The Supreme Court—Seriously?

Today the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare.  Many of us, Catholics and nonCatholics alike, have been praying that the court would strike down the law which threatens to undermine our religious freedom.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.  But, there is a bright side here.  While it looks like we’re going to be stuck with the legislation, at least for the time being, we can’t give up the fight to remove the provision that mandates the violation of our First Amendment rights.

What can we do?  Well, for one thing, we must continue to pray.  Bombard heaven with prayers that our elected employees in Washington DC will do the right thing.  If they don’t, then come November, vote to fire them and replace them with men and women who will do the will of the people.  In addition to prayers, let your employees know what you think.  Email them.  Call them.  Confront them in person this summer as they campaign in your area.

This isn’t about health insurance.  It isn’t about “women’s rights”.  Cheap and even free birth control is readily available.  If our employees feel the need to play God using chemicals to play havoc with His plan, fine.  We’d rather they didn’t, but we can’t stop them.  However, we are not going to be forced to pay for something that is so radically against what we believe.  If we do, we will be opening the door to all kinds of religious discrimination, not just against Catholics, but against all people of faith.

We’re being discriminated against because of our good works, which are not limited to just our fellow Catholics.  If our hospitals were to fire all their non-Catholic employees and turn away non-Catholic patients, there would be no problem.  There are other medical procedures that are rejected by some other faith traditions .  For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t allow blood transfusions.  No one is suggesting that they pay for transfusions either for members of nonmembers.  Could it be because there are no JW institutions that employ non-members.  I’m pretty sure they don’t have any hospitals.

Today is a dark day, but it’s just one day.  What we do in the days and weeks ahead will pay a big part in our future, and in our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.  Don’t take this lying down.

 

Holy Trinity

(This is the homily I gave on June 2-3.  You’ll have to use your imagination just a little bit.  I began by making the sign of the cross (+).  Naturally, the people in the pews followed suit.)

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen!  Do you see what you did there?  I made the sign of the cross and you did it too.  You didn’t have to do it.  We don’t normally make the sign after the Gospel.  It’s not in the book.  But, as Catholics, we’ve been taught that when someone else, especially someone standing at the front of the room signs themselves, we’re supposed to follow along.  It’s a Catholic thing.

 

In fact, + (sign) is probably the second-most recognized hand gesture in the world.  The peace sign might be first.  I’m not sure.  But, like I said, it’s a Catholic thing.  If you see someone crossing themselves, they’re probably Catholic.

 

So……the sign identifies us as Catholics.  It also tells anyone who knows our faith what we believe.

That IS in the book.

 

I believe in one God, [not multiple gods like the Romans of the Greeks, I believe in the one and only God.  I don’t worship cats, or the sun, or the earth.] the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.  My God isn’t part of nature.  He created nature out of nothingness.

 

If that were all there was, things would be very simple.  But, like they say on the infomercials, “But wait, there’s more!”

 

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

 

This word “begotten” must be important.  We say it twice in one paragraph.  See, there was a guy running around in the 4th century saying that Jesus wasn’t really God.  He was just some “super” angel, better than us, but not as great as God.  The Church held a council and promulgated this creed, establishing once and for all that God and Jesus are one and the same.

 

According to the new translation of the Creed that some of us are still learning, Jesus is CONSUBSTANTIAL” with the Father.  Remember, we used to say “one in being with the Father”, which isn’t enough to describe who Jesus really is.  You and I are one in being with the Father because everything in the world is created through Him.  Consubstantial sort of means “of the same substance”.  God IS the Father and the Son.

 

The Creed goes on to tell us what Jesus did, how He suffered and died and rose again on the third day to save us from our sins.

 

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

 

When Jesus returned to heaven he left us an Advocate, His Holy Spirit.  In last week’s Gospel He said He would send the Advocate “whom I will send you from the Father.”  Notice the words.  Jesus would send the Spirit from the Father.  He proceeds from the Father AND the Son.

 

Just today (yesterday) nine men were ordained to the Permanent Diaconate at the Cathedral Basilica.  The Archbishop laid hands on them, just like he laid hands on me ten years ago next week, and he said, “Lord, send forth upon him the Holy Spirit, that he may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace to carry out faithfully the work of the ministry.” 

 

 

Of course we all receive the Holy Spirit at baptism and at confirmation as well.

 

That’s it.  That’s what we believe about God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Our problem as humans is that we want to understand things.  We want proof.  But there are just some things that are beyond our understanding.  Saint Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity, each leaf representing one of the three persons.  Since he’s my patron saint, I’d like to say that it was the perfect analogy.  Unfortunately it wasn’t.  That’s why God has given us this thing called “faith”.  As Christians we have to believe some pretty unbelievable stuff.  Jesus turned water into wine.  Jesus turned bread and wine into His body and blood.  Jesus died and was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.  God is one but He exists as three different persons.

 

Don’t try to figure it out.  Just accept it.  He’s God.  He can do anything.  He’s our Father, our Brother, and our Advocate; He’s existed since the beginning of time and He made everything in the universe out of nothing.  I know you believe it because I hear you say it every week.  Don’t question it.  Just be thankful that it IS.

 

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Serenity Prayer

Most of us are familiar with the “Serenity Prayer”.  It’s most famous use is as the prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change,

the courage to change the things I can change,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

I include this prayer every day in my Divine Office.  For some reason it occurred to me this morning just how difficult it is to live this out.  I spend a fair amount of my time trying to change things that just can’t be changed.  I often lack the wisdom to know the difference between what I can change and what I can’t.  This lack of wisdom makes it hard to achieve the serenity that we all desire.  What I see as courage is actually a lack of wisdom on my part.

Persistance is a positive trait but persisting in pursuing the impossible is something else altogether.  It leads to frustration, anger, and a feeling of failure.

They say you should be careful what you pray for.  In my case, I have to seek wisdom first, then the courage to change the things I can change.