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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sexual Surrogate Therapists - Can Christians Use Their Services?

sexual surrogate therapists 
Sexual Surrogate Therapists - image by MeganSchuirmann via Flickr
What got me into writing this article was the news yesterday I read on Yahoo about Helen Hunt's new movie, "The Sessions".

The film, formerly titled The Surrogates, was one of this year’s best reviewed films at the Sundance Film Festival, and is the first film of the year so far to get the Oscars buzzing. In the film, Hunt plays a sex therapist, which is being called her “boldest move” on the big screen thus far in her career.
At the risk of being viewed as naive, I'd never heard of this term until yesterday, although I've heard of sex coaches before - last month actually.

Think you're good at sex? The sex coach—yep, we said sex coach—will be the judge of that. He literally paces the sidelines of your bed, calling the plays and (gently) critiquing your moves. He wants to take you and your teammate to the promised land—and do you really want to argue with the Phil Jackson of boning?
Although there is now a movie promoting such services and people are going to become much more aware of such services, if they haven't already, it's still something most people don't avail themselves of.

Although use of surrogate partners is rare among patients of both genders, they are increasingly being used by women whose physical or mental health problems prevent them from enjoying a healthy sex life, experts say. In the past, such therapy was employed almost exclusively by men.
Movies such as The Sessions will create an increase in people using such services, not everybody will. Everyone knows that there are prostitutes and social escorts (who do more than just escort you), but not everyone goes to them. Just as Viagra is available for men, not all men who have sexual dysfunction use it.

What exactly does a sexual surrogate do?

Mare says: “I earn my living by sleeping with other women’s husbands or boyfriends. But I am in no way a prostitute as sex surrogacy is legal, as long as it is done in a therapeutic and healing atmosphere.

“People are paying for counselling and to cure their problems — not sex.

“I am helping improve and change the sex lives of thousands of men, which means I am also helping improve the sex lives of their wives and girlfriends.
The  cartoon below that I received in my email many years ago, begs the same question as sexual surrogacy...

Now, the point of this post, is to discuss whether it's permissible for a Christian man or woman to have sex with a sexual surrogate in order to improve on their sex life and therefore to improve on their marriage?

Of the premise of such a question is that sex is the foundation of a happy and fruitful marriage. From a Christian perspective, Jesus said that this would tantamount to adultery. Actually the solution to a lackluster sex life in marriage can be cured by attending a Theology of the Body session.

According to Pope John Paul II's TOB, it's love that leads a fruitful sex life and not vice versa. So a married couple who lead a dissatisfying sexual life, has a problem in the spiritual arena rather than a purely physiological deficit.

Our world is saturated with sex but remains starved for love. Why? Perhaps as Waylon Jennings put it, we’re “Lookin' for love in all the wrong places, lookin' for love in too many faces.”
Is the Catholic Church saying that it has the answer to the world's sexual emptiness? Here's the answer...

the Catholic Church has a vision of sexual love far more glorious than anything Sigmund Freud, Hugh Hefner, Britney Spears, or Howard Stern could dream of or imagine.
Attend a TOB program and you will never view marriage as a joke or a burden anymore.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Catholic Colleges - Which Are The Best

Catholic Colleges - image by Tim Green via flickr
I'm sure with all the controversy among Catholic Colleges, many parents are wondering which are the top or best Catholic Colleges to send their kids to, so that they get a good Catholic education.

It's important where you get such a list from. According to a list of top universities in the US, 6 Catholic colleges made it to this list.

Forbes magazine has issued its annual U.S. college and university rankings. Six Catholic schools made it into the top 100 out of the 650 schools listed this year.

The colleges listed in the top 100 are University of Notre Dame,  No. 12; Boston College, No. 26; Georgetown University, No. 38; College of the Holy Cross, No. 41; University of Santa Clara, No. 72; and Villanova University,  No. 83.
If you want to be certain of the Catholic credentials of a Catholic college, you shouldn't rely too much on Forbes, which after all is a secular publication and need not necessarily be loyal to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. See what they use to evaluate the colleges on their list.

