Moderation is Key: A Catholic View of Alcohol

Red WineLate last week a non-Catholic Facebook friend posed this question: “Is it right or wrong to drink, scriptorially? Is it ok to drink sometime or not at all?”

Apparently, she was getting conflicting opinions from her church and wanted to know what the Bible said about drinking. From this question, an interesting discussion ensued. One comment particularly stood out for me (copied exactly as stated in FB):

The Holy Spirit don’t stand alcohol. Let’s be not only believer’s, but let’s repent to get the promise for US and our children (act.2:38-40) to get the H.S in hearts. A simple believer without the H.S is not yet a confirmed child (son) of God. Rememeber what is said in Roman 8. The only way wine is allowed is to take communion. This truth is available only for the new Covenant. In the Old Covenant, only Nazareane couldn’t drink wine. They are the Equivalent of man (woman) filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant. Without the H.S in heart, we are not sons or daughters of God. Do you see?

What gets me about this comment is, that this person is basically saying that if a person drinks alcohol, he or she doesn’t have the Holy Spirit in his or her heart. That’s rubbish. This person doesn’t have some special view into a person’s heart. Only God can read our hearts. Only God knows our intentions. Only God knows where our hearts lie and whether or not the Holy Spirit is living in us. Alcohol has nothing to do with that.

On top of that,  how does this person know that the Holy Spirit “don’t stand alcohol”? No where in the Bible does it expressly say that alcohol is intrinsically evil. We are often warned not to live in excess, but that concerned eating, drinking, etc. but no where does it say that alcohol is evil. (If I’m wrong, do please point out the verse to me, and I will take this back!)

Concerning Romans 8, which is cited by this person, doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit is against alcohol. What it does say in verse 5 is this:

For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.

Throughout the chapter, it talks about living in Christ and being a new creation and that we are adopted sons and daughters of the Father, through Christ. In verse 10 it says:

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think any of these verse are intended to categorically say that alcohol is evil. I encourage you to read Romans 8 and decide for yourself.

I also spent a little time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There isn’t anything explicit about alcohol, but under the section of the section dealing with the 5th Commandment – when it talks about the dignity of the human person – there is a part dealing with “respect for health”  it says this (Article 2290):

The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

See, it is the virtue of temperance that must guide our choices. Any abuse or excess of ANYTHING is wrong; however, that doesn’t necessarily make the thing itself intrinsically evil or wrong. (Although, one could make a case for tobacco!)

In conclusion, let me sum up my view using the comment (in response to the person mentioned above) I left for my friend:

“Jesus ate and drank with his apostles and turned water into wine. Wine is made from grapes, which was made from God and all that God has made is good. The key is moderation. The bible says to stay sober and not get drunk and carousing, but no where in the bible does it say that alcohol in itself is evil. It’s us humans that make it evil by giving into drunkenness and excess. Or anything else that is good for that matter; alcohol, food, sex are all good. We are the ones that distort that goodness by not using them as God intended. Everyone of us are responsible before the Lord for our actions, so if we know that we “can’t hold our drink” then we have a responsibility not to drink, but having a glass of wine with dinner or on a special occasion is not against the Holy Spirit or wrong.

I’d love your opinion. Do you agree with me? Or take a different position? What are your thoughts on this?

Further Reading:

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism

(Photo Credit)

 

Submission in a Catholic Marriage

wedding rings

In the first part of this series we learned what the Church teaches about marriage, then we talked about some things that make a good marriage, and then we shared some ways to love your spouse. In this final installment I want to talk a little about submission in marriage.

Submission nowadays seems to be a touchy subject, especially in our ultra-feminist, proud society. What submission means, particularly in marriage, is sorely misunderstood. When many people think of submission they often think of being some sort of doormat or subservient to their husband. But that’s NOT what submission is about.

