Saturday, November 22, 2008

Homily 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time Year A

Now I'm back on the regular schedule for these homilies. Here is my homily on last weekend's readings on the Talents. Christ the King next.

Our readings today are about… STEWARDSHIP. Now, I know, I’m with you: the word “stewardship” or the phrase “time, talent, and treasure” often falls on deaf ears, they seem so cliché don’t they, and we hear them all the time. Thankfully, here at St. Athanasius, we have been changing the focus away from questions like “what do I have to give?” or “how much time do I have to spend?” to questions like “what gifts has God given me?”; “how does their use reflect my love for Him?”; and “what is God’s will for me?” We have moved away from focusing on certain amounts of time or money donated to prayerful discernment of God’s will. I think this shift has and will bear much fruit in this parish. And it’s not a moment too soon because these questions are not only significant to the life of our parish, but, as our Gospel teaches us today, to our eternal salvation as well.

Our readings provide many examples of the proper way to approach stewardship. In Proverbs the virtues of a “woman who fears the Lord” are extolled. She is one who is reverent, religious, and faithful, and works hard for God, her husband, and her family. I encourage especially all of the women of this parish to look at our first reading closely, pray with it and meditate on it, and hold up this woman of Proverbs as your example. While the text we have been given reads “Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize”, a better translation would be that he, because of this trust, “will have no lack of gain” meaning that her work and her service is always productive and fruitful. Her strength, her skills, and her God-given gifts always serve the common good. She has prayerfully discerned God’s call for her life and has lived it joyfully and abundantly and this makes God, her husband, and her community very proud. Of her our psalm exclaims, “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!”

Our Gospel, on the other hand, offers us, ultimately, a strong example of what NOT to do in regards to stewardship and it issues us a bold challenge. It forces us to take a good hard look at our lives. Have we failed in the call to authentic, Christian stewardship? Have we, like the third servant, been slothful and wicked? Now our Gospel uses the word “lazy”, not “slothful” but sloth is definitely the sin described here. And as you all know it is one of the seven deadly sins. Our woman in Proverbs was everything but slothful. What then is this deadly sin of sloth?

In general it means being disinclined toward labor or exertion. But it has a much deeper spiritual significance. St. Thomas Aquinas calls it “sadness in the face of some spiritual good which one has to achieve” (II-II:35). One theologian, Fr. Rickaby, describes it as the “don’t-care feeling.”
A man apprehends the practice of virtue to be beset with difficulties and chafes under the restraints imposed by the service of God. The narrow way stretches wearily before him and his soul grows sluggish… at the thought of the painful life journey. The idea of right living inspires not joy but disgust, because of its laboriousness.
“In other words,” he says, “a man is then formally distressed at the prospect of what he must do for God to bring about or keep intact his friendship with God. In this sense sloth is directly opposed to charity.” He violates, therefore, expressly the first and the greatest of the commandments: "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30).

My brothers and sisters, there is no time to be slothful. I tell myself this as well. But I have been greatly encouraged by so many of you who obviously have discerned God’s will and work hard with the gifts he has given you: Like those of you who do so many good little things that no one sees; those of you who spend many hours before the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesdays; those of you who prepare the sacristy, who serve Mass, distribute Holy Communion, and help out with our music; those of you who put so much work into our picnics and other festivals; who are angels to our elderly shut-ins; who perform the daily tasks of our parish offices; who support our widows and widowers; and especially those who cook for the rectory! J All of you serve with such joy and dedication that it gives me much hope for my own ministry.

But, still there remains much more to do be done. Not regarding mere dollar amounts or hours spent, like I said before, but regarding prayerful discernment of God’s will for the gifts he has given us. He is always calling us. The motto of the Benedictines is “Ora et Labora”, prayer and work. We must do both, now, for St. Paul in our second readings reminds us that our Lord will come again suddenly and unexpectedly, “like a thief at night.” “Therefore let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober” so that we will be prepared to give an account of our talents.

This word “talent,” interestingly enough, entered the English language directly from the parable in today’s Gospel. Here, a “talent” is a large sum of money roughly equal to 100 pounds of silver or 15 to 20 years’ wages of a laborer. The master entrusted a different number of talents to each of his three servants according to their ability and expected them to make a profit for him. The first and second servants doubled what was given to them and both received the same reward: “great responsibilities” and a share in the master’s joyful banquet. But the third servant out of fear and laziness squandered what was given to him so his talent was given to the first servant and he was thrown out of the master’s presence and separated from him.

