Today I surrender any comments I might make to the profound words contained in this homily, delivered by Father William Kuchinsky on January 25, 2009 at his parish, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Romney, West Virginia.
Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed . . ."
What should I say? What would you like me to say?
Would you like me to say that God is unaware and unconcerned that a president would sign an executive order so that, with the stroke of a pen, taxpayer money now will be used to kill babies in the womb; and your money and mine is now to be used to promote the evil of abortion throughout the world? Do you want me to tell you that the Word of God does not say the shedding of innocent blood cries out to Heaven for vengeance? It does. I cannot change that. I cannot withhold His warning.
The president promised to do this and yet many voted for him. Would you be more comfortable if I said such people are not at all complicit in the evil that has already been advanced?
When the good Lord was leading me into the priesthood, I understood something that struck me with fear. The more I immersed myself in God's Holy Word the more knowledge I gained: His word was demanding. The closer I drew to Him, the more responsible I had to be: Because in coming to know more fully His just commands, His loving teaching, the more responsible I was to conform myself to Him. Each step forward meant I could not turn back. I felt the demands, I knew I was a sinner, I knew well the discipleship was a challenge and a burden—although a sweet one.
Archbishop Chaput said, "Most of us treat the Church the same way we treat our flesh-and-blood mothers . . . we don't want her advice, especially when it interferes with our comfort." I knew that if I were called to be a priest, I would have to preach the Word that had "convicted" me and in its loving challenge engaged me in the struggle to do God's will: it was at times "uncomfortable." It was a fearful thing to struggle with the realization that I was now called to proclaim a message to others, which would make them "uncomfortable." I knew very early on, almost as if by instinct, that to be a priest would mean to be crucified with Christ.
In reality, all of us, by virtue of our baptism, share in the "common priesthood of believers." Each of us are to be "crucified to ourselves" and to the world. Each of us, as proper to our common priesthood, offers prayers and sacrifices. Many of us have perhaps come to realize that Our Blessed Lord was telling the truth when He said we would be persecuted. ["The servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also"]
I long ago decided, in view of struggles I had in accepting what the Lord seemed to be calling me to, that if I became a religious priest (I'm a secular priest, not a part of a religious order) I would take the name of "Israel" – "one who wrestles with God." But, standing here, I am glad to say that in my wrestling matches with the Almighty that it is good He always wins.
So now, after resisting the Lord, I have been "spit out" here in Romney as Jonah was from the belly of the whale. Don't get me wrong: I like it here, I love you, you are good people.
But, what would you like me to say to those young men and women (maybe even older men and women) who exercise particular actions that are only proper to marriage? That it is okay? Should I comfort them by saying "God understands?" Yes, He understands. He understands our weakness.
He knows the power of that drive within us and how emotions can come to cloud reason; and that after the fall of man we now are faced with disordered passions which can cause us to act in a manner not in keeping with our dignity as human beings: and all the more so in our dignity as Christians.
Last week we heard from the Letter to the Corinthians: "But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord: and the Lord for the body. Now God hath raised up the Lord and will raise us up also by his power. Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid! Or know you not that he who is joined to a harlot is made one body? For they shall be, saith he, two in one flesh. But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doth is without the body: but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."
Would you like to hear from me that God's Holy and inerrant Word no longer applies? Should I tell you that St. Paul was just an old fuddy-duddy who didn't really understand human nature? Would you like to hear me argue that we've come a long way since then and that the Church is just locked into an outmoded and archaic morality?
I cannot do so.
And then there are those who, contrary to the teaching of Christ, decide to move in with each other and "play house." When they come to know the heartbreak and tears that will likely arrive: am I to console them that there is nothing to learn from the pain of a broken heart and that the tears are just some strange thing that happens and are not because of the wound of their sins? Sin equals tears.
I cannot judge (so as to condemn) those who fornicate: but we can judge the behavior to be sinful. Only God knows the heart: but there is a Heaven and there is a hell. The Good Lord wants us to go to Heaven: that is why He teaches us what we in our passions might not see: It is not "okay" to have sex outside of marriage.
Now the homosexual agenda is being advanced from the highest office in our land. Even before the day of the presidential inauguration ended, the White House's policies were posted on their web site showing it will continued to be advanced, even accelerated. Just as was promised us in the campaign.
We can love the homosexual. We can hug a daughter or son afflicted with this disorder, we can walk hand and hand with them along the way. We can comfort them as they lay dying from AIDS when family, "lovers," and friends have deserted them . . . I worked with such dying, and I know that pretty much the only love shown them was by the strangers attending them in their hour of need.