This doormat mentality of submission partially comes from a misinterpretation of Ephesians 5:21-30, particularly verse 24: “Just as the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.” That one line is encased within a whole lot of other verses that get ignored.

Look at verse 21, for example: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her…” How did Christ love the church? Completely. By suffering and dying a horrible death. (And by rising by His own power, too.) Our husbands are also called to love us like their own bodes, as it says in verse 28-30: “So husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church,” That’s how our husbands are to love us, and that’s a tall order our men have to fulfill!

Yes, our husbands are called to be the heads of our households, as it says in verse 23, but that doesn’t make them “lords’ or bosses” or make men better than women. Our roles in the home and church are different, but equally important. Both roles are essential for the building up and success of our households.

On a different, yet practical note, to keep order and harmony amongst a group of people someone has to “be in charge” or be the final decision maker. Think about it, there is a hierarchy in just about every setting. At work there is a chain of command, there is a hierarchy within the Church (even Protestant churches), there is even a hierarchy within the animal kingdom.

So, too, in the family there needs to someone who makes a final decision, especially when there is disagreement and a consensus can’t be reached. That doesn’t mean input is given and opinions aren’t expressed. Of course, they should be taken into account. That doesn’t mean that the husband has a right to be some sort of dictator. Absolutely not. And that doesn’t mean that as wives we have no authority. Of course we do.

Remember verse 21 above? We are called to be submissive to each other. Our men aren’t perfect anymore than we are. They have their strengths and we have ours. We use our strengths and weaknesses to complement one another. Where our husbands have their strengths we submit to them and where we have our strengths they can submit to us. How that plays out will be different in each family.

I can write more about this, but for the sake of brevity, I better stop. 🙂 Let me just say that, ultimately, submission is about love, mutual respect, and order. It’s about give and take, communication and helping one another to grow in their relationship with each other and more importantly, with the Lord – NOT about being some k ind of domestic slave or menial laborer.

What’s your take on the whole “submission issue”? I’d love for you to share your thoughts, comments and experience about submission.

(Linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday)

What Makes a Good Marriage?

wedding rings

(Photo Credit)

Last week I started this series by laying out what the Church teaches about marriage. This week I’d like to reflect on what makes a good marriage. Michael and I will be married nine years come August, so I’m no means an expert, but I am going to share some of the things that work for us.

1. Praying together. Father Patrick Peyton used to say that “the family that prays together, stays together.” He was referring specifically about the rosary – and we should pray the rosary with our families – but we certainly can and should pray in other ways too. Like going to mass together each week, praying the scriptures, or other vocal prayers. The quickest and easiest way to have a happy and lasting marriage is to put God at the center.

2. Praying for each other. During our personal prayer we should remember to pray for our husbands. We also shouldn’t be afraid to ask them to pray for us!

3. Communication. We all know that good communication is essential in any relationship, especially marriage. It is important to make time to talk to each other about the “big” stuff: finances, our children, our dreams, etc. It is also important to communicate the “little” things as well, such as a change in schedule or plans. Finding a system that allows you and your husband to stay on the same page will go along way in avoiding misunderstandings and bickering.

Let me just say here that Michael and I are both introverts and I have a definite tendency to hold things in. We have to make the extra effort to communicate and it’s not always easy. However, that effort is so worth it and it makes a huge difference in our relationship!

4. Forgiveness. Stuff happens. Our husbands can (and probably will) hurt us, either intentionally or not and either in a big way or not. And we can (and probably will) hurt them at times. And sometimes a lot of little hurts (whether real or imagined) can fester and add up to a huge thing. The best thing is to clear the air right away and not let the little things get big. We have to pray and we have to let go. We have to make the choice to forgive.

5. Time. The greatest thing we can give someone we love is the gift of time. I know finding time can be so hard. Believe me. Michael took me out on at date last Saturday and it was the first date we’ve had in about a year! While out, we decided that we are going to make a point of going on a date at least once a month, even if it just means taking a ride for 30 minutes. We find time for what is important to us, so make the time to be together alone as a couple – if only for 5 minutes!

