Wednesday, June 22, 2016

...and to the Republic for which it stands, [words omitted], with liberty and justice for all....

It becomes easy to demand change for something when we do not understand its origin or why it came into being. After every mass shooting we see the knee jerk reaction to ban guns and do away with the Second Amendment to our Constitution. No one needs military styled weapons for hunting, home defense, or recreation. In that regard they would be absolutely correct. But the Second Amendment does not protect weapons used for hunting, home defense, or recreation. The Second Amendment protects the firearms used by the ordinary citizen to defend against our God given rights from being abused or taken away by a tyrannical government. That purpose has not changed and when Government tries to infringe upon that right they have broken the pact they made with the people and by definition have become tyrannical.
We see a like argument going on with our Pledge of Allegiance to this country. Since 1954 atheists have fought the battle to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge arguing everything from inclusivity to the separation of church and state. Memes abound on social media encouraging people to return to the pledge as it was originally written before “under God” was added to it. It becomes easy to demand change to something when we do not know its origin. The pledge we say today has actually been changed many times. Atheists would never want to go back to the pledge as it was originally written.
The original Pledge of Allegiance, now known as the Old Pledge was created by Colonel George Balch and was;
                We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag!
It was later changed to the “formula of allegiance” and was recited as;
I pledge allegiance to my flag, and the republic for which it stands. I pledge my head and my heart to God and my country. One country, one language and one flag[
Along came Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist. Bellamy did not like Balch’s pledge believing it was too juvenile and lacking dignity. He authored his pledge in 1892 and it read;
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
This became known as the “New Pledge”. Notice, there is no mention to God in this version. There is also no mention to the United States of America either. “My flag” was changed to “The Flag of the United States” in 1923. It wasn’t until 1942 that the Pledge of Allegiance was officially recognized by Congress as our pledge.
In 1948 Louis Albert Brown initiated the addition of the words “under God” to be added to the pledge. President Lincoln had included these words in his Gettysburg address. In 1951 the Knights of Columbus also began to include these words when they recited the pledge. They began to petition the government to officially include these words into our National Pledge.
In 1954 President Eisenhower urged Congress to make the change in response to the growing Communist threat in that day. Congress did and “under God” has been in our pledge ever since.
It begs the question; are we still one nation under God? We have done everything we can to remove God from the public square. Children can’t pray in schools anymore. It is becoming harder to find a graduation ceremony with a blessing in it. Church attendance is in a steady decline and lines outside a confessional are short to nonexistent. For far too many people the only time the name of God is involved is at that magical moment in a place designed for slumber. We have gone from having a personal relationship with God to having a private relationship with him to having a long distance relationship where we send him a card at Christmas. Has God become irrelevant?
You could question if we are still one nation. This country has not been this far divided since the Civil War. Politics, abortion, religion, gun rights, global warming, all sources of the great divide. Red state, blue state, conservative, liberal. Everything we do separates us from our brother. Neither side is completely right and neither side is completely wrong but neither side is willing to work with the other for the real common good. Is man-made, man controllable, global warming a real thing? Probably not but drinking and breathing toxins are no good for anyone either. We all have a common interest in taking care of this planet. We should be able to work together to do so, not divide and fight each other.
A house divided cannot stand. The devil loves division and does everything he can to get us to separate ourselves. We either find a way to live together or we will die alone. God bless America, he shed his grace on thee. How long do you think God will continue to shed his grace on America when we have deported him from our borders and evicted him from our hearts?
Forty years I endured this generation. They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know my ways. So I swore in my anger they shall not enter into my rest. – Psalm 95
Our forty years is about over.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Food For The Poor

Matthew 25: 34-40

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Today we had a missionary priest come and talk to us about Food For The Poor. This is a non-denominational Christian charity that lives out the Corporal Works of Mercy and truly cares for the least of our brothers and sisters. His homily was heartfelt and reminded us of Jesus’ command to love our neighbor. His words were sobering. For many of us to be poor means not having the latest Iphone. To the people he ministers to poor means not having any food to eat today. Poor means only having dirty, feces contaminated water to drink.

