Summary: With the Church under attack, what must we do?

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33rd Sunday in Course 2013

You Will be Hated by All But Not a Hair of Your Head Will Perish

It was a cool November morning and the Catholics of San Antonio were riding high. Our first Catholic president, who had a year ago faced down the mighty Soviet empire over ballistic missiles in Cuba, was coming to town. The Second Vatican Council was in session, and the rumor was that the new Pope, Paul VI, was about to issue its first document, on the Liturgy, and that we would have the Mass in English soon afterwards. Missionary spirit was high. The seminaries were filling; the novitiates of religious orders were crammed. As our high school jammed ninth street to go over to Broadway to see John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie in their convertible, confidence was high. This was the Catholic moment.

Twenty-four hours later, I was taking a physics test when the announcement came over the school’s PA system that President Kennedy was dead and Governor Connolly was in grave condition. In the years that followed, controversy over the Vietnam War, the implementation of the Council’s documents, and a wholesale abandonment of religious and priestly vocations tore the U.S. Church to ribbons. We have learned that our only Catholic president was no saint. The Catholic marriage rate, and birth rate all over the world has plummeted, so that in this parish, and in many others, we already have more funerals than baptisms. It has been said that Franklin Roosevelt would interrupt any meeting to take a phone call from the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. Today politicians are emboldened to create a mandatory health insurance plan that would force Catholic business owners and charities to pay for sterilizing their employees and murdering their babies. The Catholic Church in this country is in greater peril than it has been since the days of the Know-Nothings, the Blaine Amendments, and the Ku Klux Klan.

I’m not going to spend much time recalling what we all know to be true–that U.S. Catholics have brought a lot of this trouble upon ourselves. Over the past fifty years we have as individuals and families literally swallowed whole everything the culture has offered us for our self-gratification: the birth control pill, abortion, no-fault divorce, in-vitro fertilization, on-line pornography and now even inconceivable alterations of the natural law. OK. We get it. We messed up and are paying a terrible price, one that our children and grandchildren will inherit. Now, Lord, will you get us out of it, please?

Jesus is, as Malachi promised, the sun of righteousness, who rose from the dead with healing in His wings. At His first appearance, He prophesied that just as He was persecuted because of His preaching of justice, because of His forgiveness of sinners, so will His disciples be. Catholics do not handle success very well. We never have. We start thinking that we must be terrific when we succeed, and when we are popular with the culture. We forget our mission. The Lord allows troubles to come to His Bride for the reason He gives here: This will be a time for you to bear testimony. We have seen quite a bit of that modern testimony in the past two years. For example, the EWTN network–not to be confused with ESPN–has sued the federal government for continuing, in their words, “ to make the erroneous assertion that contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are health care. They are not.” This courageous stance taken by them and many other Catholic businesses and ministries is a kind of bearing testimony.

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