Mercy Hospital Springfield to Provide Same-Sex Couples Marriage Benefits
Statement from the Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Jr. – Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
Re: Mercy Healthcare, Springfield
We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and God. We believe that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” and strive to follow the Bible’s counsel: “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, …” (Hebrews 13:8-9).
Christian pastors and leaders who hold true to the Gospel can expect to be attacked as hateful bigots by persons who claim to be advocates of tolerance. Such hypocrisy would be comical if it were not increasingly accompanied by legal and social efforts to coerce Christians to conform to new “strange teachings.”
Marriage is Jesus’ Teaching
Among these new teachings is the belief that the government has the power to redefine marriage as including same-sex couples. In this view, marriage is whatever the government says it is. But Christians reject this as they know and believe that “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9). This happens to be Jesus’ teaching, and neither the Church nor the government can change that teaching.
No Believing Christian Worthy of the Name Should Violate God’s Law Because of “Regulations.”
I was not consulted or informed by Mercy Hospital Springfield of its decision to provide same-sex couples marriage benefits. I am deeply concerned. By this decision, Mercy Hospital Springfield calls into question its identity as a Catholic Christian institution. The statement a Mercy spokesperson made to the Springfield News-Leader is more than disappointing. Recognizing God’s plan for marriage is not a matter of “the Church’s position,” as Mercy characterized it, but rather, one of God’s own Word. And while the statement does not specify the “government regulations” Mercy claims to require this change, no believing Christian worthy of the name should violate God’s law because of “regulations.” Our ancestors refused to abandon the faith even when subjected to the cruelty and torture of the Roman Empire, but in our age unspecified “regulations,” government funds, and fear of public ridicule is sufficient in order to secure the compliance of some.
One thing I have been trying to do in my Apologetics course is to link our Catholic Spirituality to various doctrinal truths of the Faith. It is very important for us not only to know God’s law, who He is, and what He has done for us, but we need to also be able to apply such truths to our own lives.
Getting God Wrong #1
I believe that one of the reasons we fail to propagate the faith to others is resulting from the appearance of dry-adherence to a moral-law. Pope Benedict XVI called this “moralism.” Moralism essentially removes the essential characteristic of “relationship” we are to have with God and our neighbour.
A morality is and ought to be predicated of the relationship we have with God. That is to say that just because you follow the moral law, does not mean you have a good relationship with God. Likewise it also says, if you do not follow the moral law (especially in grave matters) you most certainly do not have a good relationship with God.
Rather the motivating force must both be extrinsic and intrinsic when discerning the moral law in our own life. We must seek to have a good relationship with Christ “in” the very act of doing what is right, rather than “by” the very act.
Getting God Wrong #2
For instance, if a Catholic does not “internalize” the moral law, it merely becomes a hoop by which they jump through in order to de-facto (in their own mind) love God. But this is legalism. The alternative is to say, “It doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I have some sort of ideal in my mind about God, I love Him.” This is lawlessness.
The middle position is also the narrow position, it is difficult. We must not only abide by the law itself, but we must internalize it. We must love God’s law, and to see how “in” the act, we are directly choosing God and Neighbour.
For instance, a couple who practices the Church’s teaching on contraception by not contracepting, they do well. But if they internalize this matter, they do very well, because they refuse to ever diminish the nature of their spouse by compartmentalizing an intrinsic dimension to their nature as a male and female. Man and woman have the capacity to procreate, and it is through this “identifying dimension” that man can truly love woman for all that she is, rather than rejecting a part of her nature as if it were a problem.
I believe that theologians who have not internalized the moral law may foster a legalistic or lawless approach to this particular infallible truth of the Church, as explained by Pope Paul VI.
Getting God Wrong #3
The particular approach I’d like to deny and condemn directly is a Kantian approach to morality. In an unnamed place, there was a priest who had communicated to his brother priests that it was morally praiseworthy to give a family who had practiced NFP an “exception” to use contraceptives since they had already fulfilled a significant quota of 9 children.