We see these ploys for our money all of the time. Sally Struthers pulls at our heart strings with pictures of dirty, forgotten children is some foreign land. Closer to home we have homeless living in boxes and people on street corners holding cardboard signs looking for hope. Social media is full of memes about refugees and our own homeless veterans. Why should you care? Why should you give any of these beggars the time of day?

The truth is that God provides for all people. Some he provides exactly what they need to survive. Others he provides an abundance to. If he has given you an abundance he is providing you to someone in greater need. Do you respond to his call? Do you provide for another where you can or do you hoard the abundance for yourself?

I opened my eyes as if waking to a new day. The light was tranquil and warm, brighter than usual but not so much that it hurt the eyes. It was strange because I could not see the sun or any other form of illumination. The light didn’t come from any one direction. It just was.  I was dressed in a tunic so white that it seemed to almost glow with a brilliant radiance.

I looked around me. I was outside standing in front of a soaring fence with a massive gate made of ivory and gold. Beyond lay an immense palace like none I have ever seen.  It reached up into the clouds and ran left and right as far as the eye could see. The whole thing appeared to be made of gold and shimmered in this light. Each story was decorated in ornate statues and carvings. Thousands of windows lined every level.

To the right, on my side of the fence, there was a massive building that had a stone roof and no walls. It looked similar to a stable. The roof was supported by large stone pillars that reminded me of the giant sequoia in Yosemite National Park. There were hundreds of tables all aligned in a row under the stone ceiling. Each table had four chairs all on the same side facing away from the palace. Looking outward from the tables there was a stone railing that ran the entire length of the building.

Then people started to appear around me as if they were walking out of a mist. Each was dressed as I was, in a pure white tunic that glowed. Their faces also seemed to radiate light. Although we all were very close to one another no one spoke a word. We gathered and looked longingly at the golden palace beyond the gate. We must have numbered a thousand or more.

After a time, a man in a golden robe appeared. He was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. He welcomed us and told us not to be afraid. He invited us to a feast that was to be served in the stone building to our right. We all went and took a place at a table. Soon servants appeared carrying platters with the most mouth-watering foods upon them. One of these platters was placed before each person.

Before we began to eat I noticed another group of people gathering on the opposite side of the stone railing. These people we not like us. Their tunics didn’t glow and their faces weren’t radiant.  Their tunics were dirty and a dingy gray. Their faces were gaunt, eyes sunken and dismal. These poor wretched people reminded me of the pictures of the Jews in the concentration camps I had seen. They looked at us sadly almost pleading for our attention, but not a word was uttered.

The man in the gold robe gave the ok and our multitude ravenously attacked their platters. I grabbed a chicken leg off of my platter, one of my favorites, and brought it to my lips. But then I looked out at the other multitude looking so desperately back at me.  I put the chicken down and looked at them. Then I looked left and right at the people seated beside me. They all were so busily devouring their food that they couldn’t cast even the smallest glance at the people along the railing.

I sat for a while and thought about this. If I were dead would I really have a need for food? If this were heaven wouldn’t there be enough for everyone? I stood up from the table and grabbed my platter. I walked to the railing and handed my platter out to the people. Each took a piece of food and passed the platter to another. I returned to my place at the table and sat with nothing before me. The people to the right and left of me shielded their platters, fearful that I would try to take some of their food.

When the feast had ended and everyone had eaten their fill the tables and platters looked to have more food on them than before we had begun. Surely this food could be given to the starving masses on the other side of the stone railing. I looked towards them but, to my surprise, they were all gone. There was no sign that there had ever been a crowd there. My empty platter lay on the ground.

We rose and started exiting the great hall one by one. The man in the golden robe was at the end of the line. He said something to each person as they exited, then turning right they would wonder off in the direction of where the starving people had gathered. I watched them as they walked away. The glow of their tunics died out and they took on a dingy gray color. The radiance of their face faded. Their eyes started to recede. You would have never known that they just eaten the feast of their lives because they quickly started looking like the staving crowd that had been watching us.

I became very fearful for soon it would be my turn to leave this place. I was almost in a panic as I approached the man in gold. The person two ahead of me wondered off to the right. Then the one before me did as well. Now it was my turn and I wanted to run, hide under a table. The man in gold put his arm around me and we began to walk together toward the gate of gold and ivory.

“Have no fear.” The man said to me. “For you have received the kingdom of heaven.”