As an aside, if you are having trouble with time management, I highly recommend Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews. (That’s an affiliate link posted on my review.)

6. Acceptance. Many people, either consciously or unconsciously, go into a marriage hoping to change something (or somethings) about their other half. The truth is you can’t and if you try, it can cause bitterness in your marriage, either within yourself or your spouse. It’s not our job to change our husbands, it’s God’s. We need to accept our spouse and love him unconditionally, with God’s grace.

With me, it was money. I am a minimalist. I don’t spend money lightly and like my life and surroundings as simple as can be. Michael, well, he likes to spend. He was a bit of a big spender before we got married and it caused some problems for us when we did get married. I was handling the bills at the time and I remember I would get so angry when he spend money, especially when he would forget to tell me about it. I started getting resentful and bitter toward him. Thankfully, during prayer, God convicted me in prayer and realized that I am the one who needed to change. Michael agreed to take over the bills and we discovered Financial Peace University. It made a big difference in my attitude and I let go of trying to form Michael into my ideal. (And, ironically, he has cut his spending tremendously and able to appreciate my frugality!)

7. Enjoy your marriage! Don’t take yourself or your marriage too seriously. In the midst of all your responsibilities do try to have fun! You married your spouse for a reason, so keep those wonderful qualities your spouse possesses forefront in your mind and heart.

Your turn. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. What qualities do you think makes a good marriage?

(Linked to 7QT.)

What the Catholic Church Teaches about Marriage

The Lord has been putting it in my heart to do a little series on marriage* for a while, and since February is the ‘month of love’ with St. Valentine’s Day and all, I figured now would be a good as time as any to get it going. 🙂

In this first installment, I am going to talk about marriage as a sacrament based on Scripture and the Catechism. Then over the next couple of weeks I’ll talk about what makes a good marriage, loving your spouse and finally a post on submission (which always seems to be a hot topic!). So let’s get started:

Marriage as a Sacrament

Before we talk about marriage as a sacrament, let’s remind ourselves what a sacrament is. According to the Baltimore Catechism, a Sacrament is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” The New Catechism states this a bit differently, a Sacrament is “an outward sign of an inward reality instituted by Christ to give grace.”

In the case of marriage, the outward sign would be the couple – husband and wife – itself. The inward reality, of course, would be Christ’s love for the Church.

As married people, we are a sign to the world of Christ’s abiding love for all people, the people whom He lived, suffered, died and rose again. We are a sign of the unseen heavenly realities of which our lives are directed. This is an incredible truth of our faith!

The Scriptural basis for marriage

You are probably familiar with many of the Scripture verses that relate to marriage, but let me remind you of one of them again. If you can, it may be nice to spend some time praying over this and the other verses during the month.

Genesis 2:21-24So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs, and closed up its place with flesh. the Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

This is one of several Scriptures. I encourage you to read Matthew 19:4-7, Mark 10:7-12, 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5: 22-32, Revelation 19:6-8 for more verses, especially the ones pertaining to Christ and His Church.

What the catechism says about marriage

The catechism (articles 1601-1666) has some beautiful passages about the sacrament of marriage and I hope you will read them. There are a couple of powerful passages, however, that I want to point out:

“”The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (article 1601)

“”By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God.” This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” (article 1641)

The word covenant is worth noting here. Remember God’s covenant to Abraham? God made an everlasting promise to Abraham. In marriage, a couple makes an everlasting (until death) covenant to each other, before God, which in turn grants them their “own special gifts in the people of God.”

The Purpose of the Sacrament of Marriage

The church teaches us that the purpose of the sacrament of marriage is twofold: to help each spouse to grow in holiness and the “procreation and education of offspring (1601).”

