Saturday, March 25, 2006

There is a remedy (Sunday homily)

The first reading is very sobering:
God sent prophets to warn them,
but "they despised his warnings,"
things got worse,

"until there was no remedy."

Do you ever feel that way

about our culture? I do.

Our culture is so me-centered,
that the truth, when it is demanding of us,
gets pushed aside because

"that makes me feel bad!"

That’s what they told the prophets:
"Don’t say that! That makes me feel bad!"

There are serious wounds in our society.
I think of the huge tragedy of divorce.

Every individual situation is different;
no judgment here:

many try to avoid it, and they can’t.

But look at the larger picture:
we know something is wrong.

Clearly, when adults fail

to keep their grownup issues
between themselves,

something is wrong.

No child should have to hear
one of his parents

running down the other.
No excuse for grownups to put their needs
ahead of the children

they brought into the world.
So when a grownup says,

"I need someone new"…

Sometimes what we face

is bigger than the individual;
there’s a social dimension to sin,
and we can feel powerless before it.

But we are not powerless;
as Christians we must be bold,

in the Holy Spirit,
in challenging each another,

and our society, to conversion.

Before I move on,

let me make two quick points.

First: reconciliation and healing
for troubled marriages is possible.
Don’t give up!
I listed some resources in the bulletin;
call me if I can help.

Second: there’s a false idea I need to correct.

Obviously the Church

doesn’t approve of divorce,
no one does!; but simply getting a divorce
does NOT put anyone outside the Church!

If there’s a new marriage?

That complicates things.

A court of law has no power
to dissolve a sacrament brought about

by the Holy Spirit.
So if there’s new marriage,

we can talk one-on-one.

But a civil divorce, by itself,
does not mean
someone can no longer come to communion.
Anyone in that situation:

come to confession, be at peace.

The first reading said they came to a point
where "there was no remedy."

Thank God, you and I have a remedy:
Jesus Christ and His Cross!

When Jesus embraced his Cross,
He showed—and led the way to—
the transformation that can heal us.

It is called "dying to self."
It is a hard medicine to take;
it’s far easier to leave it on the shelf.

Nobody likes it; but nothing else works!

Our Lord just told us,
choosing Him, accepting his Cross,
following him in dying to self—
means we won’t "perish,"
but through Him we "have eternal life."
It’s a paradox, but we know its true:
We perish when we try to avoid the Cross!

Embracing the Cross

brings us Resurrection!

New life out of—

and more powerful than—
the fractured, wounded reality

we all know too well.

With or without Christ,

we’d still face the Cross!
With him, we need not face it alone;
With him, the Cross means, not death,
but through dying to self, brings Life!

Lent is our opportunity

to choose his Cross,
in a deeper way, everyday.

If your Lent hasn’t been so good?
There’s a remedy: Choose Him, today.


Deacon Jim said...

Good flow, tough points.

The only 'hot button' line I saw was the one about 'no judgment here'

The Church is, after all, in the position to provide judgment as to whether right or wrong has been done.

I think it might have been better to work from the following points:

1. Don't do it. Come see us.
2. If you have to, have already, or must, then here are the rules:

-Don't date
-Don't move on with your life
-Live chastely as you are still married
-Do this and there is no impediment to receiving the Sacraments
-Come see us regarding dissolution.

3. If dissolved, you can date, move on and get married again if God offers you that opportunity.

That keeps it clear and consistent with teaching. While the homily was pretty clear, these tough points need clear unambiguous treatment. People in the midst of these terrible events are vulnerable, sometimes seeking healing that, in the absence of clear teaching, supplies self serving answers.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Deacon --

Thanks for your feedback!

I agree that the Church may make a judgment; the idea I was trying to convey was that I was not making sweeping judgments in my homily.

I may be wrong, but I sense that when a homilist brings up something like this subject, or contraception, or abortion, or homosexuality, everyone stiffens; so when I broach these subjects, I try to transition to it, and "unstiffen" folks a little, because I want them to listen and consider, what I'm saying, rather than simply shut it out.

Of course, it could be not the congregation's discomfort I sense, but my own!

I certainly agree there's more to be said on the subject, and your points are good. I hope to get back to it (this isn't the first time I've said something about staying married).

I wrestled with even bringing up divorce, which had no intrinsic connection to the readings, but seemed a weighty issue confronting our society.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Fox:
New reader to your blog. I had to write after reading your homily. Just the mere fact that you addressed these issues is astouding to me. I admire your courage to "teach" our faith. Unfortunately I've been at a couple of parishes (my current one included) where there isn't so much as a remembrance of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Nothing ever spoken about contraception nor divorce. Frankly, I cannot remember one homily, even from childhood, that addressed divorce/contraception. I do pray for my priest, and all priests, but just once if I could hear a homily at my home parish that even slightly resembles one of yours, I would be content. And it is not for lack of trying, I've actually went so far as to write our pastor a note this year regarding the fact that there was no mention of anything pro-life on "Respect Life Sunday" (a couple months back). In it I stressed that hearing it from the pulpit makes such an impact, even if he thinks all Catholics should *know* this stuff. I didn't expect a reply, and I wasn't disappointed. Sorry to go on...but amazingly enough, I have currently been asked just to post a notice about a few pro-life speakers in our area and would asked if I would be willing to ask our priest if we could put the notices up around the Church. I know it's wrong, but I even hesitate to ask him because of his ambivalence. Thanks again for your witness. Just to give you an idea of where I am, I'm "up north"...Lakewood, Oh.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I would say, just try to stay positive, and be encouraging to your pastor. Of course, keep praying for him. Maybe he will respond, in time. I hate to be cynical, but if nothing else, it may help him not get worse!