“What of the others?” I asked, still afraid.

“They have received their reward.” He replied calmly.

Continuing he said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me. All of you have been saved because of your faith in me but only you will redeemed this day because you have heard my command and have followed it.”

“And what becomes of the others?” I asked.

“They have been spared from the fires of Hell but they will not receive the kingdom until someone like you loves them enough to feed them the way you have done for these brothers.” He answered.

“How often does that happen?” I dared continue.

“Rarely one in a thousand will put the needs of others before their own desires.” He concluded.

As he finished his reply we were joined by a group of about thirty people led by a man I barely could recognize. Before me, in a glowing white tunic and radiant face, stood the man I had handed my platter of food to.  He embraced me with a hearty hug and a kiss on each cheek.

The man in gold motioned toward the palace and the now open gates. “Go inside. I have prepared rooms for all of you.”


Why should you care? Because Jesus has told you to care. He has told you to love your neighbor. To love is to will the best for someone. Any organization that serves the poor is worthy of your support. It doesn’t have to be this one. This is one of many. None of them can do it without generous contributors. If you have no money and you send a dollar you are a generous contributor. God will multiply that dollar as he multiplied the loaves and fishes. All you have to do is have faith. Give Food For The Poor a look and if you are able to help them do so. If you are unable to help them help someone in need even if all you can do is offer someone a warm smile and a hello. Recognizing their dignity and seeing them as a person is the first step to loving them.

Be a blessing to everyone you meet and allow them to be a blessing to you.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Window to the Soul

Matthew 6:22

“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

A related saying is that the eye is the window to the soul. The saying means that you can see into the soul of another through their eyes. Windows go both directions and the soul can only see what passes in through them.

The saying, “You are what you eat.” is true for the body. If you constantly eat a diet of garbage you will have poor health and probably a short life full of suffering. Garbage in, garbage out. Then it is also true that, “You are what you see and hear.” is true for the soul. If you feed your soul corrupt things you will have a corrupt soul. No one raises roses by planting thistle seeds. The same concept applies – garbage in – garbage out.

The brain is the world’s greatest super computer. It is constantly taking in information and storing it for later use. This information loaded into our memory banks is used to make decisions and drives the way we live our lives. When you load your mind with violent images from video games and movies or the dehumanizing images from pornography it changes the way you walk through life. It changes the way you see your fellow human beings. It is insidious in the way it works. The devil knows that he can’t get people to sin in one big step. He gets us to change one tiny step at a time over a long period of time. He gets us to accept the next step by making us numb to the step we are at.

How was the Grand Canyon formed? Was it through a cataclysmic event? Did a meteor crash to earth carving out the great valley? The Grand Canyon was formed by a trickle of water over millennia. Water – soft, cool water flowing over rock. It ate away at the rock one particle at a time. This is how sin works on the soul, one small step at a time.

60 years ago swear words were not used or permitted in movies. Today some of the most popular movies have a swear word uttered very seven seconds. Get numb to hearing one we will use three. Get used to three we will use nine. Get used to nine and the sky is the limit. Every aspect of our culture has morally eroded in this fashion, from how we speak to each other to the clothing we somehow find appropriate to wear to worship God.

C.S. Lewis said that the body and soul live so closely to one another that they share their diseases. What we do with our bodies we do with our souls. What we allow our souls to see will determine what we do with our bodies. When one is sick both suffer. No one becomes holier by watching or listening to unholy things. A body that has been fed nothing but junk food can heal once the diet has been changed. The same is true for the soul. Even the most porn addicted soul can be brought back to holiness by changing what the soul sees.

Parents, do you want to have good and holy children? If you do it is your responsibility to monitor what they watch and listen to. Just as you wouldn’t allow your children to consume nothing but Twinkies and Big Macs you can’t allow them to consume a constant stream of violence and pornography in what they see, listen to, and play. If you want roses plant rose seeds. If you don’t care the world will plant thistles for you.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The image and likeness of God.

We live in such crazy times. We have lost our way and are walking down a road to lunacy that will be difficult to come back from. We have always identified ourselves by our attributes. I am a white, American, Catholic male. That paints a pretty good picture as to the group I am in but it tells you almost nothing about the person I actually am. We have gone to an extreme by attaching our self-worth on these attributes we have absolutely no control over. Every minority has their own “pride” month. We are allowing ourselves to be separated from one another based upon unchangeable attributes like skin color, sexual orientation, and genitalia.

