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Nationwide during this past year, the infernal effort to legalize “same-sex marriage” has grown stronger, become more vociferous, and has spread its vile, menacing tentacles even to the most innocent.  Faced with this impending moral catastrophe, what has been the response of the United States bishops thus far?

The Christian Life:

Life for God and Death to Sin

By Fr. Michael Rodríguez POSTED: 10/1/12

(  Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion (1858-1923) in Christ the Life of the Soul, writes:

Baptism, by its symbolism and the grace it produces, as St. Paul shows us, marks all our Christian life with the double character of “death to sin” and of “life for God.”  Christianity is, properly speaking, a life:  Veni ut vitam habeant, Our Savior tells us; it is the Divine life which flows into each of our souls from the Humanity of Christ where it is in its fullness.  But this life does not develop within us without effort; the condition of its development is the destruction of what is opposed to it, that is to say, sin. This “death of sin,” brought about in principle at baptism, becomes then for us a condition of life; we must weaken the action of concupiscence in us, as far as possible; it is at this price that the Divine life will develop in our soul and this will be in the same measure in which we renounce sin, habits of sin and all attachments to it.

Indeed, the Precious Blood of our Most Holy Redeemer has indelibly marked the Christian life with this twofold character:  “death to sin” and “life for God.”  In order to live for God we must die to sin.  If we are to follow Jesus Christ, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross.  Man has to renounce mammon if he wishes to serve God.  Man either lives by the Spirit or is dragged down by the flesh.  One must turn away from the noise and chatter of the world in order to hear the voice of God in the majestic silence of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The only way to “put on Christ,” the new man, is to first put away the old man.  O Christian soul, thou must leave this passing world behind, for only then canst thou see the face of God and live . . . in a world which shall never pass away.

According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, already the beginning of Jesus’s preaching is divinely sealed with this “double character.”  Jesus preaches “death to sin” in Mt 4:17, “do penance,” and “life for God” immediately thereafter, Mt 4:19, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.”  Moreover, at the very outset of His public ministry (Mt 4:1-11), Jesus Himself provides the basis for this “double aspect” of the Christian life.  Jesus is “led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.”  What is He doing?  Jesus conquers satan and deals a deathblow to sin, after which He brings forth “life for God” in abundance through his teaching and healing.  Finally, throughout His life’s work of redeeming souls, which culminates on Calvary, the Son of God invariably links the forgiveness of sins (“death to sin”) to miraculous healings (“life for God”).

Given that this twofold character of “death to sin” and “life for God” is inherent in the Christian life (i.e. rooted in the grace of Baptism), how is it possible that the vast majority of our country’s hierarchy (both priests and bishops) seem to ignore the former consistently, and preach almost exclusively on the latter?  No doubt there are those who will attempt to justify their neglect of condemning sin by claiming they are adopting “a more pastoral approach.”  I remind all churchmen of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, October 1, 1986, “A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.  We wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral.  Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.”

Nationwide during this past year, the infernal effort to legalize “same-sex marriage” has grown stronger, become more vociferous, and has spread its vile, menacing tentacles even to the most innocent.  Faced with this impending moral catastrophe, what has been the response of the United States bishops thus far?

Thanks be to God, there are some American bishops who, faithful to their duty, have presented the Church’s teaching on the divinely-instituted Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as an exclusive, lifelong union between one man and one woman.  However, upon closer scrutiny, the picture is very disturbing.  As far as I am aware, not a single U.S. bishop has taught authoritatively on homosexuality as an objective disorder and the grave sin of homosexual acts.  At a time in history when Catholics are in dire need of Christ’s truth, I am not aware of a single U.S. bishop who has instructed all his priests to teach what the Church teaches on:  (1) the sanctity of marriage, (2) how marriage, by divine law, is the exclusive, lifelong union of one man and one woman, (3) the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts, (4) the grave sin of supporting—in any form or fashion—“same-sex marriage.”

Consider the following analogy with abortion, which is also an intrinsic evil.  How can any bishop be sincere in carrying out his duty to teach Christ’s truth about the sanctity, wonder, and beauty of the gift of life (“life for God”), while remaining silent about the hideous sin of abortion (“death to sin”)?  This would not make any sense.  Such culpable neglect would, in actual fact, be a betrayal of the truth!  Similarly, even in the case of bishops who are preaching about the sanctity of marriage and (rightfully) opposing efforts to legalize “same-sex marriage,” why do they remain silent about the abomination that a “homosexual lifestyle” is?  Where o where is our zeal for God and the salvation souls?  At present, we are witnessing millions of young souls—lost sheep!—who are being fooled and led to their ruin by the culture’s cunning agenda of “equal marriage rights,” “tolerance,” “non-discrimination” . . . how can a good shepherd not cry out from the housetops that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, depraved, and an abomination before God and man?

