"God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6: 14)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

I happened to receive an interesting Protestant quote via email and since I have not written anything for this feast today, I though I would share some thoughts on the topic with the viewers of this blog.

This Protestant author accuses St. Augustine and therefore the Catholic Church of holding some rather absurd positions. As I have not yet heard these accusations before, it struck me as rather shocking that anyone could believe that the Church holds to such positions.

The gist of the position is that the Church believes that procreation and sexual intercourse are evil and therefore must be resisted if not completely denied. This seems so illogical given so many false accusations against the Church of forcing people to have large families, but who ever accused Protestants of being logical?

That is supposedly why the Church is so adamant concerning the virgin birth of Christ. For some reason the Protestants don’t seem to like the fact that Mary is ever virgin. That she was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Our Lord. And based upon the Church’s doctrine they conclude that the Church says that procreation and sexual intercourse are evil.

And to add insult to injury they further claim that the defining of the Immaculate Conception is further proof of the Church’s position against procreation.

They attempt to quote St. Augustine as saying that Original sin is transmitted through the physical act of procreation and therefore procreation is a sin or is evil. And therefore that is why St. Augustine became celibate.

These poor souls seem to have lost all reason or logic. To say that Original sin is inherited from our parents is not the same as saying that the physical act of procreation is the cause of Original sin.

The color of our eyes is something that we inherit but, it is not caused by the act of procreation. We inherit sin not because our parents were having sexual relations at the time we were created, but because they themselves inherited this sin and are carriers of this spiritual disorder.

Sin is not a physical thing, but a spiritual one so therefore it is better defined as the lack of something that should be there (grace). Or perhaps we could say that it is a spiritual disorder. And this is inherited.

Christ needed no physical earthy father to perform the act of procreation to come into this world, because He already has a Father in Heaven, not because procreation is evil. He chose to have a mother so that there would be no doubt about His humanity. Thus He is both God and Man. The act of procreation is just not necessary for this situation. And that is why it is excluded; it does not imply that it is therefore intrinsically evil.

The Immaculate Conception does not imply that there was no act of procreation. Mary had a true physical earthly father who along with her mother performed the natural act that brought her into existence by the power of God. In addition to this, Mary is special because by the will of God she was preserved from inheriting the disorder of original sin as a singular honor to her who was later to be the Mother of God.

Before Adam had sinned he was given the command to populate the earth. His assignment was to expand the garden of Paradise over the entire earth and drive out the demons who were roaming the earth after their fall from Heaven. He was not expected to do this alone but was told to bring forth children to help in this work. This is still our assignment whether we wish to accept it or not. Only now we do not have the luxury of working from the solid base of Paradise because that was lost to us by our father Adam. But, we now have the Church and the graces that Christ has left us in the Sacraments to more than compensate us for what we have lost.

The point is that the act of procreation is not sinful, because God expected Adam to perform this before he had sinned. It is therefore something good and holy.

What the Church does condemn is the disordered use or abuse of the faculties of procreation. Fornication, adultery, sodomy, bestiality, self-abuse, onanism, contraceptives, etc. are condemned not because procreation is evil but because these are abuses of the faculties of procreation.

Sexual intercourse between a husband and his own wife for the purpose of procreation or even as an expression of their mutual love for one another (provided that procreation is not hindered) is a virtuous act and is pleasing to God and is an act upon which He showers many precious graces.

The celibacy of clerics and religious is not a condemnation of married life, but is a calling to something higher. It is a desire to unite oneself closer to God rather than to other human beings. It is an attempt to put off the world and the companionship of others and the right to have children to reach to a closer unity or oneness with God.

Therefore, far from today’s feast being a condemnation of procreation, it is in fact proof of God’s blessing upon it.

May God bless you.

+Bishop Giles OFM