Though I have already signed and FULLY support the American Family Association (AFA) boycott of Target for putting kids (especially little girls) at risk of sexual predators in Target bathrooms, I also took an additional step suggested by an article I read recently on the Target policy.
Fr. John Lankeit takes the Target boycott one step farther.
The article suggested going into your local Target store, asking for the manager and respectfully expressing one’s deep concern and disappointment in the corporate policy. As a Catholic priest and a pastor of a parish with thousands of parishioners and with a TV Mass that reaches many thousands more, I wanted the manager to know that I was not coming in as an isolated individual but on behalf of many Catholics who aren’t going to sit on the sidelines for this one.
So, I met with Joseph, the on-duty store manager, introduced myself and handed him my business card (“God card”). I told him that as an individual, I regularly shopped at this particular store for everything from socks (black of course!) to toiletries to the best orange cranberry nut muffins on the planet. I then explained I have a parish with thousands of parishioners, many of whom, if they take their relationship with Jesus seriously, intend to find alternatives to Target. I “targeted” the corporate policy (instead of saying “you”–as in “you, Joseph”) that puts little girls in danger because any man can, under the “guise” of this policy, hide behind the euphemism “gender” and go into a girls bathroom with impunity.
To put a finer point on the whole conversation I said, “If any organization has learned the hard way the importance of protecting children, it’s the Catholic Church. So you can imagine, this troubling policy hits very close to home for me.”
I think, if anything got his attention, it was THAT comment because it showed a willingness on my “organization’s” part to face reality when grave evil entered into the picture and children were deeply hurt and damaged.
I did not do this today because I have a lot of hope that it will change Target’s policy–that’s what the online petition aims at. I did it because planting the seeds of Truth is not optional for a Catholic–and this conversation with Joseph may have opened HIS mind and heart enough to make him rethink his personal “policy” on the consequences of looking the other way in the face of very evil and immoral activities in our culture…which always, ultimately, damage children the most.
If you REALLY care about this issue, please go in and talk to the manager and your local Target store–RESPECTFULLY and without any “vibe” that makes them feel attacked, personally.
It’s not about changing corporate policy as much as changing the heart of the person in front of you.
I think Jesus would consider this approach to be…”on Target”!
On Friday, May 13, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice issued a joint instruction, which they called “significant guidance,” to public school districts across the country.
Bishop James D. Conley, The Obama Administration is Simply Wrong
The guidance stated that in order to receive federal funds for education, every public school district must provide services, restrooms, and “equal access” to all students according to their stated gender identity.
The federal government has ordered that when any student and his parents tell the school that his “gender identity” has changed—if he was born a boy, for example, but considers himself a girl—the school must treat him, in every possible way, like an actual girl. The government declared that the boy who says he is a girl must be permitted to change in locker rooms with other girls, to stay in girls’ rooms on overnight trips, and, very often, to participate on girls’ sports teams.
The Administration is Simply Wrong
This “guidance” is deeply disturbing. In fact, the administration’s action is simply wrong. It is wrong to deny the fundamental difference between men and women; and to teach children that our identity, at its very core, is arbitrary and self-determined. God created us male and female, and policies like this deny the basic beauty of God’s creation.
Boethius, the 6th century Roman senator and Christian philosopher, was a thoughtful critic of disturbing trends he saw in Roman society. In his classic work, the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius criticized those evil spirits “who slay the rich and fruitful harvest of Reason with the barren thorns of Passion. They habituate men to their sickness of mind instead of curing them.”
The Tyranny of Tolerance
We are living in a time when ordinary human reason is quickly being replaced by “the barren thorns of passion.” Our entire culture has been caught up in a kind of sentimentalized and relativized tyranny of tolerance: we vilify and condemn, ever more quickly, any sense of reasonable and ordered social policy. We have a vague sense that endorsing certain fashionable kindsof social and emotional disorders—including transgenderism—is a mandate of justice, or a victory for civil rights.
They Need our Help
But the real victims of our culture of relativism are those who suffer from serious problems, and who need compassionate help. Pathological confusion about one’s own identity is a kind of aillness. It brings tremendous personal and emotional difficulties. Transgenderism cries out for compassionate assistance. Pope Francis says that “acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital,” and “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary” for authentic human freedom.
But, as Boethius wrote, we “habituate men to their sickness, instead of curing them.”
