If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates.Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
The priest from El Paso . . .Illinois, who studied for Holy Orders at the old St. Viator's College ( Olivet University) in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and became the Bishop of Rochester, NY, as well as a television celebrity in the 1950's was a good one. Fulton J. Sheen, like the magnificent athlete/priest/bishop Bernard Sheil of Chicago is pretty much banished from popular imagination. Who they?
Well, they were no Bill Maher, or Simon Cowell, nor were they self-proclaimed community activists. Neither was Jesus. He was an apprentice Jewish carpenter and the Son of God.
Shiel and Sheen were energetic servants.
The world is beautiful. It is people who want to advertise for profit who throw up the hideously intrusive billboards along life's highway.
The TGIF Obama Presidency is the Mandate America Administration. Last Friday, always trot out bad news on Friday, mandates that "private insurance provide contraception and the abortion pill for ‘free’, which means insurance rates will go up and that all Americans will end up paying for it, no matter how disgusted you are by abortion."
Our popular culture comes not from building cathedrals as community, developing a synthesis of great thought from the ancients on of the Gospels, or Scripture. Rather, popular culture happens to be what is on an editorial page crafted by group think artisans, or what is available on cable. Oprah is Aquinas and Bill Maher is Chaucer.
Students are walked away from Western Civilization and begin the study of history at the end of the 19th Century. Truth is "a proposition is a plan of action and that it is only judged true when that plan of action has proven successful when put into action." Truth is a moveable feast.
Truth is tougher, it seems to me.
Last week in the Parish bulletin of St. Odilo's in Berwyn, IL, Father Tony Brankin, a Chicago Catholic priest, musician* and sculptor, offered this:
The people in charge of the culture—the newspapers and television—even the modern professors in the universities and seminaries—anyone who owned a microphone or stood in a pulpit or sat at a desk in a classroom told us that the
Catholic Church was no longer to be considered the One True Church. They told us that the Catholic Church did not have a special position in the mind of God nor in the hearts of the people. They persuaded us to believe that the Catholic Church—even though historically we knew that it was the one that Jesus Himself had founded—had no more authority than any other group or club or organization. They told us that every teacher—every speaker—everyone—all groups—all opinions—all teachings were equally capable of being right or wrong.
Oh, and it worked. We have all been damaged by this campaign against the uniqueness and authority of the Catholic Church. As moderns we have been made to think that possibly all religions are equal. How many times do we hear them say on television or in some movie or in some discussion on the radio that all faiths are paths to heaven—and that none is better than another? The problem is that if we hear this enough—we begin to believe it. We think that maybe they are right. It sounds so gentle and simple to say all religions will take us to God —Blah blah blah.
In fact, we have been brain-washed into thinking that we cannot even discover the Truth—either about God—or about His will for us—or about anything for that matter. The movers and shakers of our world, you know, the celebrities and politicians, as well as the ones who write the commercials and the scripts of all the shows we watch—the ones who teach us and our children what is important and what is not important—they want us to believe that we cannot find any kind of truth—because truth—they would say—does not even exist.
You say something long enough and loud enough and with enough of a crowd behind you and it becomes Truth, in the Dewey mold: Gay Marriage is same as Marriage, Choice is Woman's Reproductive Health, Promiscuity as no consequences, only treatments, and 1% is way too many.
Catholics are not homophobic, do not hate women, nor are they slaves to a Roman Master, of German parents, who wears a funny hat.
Father Brankin is not a priest that the media invites to share opinions on WLS, WTTW, or with the columnists and editorial boards of our surviving newspapers. Truth is a hard and answers are easy. You need an Progressively cached activist priest or nun, who fights for gay marriage, better and more abortions, and the ordination of women for easy answers to Dewey's agreeably verifiable conclusions to inquiry.
Father Brankin, like Bishops Sheil and Sheen, takes the tough road and beauty of living outshines the billboards, slogans and memes and he concludes with an invitation to all, not a mandate, a welcome to unity -
There are elements of truth in many faiths. If someone who is not Catholic believes that Jesus Christ is God and Man and the savior who died on the cross and rose from the dead—well, of course, that is correct, and that will help that person get to heaven. But if someone who is not Catholic denies things that Catholics believe, well, that might make it more difficult for that person to get to heaven. If, for example, a Muslim believes that God wants us to destroy our enemies and that a person
will go to heaven if he commits suicide and kills many people along with himself—how is that the same as saying that it is God’s will to love our enemies? In other words how does suicide and ritual murder help us get to heaven in the same way that loving our enemies gets us to heaven?
Again, suppose someone says that they don’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches about life and love. They believe, for example, that there is nothing wrong with artificial birth control. Well, they will have a very difficult time explaining to their children (or even to themselves) why pre-marital intimacy is wrong or why extra-marital intimacy is wrong—or even why abortion is wrong or why gay marriage is wrong. And if they do not believe what the Catholic Church teaches about life and love—basically that love is very much about having babies—then they will be forced by the logic of their unbelief to accept every other kind of immoral behavior—
unfaithfulness and promiscuity and a life of sin, homosexual behavior, pederasty, incest.
Not believing in Catholic truths necessarily makes it more difficult for non-believers to save their souls. I am talking about all this today because Wednesday we begin “Church Unity Octave week”. This is eight days in which
we are asked by the Church to pray as fervently as possible that those who are outside the Catholic Church may—to put it simply—become Catholic.
We pray that atheists may come to believe in God—that Pagans may learn of the true God. We hope that Jews will accept Jesus, and that Protestants (the so called “Christians”) would begin to understand the fullness of Revelation as
it is found in the One True Church, the Catholic Church. Most of the time—because of modern influences—we think that Catholics must relate to other religions by simply
celebrating our differences. But that is really not enough—nor is it honest.
People need to know—for their own sake— that there is such a thing as Truth—and that there is a true God and a true religion—and all of it will be found in the Catholic Church. If we love our brothers and sisters——then we should want them to get to heaven by belonging to the faith that will help them get to heaven.
We must do everything possible—prayer, example, and willingness to witness to the Truth of our religion—in order to bring them to the fullness of truth—in the One True Catholic faith. Because in that Oneness is Truth and in that Truth is salvation .
Life is beautiful without the billboards obscuring the view.
* edited update thanks to Leo Man Bob Hylard:
pat ..as you know fr.brankin is also a devotee of irish music as well his sculptoring..i'm happy to say my daughter lynn has one of his handmade irish harps.[ a beauty ]..my mother-in-law lived in st.thomas more and was totally dedicated to the man ..fr.brankin would sometimes borrow the harp to duplicate its' style for another would be harpo marx..lynn is quite good at the harp but it's too heavy to carry downtown for street music...