Friday, October 02, 2009

A New Patron Saint for Chastity?
by John Zmirak
When we're thinking about the Deadly Sins, it helps to use examples. It's too easy for theological writers to sling around Abstractions with Capital Letters, as if with each stroke of the pen they're tapping into Plato's realm of changeless, ineffable Forms. Or at least that they're writing in German, where all nouns start with caps. A friend of mine used to write weekly for the estimable investigatoryjournal The Wanderer. Founded by German-Catholic immigrants, it was published auf Deutsch well into the 20th century. As my friend recalled, "The editors were, I think, waiting for the rest of the country to catch up with them. At last they admitted that this was unlikely, and agreed to translate the paper. But they kept on as their typesetter someone named Uncle Otto, who for years insisted on capitalizing every noun."
At least, that's the story. Such Teutonic stubbornness served The Wanderer's editors well in the wake of Vatican II, as the newspaper became a snout-rapper -- whose reports, as Bishop Rembert Weakland whines in his memoirs, were what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger used to roll up and smack heretical bishops on the nose. I urge all to subscribe.
But capitalizing your Concepts in order to give them an Air of spurious Authority will only take you so far in this world -- as far as "B-minus," I learned back in freshman rhetoric class at a staunchly secular school. So I've decided to give the Virtues and Vices a little flesh, to fatten them up for the reader so he'll remember how they look, sound, even smell.
I've already, elsewhere, profiled the patroness of promiscuity, the racist shrewMargaret Sanger. Lust's opposing virtue, Chastity, deserves an equally unforgettable advocate. Much as I love St. Maria Goretti, I'm not sure that her story is terribly useful for illuminating this virtue. Maria died from wounds incurred while resisting a rapist, and is quoted as having chosen "Death before Sin." In another context that's surely a worthy maxim, but it's worth pointing out, over and over again, that rape victims who don't fight back are not committing a sin. A woman I knew, the victim of a violent rape, said that tales of Maria Goretti (which she'd learned as a girl) fed into the crippling, inappropriate guilt that haunted her after the attack. What's edifying about Gorretti's story, I think, is how she forgave her attacker before she died, and how he converted afterward -- even attending her canonization Mass. That part is enough to break your heart, but its matter is Mercy, not Chastity.
So let's move on to another story, a longer and sadder one, of Chastity lived over decades and under duress in its most common context, marriage. I speak of someone well known to Showtime subscribers, Queen Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). The beleaguered first wife of Henry VIII, she started life with every promise of pleasure and power -- as the youngest daughter of Europe's richest, most well-armed monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. She learned Spanish, French, Latin, and Greek, and all the liberal arts, in an education infused with the Christian humanism that formed Erasmus and Thomas More (her future friend). Obedient to her parents, she made a political marriage at age 15 to the English Prince Arthur -- a shy young man who died only six months later.
According to Catherine, Arthur carried shyness to quite an extreme, since she always claimed the marriage was never consummated. This may seem implausible now, but it pays to remember two things:
  1. Arthur was sickly.
  2. Arthur was English.
A few centuries down the line, it would take seven years for Louis XVI to consummate his bond with Marie Antoinette; perhaps the prospect of handing on royal genes can cause performance anxiety. Whatever the case, the pious Catherine would swear to this fact repeatedly under oath, so it probably behooves us to believe her; her actions in later years otherwise make no sense.
After Arthur's death, Catherine was left for seven years an impoverished widow living under something close to house arrest in damp and alien England. She escaped this fate when her parents arranged with Henry VII for her to marry Arthur's brother, the dashing and learned Prince Henry. Because of Leviticus 20:21, Canon Law forbade a widow's marrying her brother-in-law. But royal dispensations back then were as thick on the ground as Kennedy annulments, so Henry and Catherine married in 1509. A very different man from his brother, Henry made Catherine pregnant five times -- in between long bouts with mistresses, a sport which historians think gave Henry syphilis. That disease contributes to infant mortality, which might explain why only one of Catherine's children outlived infancy.
Lacking a legitimate male heir, with his own family's claim to the throne still legally tenuous, Henry began to doubt the validity of his marriage to Catherine. By sheer coincidence, he'd fallen in love with one of her teenaged ladies in waiting, Anne Boleyn. Thus began the well-known story of the English Reformation, whose sordid origins have given Irishmen ever after the chance to snark at their English landlords: "My Church was founded by Christ, and yours by Henry VIII."
This isn't the place to rehearse the tedious legal proceedings by which Henry sought a divorce, or the violence he used on those who resisted him. His efforts were slowed, not stopped, by the fact that Catherine was the well-loved aunt of Charles V, whose armies held the pope a virtual prisoner. There was little honor on any side of this issue, most of whose protagonists (except for saints such as Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher) treated the sanctity of marriage as a pawn on Europe's chessboard. It all ended with butchered Carthusians; roofless abbeys; bare, ruined choirs; and the liltingly lovely language of the Book of Common Prayer, whose sacraments are invalid.
What matters to us is Catherine's unfailing commitment to her marriage. As the wheels of her persecution ground slowly and certainly, she found herself losing first her privileges, then her rights. In the end, she was banned from even visiting her daughter, the disinherited Princess Mary, and imprisoned in a crumbling castle far from court. At any point in time, Catherine could have freed herself, left England, and returned to Spain -- to life as a pampered dowager. All it would have required for Henry to set her free was a simple letter, admitting that their marriage was invalid.
But Catherine wouldn't write it, not even long after she'd given up any prospect of the throne. To the end, she concerned herself with "my husband's" health and holiness -- both in steep decline. She died in poverty and solitude, but would never renounce the reality and the sanctity of her vocation as a wife. Deeply in love with her husband, affectionate and romantic, she was sentenced to decades of celibacy in the midst of the marital state. Abandoned, she never abandoned God. She never even gave up on Henry.
As she wrote him, the year before she died:
My most dear lord, King and husband,
The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I ouge [owe] thou forceth me, my case being such, to commend myselv to thou, and to put thou in remembrance with a few words of the healthe and safeguard of thine allm [soul] which thou ougte to preferce before all worldley matters, and before the care and pampering of thy body, for the which thoust have cast me into many calamities and thineselv into many troubles. For my part, I pardon thou everything, and I desire to devoutly pray God that He will pardon thou also. For the rest, I commend unto thou our doughtere Mary, beseeching thou to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat thou also, on behalve of my maides, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all mine other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I makest this vouge [vow], that mine eyes desire thou aboufe all things.
She died with dignity, as true to her vocation as any monk or martyr. I cannot think of a worthier model today for all the married.