The Church Will Not Deny That God Created Us Male and Female
Children and parents in very difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect. The Church will continue to make every effort to assist those suffering gender dysphoria; in fact, we can improve our efforts in this regard in many ways. But the Church will not deny that God created us male and female. We will not confuse respect and compassion with capitulation to a tragic delusion. Our Catholic schools will continue to teach and live the truth, because of our care for every student. We can only help students grow in holiness when we help them to live in accord with the truth. We will continue to do that, no matter the cost.
The Obama administration’s directive is a sign of the brokenness of our culture; of our lost sense of the common good, of individual goodness, of true freedom, real rights, and authentic happiness. Nebraska’s Governor Ricketts pointed out earlier this week that this directive is basically a kind of coercive opinion, which does not enjoy the authority of law. It is a form of bullying and, ultimately, it is a sad sign of how much we have lost our way; how little of the Gospel’s good news forms and shapes our culture.
It is a Great Tragedy
This directive is a sign of a great tragedy: we are living in an atheocracy: a society determined to stamp out every vestige of God’s plan for mercy, and justice, and goodness. We are living in a society ensnared by the evil of relativism, to which human flourishing, in this life and the next, poses a threat.
The Gospel is a threat to the forces of this world. And in such a circumstance, there is a great temptation, for all of us, to withdraw into our families, into our Catholic community, into those places which we believe are safe, places in which we think we might be spared from the evil of this world.
But facing an evil world, Boethius wrote that “it is time for healing, not lamenting.” Boethius was right. Our culture is in need of healing. The victims of relativism’s dictatorship—those who are harmed by false compassion and tolerance for evil—need our help. Only we can be the leaders who stand up in the face of the storms. The Lord calls us to leadership, and so do the victims of the culture of death.
We Fight Evil . . .
We are called to stand up—right now, we must be committed to carrying the healing mercy of Jesus Christ to this world. And the fight is not easy. We not will likely fight on a battlefield, in a glamorous blaze of glory. Instead we fight by claiming our nation for Christ, by forming Catholic culture that welcomes others to real freedom, by speaking—heart to heart—with those who are in need of Christ’s healing. We fight evil by praying, and hoping, to win every heart, every soul, every life, for Jesus Christ; as missionaries and disciples of mercy.
We also fight evil on our knees. We fight evil through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We fight evil by invoking St. Michael the Archangel. We fight evil by consecrating our nation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the fount of true mercy, and true peace.
Signs of the Times . . .
All of us can read the signs of the times. We are living through a great trial and a great tragedy. Real people, about whom we care very much, are gravely harmed by the infiltration of evil in our world. We know that Christ will be victorious in the end. But we also know how urgently Christ is needed in this world. Only we can entrust this nation to Jesus Christ—especially his Sacred Heart– in our prayers. And only we can choose, in response to the urgency of the moment, to be active, joyful, faithful missionaries of Jesus Christ—declaring the Gospel, and inviting the world to mercy.
We live in a grave and serious time in history. But now is time for healing, not for lamenting.
Satan, it would seem, does not act in an arbitrary manner when trying to tempt us. Rather, he is more a master hunter carefully setting traps, or a skilled fisherman studying behavior in order to choose the most effective bait. Satan is calculating and clever.
Sadly, most of us are far less calculating and clever in seeking to avoid temptation and sin. We often engage in the wishful thinking that no trouble will befall us. Our strategy seems to depend more on dumb luck than anything else. Would that we were as ingenious in holiness as Satan is in trying to trap us! Jesus sadly and ironically observed, For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light (Luke 16:8).
Let us ponder for a moment the notion of the bait and the hook, to use imagery from the fishing world.
Let’s consider first the bait: It is of course the purpose of bait to be alluring, to be attractive. If a fisherman were to lower an empty hook, or a hook with a rock attached to it, no fish would come near. So he chooses a bait that appeals to the fish: an insect or some other morsel that seems to promise a meal.
Thus in choosing the bait to attach to his hook, Satan will strive to render it appealing, even beautiful. He often casts a spell to hide the ugliness of sin and to distract us from the presence of the hook.
In our time especially, Satan cloaks sins in exalted language, speaking of them as ways of giving us “freedom,” or of “fulfilling ourselves.” Abortion is not the killing of a baby; it is “reproductive choice,” or “reproductive freedom.” Many exalt sinful acts by disguising them in the language of tolerance and acceptance. Still others exude a false compassion in declaring it licit to actively kill the suffering or to terminate the lives of children in the womb who have been given a poor prenatal diagnosis.
