Saving Graces

new mercies each and every day

TOB Tuesday: What is meant by beginning?

Apr
05

image_thumb9_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[4] So we are finally beginning the long journey of going through “Man and Woman he created them: A Theology of the Body” by John Paul II. I wonder if it will take us 5 years too LOL. Hey, this tome is huge.

This TOB Tuesday we go through my notes of the first session. Session one began by exploring “What is meant by the beginning?”. Why the focus on the ‘beginning’?  JPII’s talks begin as the bishops are preparing for a synod on “De muneribus familiae christianae” – The duties [or role, gifts, tasks] of the Christian Family. This has been fundamental from the beginning a phrase Jesus uses when talking about marriage, and to figure out why He appealed to the beginning we analyse scripture. We see the beginning referring to Genesis, to the two creation accounts written there. How man and woman were created by God, in His image and how they will leave mother and father to become one.

When chatting to the Pharisees in Mt 19, He brings this out and emphasises how in the beginning we were created thus, quoting a scripture well known. He then goes on explaining that divorce was only instituted because of the hardness of man’s heart for, in the beginning, it was not so. That God’s intention was very decisive, that what He joined in union, no man could sperate; and this was from the very beginning.

So we will delve into this beginning to discover what it means to us today and how it affects our lives and families. MA mentioned that JPII was an ethicist, he was concerned a lot with what one ought to do and how our actions fit in with Divine Law, Natural Law and Moral Law. For instance, how do we reveal contraception as a violence against human nature? As human we like to judge issues on a case by case basis, e.g what if she was raped, what if the child will only live 1 month in abject pain. But we are reminded not to involve ‘cases’, not to try and change the law to suit us, but to love first and not judge first. We are called to go to the beginning to original man; authentic man, true, real, genuine, true to God’s plan, without sin, true to love. We are to be reminded that Love is gift and we image God in that gift.

Now to learn how to image 🙂

Reasons to NFP or not to NFP…

Mar
24

So Simcha at I have to sit down has this most brilliant post. I just spent an hour reading comments… and its amazing. She has based it on why doesn’t the church make a list of”grave/just/serious” reasons to not use NFP. Go over there and take a gander! Inspiring!!!

TOB Tuesday: Is TOB practical in todays world?

Mar
09

image_thumb9_thumb_thumb_thumb So we had our last pre-lent TOB session last night and it was fun. We had a debate. Yes, a debate.

MA noted that most sessions we always touch on how we actually want to live the ‘TOB life’ and how that can be difficult as we are in the world – not of the world but in the world. So we split up into groups, one for TOB and one against it being practical in our lives. And of course I was for TOB – blegh – against would have been so much easier. For todays TOB Tuesday, I am just going to highlight some of the points brought up by people (super edited of course) admittedly some were hilarious and said in jest but in today’s world, people are actually crazy like that. Against:

  • pornography  hurts no one, is healthy and helps to support poor porn-stars, it’s an economy that will always be there
  • sex before marriage is like a test drive – one needs to have sampled the merchandise, and it ensures the couple is sexually compatible, thereby balancing the emotional and physical aspects of a relationship
  • and we are going to get married anyway
  • it’s ok to explore one’s sexuality and in a committed relationship its ok because it’s a safe environment to explore one’s sexuality
  • the world is overpopulated and as such NFP is wrong and irresponsible as it depletes resources and it’s un-natural to abstain
  • its ok to use contraceptives to stop the spread of disease, especially if you are prostitute because soliciting is your job
  • God gave people the means and ideas for contraceptives and after all it is ‘my body’
  • people are happier when they live together and a verbal commitment is just as good as a written one, it also has less hassles if they decide to separate as they do not need to go through the process of divorce, and this is good for the children who then will not go through the trauma of a divorce
  • we cannot condemn homosexuality because we all need someone to love and if one is made that way who is it for Christians to condemn, because God says we must love not judge
  • there is no harm in dancing or dressing provocatively, it’s just expressing yourself, just to feel good and to be self confident. It’s not a girls fault if a guy can’t keep his eyes to himself or control his base urges. We should not be ashamed of showing what God created
  • and we need to move with the times, what worked long ago does not work now
  • we want womyn priests, because they would be less likely to molest and abuse little kids
  • masturbation is just by yourself and frequent ejaculation is good to reduce testicular cancer, it does not harm anyone and is a good stress reliever

and For:

