Sunday, October 26, 2008

30th Sunday - homily

“Choose life”

Jesus says in today’s Gospel that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love neighbor. I don’t think anybody here is going to disagree with Jesus about that. It’s one thing for us to agree with our Lord that the two most important commandments are to love God and neighbor, and to believe it; it’s another thing to live it. We have a great opportunity on Election Day, November 4th, to live it. May the Eucharist give us the strength and courage to live it.

First, love of God. Fr. Mike said in his homily last week that “obviously we can’t fully separate Church and state”. In the second reading, St. Paul writes that “in every place” our faith in God goes forth. Even a voting booth. How does our faith in God go forth in a voting booth, like on November 4th? In at least two ways. First, we hear what issues are most important to God and we vote accordingly. Second, we make an act of faith, trusting that if we put God first, He will provide.

Has God revealed to us what issues are most important to Him and what we are to choose? Yes. In general terms, He reveals to us in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 30, that when we have a choice between death and life, we are to “choose life” (v.19). Choose life! We can apply this to any election: when we have the choice between the culture of death and the culture of life, we choose life.

God has also revealed to us what issues are most important to Him specifically in this election. He continues to teach us through the Church, as you know. Jesus gave the Apostles the power to teach in his name, to continue His teachings. He gave them the power to bind and loose, the keys of the kingdom, and in Luke 10, he says to them, “whenever they hear you, they hear me”. The Apostles passed down this authority to their successors, the bishops. We believe that God continues to speak to us through the bishops.

The bishops have informed us about this election and what issues are most important. They tell us that “human life is sacred”. It is from God and most important to God. The bishops identify eight issues that are serious violations against human life: abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, embryonic research, genocide, racism, torture, and acts of war or terror against innocent people. These are “intrinsic evils”; they are always wrong and can never be justified.

The bishops say that we are not one-issue voters; but, they say that a candidate’s position on a single issue involving one of the intrinsic evils – legal abortion, for example - may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from support. Now, we do need to keep in mind the proportion of evil that is involved with abortion: it outweighs the evil of all the other intrinsic evils combined! Over 1 million babies are aborted every year in the United States, and almost 50 million American babies have died through abortion since 1973.

The bishops also warn us about a serious legislative threat to human life: the Freedom of Choice Act. If passed into law, this act would increase the number of abortion in our country. It would remove all restrictions to abortion. Among other things, it would: remove restrictions on protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics, remove parental notification, require states to perform partial-birth abortions – an unspeakably heinous procedure -, force taxpayers to fund abortions, and force Catholic hospitals and charities to perform and support abortions which may bring the end of Catholic hospitals and Catholic charities. We need to know where the candidates stand on the issues, but especially with regard to the Freedom of Choice Act.

We choose life and we defend the right to life; we know that without the right to life, there are no other rights…there’s no life…there’s nothing.

Second, love of neighbor. We are to be compassionate on November 4th as God is compassionate, the first reading tells us. A vote for life is compassionate – to the unborn baby and to the mother. Abortion hurts women. The Church has been opposed to abortion from the beginning; it knows that abortion hurts women. Also, you might be surprised to know that of the two sides of this issue, the one that provides more care and compassion to the woman after she has made her choice…is the pro-life side, led by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church offers more post-abortive healing to women than any other institution in the world. Love of neighbor through compassion.

Finally, it is a great challenge for us to vote primarily for love of God and love of neighbor in this election, especially given the economy. The temptation is to vote primarily for love of money. But, as Christians, we approach this differently. We approach it with faith, putting God’s issues first and trusting that He will provide for us. It is an act of faith. It’s like we go into the voting booth, saying, “Lord, I’m not exactly sure why I am choosing life, but I do it because you have said to choose life. I trust in you that you will provide”. My brothers and sisters, I promise you that if we choose life, we will be rewarded. God will provide. If we vote primarily for love of God and love of neighbor, we will be rewarded. God will provide.


At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Maryann said...

If only life was black and white. I personally am struggling with this election. I wish I could pick and choose from the beliefs and approaches each candidate endorses. I'm not sure I can vote for either candidate without some level of hesitancy and question. Regardless of the results on November 4th, I pray and trust that good will continue to win over evil.

