Monday, February 6, 2012

Priests Preaching the Truth

Perhaps a silver lining in that dark cloud of the HSS mandate is the possibility that priests are starting to feel emboldened and encouraged to speak the truth with regard to artificial contraception (and, hopefully, other issues)!

Here is one of the most uplifting and encouraging Face Book status posts I’ve seen in a long time (my emphases):

Seriously the best homily today. Fr. Vietor preached on the sinfulness of contraception, in a straightforward yet loving way. No minced words. And challenged those women who use it to throw away their pills today, or get rid of their contraceptive devices. And he told the men: "Stop using your wives." It was powerful! He also analyzed this culture of instant gratification, and how far reaching the damage is, infecting every part of our lives and our nation. It was incredible!

This was from Leila Habra Miller of Little Catholic Bubble; she lives in a diocese which also has a fine upstanding bishop: Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix.

I think I’ve mentioned before that in ten years as a Catholic, I have never once heard the sinfulness of contraception preached from the pulpit, nor taught in any meaningful way in the parish. It was pretty clear to me from early on that this was the elephant in the living room of Catholic “polite” community. 

I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper (see that story here), and I tried to hammer home the fact that contraception is immoral. A friend emailed me after reading the letter and told me

I felt it pushed the contraceptive agenda etc. of the Church too much and didn't address the issue of governmental interference in our religious liberties enough…We will not stop OCare by spreading our doctrine, it is a turn-off to most people, we are not out to make converts but we ARE trying to make sure our U.S. Constitution is protected…But if we jam the front with everything we believe and the same old rhetoric we will turn off the non-Catholics…

I think she’s wrong. It's more of an issue to mess with God's plan for procreation than it is to violate religious liberties. The bishops should be mentioning first and foremost that contraception is a grave sin, an affront to God, and therefore intolerable (just like abortion and euthanasia and assisted suicide), and that therefore it is an affront to religious liberty to force the Church to comply with the HSS mandate.

The Church teaches what it does about contraception because that is the Truth, not because it's the Church's "agenda"! Until Catholics understand that, we will continue to go downhill liturgically, morally, and every other way. As long as we say, "Well, that's what I believe" instead of "Well, that's the Truth, with a capital T!" then we are simply modernists who don't truly believe all that the Church teaches. And if we don't believe it all, if we think our own opinion is what the issue turns on, then we might as well become Protestants. I've been there, done that. I prefer the Truth.

For an excellent commentary along these lines, read Louie Verrecchio’s article “Just Imagine”, in which he compares the bishops’ reaction to the contraception mandate to what we might imagine would be their reaction to a similar mandate for “end of life services” like assisted suicide and euthanasia. He points out that in the latter case, the bishops would likely focus on the immorality of the acts, not the religious freedom to resist them. He writes:

I mean, after all, these acts are intrinsically evil no matter who does them; in other words, they're an offense against Almighty God and a violation of Divine Law in all cases, and so any bishop worth his salt would be certain to make this the centerpiece of his message, wouldn't he?

That’s not been the case with the HSS mandate, but it should be. That’s got to change. Verrecchio continues:

The disordered episcopal priorities that are so plainly evident in the current HHS mandate debacle are nothing new. In fact, they’re so old that one can reasonably assume that the majority of Catholics in the United States today consider free sterilization and contraception less as an affront against God than as a welcome gift.

It is in this climate that the American bishops are now trying to rally the troops by asking the very same people they failed to form in the faith to join them in battling the gift horse. That should go well.

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that most of the 54% of self-identified “Catholics” who voted for Obama won’t be beating down the door to fall in line, and given the contracepting tendencies of the other 46% I wouldn’t bet the farm on the majority of them either.

Read the whole article here.

And maybe things are changing! Hope springs eternal! Leila Miller’s pastor is a case in point: if he can do it, others will, too! And besides that, it is my contention that there are plenty of people out there who want to hear the Truth. They crave it.

A few weeks ago, another priest in another diocese in another state also preached the truth. He’s reluctant to have me name him, because he says he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary: he just preached the truth. But, sadly, this is out of the ordinary.

The particular priest preached against the evil of homosexual “marriage”. He did so by telling the people what the Church teaches from Scripture and from the Catechism. And he was surprised that his remarks were met with…wait for it…

…no, not catcalls and boo-ing…

…but applause and a standing ovation.

Now, I am not a fan of applause at Mass, and this priest was also uncomfortable with it. But I think that every now and then, such spontaneous applause does happen and is a result of the people’s hearts – and consciences – being touched by the preaching of the Truth.

People do respond to the Truth. And many of them will respond in a positive manner.

They are hungry for the Truth.

I am hungry for the Truth.

Are you?

Tell your priest.


  1. Bravo! In Massachusetts, arguably the most liberal state in the nation, our bishop wrote a smack-down "we CANNOT comply" letter for all pastors to read at Mass. It was awesome. My husband had to hold me down because I almost cheered. In MA? In M-A.

    I agree with you too. This is secondarily about religious freedom. It's primarily about why the religion is right about the basic freedom to live.

    And I think Obama is lower than a pregnant chigger. OK, what he's doing is that low.

  2. Here in CT a letter was read from the pulpit and then our priest gave a really good homily on all the grave evils that undermine marriage...and it wasn't his 1st homily on the subject!!! Last month I hugged our deacon after his compassionate but stirring homily about abortion. I thank God I'm able to cling to an island of unabashed orthodoxy in such a sadly CINO state. MAy God bless and protect our brave homilists who speak His Truth!!!

  3. It is VERY encouraging to me to hear this kind of news! I'm glad more priests are finding their voices.

  4. I think your friend who emailed you is wrong. In the first place, we ARE out to convert people: that was our mission statement from Jesus Himself, not to be improved upon by any bureaucratic parish committee: go out and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Our business is not to try to create heaven on earth, but to view temporal problems in the light of eternity. Only then will we find viable solutions.

    In the second place, if we do not speak the truth about contraceptives, then how are we going to get anybody to see why this HHS mandate is a big deal? That governments would make contraceptives and sterilization compulsory was one of the results that Paul VI predicted would come of the widespread acceptance of contraceptives

  5. "...lower than a pregnant chigger.." Now that right there sounds like Texas talk! :)


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