Thursday begins our “Fortnight for Freedom,”
which all our bishops have asked us to observe with prayer, fasting and sacrifices.
If you look in the vestibule, or in St. Clare Chapel, you’ll see a chart
showing how many of us have already made some commitment.
All told, we have commitments of thousands of Rosaries,
holy hours and other prayers and sacrifices. Just from Piqua!
The slips are still in the pews for you to make a commitment—
you can either put it in the collection, or take it home and bring it back later.
Again, while the most immediate threat
is the mandate forcing us to include contraception,
sterilization and abortion-causing drugs in our health care plans,
this isn’t the only threat.
More lie ahead.
I’m talking about the efforts to re-define marriage—
and the related issue of redefining
what is normal and healthy in the area of sexual attraction.
In a few minutes, I can’t cover all the issues here.
If you recall, last August, I wrote up a pamphlet
that went through all this, and I put it in the bulletin.
It’s called “What Catholics believe about same sex marriage.”
If you want a copy, call the parish offices this coming week.
So why do we believe what we believe?
Let me make the point with some questions.
Parents: when you were in your teens or 20s,
did you say something like, “when I’m a parent,
I won’t do it the way my mom and dad did?”
You didn’t like your parents’ rules—they were too restrictive,
they didn’t make any sense.
Now that you are parents, how many of you have found yourself back—
at least to some extent—where your parents were?
And I bet your own kids are saying the same things you said—
and you’re saying, “Yes…and you’ll find out.”
Well, if it’s true for you, maybe it’s true for God?
God gives us a path to walk—it’s called “chastity”:
being open to the gift of life, waiting till marriage,
marriage being for life, and marriage being about a man, a woman and a family…
It isn’t an easy path. The alternatives seem harmless.
Maybe the full wisdom of it will only be clear, when we reach the end?
We’re at a point where as Christians,
we are at odds with our culture in this respect.
In fact, we’re at odds with ourselves—we don’t live this all that well.
So either we get laughed at; or we’re called “bigots”
when we insist that the government must not re-define marriage.
Many ask, what’s the harm?
First it harms the truth. The government can change laws,
but it can’t change human nature.
Second, it harms children.
We are designed to grow up with a father and a mother.
Yes, of course it doesn’t always work out.
Single parents make great sacrifices, and thank God they do.
But let’s not kid ourselves and say, it makes no difference—
of course it makes a difference.
So why should we actually plan for children not to have a mother or a father?
This is what happens when you redefine marriage;
you also redefine family as well.
The third harm is to religious freedom.
Let me share some examples:
> Just a few weeks ago, a wedding photographer in New Mexico
was sued because she chose not to take a job involving—
you guessed it—a same-sex wedding.
> In Canada, a Catholic bishop was charged with “human rights violation”—
because he wrote a letter to priests about Catholic teaching on marriage.
> Now, both in Canada and in Britain,
there is talk of denying tax-exempt status to churches
that won’t allow same-sex marriages.
> Finally, already in Massachusetts and in Illinois, Catholic charities
no longer takes part in adoptions
because the law demanded they accept
the government’s re-definition of what a family is.
It’s so tempting to go along with the culture.
Saint Paul said, oh if only we just go be with the Lord!
Yet he added, “we are courageous”!
You and I are like the farmer in the Gospel:
we don’t really know just how things grow.
And even if the farmer does know,
we don’t presume to know
how God’s plans work out over long centuries.
Are you discouraged by this situation? We’ve been here before!
The first Christians faced a society where slavery was normal,
parents could kill children if they were “defective,”
and watching men kill each other was entertainment.
Those first Christians—hated and persecuted—sowed the seed of the Gospel.
And in time, that culture was transformed.
Courage is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Even the bravest heroes in battle feel fear;
but with God’s help, leaning on their comrades, they do what has to be done.
But if we’re going to be courageous witnesses,
we have to know what we believe—and why.
In short, before we can convert our culture, we have to look at ourselves.
Our culture isn’t going to be impressed
with a message we ourselves don’t follow.
Maybe that’s why we’re facing this trial: to prod us to face this question:
Do we really believe this?
Are we prepared to pay a price for what our Faith teaches us?