Tuesday, July 7, 2015
So, as I walked into the sacristy this past Sunday morning one of the servers said: “I suppose you’re going to talk about marriage today”. I said that I had a more uplifting message for today. Indeed, I wasn’t remotely ready to talk about marriage, even as I was reading missives from many friends around the country talking up the “brilliant” and “courageous” words offered by pastors – Catholic and otherwise.
Quite honestly folks, Deacon Sam and I talk about marriage quite regularly. We have both given verbal witness to God’s vision of marriage, and we have encouraged all to live the sacrament of marriage fully as a witness to the goodness (and rightness) of God’s plan for marriage and family life. Indeed, I think that we have been largely successful in our instruction since when I asked the assembled servers that particular Sunday what the purpose of marriage, in fact, is, the answer was a most gratifying, “to bear and raise children.” It doesn’t get any more fundamental than that. What we haven’t done from the pulpit, or in these pages, is to clearly teach why Same Sex relationships are not “marriage”, why the biblical understanding of marriage is the only correct understanding of marriage, and why we are not “bigots” or “homophobes” for declining to buy into society’s, and now the court’s, definition of marriage.
We now have a much more difficult task ahead of us in raising our children with a proper vision of the world; a vision that takes its direction from God’s revelation rather than mankind’s succumbing to its most base desires and the use of fractured intellect to make those desires seem, in fact, virtuous. It took many years for our young people to come to an understanding that abortion is wrong and evil despite our government’s official sanction and even promotion of it. It will take as much or more effort to help our children understand that “legal” is not equal to “moral”. It will also take much fortitude on both our part and on the part of our children to live in a world that sees our following of God’s vision of marriage and family life as not only outmoded, but as bigoted and evil. Society will not put up with this affront and challenge to what it is already calling “settled”. We will be persecuted. Some may lose jobs over their witness to righteousness, even if that witness is the simple refusal to sign an inter office card of congratulations to a co-worker who has attempted marriage. Like St. Thomas More in the time of King Henry VIII our attempts at laying low will only take us so far. The question may become a very stark: “Are you on God’s side or on the Devil’s?” I know that we don’t want to see the choice in that stark of terms. However, it may very well come to the point that we will each have to answer that very question.
As much as the mainstream media might want to put forward the vision that the Catholic Church will have to change in order to keep members and stay on “the right side of history”, we will rather stay on the right side of holiness. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. While individual members may be lured away by the pieces of silver offered by those in authority, the Body of Christ will continue to give faithful witness to God’s loving plan for humanity and its salvation. While that Body will be battered, scourged, and even crucified again, we willingly submit to their very best efforts, with the witness of the Apostles and the first Roman Martyrs (those names we hear in the Roman Canon). For as St. Francis de Sales taught, it is by our own penance, suffering, and conversion of heart that the lost will again find their way home.In the coming weeks there will be much more said. Just remember, the battle is already won by Christ’s own passion, death, and resurrection. It is only for us to play out the clock with grace. That means taking our lumps and praying for our persecutors. Most of all, it means loving God above all things, and loving our neighbor as ourself.