I am in need of some prayers. Apparently, someone or some bot is trying to hack your favourite correspondent's iCloud account. I have been wrestling with my iPad all day, trying to make it work to take videos for Instagram and to keep you all informed via Twitter. Sadly, what you have seen is about 1/10 of what I recorded.
All of this trivial technological nonsense is completely and utterly unimportant when I reflect upon another beautiful day at the World Meeting of Families. How blessed we all are to start each and every day of sessions and talks with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. My reflection today on the homily and readings almost seems to come from a mystical place as the "smells and bells" of the liturgy take over my mind, heart and soul. If I made the point that the Mass's homilies were amazing before, I must reiterate it again as I give a short summary today.
The Church knows that the crisis of the family is the reason that there is a crisis of society. The pastoral care of our families, our domestic church, is the priority of our church because it effects not just the individual family but rather our entire planet. This year the topic of the synod of Bishops is the family. Today's Gospel tells us that Herod killed John the Baptist because of John's criticism of Herod marrying his brother's wife. Herod is afraid, in today's Gospel, because the man that Herod is hearing about, Jesus, has a family connection to John. Despite his curiosity at Jesus message, Herod saw his own sin when he heard of Jesus.
The problems of our society are, just like Herod so long ago, directly related to our selfish desires. We must find real solutions to the real problems of the family based on the message of the Gospel. Form a Holy Family where each member prays together and grows in love for Jesus Christ. Let us pray for the blessing of God on our family church that blesses those outside our family.
After mass, I attended two sessions (fewer today because of Spanish language programming, no habla Español!)
Erika Bachiochi "No Strings Attached, Responding to Hook-Up Culture"
It is women who are cheated and suffer because of our culture's rejection in the supposed name of feminism and sexual freedom have hurt women, children and men as well. Adolescents are becoming sexualized at a younger and younger age. Young people face a social frontier of their own: they hit puberty at 13 and don't get married until past 30. Middle class Americans reject the idea of a 20 year old having a child but expect them to be having sex as much as possible.
How prevalent is "Hooking up"?
Half to 2/3 of college students hook up by senior year and drunkenness and female regret are almost always involved. Despite this, 25% of college students graduate college as virgins...and some people think the number is growing. The sense that hooking up is the norm has deemphasized dating. Young adults that are not in college or have graduated hook up at an alarming rate, and these numbers seem to be growing.
Pornography has become the normal sexual teacher of youth. Researchers believe that pornography desensitizes males' brains and they learn that aggressive and dominating sexual behaviour is the norm. Should we wonder why the rate of sexual assault on campuses is rising? 1/4 women claim that they have been forcibly sexually assaulted while on college campuses.
After being a part of the secular feminist movement Erika has come to understand that the Catholic Church is more pro-woman than any other movement on earth. She came to understand that sin was her adversary rather than Patriarchy and men.
The uneven response to the asymmetry of the sexes (men don't have babies, only women do) means that abortion and contraception were thought to be the cure for women's issues. All this meant was that men could have sex without consequences. What is a pro-woman response to sexual asymmetry? It is the catholic response. Natural Family Planning makes us face the beautiful consequences of our sexuality. Catholics who understand that our social and moral teachings go hand in hand, are the best advocates of helping poor people, who are most affected by unplanned pregnancy, despite the availability and prevalence of contraception. Sex still makes women pregnant, and pregnancy is still the burden carried by women.
We must pray that our society begins to rediscover the beauty of our sexuality and the importance of chastity.
Open your eyes and listen to the cries of the wounded. Wounds make people and families vulnerable to manipulation, bitterness, despair and exploitation...to evil and sin.
What is a home? It is not measured by acres your house and property take up. A home is a gift of a loving presence. This is why someone can have a mansion, and still be homeless. When God rules and reigns in any home, no matter the size, God heals wounds and makes a house a home for all. With Jesus, there is compassion and care. Included in Jesus care is his anger towards the evil that harms people and his attention to their needs. A healed person manifests faith in Jesus...but in the Gospel, Jesus tells the healed person to keep quiet. The Healer comes with humility to teach us to follow in example. When we are healers we must proclaim the kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of Ourselves. Jesus' kingdom is a Kingdom of healing and compassion. The parable of The Good Samaritan is a story where Jesus is talking about himself. Jesus will love and care for a stranger, even an enemy.
On a practical and principled level, the shepherd should not leave 99 sheep to get one. Why would God go and get the last sheep? Why? Only one reason: because the sheep is God's and if it cannot come home, he will bring it home. God entered into our woundedness and embraced it. He was lost, he was branded as crazy, he experienced being a refugee in Egypt, he experienced humiliation, he was betrayed but he heals by being wounded. According to the Letter to the Hebrews he was made perfect as a compassionate High priest because he was tempted in every way except sin. He transforms our wounds and they transformed him, that's why even he had the wounds of the world, of his suffering and persecution. It is the wounded Lord who saves us. Our wounds will become avenues of compassion, solidarity and love.
Let us recognize our own wounds, so that we can be compassionate and understanding of the wounded. Wounds are never clean, they can be bloody and raw...it's a dark world that we must be ready to enter. Our church is a field hospital and we must be ready to treat the wounded. Rather than desperation, our field hospital must have hope.