Author Archive

Surprise, it’s Still Easter!

2012-04-16 by Peter Turner. 2 comments

Post to Twitter

I’m writing this in the middle of March, so Alleluia’s and Gloria’s and Resurrections and Ascensions are the just pie in the sky nonsense and me and my billion strong Catholic cohort are lumbering through the lonely days of Lent, eagerly awaiting the promise of new life that comes at Easter.

What is Easter to a Catholic?

  • It is a relief from the self-imposed and ecclesiastically imposed mandates of Lent.
  • It is the end of the intensity of Holy Week
  • It is the celebration commemorating Christ’s glorified walk with us.
  • It is the time to mark the coming of the Holy Spirit on Our Lady and the Apostles and the beginning of the Church.

Moreover, it is a time to rejoice in the fact that even though Jesus rose into Heaven, He has left us a Helper, built us a Church and given us His mother.

If you’re not a Christian or not one of us who uses a fancy liturgical calendar then you may think that

My First Easter - Tomie DePaola

Easter Bunny

is the holiday after

The Giant of Knockmany Hill - Tomie DePaola

Not St. Patrick

which happened a few weeks ago and is gone until next year.  But, just as Christmas day is the beginning of the Christmas season, Easter Sunday is the beginning of the Easter Season. Likewise, both events are the ends of their respective seasons of preparation (Advent and Lent); seasons of joy after seasons of penitence.

After being on Christianity.SE for a while (only the robots signed up for the beta before me) I know I’m writing mainly to my Christian brothers who haven’t given much thought or may even be disdainful of marking times and seasons.  So, since I know I’m not writing to many Catholics who would find this extremely boring.  I’ll give the short version of the Lent/Easter season and you can tell me how boring it is, seen through a new pair of eyes.

As the calculation for Easter Sunday changes every year, I’ll just use this year’s calendar to highlight the principle feasts, solemnities and other observances.

February-March-April 2012
S M T W Th F S
22f/a 23 24a 25
22Ash Wednesday
Fast and abstain from meat; Mass with ashes of last year’s Palm Sunday palm branches
26 27 28 29 1 2a 3
4 5 6 7 8 9a 10
11 12 13 14 15 16a 17
18 19 20 21 22 23a 24
18Laetare Sunday
Marks the middle of Lent;
special signs of joy permitted
19St. Joseph
Feast honoring the foster father of God, St. Joseph; Holy Day of Obligation in Spain
25 26 27 28 29 30a 31 25(26)Solemnity of the AnnunciationFeast honoring the conception of Jesus within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; transferred to the 26th because it fell on a Sunday
1 2 3 4 5 6f/a 7
1Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion
Sunday Mass begins with palm branches and a remembrance of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem. Gospel is the entire Passion narrative of the year’s Gospel.
3Chrism Mass
Lucky members of parishes in dioceses throughout the world will gather to receive sacred chrism, oil of Catechumens and oil of the sick blessed by the Bishop .
Technically night prayer (Matins) on any of the last three days of Holy Week (i.e. Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday). But in my diocese of Madison, there is a special tenebrae service on Wednesday and ya’ll are invited.
5Holy Thursday
With Mass starting in the evening, Lent officially ends and the triduum (three days) begins. The Mass usually recollects the Lord’s Supper and ends on a somber note with silence and the altar being stripped and Jesus being removed from our midst in the tabernacle for the faithful to keep vigil with Him overnight
6Good Friday of our Lord’s Passion
The service is a continuation of the Holy Thursday Mass; but today, throughout the world is the only day there is no Mass celebrated. John’s Passion narrative is read at a service in the early afternoon and the faithful are invited to venerate the cross

Veneration of the Cross

7Holy Saturday
Easter begins at sundown on Holy Saturday night, when the Pascal candle is lit and passed to all the faithful assembled. This is the night when adults are often brought in to the Church through Baptism and Confirmation. This is the night when there are 7 Old Testament readings (instead of the normal 1). This is the night where “this is the night” is said a lot.
8Easter Sunday
Alleluia, more on this later…

So that’s how Catholics warm up to celebrate Easter. We all have our own traditions; our own cuts of meat we prefer. But as a whole, it’s the liturgical celebrations that bind us all together. Unfortunately, in this American’s experience, we don’t properly know how to celebrate Easter. The priest wears his white duds, the Easter flowers wilt and are composted, the decor of the physical church remains pretty paschal (or was it pastel). But the body that compromises the church, well, we don’t whoop it up as much as we ought.