John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of the graphic novel
The Grand Inquisitor and is Writer-in-Residence at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. He writes weekly for

This was first published in

What’s REALLY behind the Green Movement

October 2nd, 2009 by Steve Pokorny · Edit Print This Article Print This Article ·ShareThis

First published on

OK, so I’m ticked. Usually that’s not a very good thing to be while driving, but when writing, it can be the impetus for some great commentary. That is, unless you’re writing an e-mail to your soon-to-be ex, but I digress…

I have long held suspicion about the so-called “Green Movement.” In case you need a refresher, it is beyond question for some members of the “intellectual elite” that the world is undergoing global warming at an alarming rate. And based on the words of Barack Obama to the U.N. recently, it would appear that the sky is falling. All of this is based on a the preconceived notion that all of the scientific community is completely in union on this scientific “fact,” even though at least 31,000 scientists beg to differ.

Now, I don’t claim to be a scientist, but a simple Google search will reveal that the idea that global warming is primarily manmade is hogwash. That’s right, it’s a myth. Just take the following excerpt, for example:

Johan Feddema, acting chair and professor of geography at KU, studies global warming. Atmospheric science is a program in geography at KU. He says he is skeptical of any one phenomenon being the direct cause of global warming because there are so many climate variables that factor into global temperatures. (Emphasis Mine)

Did you catch that? It cannot be just one factor. There are many factors that go into climate change, but apparently the main factor has to do with the variation in sun spots. Writing in Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years, by physicist Fred Singer and economist Dennis Avery, they note that most of the earth’s recent warming occurred before 1940, and thus before much human-emitted CO2. Moreover,

physical evidence shows 600 moderate warmings in the earth’s last million years. The evidence ranges from ancient Nile flood records, Chinese court documents, and Roman wine grapes to modern spectral analysis of polar ice cores, deep seabed sediments, and layered cave stalagmites. Unstoppable Global Warming shows the earth’s temperatures following variations in solar intensity through centuries of sunspot records, and finds cycles of sun-linked isotopes in ice and tree rings.