  • TOB is the truth and no matter how difficult it is it leads to happiness, deep down in everyone’s heart is a desire to love and be loved authentically
  • it speaks to the dignity of our bodies
  • the pornography industry feeds human trafficking and child pornography which does affect our society
  • overpopulation is a myth, with a few societies using up the bulk of the world’s resources. Some western societies will soon be facing underpopulation
  • pornography objectifies women and men, which translates to lack of respect for one’s dignity e.g. who wants their mother, daughter, sister treated as dirt? Then why treat other women that way?
  • sexual attraction is normal and a gift but it has its time and place where it can be truly transcendently beautiful,
  • contraception, masturbation and porn have destroyed the fabric of society, where prostitution becomes a valid job and yet half of these women have to be stoned to carry out their ‘job’, where divorce and lack of commitment are the norm, where children do have parents but adult parental units who want to be their ‘friends’
  • how does premarital sex contribute to one’s happiness as a person, in light that no true commitment is there and love may not even be present? most people delude themselves that they are happy in this situation whilst their hearts cry out for true love
  • abstinence is the best way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases
  • the Lord tells us to do a lot of things which we ignore or we listen to the devil, just because we can do something does not mean it is from God and even good things can be used in an evil way, whilst science in itself is not evil, what it can be used for may be evil
  • the priesthood is about fatherhood and engendering life so by natural law women can not be fathers, and hence cannot stand in persona-Christi and become priests
  • relationships are made stronger with common goals, priorities, communication and understating, not with premarital sex
  • going through adversity and challenges strengthens relationships and builds character, such as abstaining together for a greater good
  • we do not live in a bubble were our actions do not affect others, so dancing and acting provocatively will affect others and is not just about you, and the message it sends is that you are available and want all eyes on you, whether that is your intention or not
  • NFP is all natural and does not introduce poisonous chemicals into our bodies, it follows the natural cycles of a women’s body and strives to understand better how our bodies work
  • artificial birth control has been known to cause depression, obesity, blood clots and even death
  • even condoms cannot prevent disease a hundred percent
  • research has shown that a husbands semen may be beneficial to a woman pre – during and post pregnancy – nature working at its best

OK so I have to admit that the ‘for’ side was not well articulated and it just seems difficult to put into practical terms everything about our dignity and the deep hunger within us and morality.

MA gave us a précis highlighting that when talking to non-Christians it is possible to impart TOB principles by focusing on morality dignity and respect. As Christians though we need to focus on where we are headed not where we are. We need to learn that pain and struggle are a part of life.

She noted that one of today’s main problems is a lack of parenting, that parents do not allow their kids to wait or be denied so as adults that have not learnt any restraint. It’s the life of a junky, what makes me happy now, I want that, I get it… oh no a low is coming what’s next to get me that high again?

It’s about instilling morality, just because I have a ring on my finger will not stop an affair, my conscience has to have been formed by some morals for me to know that that would be wrong. And how do we form our consciences, they have to be formed in the Truth, the mass, catechesis, scripture and prayer. If this is not in place the next question would be what was my intent, for instance, what is the moral code of self-defence. MA then sent a little note per email that I thought summed it all up:

“Just as a last word:   instead of trying to answer in a self-righteous way in defence of TOB which puts others off, we can try to work from a moral framework that encapsulates just what John Paul is saying. (he uses the framework – or hermeneutic – of GIFT) What is  this framework: (bearing in mind what I said about Morality as choosing between good and evil and what is meant by ‘good’) We are all made for love – we are all looking / searching for love;  very often what we think is ‘love’ is the counterfeit i.e. it doesn’t grant us the happiness and joy we thought we’d get from it – instant pleasure, maybe, but lasting happiness – not usually. How do we love?  By making a total gift of ourselves because if we don’t, we risk objectifying the other or being objectified and who wants that? So with all the issues  that the no.2 team brought up last night, in light of this framework,  can you think why they are ‘not right’ or why they are not fulfilling and don’t lead to true happiness?  Give this some thought!”

Next week we have a guest speaker Dr Heinz (every time I say his name I think of baked beans)  who is an NFP fundi, and he will give us an NFP talk. See you all then.

TOB Tuesday: Marital Spirituality

Mar
01

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Yesterday was the last of the “Into the heart series” by Christopher West. It focused on marital spirituality. He expressed this spirituality by saying that the couple who are now one body open up that body to the indwelling of the spirit of God, and thus become an expression of loving as God loves.