Oct. 21, 2008 (
"The statement approved by US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Faithful Citizenship, represents a compromise between two increasingly outspoken groups of American bishops: those who want a more aggressive stance in opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, and those who prefer to emphasize issues such as poverty, immigration, and the war in Iraq. Faithful Citizenship instructs Catholics to give top priority to the "life issues," but stops short of saying that support for legal abortion renders a candidate unacceptable regardless of his stands on other issues. Each wing of the American hierarchy has cited the USCCB document to support its own views. Conservative bishops note that Faithful Citizenship affirms the moral imperative of fighting against abortion; liberal bishops insist that the document does not call for a "single-issue" approach to voting. Both are right."

At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m glad Father spoke to this today. I’ve heard several people say that there is no “good” vote here, that both candidates take a wrong side on one or more moral issues. Several have told me they’ve no plans to vote, for they see no potential positive end result.

I have similar thoughts but think it’s important, most especially in this election, to vote. I’m looking to who can do the least amount of evil, who will be the least effective in promoting an immoral agenda. Perhaps that’s not an ideal way to walk into the election booth, but it is what I see as my moral imperative.

I won’t look at my vote as a positive endorsement, but an action that will (hopefully) limit the amount of evil that might be done. I look at the “non-negotiable” values I must support and will choose the candidate that supports the greatest amount of good while pursuing the least amount of evil.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

When it comes to abortion v. other social issues, perhaps one should ask oneself whether each life has the same value:

Is the life of an unborn fetus worth as much as someone who is "already here?"

For many, the answer is NO...because they can't see it, or hear it, or touch it. The fetus thus isn't really a person.

Most of us would flounder when asked to prove that God exists, yet still we have faith that He does, and that Christ does, and that the Holy Spirit does. How then can anyone deny that the fetus is a life, especially when one can see it with the imaging technology availble in this day and age?

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please read the last paragraph of Father
Greg's homily....this really helped me and made it clear on how to vote.
(R) All The Way.

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was not aware of the Freedom of Choice Act as a serious threat before these last few weeks of the election. It is real and it terrifies me.

Senate Bill S.2020 is sponsored by Barbara Boxer from CA, and cosponsored by 17 other senators, including our Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulsi. H.R. 3719 is the companion House bill being sponsored by Jerrold Nadler from NY and cosponsored by 87 others, including Rep Chris Van Hollen and Elijah Cummings.

All of us need to be aware of this Act and all of implications. As Americans, we need to voice our position through all appropriate means.

As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing."

At 11:55 PM, Blogger fran said...

These are my thoughts only, and I am not addressing any particular blogger. Last week, I wrote similar comments, on another website, where there is an abundance of people who are deeply conflicted, regarding how they should vote next Tuesday.

While neither candidate is ideal, (we do not live in a perfect world after all,) I do not see how a Catholic can be pro-life, yet support a candidate who is pro-abortion. To support a candidate who is pro-abortion/pro-choice is to also support his view whether you agree with it or not. The two cannot be separated.

Fr. Greg has outlined what would occur if the Freedom of Choice Act is passed, and recall that Senator Obama said it (signing the Freedom of Choice Act) was the FIRST THING he would do as president! Not the 2nd, not the 20th, but THE FIRST THING! That is astounding! A vote for Senator Obama is in fact a vote for the Freedom of Choice Act.

There are plenty of important social issues with which we are faced - poverty, lack of sufficient health care for all, the war. However, when we are talking about innocent human life, destroyed through abortion... my goodness, isn't that the greatest social issue we face today? Isn't it the greatest social injustice there is? And again, I must repeat, Senator Obama did not say he would address ANY of the other aforementioned social issues first. His first piece of business is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act.

Here are two excerpts from an excellent article, written on 10/24/08, by Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, Human Life International President.

"True Catholics are not "single-issue" voters - we are principled voters. That determines which candidates we give our vote to and it determines the state of our souls after we vote."

