Summary: The word "season" has a double meaning, and both help us to understand our mission.
Feast of St. Dominic 2013
In Season and Out of Season
Today’s saint, Dominic is a giant among men. He illustrates what St. Paul means by preaching the word of God both in and out of season. In his case he preached mostly out of season, resisting the Albigensian heresy. So let me share some thoughts on that phrase, and on the connection with Jesus’s words in the Gospel about salt and light.
In our time the Truth of Christ and the Church has come in and out of fashion. When I was a kid, the most popular show on television (remember that we had just two channels in San Antonio back then) was “Life is Worth Living” with bishop Fulton Sheen. Catholicism, and Christ, were the “in” things. And Sheen, and many others, took full advantage of that popularity. We even got to elect what we thought was a Catholic president, but who really was a closet Freemason who got elected by vowing to ignore his Catholic conscience.
Even during the fifties and sixties, anti-Catholic Protestants and secularists were working hard to keep real Catholicism out of power. Rich oligarchs were funding research and development of what they called a “Catholic contraceptive,” to keep the Catholic birth rate down and prevent a takeover of the government by true Catholic politicians. The result was the contraceptive pill, which did exactly what it was supposed to do. It poisoned Catholic fertility and got Catholics in the habit of not listening to their Catholic consciences. Pope Paul VI warned us not to separate the unitive and procreative ends of marriage, but we did anyway. He warned us that we would get wholesale disrespect for women, abortion, and other perversions of the sacrament of marriage, but we did not listen. The result is a gradual erosion of families all over the world, and the impoverishment of women and children–both economic and spiritual. And those who were supposed to preach the Gospel even out of season, just didn’t do it. Frankly, that’s one of the reasons I sought ordination: to preach the truth about human sexuality and marriage, even when it’s not popular.
The Gospel of Christ is the only real truth about human nature. And it is both light and salt. Consider salt from the perspective of someone living in the Holy Land in the first century. What they used on their food and in their preserving processes was not pure sodium chloride. It was a mixture of salts, some highly soluble and some not so soluble in water. Now sodium chloride never decomposes without a huge input of energy, so it can’t lose its flavor. But the mixture they were using had a component that, if left out in the air, absorbed water and leached out of the mixture. So Holy Land salt changes its flavor, and the result was something they threw out.
So that’s the other meaning of “season.” We season the world by our presence in it–if and only if we make that presence known. We must at all times be willing to express our faith and even defend it. That means being alert to any opening in the conversation we have with others, and carefully bringing the words and actions of Christ to bear. It also means continual study, so that we know the mind of Christ and the Church. Soon I will begin a series of sermons on the new encyclical, The Light of Faith, which is the only such letter written by two Popes. By the grace of God this new document will truly light up the world, if first it lights up us.