Yesterday I was at a life chain praying along Route 17 in front of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in N. Myrtle Beach , SC when a lady pulled into the parking lot and got out screaming at us that we had no right. Sorry, lady but we have the right in the Constitution; the First Amendment has not been overthrown by the courts yet. Not only do we have the right but we are morally obligated by the Bible. In the book of Ezekiel God promises that we would be punished if we fail to warn sinners.
More importantly we live in the same country. God is not going to just stand back and let us continue to slaughter His children. Read the Old Testament. When the people of Israel and Judah departed from God He stopped protecting them and they were conquered.
America did not become the greatest country in history because of our genius or military prowess. Ask any soldier who served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam what snafu means. We became great because God has blessed this nation.
We are a country desperately in need of God’s blessing. Look at all that has happened in this country. We are vulnerable to terrorism as NY, Seaside Heights, Boston and Fort Hood has proven. We are vulnerable to national disasters. Remember Sandy, Katrina, the flooding that seems to take place everywhere, the fires in the West that seem to come every summer, the rash of tornadoes that occur every year. Right now the East Coast is nervously watching Hurricane Matthew and Southern California has an earthquake warning.
I know the president and other politicians will blame all of this on global warning but isn’t it just as likely that God is calling for our attention. The world has never been so sinful. We make the ancient Israelites look virtuous compared to us. We are lucky that God has not destroyed us yet. Maybe if you remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah God has withheld His wrath because of those who stand for morality, who stand against the sinfulness of modern Americans.
We live in the same country. All of us are threatened by terrorism and natural disasters. All of us need God’s blessing and protection. We do have a right to stand against Abortion .
This morning’s song at mass, A Living Faith (Faith of our Fathers), made me think. We have a faith that has endured for almost 2000 years. It has survived persecution by the Romans, attacks by the Pagan tribes that invaded Europe, the Islamic attempt to conquer Europe, the Reformation and persecutions in France, Spain, England, Mexico, Korea, Vietnam and Japan to name a few places. Our faith has survived Communism. Despite the martyrdom of hundreds of thousands we have remained true to the teaching of Jesus.
We have such an awesome faith. When we kneel or stand at the Consecration of the mass we join Mary herself, St. Peter, St Patrick, Joan of Arc, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Elizabeth Seton and all those in our family who have gone before us in worshipping the Lord. We are privileged to be part of the Communion of Saints and part of a Church built on eternal not popular values. We belong to the one Church created by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Our Church is accountable to Jesus Christ not the masses. It is God’s Church not a social club. Our doctrines are shaped by the Holy Spirit not opinion polls.
We’ve been given such tremendous gifts in the Sacraments especially the Eucharist. We are challenged as St Augustine said to become what we receive. Each time we receive Jesus we should become a little more like Jesus, humble, more loving, forgiving but also more obedient.
We have to remember Jesus was obedient unto death. His prayer in the Garden was “Thy will be done”. He is our model of what it means to be Catholic. We are called to love others as ourselves, to judge not lest we be judged as to forgive others as we want God to forgive us. We are also called to be obedient to the Church teachings.
Our faith has been passed down generation after generation for almost 2000 years. We are not free to just change it for the sake of convenience or political correctness. We cannot redefine for ourselves the teachings of the Church and call ourselves good Catholics. If we take it upon ourselves like Henry VIII or Martin Luther to reject certain teachings of our Church we aren’t practicing the same faith that St. Dominic preached. We aren’t following the faith that Mother Theresa followed. We aren’t following the faith that the martyrs gave their lives for. We aren’t in communion with the saints in heaven or the Church on earth. What we are doing is denying our faith and the Church Christ set up.
We have a faith worth dying for, one that hundreds of thousands have died for. We should be defending our Church and faith. Now is the time to stand up for our faith not abandoning it. There can be no such thing as a pro abort Catholic or a Catholic for choice. That isn’t what it means to be Catholic. Rejecting or denying part of our faith means we reject the faith.
We are once again a Church under attack and persecution. Make no mistake about it. We are under attack because we stand against those who exploit women for profit, abortionists and pornographers. We are under attack because we stand for what is right rather than an anything goes philosophy. We are under attack because we believe and teach that God is real and calls us to be better than the world around us. Like the Roman martyrs we refuse to worship the false gods of modern society.
It is time for our generation to stand up for our God and our faith. Like those before us we must be willing to make sacrifices rather than deny our faith.
I wonder if American Catholics realize how privileged this generation of American Catholics are. We alone of all the Catholics in the history of this country have the opportunity to stand with the heroes of our faith, people like St. Thomas More, St Thomas Becket and St Margaret Clitherow, all Englishmen who stood up for their faith against the persecution of tyrants. We can stand with the Apostles and early martyrs. We can stand with those in Spain who were persecuted by the Moors and later the Socialist government of the 1930’s. We can join with the Catholic heroes of Japan who kept the Church alive underground through 2 centuries of persecution. We can stand with those in Vietnam and Korea oppressed by first their emperors and later the Communists. We can join the priests in Revolutionary France who refused to renounce the papacy and the Mexican priests executed during the 20’s.We have the opportunity to join with the members of the Underground Church in China today who stand for the true faith.
