Jesus and the God-Woman
Mark Brumley’s recent article on the celibacy of Jesus (“Was Jesus Married?” May-June 2006) was very well done and much needed, judging from the silly response of so many Christians to Da Vinci Code assertions.
Permit me to mention one angle not touched on by Brumley and, in fact, not presented in any discussion of the topic I have seen to date.
If one accepts the divinity of Christ, marriage for him is out of the question by that very fact alone. Why?
Marriage is a relationship between equals. The only possible way for the God-Man to marry would be to espouse himself to a God-Woman!
Furthermore, according to the immemorial position of the Church, as a result of the fall, all sexuality is disordered—not evil, to be sure, but highly charged with concupiscence, even within the context of the sacrament of matrimony. In the Church’s attempt to distance itself from more extreme statements of this teaching in recent decades, many have lost sight of this fundamental fact of life. Pope John Paul II’s “theology of the body” has been viewed as a necessary corrective to various forms of Jansenism (ancient and modern) which would hold for a totally negative assessment of human sexuality. Even the late pontiff, though, recognized on numerous occasions this indisputable element of the equation.
And therein is found the most basic reason that our Lord could not and did not marry—could not and did not engage in any kind of sexual activity.
Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas
Proof of the Absence of Evidence
I read and liked the article by Mark Brumley about whether Jesus was married.
The pedantic side of me feels compelled to question his proverb: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” While the lack of evidence is not proof of absence, I would think it is evidence of absence. Perhaps it could be better phrased as: “Absence of evidence is not proof of absence.”
Thank you for a wonderful magazine!
Morality in Medicine
As a family physician with a second specialty in hospice and palliative care medicine, and as a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, I was particularly pleased and proud to read the article by Christopher Kaczor (“Ten Commandments for Health Care Professionals”) in the May-June issue. He was both astoundingly accurate and remarkably insightful. (Did he have a practicing physician co-author the article?)
Too often as a hospice medical director I have to plead with physicians to listen to their patients’ wishes in regard to further testing, treatment, and extraordinary means of life support. Treatments can be very burdensome, and it can be just as wrong in certain circumstances to provide excessive treatment as it is to inadequately treat. It seems as though in medical school we were indoctrinated into the concept that death equals failure (or possibly a lawsuit), leading to the attitude that “absolutizes the value of human life.”
In like fashion, Kaczor’s treatment of the other commandments shows great insight into the temptations health care workers face. I applaud the author on a timely and useful essay. I am happy to see such work coming from my alma mater.
Dr. Larry Boggeln
An “Aha!” Moment
I just finished reading Robert Lockwood’s article “The Urban Legend of Catholic Schools” (May-June 2006). It was one of those “aha!” moments for me, so I felt compelled to write in appreciation for the article. It very clearly presented how we got to where we are—and all due to the anti-papism of ignorance that started so long ago. Thanks so much for the eye-opener.
Poor Epistemology at This Rock?
I was disappointed to see a poor epistemology being used to prove the existence of God in This Rock, and I was horrified to see it presented as the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. James Kidd in “A Proof of the Existence of God” (May-June 2006) presents his argument from beginning to end as “a paraphrasing of the Angelic Doctor’s many writings that dealt with this subject.” But he begins his argument with Descartes’s “radical doubt” and also uses Descartes’s starting point of supposedly proving his own existence first (Cogito, ergo sum: “I think, therefore I am”) and then God’s. St. Thomas Aquinas did neither of these things.
Because of how destructive Descartes’s epistemology is, I hope that This Rock will correct this.
James Kidd replies: Jeffries is, of course, correct that Aquinas never used Cartesian epistemology to prove the existence of God. I didn’t mean to imply that he did. But I chose Descartes’s cogito as a starting point because, even though it’s not a Thomistic concept, it’s useful to the modern mind. Furthermore, whatever the consequences of Cartesianism, the cogito, I think, remains an important philosophical insight that can actually be used against skeptics in proving God’s existence.