"Casting a vote for a candidate who forcefully advocates the killing of innocent unborn babies shows approval or unacceptable toleration of that heinous crime against humanity, and Catholics can never do it in good conscience. The CCC calls such an attitude and action "formal cooperation" in evil (#2272). This does not mean that I commit the evil myself. It means that I agree with it and have made it possible for a person in public office to continue and /or advance that evil in my society."

This is a fraction of the article:

"Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born."
-Ronald Reagan

At 12:22 AM, Blogger fran said...

Here are the entries from "Every Day is a Gift," prayer book, November 4th, election day. Pretty compelling...

"Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks; your presence, O Lord, I seek."
-Ps 27:8

Reflection. "If a tiny spark of God's love already burns in you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out.

In other words, avoid distractions as much as you can. Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter."
- St. Charles Borromeo

Prayer. "Almighty God, help me to seek You and speak with You often. Let me strive to avoid outer distractions and concentrate on Your message and Your will for me."

At 5:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here’s a stat for Maryland residents- Md. has had statutes with language similar to FOCA on the books since the early 90’s. Women in Maryland have greater access to “safe” abortions than in most states, and the abortion rate has risen in Maryland where it has fallen nationally (there’s like a 17% gap). There’s the proof- you don’t reduce the number of abortions by promoting it.

“it is a great challenge for us to vote primarily for love of God and love of neighbor in this election, especially given the economy. The temptation is to vote primarily for love of money.”

Yes, we should consider love of God first before love of money, but I don’t feel challenged by that in this election. Our country is in the middle of a (global) financial crisis and a war, and as Fran stated- Obama’s first act would be to sign FOCA, making sure that unrestricted taxpayer funded abortion would become the law of our land. Kind of makes one think about that “redistribution of wealth” a little differently.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger fran said...

Further thoughts on social issues such as poverty, war, healthcare and abortion.

When we talk about abortion holding greater moral weight than other issues these things come to mind:

One of the definitions of poverty is "lack of something specific." Since abortion demonstrates lack of respect for the unborn, isn't it also a poverty?

Additionally, isn't abortion a war of sorts? Isn't it a war, a conflict, a struggle, within the hearts and minds of the woman and those who may or may not support her?

Finally, isn't abortion about the health of the woman? There are studies which link breast cancer, mental anxiety and, possibly, infertility to abortion.

This is why I see abortion as the greatest social ill of our time. It encompasses at least THREE social issues. That is why it carries greater moral weight than other moral issues. The sum of abortion is MUCH, MUCH greater than the components.

We were out of town for mass yesterday. The priest at the church we attended began his homily by saying that the Pharisees wished to "trip Jesus up," by asking him what the greatest law was.

I hope that none of us will be "tripped up" by the charisma, the lofty rhetoric, and the youth of one of our presidential candidates. We all must think a little deeper and pray a whole lot harder before we exercise our right to vote.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous gery brownholtz said...

Thank you Father for your homily. There should be no confusion. The Holy Father has made it clear, the issues of life are more important than all other issues. Senator Obama is against providing care for a baby born in a botched abortion because "it would undermind the woman's choice to have an abortion". Is this the kind of person you want as president. The next president is likely to appoint one or more justices on the Supreme Court. Senator Obama has made it clear he would only appoint pro abortion justices.

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

Pro-choice agencies talk about equality (economic and social) in support of FOCA, but here is what I don’t understand- doesn’t true choice also include choosing life? Funding the pro-choice voice to the exclusion of the pro-life (that is what this statute provides) brings about very inequality for which the legislation purports to be aimed.
It’s bad legislation that would silence the voices of many.

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The conundrum for many people is a legitimate one: the war implicates the destruction of innocent life just as much as abortion does. The little child in Baghdad is just as innocent as the aborted fetus. A vote for McCain supports the war and a vote for Obama supports abortion.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia… There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), 2003

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

The major difference between the war in Iraq and abortion is that innocent life in Iraq is not targeted. Every abortion deliberately destroys a child. The mission of the war in Iraq is not to kill children; it’s to kill the enemy, and while many Catholics may legitimately debate whether or not that action is justified, we cannot debate the issue with abortion. It is always evil. Catholic teaching does not allow for another opinion on this.

