Catholic Community Commentary

Archive for August, 2010

Why Can’t I Have Sex Before Marriage?

           The question about having sex before Marriage is an important one to grasp. It hints at something more than a common, usual experience. It alludes to something desirous that needs to be treated in a special way. Thus it is imperative to understand the act of sex and how it can manifest love.

            The union of man and woman during sexual intercourse is a unique gift of giving and a clear role in the action of creation. The sanctity of sex is reflected in the ultimate communion of two people, the complete giving and receiving of one for another. In addition, that union may be further mirrored in a new human life. The act of sex brings man and woman together as one. It continues the story of creation. It must be an action of love.

            For this reason, we can not treat sex as a casual, earthly event. When we recognize the sacred nature of this union, we must surround it with the reverence and appreciation that it deserves. The Church looks to Christ to understand the complete giving of self for another and how to embrace full communion.

            When we consider how Christ became a man, suffered, died and rose for us, we have the truth about love. He is what love looks like. His witness shows that love is given totally, freely, faithfully, and fruitfully. He gave Himself without holding anything back. He did so freely, not forced. He remained faithful to us throughout his entire life on earth and continues to be with us in the Eucharist. The fruits of His action of love are mercy and the opening of Heaven.

            By using this lens to look at having sex before Marriage, we can see the shortcomings of that action. Pre-marital sex is not a total and faithful giving of oneself because it lacks a complete commitment, no witnessed pledge or vow. Pre-marital sex is not often given freely, but rather coerced as a ‘show of love’ or ‘just something that two people do next.’ Pre-marital sex does not strengthen the family unit that children need.

            With this truth of Christ before us, we see why sex is an action of love between husband and wife. Through the Sacrament of Marriage they have answered the questions that most identify a loving relationship:

  1. “Have you come here freely to give yourself to one another without reservation?”
  2. “Do you promise to be faithful until death?”
  3. “Do you promise to receive children lovingly from God?”

Their vows to one another are a witness to us that they desire to love one another as Christ loves his Church – TOTALLY, FREELY, FAITHFULLY, FRUITFULLY – and every time they unite in sex, it is a renewal of those vows.

–Jan

Advertisements

To Hell and Back

There have been a number of people make comments on the first blog regarding after-life and what I experienced nearly 45 years ago when I got shot at the age of 8.  There are parts of that near death experience that I will never forget. 
Through the years, I have spoken with a number of people who have shared their near death experiences.  There are a number of things we have in common in our “visions” of the next life.  Nearly everyone I have spoken with have shared the presence of an amazing light, the feeling of complete peace and the feeling of not wanting to come back. 
These aspects are common, but the second part of my near death experience is not necessarily common.  I have only found a couple of people who have shared with me the second part of their and my near death experience.  We got to experience a vision of what hell would be.
I remember after I experienced such amazing peace and light with a heavenly gathering, I found myself completely alone in such a darkness, where shadows lived and so did pursuant beings.  I knew I would never experience what was once so near and so right.  To be pursued by darkness and nothingness was completely scary.  (If you have ever seen the movie “Ghost” with Patrick Swayzee you may have some idea of the darkness which pursued me.) 
I remember the fear, which I have never experienced since, that filled me.  I remember the aloneness.  I remember knowing that I would never be able to leave that place.  My memories of hell were of darkness, loneliness, being pursued by evil and pure fear.  I’ve experienced a lot of fear in my lifetime but nothing like that portion of the near death experience.  
There are questions that I have asked myself after I came back.  Why did I go there in the first place?    Why did I go there after I went to the heavenly place first?  What I tell people is that if heaven is like I experienced it, heaven is the place you want to be, and I don’t tell them about the dark vision. 
For me, I am not driven by a fear of the darkness.  I am so influenced by the light of the Lord that there is little room for darkness.  To be in the presence of the Lord is heaven.  I see glimpses of that light in my ministry, through people and nature. 
I believe in the reality of hell, that people have the capacity to choose to be away from God’s love and other’s love.  I believe hell is living a life without God.  To be pursued with something other than light and never know fulfillment or peace scares me.  To never give love or take love in is hell and darkness.  As opposed to my heavenly vision where there were lots of people, I saw no one in hell.  
 
