Friday, February 24, 2012

Some thoughts

A few years ago, when by far the majority of people didn't approve of either homosexuals or homosexuality, we were supposed to stay out of the private lives. 10 years of pro homosexual lobbying on TVs, schools, and college campuses later, the same group that said we should stay out of their private lives now wants us to  legislate their private lives, to allow them to get married. Last week, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill in order to allow the voters of New Jersey to vote on the issue, most gay activists said that it was an issue of civil rights, not an issue that should be determined by popularity. 

As I was on the elliptical machine this afternoon, I couldn't help but make this really strange connection. The propaganda that is put out with regard to the recent HHS mandate states that 98% of Catholics have used contraception at one point in their lives. Now, aside from the fact that this figure is nothing more than a HUGE LIE, I will acknowledge that a majority of Catholics use contraception and that the Catholic Church has done a horrible job of explain to people WHY we believe what we believe about artificial contraception and sterilization. Nonetheless, I find it amazing that some of the same journalists and pundits that forward the above gay-marriage argument (gay-marriage is above popular opinion) quickly do a 180 when it comes to the church (Catholic Church should pay for contraception because of popular opinion).  

I believe the Church would actually agree with the gay rights propagandists in saying that marriage shouldn't be a majority vote decision, even if we agree for INCREDIBLY different reasons. But, why are these propagandists then so quick to turn contraception into a voting issue? What happened to the church's conscience protection or the separation of church and state? Are civil rights only to be applied to the individual and their choices and never to the beliefs of the church and what they are asked to support? 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ash Wednesday Homily

My Dear Friends in Christ

May the Grace and Peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you as we begin this Lenten journey. Jesus’ words in the gospel today illustrate the importance of not allowing our faith to become too showy. He says, “…But when you give alms do not let you right hand know what you left hand is doing so that your almsgiving will be in secret…But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret…But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden.” After each of these statements, Jesus adds, “And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you." Part of the reason that Jesus is concerned about this is because of the fear of hypocrisy. The word hypocrisy comes from two Greek words, “hypo” meaning above and “Krises” meaning judgment. So a hypocrite believes that they are above judgment, that the rules they enforce don’t apply to other people. A few years ago, Saturday Night Live had a skit mocking a person they called the Church lady. The church lady would invite celebrities onto her talk show and mock them for their alcohol and drug riddled extravagant lifestyle. She wasn’t trying to help them, more just making fun of them. That’s what frustrated Jesus about the Pharisees and what he never wanted his followers to turn into.

However, it seems to me that there is a bigger problem in today’s world than people being too public, too showy, or too judgmental in their faith. Back at the time of Jesus and up until fairly recently, everyone would have willingly showed their faith in private and in public and Jesus was trying to make sure that they matched up with each other by making sure that their private lives matched their public expression, indeed that the private was more important than the public expression. In recent years, the bigger problem is when people don’t allow their public lives to be affected by their faith. It’s true that we don’t want to believe ourselves “above judgment” like the Pharisees of old but Jesus also wouldn’t say that our faith should be so private and personal that we don’t correct the immorality of others. This is part of what St. Paul was talking about in the second reading today in being ambassadors for Christ. In the end, it’s all about living an integral life, a life where our words match our deeds, both of which also match our faith. So, for instance, when someone comes to us struggling with same-sex attraction we don’t just put away our faith and encourage them to follow cultures attitude of “whatever feels good is also morally good” but we also don’t turn our backs and call the person an evil sinner. Because we recognize our own sins, we humbly and with love encourage them to live a life of celibate chastity as they have been called to do so by God.

In this Ash Wednesday liturgy, we are marked by ashes and reminded that our life on earth will one day come to an end, that we are dust and unto dust we shall return. Part of what we resolve to do during Lent is to live a moral life and help others to do so as well. We do so not from a morally superior position of judgment but as one who recognizes our own need for God’s love and forgiveness and wants to help others know about it as well.