Category Archives: Meditations

Meditations – July 29, 2015

By Rev. Ray Atwood,   Prince of Peace Cluster

Humanae Vitae

Saturday, July 25 was the feast day of Saint James, one of Our Lord’s Apostles. James was the brother of John and is called “the greater” because he followed Christ before the other Apostle with the same name. He was the first Apostle to be martyred, being decapitated by order of King Herod Agrippa I around AD 44 (Acts 12:1).
Saturday was also the 47th anniversary of the controversial papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), written by Pope Paul VI. This encyclical was written in response to the development of the birth control pill (1960). At the time the pill was being promoted in Third World countries in Africa and South America to stem the rise of large populations.
After five years of prayerful reflection, Pope Paul VI decided to reaffirm the Church’s constant teaching that artificial contraception is morally wrong. Human life is one fruit of the conjugal act, and can never be physically separated from the marriage act. To do so damages the marriage relationship by turning the marital partner into a sex object and rejects the gift of human life. The rise of no-fault divorce, abortion, and gay marriage, as well as government coercion of individuals to use contraception in Third World countries, are the fulfillment of the pope’s prophecy.
Fortunately, there is a moral and natural alternative to the birth-control pill. It’s called Naprotechnology, which studies the woman’s cycle and enables her to pinpoint the exact times of fertility in a month. It is safe, reliable, natural, and ethical. Dr. Robert Pranger, of the Kettman Pranger Family Medicine Clinic in Waterloo, is a practitioner and promoter of this method. He uses only Natural Family Planning methods, and is a beacon of light in a dark world. His decision to begin this practice came after prayer, persistence, and the encouragement of his wife. “I began to read and learn more aspects of my faith which centered on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Humanae Vitae,” he told an interviewer recently.
The pill is not the only means of family planning. With the help of this Catholic doctor, this message will spread and be embraced by many more people. Their lives and our culture will be better as a result.

Meditations – July 22, 2015

By Rev. Ray Atwood,   Prince of Peace Cluster

Counterfeit Marriage

The great Saint Paul has much wisdom to pass on to us, if we are willing to listen. Two examples will suffice:
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). America is grieving the Holy Spirit this summer. The recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, issued by a 5-4 majority, is one of the saddest days in American history. The court had the audacity to declare that marriage between two men or between two women is not only legal, but constitutionally protected! Yes, the U.S. Constitution protects gay marriage. Sadder still was the reaction of county magistrates, civil officials, and even clergy around the country. Many states began issuing marriage licenses, senators and other officials issued statements of approval, and many clergy said little or nothing about this issue!
This is not the end of the story. What is going to happen when bigamy and polygamy become “the law of the land?” A man in Montana is planning to request a license to marry two women. He claims to be acting under the principle of “marriage equality.” He’s not the only person to be thinking in this way. When will it end?
We have already taken the following elements of marriage out of it in our culture (permanence with no-fault divorce; children with contraception, sterilization, and abortion; and now man-woman with so-called “gay marriage.”) The number two will be the next part to be eliminated from this sacred institution. We are in a moral spiral downward.
The second piece of wisdom: “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15).
We have to take advantage of every opportunity to proclaim the truth that (1) we are not God; (2) we cannot do whatever we want; (3) marriage and family come from God, and are subject to His laws; (4) mortal sin is deadly sin and leads to damnation; (5) Jesus Christ and His Church are the way to salvation and can teach us how to live as God intends. We need to resist this evil ruling in every way possible. This means refusing to affirm counterfeit gay marriage, and voting for and working for those who support this institution. May we do everything possible to turn the United States away from the devil and back to our Father.

Meditations – July 15, 2015

By Rev. Ray Atwood,  Prince of Peace Cluster

Original Sin

We are familiar with the account of Original Sin in the third chapter of Genesis. This passage is one of the most famous and widely discussed in Scripture. One thing about Scripture is its multiple levels (e.g., literal, spiritual, moral). Unlike other forms of literature, Scripture is the inerrant Word of God that can never be exhausted. I would like to reflect on Original Sin and some of its implications today.
First, let us consider the two trees in the Garden of Eden. God created two trees in Eden (2:8-10). One was the tree of life, and the other was the tree of knowledge. The tree of life stands for immortal life. Adam and Eve would have had immortality had they not sinned. They could eat of this tree and live forever (Gen. 3:22). Then there was the tree of knowledge. Knowledge here means “choice” or decision. It symbolized the ability to decide right from wrong apart from the laws of God. God made this tree in order to remind man that, while he was immortal, he was not divine. You could call it a boundary over which man was not allowed to cross. Adam and Eve were given instructions not to eat it. This boundary proved too much of a temptation for the first couple.
Then consider the tempter, who takes the form of a serpent. The serpent is upright, indicating some equality with man. He also speaks! In fact, Satan was using the serpent to tempt the woman (cf. Mt. 16:23). He enters the garden to test man’s knowledge, loyalty, and obedience to God. Something similar would happen in Job.
The serpent approaches the woman and asks her if she understands God’s command. She not only understood His command to refrain from eating, but she could not even touch the tree (Gen. 3:3). Satan tells a half-lie (“You will not die”). She and her husband see it was pleasing to the eye, desirable for gaining godly wisdom, and so they took it and ate it. Thus their eyes were opened and they realized what had happened.
Catholics do not believe man’s nature was completely corrupted from that moment on. We say that man is deprived, but not depraved because of Original Sin. Jesus would redeem human nature by His death and resurrection.
Adam and Eve were then punished and expelled from Eden. They would have to work, suffer, and struggle from now on. Why? Because had they not been expelled, they would have lived forever in a fallen state. The Lord, in His providence, enabled them to live and die after so much time, in order to redeem their fallen nature in Christ.
Original Sin has been compared to a huge rock thrown into a pond. The ripples from the rock crashing in the middle of the water flow to the end of the pond. So too, the ripples of Original Sin continue in our day.
The idea of Original Sin is being undermined today because if we are wounded we need a Savior. The secular world would prefer to be a modern-day “savior,” and so you see attempts to undercut this idea. One example is the change of vocabulary. The words “problem,” “struggle,” “retardation,” to name a few, are being replaced by “challenge” and “issue.” It’s called “verbal engineering.”
As we enjoy the summer, let us remember that we still need a Savior, and the fact that, while we are baptized, we still need to repent of personal sin and live out the graces of our baptismal calling.