The civil rights fight that ran from the Civil War through the sixties was about one group of people with an unchanging attribute trying to get another group of people to see and accept them as people. They weren’t looking for special treatment. They were looking for equal treatment. Martin Luther King’s dream was that his children would someday be seen as Americans who were black and not as blacks who were American. See the person first, not the attribute of that person.

Many in today’s culture have forgotten that lesson and are demanding to be accepted according to their attributes. We are regressing, re-segregating ourselves into like groups. Then the groups demand to be respected above other groups. How many stories are out there of bakers or florists being sued because they would not bake a cake or make flower arrangements for a same sex marriage? The same sex couple uses the same argument the blacks did when they fought for their civil rights. It was wrong for a restaurant to deny service to a black person or to require them to sit in a special section just because of their skin color, therefore, it is also wrong for a baker to deny the same sex couple a cake for their wedding day simply because they are of the same sex. The argument sounds logical on the surface but is not really the same.

Blacks were denied service because people did not see them as fully human. They did not view them as people with equality to themselves. This is not the truth with a same sex marriage. The baker is not denying service because the baker believes that the same sex couple are not fully human. The baker is refusing service because the activity goes against their conscience and they do not wish to participate in it. This is not discrimination but exercise of conscience. Now, if the baker had a brick and motor store and denied the same sex couple to enter that store because they are gay, that would be discrimination that should never be tolerated.

The devil is very crafty. A house divided cannot stand. He is doing everything he can to get us to divide ourselves. Once divided our culture cannot stand and we will look upon our brother with hate in our heart. Because I fear what is different I cannot look at you, who are different from me, with anything but fear and hate. I cannot see the person you are because I cannot see past the attributes of the person you are. These are truly the devil’s times.

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1: 26-27

So what does it mean that God created us in his image? What is God? God is love and from that love flows justice and mercy. We were created in the image and likeness of love. Not just any type of love. We were created in the image and likeness of agape, sacrificial love. Love is greatly misunderstood today because the word love has been redefined and abused. For many love is a feeling. A feeling is directed inward. It is something inside me. Sacrificial love is never directed inward. Agape is not a feeling, it is an action. It is to will the best for a person despite what is best for the self. I do not have to be attracted to you, to lust after you, desire you, or even know you to love you. All I have to do is to will the best for you, to put your genuine wellbeing first and I will have loved you.

If we all were created in the image and likeness of God we all are a reflection of God. When I look at you I look at the face of God. When I look at you I shouldn’t see a black or a white, a straight or a gay, a male or a female. I should see a person with God endowed dignity deserving of my love and respect. This is the way every Christian is called to treat every person, Christian or not, that they come in contact with. We are not to espouse hate or division. Let not an evil word leave my lips.

Jesus was God. Jesus hung up being God to become one of us, to die for us. He freely chose to die for what someone would consider the lowliest among us. If God, the creator of everything, respected the lowliest among us enough to give his life for that person I owe that person the same level of respect. Jesus loves the homeless, the poor, the drug addicted, the homosexual, the transgender, the Muslim, and the atheist. If Jesus loves these people and willfully died for them I must love them as well. Their worth as people is tied directly to their dignity and not to their attributes.

Do not give in to the devil’s attempts to divide us and pit us against ourselves. Love your brother as you love God, with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength, and your whole being. Stop referring to people and grouping them by their attributes. They are not black people or white people or gay people or Muslim people or conservative people or liberal people. They are people, people made in the image and likeness of God. Love them first.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Velare....oh, oh, oh!

What do these things have in common?

If you said that they are all veils you would be correct. The first is a wedding veil, the second a chalice veil, and the third is a burka, the traditional covering for a Muslim women.

What then is the purpose of a veil? The Latin root of the word veil is vela meaning a cloth, sail, or covering. To veil is velare which means to cover with a cloth or sail. And that is exactly what a veil is supposed to do – to cover.

We veil that which is sacred, or, at least we used to.