In ways like these, evil masquerades as good. Sins once thought of as clearly awful and ugly are now presented as good and even beautiful.
Of course other more traditional bait is still used by Satan as well: sex, money, glory, power, and so forth. Not all of these things are bad in themselves, but they are presented in excess or in the wrong context. And how tasty, attractive, beautiful, and desirable they can seem!
And thus the bait is attractive, beautiful, and tasty. Scripture describes Eve’s assessment of the forbidden tree as follows: the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it (Genesis 3:6).
But then comes the hook—there’s always the hook with Satan. Never forget this: the hook is always there with Satan. No matter how beautiful, reasonable, or desirable the bait may seem, there’s always the hook.
With the bait of illicit sexual union dangled before us comes the hook. Perhaps it is addiction to pornography, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, teenage pregnancy, single motherhood, absent fathers, abortion, ruined marriages, broken families, improperly formed families, and terrible injustice to children.
With the bait of gluttony comes the hook. It can be obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, arthritis, addiction to alcohol or drugs, and even death.
With the bait of more and more possessions comes the hook. Perhaps it is credit card bills we cannot pay, or slavery to a lifestyle we think we cannot live without but which drives us to need two incomes and work long hours. And thus we never really know our children or even enjoy the things we think we need. Perhaps it is the supreme frustration to realize that no matter how much we have, it will never be enough. Our eyes are never really satisfied with seeing, or our ears with hearing, or our will with amassing. We seem to be insatiable; we want more and more as the hook of greed drives deeper within us, snaring our hearts so that Satan can reel us in.
But there is always the hook. Never forget that no matter how pleasing the bait may seem, there is always the hook.
We moderns are perhaps more foolish than those who came before us, for we live in a culture that is rather successful in at least temporarily hiding the consequences of many things. Our medicine and advanced technology may temporarily stave off the effects of too much food and drink or the diseases that come with sexual irresponsibility. So-called government safety nets, many of them well-intentioned and to some degree necessary, have also expanded over time to create the illusion that there are no consequences. Too easily and too repeatedly, many are bailed out from their foolish decisions. This makes is easier to maintain the illusion that the hook isn’t really there.
But the hook is there. The hook always follows the bait.
So just a simple reminder: don’t forget the hook. With the bait comes the hook. The bait is about the hook. First the bait, then the hook—always the hook.
The other day I heard a radio commercial advertising “sedation dentistry.” The reworking of your teeth takes place in one session while you are asleep. You meet first with the doctor for a “non-judgmental” evaluation. When he inspects your crooked and missing teeth, he promises, he won’t gasp in horror or give you a lecture. He’s certainly not revealing an inability to properly evaluate teeth by refusing to judge the condition of our smiles. But the term is ambiguous and it’s contrary, “judgmental,” has become, increasingly, a dread weapon of moral destruction.
Many people today also expect religion to be “non-judgmental.” Self-esteem, apparently, is in short supply at the moment. So there is a demand that priests (and ministers – and imams?) be inspiring and vibrant and – above all – non-judgmental. All this, in order to enable us to “feel good about ourselves” – regardless of behavior.
Catholic Parents Demanding Tolerance Over Doctrine
Someone recently told me about a Catholic religion teacher who was called by a concerned parent. The teacher was presenting the Catholic faith in a methodical fashion. An upcoming topic was to be love and marriage. The parent wanted assurances that his young daughter would not be taught that the lesbian lifestyle of her older sister is immoral.
If the younger sister came home with a crisp understanding of Christian marriage, she would become hopelessly “judgmental” – a truly horrible person – at least in Dad’s judgment. And she might even find herself denied entry to one or more colleges on the basis of her “intolerance.” You see, believing and living the Catholic faith is “judgmental” and it ruins education – and careers.
The Dangers of Non-Judgmental Authority Figures
The demand for non-judgmental authority figures, however, defies logic. If a criminal tries to break into your house and you call 911 for assistance, you wouldn’t want a “non-judgmental” police officer to be dispatched to accompany the burglar on his journey. In small claims court where you sue to retrieve a $500 over-charge, you wouldn’t want the magistrate to be “non-judgmental.” When a doctor discovers a dangerous cancer that needs immediate treatment, the last thing you want is someone who is “non-judgmental.”
