Pastor’s Corner 11-9-08
Brothers and Sisters,
For most people this week, the presidential election was first and foremost in mind. As the pastor of the souls of this parish, for whom I will have to give an account to the good God, it is important to put before you a few observations. Voting in a democracy is very serious business. It is a sacred duty and the exercise of power that can have far reaching consequences for our lives and the lives of others.
A majority of Americans, including those who identify themselves as Catholic (54% if the exit polls are correct), chose to elect our new President. The election of this candidate to the presidency will have far reaching consequences. Our Lord Jesus tells us to judge a tree by its fruit. A good tree produces good fruit, a bad tree bad fruit. I would urge us as rational persons to look beyond the smile and mesmerizing words and pay attention to the deeds —these will show what kind of president we will have.
In my view as a priest, scholar and professor, never before has the Culture of Death been given so much power in this country. Our new president is committed to promoting and protecting with law intrinsically evil acts, acts that are never justified and should never be done by a rational person. The fruit of this conviction is that he is committed to creating and ratifying unjust laws. The clearest deed that will reveal this truth is when he signs the ‘Freedom of Choice Act’ into law, which was one of his campaign promises. This legislation will virtually abolish ANY restrictions on abortion that exist now. This legislation will result in the killing of tens of thousands of innocent children. The killing of the innocent is a sin that cries out to Heaven for justice (Gen. 4:10). Those who voted for this president will now share in the indirect responsibility and guilt for these killings. Such is the serious nature of voting.
Those who voted for him may respond that their vote was not based on his pro-abortion stance but other social issues. The response I gave in a previous homily is that clearly and logically this election did not involve a situation of ‘proportionate reason’ mentioned in the USCCB’s Faithful Citizenship. The issues of quality of life come into play only when candidates vying for office are equal on the issues dealing with life itself.
The ‘Freedom of Choice Act’, and other unjust legislation like it that will likely be proposed, also has the potential to force the Church out of health care. The Church, as the bearer of the Gospel of Life, will refuse to take part in committing intrinsically evil acts. The names like Providence, St. Vincent, Sacred Heart may remain on the outside of the hospitals, but their internal policies may no longer meaningfully reflect the teachings of Christ and His Church. Thus the legislation would spell disaster for the poor and will create a huge societal problem since the Church is one of the major providers of health care in the country, especially to the poor. Moreover, if the Church is not providing health care, then those with terminal illness and those who do not seem to have a sufficient ‘quality of life’ will lose their last protection from those who will want to kill them to save health care dollars — still more innocent lives lost.
Some may be reading this thinking that I’m being overly dramatic, that I’m over reacting. I would ask you to pay attention to the fruit; pay attention to actions and deeds and not the smile or soothing words. Beneath the smile and words is one who has already identified himself through his actions that he is against Christ and His Church on fundamental, non-negotiable issues.
For those followers of Christ who are serious about following Him understand that we may be entering a very difficult and trying period of history. The Church has had such times in the past and will again have them in the future. In the late 1990s, then Cardinal Ratzinger commented that he thought the Church was entering a period of trial, a time when the Church was to be more of a persecuted Church, a time when it would be most costly to follow Jesus, and thus a time when many of those who identify themselves as Catholic will fall away. Now he is Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St. Peter and our chief Shepherd. It will become increasingly evident as the years pass whether he is a prophet. Personally, I believe him to be right. In my prayer over the past few years, I have sensed the same thing. It may take many years for it to come into full view, but with this ascendancy of the Culture of Death we may see the beginnings of it in the next few years.
And so as the pastor of your souls and as your spiritual father, I urge you to prepare yourselves spiritually, through prayer, fasting, virtuous living and most of all faith, hope and love, for what is to come. Let us recommit ourselves in joy to protect and cherish the weak and vulnerable among us. If you are one who cast your vote for our new president, I urge you to seek the mercy of Jesus through the Sacrament of Confession that you may be absolved from the great evil this president says he will do. Jesus Christ has already definitively broken the power of evil and death. He will never abandon us or the world. He may be asking the members of His Body to have a deeper share with Him in the Cross, that the world might be saved.
We do not have to be afraid. We did not choose to live in these times, but He chose us to live in these times (In. 15:16) — that is a comforting truth. It is in times of trial that the members of Christ shine more brightly. St. Paul tells us as he told the Philippians, ‘Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world" (Phil. 2:14). Now is the time for saints! We stand with Our Lord Jesus and His angels and saints and will bring down the Culture of Death through the might of the divine love because with St. Paul we can say, "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).
Sincerely in Christ,
Pr. John Cihak
"Earth is slipping away and heaven is drawing near." (St. Theophane Venard)
This letter from Fr. Cihak to his parishioners reminded me of the sermon that was given at my brother-in-laws First Mass this past summer, and the quote from Pope Pius XI with which the priest ended his sermon. It is an excellent reminder for us all:
"I thank God everyday that He permits me to live in the present time. One should be proud to be a witness of this mighty drama, and in a certain sense, even to take part in it. Good and evil are engaged in a tremendous battle. At the present time, no one has the right to be mediocre."