It’s about opening up to the gift that makes men and women who they are called to be. He then extrapolated this to Christian life, in that all Christian life is called to marital spirituality as the bride of Christ. A direct mirror of this is the Eucharist where, as the body of Christ, we open up to receiving the life given us by His flesh and blood. He then touched again on contraception how every act of intercourse should be opening to saying ‘Lord, let your will be done’ just as we want to say it in every other aspect of our lives, to surrender our fertility to the Lord, and to safeguard the unity of the unitive and procreative love in marriage. That kind of authentic love is oriented towards every true good.

Given were 3 ways to live this life:- prayer, the Eucharist and penance.

He explained that prayer can progress as a genuine dialogue of love to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine, by the Holy Spirit to the point of where the way we would move think and have our being would be drawn straight from the heart of God – and I found that intense. To be Holy Spirit possessed would be to let the spirit do what He wills and to let myself partake in His will, where trusting God comes in. And we have already established how difficult that is for me, but not for lack of trying.

The Eucharist is the sacrament of the bride and the bridegroom, were we as the church open up to receive the life of the bridegroom, and penance leads to healing. One part of penance which has been impressed upon me lately, he explained so well, that regular confession of venial sins helps to form our conscience, free us from concupiscence and be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the spirit— purgative, illuminative and unitive.

Our standard should be perfection, where we strive to it. Even if the Lord’s happy with us and loves us where we are He wants more for us. His love compels us to continue on the journey to holiness. C.W also stated that one other way of staying true to the path of purity is of throwing ourselves under Mary’s mantle – totus tuus- like JPII. Now this for me was a new way of expressing why we honour Mary, that as the mother of Jesus her womb gave Jesus flesh and form; as such we encounter Jesus through her womb, that we want to model ourselves in the image of Christ and what better way than to use the mould that formed Him?

As the virtue of chastity/ continence is essential in living TOB, these ways can help us and guide us, for by ourselves we will likely fail, we have to embrace self-mastery, which is difficult and a long and exacting process. But through it, we can experience joy through suffering; agony and ecstasy… maybe like Jesus on the cross. The sacrifices of chastity do not impoverish our expressions of love, they make them more intense and real.

TOB Tuesday: Humanae Vitae

Feb
24

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This post is late, I  kinda got busy then forgot and then… oh well. Again TOB Tuesday follows our weekly Monday discussion and we are using Christopher West’s Into the Heart series.

The session focused on Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on human life. We went into what it covers, that it focuses on the problems of birth regulation, that they separate the body from the soul, that it focuses only on the biological aspects of a human which is by no means nearly enough. It outlines how God gave us the law of life as our inheritance.

We are called to responsible parenting, which does not mean rendering the sexual act sterile  -which would be a violation of the sacramental sign of marriage – that it be both unitive and procreative. The unitive part most of us understand and Christopher West explained that the very nature of the communion within the conjugal act, activates the process in which God has chosen to bring forth human life! Again here we are partaking in the great creative glorious power of the Lord, and this, THIS is the method He chose!!!

When the unitive and procreative meanings are separated there is no union of persons and who would want that in a one-flesh union? When we deprive the conjugal act of this very inner truth, it also ceases to be an act of love. We spay and neuter ourselves, which just serves to say that we cannot control ourselves and have reduced ourselves to the level of base animals. Artificial Birth control is not in keeping with human dignity – self-control is the only birth control that is in keeping with human dignity.

One other point I found fascinating was that the seed of the man is not just biological fluid, it is the very essence of the masculine soul, which I think infers it is the essence of fatherhood. Yesterday evening we went to another talk which was centred on Humanae Vitae and the speaker mentioned that every time a mans seed was spilt it was a potential of fatherhood, every single time, there is never a time when one could say oh well only at certain times, it is every time, so it matters not what contraception is used, because only abstinence is 100% effective in not having the potential of fatherhood.

Each conjugal act should be treated with the responsibility of fathering and mothering, it has to come with the understanding that there is a possibility that this act will result in a child even if the probability is 0.01% for whatever reason. But humanity has decided to do away with that, to take responsibility out of the sexual act, to make it an act of lust, of using. This does not mean the church wants everyone to have 100 babies, as for a man every act is fertile this is not so for women.

The Church says for just reason spouses may abstain from sex, it is not a obligation to have sex, and spacing children according to needs and circumstances is a couples duty. CW said the church here is elevating biology to the level of love, for what we do with our bodies we do with our spirits and sexuality has never been just biological so why treat it thus? It’s about receiving the gift of a couples periodic infertility (through a woman’s cycle) from God, rather than grasping infertility for pleasure and to try and separate our bodies from our spirits.