Indeed, “non-judgmental” authority figures under these circumstances would be negligent – perhaps criminally so. Lobbyists for a “non-judgmental” morality would agree, but in so doing they render the term “non-judgmental” unintelligible, except as a “new morality” code word.
Proper and Healthy Judgement
God created the mind to think and distinguish clearly and make judgments with sufficient evidence. Making judgments with insufficient evidence is usually sinfully rash (although sometimes even that isn’t sinful – ask any anti-terrorist investigator who may have to act on the best evidence available, to keep us safe). The inability or refusal to judge is either virtuous or vicious. We are unable to judge, for example, the state of a person’s soul. We will never have sufficient evidence to judge whether anyone is condemned to Hell. God alone judges a person’s soul. This is why Jesus Himself teaches, “Judge not and ye will not be judged.”
But when we have sufficient evidence – as when a doctor diagnoses a patient – we have an obligation to make a judgment. When there is sufficient evidence that certain behaviors are sinful, we have an obligation to so judge. While it’s certainly possible to be uncharitable and even cruel with properly formed judgments, the failure in charity doesn’t make us “judgmental.” The error is not in the judgment; the error is in the evil use of a correct judgment.
The True Fruit of the Non-Judgmental “Ideal”
Increasingly the non-judgmental “ideal” is used to silence the proclamation of the Gospel, betraying the diabolical root of the term. When a person is described as “non-judgmental” the term may evoke an attribute of kindness in general. Such a person “affirms people where they are at” regardless of behavior.
Why Do We Have Non-Judgmental Priest?
But below the surface of a so-called “non-judgmental” person are indulgence and apathy, an inability to see evil, personal narcissism, the pathological desire to be liked, going along to get along, as long as everyone is comfortable. This is why there are so many “non-judgmental” priests, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the People of God on each of them during their seminary education, an education that should have included solid courses on logic and Catholic moral theology. To describe Jesus Himself as “non-judgmental” is not only inaccurate, it is exceedingly shallow and insulting.
Similarly, to label a priest “non-judgmental” is damning. It means he is incapable of thinking clearly, affirms his people in their moral errors, and doesn’t take stands opposing the new morality of polite secular opinion. It means he doesn’t have the courage to warn his people against the danger of mortal sin and the fires of Hell.
“Non-judgmental” clergymen do not concern themselves with lost sheep. “Non-judgmental” clerics have made their peace with evil and are comfortable with the adulation of their sheep. They are hirelings, evil shepherds and anti-Christs. (I hope I’m not missing nuances.)
What is a Good Shepherd?
There is good reason the Lord calls Himself the “Good Shepherd” rather than the “Non-Judgmental Shepherd.” Christ was kind to the crippled and infirm; merciful but firm with the woman caught in adultery (“Go and sin no more”); courageous in calling out the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers.” He warned of the fires of Hell for those who were hateful. He was inflexible in condemning adultery. And He suffered gallantly on the Cross for all our sins – including the abundance of our rash judgments and failures in Christian charity. Christ is truth personified.
In contrast to the secular “non-judgmental” moral code, the vocabulary of the Faith is refreshingly clear. To be “good” includes virtues such as justice, mercy, honesty, reverence, kindness, generosity, prudence, courage, temperance, chastity, charity, and truth. Christ is the Good Shepherd precisely because He reveals and teaches the goodness of the Heavenly Father. And we can be good too if we honestly follow Him on His path to heavenly glory. It is virtuous and holy to encourage our loved ones to do so as well.
“This column first appeared on the website The Catholic Thing (www.thecatholicthing.org). Copyrght 2016. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.” Headlines and emphasis were added.
The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society,” upon Vice-President Joseph Biden at their 2016 commencement. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese Fort Wayne – South Bend, the diocese where the university is located, has denounced it as scandalous.
Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, interviewed Cardinal Raymond Burke about this position taken by Bishop Rhoades in an effort to further clarify the issue for the public.
Thomas McKenna: Your Eminence, recently the University of Notre Dame announced that it was going to bestow their Laetare Medal which is presented “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society,” to Vice President Joseph Biden. Vice President Biden is on record consistently supporting abortion rights and same sex marriage. Recently Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the ordinary of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend where Notre Dame is located, released a public statement declaring:
Cardinal Burke: “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any “pro-choice” public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception. I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation.”
Thomas McKenna: Does Your Eminence agree with the position taken by Bishop Rhoades and could you comment on it?
