17 March 2012

st thomas aquinas on marital sex

"There are some who say that intercourse between married persons is not devoid of sin. But this is heretical, for the Apostle says: 'Let marriage be honorable in all and the bed undefiled' [Hb 13:4]. Not only is it devoid of sin, but for those in the state of grace it is meritorious for eternal life.

Sometimes, however, it may be a venial sin, sometimes a mortal sin. When it is had with the intention of bringing forth offspring, it is an act of virtue. When it is had with the intent of rendering mutual comfort, it is an act of justice. When it is a cause of exciting lust, although within the limits of marriage, it is a venial sin; and when it goes beyond these limits, so as to intend intercourse with another if possible, it would be a mortal sin."

(From his Explanation of the Ten Commandments)

10 March 2012

receiving without deserving

I'm a religion junkie. It probably helps that I'm a member of the clergy, but I'm fascinated with religion, with churches, with how humankind considers its relationship to a higher power.  One way I satisfy this addiction is by reading church newsletters from all around the country, so easy to do now that everyone posts them online.

One church newsletter included this quote: “It is better to deserve without receiving than receive without deserving.”

Sad to say, this quote mirrors the American ideals of working hard to deserve the “good life” rather than the Christian reality of grace that a church ought to promote. Grace teaches that Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross serves as the ultimate door to “receiving without deserving.”

It's vital for American Christians that the Christian part of our existence direct and form the American part, and not the other way around.  One important way to underline this concept is to remember that nothing that we do makes us worthy to receive God’s grace.

To belittle "receiving without deserving" reflects not a life of discipleship to Jesus of Nazareth, but secular humanism. It sounds nice; it sounds like a humble path. Yet at its root, it belittles a central tenet of the Christian Faith. We receive without deserving when, by faith, we trust Christ’s death for our sins.

The quote isn't Christian at all.  In fact, they're the words of Robert G. Ingersoll, a celebrated 19th century agnostic (and one-time Illinois Attorney General) who ridiculed Christian beliefs and those who held them. Such a one could not comprehend the meaning of grace.

Christians talk about grace, but do we understand it?  It's a gift that we cannot earn, regardless of piety or sacrifice.  It is best to receive without deserving, when we receive from Jesus Christ.