A bride is sacred to her soon-to-be husband. She used to be a virginal and pure gift. Surprisingly few are anymore. The veil is lifted at the altar to ensure that the person the groom is marrying is the actual bride he desires. In Holy Scripture we read about Jacob. Jacob falls in love with Rachel. He swears himself into seven years of slavery with Rachel’s father in order to gain her hand in marriage. The day comes and Jacob takes his veiled bride as his wife. In the morning the veiled bride turns out to be none other than Rachel’s sister Leah. Jacob commits to another seven years as a slave in order to marry Rachel as well. From that day all men lift the veils of their soon-to-be brides to make sure they are marrying the right person.

At Mass, until the consecration, the chalice is veiled. The chalice is a sacred object for it holds the actual blood of Christ. The chalice veil also symbolizes the Holy Spirit. In the Orthodox Church the veil is waved over the chalice when removed to symbolize this to a greater extent. It is a beautiful tradition far too many priests have abandoned.

To many in the western culture a burka symbolizes a man’s dominance and is thought to reduce a woman down to nothing more than a possession. The burka, in reality, is nothing more than a veil covering something thought to be sacred. This is taken to extreme with the entire body being covered and only the eyes being seen. I personally feel that we can learn a lesson from the Muslims here. Before you start your hate letter, dear reader, please finish the blog….

The Catholic Church tradition has always been that women be veiled at Mass. This comes from Holy Scripture where Saint Paul instructs us that a woman should be veiled when she prays. The Church never stopped this tradition. If just fell out of practice on its own.

Actually, it was forced out of practice by the masculinists. Masculinists? Huh? This country has never had a true feminist’s movement. A feminist’s movement would exalt the virtues, qualities, and greatness of being a woman. Instead what we have masquerading as a feminist movement is an attempt to make women equal to or greater than their male counterparts. There is a misguided belief that a woman only has value if they can do everything a man can do. The early feminist movement worked hard to cast off man as head of the family and establish a free and empowered woman who doesn’t require a man for anything.

Woman, of course, is the greater of the two species and has been bestowed with a gift no other creature, including angels, have been given. Women bring about new life. This is a feat that a man will never be able to do naturally no matter how much he self identifies as a woman. This gift is so great that it makes all women sacred by their very nature.

This did not keep some women from turning their backs on their sacredness and led some to call for all women to burn their bras and free themselves from male tyranny. Did such tyranny exist? Of course it did and it will always exist where people put selfish desire over that of the love for God. But in the self interest of being better than a man woman lost such virtues as sacredness, modesty, and chastity. Chivalry didn’t die. Those who we were being chivalrous for disappeared.

We veil that which is sacred and now women wear as little as they can get away with. They have ditched the veil and now come to Mass wearing outfits that are smaller than what a typical bathing suit was forty years ago. There is no wonder why women are viewed and treated like objects today. We in the west view a covering, a burka, as a sign of ownership of an object yet our lack of a covering have made us the very objects we detest. There is no surprise that fewer and fewer people get married and even fewer stay in a monogamous marriage for life. We live in a throw away culture where we discard objects that have outlived their usefulness. This now includes people.

One of the things that must be done if we are to become the great nation we once were is that we have to restore the sacred nature of women. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if more women would start wearing veils to Mass again? Most women I know won’t even consider it because of what others will think of them. Only nuns, eighty-year-old women, and crazy shut-in cat ladies wear veils to Mass. That’s not me…

I have but one question for those who say that. Whom do you go to Mass for? If it is God wouldn’t you want to be the most sacred person you can be for him? If it is for those seated around you, you are there for the wrong reason.

Chastity and modesty are virtues this world desperately needs returned. If we veil that which is sacred be sacred in what you choose to wear. Short shorts and miniskirts make you an object of lust not a sacred temple to the Lord.

Friday, June 3, 2016

I am the man on the train.

I want to share a story the Reverend Know-it-All told on Father Simon Says this morning.

There was a man who worked for the local train company. His sole job was to make sure a train bridge that spanned a large river was down when there was a train coming and up when there wasn’t so ships could traverse the river.  One day he brought his only son to work with him. It was his son’s four year birthday. He showed his son off to everyone in the station before heading out to bridge house.