The Terminology of Annulment
The article on annulment by Pete Vere and Jacqueline Rapp (“Isn’t It Just a Catholic Rubber-Stamp on a Divorce?” May-June 2006) reinforces rather than dispels the idea that annulment is Catholic for “divorce.” The authors correctly state that the “petition rises and falls on the question of consent,” meaning consent at the time of the wedding, but they then write that it pertains to a “failed union” for which there is “little hope of reconciliation,” as evident, for example, if a “divorce” has been granted. They state that, as part of the annulment process, contact is made with the “former spouse.” On the contrary, if the marriage is invalid, reconciliation is not a factor and there was no spouse. A perfectly happy couple might not be (validly) married.
I have seen people scandalized when a Catholic speaks of being in his or her “second marriage.” The article fosters such loose talk. The authors and the Church should coin terms that better describe the relationships and avoid the scandal.
Frederick A. Costello
Oak Hill, Virginia
Pete Vere replies: To answer the reader’s last objection first, Rapp and I did not take it upon ourselves to coin new terms for popular publication. Rather, this is the Church’s domain. Thus we restricted ourselves to introducing the reader to those words and expressions already coined by the Church.
Having said that, canonical jargon can often be confusing when not already part of one’s vocabulary. This is why we made use of colloquial expression before introducing the proper canonical term. The expression “former spouse” was used within the context of introducing the reader to the canonical term respondent. (“The judicial vicar always contacts the former spouse, or respondent, and invites him or her to respond within fifteen days.”)
With this in mind, the marriage is always presumed to be valid until the contrary is proven. Thus it is quite possible for an invalidly married couple to be happily living together without suspecting the invalidity of their union. Additionally, an invalid union can always be made valid through one of two processes: radical sanation and convalidation.
Providing the “Catholic Answers”
I was raised Lutheran, but as a young adult I migrated toward Baptist theology and other non-denominational (some anti-Catholic) religions. The story is too long to tell here, but God had a plan, and he placed a desire in my heart to join the Catholic Church. I know it is the right thing, and I thank God everyday for it! I was received into the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil of 2001.
Now God has given me a desire to know my faith better and also to be able to discuss my faith with several dear evangelical friends and a few back-slidden Catholics. Whenever there is a question, Catholic Answers provides the “answer.” Numerous times I have referred people to the web site, I have printed info sheets on various issues (homosexuality, reconciliation, praying to saints, and more). I receive and devour This Rock, and I refer to the web site on almost a daily basis. I am so thankful for Catholic Answers!
Now, I am trying to convince my husband, my friend who is a deacon, and his wife to go on the May 2007 trip to Rome with Catholic Answers. That will take some prayer! Thank you for all you do.
San Diego, California
Our German Shepherd
It never ceases to amaze me how so many people can laugh in the face of 2,000 years of Tradition because they just read The Da Vinci Code or watched National Geographic’s piece on the Gospel of Judas. It demonstrates how people will buy into the latest idea put forth by the media and then call themselves enlightened.
It reminds me of the day I came home and my sister brandished The Da Vinci Code in my face and said, “How can you believe the lies these old Italian men feed you?” I first had to point out that His Holiness is German, not Italian.
You Know You’re Catholic When…
- your purse has to be big enough to hold your rosary and rosary meditation booklet along with all your other stuff.
- you have to remind yourself not to genuflect when you sit down or get up from your seat in a theater.
- your children bless themselves in the birdbath. It’s really cute.
- you have an urge to bless yourself whenever you see a standing pool of water. (This actually happened to me—I was visiting the state capitol building in Des Moines a few weeks ago, and there is a beautiful fountain outside of the building. Without thinking, I started to put my finger in the water and was going to cross myself when my husband and kids noticed what I was doing and started laughing at me. Oh my.)
- you spend the first five minutes of each day untangling your Miraculous Medal from your scapular.
- your children don’t collect baseball cards, but they do collect prayer cards.
- your children roll their eyes and elbow each other at church when the priest makes a suggestion of adding a prayer to the family devotions time. (“Oh no! Don’t give Mom any more ideas!”)
- your teenage girls have different colored rosaries to match whatever outfits they are wearing that day.
—Taken from the Catholic Answers Forums