Kantian Ethics therefore judges whether an act is good or evil, “by the act itself” rather than “in the act itself.” In other words, he is looking for a consistency in the person’s life, like virtue, whereby they practice what is good on a regular basis out of duty.
Kantian Ethics can also be called deontological ethics. In this way, Kant does not indicate that there is anything intrinsically wrong with the act itself. All that should be discerned is the outer-shell of the act and how often it occurs.
But most of us would never ascribe to such a stupid way of thinking. For instance, if a man were to kill someone, he would not plead with the Jury and Judge by saying, “But I don’t normally do this, I deserve an exception to the rule, because I am not really a killer.” For such a person to suggest this as a defense would have failed to internalize the irreparable damage he has caused society and the said victim.
Likewise, “in” every act of contraception there is a rejection of God’s masterful design and path towards goodness and a rejection of the spouse in an essential matter. Without this internalization of the moral law, we therefore lose sight of the Master’s Sermon on the Mount, whereby he not only calls us to follow the law, but to internalize it. If one internalizes the moral law on contraception, they realize that every act of contraception is a (possibly latent) hatred for who the other is as male and female. Therefore there could never be any “exception” to something so intrinsically evil.
Bishop James D. Conley, Southern Nebraska Register: In the century before Christ was born, the great Roman poet Horace wrote a wise line: “Tua res agitur paries cum proximus ardet.” The English translation is: “It concerns you when your neighbor’s wall is on fire.”
Horace taught that we are connected to one another—that human beings are responsible for each other’s wellbeing, and that the misfortunes of others can endanger each one of us. Horace meant that we need to respond when neighbors face danger—that justice, and love, demand that we care for the needs of those in our communities.
St. Paul expressed Horace’s wisdom more clearly. To the Church in Philippi, he wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Christ put it even more clearly—“whatever you do for the least of your brothers,” he said, “you do for me.” If we really love Christ, the needs of those around us will become our needs, and the misfortunes of others will become our concern.
In November, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state of Nebraska, alleging that Article I-29 of our Constitution is a violation of federal law. The article states that in our state, marriage shall be understood as a union between a man and woman—and that marriage cannot be contracted or recognized as a relationship between two people of the same sex.
Over the past few months, Nebraskans have fought to protect our Constitution. As the lawsuit continues to run through the federal courts, Catholics will continue to proclaim and clarify the real meaning of marriage.
Tragically, marriage has been legally redefined in many states across the country. The federal government has accepted alternative definitions of marriage. So-called ‘same-sex marriage’ is increasingly accepted by cultural, religious, and political leaders. To some, universal recognition of same-sex marriage seems inevitable.
As the debate goes on, some Catholics have begun to ask why fighting same-sex marriage is so important. A friend asked me recently, “If the Church will not have to violate her teaching, why does same-sex marriage concern me?”
7 Concerns on the Redefinition of Marriage
Radical redefinition of marriage concerns each one of us. It concerns me, and it concerns you.
It should concern all of us when our state’s Constitution is undermined—when the votes of Nebraskans are less important than the force of well-funded and well-organized political interest groups. It concerns us when the government is used to validate and endorse whatever kind of social arrangement citizens might wish to make—no matter the harm.
It concerns us when the world forgets that children do best with mothers and fathers, each playing unique roles in formation and education. It concerns us when “fatherhood” and “motherhood” become lost or muddled concepts. It concerns us when the real needs of children are undermined for the sake of “tolerance” and political correctness.
It concerns us when the state forces bakers and photographers, teachers and parents to ignore what they believe—to abandon their convictions and their faith—in order to make a living for their families.
It concerns us when our state is not free to recognize that men and women, forming stable families and stable communities, have an important role in every human culture. It concerns us when our state is not free to support and promote the sacrifices of those men and women. It concerns us when our state must deny real truths about human families, and human hearts.