Of course, this parable also has a deeply spiritual significance. We are the servants. The talents are the qualities God has bestowed on us, both those we are born with like intellectual capacity and musical ability or those we receive as supernatural graces like personal holiness, spiritual insight, or sacramental graces. The journey of the master, during which the servants where to invest their talents, signifies the duration of our life. His unexpected return signifies our death and his settling of accounts is our judgment. Finally the master’s joy, the banquet, is heaven.

Let us examine our approach to the gifts we have received from God. The Lord wants to see that his gifts have been well administered. Let us make use of the time we have to be ready. F. Suarez, a Mexican theologian explains that, after all,
When God is known well, it is not hard to love him. And when God is truly loved, it is not difficult to serve him… In fact, it even becomes a pleasure to serve him… The third servant knew his master well… and in spite of that it is obvious that he did not love him. And when love is missing, serving becomes very difficult.
You know, the opposite of laziness is diligence. This comes from the Latin word diligere, which means to love, to choose after careful study. “Love motivates a person to give true service. Laziness is a result of a failure to love.” “When a Christian kills time on this earth, he is putting himself in danger of ‘killing Heaven’ for himself.”

All you parents and grandparents out there, who were brought up on the Baltimore Catechism, must remind your children that they were made to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with him forever in the next. It doesn’t matter how many gifts, natural or supernatural, we have received; what matters is our generosity in putting them to good use. Just as natural abilities like playing the piano or speaking a foreign language become more perfect through use or become atrophied through disuse, so also graces that are used lead to an increase of grace, whereas graces that are neglected tend to be lost. We must respond to grace by making a genuine effort through our entire lives. Fr. Francis Fernandez, one of my favorite authors, illustrates this beautifully:
When life comes to an end, perhaps we may think something like a candle has gone out. But we should also see death as the time when something like a tapestry has been completed. We have watched this tapestry being made from the reverse side where the design of the artwork is blurred and the knots and twisted loops of the needlework are prominent. Our Father, God, contemplates the tapestry from the good side. He is pleased to behold a finished work that manifests a life-long effort to make good use of time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adding my name to "An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama"

Originally posted at Vox Nova with many signers:

An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

November 14, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

There is much we can do together. There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.

One of your campaign promises is of grave concern to many pro-life citizens. On January 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when speaking of the current right of women in America to have abortions, you said, “And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.”

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions. We believe FOCA does more than allow for choice. It may force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice. One concern is that it would force doctors and hospitals which would otherwise choose not to perform abortions to do so, even if it went against their sacred beliefs. Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice.

It is because of such concern we write. We urge you to engage us, and to dialogue with us, and to do so before you consider signing this legislation. Let us reason together and search out the implications of FOCA. Let us carefully review it and search for contradictions of those positions which we hold in common.

If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.

Likewise, you have also recently stated you might over-ride some of President G.W. Bush’s executive orders. This is also a concern to us. We believe doing so without having a dialogue with the American people would undermine the political environment you would like to establish. Among those issues which concern us are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).

Consider, sir, your general promise to the American people and set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency. This would indicate that you plan to reject politics as usual. This would indeed be a change we need.

To which I add my name with the others:


Matthew Hardesty

Saturday, November 08, 2008

my post-election homily

Continuing my practice of the 3-year cycle (how to give a homily on the same readings three times in a row), here is my third homily on the "Caesar readings" from Sun Oct 19 (here are the first and second). This also serves as a post-election homily. Let me know what you think. (works consulted: Render Unto Caesar by Archbishop Charles Chaput and Randy Alcorn's blog)

In our Gospel today, the plan of the Pharisees and Herodians seemed fool-proof. First, in an act of false humility, they compliment our Lord’s truthfulness and his disregard for opinion or status. Then, they ask him “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” They figured that if he said “Yes,” then they could discredit him among the Jews as one who advocated Roman rule. But, if he said “No,” then they could report him to the Romans for inciting anti-taxation sentiments. He answered not “Yes” or “No”, but this: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” This was much more profound than they expected: “When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away.” But what did Jesus mean by this?

Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Denver, CO, this year wrote a very helpful book in understanding this very thing, I highly recommend it to all of you. It is entitled, Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. I wish I had recommended it to you all sooner, but even though the Presidential election has passed it remains very helpful in understanding the role of Catholics in political life, especially as we move forward. In the book, Archbishop Chaput argues that the very health of our American democracy demands that Catholics engage the political realm with the full breadth of their religions convictions and beliefs. Good citizenship is not one that divorces faith from the public square but instead fights for it respectfully but vigorously and without apology. This is consistent with the Christian roots that are foundational to America’s existence. We can’t separate our private convictions from our public actions without diminishing both. Faithful Catholics make good and faithful citizens. In the words of the Archbishop, “How we act works backward on our convictions, making them stronger or smothering them under a snowfall of alibis.”

The pro-life movement, this past Tuesday, I think suffered a crushing blow. Our president-elect has promised institutions like Planned Parenthood that the first thing he will do as president is pass the Freedom of Choice Act which will eliminate all restrictions on abortion, including informed consent, parental notification, required counseling and ultrasounds, and even the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions. This is cause for much dismay… but we Catholics have never relied solely on political figures to accomplish our good works. We must continue to engage the political realm with our beliefs in healthy debate. And we must take a closer look at paying unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

St. Paul wrote in his first letter to St. Timothy:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Let us pray fervently for our President-Elect that he may come to the knowledge of the truth of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. And let us remember that circumstances change: “Do not boast about tomorrow,” Proverbs says, “for you do not know what a day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). But, our Savior does not change: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore we must “Trust God; don't worry; be at peace,” St. John’s Gospel tells us.

Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, [and do not] be afraid. (John 14:1-3, 27)
This passage emboldens us to continue to fight for the unborn and to follow the command of God in the Old Testament: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). Who but us will speak up for them, a whole class of society with no human rights, with no voice, and one that is snuffed out at the rate of 4000 per day?

In Render Unto Caesar, Archbishop Chaput explains that every four years, around election time, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops releases a Faithful Citizenship document, instructing Catholics on how to exercise their faith in political life. But many, he says, have criticized these documents for being too complex, for trying to tackle every angle of every issue all at once, for only serving to confuse the faithful and allow those who would put all social issues on the same moral plane to do so. The fact is, there exists a hierarchy of truths and those that directly affect life must always be on top. Now, this year’s Faithful Citizenship document, I think, is the best one so far. But, we also have a document from our bishops, which celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year, called Living the Gospel of Life. And this document doesn’t get enough attention. It is not too soon to look ahead to the midterm elections only two years away and even the next presidential election as much as we would like to take a well-deserved breather! Therefore, let us take a look at this document, especially paragraph 23. This is a little lengthy, but please pay close attention:

Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues… Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all those areas. Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages. But being “right” in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the “rightness” of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as “the temple of the Holy Spirit” – the living house of God – then these [issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, etc.] fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. [But] all direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Such attacks cannot help but lull the social conscience in ways ultimately destructive of other human rights.
These lessons from our bishops must guide the way we vote in the future. Remember, voting is a political act, to be sure, but it is also a moral act with moral implications and therefore involves faithful Catholics in a very real way.

Between elections though, we must continue to render unto Caesar by praying for our President-elect as I explained before. We owe him our respect and our prayers, our respect for the law, obedience to proper authority, and service to the common good. And Archbishop Chaput explains that respect

is not subservience, or silence, or inaction, or excuse making, or acquiescence to grave evil in the public life we all share. In fact, ultimately, everything important about human life belongs not to Caesar but to God: [we render unto God] our intellect, our talents, our free will; the people we love; the beauty and goodness in the world; our soul, our moral integrity, our hope for eternal life. These are the things that matter. These are the things worth struggling to ennoble and defend. And none of them [come] from [Caesar] or anyone who [succeeds] him.
Finally, “Our task,” St. Ignatius of Antioch teaches us, “is not one of producing persuasive propaganda. Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world.” Therefore let us beg God for “the courage and endurance not only to speak but also to will what is right, so that [we] may not only be called Christian, but prove to be one.”

