17 February 2013

On Homilies that Are Preached Right at Me

I didn't expect myself to interrupt my Vatican II series so soon, but I really have to share an awesome homily  I heard today.  (Plus, we'll just overlook the fact that I haven't read any of Sacrosanctum Concilium yet...oh, the joys of moving in less than a week.)

The sermon was on the gospel in the Extraordinary Form today (which bore a striking resemblance to the gospel in the Ordinary Form today, as Matthew's and Luke's accounts of Jesus' temptation in the desert are very similar).  Father preached on the temptation of power offered to Jesus by the devil in this passage (pointing out that Venerable Fulton Sheen once remarked that the most frightening words in all of Holy Scripture are the devil saying that all the kingdoms and powers of the earth belong to him).  While recognizing that many good and holy people go about their daily work in politics, entertainment, academia, etc., the fact remains that Satan is the prince of this world (and is identified as such by Jesus) and ultimately has a high degree of control over worldly institutions.

From here, he began speaking directly to me, as priests often do when I need to hear something.  He lambasted the tendency among faithful Catholics of a more traditionalist stripe to disengage from the world and become what he called the "Catholic Amish" by cutting off almost all contact with the world and preventing their children from ever engaging the culture around them.  This is certainly a temptation I have on a very regular basis -- I really would love to move out to the middle of nowhere and not have to deal with any of the ways in which our world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Father went on to say that Satan's greatest weapons are not evil persons or organizations -- his greatest weapon is indifference, which brings to mind one of my favorite sayings: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  (It turns out that this cannot be verified as a quotation from any of Edmund Burke's writings.  Interesting.)  If those of us who strive to be faithful followers of Jesus tacitly accept the evil around us, what more does Satan need?

But the faithful Catholic must choose neither withdrawal nor indifference.  We must engage the world around us, as so many saints have done before us.  Out great joy is that we do so knowing that the battle is already won, as Our Lord has promised.  But Satan can even use this knowledge against us if we are tempted toward indifference.  We must be ever vigilant -- after all, we are the Church Militant, not the Church Passive.

I'll close with a great passage from the aforementioned Venerable Fulton Sheen:

Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it. 
It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin.
The cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth. 
It forgives the sinner, and it hates the sin; it is unmerciful to the error in his mind. 
The sinner it will always take back into the bosom of the Mystical Body; but his lie will never be taken into the treasury of His Wisdom. 
Real love involves real hatred: whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the buyers and sellers from the temples has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth. 
Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of "live and let live"; it is not a species of sloppy sentiment. 
Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God, which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly.

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