It concerns us when we begin to lose sight of God’s plan for the world. It concerns us when the world confuses real God-given dignity with moral license and pathways to unhappiness. It concerns us when a confused, unhappy, and over-sexualized culture makes it harder for all people—no matter their attractions or inclinations—to know God’s love.
Redefining marriage concerns each of us because its impact is profound. For the sake of our neighbors and friends—for the sake of our whole community—we need to continue to proclaim and clarify the truth about marriage.
Proclaiming the truth about marriage, and families, and parents, is an act of love. It is an act of love for our state, which has the right to be organized according to reality. It is an act of love for children, who have the right to know the complementary love of mothers and fathers. And it is an act of love for all those who might be kept from discovering God’s real love—and their real dignity—by the confusing lies of the world.
The Church should be a place of welcome for all people. It should be a place where all people come to know God’s love, and to know his incredible plan for their lives. The Church should be a place where knowing the truth is a source of hope, of healing, and of joy. And that means that the Church should be a place where the truth is proclaimed—charitably, respectfully, and openly.
The world is very confused about the meaning of marriage, about the importance of families and, ultimately, the world is very confused about happiness, and joy, and peace. The world is a dangerous place for anyone who is seeking real love. Christ’s love—and his plan for each one of us—is the antidote to that danger. That concerns each one of us.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, archbishop of Miami, has warned archdiocesan employees that any action in support of Florida’s now-legal same-sex marriage could cost them their jobs.
“Because of the Church’s particular function in society,” the archbishop wrote, “certain conduct, inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, could lead to disciplinary action, including termination, even if it occurs outside the normal working day and outside the strict confines of work performed by the employee for the Archdiocese.”
The policy extends to include posts (photos or comments) on social media sites.
The preemptive letter by Archbishop Wenskishould help to thwart potential complaints, as have occurred in Chicago, in Georgia and in other states, when a church organist or music director has been fired after his homosexual relationship came to light.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s ruling that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional took effect in all 67 counties at midnight on Monday, January 5. Couples began marrying immediately, even though Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, is still pursuing state and federal appeals seeking to uphold the ban approved by voters in 2008. Bondi’s effort to block these weddings until the courts finally rule was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court; and so Florida has become the 36th state to approve same-sex marriages.
Pole Alert: The Providence Journal is conducting a poll. “Should Bishop Tobin have accepted Governor-elect Raimondo’s invitation to her inauguration?” With over 3000 votes Bishop Tobin only has 960 votes. Please show your support for the Bishop and click here to vote.
PROVIDENCE — Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said Monday he rejected an invitation this past weekend to attend Governor-elect Gina Raimondo’s inauguration, because of her stance on “the grave moral evil” of abortion.
“Over the weekend I did receive a formal written invitation to the Inauguration, the courtesy of which I appreciated,” Tobin wrote in an email Monday night in response to a Providence Journal inquiry. “However, as previously announced I will be offering Holy Mass at the Cathedral at that same time to ask for God’s blessings upon our state and nation and our public servants.
“I should add, though, that in conscience, it would always be a problem for me personally to attend the inauguration of any public official who promotes or supports abortion, which we consider to be a very grave moral evil,” the bishop wrote. Tobin had sharply criticized Raimondo during her campaign for her support for abortion rights.
A Raimondo spokeswoman could not be reached for a response Monday before deadline.
As he did four years ago, Tobin will offer a noon Mass at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul to offer prayers for newly elected leaders, as “a Prayer to Our Nation.” This marks the second time in at least 24 years that no Catholic bishop will be present at the State House to offer prayers at the inauguration ceremony for a new governor, according to Journal reports. In 2011, then-Governor-elect Lincoln D. Chafee, an Episcopalian, broke with tradition and decided against having a Catholic bishop offer prayers at the inaugural ceremony.