We are challenged today to decide who we really are. Are we Catholics in name only, Catholic because our parents had us baptized or are we Catholic because we really believe in the mystery and power of our faith? Do we understand the gift our parents gave us especially the power and privilege of receiving the Eucharist? Do we understand we can’t make it in today’s world without receiving Jesus in Communion? Do we know what a treasure we have?
Do we know how awesome our faith is? For two thousand years we have stayed true to the faith despite persecution and political pressure. Individuals have broken but the Church has stayed true to the mission given her by Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel and lead people to heaven. Always, always despite persecution, political correctness and pressure by politicians there have been Catholics willing to say no, to lay down their lives rather than compromise their faith. Unlike other religions which seem to change with the times we’ve stayed true to the teachings of Christ. Our liturgy may have evolved, fasts may have changed but the core of our faith, our understanding of the Commandments and Christ’s teachings have remained true. We should be proud of our faith and angry over our government’s attempt to change it, to force Catholics to go against it.
As we say in the Creed, we “believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church”. We are called to be a holy people, set apart, living by God’s standards and not the World’s or the president’s. We are a people called to sacrifice, to follow the “narrow road”. Too many people have forgotten that and fallen for Satan’s lies. No issue has been more divisive in the Church than the issue of artificial birth control. Too often our viewpoint has been shaped by those with something to gain, who distort the truth for profit or political gain.
What would we see if we looked at the issue from God’s perspective? Would we see the 600 percent increase in breast cancer since the Pill became popular? Would we see the danger of thrombosis, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, strokes and deaths attributed to the Pill? Would we see the millions of girls hurt and abandoned because they were conned into having sex before they were mature enough to make the right decision? Would we see the emotional damage caused by an anything goes lifestyle? Would we see the millions of marriages destroyed because one partner was too emotionally damaged to fulfill a permanent commitment to their partner? Would we see the extent of adultery made possible by the Pill? Would we see the decline in morals destroying our society? Would we see all the pain caused by the promotion of an immoral lifestyle? Would we not want to protect people from the pain?
Would we see the benefits of natural family planning where couples work together and practice discipline? Would we see marriages strengthened rather than weakened by the need to work together? Would we see families growing in their commitment to their faith and to each other? Would we see people growing in holiness?
We should be grateful to belong to a Church that believes us capable of greatness with God’s help, that sees our potential for true love rather than lust that believes us to be capable of controlling ourselves, that recognizes the strength of our character and calls us to follow Christ through the “narrow gate”. We should be proud to belong to a Church that has the courage to stand up for truth, no matter how unpopular it may be to do so.
We have the opportunity to share in a small way with the sufferings of millions of Catholics who gave their lives for the faith, who found our faith worth dying for. We have the chance to stand with them with St. Thomas More, Thomas Hemerford, Robert Ludlam, Edward Waterford, Margaret Clitherow and the other Englishmen who died for their faith. Or you can stand with the President, Henry VIII and Cardinal Woolsey who betrayed the Church. What do you choose?
We need to reconsider the prayer of Jesus in the Garden, “yet not my will, but yours be done”. Knowing everything that was going to happen, all the pain and suffering He would endure He prayed thy will be done. Shouldn’t that be our prayer too?
Jesus was rejected because He was not the Messiah they wanted. The people wanted a military leader who would free them from Rome. Even the Apostles misunderstood Him, expecting positions of power. The Pharisees felt they knew better and saw Jesus as a threat to their power and prestige.
Right now Pope Francis is in the Garden praying the same prayer as Jesus, thy will be done, not mine. Soon he will enter his passion. He will not be the pope that many people want. He can not be and do the will of the Father. He can not ok abortion, contraception or gay marriage among other things. He has to do the will of God just like Jesus. He too will be attacked. He may not be physically crucified but he will be scourged emotionally and attacked for trying to carry out the will of the Father.
We need to consider where we fit in the gospel story. Are we like the Pharisees who rejected Jesus because they knew better than He did and His success would threaten their position? Do we think we know better than the Pope and the Church? Do we consider the Church hopelessly old fashioned and irrelevant?
Are we like the Apostles who abandoned Jesus? Are we silent rather than speak out on unpopular positions? Do we prefer not to be noticed? Are we afraid like Peter of what people will think or do? Do we deny the teachings of the Church?
Are we like Judas? Do we betray our faith for personal gain, political advancement or popularity? Have we rejected the teachings of the Church because they interfere with our career or income? Do we only support the Church when it is profitable or painless?
Where do we stand?
It is the role of the Pope and the Church to help us get to heaven. This is what it is all about, leading people to Christ, getting us to heaven.