17 June 2007

And I never did find what I was looking for about Augustine.

Took at a look at the new blog, CatholiDoxies, and found the post, Coffee with Father George. Scanning thru it, I read:
I started by mentioning how I thought it would be impossible to decide between RCism and Orthodoxy by simply examining the history and theology and coming to a rational decision. I was perhaps expecting pastoral advice here, such as I've received from Fr. Gregory Jensen on this blog, but what I got was a lesson in and hearty endorsement of the Orthodox version of church history. Not a problem at all, as far as I am concerned. I learned quite a bit. Part of this involved a discussion of Augustine as the source of so much legalism and casuistry in the West, as well as the serious issues surrounding Augustine's view of sex.

Huh? I've heard a lot about this, but never read anything that I can remember. Off to Google. After a couple of clicks, found my way to the Jollyblogger and this terrific post where he quotes from a post by Anthony Bradley:
I grew up in a black church and in the black church no subject in all of creation is off limits to speak about from the pulpit, including sexuality in marriage. I've recently heard a black pastor teach about the benefits of men pursuing their wives with love, passion, and service and the good, natural consequence of him loving her well: really good sex.

I have a friend who used to pastor an all black church and now pastors a church of mostly conservative white evangelicals. We recently discussed pastoral challenges and differences between the cultures and he admitted that most of the couples in his church now don't have sex much at all. And I said that was also true for many of my white friends as well (esp. if they married girls that grew up in conservative homes). We were both like, "huh, what's up with that?"

We sat in shock talking about the things we hear from our white brothers like "yeah we only have sex a few times a month (two or three tops)." Or we both heard this one from different men "yeah, we haven't had sex in six months." The number of married guys I know confused and frustrated about the fact that their wives just don't seem to be interested in sex much has blew us both away.
I don't know the answer to that. I suspect there is a cultural aspect to it; some cultures are more openly affectionate, whether verbally or physically, than others, and true WASP culture isn't usually that way.

However, when a man says his wife isn't interested in sex, I can't help but suspect cluelessness lurking somewhere. I'm an inveterate advice-giver, so here's mine. Your mileage may vary, opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the management, professional driver on closed track, etc.

* Get the television out of the bedroom. In fact, remove it from every room in the house where meaningful conversation might possibly occur. That might mean you end up with one small TV in the laundry room, to watch while you do the ironing. Do you think I'm joking? Do you want a loving marriage?
* Get lots of sleep. At a minimum, go to bed on time - early - right after the kids. Both of you. Always. One of the sexiest, dearest things a man can do is let a tired woman sleep. If you're raising children, she needs a tremendous amount of sleep. Take the kids to the park and let her nap.
* Keep the non-sexual affection-to-sex ratio at about 80:20. Beware of the "if he's touching me, it must mean he wants sex" pattern. Make it about her. Touch her lovingly, savour her body, gaze into her eyes - cherish her.
* Establish a weekly date night. Let nothing interfere except illness - then reschedule.
* Be helpful. Cheerful. Uncomplaining.
* Don't pooh-pooh marriage counseling. It's OK to use it before you're ready to separate. Really. Cheaper and easier than divorce. I promise. You're probably a less-than-stellar communicator, or you wouldn't be in this predicament. You'll pay someone to coach your golf game, or help you lift weights; why not pay someone to teach you how to romance your wife?
* Don't wait for someone else to strike up an email emotional affair with your spouse; get there first. Keep the "did you get the milk" email and chat to the necessary minimum. You need to have the kind of email exchanges that you would have with someone who listens, and loves, and cares, and is all about you. Be that kind of person for your spouse. Set aside ten minutes on your lunch hour to call or chat or email "how are things going?" Really listen to the reply. If you think you know the fix to the problem, keep your mouth shut unless you're specifically asked for help. Be sympathetic.
* If you ever indulge in sarcasm, hostility, or the kind of remark which is followed by "just kidding," stop doing that immediately. Forever. Just quit cold. If you want great sex, you need a great love. Needling someone is not loving.
* Be on the lookout for things you like, admire, appreciate, adore, etc. about your dear one, and tell them and anyone else who'll listen. Praise your spouse to your children.
* Look your spouse in the eye and let yourself feel love for them. Say "I love you," quietly, then kiss them gently and non-sexually. Let them respond as they will. Repeat as often as you can get away with.
* Figure out what you really need and want. A man may focus on sex as being what he needs, when what he really wants is to be held and focused on and touched with love and cared for generally. If what I just wrote doesn't make sense, go track down someone who can help you figure it out.
* Pray very humbly, for yourself and for your spouse. Prayer always works ... not necessarily to fix the situation - sometimes it can't be fixed - but to change your attitude and perceptions, so that you can discern what to do. Ask for wisdom. Act in love. Trust God. What I wrote above may or may not be true for you. But this is true: God knows and cares and wants what's best for you.

15 June 2007

Amy posts about the Motu Proprio, referencing Fr. Z's blog:

Here are the main points in the piece, which I have in Italian below (with my emphases).

* The document is ready and signed.
* It is being translated.
* It will be issued before the Pope’s summer break.
* There is a long explanatory letter from the Pope, of a theological nature to the bishops of the world to help the MP’s reception.
* There will be a press conference with Cardinals Arinze (CDWDS), Castrillon Hoyos (P.Comm. Ecclesia Dei) and Herranz (PC Leg. Texts – retired).
* The delay resulted from strong opposition of bishops conferences.
* A friend of the Pope, Msgr. Nicholas Bux (a well-known author I respect on traditional matters), says it is a matter of days.
In the first comment on Amy's post, Zach Frey said:
It is fascinating from an ecclesiastical politics perspective.

Also, the whole "is it coming?" buzz seems to me one more example that this Pope Benedict fellow is one sharp cookie.

Look at how the "maybe it's coming soon" delays have worked to keep people talking about the return of the TLM.

And if the delay really is due to opposition from the bishop's conferences, that's a beautiful piece of political aikido that His Holiness is practicing.

I'm with Zach. And I've more doubt in the Trinity than I do in the likelihood of the bishops' conferences trying to stop it from happening.

I am looking forward to it with great hope. I see God's hand in this. The method of the original promulgation of the "reforms" after Vatican II was often not God-like, but dismissive, cruel and arrogant. Did Jesus ever tell people about the Way in dismissive, cruel or arrogant language or gestures? And His message was ever so much more revolutionary than a mere church service method! It was a huge wrenching change for some. Yet He did not feel the need to rip them away from it ... He led them.

So does Pope Benedict. He has been leading up to this for years, starting with his beautifully-written works about the Mass. Now, by means of gentle suggestions and encouraging words, he has the world's attention. We are waiting. There is anticipation. Something is going to happen, and it will be both good and, at times, difficult. But he is bringing us something very special, something the family loved for centuries.

That is how a father should act - not ripping something away and slapping the hands of those who innocently (or otherwise) grabbed onto it and claimed it for their own. He leads and encourages and suggests, and their attention is drawn. He does not remove the current object, confident that the intrinsic worth of his gift will be known. And so it shall be, if God wills.

May God bless him, and us, in this and all things.