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Faith and Truth Homily

Fr. Walter J. Quinn, O.S.A.

5th Sunday of Easter
St. Pius X, Broomall, PA
9:00AM, April 24, 2005

Faith is being denied and Truth is being twisted in every part of the world. There is a pressing need to take a close look at Faith and Truth as affected and defined by freedom and tolerance, conscience and obedience.

From the Prayer of today’s Mass we hear cry so well known to human eyes and ears: "Give us true freedom." This is the daily message on TV and newspapers. We see and hear it rise from college campuses and from all those Nations who, in recent decades, have overthrown godless Fascism, Nazism, Communism and Totalitarianism.

In the mid 70s you may recall a weekly TV Program with a police and detective theme: "The Hill Street Blues." It began by saying to the Officers as they left the Station House for daily work: "Be Careful Out There." How true these words still are today, especially as regards the gift of Faith.

Today’s good, true, loyal son and daughter of the Church needs to have a clear awareness of what God wants and even commands rather than allowing standards, norms, errors and foolish whims of the world to mix one up! We need to be careful out there!

There are a great many things out there: places, principles, ideas and persons that can cause us to trip, fall and fail. Much of this happens under the banner of freedom and tolerance, conscience, mercy and compassion. Many want freedom from any outward authority, rules and constraint so that the individual self becomes subjectively supreme. This is now the dominant ideology in the Western world.

Many people, Catholics included, have fallen into this mistaken notion of Faith and Religion. This begins to happen when one begins to slide, (and slide is a good word), into an overly personalized, or better yet, a subjective approach to God and Religion, Truth, Reality, Church Teachings and Morality itself.

God gave His Church Pope John Paul II because of the world wide attack, assault and war against truth and Faith which came from the East: godless Communism and the Cold War. Now He has given us Pope Benedict XVI because the very same attack, assault and war upon truth and Faith continues in the world of the West. Pope Benedict XV spent much of his papacy trying in vein to bring peace and an end to WW I. Names are important! Our new Pope chose the name Benedict for he too wants to restore peace, the Peace of Christ, to the whole world. So peace is and must be at the center of all, not the individual self.

All need to listen to the will of God, the Faith of which is expressed through His Teaching Church and His Vicar on earth. As Scriptures says, we should not build the house of our Faith response on the shaky sandy ground of personal opinion, feelings and emotion. Like the wise man we build our house on the solid ground of Christ’s Church, against which Christ said the gates of hell will never prevail.

Much of mankind raises its universal voice for Freedom. Man wants to "do his own thing:" to say and do whatever he wants without any authoritative restraint. Many restless young people want to be free of parental dominance. There have been clergy & religious critical of Church Teachings, and of the Holy See, and of the Pope, and of their Communities so they can be free of their vows Many on the street demand their rights. Countless numbers have demonstrated with uncontrollable riots injuring life, limb and property sparing not even President or Pope!

Oh, how Obedience is needed in the Civil, Ecclesiastical and Spiritual realm! Are these acts justified? Are they criminal, sinful? We do know there are some religious groups, (Islamic extremists and Terrorists), that encourage them. Pope John Paul II said "Violence begets violence" and the Catholic Church has long since condemned violence, for the "end never justifies the means." We may never use an evil means to seek a good end or purpose. No person or Government agency can murder the Terri Schiavo's by starvation for reasons of Mercy and Compassion to put any Terri Schiavo out of her misery just because some think she wouldn't have wanted to continue to live a disabled life. To do so is plain simple premeditated murder!

For every Human person, freedom means the right to do what is morally right, knowing that man, as a rational being, is not free to do whatever he pleases. Man owes everything, his very life, his continued existence, his eternal salvation to God's goodness, mercy, power and omnipotence.

Therefore, man owes God worship. He owes God his service. He owes Him love. The way this is to be done has been spelled out for us by Christ Himself. He said: "If you love Me keep my commandments. Then you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Thus, anyone who knowingly and willingly acts contrary to God's Commandments and Will commits sin. St John the Apostle said, "everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin." (John 8:28) And so the habitual sinner is not free at all. St John clearly says, "he is the slave of sin."

To have Liberty or Freedom does not mean indifference to God, nor does it mean sedition against God. Freedom of conscience does not mean freedom to worship God, or not to worship God. Nor does it mean we are free to decide whether or not to obey God’s Commandments, nor whether a Catholic is free to accept or reject, or to reinterpret Church Teachings according to one’s own conscience. To do so is NOT freedom at all! It is actually subjective stupidity born of stubborn pride. We can label it for what it really is: spiritual treason, rebellion. This same "non-serviam" began in the Garden of Eden. It is called sin!