The list “focuses on educational outcomes, not reputations.” Forbes also looks at the best bang for the undergraduate buck.
If you want a list of good Catholic colleges to send your kids to, look to the Cardinal Newman Society, who produce their own list of top Catholic Colleges in the US annually.

This is what the CNS says about the Catholic colleges on Forbes' top 100 list.

None of these would score very high on a test for Catholic identity, and some (especially Boston, Georgetown, Holy Cross, and Santa Clara) would score very low.
Watch the video for the list from a recent publication...

Check out the list produced by the Cardinal Newman Society here - http://www.thenewmanguide.com.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oral contraceptives - Is the Catholic Church right?

Oral Contraceptives - image by brains the head via flickr
What does the Catholic Church teach about oral contrraceptives? Or for that matter about any form of contraception?

In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, "Human Life"), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.

Contraception is "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods.
Note the highlighted text above. Why is it wrong?

Evidence that contraception is in conflict with God’s laws comes from a variety of sources that will be examined in this tract.
Of course if you're an atheist, a follower of another religion or a Catholic who picks and chooses what to believe (i.e. a Protestant actually), then what conflicts with God's laws is immaterial. But the rain falls and sun shines on those who understand the laws physics and those who don't or even deny the existence of such laws.

Does the Catholic Church really know something that the others don't? Here's a scientific discovery that may make you think that Pope Paul was onto something.

Women who use contraceptive pills are 50% less competitive during the 21 days of the month when they take the drug, which contains the sex hormone progesterone, according to Thomas Buser of the University of Amsterdam.
Christians (and people of other religious persuasions) believe that when you go against God you will be penalized. The Hindus and Buddhists call this bad karma. And what exactly are your forfeiting?

Some researchers have said that aversion to competition may help explain the low number of women in top corporate positions.
As if this weren't enough, it looks like the men too want to jump in earnestly with a male version of an oral contraceptive.

When scientist began testing the JQ1 compound, they hoped that it would be effective in cancer therapies by causing tumor cells to reboot, and halt their harmful effects on the body. Unfortunately, the drug doesn't appear to work against cancer in the way that researchers had thought it would. However, JQ1 may end up being an extremely important discovery after all: It turns out that although it can't fight cancer, it does fight sperm production, making it a potential key to the production of the first male birth control pill.
So, what will the negative consequence be for men on this potential male birth control pill.

In my 22 years in the health care industry, I've noticed that every drug that interferes with the body in some way will ALWAYS cause a negative side effect.

I guess as Christians it's always safer to follow God's laws, no matter how inconvenient or nonsensical it was sound to us.

Lolo Jones, the US Olympics hurdles athlete is proud to remain a virgin and says,

On Tuesday night, HBO's "Real Sports" outlines Jones' world on and off the track, including her struggles to remain a virgin.

A clip of the HBO piece was posted on the show's website Monday. The 29-year-old Jones discussed her dating challenges.

"It's just something, a gift that I want to give to my husband," Jones said. "But please, understand, this journey has been hard.

"If there's virgins out there, I'm going to let them know, it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life — harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college, has been to stay a virgin before marriage."
If you need help in uderstanding the Catholic Church's teachings on human sexuality and relationships, I recommend you attend a Theology of the Body session at the nearest parish offering such sessions.

Further reading:

Trusting God - A lesson from a child

trusting god
Trusting God - image courtesy of Globat Jet via flickr
Trusting God is an eternal challenge for millions of Christians. Failure to trust in God is the main cause of people dropping out of Christianity.

So how do we trust God?

Here's an example from an email I got a couple of days ago...

A   pastor had been on a long flight between church  conferences.

 The  first warning of the approaching problems came when  the sign on the airplane flashed on:  Fasten  Your Seat Belts.

 Then,  after a while, a calm voice said, "We shall not be  serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting  a little turbulence.
 Please  be sure your seat belt is  fastened."

 As the  pastor looked around the aircraft, it became obvious  that many of the passengers were becoming  apprehensive.
 Later,  the voice on the intercom said, "We are so sorry that  we are unable to serve the meal at this time.
The  turbulence is still ahead of  us."
And  then the storm broke.
The  ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above  the roar of the engines.