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

taking my own advice

It's funny how we (I) can intellectually know how we should so something or what we should do, but then not actually do it. Only four short days ago I posted my second "Caesar homily" with advice that should have kept me from feeling all defeated and bitter today. But giving it another think-thru and meditating on today's readings is pulling me up.

Here's what I said:
In the period of silence after this homily, let us examine ourselves and where we stand with these principles... my brothers and sisters, let us be assured that there is hope. This hope lies not in our vote or our candidate but in Jesus Christ. Our Lord, by being born of a family in Nazareth, sanctified family life and showed us the way to holiness through the family, even today! Did not the Gospel of Luke tell us that with Mary and Joseph, Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man?” Did he not teach us: “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his [soul]?” Jesus is the Way when we have become lost in the political hype. He is the Truth when we have bought the lies of the evil one. And He is the Life when we have fallen to his temptations. In Jesus Christ we are secure and can exclaim with our psalm today “For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods. For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the LORD made the heavens. The LORD is king, he governs the peoples with equity.”

God's Word after the election

God's Word to us, on the day after the election, from today's first reading at Mass:
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life

--from Phil 2:12-18

And I was struck by a couple lines in the Gospel:
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.

In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

-- from Lk 14:25-33

Finally, I was encouraged by one of the intercessions at Evening Prayer today:
[God,] Be mindful of those who devote themselves to the service of their brothers,
do not let them be deterred from their goals by discouraging results or lack of support.
-- May your people praise you, Lord.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Caesar 2.0

A couple weeks ago, I posted my homily for the 29th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year A. The readings included the popular dictum, "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." Rather than post a homily for this weekend's readings for All Soul's Day, which I was looking forward to, Fr. Terry asked me to prepare for the 3 year cycle phenomenon. Each year - A, B, or C - has a different schedule of Sunday Mass readings. Combined with the 2 year cycle of daily Mass readings, all four gospels are read every year (and after three years most of the whole Bible is read). The first time you preach on a particular reading you may pick the most obvious explanation... but what about the next year when it comes around again? Ideally, you can't just recycle the old homily, you gotta think of a different approach. So here's my second homily on what I'm affectionately calling "The Caesar readings"

In St. Matthew’s Gospel, a little before our Gospel reading today, Jesus stumped the Pharisees when he asked them where John the Baptist’s authority comes from. They answered cowardly, “we don’t know” and our Lord taught them The Parable of the Two Sons. Since then with each parable the Pharisees have been increasing in anger toward Jesus. Now they decide to return the favor. They “went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.”

Their plan seemed fool-proof. First, in an act of false humility, they compliment our Lord’s truthfulness and his disregard for opinion or status. Then, they ask him “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” They figured that if he said “Yes,” then they could discredit him among the Jews as one who advocated Roman rule. But, if he said “No,” then they could report him to the Romans for inciting anti-taxation sentiments. He answered not “Yes” or “No”, but this: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” This was much more profound then the Pharisees expected: “When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away.”

What did Jesus mean by this? Because this passage could be easily misunderstood, let’s look at what Jesus is not saying. He is not saying, “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” on one hand, and repay “to God what belongs to God” on the other hand. Jesus is not teaching us the separation of church and state here. The simple word “and” between the two phrases tells us that they should be read together as one. Let us be on the look out for those who would use this passage to advocate the divorce of faith from the public square. Faith and Science, Church and State, are distinct, but should never be separate. Therefore we must pray that more Catholics – who are faithful to Church Teaching – will enter into politics. A Catholic’s faith should inform every aspect of his life, from the home, to the bedroom, to the office, to the voting booth, to the floor of the Senate, and the Oval Office. If we only allow faith to impact the comfortable areas of our life – mass on Sunday, conversations with the pastor, religion class, etc – and not the areas of our life that challenge us, then what is the sense in having faith at all? Our Lord does not want lookwarmness, he wants a faith that is complete and alive. Being personally opposed to sin but supporting it for others is not real faith, it’s a cop-out. Pope John Paul I only reigned for 33 days but still had much wisdom in this regard:

In this same society there is a terrible moral and religious void, he wrote, Today all seem frantically directed toward material conquests: make money, invest, surround oneself with new comforts, live the ‘good life’. Few think also of ‘doing good.’ God – who should fill our life – has, on the contrary, become a very distant star, to which people look only at certain moments. People believe they are religious because they go to church; but outside of church they want to lead the same life as many others, marked by small or big deceits, acts of injustice, sins against charity; and thus they totally lack coherence.