At the bridge house he was playing with his son down by the bank of the river when he heard the whistle on the approaching train. He ran to the control room and got ready to pull the lever to lower the bridge. He looked for his son but he was nowhere in sight. In a panic his eyes darted around the landscape looking for his son. He saw his son climbing into the gearing of the bridge. He didn’t have time to go get his son and still get the bridge lowered in time for the train to cross.

He did the only thing he could do. He pulled the lever and lowered the bridge. He felt his heart being torn from his chest as the bridge came down and crushed his son. Tears streamed down his face as the train rambled by the control room. Inside sat people drinking their coffee, reading their papers, or just staring out of the window, totally oblivious to the price that had just been paid to save their lives.

We are the people on the train. We go through our lives totally oblivious to the price that was paid for our salvation.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

This is one of the most quoted verses from the bible. You can find it just about anywhere you go. Yet it seems to be one of the least understood verses judging by the way people live their lives. Jesus gave his life for me and therefore I am obligated to live mine for him. I no longer have the right to go through this life with myself at the center. I am to be Jesus to others.

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Oh most Holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure, and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Temple or Tent?

I remember once when I was home on leave from the Navy. My father asked to see my wallet. As he shuffled through it I knew what he was looking for.

“Where are they?” he asked.

“I don’t carry them.” I replied.

“Why not?” he asked with a quizative look on his face.

“Because I haven’t had a need.” I said as I saw his expression turn to one of disappointment.

He was referring to condoms. My father was like many fathers I suspect. They have a hope that their sons will score with as many women as they can as often as possible. Many of the same dads expect their daughters to go untouched until they are married and ready to bring forth grandchildren. It is probably one of the oldest double standards we have in our society.

Sex has been overemphasized in our culture and virginity has lost its significance. Virgins are often mercilessly teased, ridiculed, and made fun of. Men often look to women as objects to be conquered or things to be dominated. I had friends on the ship who were virgins and vowed to stay such until they got married. They were the “goodie” people who were great friends but not someone you wanted to hit a foreign port with.

We have lost sight of what it truly important in life simply because we have given in to our carnal desires. Sex is one of the greatest gifts God gave to man. He has included us in his ability to create life. This is a gift he didn’t give the angels. It is a gift given not for our own pleasure but to give glory to God. This so infuriates the devil that he has done everything he can to get us to abuse this gift, make a mockery of it, and turn our backs on it. He has done everything in his power to convince us that sex is only meant for our selfish pleasure and use.

Sex has two purposes. The first is procreative. God wants to populate heaven. We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply. We are to accept life as God sees fit to give it and not on our terms. We are to trust God and know that he won’t give us more than we can handle.

The second purpose of sex is unitive. For this purpose man leaves his mother and clings to his wife and the two become one flesh. Sex is to be shared only in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Sex is not for recreation. Sex is not for the self. Sex is to be used to unite man and wife and bring about the next generation. Any other use for sex is a perversion and abuse of this great gift we have been given.

Virginity, therefore, becomes the greatest gift one spouse can give another. It is a gift only spouses can give. It cannot be bought. It cannot be faked. It cannot be returned. It is not something to be mocked, ridiculed, or made fun of. Virginity is sacred. It is a sacred gift for a sacred sacrament.

I have a newfound respect for my shipmates who remained virgin amid one of the most difficult situations to do so. They loved their future spouse enough to remain chaste when surrounded by temptation. They knew the value of their sacrifice while many of us threw it away the first chance we got.

I have heard many claim that the solution to our priest shortage is to allow them to marry so they can enjoy sex like the rest of us. I am sure there are some who have refused their calling because they want to be a husband and a father. I am one of those. I highly doubt that there are men out there who turn their backs on God’s call simply because they need to have sex. Those who have do not understand the true nature of sex. Men and women who take a vow of chastity for religious life aren’t losing out on something. They are gaining a deeper understanding of the value of the human body. They recognize the sacredness of their gift of virginity and the value of that gift when given to God. We all can learn from them.

God made people to be loved and things to be used. When we reverse that order bad things happen. Virginity is the single greatest gift one spouse can give another. We need to teach our children that their bodies aren’t play things for their own amusement. We  need to restore the sacredness of human sexuality to what it was meant to be. Our bodies are temples of the Lord and not tents for dirty hobos.