Meditations – July 8, 2015

By Rev. Ray Atwood,   Prince of Peace Cluster

Environmental Stewardship

Pope Francis has recently issued an encyclical letter titled Beati Si (“Blessed Are You”), inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi (d. 1226). Francis was a deacon in Italy during the Middle Ages. He lived a worldly life until he was captured in a civil war and spent time in prison. He later had a miraculous conversion and decided to renounce his family’s cloth merchant business and form a religious community dedicated to the ideal of evangelical poverty. He spent his time praying, preaching, and begging for alms. He formed a society of young men to join him, and eventually his community became known as the Franciscan Religious Order.
There are many stories from the life of Saint Francis. One is that he literally preached to birds and small animals in a forest; another is that he tamed a wolf at a place called Gubbio (the wolf had been attacking citizens). Francis has been associated with nature and the environment ever since that day.
Pope Francis wrote his encyclical out of concern for the environment, but more importantly to remind us of an important truth: we are citizens of the world and we have a serious responsibility to care for God’s creation. The Book of Genesis, chapters one and two, reminds us that man was created after all the other creatures, and God called man to a specific vocation: “to cultivate and care for” the earth (Gen. 2:15). Man and woman were to watch over each other and the creatures entrusted to their care; they were to till the soil; and they were allowed to eat any tree in the garden (except the tree of knowledge). They were also to fill the earth and subdue it (fertility was a blessing, cf. Gen. 1:28).
We are stewards of the environment. We too are called to cultivate and care for the earth. This means keeping our planet clean and healthy. The earth is not a thing simply to be used and disposed of at whim. It belongs to all of us and we have a special responsibility to keep is clean. We do this in many ways: by cleaning up after ourselves at picnics and other outdoor gatherings; by resisting the temptation to throw trash out our car window; by recycling cans and bottles; by keeping our yards clean and neat.
There is a movement which is using junk science to convince us that we humans are destroying the world-wide climate. The “science” behind this movement consists of models that are a result of data put in by the scientists! In addition, we often hear that “the consensus of scientists proves that man-made global warming is a fact.” Scientific consensus proves nothing. There are also scientists who dispute this hypothesis, and that’s all it is. They are ignored by the media.
Man cannot affect the entire world climate (sorry global warming advocates, but it is true!). But he can control the local climate, and help make the world a healthier place, the kind of place in which God wants us to live. Let us follow the words of the pope and the inspiration of Saint Francis to keep our world clean and healthy for us and future generations.

Meditations – July 1, 2015

By Rev. Ray Atwood,  Prince of Peace Cluster

Freedom

July 4 falls on a Saturday this year. This is a wonderful summertime holiday. Independence Day is also an opportunity to reflect on the important theme of freedom. What is freedom according to the Church?
Saint Paul tells the Christians at Galatia: “You were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use the freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather serve one another through love” (5:13). Freedom is a human quality. God created man in His image and likeness. The image refers to our ability to reason, while the likeness refers to free will. We are the only creatures that can make free will decisions. Animals, on the other hand are not free because they cannot make free will decisions.
Freedom is the exercise of our talents and abilities. It is the necessary quality of true human behavior. Paul tells the Christian community to use their freedom for service rather than selfish fulfillment. We serve our neighbor freely and without reservation, thus becoming what God calls us to be.
There are different kinds of freedom: there is artistic freedom, or the ability to exercise our artistic talents such as painting or architecture; there is intellectual freedom, or the ability to exercise our minds in creative writing such as poetry; there is physical freedom, or the ability to move about without restraint; and finally, there is the freedom of the children of God (Rom. 8:21). The ultimate liberation of God’s people comes when we live as Christ intends.
As we celebrate Independence Day weekend with parades, picnics, hot dogs and apple pie, let us remember what freedom means, and use our freedom in the service of our neighbor.