Yesterdays talk, (boring though it was) had some marvellous points, the speaker said that artificial birth control is like biochemical violence that takes over a woman’s body and programs it from her natural ebbs and flows into a fixed 28 day cycle, that if any other medication (as is fertility is a disease) had caused as many deaths and side effects as this one has, it would have been banned long ago, but not the pill; after all people can’t control themselves, have a right to pleasure etc. and they should not be punished with a baby…

I pray for a new understanding of how rejecting Humane Vitae has affected our church, of understanding that self-mastery is a good thing, of understanding how abstinence is not only practical but a great party of chastity no matter which vocation or stage of life and for living pure and holy lives.

Now, none of this is possible without the grace of God, so dear Lord, shower your grace upon us.

TOB Tuesdays: Valentine’s

Feb
15

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I thought a Song of Solomon would be most appropriate for today’s TOB Tuesday post.

I chose Chapter 6 because of verse 3 “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…”  It felt apt for celebrating Valentine’s. Love poetry at its best

 1“Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
That we may seek him with you?”

2“My beloved has gone down to his garden,
To the beds of balsam,
To pasture his flock in the gardens
And gather lilies.

3“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,
He who pastures his flock among the lilies.”

4“You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
As lovely as Jerusalem,
As awesome as an army with banners.

5“Turn your eyes away from me,
For they have confused me;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Gilead.

6“Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

7“Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

8“There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
And maidens without number;

9But my dove, my perfect one, is unique:
She is her mother’s only daughter;
She is the pure child of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed,
The queens and the concubines also, and they praised her, saying,

10‘Who is this that grows like the dawn,
As beautiful as the full moon,
As pure as the sun,
As awesome as an army with banners?’

11“I went down to the orchard of nut trees
To see the blossoms of the valley,
To see whether the vine had budded
Or the pomegranates had bloomed.

12“Before I was aware, my soul set me
Over the chariots of my noble people.”

13“Come back, come back, O Shulammite;
Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!”
“Why should you gaze at the Shulammite,
As at the dance of the two companies?

TOB Tuesdays

Feb
08

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I am beginning a new thing on my blog –> TOB Tuesdays. On Mondays, we have our TOB meetings at MA’s house were we basically watch a vid discuss it, talk about what happened during our weeks relating to TOB, act at being theologians and socialise.

I’m going to be writing what we would have talked about, what I found profound etc. on Tuesday! Hence TOB Tuesdays! And here is instalment one:

We watched Christopher West’s series ‘Into the heart’ and yesterdays video was the one on the Song of Songs and the marriage of Tobias and Sarah. One of the parts I found profound was the mentioning of eros and agape. He said God loves us not only with agape but also with eros, that Jesus is the agape of man and the eros of God. And a whole bunch of us were like but how?

We hashed it out and came to the following conclusion based a lot on what he said and how we have experienced love and TOB came through. It is an understanding that we experience everything through our senses. He says the Song of Songs witnesses to a love that is physical and divine, sensual and spiritual. Our physical senses can awake our spiritual senses, bringing us to a tasting of God, hearing God, feeling God, seeing God. That is experiencing the love that is God in all our ‘bodiliness’, that God reaches down into our vocabulary of sensual love in order to elevate in us the understanding of a great love that is God. For us to understand how we can burn with love for the divine, Jesus came to awake the sensual ( i.e. that which we feel with our body senses) love of our lives in order that we can fully experience the spiritual love in our lives.

This culminates in bringing in that extra essence of holiness in the conjugal embrace that we have talked about, that we begin to transform sex from something that is worshipped to it being worship of the glory of God, that marital love is a liturgy, an act of worship of God.

Another part we found ‘deep’ was that the essence of love is sacrificial and not always about what do I get. It’s about what we give, the giving of all, being ready to do everything in order that good may conquer. imageTobias and Sarah’s marriage showed that great pain may be involved within a marriage and highlights how we can’t live without God’s mercy. In Him we live and move and have our being. They prayed for their marriage and were in one accord with God, with no lust between their love.

So, Lord, we surrender all and pray Tobias’ prayer for our future spouses:

“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”

Amen and Amen!

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Testimony

May
25

I was super drained yesterday! I made a testimony at the end of a TOB session, the topic was “Naked without Shame” and to say I was nervous is incorrect. I was in a state. I was shaking for crying out loud! But the Holy Spirit did His thing and voila! 1st ever real testimony is over. Not that I will actually do it again anytime soon, too much of me is exposed 😀 Thank you, thank you LORD!!!