Taking Seriously God's Call to Holiness

09-02-2018HomiliesDeacon Chris Kellogg

As we think about our readings today let us ask ourselves: “Have I taken seriously God’s call to holiness in my life? Do I honor God with my lips, but my heart is far from Him? Am I lukewarm when it comes to living out my Catholic faith?”

God made the human heart to reflect the divine heart. The purpose of the biblical law was to train the human heart in divine wisdom, to motivate it to respond as God’s own heart responds. The law of Moses, the Ten Commandments are a gift to us from God, engraved in our hearts to help us become like the divine. For God says, “Be holy for I the Lord your God am Holy.” How do we achieve this goal? Through the life of the Catholic Church and by committing ourselves more deeply to living out our faith.

Last week, we heard Father Chad preach on the sex abuse scandal in the Church. Some Catholics have said they can no longer see anyone joining the Catholic Church because of such bad leadership. They lamented about the difficulty this presents for evangelization. As Catholics we understand that Jesus chose to exercise his leadership through His Catholic Church. We know that when Jesus gave St. Peter the job of watching over the Church, that he was establishing the papacy. And when Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church he was referring to his promise to use the papacy to protect the integrity and vitality of the Church until the end of time. This is why we obey the official teaching of the Catholic Church on issues of faith and morals, because the teaching is an extension of Christ’s own teaching. Jesus is the one who established the Catholic Church. He is the one who has chosen to continue his presence and mission on earth through the teachings and ministry of the Church in spite of the flaws of some of its leaders. To follow Jesus faithfully, his commandments and his truth, means to follow the Catholic Church faithfully.

Father William Casey of the Fathers of Mercy spoke about lukewarm Catholicism during the 2002 sex abuse scandal as “the scourge upon the Church and the ruin of souls.” What he said remains true today. He would apply being lukewarm not only to the priests involved in sexual abuse but also to you and me for not being more committed in living out our faith. He would say how priests who committed acts of child abuse had long ago rejected True Catholicism, had long ago bought into the mind-set of the sexual revolution. That they failed to hold true to the Church’s timeless teaching of the sanctity of marriage, of human life and sexuality. When we fail to live by the truth, then self-satisfaction takes precedence over God’s Law, over life itself.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the lay faithful have the right, the absolute right to expect and demand not only sound doctrine but also a good example on the part of the clergy and Church leaders. And if they don’t get it they also have the right to press for the reform and the removal of corrupt elements. If we don’t do this, then we deserve what we get. God will punish both the men who do evil and the good that do nothing to stop the evil.

Father Casey would describe how lukewarm Catholicism is a fatal disease. It leads to a paralysis of faith and the ruin of souls. In this regard let us look at our own lives and see if we are guilty of being lukewarm. Let us ask ourselves is God the priority in my own life and in my families’ life? Does the best of my time, talents and energy always seem to be spent on the chase after more money, more material possessions, more honors or recognition? Is my daily life characterized by spiritual laziness, spending most of my time in front of a TV or computer and little or no time doing spiritual reading or spending time in prayer? Am I silent in the face of sin? Let’s say I know a couple having sexual relations outside of marriage. Do I choose to say nothing and let them remain in a mortally sinful relationship or do I explain to them the teachings of the church and that such a relationship is morally wrong and is actually harmful to their relationship? And why would you say something? Because part of our responsibility as faithful Catholics is to help lead souls to heaven for Christ. We need to do our part to help souls not remain in mortal sin when we can.
Now is the time to rebuild our Church. Every man and woman who loves the Church must do everything in his or her power to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit where it has been snuffed out by lukewarm Catholicism. Christ said, I came to cast a fire upon the earth and long to see that flame enkindled. Are you/am I going to help light that fire?

What are we to do at this time of scandal in the Church? Remember it is okay to be angry, it’s right and necessary to make your views known. But now is also the time to fight for the Church. You fight because you believe in the Church, because you love the Church and you realize, despite this terrible blight, it is worth fighting for. We are not Catholic because of the moral excellence of our leaders. We are Catholics because of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. We are Catholics because of the Trinitarian love of God. We are Catholics because of the sacraments. Especially because of the Eucharist. We are Catholics because of our Blessed Mother. We are Catholics because of the Saints.  Even as leaders in the Church fail morally, the Catholic Church remains the Mystical Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. And she is worth fighting for.

How do we fight? What do we do?

  1. We need to pray for the Pope and our leaders that God may give them the wisdom and courage to deal with the root of the rot and bring about a real renewal of holiness and evangelization in the church. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI wrote the Church will have to become smaller and more purified before it can again be a light to the world. The Church is now going through a radical purification under the chastising hand of God.
  2. We need to live each day in a way pleasing to God, loving Him and loving our neighbor. We need to look at ourselves lest we fall into sin.
  3. We need to remember that the Catholic Church is indeed founded by Christ and despite all its problems has within it the fullness of the means of salvation. Where else can we go? Nowhere. This is indeed our Mother and Home. She needs our love, our prayer and our persevering in the way of holiness more than ever.
  4. Jesus is our treasure. In the Mass He remains willing to come to us in a special way. Let us attend Mass more frequently to offer the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection to God the Father, for the salvation of souls and the purification of the Church.
  5. We need to remember that there are many holy and dedicated bishops and priests and we must pray for them and support them. They need and deserve our support. Let us thank them for every Mass they have ever said, for every confession they have ever heard.
  6. Let us remember that all of this is happening under the providence of God and He has a plan to bring good out of it. (7) Let us heed the appeals of Our Lady of Fatima. Indeed, as Mary said, “Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”

As we get ready to receive Jesus in the Eucharist let us continue to pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and as reparation for sin, and let us pray the rosary daily as Mary requested, for peace in the world and for true renewal in the Church. God said to the Prophet Jeremiah, “Cursed are those who do the work of the Lord half-heartedly.” If you say you love the Church then stand up and speak up and do everything in your power to defend her.