We get our Alleluia’s and our Gloria’s back at Mass. We can order burritos without worrying about what day it is. If we pray the Angelus, now we pray the Regina Coelli. But unless one is somehow attuned to a wavelength coming straight from the Source of Unending Joy. There’s really not a whole lot else to do, or is there…

April-May-June 2012
S M T W Th F S
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
8Easter Sunday
This is the greatest feast of the Church year. The day by which all the movable feasts are calculated 1. If the lenten discipline was properly adhered to, the secular nonsense about Easter being about regeneration and new life comes absolutely true. Everything comes alive on Easter morning and life is just good. Liturgically speaking, Easter morning is the first of a 50 day celebration. The colors in the Church are white for holiness. The symbols are flowers and bunnies and eggs for new life and the dead coming out of the ground and rolling away the stones. But the real rebirth is the one that takes place within, which makes Easter an even more opportune time than Ash Wednesday to commit yourself to practicing virtue.
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
15Divine Mercy Sunday
Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter) is the newest of the feasts I’ve been mentioning. It was proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in 2000 when he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska (the Polish Visionary who saw Jesus and the words “Jesus, I trust in You”). Her (short) life’s work was to spread devotion to the Divine Mercy, which the Pope affirmed as God’s greatest attribute.
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
1St. Joseph the Worker
The feast of St. Joseph the Worker always is in Easter, but its placement on May day is truly meant as a Christianization of one May Day, away from the communist notion of labor, toward the Catholic notion of labor modeled by St. Joseph. That’ll be a fun one to explain in 500 years.
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
17 (20)Ascencion Thursday
Feast and Holy Day of Obligation commemorating Jesus ascending into heaven 40 days after His resurrection. Moved to the following Sunday for most of the United States.
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
Fifty days after Easter, Pentecost is remembered as the day marking the birth of the Church when the Holy Spirit descended on Our Lady and the Apostles. The season of Easter ends with the conclusion of the reading of evening prayer on Pentecost Sunday.
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
7 (10)Corpus Christi
A day to remember the Body and Blood of Christ, fully present in the Holy Eucharist. Often marked by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament.

Corpus Christi Procession

In my diocese at least, Corpus Christi is moved to the following Sunday.
3Trinity Sunday
A day to remember the Holy Trinity. Something that usually comes about when a dogma is proclaimed to combat a heresy. In this case it’s the God in 3 persons versus the Arian Heresy
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
15Sacred heart of Jesus
Friday after 2nd Sunday after Pentecost; The end of a novena (9) of Fridays after Easter to commemorate the love in Jesus’ heart
16Immaculate Heart of Mary
Saturday after 2nd Sunday after Pentecost; Feast to commemorate the Pope consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary +J+M+J+.

Thus passeth the 7 Sundays of Easter and the various moveable feasts affected thereof. So, get out there and celebrate or, at the very least, know what to expect when you go in to a Catholic Church!

1 A bane to timeclock programmers like me.

+J+M+J+ Shameless plug for Marian Consecration

Next week the Affable Geek is going to take us back and remind us Why we need Good Friday. While Catholics have moved on to Easter and baseball, we all remember that

“As much as we love the Brewers, unlike Jesus, they didn’t die for your sins.” – Archbishop Jerome Listecki

Responsible Parenthood: The Catholic Take on Contraception

2012-03-12 by Peter Turner. 6 comments

Post to Twitter

This is the Eschewmenical blog so in the spirit of Eschewmenism, I won’t be mincing any words. What I seek to present is an authentic Catholic stance on what said church teaches on the role of contraception in the family. I am a lay Catholic and not even remotely a theologian, so what I write is my opinion. But it is the opinion of one who both seeks to learn what his faith teaches and be obedient to it.

What is the Catholic Church’s position on Contraception?


In practice, many priests will instruct people to follow their consciences, but a well formed conscience, a well formed Catholic conscience, a properly catechized and well formed Catholic conscience, an obedient and properly catechized well formed Catholic conscience will eschew adding anything to sexual relations to prevent conception as a means to regulate birth.

This is one of those hard teachings, like eating the Flesh of Christ. Surprisingly, it is not one of those teachings that makes people leave the Catholic Church.

only 16 percent [leave the Catholic Church] because of the church’s teaching on birth control.

The Hidden Exodus – National Catholic Reporter, Apr 2011

For a multitude of reasons, only one being conscious disobedience, a majority of Catholic women have used some form of contraception in their lifetime.  As a Catholic catechist, I find it hard to slip in teaching about contraception while talking to 7th, 8th and 9th graders.  But, fortunately, the United States government has given me ample opportunity to do so!

I can say something like, “right now kids, you get a chance to be martyrs, ain’t that great?” and they say, “what’s a martyr?” and I say “a witness for Christ”.

President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius Smooching

Kathleen, doest thou obey me with a kiss

How does one be a martyr today? Rejecting the world’s teaching on contraception is a start.  This may bring down the world’s hatred, but that is a good thing.

