Seeking the approval of men.
I heard similar words last night after Mass from my parish priest, echoing his Pastor's Reflection in the bulletin: "Many of us have personal friends who are gay; co-workers who are gay; and family members who are gay. We love them, we want the best for them, and we do not want to reject them."
I agree. I just wonder if this concern inhibits clear teaching. I wonder if this concern - especially in the urban centers of this Archdiocese, is the reason why parishes are not using the Prayer for Marriage during the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass, as requested by Archbishop Nienstedt? The Archbishop cautioned his priests in a private letter late last year:
We did not choose this challenge nor do any of us relish the confrontation it will bring, but neither can we remain silent in order to get along. We must witness to the truth so as to realize the common good of our society.To be sure, the pastor at my parish is speaking and writing in defense of traditional marriage - his efforts are subtle, explaining Church teaching, while making clear it is Church teaching and not Nienstedt's teaching - evidently the Archbishop is too polarizing to quote? I'm not sure. Anyway, in the coming weeks the pastor will be discussing these matters in subsequent bulletins. When asked about the prayer not being used, I was told it wasn't a mandate but a choice to use it or not. "We're in South Minneapolis" after all.
It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead. The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all — on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. - Archbishop Nienstedt, December 2011
It is true that we must speak the truth in charity, as The Archbishop makes clear:
In doing so, we must never vilify or caricaturize those who argue otherwise. Indeed, we must acknowledge that all men and women are God’s sons and daughters. But it is this very truth and the fact that the truth is one and bears no contradiction that the Church and her ministers must witness here and now. - Archbishop's Letter, December 2011It takes courage. Personally, I find encouragement in the examples of the heroic witness of the martyrs, not only by their example, but in their exhortations:
The holy martyr Sebastian excellently exposed the futility of love of the world and its pernicious consequences in hi conversation with those martyrs who wavered in the contest through love for their parents and families (and friends and co-workers). St Sebastian said to them:
'O staunch warriors of Christ! by your self-sacrificing heroism you were courageously approaching your triumph. But now you want to destroy your eternal crown for the wretched caresses of your relatives...'" - The Arena
That passage is taken from a rather long exhortation to martyrdom, attributed to St. Sebastian. It reminds me of the mother of the Maccabees who exhorted her youngest son to follow his brothers to martyrdom:
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him, not with mere words, but with promises on oath, to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs: he would make him his Friend and entrust him with high office. 25When the youth paid no attention to him at all, the king appealed to the mother, urging her to advise her boy to save his life. 26After he had urged her for a long time, she agreed to persuade her son. 27She leaned over close to him and, in derision of the cruel tyrant, said in their native language: “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age. 28I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things.* In the same way humankind came into existence. 29Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with your brothers.”30She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said: “What is the delay? I will not obey the king’s command. I obey the command of the law given to our ancestors through Moses. Like my brothers, I offer up my body and my life for our ancestral laws, imploring God to show mercy soon to our nation, and by afflictions and blows to make you confess that he alone is God. 38Through me and my brothers, may there be an end to the wrath of the Almighty that has justly fallen on our whole nation.”
39At that, the king became enraged and treated him even worse than the others, since he bitterly resented the boy’s contempt. - 2 Maccabees 7
You may think, and say, that I exaggerate the issue of same sex marriage. You may dismiss me - albeit wrongly - as a far-right conservative Catholic. Say what you like. My Archbishop considers it a grave, moral issue as well. From his letter to priests:
My dear brothers, I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that in this movement to protect and defend the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman we are faced with one of the greatest challenges of our times. None of us can deny that the institution of marriage and family life are unraveling before our very eyes due to no-fault divorce, wide-spread cohabitation and promiscuous sexual activity. The end game of those who oppose the marriage amendment that we support is not just to secure certain benefits for a particular minority, but, I believe, to eliminate the need for marriage altogether. This can only lead to continued destabilizing the family unit itself. Both those realities will happen if marriage is redefined or, perhaps better put, “undefined.” Today we can say with clarity what the natural reality of marriage is. That may not be possible in years to come if we fail to be successful now. As I see it, we have this one chance as Minnesotans to make things right. The stakes could not be higher. - Archbishop Nienstedt's Letter, December 2011Today is World Marriage Day.
That love of Jesus, of course, is manifest in a unique and real way in the married union of a man and a woman. Herein, the love of Jesus is intimately and immediately present to spouses in their love for one another. That spousal love reveals itself to husband and wife as the healing and compassionate love of Christ, which binds those spouses ever closer to each other. - Archbishop NienstedtA little bit of history repeating...
Editor's Note: One must remember that it was the lack of leadership and good catechesis, as well as the outright rejection of Humane Vitae by many bishops, priests, religious and theologians, which affirmed for Catholics their 'freedom of conscience' to choose to use artificial contraception. A failure of leadership which led to legalized abortion and the redefinition of at least the purpose of marriage. Thus we find ourselves today faced with the legalization of same sex marriage, and priests and bishops unwilling to teach straightforwardly for fear they might upset "friends or family members who are gay and lesbian."