 Lightning  lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that  great plane was like a
cork  tossed around on a celestial  ocean.

 One  moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of  air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to  crash.
 The  pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and  fear of those around him.
 He  said, "As I looked around the plane, I could see that  nearly all the  passengers
 were  upset and alarmed.

 Some  were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were  wondering
if  they would make it through the  storm.

"Then,  I suddenly saw a little girl.  Apparently the  storm meant nothing to her.
 She  had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her  seat; she was
 reading  a book and everything within her small world was calm  and orderly.

"Sometimes  she closed her eyes, then she would read  again;
 then  she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were  not in her world.
When  the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm,  when it lurched this
 way  and that, as it rose and fell with frightening  severity, when all the adults
 were  scared half to death, that marvelous child was  completely composed and unafraid."

 The  minister could hardly believe his  eyes.
 It was  not surprising  therefore, that when the plane  finally reached its
destination  and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our  pastor
 lingered  to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a  long time.
Having  commented about the storm and the behavior of the  plane,
 he  asked why she had not been afraid. The  child replied,
 "Cause  my Daddy's the pilot, and he's taking me  home."

 There  are many kinds of storms that buffet us.  

 Physical,  mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can  easily and quickly darken
our  skies and throw our plane into apparently  uncontrollable movement.  

 We  have all known such times, and let us be honest and  confess, it is much easier to be at rest
when  our feet are on the ground than when we are being  tossed about a darkened  sky.
 Let us  remember: Our Father is the Pilot.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Christian Jokes - Help With Hearing

christian jokes
Christian Jokes - image by br3w via flickr
In a church in Bronkhorstspruit one Sunday morning a preacher said, "Anyone with 'special needs' who wants to be prayed over, please come forward to the front of the altar." 

With that, Ditmus got in line and when it was his turn the Preacher asked, "Ditmus, what do you want me to pray about for you?"

Ditmus replied, "Preacher, I need you to pray for help with my hearing." 

The preacher put one finger of one hand in Ditmus's ear, placed his other hand on top of Ditmus's head, and then prayed and prayed and the whole congregation joined in with much enthusiasm.

After a few minutes, the preacher removed his hands, stood back and asked, 
"Ditmus how is your hearing now?"

Ditmus answered, "I don't know. My hearing is only next Thursday."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mysteries of the Rosary - What the First Decades Have in Common

mysteries of the rosary
Mysteries of the Rosary - image by fradaveccs via flickr
A couple of months ago, I discovered something common that cuts across all 4 Mysteries of the Rosary. Specifically, it was something that is common to all the First Decades of each Mystery of the Rosary.

I realized that each one of the First Decades of the Rosary Mysteries were anxious moments. Here's what I see...

The Annunciation - 1st Decade of the Joyful Mysteries
This one is so easy to spot, especially since we have been ingrained in catechism class and other Catholic Bible studies you may have attended. Put yourself in Mother Mary's shoe. She has dedicated herself to be a consecrated virgin although she is betrothed. She's anxious about breaking her vow to God to remain a virgin and now has to become pregnant. And the Archangel Gabriel assures her that God has a way, whereby she can be pregnant and still remain a virgin.
That's not all. Now she's pregnant and still not married to Joseph. What will the neighbors think. Will the tongues start wagging. Despite such nagging anxiety, Mary said the meekest Yes, that rattled Hell.
 What about in Heaven. Except for the Holy Trinity, who knew how it would play out, the angels too must have waited with bated breath for Mary to give her answer.

The Agony in the Garden - 1st Decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries
The word "agony" is the giveaway that this event in the Passion of the Christ, was an extremely anxious moment for our Lord. How can we tell? It was so traumatic that Jesus actually dripped blood from His sweat glands.

The Resurrection of Jesus - 1st Decade of the Glorious Mysteries
Would you believe that such a glorious event could be anxiety producing? In this case, there was one person who was traumatized by Jesus' missing body. Mary Magdalene was among the first women on Easter Sunday to find an empty tomb. She was filled so much anxiety that she didn't recognize Jesus and asked him where her Lord's body was taken to.