We must pray for a society in which faithful citizenship can harmoniously repay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

But, remember, the Pharisees in our Gospel only asked Jesus about Caesar, why did he add the bit about God? I think Jesus is also teaching us here about the religious dimension of man. It is true what Aristotle taught us: “Man is by nature a political animal,” – it is natural for him to be social, to form partnerships, to form cities. But his whole being is not exhausted by his dealings with the cities, his politics. No, human beings have an immortal soul and have God’s law imprinted on their hearts. This soul, nurtured by faith, hope, and love, should inform all that a citizen does, thus making him a faithful citizen. This is why Jesus added the words, repay “to God what belongs to God”. Obedience to civic duties is the responsibility of all who follow Christ as long as these do not conflict with our duties to God. If they do then God’s law wins out in the end. But, when they are in harmony, one’s attention to his civic duties can be a path to holiness.

The Second Vatican Council taught us that:
The laity accomplish the Church’s mission in the world principally by [blending conduct and faith] which makes them the light of the world; [by uprightness in dealings which is an incentive for others] to love the true and the good and which is capable of inducing [them] at last to go to Christ and the Church; by that fraternal charity [which prepares all hearts] for the action of saving grace; [and by personal responsibility] in the development of society, which drives them on to perform their family, social, and professional duties with Christian generosity.

We must realize that our faith has much to bring to the world, to science and to politics. Faith is not an obstacle to the fullest realization of these things, but rather must serve as their guide. Science and technology, guided by faith, recognize the rights of all human beings from the moment of conception; recognize the horror of human cloning and embryonic stem cell research; and recognize that the inherent dignity of our elderly brothers and sisters is not found in the integrity of their biological systems or their functionality, but in their simply being human. Only this type of science can be truly progressive and reach its fullest potential. Science unguided by faith falls into mere ideology, a dominating, ravenous, caricature of what it was meant to be.

Politics, guided by faith, recognizes that marriage, by definition, is between one man and one woman, and this, coupled with its unbreakable bond, guarantees the health of society: it is in the state’s best interest to protect the integrity of marriage, of the family, of the upbringing of children, of Christian education, etc. A Catholic with a well-formed conscience can do much for the common good! But, a society with politics unguided by faith is “at the mercy of aggressive elements and prey to a gradual dehumanization.” Thus we have a society in which the death of 4000 human beings to surgical abortion each day is lauded as freedom and equality; and the destruction of human embryos, tiny human beings, for unsuccessful medical treatments is advanced for political gain rather than real cures. In the Presidential election, only a couple days away, remember that a vote is a political act but it is also a moral act with moral implications.

In the period of silence after this homily, let us examine ourselves and where we stand with these principles. What have we done to bring our Catholic faith to bear on the common good? Are we proud of our faith in some areas, with some people, but reject it in others? Have we abused the gifts of science and technology in our own lives or damaged the larger common good through internet addiction, artificial insemination, contraception, or even abortion? Have we elevated our politics over our faith and become consumed with issues not concerning faith and life themselves but our comforts, our investments, our possessions? If we have done these things, my brothers and sisters, let us be assured that there is hope. This hope lies not in our vote or our candidate but in Jesus Christ. Our Lord, by being born of a family in Nazareth, sanctified family life and showed us the way to holiness through the family, even today! Did not the Gospel of Luke tell us that with Mary and Joseph, Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man?” Did he not teach us: “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his [soul]?” Jesus is the Way when we have become lost in the political hype. He is the Truth when we have bought the lies of the evil one. And He is the Life when we have fallen to his temptations. In Jesus Christ we are secure and can exclaim with our psalm today “For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods. For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the LORD made the heavens. The LORD is king, he governs the peoples with equity.”

Abp. Kurtz on YouTube Defending Marriage

I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the USCCB's website today and saw a press release for a YouTube video my Archbishop has made defending the traditional definition of marriage. Archbishop Kurtz is the chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage: