Wednesday, November 21, 2012


If you are looking to get married you don’t hide things about yourself in order to lure someone into marrying you.  One of two things might happen as a result: 1) You will be somewhat unhappy hiding something for the rest of your life or 2) Your spouse will be feel angry and betrayed when whatever it is you are concealing becomes exposed.


For some reason (and I occasionally fall for it myself) preachers do the same thing in trying to “keep the numbers up.”  Dicey and controversial topics are not brought up in homilies, prayer services, or classes because we might lose people.  So leading up to the last election much of the Catholic Church was caught with its pants down trying to proclaim a message but unfortunately for much of the Church it was too late: Catholics did not need to be reminded about what our faith says about many of these touchy topics, they needed introduced to a mindset that produces these beliefs.  A pamphlet or a homily one week before the election aint gonna cut it.
There is a gentleman who works at St. Sebastian who happens to not be Catholic.  One day he stopped me and presents me with a list of topics ranging from abortion to health care.  “When was the last time you preached on any of these topics?” he asked me for he was greatly saddened that he had not heard any of this talked about at all at his church ever.  “Our faith is supposed to help us understand these things.  If we don’t hear about them at church there are plenty of other people out there working hard to have us think the way they want us to think about them.”
Now I admit that I am intimidated to speak on some of these matters.  But they are what they are – they are who we are.  It is not matter of politics – it is Catholic 101.  That some of these topics happen to line up with hot button issues going on in politics is just happenstance.  And we must be honest about who we are for we are in covenant together and that means full disclosure as one would hope a future spouse would offer.
Just one last note: I know there is some amount of wiggle room in some of these topics.  I am just saying we must talk about them as Church.  Only then can someone make a clear, full, and free decision if they want to be part of (or leave) this intimate Communion of people.


Pat said...

Good Fathers,

At this point, almost everyone who would be offended by a clear explication of Church teaching has moved to other parishes.They have been replaced by those who wouldn't mind hearing more Church teaching.

If priests would speak kindly (as you do) to us who are caught in something with which we are struggling, we might be given more courage to change.

MaryofSharon said...

Words cannot adequately express the gratitude of those who love the Church, just as She is, in the fullness of Her Beauty, Goodness, and Truth, when we hear priests defend Her teachings with courage, intelligence, and compassion, and without apology. It seems many of the clergy forget about the very people who love the Church the most and embrace all she Church teaches, sacrificially struggling to live it well. These faithful are left to figure out for themselves what the Church actually teaches and then to muster up the heroic virtue to live it, unsupported, at times, even by their own priests who appear to be more concerned about keeping the peace. Those making the tough choice to follow Christ radically and counterculturally receive nothing but ridicule from the media and academia, but, thanks be to God, after 40+ years of feel-good catechesis, I see more and more signs of hope that the Church in America is be becoming, once again, a place where Catholics can be fortified to live as saints.

So Fr. V., be of good courage. You already know how to write and speak about truth, tempered by charity and illuminated by beauty. In our post-Christian and ever increasingly anti-Christian culture we desperately need the example and the leadership of priests like you to help us stay the course. And, as you say in this post, it will take more than a subtle homily here and there, but rather a meaty catechesis that offers "full disclosure". Might our good God inspire you and all our priests with the wisdom to discern how to help us understand and love the goodness of the Good News to be found in the Church's tough teachings.

Speaking of Fr. John Riccardo (in my last comment on the sculptor) he actually did pretty much what you might be talking about here, offering several series of classes for Catholic adults, that address not only what the Church teaches, but why, with a recurring emphasis on the centrality of a trusting relationship with the God who is Love. Series titles, include the very one you propose here: "Catholicism 101".