By JOHN F. KIPPLEY
(Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. The commentary below is reprinted with permission from his blog at johnkippley.com. All rights reserved.)
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In his homily on the readings for a recent Mass (Jer. 2:1ff and Matt. 13:10-17), our priest noted that much in our culture today parallels the things against which both Jeremiah and Jesus spoke.
That struck a resonant chord, for I have long wondered if the current attacks on the Church are analogous to the attacks that the Lord allowed His Old Testament people to suffer when they became unfaithful.
In the prophets and the psalms it is very clear that God has selected the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not for any merits of their own but simply to show God’s love, mercy, and power at work in the world. They would exist only by His very special protection.
The Babylonian exile, however, represented God’s lifting His special protection since the people no longer wanted to walk in His ways. Their return to Israel was due to a moral miracle worked through a pagan, not by any virtue of their own except repentance.
By analogy, if we acknowledge that the Church was suffering internal corruption during the 15th and early 16th centuries, can the rise of Protestantism be compared to the Old Testament assaults?
And what about today? After Vatican Council II ended in 1965, its work was widely misinterpreted as permission to become worldly in the worst sense of that term instead of a call to evangelize the world. This came to a head in 1968 with the massive rejection by Catholics of almost 2,000 years of Catholic teaching against marital contraception. The result is that in these United States it is estimated that less than one percent of fertile-age Catholics are living out the teaching of Humanae Vitae.
To tighten the analogy, the Chosen People settled in the land of Canaan among peoples who were worshipers of Baal, considered the god of fertility. Ritual prostitution was common and even required. As Old Testament scholar Fr. Bruce Vawter wrote someplace in his book, The Conscience of Israel, a young woman might not like the idea, but playing the part of a temple prostitute was part of their religion. This proved to be a great temptation for all too many of the Chosen People who chose to join the Canaanites in these practices.
Can we not say that all too many of God’s chosen people — His baptized — once again have fallen into the trap of pagan sexual immorality? And can we not say that this time around these sins may be even worse — and especially for those who benefit from the teaching authority of the Catholic Church — because the participants are hoping not for the gift of fertility but in their idolization of contraceptive sex are hoping for infertility?
Is it not possible that God has somewhat lifted His mantle of protection of the Church in recognition of the failure of Church leaders to really confront this massive moral heresy?
Regardless of the value of this speculation, I suggest that all Christian parties ought to agree on a few things.
First, we all ought to be praying for authentic reform and renewal all throughout the Church in the widest meaning of that term. We all ought to be praying for a rebirth of modesty and chastity, for a stop to contraception and sodomy and abortion and for a culture of life.
Second, all Catholics ought to be praying for the conversion of North America, for the reconversion of Latin America, for the reconversion of Europe, for the conversion of Russia, for the conversion of Islam and the Jews, and for peace in the Holy Land and all throughout the Middle East and the entire world. If we love these peoples, we want what is best for them, and that means that we want them to have lives of full Catholic faith and holiness.
To me these things are so obvious that I sometimes wonder: Why don’t we hear these petitions at Mass? Why don’t we hear these petitions before the start of group rosary prayers? Certainly, someone might say, God knows all these needs, so why should we tell Him what He already knows?
Well, if that’s the case, why pray in petition for anything? Maybe the Lord just wants to see if we are sufficiently interested in these projects to give a bit of our time in prayer.
At any rate, please join me in making these intentions part of your daily prayers and intentions. The current wars are not going to be resolved just by guns and more killings. And really, you cannot reasonably want your descendants to have to live under Sharia law.