So get used to going to the light.  It is where we all want to be, forever.

2 Women in Toledo Choose Life

Jan Kahle received the following email last week from Ann Barrick, of the Pro Life Connection, about two girls who chose life after contemplating abortion (when approached at the Center for Choice, in Toledo, OH).  Jan wanted as many people as possible to hear this story:

PRAISE GOD!!  Two women chose life for their babies this evening!!  I thought you might like to hear the stories…  Enjoy!

A young couple passed by a sidewalk counselor as they went into the abortion center.  The man took the information that the counselor offered but didn’t stop to talk, just looked at her strangely.  Five minutes later, he walked out of the center right to her and stood there.  She asked him if he wanted to talk.  He said, “I just can’t stay inside that place!  It’s so depressing!”  The counselor talked to the man for awhile, and he kept trying to justify the abortion.  Meanwhile, 3 teens, 1 pre-teen and a woman was praying on the sidewalk in front while another counselor was across the alley praying.  God touched the man’s heart at some point in the conversation because he softened and eventually listened to the advice, “Go fight for your baby!”  He said, “I’m going to go talk to her!”

Not much later, a girl and her mother came out and walked over to get rosaries from the counselor.  They were there to schedule an abortion but told me that the plan had changed!  The mother of the girl was in the room when the ultrasound was done, and when she saw on the screen her grandchild move, she said, “You’re not aborting my grandbaby!”  Her daughter is 7 months along!!   And that baby could be aborted!!  Thanks be to God that the grandmother saw that ultrasound!!

As the girl was showing the ultrasound photo to the counselor, the young man mentioned earlier walked by so the counselor asked him to come look at the photo.  After a few minutes of looking and talking, he told the counselor, “Go talk to her!”   His girlfriend came over and talked to the counselor and told her that she wasn’t going to have an abortion.  She said that her boyfriend had changed his mind after talking to the counselor and that helped her because she had seen “the children praying” and that made her not want to go through with it!!

PRAYER AND WITNESS!!  The girl who’s mother saw the ultrasound—she was the recipient of prayers even if she never talked to anyone!!  The same with the young woman—and the presence of those young people touched a chord.  It is SO important that we never forget the power of prayer and witness!!

I also want to put a plug in for Heartbeat Pregnancy Center which is located across the alley from the Center for Choice.  They, along with all pregnancy centers, are crucial in the pro-life movement.  However, they particularly need our help since they ARE located near the abortion center!  They need financial help to get an ultrasound machine and all the expenses that  go along with it.  Can you imagine if they had that and we could just walk someone over for an ultrasound?!?  They also need more volunteers so they can be open longer hours, especially on Thursday evenings.  Please let others know how important our local pregnancy centers are!!

Remember—40 Days for Life is coming and we need you prayer warriors!  However, we are praying at the center year round.  Visit the Stand & Pray page at ProLifeConnection.com for more information!

In Christ our Hope,

Ann


A Glimpse of Heaven

Is that all there is?  Over the past 25 years as a priest, I’ve been asked that question or one like it, many times.  The questions take many forms, but they all come back to, “If there is a heaven, what’s it like?”  I recall my first week at my first assignment at morning Mass.  A mom came out of Mass with a concerned look on her face.  As she approached, I could also see the concerned look on the face of her daughter of 8 years old.  As they approached the little girl sobbed an important question,  “Do turtles go to heaven?”  Her pet turtle had died that morning and church was the only appropriate place for some comfort and maybe an answer. So how do you answer such an important question to a child or to an adult whose faith is challenged?   

For me, there are different ways to answer.  One is by the scriptures.  When we recall the love of God through the Son who rose from the dead, we are called to something beyond death.  God loves us eternally.  God loves us even before we are and beyond who we are.  Death can’t stop that kind of love.  After Jesus’ resurrection He ate with his friends, comforted those hurt by His death and made clear that we would be joined with Him forever.  Isaiah says it will be a place of choice food and wine.  Scripture gives us many images of God’s eternal, heavenly love.  So what is heaven like?

