This week's news:
Saturday August 17, 2019
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 11
"Now, therefore, put away the strange gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel." Then the people said, "We will serve the LORD, our God, and obey his voice." (From Saturday's first reading)
Reflection for Saturday:
Does Catholicism condemn homosexuals?
Warning: What I am about to say is not "politically correct". But then, neither was Jesus.
One of the topics I'm sometimes asked to help subscribers with is homosexuality. Probably every one of us knows someone who is living the homosexual lifestyle. These are people we care about, and society is telling us that to care we must accept their lifestyle as "right" for them. As Christians, we want to obey Jesus who told us not to judge. As good people, we hear what we believe about love: All love is good, and if homosexuals are in a loving relationship with their same-sex partner, how can we judge it as sinful?
Our calling as Christians is to treat them like everyone else: with love and compassion. The Catechism, paragraph #2358, says:
"These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
Politically correct society wants us to ignore their difficulties, even to deny the difficulties as anything but the non-acceptance of homosexuality. But then again, we also live in a world where "sacrifice" is considered a bad thing, as is valuing sacrifices as a union with Christ. So, too, is the idea of celibacy. When 99% of dating relationships on TV and in movies are validated by sex, how can we expect anyone to value celibacy?
Can a loving relationship ever by wrong?
But what if the sexual activity is between homosexuals who truly love one another? How can love be wrong under any circumstance?
The same question applies to two adults of opposite genders who can marry but choose not to, yet live as if married.
Let's dig deeper. Love is God. God is love. If one loves, one has God in their hearts even when they don't believe in God.
What that means, though, is not freedom to commit sin in the name of love. The paragraph from the Catechism that I quoted above should be read in context with what comes before and after it:
(Paragraph #2357) "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (see Genesis 191-29; Romans 124-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10), tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."
(Paragraph #2359) "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."
We need to remember that love in its purest, most sacred form is the goal we all have a duty to aspire to. This means that we are to love homosexuals as the beloved children of God that they are, with all the dignity that comes with being a child of God. And homosexuals are to be invited to -- when they are properly prepared by the Holy Spirit and by our actions of love toward them -- to love God and his ways with all their hearts, which means they are called to accept the truth about homosexual activity as sinful, which to some extent separates them from the fullness of God's love.
Until they are ready for the truth, we are to treat them as we should anyone who is in sin but is not ready to accept the truth: with patience, good example, and compassion, for they truly do not understand that they harm themselves, each other, and their relationship with Jesus.
For more on this, please visit wordbytes.org/faqs/homosexuality/.
Inside the Ministry: Mary and me
This past Thursday was a special day for me, because we celebrated the Assumption of Mary. And this coming Thursday is another special day, because we celebrate her queenship.
Having been raised a Protestant, I didn't know how to have a personal relationship with the Blessed Mother of Christ. The misconceptions that keep our non-Catholic fellow Christians divided from us also keep them -- sadly -- missing out on the benefits of enjoying her motherhood.
For several years after I became Catholic (which happened in 1977), I wondered how to experience the relationship with Mary that I witnessed in others. For me, praying the Rosary was boring babble. Why did they get so much more out of it? And greater than my desire to pray the Rosary was my longing to feel her motherly care and protection.
Today, when people ask me for advice in their own, similar struggle, I tell them what worked for me: I left it up to Jesus! I prayed: "Lord Jesus, if You want me to have a personal relationship with Your mother, than You have to make it happen."
God often tests our sincerity by not giving us what we ask for as soon as we start asking for it. Several months later, I woke up one morning with a personal relationship with Mary. I did nothing to make it happen except leave it all up to Jesus. And so, by his supernatural intervention, I simply woke up and felt a bond with Mary that had not existed the night before.
A few years after that, Mary made me sense her nearness when God called me to found Good News Ministries in my diocese. One day while I was asking God to give me the opportunity to serve him in a way that would make a big difference in people's lives, I noticed her motherly presence, dressed in blue, standing close by. Later, when the Lord very clearly announced the calling to start GNM, I knew that Mary had come to me to serve as the Patron Saint and the Queen Mother for this ministry.
How and why Mary really can help us
I'm a practical person. I need to understand Mary's ability to help. Here's a simple explanation of who she is for us today:
Is Jesus Prince of Peace and King of Kings? Yes.
Then who is the Queen Mother? Mary of course.
Does a queen have authority? Indeed yes.
How does a good queen use her authority? By helping everyone in the kingdom any way she can.
When Mary passed away and went to heaven, did she lose her authority as queen? Of course not, because she is still the mother of Jesus who is still the King of Kings.
Then what does she do with that authority? Does she just float idly on a cloud while her Son does all the work? No of course not. She is still Mary our Queen -- the Queen Mother to all of us who are brothers and sisters of Christ our Savior. And she continually serves God as a good queen using her authority to do good for those under her care.
As a good queen, she helps us in our relationship with the King. She fights along side us in our battles against the villains who want to hurt our relationship with the King. She crushes the enemy by wielding her authority (fulfilling God's promise of Genesis 3:15).
I'm reading a book by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, who was the Vatican's chief exorcist for many years until his passing, entitled "An Exorcist Explains the Demonic". In it he reports that demons fear Mary so much they won't even say her name. During exorcisms, just a glance from Mary was all it took to send them fleeing.
Therefore, my battle cry has become:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, defeater of Satan, crushing the head of the serpent beneath your heel, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
God bless you!
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
Your servant in Christ,
Terry Modica, Executive Director
Good News Ministries
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
And when you have to look at others, see them through his eyes.