But, how does the Catholic HHS secretary’s decision to force (as an end result) all Catholic institutions to violate their consciences make martyrs out of faithful Catholics?  Well, within marriage, we witness what we know to be true:

  1. That every marital act is a renewing of the marital vows. A total gift of self.
  2. That the intent of no marital act is to have as its end anything lower or different than the first. Not bonding on Fridays and babies on Tuesdays.
  3. That the love between the spouses reflects the love of Christ for His Church. A total gift of self (which bears repeating).

One must not cave in to moral relativism, even if one does so in practice.  It is not difficult to tell that a few of the parents of the kids in my Catechism class either contracept or are sterilized.   I also know that some of the kids in my class rarely attend Sunday Mass.  However, I am proud of them for listening intently to me teaching the truths of the Church at this critical moment and caring about the fact that their church is being attacked. I hope they can go home and explain these things to their parents. I pray that they’ll all have a conversion of heart.

What is the Catholic Church’s position on Birth Control?

Yes, maybe.

If birth control ceases to be used as a euphemism for contraception. 

...if I did debate it, I would call it by its name

The name of Birth-Control, for instance, is sheer nonsense. Everybody has always exercised birth-control; even when they were so paradoxical as to permit the process to end in a birth. Everybody has always known about birth-control, even if it took the wild and unthinkable form of self-control. The question at issue concerns different forms of birth-prevention;

G.K. Chesterton – On Evil Euphemisms

Birth control, properly stated, is “Responsible Parenthood”. Not contraception, which is literally doing something to stop conception. That term is somewhere in Humane Vitae and it’s a shame it didn’t catch on.   Clearly all Catholic parents should be responsible ones, not having 19+ children out of a desire to be on television, or machismo, or a desire to cream thy enemy at the gates.  If little ones are to be continually added to the family, it must be done out of a desire to do God’s work.  God’s work, since the beginning of time, has been creating things and people.

The Catholic understanding of it is that if, for whatever reason, a grave reason, a couple can’t add to their family, they may continue having sex, but in a way that effectively does nothing to confound God’s work.  One may put up no artificial barriers to having children.

  • No condoms or “onanism”, because they prevent the sperm from hitting its mark.
  • No hormonal birth control, because they confuse the body into thinking it is pregnant.
  • No Intrauterine Device (IUD) because of the abortifacient1 effect in stopping implantation.
  • No Plan-B (without an ovulation test) because it is an early abortion.
  • No complete abstinence, without a good reason, because marriage is for the union of the sexes to create babies.

So, that leaves two choices.

  • Make love often and leave everything up to God and nature.
  • Plan when to make love following the scientific principles of ovulation (and breastfeed a lot after giving birth). (CCC 2270)

The last option is not called the Rhythm Method nor is it called the Calendar Method; it is Natural Family Planning. It is extremely effective if used properly, has no side effects, and its practitioners have an uncannily low divorce rate2.

Natural family planning consists of charting signs of fertility:

Fertility signs include, temperature, cervix location and cervical mucous consistency/color

And it’s wonderful fun.  It really puts the couple in control of their fertility, and as a man that may sound ironic (even deranged, stupid or misogynistic) but it’s male fertility too!  I don’t want this blog post to seem too much like an advertisement for NFP. But, if ads for hormonal birth control say they treat symptoms of PMS, it should be noted that the above NFP chart gives men an accurate indicator of the onset of PMS. Men who practice NFP can be ready with calming poultices and be loving husbands before the first signs of PMS!

I’ll conclude with three good resources for three different learning styles.
  1. For book learners, read Pope Paul IV’s Humanae Vitae. It is the most accessible means of understanding why the Catholic Church cannot change its views and needs to hold on to them regardless of societal pressure.  It says the Catholic Church is the guardian and interpreter of the natural moral law, not the arbiter or source.
  2. For auditory fellows, listen to Dr. Janet Smith’s Contraception Why Not and find out why, “if you’re not going to St. Paul, you shouldn’t have gotten on the train.”
  3. For the kinesthetic at heart, check  out the Couple to Couple league and start doing NFP today!3
There’s a lot I didn’t cover; the whole argument against contraception is rooted in the Natural Law.  Whatever holes reason cannot fill concerning contraception, an anagogical reading of the commandment against adultery will fill in.  Man’s ultimate goal is to do the work of God in creating new human life. So, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask; that’s what christianity.stackexchange is all about!

Next week Bruce Alderman will write about the Methodist take on contraception. I’ve got a feeling it’ll be a tad more pragmatic than the Catholic stance, but I learned from asking on Christianity.SE that Calvin may have been more or less against birth control so maybe I’ll be surprised!

1. IUD kills a fertilized egg (i.e. a tiny human person)

2. Love, Sex and Babies, Jason Evert, Catholic Answers 2004

3. and mark one off on your coitus record for me