The Culture of Death: Its History, Failures and How to Overcome Itby Rev. Fr. Robert Fromageot, FSSP
Many years ago (in 1955, to be exact), Frank Sinatra sang about “love and marriage”, and how they “go together like a horse and carriage”; how “you can’t have one without the other”, and how the institution of marriage is “an institute you can’t disparage.” That was when contraception was still taboo, and when the mores of society still supported the institution of marriage. But things have changed since 1955.
But what this document upheld, countless Catholics rejected in favor of the idea of love without responsibility. Had Catholics understood the nuptial aspect of Catholic worship, I suspect they would have been in a better position to understand why Paul VI was right and Plan Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, wrong, and hate “that which is evil” and “cleave to that which is good.” Today, Catholics are even more ignorant of their faith than those who were around in 1968, and therefore have even less understanding of that faith as it is reflected in Catholic worship. Is it any wonder, then, that the Catholic Church is losing the battle for the hearts and souls of the next generation of Catholics? And so, it is well worth my time and yours to understand the content of our faith and how that faith is reflected in the way we worship, especially as regards marriage and sexuality.
For the better you and your children understand the unfolding of history as a love story culminating in the grandest of royal weddings, the better you and they will be able to cherish and fight for the institution (indeed, the sacrament) of marriage by the choices they make and the habits they cultivate. Notwithstanding the errors and the corresponding mores prevalent in 2014, you and they will be better able to appreciate that “love and marriage” do indeed “go together like a horse and carriage”.
Now, what are these errors?
The first is that, assuming mutual consent, everyone has the right to experience sexual intimacy with whomever (and however many) he chooses — man or woman. Chastity, especially its mode of abstinence, is for abnormal people. Those who insist that “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” are stuck in the past, enemies of progress. Likewise, anyone who dares to condemn masturbation, fornication, sodomy, cohabitation, or same-sex unions will be (and is) branded a judgmental prude, a self-righteous bigot — as happened recently with Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson.
Public Schools Are Not Helping.
Also, consider the what our children are being taught in public schools. Just two days ago, a 13-year old girl in Kansas came home from her public school and showed her mother a picture she had taken of a poster — a “resource supplement” meant to foster classroom discussion in a purportedly abstinence-based sex-education science class. At the top of the poster was the question: “How do people express their sexual feelings?” The answers listed below followed no particular order, and ranged from simply talking to dancing, from the naturally sinful to buggery and other aberrant behavior. But the point of the poster, at least in its layout, was to impart a value-neutral, non-judgmental acceptance of all the answers. The idea that “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” was nowhere in sight.
The second error is this: everyone has the right to experience “free love”; that is, consequence- and commitment-free sexual intimacy. But, as we all know, “free love” does not exist without recourse to science and technology; i.e., contraception and abortion. Even with such recourse, it does not exist, though secular society would have us think so. In an attempt, therefore, to minimize the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or becoming pregnant, so that the right to “free love” might be exercised, secularists claim that everyone has a right to have access to contraception and abortion services. That is why they want nothing more than to make these services a part of everyone’s comprehensive health care plan. Is it any wonder, then, that in its push to implement a national health care system, the government wants to oblige as many people as possible to pay for these services?
The Hell-Bound Social BandwagonNow, since the vast majority of Catholics, including undoubtedly many priests and not a few bishops, have gone along with secular society and developed a contraceptive mentality, what will prevent your child from jumping onto the hell-bound social bandwagon? “Everyone else is doing it,” he will say to himself. Or worse, “My priest tells me in confession that I can contracept, or that it’s okay if I get an abortion.” “How can it be all that bad?” I tell you, only when Catholics see sex and sexuality in relation to God’s saving plan to reconcile the world to Himself through Christ will they be in position to recognize and withstand the perversity of contraception, to say nothing of abortion.
But here is what secularists fail to tell you:
When the horse is separated from the carriage, love from marriage, the practice of fraternal charity becomes impossible: men and women wind up degrading each other. Women especially suffer degradation. And no pill, no scientific innovation or technological bypassing of nature will ever change that. Paul VI put it this way: When a man “grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods” he “may forget the reverence due to a woman”; will disregard “her physical and emotional equilibrium”; will “reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”
Here is What We Must Do. . .If it is true that cult cultivates culture, what can be done to give expression to the invisible nuptial dimension of the Mass to reinforce the truth that marriage is ultimately meant to be a sacrament, a sacred sign of the marriage between Christ and His Church? Moreover, what can be done to cultivate in men the reverence due to women? After all, what I say here today will not continue to resonate in your hearts and minds tomorrow and the day after. You’ll most likely forget about it as soon as Mass ends. And I doubt anyone here will want to enroll himself in the latest sensitivity training course. Not that it would be very helpful, anyway, since such courses are usually based on a false notion of tolerance. Besides, we don’t need more words, more information.
What we need is a sign.
Ideally, we need a visible sign which will serve to remind everyone of the nuptial dimension of the Mass and which will remind men of the respect they owe to all women. And what is the sign that will accomplish both tasks at once?
The chapel veil!
What Does the Chapel Veil Signify?Practically every bride wears a veil at her wedding, whether or not she knows what it means. And every marriage is meant to be a sacrament: a grace-giving sign that points to and makes present the reality of the nuptial love between Christ and His Bride, the Church. But every Mass anticipates the royal nuptials between Christ and His Bride. Moreover, every woman, even if she is not married, personifies, however imperfectly, the Church and her bridal status. Accordingly, when the Church gathers to worship Almighty God through Christ her head, every woman has the privilege (it’s no longer obligatory) of signifying this bridal status of the Church by wearing a veil — not because she is getting married, but because she aptly signifies the bridal character of the Church.
Moreover, by wearing a veil a woman discreetly communicates her own dignity, for we veil what we treasure and consider sacred. Just look at what is veiled in the sanctuary: the tabernacle, for, like a woman with child, it “bears” Christ contained in the Blessed Sacrament. And because the tabernacle is sacred (or set apart), it is not permitted that anyone can open it to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament. The same may be said of the chalice, for only the priest is permitted to handle it. Thus, by wearing a veil a woman reminds us that she too is a sacred vessel because of her natural capacity to bear children, and thus deserves the respect similar to that accorded to tabernacles and sacred liturgical vessels, a respect that entails a life-long commitment from a man in the bonds of holy matrimony open to life.
This respect, moreover, goes hand in hand with the cultivation of the virtue of chastity and purity, which in turn give to both men and women the maturity that the life-long commitments of both marriage and religious life demand.
Reviving the ancient tradition of wearing a veil in church is by no means a panacea for today’s social problems. Nevertheless, inasmuch as it would serve to foster respect for the dignity of women and manifest the truth that the Church is a Bride, whose wedding with Christ we anticipate at every Mass, the dignity of the institution of marriage would also be promoted, as would the virtues of chastity and purity.
Thus, in this unobtrusive yet powerful way, the better a Catholic understands Catholic worship the better poised to cultivate a genuine Christian culture so that, once again, everyone will appreciate and live by the truth Frank Sinatra sang about almost sixty years ago; that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.
Full article here.
Note: Slight editing for length and readability.