In 1965, when I was 8 years old, I was in a terrible accident.  I was shot through the heart, lungs and stomach.  The doctors gave me no chance to live, but here I am today.  While in the hospital, the doctors came out to speak with my parents after one of the surgeries.  The doctor said that they had lost me for a while but got me back.  It was at that time that I became one of those people who encountered a “near death experience”.  It wasn’t a common thing to talk about, and seven years later, my mom asked if I believed in “near death experiences.”  That was the first time I told anyone that I was one of those people.      

If heaven is anything like what I “experienced” it is the place to go.  Yes, I saw the light, but the light is nothing compared to the amazing peace, joy, wonder and rightness of where I had gone.  I remember asking myself while there, “Where could I be?”  It took no time to realize that I was with God, others and creation in heaven.  There was the beauty of creation all around.  (I could tell the little girl that I believed her turtle was in heaven.)  If heaven was a place of all beauty and goodness, why wouldn’t creation be there?  There will be clover fields to run through barefooted with my brothers and sisters, surrounded with the sweet aroma of clover and chasing rabbits.  I think we all have some heavenly thoughts that will be more than fulfilled in heaven.

In my “experience” I saw lots of people, people I knew and people I didn’t know.  And they were experiencing the same wonder that I was.  I also saw people on earth and knew, by God’s prompting, that they would be alright also. 

And I knew God was there in my “experience.”  It just wasn’t God’s goodness being there, but I knew God was there to be my God where nothing could harm or be wrong.  All made sense.  I believe we get glimpses of the Kingdom here on Earth, but it will be special when it is our time in heaven. 

Why did I come back?  God knows, and I trust that. I trust Him. Some things are best left up to God. I believe while we are on Earth we serve, enjoy and ponder God’s time that he gives us.  But He calls us to life to the full.  We should live in that kind of fullness of life here.  And that includes loving the best we can until we are loved forever in perfection.   


What Everyone Ought To Know About Heaven

Since none of us are getting out of this world alive, most of us have a huge fascination with the afterlife. It is comforting to know the details about where we will go and what we will do there. Despite the mystery we usually associate with it, we do have information that helps us to know what to expect; and we have someone who has been there and come back.

Jesus spent His earthly life sharing information about Heaven, namely God’s desire for us to be there and specific directions about going. He told stories and gave details that help us visualize both Heaven and hell. Most importantly, His passion, death and resurrection make our journey to Heaven once again possible.

As the Book of Genesis tells us, we began our existence in Paradise, a lush and beautiful place, where our relationship with God was open and close. Through our own choice, we separated ourselves from God. Not His desire, but our choice to sin (and don’t blame this one on Adam or Eve, we have each chosen to do wrong in our own time). Fortunately, the story does not end there. God so loved us (even though we are the ones turning away from Him) that He sent His only Son to save us – making Paradise possible for us again.

So what will Heaven or hell be like? Well, Jesus shared the story of the poor, beggar Lazarus who died and was carried to Abraham in Heaven, so obviously we will enjoy the company of those who choose to follow the path to God. But when the rich man from the story died, Jesus said that he was in torment in the netherworld. Clearly, hell is a place of great sorrow, experiencing the absence of God. (Luke 16:19-31)

In another example, Jesus told his apostles that “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places” and that “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:2-3) This explanation obviously allows us to visualize a real dwelling, a place, a home. We will after all, like Jesus, rise from the dead – soul and body.

Jesus shared that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a wedding feast (Matthew 22). We are all invited to come to a wondrously, glorious event – who wouldn’t want to be part of that?  But Jesus also said that it is better to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand rather than have it cause us to end up in hell. That picture is clearly foul and unpleasant. (Matthew 5:29-30)

As He was dying, Jesus promised the repentant thief “today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) The invitation is open to all who want to go home to Heaven. Our repentance and openness to forgiveness seem to be the needed key. The choice is ours and the options are unmistakable. As much as God wants us with Him, He places the decision in our hands.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to hear about Fr. Mark’s experience in Heaven.

–Jan