So if it’s all just made up, why are people buying into this drinking The Green Agenda Cool-Aid like its going out of style? Like all myths, if it’s not grounded in reality, there simply has to be a good spin machine used to manufacture the publicity to conjure up feelings of fear, blame, and uneasiness to get people to pay attention. And one quick look at your major news outlets will reveal one heck of an ad campaign being hoisted onto an unsuspecting public.

While it is possible that human beings may play a very small role in the heating up of our planet, it is vital that we as a Christian community wake up to the huge agenda that is being rammed down our throats, and it boils down to this:The green movement is all about reducing the world’s population.

Just take a look at the following title (which is the premise found in many articles involving climate change currently): “Birth control could help combat climate change.” The thesis behind this theory is that by giving contraceptives out to developing countries, it will help to slow the population growth that, they believe, causes the rising of the planet’s temperature (while at the same time, it is being reported that the “U.S. northeast may have the coldest winter in a decade): They quote an editorial (not even a study) in a British medical journal entitled Lancet that states that because there are 200 million women worldwide desiring contraceptives that don’t have access to them, this results in 76 million unintended pregnancies every year. We’re not sure where that unscientific editorial got those numbers, or who really believes those children are unintended — the mothers who bore the children, or the powers that be that are terrified that a third-world nation could out populate them.

Yet as one blog entitled, “The Evangelical Ecologist,” pointed out, “And then there’s China, famous for it’s one-child policy. It currently holds the title of world’s worst greenhouse gas emitter. With such a policy in place for the past 40 years shouldn’t China be on the bottom of the list?.” Thus if China can’t get this green machine thing right, and they’ve butchered countless babies and children, the question has to be asked: Can we REALLY solve global warming by population control?

By taking off our green glasses and revealing the wizard behind the curtain of this nice globally conscience motivated movement we see that this is none other than a furthering of Margret Sanger’s anti-God, anti-life, anti-family legacy that still promotes eugenic policies (Thanks Planned Parenthood!)in order to suppress, to the point of elimination, the type of people that The Green Agenda deems undesirable. And Geologist Ian Pilmer, who has a much longer view of the earth’s history than merely the last century, who sees global warming as “an entirely natural phenomenon with many precedents in history,” has hit it on the head: Global warming is the new religion of First World urban elites.

It makes sense, really. For when God is replaced as the center of one’s life, then anything else can take His place.Truly, there are no atheists; just men and women making something more important than their Origin. And right now, global warming is the deity of the month. Just as Satan said to Adam and Eve that “they could be like gods, determining for themselves what is good and evil,” the liberal elite have gobbled down that entire fruit and determined clearly what is good and what is evil (in their eyes): earth good, people bad.

Please understand me: I am all for taking care of the environment. God commanded Adam to tend the garden, and because I’m from his same ilk, I am called to take care of the planet, and do the little things I can, like recycle. Yet to a point. If it comes down to whether a forest remains standing or an unborn baby gets to live or a family gets to eat, I’ll be happy to approve of a new parking lot.

If global warming were really caused by human beings, and if I could make any prediction on why it is happening, I would base it on Romans 8: “All of creation is groaning, waiting for the redemption of our bodies.” For just as Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not the other way around, we must remember that the earth was created for us, not for us to be subservient to some absurd agenda that does not take into account Jesus’ words that the Father cares for His children. When we don’t follow God’s plan for our lives, and instead try to live life in a way that we deem best, things are going to go badly, and that includes the environment.

So, maybe we should all be ticked and raise a stink over the Green Agenda Elitists and their power grabs. For while they are paving the way for first world economies to plunge headlong into the ocean like all the glaciers that are claimed to be are disappearing, because there are not enough workers to replace the current generation (remember the old phrase, “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!?), I’ll take as many “uncultured, third world” children as possible, and I’ll be grateful for those “backward” places like Africa that will help to rebuild the world on the cornerstone of every society: the family.