The Rev. Edward L. Pieroni, pastor of St. Raymond Roman Catholic Church in Providence where Raimondo is a parishioner, will be one of six religious leaders from different faiths participating in the inauguration. Raimondo will attend a 9 a.m. Mass at St. Raymond, on North Main Street, before the inauguration. “It’s their regular weekday Mass,” said diocesan spokeswoman Karen Davis. The governor-elect “wanted to start the day with prayer at her parish.” The Rhode Island Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, reported last month that Tobin “had previously indicated” that he did not intend to attend Tuesday’s inauguration.
Tobin said the noon Mass will mark “an opportunity for us to gather as a faith community to ask for God’s blessing upon our nation and our state at a time when there are so many challenges and issues to be dealt with.”
The day after the election, Tobin told WPRO News that he and Raimondo “have had a nice little exchange of correspondence,” and he was hoping “to build some bridges,” after he’d criticized her endorsement by the pro-choice group Planned Parenthood.
Here are our selections for the best of Courageous Priest 2014
Let’s start with the Courageous Priest of the Year.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Let’s give it to Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. Many would give it Cardinal Raymond Burke. Fr. Z argues the point very effectively in his Priest of the Year award. I have no qualms with that. Bishop Paprocki gets the nod because most of his articles came from the heart this year and was not a response to an national issue. I will use this article as an example. Bishop Paprocki: I Direct the Eucharist be Placed in the Center of the Sanctuary. Granted, Cardinal Burke’s heroic action during the Synod would tip the scales for most. Both are winners in our book. Who do you think would be a good winner this year?
Here are some of Bishop Paprocki’s articles we posted.
First Place – over 41,000 visits to the the website
First Place – 103 tweets
First Place – 49 comments on the Courageous Priest website
First Place – 93 comments on the Courageous Priest website using the Facebook comment section
First Place – Facebook likes on the Courageous Priest website; 6600
Second Place – Facebook reach; 25,100
Second Place – Facebook shares
Fourth Place – Facebook comments
Fourth Place – Email subscriber visits: 5800
Personally, I think Fr. Chris Pietraszko’s article was a better read. 18 Sins that Must Be Confessed for Salvation: “To the Catholic who knows this and does not do it, Salvation is Impossible.” Let this be a lesson to all the bloggers out there. Headlines makes a big difference in the number of people that will read an article.
Newcomer of the Year
Fr. Chris Pietraszko
Fr. Chris Pietraszko! He has a strong Facebook presence and a website. I just found out about his website, DiocesansSpirituality.wordpress.com. That makes me “soo haappyy.” I think this line alone will give you an idea about his love of the Church. “One thing I have been trying to do in my Apologetics course is to link our Catholic Spirituality to various doctrinal truths of the Faith.” He has a teacher’s heart.
Hey you Catholic big wigs out there. Start interviewing this guy. I am thinking about Teresa Tomeo, Life on the Rock, Catholic Answers, etc… And someone may want to reach out to Fr. Pietraszko and offer to pay for a premium Facebook account. He already has maxed out the number of friends allowed by Facebook.
Msgr. Charles Pope – We are very close to the new year, 2015 AD. And most of us at the new year have it in mind to
pray for the future year not only for ourselves, but also for our family, country, and culture. With that in mind, there is something of an admonition to us all that I would share from Scripture. For while we look to the new year with hope, we do well to soberly assess the warnings of God that are seemingly more applicable than ever. Above all we must pray so as to avoid the otherwise necessary chastisements of God and the inevitability of ruin at our own hand if we do not soon repent.
We have good reason to have concern for what we have come to call Western culture. Our last century was nothing less than a blood bath of world wars, cold wars, killing fields, mass starvations, abortion, and euthanasia. It is conservatively estimated that 100 million were put to death for ideological purposes (e.g., in Hitler’s camps, Stalin’s mass starvations, Pol Pot’s killing fields, Mao’s camps, Rwanda’s genocide, the Balkan genocides). Add to this the war dead and the victims of abortion and the number easily reaches 200 million.
In the middle of that period in the West, we threw in many social revolutions: the sexual revolution, the revolution against authority, the widespread use of hallucinogenic drugs, radical feminism, abortion on demand, contraception, and no-fault divorce. The solitary boast of the tainted 1960s was the civil rights movement, largely granted to it by the 1950s.
