Cooperating with the Creator’s plan

| August 29, 2013
Archbishop John Nienstedt, right, stands in the Boundary Waters with seminarians, from left, Aric Aamodt, Colin Jones, Matthew Bearth and Corey Manning of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul. Photo courtesy of Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John Nienstedt, right, stands in the Boundary Waters with seminarians, from left, Aric Aamodt, Colin Jones, Matthew Bearth and Corey Manning of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul. Photo courtesy of Archbishop Nienstedt

Earlier this month, I made my fourth annual trip to the Boundary Waters with incoming senior college seminarians. We were accompanied by a St. John Vianney College Seminary faculty member and a recent graduate of the school.

We went canoeing and fishing, camping and fishing, swimming and fishing, grilling out and . . . fishing.

We prayed the Liturgy of the Hours and I celebrated Mass each day. We watched the sun go down and told stories over the campfire.

It is a privileged time for developing those relationships that are so important for male development and spiritual growth. I am not sure how much longer my body will let me do it, but as long as I can, I enjoy it.

Ten camping commandments

What I found interesting this particular time was the video presentation we had to watch before obtaining our pass to enter the area. Now, as you no doubt are aware, the Boundary Waters are Minnesota’s environmental paradise. It is pristine in its condition, and park officials are intent on keeping it that way. They have their own Ten Commandments:

1. You will camp only at designated sites, marked out by a fire grill. All members of a permit group must camp together.

2. You shall not cut, peel or deface a tree or shrub, nor pick flowers.

3. For firewood, you shall only collect dead wood from trees that are no longer standing.

4. No more than nine people can be together at any place in the wilderness — on the water, or portages, or in camp. Four watercraft are the maximum allowed in a group.

5. You must carry food and drinks in reusable plastic containers. Cans and glass bottles are not allowed except for fuel, insect repellent, medicines and toilet articles.

6. You may not dump unused bait into the waters of the State. Unwanted bait must be packed out with you.

7. Wash dishes and pans at least 150 feet from the water. You may not use shampoos or soap, even of the biodegradable variety.

8. You shall not leave fires unattended. You shall make sure a campfire is completely extinguished before leaving a campsite.

9. You shall enter and leave the area on the days appointed.

10. You shall leave no trace. You shall take your trash with you.

Now these commandments are not meant to restrict or limit the enjoyment of adventurers within the park. Rather, they are meant to protect the natural, God-made beauty and integrity of these lakes and forests and thereby ensure the enjoyment of those human beings who visit them.

These ten commandments are aimed at fostering life as it was intended from the beginning. Everyone with an ounce of common sense can appreciate their worth and understand the importance of their enforcement.

Colin Jones, right, of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul roasts marshmallows with Archbishop John Nienstedt during a recent trip to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Photo courtesy of Archbishop Nienstedt

Colin Jones, right, of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul roasts marshmallows with Archbishop John Nienstedt during a recent trip to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Photo courtesy of Archbishop Nienstedt

An apt analogy

So, I ask myself: Why is it that we cannot transfer this same regard and respect over to God’s Ten Commandments for human behavior and his designs in the order of creation?

Take human sexuality, for example. A woman’s body is obviously made in such a way so as to welcome a man’s body, and his is made to respond in kind. Their unimpeded conjugal union is designed to be reproductive, bringing forth new human life that needs to be protected and nourished. The natural context for such a relationship is the life-long, mutually exclusive union of husband and wife in what has, until recently, been called “marriage.”

The woman’s body has both fertile and infertile cycles, so as to allow for human reproduction as well as human intimacy and pleasure. Programs of natural family planning teach a couple how to read the signs so as to gain knowledge of how they should respond. It takes much of the guess work out of conception. True, it also takes discipline, but that leads to self-knowledge and virtue.

Natural family planning is not a Catholic version of contraception. Far from it. It is a valued and valuable method by which the married couple cooperates with nature and its laws, all of which have been designed by God “from the beginning.”

So, the Church’s teaching on sexual morality is analogous to the environmentalist’s desire to protect nature. Both understand what was meant to be in the design of nature. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said:

“The relationship between individuals or communities and the environment ultimately stems from their relationship with God. When man turns his back on the Creator’s plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order.”

So, I ask myself again, why is this so difficult for people to understand?

God bless you!

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Category: Only Jesus

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