Monday, June 1, 2009

Personal Aside: Fr. Ernie Returns Post-Mortem to Complete His Thinking on Same-Sex Marriage…Details on Terry Barnich Visitation and Funeral Mass…Bruno Behrend Responds on Adam Andrzejewski.


Fr. Ernie Post-Mortem.

[For those who have been following and are fans of the late Fr. Ernest Kilzer, OSB…surprisingly more than I expected…the gruff old theologian and philosopher who received his doctorates from the Louvain following which he taught generations—including mine-- at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota…this is a special treat. I took down in a rough shorthand most of Ernie’s lectures during my four years at the blessedly orthodox pre-Vatican II era but here I am speculating, after having been indoctrinated by him in philosophy and theology for four years (history of philosophy, logic, natural law, cosmology, epistemology et al), what he would say about same-sex marriage. His previous appearance was cut short but now he returns…from the Abbey cemetery where he has lain since 1993…to put a final nail in the coffin so to speak on the issue from a traditionalist perspective. In the absence of the provocative Bede Hall the questions addressed to Fr. Ernest come from me—hence my initials: TR.].

Fr. Ernest. Resuming our discussion...I see you have a question: yes?

TR. In the spirit of our old classes, Father, where your friendly adversary Bede Hall would raise questions that would set you off—or where you would pretend to be set off…really because he was your favorite provocateur…

Fr. Ernest. Too many words. Get to the heart of it.

TR. Were he here he might ask you this: “Father I have never in the slightest degree been interested sexually in a man. One trip to the Saint John’s dressing room anterior to the gym where naked men abound testifies to that. How then can the spectacle of two men making love and/or marrying tear at the fabric of the moral law when there is no possibility of my—or anyone I associate with—imitating same?

Fr. Ernest. The question is a good one and is worthy of Bede Hall. For many it is not a matter of imitation. But considering the nature of how the Church has received and imparted Divine Revelation and her interpretation of natural law, the entire abrogation of the moral law weakens the fabric. Today…far more so than when I taught…there are legions of those who vindicate what they call “the right” to sexual union before marriage. It has started where—by means of what seems to be reasonable grounds. It started in my era with those who announce they wish to marry and have such an affection that they wish, indeed maintain they cannot resist and that the world will fully understand, early experience in sexual completion which in their estimation is connatural. Let us say this may occur where marriage is impeded by some circumstances—in the 2nd World War with which you and I are familiar, the specter of the young man being sent overseas before marriage can be arranged. All these are bewitching arguments and the secular world often says—yes, why not?

That very understanding undermines our human condition basis Original Sin. We have been trained to understand that every genital act must be within the framework of marriage. And furthermore that the commission …no matter how “good” from the standpoint of immediacy (as in the case of the young man going off to war from which he may very well not return)…of premature sexual relations is such that having sinned at this time, the man and woman cannot as strongly protect—as they would have if this had not occurred—themselves against future arbitrary whims and caprices. Examples: The young man goes off to war and engages in a completely dangerous set of actions that may take his life and in this time meets, let us say, an army nurse who shares the experiences of war with him which in his mind transcends his earlier obligation to his fiancée back home with whom he had had sexual relations. Do I need to be specific? The bond of separateness before marriage has been violated and it is in the nature of the human condition to say: well, why not again?

Back at home, the young lady remains faithful but hears via a letter…what we used to call a “Dear John”…that her betrothed desires to break it off for some reason, possibly because of guilt since he has not been faithful. You may say this is anecdotal to which I say so anecdotal as to be in the range of most of our experiences in life.

Carry this through and you get to the full range of carnal desire. Whereas experience has taught us that love must find its safeguard in the stability of marriage if sexual relations is truly to respond to the requirements of its own purpose, it is right then that the requirements demand a conjugal contract which is recognized under civil law as well—a contract that binds together to develop maternal and paternal love…so that the children who are issued are not deprived of the stable environment needed to develop themselves to the greater honor and glory of God.

So in summary, you say that while you are not tempted to homosexuality…and indeed are repelled…the acceptance in society of the pre-marital condition or the faux marital condition in the case of same-sex marriage weakens the fabric of society. The so-called “denial” of marriage privileges arises in the iteration of same-sex marriage. Why, they ask, when heterosexuals can marry, can we not marry? Then if this becomes acceptable, others may ask why…if same-sex marriage is permitted…can not a father marry his daughter when he loses his wife. Incest? How old fashioned!

TR. Then what is to happen to those who congenitally may be fated to become homosexuals for their own sexual completion of love.

Fr. Ernest [angrily]. Don’t give me that “sexual completion” business…especially in conjunction with “love”! There is no ordained right to “sexual completion” but there is an obligation to love. I was celibate, having voluntarily embraced the celibate state during my life. Consecrated life reveals the very meaning of love reminiscent of those who underwent difficulties, trials, persecution and even martyrdom out of love for Christ and His Church. The reason: their lives of sacrifice and abandonment to God’s will inspires others to follow their example—in one way or another—to serve the needs of their brothers and sisters throughout the world. Was I a good teacher during our four years together? If you say “yes,” you will follow what the Church in 20 centuries has shown that deeply consecrated people to their vocation, those who sense their mission as evangelization, contribute profoundly to the renewal of the whole world.