Simple words, yet they aren’t always easy live out! I think that’s why we need the special graces afforded to us in the Sacrament of Matrimony. In the day in and day out of living, we can forget the gift and the grace of our marriage state. It’s worth taking time time to reflect on our special calling once in a while. We need the reminder that marriage, Catholic marriage particularly, is so much more than what the world view of marriage shows us.

Next week I’ll get more practical and will share my thoughts on what makes a good marriage. 🙂

(Linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday)

*Just for your information, I will not be touching on topics such as divorce, marriage vs civil unions, birth control or other “hot” topics related to marriage in this series. I may in the future, but for now, I want to use this series to be an encouragement and support for those who are discerning marriage or who already married and looking to deepen their relationship with their spouse. 🙂

Our Catholic Traditions: Weekly and Monthly Devotions

In order to help us grow in our faith, the Church encourages many different types of devotions and dedications. Our Mother Church also encourages us to use these devotions to delve deeper into our faith. One way She does this is by encouraging weekly and monthly devotions dedicated to a particular saint or article of faith.

Our Catholic Devotions: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

I first learned of many of these devotions when I was discerning a religious vocation with the Little Sisters of the Poor. They had (and I assume still do) special prayers and practices for each day of the week or month of the year. After leaving that religious congregation, I discovered that it was universally practiced in the Catholic Church and not just their order.

Here are the weekly devotions:

Sunday: The Holy Trinity

Monday: The Souls in Purgatory

Tuesday: Our Guardian Angels

Wednesday: Saint Joseph

Thursday: The Eucharist

Friday: The Passion of Jesus (Divine Mercy) and/or The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

And the Monthly Devotions:

January: The Holy Childhood of Jesus

February: The Holy Family

March: Saint Joseph

April: The Blessed Sacrament

May: Our Lady

June: Sacred Heart of Jesus

July: The Precious Blood of Jesus

August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Assumption of Mary)

September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary

October: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary

November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory

December: The Immaculate Conception

Over the coming weeks and months, I will do my best to expound a little on the history and particulars of each devotion. In the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s a little primer on Why Honoring the Lord’s Day is Important and Ten Ways to Honor the Lord’s Day.

One more thing: for those of you who may want to know (or can’t ever remember) what days each of the Rosary Mysteries are prayed here they are:

Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries

Monday: The Joyful Mysteries

Tuesday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Wednesday: The Glorious Mysteries

Thursday: The Luminous or Joyful Mysteries

Friday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Saturday: The Joyful Mysteries (or Glorious Mysteries after 3pm)

A suggestion: This isn’t traditional, but over the years I have developed a habit of focusing on one Mystery over the seasons. For example: During Advent and Christmas I prayed the Joyful Mysteries every day. During Lent I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries everyday. During the Easter season I pray the Glorious Mysteries every day. And during Ordinary time I rotate the Mysteries as listed above.

Doing this has helped me enter deeper into the season and mystery that is being celebrated. You may want to give it a try to see if it helps you. 🙂

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Tweetable: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

Advent Meditation, Week Three: Continuing Mary’s Journey

Advent Wreath

If you missed them week one and two can be found here and here.

Here’s a snippet of this week’s Advent Meditation that you can find over at Living in the Two Hearts:

“In other words, Mary participated with the sufferings that would be her Son’s, joining herself to the redemptive graces of her Son just as Paul would do long after Christ’s ascension into heaven. At the same time, we can say in all honesty, Mary’s Son followed in her footsteps as He went through the 40 days in the desert and then the complete abandonment in the garden at Gethsemane. What did Jesus do, what were is responses? Did He react in the similar way that Mary did? If so, couldn’t that suggest His mother’s instruction in prayer was definite?”

What the Catholic Church Teaches about the Rapture

RaptureAs you can see, it is three days past the end of the world Rapture deadline and we are still here. 🙂 However, all the talk about last judgement and the Rapture got me curious: What does the Catholic Church teach about the Rapture? I knew the Church doesn’t believe in the rapture, but I never bothered to look it up and find out why. This past weekend I took some time to read up on it and pray about it, and found out some interesting facts.