Every child lost in the war in Iraq is a tragedy, but our government did not take action for express purpose of killing even one single child. The estimated total number of Iraqis (of all ages) deaths since the US occupation in Iraq is under 90,000. The total number of babies killed in the U.S. via abortion is estimated to be over 35 MILLION.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger fran said...

You might recall that in August, 2007 Senator Obama said that if elected he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan.

So a vote for Obama means possible war AND abortion.

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you mentioned Pakistan- the only Muslim nation that has The Bomb. He also said that we should be focusing our efforts also in Afghanistan. So who’s to say if, under either candidate’s direction, we’d ever pull our troops out of the Middle East

“I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed” -Obama

He doesn’t mention the “return”(of our troops).

At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Maryann said...

9:42 A.M. blogger,

Thanks for sharing your thought. You speak to the difficulty I'm having when I think about next week's election. My struggle doesn't center on where I stand on abortion – I can't kill; and numbers and innocence speak to my heart (although I extend a "thanks" to all that tried to morally educate me). What bothers me is that I feel like I have to choose between two candidates that both endorse evil. I'm having a real hard time believing that abortion, war, famine, genocide, and several other big social issues are or will make the world a better, more peaceful and loving place. As I mentioned in my first post, I suspect I'll walk away from casting my vote praying that good will continue to conquer evil.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

I believe all rights begin with the basic belief in the right to life. What is a more basic fundamental social and political issue than a practical right to life? The right to life (the first stated in the Dec. of Ind.) is the solid piece if rock upon which all other issues must be built. Without that, all is built in shifting sands, and other rights are jeopardized- we’ve seen plenty of evidence of that in the world. Take the issue of genocide, the mass murder of any one particular group. The mass murder of our unborn is exactly that- genocide. Why is it a wonder to some that nations such as our look away from regions like Darfur when we condone genocide within our own borders? While some may think it an extreme point of view, to me, it perfectly explains why we are tolerant of situations like that. Without the right to life, all other social issues are meaningless and support for one without support for the right to life is contradictory.

Obviously, some (many??) think neither candidate is worthy of support. It seems like voting for either is voting for evil. We’ve been taught that we can’t do evil in order to do good, but I don’t think this applies here. I think our morality is dictated by our intentions- if one vote limits the amount of evil, then we are doing good so that good will result. It is good to work towards protecting as many innocent lives as possible- quantity applies here.

At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm taking a chance here and hoping my anonymity is not tracked down. Can we laugh at ourselves now and then? Is healthy levity ever allowed on this blog?

When I read these blog comments, I'm always curious about the responses that get posted. They are informative and thought provoking and at times, intense. I suppose intensity is necessary, after all, Jesus' love for us was pretty intense - intense enough to offer His life for our salvation. But I have to admit, I love a laugh, especially when the air seems thick and heavy. With the elections less than a week away, and the sounds of coughs and sputters all around, I think a good laugh is warranted.

I found myself curious about the "comments" section at the bottom of each post. So far there are "18 comments" to this post. Back on 10/10 there were "30 comments" posted in response to the topic. I don’t know why, but I often find humor in simple concepts, like numbers. If I may ask, since the comments are counted, "What is the highest number of comments you've posted to one of your blog topics?" It seems like we Catholics love our numbers and lists.

Think about it, we start with the number ten. We have Ten Commandments to guide us in our journey through life. Ten percent is our target for tithing and Father wants us to transmit and impart nine specific fruits of the Holy Spirit into our personalities. The number nine is associated with a novena. I couldn't think of a list with eight things on it, but enlighten me if there is one.

Then I thought about the number seven. Seven is one of our favorite numbers! Yes, I am pretty sure FG is aware that seven is the number posted on the scoreboard when the Redskins get a touchdown and kick a good field goal and that the 'Skin's season will be 7 & 2 if they win their next game. But, I don't think that's where the significance of seven comes from. We've got seven sacraments, seven deadly sins, seven corporal works of mercy, seven sacraments, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and seven days in the week…. Hmmm……did I miss any?

