Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Dr. Dominic Pedulla, MD

9/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The priests must not surrender to this reaction, and on the contrary must remember that they -- and only they -- have the correct medicine for the wound we are discussing.

In the problem of contraception, we enter into a subject that exposes a deep intra-personal wound on the part of the woman affected: one that touches her core in a deeply personal way.  What does this mean for our faithful priests? 

The head of the Baptizer

The head of the Baptizer

Highlights

By Dr. Dominic Pedulla, MD

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: contraception, culture of death, sexuality, sin, sexual sin, priests, Herodias, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, MD


EDMOND, OKLAHOMA (Catholic Online) - Having spoken to many women about contraception in my professional practice, I know well the personal and professional cost one must be prepared to pay -- the "grudge" -- when one is willing to "trespass" this beehive of feminine shame and anger in the clinical setting.  One fully expects to get stung!

For, in the problem of contraception, we enter into a subject that exposes a deep intra-personal wound on the part of the woman affected: one that touches her core in a deeply personal way. 

Often she will almost rather suffer any other "negative" (including health complications), and take almost any risk,  than expose this wound, and it underlines the importance of a true conversion experience, so that the wound can be healed definitively and the disabling "secret" safely sealed away, once and for all.  This latter need, in turn (and unfortunately), exposes the neglect of priestly concern on the part of too many Catholic pastors (and a heroism of true pastoral charity on the part of a few others -- once again too few).

The Herodias story is familiar. I heard it once again at Mass. But I would like to highlight some of its more hidden features.

Herodias had been deeply shamed by her adultery with King Herod. Their carnal relations were marked by that dishonest type of deep "knowing" (cf. Gen.  4) that alone provokes deep shame, and a correspondingly deep anger when the dishonesty is exposed.

It is the woman most of all who feels this strong internal reaction, even when the man seems completely oblivious, as does Herod here. Note she was seeking "an opportunity", but for what? The opportunity had presented itself to have the apparent source of her shame eliminated and silenced once and for all. To have John the Baptizer beheaded presented just such a golden opportunity, one she had been on the lookout for. The hungry eye sees far!

That this kind of carnal shame is intuitive for women (and is the kind they experience with contraception too) also is made obvious by the fact that the daughter, no doubt tuned in to the mother's wrath, plays such a key role and is so cooperative. Even she intuits the mother's secret wound and comes to "help" her - in short, to help her not just to keep her shame secret, but to destroy its source altogether, in an attempt to forever silence it! And by using her daughter as an accomplice, Herodias could keep her shame all the more hidden since it could now portray the Baptizer as a threat to their family unit, and not just to her own emotional state.

The immediacy and haste of Herodias' daughter tell the hidden story too; there is surely urgency here: "And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

Notice too the element of Herodias punishing her husband the king, for she surely knew Herod would be very upset to be placed in this situation. Thus the "talking head" would not only be silenced, but would also be presented as gift to Herodias' daughter in the King's presence as a fitting outward sign by Herodias to her husband of hidden inward indignity: "See how this man can no longer expose me? See how you too must endure my provoked wrath? So you enjoyed talking to this fool the Baptizer? And at my expense? And not noticing my suffering? Now enjoy seeing his head on a platter!"

Like Lady Macbeth, she perhaps found that, unable to detach herself from her shame, she could at least detach its revealer from his own head, and force her husband to see it.

Similarly, why would the king agree to such a disproportionate and unreasonable request? Because of an oath alone? Only because he didn't want to break his word?  It is more likely that Herod was all too fully aware (as men often are dimly yet strongly) of the wrath welling up in his wife.

And he acquiesced!

What does this mean for our faithful priests?  For if it is true that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned (and it is), then it is certain that these priests experience this type of hidden wrath all the time, when trying to help their couples reconcile with the teaching of the Church on birth regulation.

We frequently hear that women in the congregation may politely listen to such homilies, saying nothing or perhaps limiting themselves to an icy stare, but just let a program be organized for adult formation and pastoral outreach in the parish, and they will often explode!

The priests must not surrender to this reaction, and on the contrary must remember that they -- and only they -- have the correct medicine for the wound we are discussing. This type of shame can only be cast out by a sacramental grace that effects true reconciliation, and therefore excises the shame completely, rather than burying it.