It is no surprise then that Americans, still reeling from these selfish and egotistical revolutions, find that most baby boomers are now in various combinations of drug rehab, AA, SA, Overeaters Anonymous, or even jail. Add to this situation vast amounts of psychotherapy, psychotropic drugs, and a self-esteem-driven culture with endless distractions to keep the revolutionaries and their children sane. Then throw in large amounts of antibiotics to treat the sexually transmitted diseases … would someone please call in the exorcist?
We have sown the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind. Enter now the desperate confusion of the “rainbow,” a once beautiful sign of hope that now only bespeaks sexual confusion of a colossal degree. And let no heterosexual gloat until he ponders rampant fornication, easy divorce, abortion, and the disgraceful lack of self-control that has helped usher in the sex-is-just-about-pleasure-and-means-whatever-I-say-it-means culture. Confusion, from top to bottom!
So here we are in 2015. And if we have any sense and any faith at all, we need to fall on our knees and pray for miraculous conversion. I love this country and Western culture. I do not think anything finer has ever graced this globe. But we have become collectively corrupted. Our freedom has become licentiousness; our sense of human dignity has been debased; our comforts have made us lazy and inimical to the Cross and to discipline.
And thus we do well to heed God’s warnings of old to other cultures that had become similarly corrupted.
A little over a week ago, as we wrapped up Advent, Isaiah uttered a warning to a pompous and self-secure empire (Babylon) that its might and power, its wealth and poise, were soon to come to an end. Of special mention was the scorn that God had for Babylon’s arrogant presumption that she would never fall or suffer loss and that her power would be forever. And yet too often this same arrogance besets us today. Listen to what God says to ancient Babylon at the zenith of her power:
Come down, sit in the dust, O virgin daughter Babylon; Sit on the ground, dethroned, O daughter of the Chaldeans. No longer shall you be called dainty and delicate. I will take vengeance, I will yield to no entreaty … Go into darkness and sit in silence, No longer shall you be called sovereign mistress of kingdoms …
Now hear this, voluptuous one, enthroned securely, Saying to yourself, “I, and no one else! I shall never be a widow, or suffer the loss of my children”—Both these things shall come to you suddenly, in a single day: Complete bereavement and widowhood shall come upon you For your many sorceries and the great number of your spells; Because you felt secure in your wickedness, and said, “No one sees me.”
Your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, And you said to yourself, “I, and no one else!” But upon you shall come evil you will not know how to predict; Disaster shall befall you which you cannot allay. Suddenly there shall come upon you ruin which you will not expect (Isaiah 47: 1-15 selected).
Be soberly attentive, dear reader, and pray. For it is hard to read words like these and not see how they apply precisely to an age like ours! And before you exultantly say, “Bring it on!” please consider how instantly different our lives would be. Are you really ready for a world with no electricity, no Internet, and no central government with a Bill of Rights? Are you ready to live without roads, running water, and trash collection? Repentance is a far better solution. So pray for a miracle!
What was (is) Babylon? At one level, it is an historical nation-state at the time of the ancient Jews. There were others: Egypt, Assyria, Medo-Persia, and later Greece and Rome. But all these powers, though real historical places, also symbolized the world and all its glories arrayed against God and His kingdom.
Egypt with its power, its fleshpots, and its leeks and onions was something the ancient Jews were always pining after. Abram ran there during a drought instead of trusting God to sustain him in the Holy Land. When Moses led the people out, they were always looking back, forgetting the slavery and remembering the fleshpots. They loved the world and trusted it more than God.
In their fear against invaders, the Jews were ever succumbing to the temptation to make alliances with Assyria and Egypt (i.e., with the world and its power). “Trusting God is too risky. Let’s trust in Egypt or Assyria. Let’s trust in the world to come through for us.”
