25 January 2013

Reflection on Human Relationship

Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love (Sri, 2007)

In 2010 I purchased Dr. Edward Sri's book subtitled, Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility.  I was intrigued by the book after listening to Dr. Sri speak about it during an interview on Catholic Answers Live with host Patrick Coffin.  What intrigued me specifically was the availability within the book for me to grow in understanding [and therefore in ability of explanation] of what love is.

But You are Married and Have A Daughter... Don't You Already KNOW what Love is?

Interestingly enough ~ this is the point that my wife made as well.  There were many instances when I would find the book mysteriously replaced on the bookshelf rather than on the coffee table where I had left it after completing a section or chapter.  My wife's concern was that she perceived the text as informational on what a marriage should be ~ and why would her happily married husband be reading it?

Two Thoughts on this:

1.  I Have a Daughter:

In today's secular society that has succumbed to a tyranny of relativism and the belief that, "if it feels good, it must be good [and right] for me to do" that has lead to an almost entire termination of understanding of what constitutes modesty & chastity, and knowledge on why both are virtuous, I fear for my daughter.  Dr. Sri's (2007) text provided an avenue from which to engage my daughter in teaching her about the dynamics that exist between a man and woman.  This text provided a solid background from which to begin teaching her about the virtues of friendship and love, and the role that modesty and chastity play in the protection of the dignity of human beings.

2.  Knowledge of Love [as it relates to the longing for truth]: 

If one were to Google search the phrase /greatest commandment/ inevitably some version or take on Mathew 22:34-40 or Mark 12:28-34 would generate an overwhelming list of results.  These New Testament versus echo the immensely powerful verses from the book of Deuteronomy 6:4-8:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord;[a] 5 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

With love identified as the greatest commandment from which we are to engage in ~ as taught by our Father, I believe it prudent to learn as much about it as possible.  Hence, in my search for truth and with the goal of transition from consideration to action, where better to start than with love; And who better to benefit from my inquiry than my wife and daughter.

What I Learned

The truth of what love is, is typically disoriented as the result of two phenomena: Confusion regarding types [or levels] of friendship,  and the Effects of Concupiscence (lust).  One introduces ideas of people being BFFs (Best Friends Forever), dating, and romance.  The other confuses attraction with the idea of "love at first sight," lust, and the objectification of human beings for personal gratification.  To assist in navigating through this maze of disorientation, Dr. Sri's (2007) text recapitulated Aristotle's posit regarding the three types of friendship: Friendship of Utility, Pleasant Friendship, and Virtuous Friendship. 

  • Friendship of Utility:

Affection is based on the benefit or use the friends derive from the relationship.  Each person gets something out of the friendship that is to his/her advantage, and the mutual benefit of the relationship is what unites the two people.

  • Pleasant Friendship:

The basis of affection is the pleasure that one gets out of the relationship.  One sees the friend as a cause of some pleasure for himself/herself

  • Virtuous Friendship:

The basis of affection is based not on the pursuit of self interest, rather it is on the pursuit of a common goal - the moral life found in a virtue
I have already found these definitions to be instrumental in discussion with my daughter - as she recently asked me if I knew why she loved 'me and mom.'  I was able to answer with confidence that I did in fact know why she loved 'me and mom' and shared with her why her mother and I love her.

[Of course at 5 yrs. old she insisted that she loved us because we had family movie night and pulled the queen mattress out of our guest room, laid it on the family room floor in front of roaring fire, and 'nuggled' with snacks as we watched the movie]

There is an abundance of information to be found in Dr. Sri's (2007) text - and I do not mean for this to be a book review [as at times the book seems to read like an ongoing college lecture].  However, having read it I have grown in my understanding of what love is, of why we need to uphold the dignity of human beings, and how chastity and modesty coordinates with both.  Further, I have been able to incorporate these understandings through discussion and in action with my wife and daughter.


20 December 2012

Welcome & Introduction


During Lent of 2008 I returned to full communion with the Catholic Church, the Church that as a record of history was established by Jesus Christ as an earthly structure which would continue in existence under his protection (Matthew 16:18). Over time, I had been approached by people interested in understanding my discernment for return.  Some alleged that it was because I was recently married while others, with more confidence suggested that it was the result of the arrival of a child.  While I understand how both propositions could lead one to the desire of returning to a church, neither provide an accurate depiction of why I had chosen to return to The Church.

A Longing for the Truth:

When reason cut itself loose from its Divine anchorage, denied absolute truth and reduced everything to a point of view, the field was wide open for propaganda. Minds that were once held together by a common faith or truth were now split into atomic "points of view," waiting for organization and unification ("Bishop Sheen Writes," Hartford Times; July 10, 1954; 5).  
Prior to my return to the church I found myself struggling with how to make sense of various prominent cultural concerns - or more to the point - how to articulate what anchored my position regarding certain controversy.  I had an innate sense that my arguments on many issues were correct and that correctness was immersed in something more than mere perspective ~

[Of coures in reflection I understand that it was the innate sense of what was right that preceded formation of my arguments]

 ~ It was this indwelling of an established conscience that remained elusive to me and it was this feeling that captured my desire to learn more about truth.  I do not mean to suggest that I was searching for validation of what I believed, nor that similar to Chesterton that I was trying to be the first to set foot in Brighton regarding truth, rather I was interested in understanding what constituted truth and where my conscience of truth originated.

Over 18 months of daily encounters with Catholic Apologetics, discussions with my father, mother, and il compare I found the beginning of the answer embedded within John (1:1-14)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father"
This point of Christ being truth [the I Am] was re-emphasized later in John (18:37)
"Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king.  For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Every one who is of the truth hears my voice."
Thus I learned that God is what constitutes truth ~ truth is him.

Regarding the second aspect of discernment, the question of where my conscience of truth originated, faith and reason lead me to recognize the following.

  • Natural Law: 

The truth written on the hearts of man that drives man to do not whatever he wants rather to do what he ought.

  • Moral Theology through Child Rearing:

The act of being raised by parents who embedded an understanding of Catholic moral theology [rather than mere ethics] throughout my childhood development.  Including the act of teaching through living example as well through instructional formation.

My inquiry into truth drove me back to the The Church ~ and it is in communion with The Church that I strive to remain.  Luke 12:48 stated, "...Every one to whom much is given, of him much will be required..."  The purpose of this blog [therefore] will be to reflect on different aspects of Catholicism as I continue to learn more about the faith and transition from consideration to action.

For Consideration Regarding an Establishment of Authority: 

The connection that I made between Jesus Christ as truth and the authority of the Catholic Church as being responsible for perpetuating that truth is worthy of inquiry.  However, rather than expand upon my findings regarding the authority of the church in this introduction, I challenge my fellow Christians to turn to the history of the church to learn more about what the early Christians [Kataholos or Catholics] believed.