Cardinal Burke: Bishop Rhoades is simply exercising his responsibility as a teacher of the faith and as a bishop who has the care of a prominent Catholic university in his diocese, and what he says is absolutely true and most commendable. I find it difficult to imagine that a Catholic university would assign its highest honor to any politician who favors abortion and who also advocates for the recognition of the sexual liaison of two people of the same sex as equal to marriage. It is even more difficult to imagine that the university would confer such an honor upon a Roman Catholic who supports these anti-life and anti-family policies and legislation. It is my hope that Notre Dame University will hear the voice of their shepherd, the successor of the Apostles in their midst, and change this gravely wrong and most scandalous decision.
Thomas McKenna: The university of Notre Dame says that it is bestowing this award to honor Vice President Biden for his public service in politics and that they are not recognizing him for his positions regarding support for abortion and same-sex marriage. What would Your Eminence respond to this?
Cardinal Burke: Well, we honor people for the integrity of their lives. Notwithstanding the fact that Vice President Biden may have sound views on other matters, his positions with regard to human life and marriage are contradictory to the natural moral law and obviously, therefore, to the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So, as much as one may want to praise certain positions which he has taken, at the same time one must realize that other positions are in the most grievous violation of the moral law and therefore make him ineligible to receive such an award from a Catholic university.
Thomas McKenna: Bishop Rhoades explains that he is opposed to Vice President Biden receiving the award by stating:
“My principal concern about this whole matter is scandal. In honoring a “pro-choice” Catholic who also has supported the redefinition of marriage, which the Church considers harmful to the common good of society, it can give the impression to people, including Catholics in political office, that one can be “a good Catholic” while also supporting or advocating for positions that contradict our fundamental moral and social principles and teachings.”
Could you please comment on this scandal and the implications it may have?
Cardinal Burke: As St. John Paul II observed in his apostolic exhortation on the laity, one of the greatest evils of our times is the tendency of Catholics to separate their faith from their daily living. And this is exactly what we have here. So we have the impression, given to other Catholics and to the population in general, that one can believe one thing and act in a completely contrary way. The fact of the matter is that most people will simply conclude that the Catholic teaching with regard to the inviolable dignity of innocent and defenseless human life and the integrity of marriage as the faithful, indissoluble and procreative union of one man and one woman, is not very firm and that it can easily be violated. Therefore it is a great scandal within the Church, but it is also a great scandal within society in general which depends upon the Church to give a witness to the truth about human life and the family.
Legal assisted suicide will soon arrive in Canada, prompting a Catholic archbishop to reflect on what the last rites mean for those who want to kill themselves.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast
Priests should work to dissuade people who request assisted suicide, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa said. Priests should pray with these people and their families. However, someone who requests assisted suicide doesn’t have the right disposition to receive anointing of the sick.
“Asking to be killed is gravely disordered and is a rejection of the hope that the rite calls for and tries to bring into the situation,” the archbishop said, according to Canadian Catholic News.
Last rites – which is the sacrament given to the elderly or gravely ill – includes the forgiveness of sins.
“But we cannot be forgiven pre-emptively for something we are going to do – like ask for assisted suicide when suicide is a grave sin,” said Archbishop Prendergast.
Canadian lawmakers are preparing new assisted suicide laws. The law had previously criminalized assisted suicide. Those who counseled, aided or abetted a suicide faced up to 14 years in prison.
Then in February 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable suffering to kill themselves. The national parliament was tasked with crafting a legal response to the decision.
The government’s final report on the topic was published Feb. 25. It said all publicly funded health care institutions must provide euthanasia and assisted suicide. This includes Church-run hospitals, hospices and nursing homes. The report has no protections for doctors who have religious or moral objections to referring a patient to a doctor who will help him or her commit suicide.
If the recommendations are accepted, the new law could have a major impact on Catholic institutions, the U.K. newspaper The Catholic Herald reports.
A full response from parliament is expected by June 2016.
Many other Catholic bishops have spoken out against assisted suicide.
“Caring for the dying does not include killing them or helping them kill themselves,” Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Canadian Parliament in a Jan. 20 intervention.
The bishop said the Canadian government should prioritize palliative care, fund further research and education in pain relief and advance suicide prevention programs. He said the government must guarantee conscience rights in law.
Bishop Hamilton also wrote against assisted suicide in the Canadian bishops’ Lenten message to laity. In the Feb. 8 message he urged Catholics to be in communion with the Pope and the bishops and oppose assisted suicide.