In Babylonian exile, the Jews left, singing that they would never forget Jerusalem. But after 8o years in Babylon (a symbol of the world and its empires) most had no interest in returning to the Promised Land (a symbol of Heaven) when they were allowed to do so. They preferred Babylon and its hanging gardens to God’s kingdom. Only a small number returned. “Why should I go back to Israel? I have a pretty nice little jewelry shop I run here in Babylon on the corner of Tigris and Euphrates Avenues …”
And thus places like Babylon, Egypt, Sodom, Assyria, and later Greece and Rome, were not just city-states; they were symbols of the world arrayed against God and vying for that place in our heart that belongs to Him. The prophets often accused Jerusalem herself of having become Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon.
But no kingdom of this world can or will stand. In the age of the Church, and even prior to that in the Old Testament period of the Church, kingdoms came and went. Nations rose and fell. Empires emerged and collapsed. Where is Nimrod now? Where is Pharaoh Necho? Where are Cyrus the Persian, Alexander the Great, Caesar Nero, Napoleon, Stalin, and Chairman Mao?
But what of us? All those ancient kingdoms fell not merely because their time was up, but because of sin and the collapse that pride and sin bring. And as for us, how can a nation or culture stand that is increasingly permeated by pride, godlessness, corruption, fornication, abortion, sexual confusion, families in crisis, lack of sexual self-control, gluttony, drug use, alcoholism, rampant pornography, and ridicule of authority, tradition, and faith?
Consider a similar passage from the Book of Revelation (Chapter 18) warning the faithful about “Babylon.” (By 90 AD Babylon was actually long gone. Thus “Babylon” here is a symbol for the world and its tendency to fall into corruption.) John was saying that the “Great City” (Jerusalem – the great city which is allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified – Rev 11:8) had become Babylon. And he develops this theme in Revelation 18. Sadly, by 70 AD, having been given 40 years to repent, Jerusalem was sacked, burned, and utterly destroyed just as this prophecy had warned.
Have America and the West become like Babylon? Does the chilling judgment that came on Jerusalem and many other ancient cultures now apply to us? It would seem so unless repentance comes quickly. Hear and heed the warning given to ancient Jerusalem (which had become like Babylon) on this eve of the new year. Babylon is
I. Dominated by Demons - The text says, After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendor. And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird; for all nations have drunk the wine of her impure passion, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich with the wealth of her wantonness.” Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her as she herself has rendered, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed (Rev 18:1-6).
And as ancient Jerusalem was said to have the abomination of desolation (Mat 24:15), so too has our age embraced and even celebrated many abominations: abortion, fornication, homosexual acts, and the greed that becomes injustice to the poor. Scripture speaks of four sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance: murder (Gn 4:10), homosexual acts (acts of sodomy) (Gn 18:20-21), oppression of the poor (Ex 2:23), and defrauding workers of their just wages (Jas 5:4). There are also sins against the Holy Spirit, sins that harden a soul by rejecting the Holy Spirit. Six sins are in this category: despair, presumption, envy, obstinacy in sin, final impenitence, and deliberate resistance to the known truth.
Welcome to America after the social revolution. Pre-revolution America (prior to 1968) was no paradise, but there was more of a sense of basic right and wrong. Now everything is up for debate, and what used to slink around in back alleys now parades down Main Street in broad daylight.
To all this demonic influence, celebration of depravity, and excessive passion comes the plea, “Come out of here, my people!” Otherwise we will share in Babylon’s punishment. Make no compromises with this modern age, which has become the dwelling place of demons. Celebrating its secularism, our age, in rejecting God, has delivered itself to the machination of demons and all sort of human foolishness.
Stay sober, my friends, and see this age for what it is becoming: the dwelling place of demons, the haunt of every foul spirit, impure passion, and wanton desire. Have custody of your eyes and guard your heart!
II. Defiant in Depravity – As she glorified herself and played the wanton, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning. Since in her heart she says, ‘A queen I sit, I am no widow, mourning I shall never see’ (Rev 18:7).