Now let us consider the homosexual condition. There are those today in certain contradistinction to my time who judge indulgently and then to excuse homosexual relations either for themselves or for others. Are they such by nature? In my lifetime there was no definite answer to the question.

But the answer is clear for them. Essentially in my experience, those who are homosexuals come in two categories. The first are those drawn to same-sex unchangeably—who believe their tendency is so basic that it justifies homosexual relations with a sincere communion of life analogous to marriage since they believe they are incapable of living a solitary life.

They deserve to be treated with understanding and sustained by the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties. Their culpability should be judged with prudence—but understand no pastoral method should be adopted that would give moral justification to these acts because they would be consistent with the condition of such people. In essence, these acts can never be justified.

The best counsel to these people is to encourage them to take advantage of their condition. How? Definitely, for God’s sake, not to enter the clergy until and unless they choose to live the blessed single life, in chastity, rather than rebel against the teaching of the Church and the moral sense of Judeo Christianity. The clergy should not be a refuge for those who are not interested in marriage or are either neuter sexually or privately homosexual. Abbot Alcuin here always interviewed each man who applied to our seminary and novitiate. If the man applying to the priesthood or brotherhood would state that he has had no temptations of the flesh for a woman, Abbot Alcuin would immediately blackball him, turn him away. The abbot preferred what is known as a “real man’s man” with normal carnal desires which by God’s grace he can sublimate rather than one who is not drawn to women or in a sense of improper relationships is drawn only to men.

As one who was never drawn to same-sex but who nevertheless lived the single life in chastity, I can tell you—and them—that there are untold great rewards for homosexuals living the chaste single life…undoubtedly greater rewards than for those like me who are not…as they offer up their tendencies as a sacrifice and throw themselves even more heroically in their tasks to bring visibility to the marvels of God, not so much by words but by the eloquent language of the transfigured life with their lives testimonial to moral principles which show the power of God in those He loves. Indeed, they can by taking up their cross, arrive at the ultimate completion…if you value such a word in the sexual sense…but completion as I use it in the spiritual sense by the imitation of Jesus Christ, the perfect example of chastity and obedience.

TR. And the second category?

Fr. Ernest. The second consists of those who have been misled by the psychological profession stemming from a false education, lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from exploitation by others, by bad example. These are not incurable but susceptible to re-education. Once again the end of this lecture draws near. Let me leave you with this thought:

Observance of the moral law in the field of sexuality…in regard to heterosexual and homosexual practice…has been jeopardized by the debased culture, growing in dimension in my time, alarmingly so in yours -by the tendency to minimize or denying outright the reality of grave sin in actual lives. I can tell you it has invaded the formerly sacred precincts of Catholic theology—the concept that mortal sin which involves separation from God only exists in the formal refusal directly opposed to God’s will which means that instinctive susceptibility to carnality is somehow understood as part of the “human condition.” Not so. Actually what is called the “human condition” or partiality to sin occurs through such evil rationalization. The flexible rationale of mortal sin propagated by our latter day misnamed “theologians” says that mortal sin can be committed only when one deliberately closes oneself to love of neighbor.

You can now understand what the new definition of mortal sin is—only when one deliberately closes oneself to love of neighbor. It comes down to acceptance of a great many things that are consonant with the so-called modern “liberal” philosophy to the exclusion of other sins, does it not? Thus it becomes comforting to be a modern liberal: I can lust all I wish for my neighbor’s wife but so long as I am supportive of a guaranteed income for the poor paid by our government, I am spared the onus of mortal sin. But accordingly to the Church’s teaching , mortal sin which casts the person in the stance of being opposed to God, does not consist only in formal and direct resistance to the commandment of charity. It is equally to be found in opposition to authentic love included in every deliberate transgression in serious matter of each of the moral laws.

TR. The definition of mortal sin as consisting only when one deliberately closes oneself to love of neighbor comes close to the concept put out by your late colleague, Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB which went far to revolutionize latter day liberal Catholic theology, does it not?

Fr. Ernest. To which I will make no comment because to do so would allow you to intrude in long conversations between my distinguished Benedictine colleague Fr. Godfrey and me prior to our deaths. I believe I have satisfied the requirement of addressing homosexuality, have I not?

TR. Yes, indeed. Thank you, Father.

Terry Barnich Visitation and Funeral Mass.

Earlier I reported on the tragic death of Terry Barnich in Iraq who was the highest State Department officer to lose his life over there, a loss that is enormous from the country’s standpoint, Illinois’ and our own.

Here are the details of the visitation and funeral Mass.

Visitation scheduled by his family will be held this Tuesday, June 2nd at the University Club of Chicago in Cathedral Hall from 4 to 7 p.m. Funeral Mass and pre-Mass visitation will be held Wednesday, June 3rd, visitation at 10, Mass at 11 a.m. at Saint Alphonsus Church, 1439 Wellington avenue—Wellington, Lincoln and Southport in Chicago.

Bruno Behrend Response.

The following is a response to my earlier piece on what I maintain is the lack of good Republican governorship candidates for 2010. Bruno Behrend is a good friend and consultant to Adam Andrzejewski, announced candidate for the Republican nomination. Bruno’s comments follow in the post below:

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