What then becomes of freedom of conscience? Does not the Church teach that one must always follow the dictates of conscience? The answer is yes, but it is a qualified yes. For the Church places responsibility for forming a right or correct conscience upon the individual. Human conscience can err, and it does err whenever it does not conform to God’s Law.

Pope Paul VI on February 2, 1968 said: "it is an erroneous opinion that personal conscience has a primary role, or that personal liberty should be so exalted that it questions even the voice of the Church itself in matters of Faith and morals."

Vatican II clearly and explicitly states that "Freedom of conscience does not mean that I have a right to do what my conscience tells me to do simply because my conscience tells me to do it. Its particular peril is Subjectivism - the idea that in the end it is my conscience and not objective truth that determines what is right or wrong true or false." (Vatican II, Document on Religious Freedom #2 fn.)

"All are bound by the moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth." (Vatican II, Document on Religious Freedom # 2)

We can see how important truth & reality really are if we are to live good and happy lives. Every moral judgment to be right and correct must conform to the truth. Christ said, "I am the way and the truth and the life." The way to heaven, truth for our minds, and the life of Grace for our souls. He also said: "No one comes to the Father, that is no one gets to heaven except thru Me." (John: 14:1-12.) Christ gave to His Church the right, the power and the authority to proclaim the truth of God’s Word.

Man’s Conscience is free only when it conforms to the Will of God and is not in conflict with what Christ teaches through His Teaching Church. Christ’s Church has obligation to teach and to preserve the whole truth of Divine Revelation, of the Scriptures and of Oral Tradition and not to change Christ's teachings because of popular opinion, fads, or political pressure.

Another beloved Pope: JOHN XXIII summed it all up: "The keystone of the spiritual life is this: To do not my own will, but God’s, and to be habitually disposed to accept anything at all, however repugnant to my feelings and pride." Many today ridicule such a statement. We are seeing this right now everyday in the secular Media over our new Pope! At the end of his life Pope John XXIII stated that he would be prouder of this title than any other "that I was a simple Priest of lively Faith solidly behind the Pope, even in matters not yet officially defined." So don’t be fooled, be careful out there!

The confusion in the minds of many today is due in no small measure to the fact that each Individual person can make up his/her own truth and reality, so says Situation Ethics, or Relativism. According to this present day approach there are no Absolutes and so truth can change according to time, person, place, or situation.

However, truth cannot be made up within one’s own mind. The reason is quite simple. For what was true, was true before any single person ever came into existence. And it will be true long after one is dead and gone! Truth is to be found in the Creator, not within one’s own mind. 2 plus 2 equals 4. It was 4 before you were born and it will always be 4. The answer has nothing to do whether you understand it, enjoy it, like it or think it should be so! Truth has an objective reality, and its existence or validity has nothing to do with one’s subjective judgment, understanding or approval.

Therefore no one can create his/her own truth. But this is exactly what the US Supreme Court has already codified into American Law in Planned Parenthood v Casey, 1992 where the Court declared: "at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of life." Such a statement is incredible!

The day before he was elected Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger cited the "Dictatorship of Relativism." The secular media went wild, for they know now that the basic, fundamental teachings of the Church will not be changed! Catholics bent on changing Church doctrine know that the cafeteria is closed! Benedict XVI refers to the worldwide effort to make truth and reality flexible, fluid and relative, which really is an assault, a war on Faith. Relativism destroys Truth and eventually Faith and all levels of society.

All the Popes have said that the greatest evil in the world today is the loss of the sense of sin, which brings with it ridicule, denial and disrespect for the very concept of authority in the Church. Great Statesmen have said that the greatest evil in the State is disregard for its laws, the inevitable consequence of which is the dissolution of the State itself.

But Christ did give us a remedy and a cure when He said; "Learn of Me for I am meek and humble of heart." He taught us how to pray and to forgive and to mean it when we pray the Our Father, and again, "Not my will but yours be done."

In striving for the conquest of human rights, the world would do well to remember that it should not scorn but rather uphold respect for civil and ecclesiastical authority and our cherished institutions and not ridicule but preserve Obedience, for Obedience is a virtue not a vice.

But for all of this the world needs more humility, but humility is NOT the way of the world, but it is the way of Christ! So don’t be fooled...be careful out there!

 

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