Yes, no matter how high the body count rises from abortion, from the broken lives of children raised without fathers, from exposure to pornography, from the celebration of greed and whatever is base or decadent—the modern West is too drunk to notice the harm she inflicts on herself. 70 million abortions, more than half of children raised in fatherless homes and in chaos … never mind all that! We are liberated. We will do as we please. We will not be told what to do!
And thus defiance and even the celebration of what is wicked and cries to heaven for vengeance continues apace. Despite all sorts statistics that say we are in real trouble, most go on calling “good” or “no big deal” what God calls sin. But God will not be mocked and ultimately we cannot avoid the consequences of our increasing depravity. At some point, God will have to end it if we do not repent.
Sadly, our defiance makes it seem unlikely that we will repent.
III. Destined for Destruction - So shall her plagues come in a single day, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she shall be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who judges her … Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! In one hour she has been laid waste. Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So shall Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and shall be found no more; and the sound of harpers and minstrels, of flute players and trumpeters, shall be heard in thee no more; and a craftsman of any craft shall be found in thee no more; and the sound of the millstone shall be heard in thee no more; and the light of a lamp shall shine in thee no more; and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall be heard in thee no more; for thy merchants were the great men of the earth, and all nations were deceived by thy sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth” (Rev 18:8, 19-24).
Jerusalem, the great city, the holy city, was utterly destroyed. 1.2 million Jewish people lost their lives in the conflagration. Jerusalem was burned, and when the Romans were finished, not one stone was left on another. Jesus had warned of this day in the Mt. Olivet discourses (Mark 13, Matthew 24, Luke 21) and had wept over Jerusalem: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate (Matt 23:37-38).
And what of us? Will we repent? Or will we be defiant and destined for destruction? Pray for America. Pray for the West. Pray for our culture, which still has great goodness but has succumbed to much corruption.
IV. Depressing in Desolation – And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and were wanton with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! alas! thou great city, thou mighty city, Babylon! In one hour has thy judgment come.” And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo any more, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. “The fruit for which thy soul longed has gone from thee, and all thy dainties and thy splendor are lost to thee, never to be found again!” The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, bedecked with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! In one hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?” And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, for the great city” (Rev 18:9-19).
Here’s the bottom line: Satan sails a sinking ship. Nothing of this world can stand except on the firm foundation of Christ and His Church. Too many Christians are in a compromised state with a sinful world. Scripture says, For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God (Heb 13:15-16).
In this new year, pray for our Western world as never before. We have brought great gifts to the world through our marriage with Christ. But now, acting like an angry divorcée, we have forsaken Him and turned to great wickedness. But God still seeks us and wants to renew His covenant with us.
Pray. And before you exultantly say, “Bring on the destruction!” please consider that this is no “made-for-TV movie.” Think about how instantly different our lives would be! Please consider the bloodshed and loss of life. Again, would you be ready for a world with no electricity, no Internet, and no central government with a Bill of Rights? Are you ready to live without roads, running water, and trash collection? Repentance is a far better solution. So pray for a miracle! It doesn’t have to end in destruction. Jerusalem could have repented, and we still can.
The Church will survive. God’s will shall prevail. But what of our beloved country and the West? That is up to us.
So pray at this dawn of the new year. Pray a lot. Only then will it be a “Happy New Year!”
For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!
The term “busybody” usually refers to one who is intent on the matters of others but looks little to his own issues. Busybodies also tend to focus especially on the faults, foibles, and troubles of other folks. Seldom are they chattering away about good news related to other people; more often it is the scurrilous and scandalous that occupy their minds.
Merriam-Webster online defines a busybody as “a person who is too interested in the private lives of other people.” It is a form of sinful curiosity.