What exactly is “The Rapture”?

Have you ever seen the movie (or read the books) “Left Behind“? The book and movie give a good synopsis of the rapture; which is basically, without warning “the saints” will secretly be taken up (“raptured”) into the heavens by Jesus. The sinners on the other hand will be left on earth to suffer the tribulation that is to precede the end of the world.

How the rapture doctrine was developed.

This was an eye-opener for me. I discovered an article on americancatholic.org by Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M., Ph.D that the rapture was promulgated by a religious figure named John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). He was ordained in the Church of Ireland, but in time he left the church for a group called the Plymouth Brethren. He became a leader of that church and in the 1830s he started teaching about the “rapture of the saints” which he believed was revealed to him by God. This belief was denounced by the Plymouth Brethren as not being biblically based, so he separated himself from his community. He started traveling extensively and became very prominent in many areas of Europe, US and Canada where his ideas caught fire and spread. Ironically, some scholars believe that they got his ideas on the rapture from a little girl who claimed to have visions of a two-part second coming of Christ – not from the bible.

Another interesting fact is that until the last 20 years or so the rapture doctrine was refuted by mainstream protestants, until it was popularized by televangelists and other popular evangelists.

What Scripture says about the rapture.

The two scripture verses most quoted in defense of the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4: 17 and Luke 17: 34-35. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says: “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up to the lord in the air. Thus, we shall always be with the Lord.”

Luke 17: 34-35 says: “I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken , the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.”

The other scriptures sometimes cited are John 14:3, 1 Corinthians 15:53, Matthew 24: 40-41, and Revelation 3:10. I will let you look those up yourselves.

If you read the scripture verses around those quotes, you will be able to see the context surrounding these verses. According Catholic Church Teaching, 1 Thess. 4: 17 refer to all those still living at the second coming of Christ will not die, but will be taken up in the air to meet Christ with those who already died. And Luke 17: 34-35, is a reminder to always be prepared for Jesus’ coming. I encourage you to read the article on americancatholic.org, as it does a great job explaining these scriptures.

What the catechism says about the rapture

Article 7, entitled “From Thence He Will Come Again To Judge The Living And The Dead“, explains the complete doctrine of the second coming, and I hope you will read it here. In talking specifically about rapture, there is not an “official statement” by the church in regards to the rapture, which according to the author of the article I linked to earlier, is because the rapture doctrine is a “late, and rather suspect on the scene.”

However, the Catechism states, relative to the second coming, the following in numbers 675 and 676:

“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. 574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth 575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. 576

The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, 577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism. 578″

The official Catholic Position

Although there is no specific statement from the church, from what we have read and learned from the above scriptures and catechism, there will not be two second comings. There will not be a “secret coming” where Jesus will come, take some believers, go back to heaven, and then come back to get the “rest” who have survived the tribulation.

Instead, Catholics take the view that was put forth by St. Augustine which is similar to the ‘ “Amillennialists” (whom you can read about here.) who believe in the coexistence of good and evil on earth until the end. The tension that exists on earth between the righteous and the wicked will be resolved only by Christ’s return at the end of time. The golden age of the millennium is instead the heavenly reign of Christ with the saints, in which the Church on earth participates to some degree, though not in the glorious way it will at the Second Coming.’

In other words: we are all in together until the end when Christ comes again. 🙂

Sources

I encourage you read the following articles to enhance your understanding of the rapture:

A Lesson in Sacred Scripture…Part II

americancatholic.org

catholic.com

catholiccompany.com

Catechism of the Catholic Church

scripturecatholic.com

catholicculture.org

I hope you have found this article helpful. It is important for us to understand what the Church teaches about these things. Do take the time to read the articles linked above. So many of us Catholics do not understand what the Church really teaches about the various issues we face in society today and that is very unfortunate.