The teaching of Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality is clear  (CCC 2357-2359); it can be summarized in three basic points:

(1)  Homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity; they are mortal sins which cry to heaven for vengeance.  Under no circumstances can they be approved.

(2)  Homosexuality is an objective disorder.

(3)  Homosexual persons are to be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

Nos. 1 and 2 above are infallible moral teachings of the Catholic Church by virtue of her universal, ordinary Magisterium.  If one claims to profess the Catholic Faith, one must give assent to these saving, moral truths.  If one rejects either of these truths, one is no longer Catholic!

It is urgent that we—priests and bishops, especially—examine our consciences.  Are we ashamed of the aforementioned truths?  As Roman Catholics, the only bearers of the truth which saves souls, are we going to shy away from the truth for fear of persecution?  Are we afraid of being labeled “intolerant”?  Do we fear upsetting people or “offending” family members or parishioners?  Are we worried about “alienating” big donors and influential politicians?  May the luminous words of Our Beloved Savior comfort and strengthen us:  “In the world you shall have distress, but have confidence, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33); “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:32).

I plead with my brother priests and our nation’s bishops.  Yes, we must treat homosexual persons with genuine Christian love, respect, and compassion.  I think we all have a great deal of work to do in this important area of charity.  But for the love and honor of God, and out of love for poor souls, we must speak out against the disorder of homosexuality!  We must be patient and understanding with homosexual persons, yet how can we, we who have been entrusted with the care of souls, ignore the fact that soul after soul is being enslaved by the gruesome addiction of a “homosexual lifestyle”?  How can we possibly limit our preaching to “love and respect for persons,” when soul upon soul is being terrorized and devoured by satan and his minions?

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII wrote an Encyclical Letter on Christian Marriage, Arcanum Divinæ (February 10, 1880).  While he extolled the dignity and beauty of Holy Matrimony (“life for God”), he also blasted away at the brazen attempts of a secular world to legalize divorce (“death to sin”).  It is highly instructive to read what he wrote more than a century ago with regard to the grave sin of divorce.  In reading the brief passage which I quote below please note two things:  one, how prophetic his words have turned out to be, and two, try to imagine what he might say today about the secular world’s attempt to legalize “same-sex marriage.”

“Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and states, springing as they do from the depraved morals of the people, and, as experience shows us, opening out a way to every kind of evil-doing in public and in private life.

Further still, if the matter be duly pondered, we shall clearly see these evils to be the more especially dangerous, because, divorce once being tolerated, there will be no restraint powerful enough to keep it within the bounds marked out or presurmised. Great indeed is the force of example, and even greater still the might of passion. With such incitements it must needs follow that the eagerness for divorce, daily spreading by devious ways, will seize upon the minds of many like a virulent contagious disease, or like a flood of water bursting through every barrier.” (Nos. 29 & 30)

St. Paul, the great Apostle and missionary, never reduced his preaching solely to “life for God.”  In Gal 5:22-23, he teaches magnificently about the life of the Spirit:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity.”  However, in the preceding verses (Gal 5:19-21), he issues a solemn warning concerning “death to sin”:  “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.  Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.”

In one of the most remarkable and moving passages in all of Sacred Scripture,  Jesus Christ speaks to a woman of Samaria about “life for God”:  “But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting.” (Jn 4:14)  The woman exclaims, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst.” (Jn 4:15)  We priests and bishops should burn into our minds and hearts the timeless response of the Son of God.  He preaches “death to sin,” no holds barred.  He accuses and admonishes her, “Thou hast said well, I have no husband.  For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband.” (Jn 4:17-18)  In accepting the truth of the Son of God’s condemnation of her sin, the woman comes to recognize the Christ . . .  and the wellspring of salvation is opened unto her and her people.

May the Most Holy Mother of God intercede for our priests and bishops.  May she make them holy, faithful, courageous and pure.  She who held the Divine Child in her maternal arms in the sweetest and most tender embrace (“life for God”), simultaneously crushed the serpent’s head with her virginal foot (“death to sin”).  Sancta Dei Génetrix, ora pro nobis.

Fr. Michael Rodríguez is a priest of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas.  He is currently the parochial vicar of Santa Teresa Catholic Church in Presidio, Texas. 

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