Now personally I have never been a busybody, but I have known many of them … But more seriously, this is a human problem. Many of us are far too interested in things that are really none of our business. That alone is problem enough. But the problem is compounded in that the busybody is almost always too little concerned about his own ”issues” (we used to call them sins). When our attention to, fascination with, or scorn about sin is directed outward, we lose the proper introspection that properly examines our own need for repentance. The pointed index finger too easily ignores the three folded fingers pointing back at oneself, and those three fingers symbolize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit urging us to look to our own vineyard.
Indeed, Scripture says,They made me keeper of the vineyards; but, my own vineyard I have not kept! (Song 1:6) For we who would be prophets too easily ignore the word of God as directed to our own souls.
Further, it is a common trap of the devil that he keeps us focused on what we cannot change so that we do not focus on what we can change. In other words, it is more difficult to change others and less difficult to change ourselves. Thus the devil would have us focus on others, who are hard to change, so that we will not focus on our very self, whom we can more easily change.
Thus, being a busybody is not only obnoxious, it is a trap the devil enjoys laying for us.
Pope St. Gregory the Great has a meditation near the end of his Pastoral Rule wherein he ponders the problem of the busybody. He uses the story of Dinah from the Bible. He does not use the term “busybody,” but the related concept of “self-flattery.” Let’s review some of his observations.
Frequently the crafty enemy … seduces [the mind] by flattery in a false security that leads to destruction. And this is expressed figuratively in the person of Dinah. For it is written,
Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land; 2 and when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humbled her. 3 And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob; he loved the maiden and spoke tenderly to her (Gen 34:1-3).
For [pertaining to us] Dinah “goes down to see the women of that region” whenever a soul neglects to consider itself and concerns itself with the actions of others and wonders beyond its own proper condition and order. And Shechem “takes the soul by force” inasmuch as the Devil corrupts the mind that is occupied by external matters. “And [Shechem’s] soul was conjoined to her” because the devil considers us conjoined to him through iniquity. And … the devil calls before our minds a false sense of hope and security … Thus it is written that Shechem “spoke tenderly to her” when she was sad [humbled]. For to us the devil speaks to us of the greater offenses committed by others … [Pastoral Rule III.29].
In effect, Gregory uses the story of Dinah as an allegory of the trouble we get into when we focus too much on the lives of others and look not enough to our own souls. For Dinah gets into trouble when she tours the land to see the pagan women (the Hivites) and inquires, with a sort of fascination, into what they do. And one of the men of that land seduces her, taking advantage of the vulnerability caused by her sinful curiosity. But even after being humbled and sinned against, she still lets him speak tenderly to her. She is far too fascinated with the Hivites. And thus her rapist, Shechem, was able to speak tenderly to her and win her heart, a thing no rapist should be able to do.
But so it is with us. We are far too fascinated with the sins and struggles of others. Like busybodies we go out to consort with the people of the sinful world. And being focused on and fascinated by them, rather than looking to our own selves, we open ourselves up to being taken advantage of by both the devil and a sinful world. We are an easy target when we do not look to our own soul but rather are preoccupied with the scurrilous details of the lives of others.
And then the devil seizes us and has consort with our soul. He speaks “tenderly” to us telling us how, compared to others, we are not really so bad. Here is a false security indeed. We have been sinfully curious as to the sins and struggles of others, and now we are in the devil’s clutches being reassured by him.
We should be angry with him for raping our vulnerable soul in the first place! But instead, we let him sweet-talk and reassure us.
And thus we are prey two times over. First, we indulged our sinful curiosity into the struggles of others, and then having done so, allowed ourselves to be falsely reassured by the devil of our relative innocence.
The bottom line is that busybodies are easy prey for the devil. By looking not to their own lives, but instead prying with sinful fascination into the lives of others, they wander into sin easily. And all the while, since they look not to themselves, they are easily deluded by the thought that at least they are not as bad as so-and so.
Then only problem is, “being better than so-and-so” is not the standard for eternal life. Jesus is the standard. Only grace and mercy can help us meet that standard.
The busybody is busy about all things except the one thing necessary. As St. Paul says, If we would judge ourselves truly, we would not be judged (1 Cor 11:31).