The Baptism of Jesus - 1st Decade of the Luminous Mysteries
Guess who was anxious here? It wasn't Jesus but John the Baptist. John was uncomfortable that he would be baptizing Jesus and protested that it should be the other way around. Of Jesus insisted and I guess John's anxiety and discomfort would have evaporated the moment he heard the Father's voice acknowledging that he did the right thing.

What do you think? Do you have your own take on these? Use the comment box below.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Intercessory Prayer Examples to Mary Mother of the Redeemer

intercessory prayer examples mary mother of the redeemer
Mary Mather of The Redeemer - image by Wonderlane via flickr
This morning, while on my way to work, I prayed the Rosary, as I usually do everyday.

Being a Thursday, the Rosary Mysteries werethe Luminous. As I was meditating on the Second Mystery - The Wedding At Cana, a thought about intercessory prayers came to mind.

I did a search of the Bible of intercessory prayer examples to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. Instead of examples, there was only one. Imagine in all the thousands of verses in all the books of the New Testament, there was only one example!

Catholics and Orthodox Christians always seek the intercession of Mother Mary. And why do we do so? Because of traditional practices from the early Church and also because of the teachings of the Tradition.

And when we ask Mary, Mother of the Redeemer to pray for us, have you noticed that we tend to repeat the same intercession until it's fulfilled or God has given a definitive answer - whether positive or negative. We tend to think that each time we ask Mother Mary for intercession, she in turn will go bug God to help us. It's as if we have to continuously seek her intercession to remind her that she needs to go plead with God again and again and again.

However in the wedding at Cana narrative, what we see is that Mother Mary comes to know of the predicament of the wedding host. It really doesn't say that someone came up to Mary to ask her help. Recall that Mary was still known as the mother of a carpenter, only. Jesus was still a nobody as he hadn't done any miracles yet. So, I guess that Mary may have come to know of this through the grapevine.

This is what she did. She heard the rumor and possibly confirmed it with the host and immediately went to ask Jesus to help. Jesus hoed and hummed, but eventually performed the miracle of turning water into wine. A few lessons we can learn from this story

  1.  Mother Mary is always attuned to our needs, even if we don't ask.
  2. Mother Mary just asks once of her Son to intercede. She doesn't nag or repeat her requests.
 Of course this doesn't mean that we should not pray only once for a specific thing. Here's what some verses from the Bible tell us...

 Colossians, Chapter 4.

Be persevering in your prayers and be thankful as you stay awake to pray.

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5.

pray constantly
So, if Mother Mary has to just ask once, why do we have to pray constantly?

Don't we all know of the story of St.Monica, praying 15 years for St. Augustine's conversion.

All the prayers of his mother Monica for his conversion were now beginning to be heard after many years of seemingly being unheard.
Can you even imagine praying for something for 5,475 days (that's 15 years)?

God wants us to pray constantly, because eventually we get to see that what we ask for if not really for our benefit and come to accept the will of God and not our will be done.

“You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3) We could save ourselves a lot of aggravation by accepting this advice and seeking to discern God’s will for our lives. In doing so, we would get a clearer idea of those “things” that God wants us to have.

So carry on praying. Prayer works. It'll change you rather than changing God's mind, which is impossible anyway. Change is a malady of the imperfect - God's creations and creatures.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Christian Joke - Pilot in Trouble

This is the story of the blonde flying in a two-seater airplane with just the pilot.

The pilot has a heart attack and dies... She, frantic, calls out a May Day.

"May Day! May Day! Help me! Help me! My pilot had a heart attack and is dead.

And I don't know how to fly. Help me! Oh my God, Please help me!"

She hears a voice over the radio saying:

"This is Air Traffic Control and I have you loud and clear. I will talk you through this and get you back on the ground. I've had a lot of experience with this kind of problem.

'Now, just take a deep breath. Everything will be fine! Now give me your height and position.

She says
"I'm 5'4" and I support Obama."

"O.K." says the voice on the radio....

"Repeat after me: Our Father. . Who art in Heaven. . . .."