The Catholic bishops of Alberta reflected on assisted suicide in a Feb. 11 message for the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Sick.
“The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada makes legally permissible in some circumstances what is morally wrong in every circumstance: the taking of innocent human life. This is unacceptable in a truly just and ethical society,” they wrote.
They said “no Catholic may advocate for, or participate in any way, whether by act or omission, in the intentional killing of another human being either by assisted suicide or euthanasia.”
“When any life can be taken at will, the dignity of all lives is seriously eroded and respect for human life in our society as a whole is diminished.”
They warned that the law will place some people at serious risk, including the disabled and the mentally ill. Purported safeguards are not effective, they said.
The Alberta bishops warned that some jurisdictions in Canada undermine the conscience rights of doctors and other healthcare workers opposed to suicide. To force a physician to assist in a suicide or euthanasia would “fundamentally redefine what it means to be a doctor,” they said. “Killing is not medicine.”
In October 2015, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada issued a joint declaration against euthanasia and assisted suicide. They were joined more than 30 other Christian denominations as well as 20 Jewish and Muslim leaders.
A Reflection on a major problem in the contemporary Church: “Because each person presumes that he or she knows what best, disobedience and disrespect for Church authority prevails. We should all step back and remind ourselves the reason we are members of the Church; it is to save our souls through prayers and reception of the sacraments.”
A major problem in the Church today is the profusion of people who, with neither study nor formation, presume expertise in theological, liturgical, and miscellaneous Church matters. We read one or two blogs on the internet and we presume on having a better understanding of the Church and spiritual matters than the Pope. Everybody has an opinion on how best to govern the Church; on what the liturgy should be or not. At a recent committee meeting someone even suggested that we should include catechumens and first communicants among those whose feet are to be washed on Holy Thursday. But in the Roman Missal it is clearly stated that “MEN” should be invited. (Note: This was written before Pope Francis’ feet washing declaration.)
Do the RED, Say the BLACK
In celebrating the liturgy, we priests are bound to do what is typed in red in the Roman Missal and say what is in black; the laity is expected to participate actively, reverentially and prayerfully. Any other thing becomes an innovation or distraction. Today, many Catholics seem to forget that the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is not utilitarian; it is not a Church of opinion polls. Because each person presumes that he or she knows what best, disobedience and disrespect for Church authority prevails.
We should all step back and remind ourselves the reason we are members of the Church; it is to save our souls through prayers and reception of the sacraments. If we fail to attain this purpose then we have truly failed in life, and it would be better that we were never born. And the Lord in His perfect wisdom, and knowing the brokenness of man, has made is such that the efficacy of the sacraments is not affected by the sinfulness of the minister. So we have no reason to fail.
By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke: Christ delivers: “To our Protestant brothers and sisters I would give this counsel…and challenge: Stand before the exposed Blessed Sacrament and say, “Lord, if You are truly present in this Sacrament, then enlighten me and I will serve You with all heart and soul.” If you are sincere, you will soon become Catholic.”
Protestant Clergyman Shows Signs of Oppression
About a week ago, I had a visit from a Baptist clergy. He was very much agitated as he keeps seeing things at his home; people walking through the living room and then vanishing into the wall. He had moved into a hotel room but then he began to experience something moving through his body; he could even follow the movement by the raising of the skin. And whatever it was would sometimes fall on him like a dead weight and he would be paralyzed for a while, especially while trying to get to sleep. Now he is afraid to go to bed.
He Walks Into a Catholic Church
Immediately we walked into the Church, whatever it was that was moving inside of him ran amok, and left him. The deacon was amazed and wondered what happened. I told him that whatever it was could not stand the presence of Christ in the Tabernacle. Then I asked if he believed in the Real Presence, and he said yes. Why don’t you then become Catholic? He became evasive; much hemming and hawing. Anyway, we did the Stations of the Cross together; gave him a plastic gallon jug of exorcised holy water and St Benedict crucifix. He left a happy deacon, but then I had to remind him that the relief was temporary; if he had no Catholic prayers and sacraments to back him up, it would be back to square one after a short while.
A Heartfelt Challenge
To our Protestant brothers and sisters I would give this counsel…and challenge: Stand before the exposed Blessed Sacrament and say, “Lord, if You are truly present in this Sacrament, then enlighten me and I will serve You with all heart and soul.” If you are sincere, you will soon become Catholic.