Moving right along, our ushers count the number of people that attend mass, but to their credit, I've never seen or heard that little silver clicker thing I remember from my childhood. Growing up, I remember hearing this clicking sound as people would enter through a gate or entrance. The gate person would stand at an entrance with a little silver thing held in their palm. Every time someone would go through the entrance or gate, they would push down on a tab with their thumb and the clicker would count the number of people, with a "click" for each person. We Catholics are quiet and discreet when we track our numbers.

I'm pretty sure priests keep track of the number of confessions they hear, but again, to their credit, I've never heard a "click" as I close the door behind me. I always wonder if they have some little book that helps them remember and keep track of exactly how many confessions they've heard. And just what gets done with that number? I have no idea and I don't think I really care. I'm just glad we have a chance to add one more to their total sum. Confession is difficult, but the cleansing and healing it offers is awesome. To be forgiven and given one more chance, time and time again. WOW.

A parish keeps track of its parish members – we get an envelope in the mail with a number on it. And that envelope is followed, you bet, for good old Uncle Sam. Don't get me wrong, I'd freely give to the church, even if I didn't register and become "a number". I'm proud of the fact that some of that which I give helps provide services to the poor and needy.

A parish keeps track of how many new families or individuals join in a year versus how many departed this world for the next, and of course, the weekly bulletin includes the amount offered at the previous Sabbath. Yes, we love our numbers. I guess we can blame it on the Jews.

Judaism is a comprehensive way of life, filled with rules and practices that affect every aspect of life: There are 613 commandments or statements and principles of law and ethics contained in the Torah or Five Books of Moses that, if followed, increase the spirituality in one's soul. These 613 mitzvots are broken down to "positive commandments" or positive acts (mitzvot aseh) or "negative commandments" negative acts to be abstained from (mitzvot lo taaseh). There are 365 negative commandments, corresponding to the number of days in a solar year, and 248 positive commandments, ascribed to the number of bones and significant organs in the human body. In terms of numbers and commandments, we Christians have it easy. Ten Commandments are nothing when compared to 613 mitvots!

When thinking of numbers, take a look at one of our most precious prayers, the Rosary. The Rosary is one of my favorites – I find its' repetition soothing and calming – it helps me stay focused on what life is all about. Mary is powerful, and deserving of every "Hail" we take the time to offer, and, we can never take enough time to offer our thanks and praise to the Mother of our church. We begin our Rosary only after we know which of the four mysteries is to be meditated on. It changes each day. We begin with the Lord's Prayer and then move onto three Hail Mary prayers, petitioning for the gifts of Faith, Hope and Love. To this day I still think of the alphabet to get them in the right order – "F" comes before "H", "H" comes before "L". We then move on to our reverence and thanks through the repetition of prayers that includes 50 "Hail Mary, full of grace…" counted on beads. I used to think it was a good thing we had beads to keep count with, but then I realized that I can never offer too much praise and thanks to Mary, our precious Mother.

So, I'll close and hope that this response provides levity, not mockery or belittling of that which we believe and live. Every now and then I find a good laugh refreshing, especially when it is at our own expense. Then we can regroup with a smile, be grateful for our Savior and beliefs and continue to pray and speak out for the preservation of life, equality, and world peace.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger fran said...

Wow! anon, you must be an accountant! (levity, right?)

Perhaps my posts have been regarded as "intense," but it is never my intention to come across as "holier-than-thou," or "it's gotta be my way." Quite the contrary.

The written word is not always received in the same manner as the spoken word. Know that I am typing gently, just as I speak.

I know we are trying to 'lighten it up' here but I just had this to say. It keeps crossing my mind. When I think of all that our presidentital candidates are saying they will offer, if they are elected, I think of this bible passage:

"What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?" Luke 11:11-12

We think we are being offered "fish" and "eggs," but they are really "snakes" and "scorpions," under the guise of "health care" plans.

Doing my part to keep the all thing numbers commentary going, if you would like to see a heartwarming, yet mildly heart wrenching story about 99 days in the life of a beautiful boy, as narrated by his beautiful father, go to:

It is called "99 Ballons." It is sheer poetry.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger fran said...

Now here is something funny! The word verification characters I just had to type to post my last comment spelled out "pharite." Strange resemblance to "Pharisee!"


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