We must encourage our priests to engage themselves in this kind of pastoral work up to their eyeballs! Without it, there isn't much hope for the future. With it, we will once again have robust Catholic faith communities one day.
------

Dominic M. Pedulla MD, FACC, CNFPMC, ABVM, ACPh, a devout Catholic, lives in  Edmond, Oklahoma with his wife Bernadette and their beautiful nine children.  He is the executive director of the Edith Stein Foundation. Dr. Pedulla is an Interventional Cardiologist, Endovascular Diplomate, Varicose Vein Specialist, Noncontraceptive Family Planning Consultant, Family Planning Researcher and the Medical Director of  The Oklahoma Vein and Endovascular Center.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Saint Valentine and why we offer roses Watch

Image of Saint Valentine [not pictured] is one of the world's most popular saints.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Roses are red, violets are blue, I have no idea why we give roses on Valentine's Day - how about you?  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The truth is that Saint Valentine has nothing to do with roses, but he is part of the reason we celebrate love each ... continue reading


Is Valentine's Day...? (Take the quick survey!)

Image of How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Catholic Online would like to invite you to take our short Valentine's survey. Sharing your opinion will help us serve you better, and give you influence over the kind of content we produce. Catholic Online is here to serve you. ... continue reading


5 of the best non-traditional ways to celebrate Valentine's Day Watch

Image of Tired of the same old traditions? This year try something different!

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Are you tired of buying roses and chocolate every year? Are images of Cupid and his heart-shaped arrow starting to feel a little cheesy? Try these great non-traditional Valentine's Day activities instead! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - No more roses, no more ... continue reading


'Did you know how much we love you?': Mother reads heartbreaking letter for 4-year-old daughter who died of cancer Watch

Image of Kate was only 4-year-old when she passed away (Lindsay Rhoades).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Lindsay Rhoades hoped to raise awareness of pediatric cancer by releasing a video in which she reads a letter to her little girl, who succumbed to cancer at only 4-years-old. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The day that she passed, I wrote it that morning - after ... continue reading


Premature baby declared dead wakes minutes before being cremated Watch

Image of An An was declared dead only a few days after he was born - but was discovered very much alive before he was cremated (CEN).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An An was a premature child born in Jinhua, China on January 8. Sadly, the boy was declared dead less than one month later. He was kept in the morgue, where it remained a frigid 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Moments before An An's cremation, staff realized he was alive. LOS ... continue reading


'What We Did When Mummy Got Cancer': Mother's heartbreaking discovery and the emotional way she told her children Watch

Image of Katherine Simpson-Jacobs wrote a children's book to explain what cancer is in a way young minds can understand (Katherine Simpson-Jacobs).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When Katherine Simpson-Jacobs realized she had breast cancer, she had no idea how to tell her daughters. After several weeks of worry, she realized she wanted to write "What We Did When Mummy Got Cancer," a child's book to explain what cancer is and how to treat the ... continue reading


4 Ways to pray when your spouse struggles Watch

Image of Praying for and with our spouses is the best way to include God into the relationship (iStock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Perhaps your relationship is struggling because one of you is involved in less than Godly activities, struggles with addiction, is experiencing emotional turmoil or perhaps struggling with their faith. What does the Bible say we should do when our spouse struggles? LOS ... continue reading


'We're family now': Bittersweet moment a mother hears her son's beating heart in a little gir's chest Watch

Image of Little Jordan received Lukas heart and has since been a care-free bundle of energy (Justice for Lukas Scot).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After losing her 7-month-old son, Lukas, Heather Clark was able to hear his heart beating once again - from the chest of a 4-year-old girl. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a heartbreaking tale, Clark's son, Lukas, fell prey to his babysitter's abusive boyfriend ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Abortion: out of sight, out of mind Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

Due to the blizzard that hit the mid-Atlantic, my bus never made it to the 43rd March for Life in Washington, D.C. But thousands of others were able to brave the snow and wind to witness to the dignity of unborn human life, and to protest the gravely immoral practice ... continue reading


'One of the meanest things I've ever seen in my life': One man's heartbreaking plea goes viral Watch

Image of Alan Beamer suffers the effects of Alzheimer's and begs his friends and family to talk to him normally (Mary Beth Alan Beamer/Facebook).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a heartbreaking video that Mary Beth Beamer posted to Facebook, her husband, Alan Beamer, begs for his friends and family to visit like they used to. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The four-minute video was posted on January third and received nearly 10,000 ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:1-9
1 Shout for all you are worth, do not hold back, raise your voice like a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 18-19
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:14-15
14 Then John's disciples came to him and said, 'Why is it that we and the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 12th, 2016 Image

St. Buonfiglio Monaldo
February 12: He was one of seven Florentines who had joined ... Read More