy. Not all of us have the constitution for such delvings. I know I don’t. I prefer to read what I know is Truth. And I have found that it brings a joy and a certainty about the goodness of God that is – well, attractive and contagious!!
    God bless you and may He keep all of us in His Truth.

  • annieransom,
    Here, here!
    Thank you for your insights both on the subject of breastfeeding and on kooky theology. You hit the nail on the head with that one and pinpointed exactly what has been bugging me about Carrie’s posts. We would do well to remember St Paul and keep our eyes firmly directed towards the goal, which is Christ, rather than allow ourselves to be distracted by Satan and all his works.

  • +J.M.J+

    Here are some Scriptural admonitions:

    “As I desired thee to remain at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some not to teach otherwise:  Not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which furnish questions rather than the edification of God which is in faith.  Now the end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith.” (1 TIM 1:3-5 DR)

    “These things proposing to the brethren, thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished up in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which thou hast attained unto.  But avoid foolish and old wives fables: and exercise thyself unto Godliness.” (1 TIM 4:6-7 DR)

    “Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they grow much towards ungodliness.” (2 TIM 2:16 DR)

    No less than three times, St. Paul admonishes St. Timothy to avoid “foolish and old wives fables…profane and vain babblings,” and to study instead Scripture and “words of faith and of the good doctrine.”

    We Christians should not be delving into the deep things of Satan (Apocalypse 2:24).  There is great danger there, which is why the Church long counseled her children to avoid “bad books.”  In a way, it’s too bad the Index was discontinued, but it would not have been practical to keep it going.

    In Jesu et Maria,

  • “1. Jaime is he, not she. Sorry Jaime.
    2. Women plan. Babies dont child I wouldn’t nurse at mass.  I wouldn’t relegate him to the bathroom though I would go to the fellowship room and nurse in the dark.  But that meant for the first six months after he was born I never got through the whole mass.  I finally realized that it was okay as long as I was discreet.  I mean you can be discreet even without a blanket.  You can turn a different way or sit at the end of the pew or whatever.  I am sure that most people would rather not hear the baby crying thought the Mass, right?  As a mom these days you can never be right.  There is always someone judging you (verbally) on your choices.  The front pew though is a little bit much if she was exposing herself.  If she wasn’t exposing anything what does it matter if she was in the front or the back?