Contraception is Still a Mortal Sin.
The Seventh Saturday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday.
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Sirach 17: 1-15.
• Psalm 103: 13-18.
• Mark 10: 13-16.
When the memorial is observed, lessons from the feria as above, or any lessons from the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Fourth Class Feria of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday.
Lessons from the common "Salve sancta parens…" of the Blessed Virgin, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ecclesiasticus 24: 14-16..
• [Gradual] Benedicta et venerábilis es…*
• [Tract] Gaude María Virgo…**
• Luke 11: 27-28.
Cheesefare Saturday; the Feast of the Memory of All Holy Ascetics; and, the Feast of Our Holy Father Tarasius, Archbishop of Constantinople.***
First & third lessons from the triodion, second & fourth from the menaion for the Ascetics, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• Romans 14: 19-23; 16: 25-27.†
• Galatians 5: 22—6: 2.
• Matthew 6: 1-13.
• Matthew 11: 27-30.
7:49 AM 2/25/2017 — Today's very brief Gospel lesson presents to us a pleasing image: children are brought to Jesus, He lays His hands on them and blesses them. The disciples try to prevent it, and our Lord rebukes them. It's a very common image for Holy Cards: our Lord sitting on a rock or something, with little children crawling all over Him; kind of a cuteness overload.
But these Gospel lessons haven't been put together by the Church over the centuries for the purpose of giving us cute themes for Holy Cards. These three brief verses about our Lord blessing children may seem odd in the sense that, in every other instance, when our Lord lays His hands on someone and blesses him or her, it's because that person is sick or crippled and our Lord is effecting a cure. There's nothing here to indicate that these children are suffering from any kind of malady, which may be the reason that our Lord's disciples try to shoo them away. But I tend to think that the Evangelist included these three verses here because of the Gospel lesson that immediately precedes them, which we heard yesterday, in which our Lord declares that marriage is forever: the first purpose of marriage is children; without them, the whole institution of marriage makes very little sense from the Christian perspective.
Separate the act of procreation from the concept of marriage, and you reduce marriage to nothing more than a public expression of romantic love. But romantic love is just an emotion, and no emotion lasts very long. So, if marriage is just an expression of romantic love, then why presume that a marriage continues to exist after the emotions have died? Take the question a step further: if marriage is just an expression of romantic love, then why restrict it to a man and a woman? Why not make it available to any two people who love each other? Why even restrict it to two people, for that matter? Why not three or four or five?
Most everyone who comes here is someone who is passionate about his or her Catholic Faith; so, I think it's safe to assume that most of us are equally distressed—as well we should be—over the attacks on marriage that we've had to endure in recent years. What may escape our notice, however, is the fact that all this is the direct result of the divorce—no pun intended—of marriage from it's primary purpose, which is the propagation and raising of children. And if you will forgive me for doing what should probably never be done in a homily, I will give you a personal opinion: that the high rate of divorce, as well as the high level of acceptance of the notion of homosexual marriage, even among Catholics, is the direct result of the failure to teach clearly and consistently the mortal sin of contraception. In our marriage preparation instructions, often the subject is not even addressed; and, when it is, it is confused and watered-down with inaccurate platitudes about conscience. Indeed, how many people are there who have been told, both inside and outside the confessional, that if they only pray about the matter, and decide it's not a sin for them, then they can contracept all they want and still receive Holy Communion? That has never, ever been the teaching of the Catholic Church, in spite of the fact that people have been told this for decades now.
But, this is a homily at Holy Mass and not a lecture about Catholic dogma. Let it be sufficient, then, to confine ourselves to the message of the Gospel: that there is an inexorable link between marriage and children, that one is defined by the other, that neither makes sense without the other, that separating one from the other is what has led to the countless perversions from which our society now suffers, and that none of these ills can be healed until the two are reunited in the hearts and minds of all who seek the graces of marriage or children.
That being said, the simple fact is that, through a monumental sin of omission, whole generations of Catholics are ignorant of the truth about marriage and children. It's not their fault, so we must pray for them, as well as for ourselves, taking to heart the words of the Apostle James: “Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved” (5: 16 Douay‐Rheims).
* The Gradual is non-Scriptural: "Blessed and venerable art Thou, O Virgin Mary: Who without blemish to Thy maidenhood, wert found to be the Mother of the Saviour. O Virgin, Mother of God, He Whom the whole world cannot contain, enclosed Himself in Thy womb and became Man."
** The Tract (added after Septuagesima) is non-Scriptural: "Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, Thou alone hast destroyed all heresies. Who didst believe the words of the Archangel Gabriel. Whilst a virgin, Thou didst bring forth God and Man; and, after His birth, a Virgin entire Thou didst remain. O Mother of God, Intercede for us."
*** Almost all liturgical traditions observe a pre-Lenten season, with the sole exception of the ordinary form of the Roman Rite.
The extraordinary form of the Roman Rite observes a pre-Lenten period lasting for three weeks, known as the Septuagesima Season, consisting of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. In English speaking countries, this season is sometimes called “Shrovetide,” because it ends on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is often called “Shove Tuesday.”
The Churches of the Byzantine Rite observe a pre-Lenten season known as the Triodion, lasting for four weeks; it is sometimes preceded by a Sunday “before the Triodion,” as determined by the date of Easter. The first few Sundays of this season are thematic, taken from the Gospel of the day, from which each Sunday gets it’s name. The Sunday before the Triodion is known as the Sunday of Zacchaeus, the First Sunday that of the Publican and Pharisee, and the Second that of the Prodigal Son. The last two Sundays are named after the specific food items which may be eaten during the weekdays prior to them, as the fasting discipline of Lent is gradually imposed: the Sunday of Meatfare and the Sunday of Cheesefare. The day following Cheesefare Sunday is the First Day of the Great Fast, there being no tradition of an "Ash Wednesday."
A pre-Lenten season is also preserved in some of the more traditional branches of the Anglican and Lutheran communions, making the ordinary form of the Roman Rite the only major liturgical Tradition to have completely eliminated it; ironic since the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council were said to have been done for largely ecumenical reasons.
Traditionally, holy monks and nuns with no feast of their own are commemorated on the day before Cheesefare Sunday.
Tarasius was one of the highest officials in the Byzantine Empire. He become Prime Minister, then was elected Patriarch of Constantinople in 784. At the 7th Ecumenical Council in 787, he brought about the defeat of the Iconoclasts, and brokered the union of Constantinople with other Eastern Patriarchates. He died in 806.
† In some Bibles, the same verses are numbered 14: 19-26.