But we cannot approve of their behavior. We cannot as a nation, condone so-called "homosexual marriage" or "unions." We cannot call "blessed" what God has pronounced an abomination. What is the fruit of such so-called "love"? Where is the natural "complementarity" that exists between a woman and a man? We cannot allow them to visit our homes to spend the night under our roof as we would a husband and wife. We cannot do so any more than a mother and father would allow a daughter's boyfriend to spend the night with her at home in the same room. It is not love to encourage or lead others to believe that sinful acts are permissible or acceptable.
Would you like me to say that unnatural sex acts do not "cry to Heaven for vengeance?" They do. The Bible clearly states this, the catechetical tradition of the Church retains the teaching . . . I cannot suspend the natural law or change God's Word anymore than I can change the laws of gravity.
When I was growing up, it was a general rule that when my brother and I heard Mrs. Deal whistle down the street for her sons to come home in the evening we were to go home also, or that certainly when the street lamps came on we were to be in the house under threat of spending the night on the front porch. My folks would ask where I was going, who I was playing with. Would you like me to say that it is okay for you as a mother and father to allow your young sons and daughters unfettered access to the internet, with all the dangers and smut that lurks there? Should I tell you it is a good thing that you have cable television to "baby sit" the kids while they sit hour after hour taking in the slim oozing out of the screen? Or, that it is okay they remain in front of that "tabernacle" of glass and plastic devoted to viewing as if in worship – while they are never encouraged to sit before Lord of love who remains unvisited, un-thought of, unloved, in the tabernacles of Catholic Churches throughout the world?
I know some parents might not know what their children are exposed to. It is hard to believe how bad things have gotten, so please take an objective look (you may well be horrified). Please check it out, just like my mom and dad would ask where I was going and would "keep tabs" on whom I hung out with. Don't let your children hang out with an evil gang: with a media which seeks to "own" them.
Would you like me not to remind you of the words of Our Lord Jesus who said: "Whoever leads one of these little ones astray, it would be better if he had a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea?" These children have been entrusted to you by God. He desires that you help Him bring them to that true home in Heaven He has prepared for us.
"I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out." [1 Corinthians 7:29]
Would you be more comfortable if I mentioned nothing of married couples using artificial contraception? Should I proclaim it "wise" for any of us mere mortals to tinker with a force that lies at the heart of the marital relationship? One that contains within it the same power that has called whole universes into existence. Would you be at ease if it weren't pointed out, among other things, that the use of such things can more deeply wound the fallen tendency in the man in such a way that he comes to view his wife as little more than an object of gratification? Should I point out that by rejecting natural family planning, a husband can lose that discipline that could help him to more and more view his wife as an equal partner and one who possesses an inherent dignity, which is to be always honored and reverenced? Would it be a welcomed message that you are reminded that the good Lord is not indifferent to the tears and utter brokenness of the children who find themselves victims of a marriage that lies tattered because the spouses failed to listen to their good mother, the Church?
Jesus proclaimed, "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Am I to tell you "don't worry, be happy?" Would it be helpful to you if I were to say "not to worry" – it might be another 2,000 years until we are all called to account for what we have done and what we have failed to do? I cannot do that. We need to change, we need to repent. "The Kingdom of God is at hand."
I am a sinner. I continue to struggle to conform my mind and my heart to Jesus, and to the teaching of His Church. I have enough to be concerned about in facing the judgment of the Lord. I might fail in many things, but I cannot fail in my duty to proclaim the fullness of the Gospel from this pulpit.
Would you be more at ease if I were to say that it is all right for a person who is conscious of committing a serious sin to dare come to this altar to receive the Lord in Holy Communion? Here, at this altar the Lord comes to us, the Lord before whom the angels and saints bow down with awe in worship singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy!" While the devil and the demons shudder and flee in horror…
Would you like me to tell you that it is acceptable for even good Catholics who are not in serious sin and are free to receive the body and blood of Christ to not try to summon with all the powers of their minds and hearts the reality that it is Jesus we approach here. We are weak, the good Lord knows this, but I cannot tell you that it is a good thing that we allow ourselves to receive Him mindlessly without even trying to muster within our hearts at least a "thank you" for the bread from Heaven that has been given to us.
Are we to give up the fight for our souls even as it seems we may have already surrendered our beloved land? I don't think so. Please God, that will never happen!
" . . . when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, He repented of the evil that He had threatened to do to them; He did not carry it out."
What should I say? What would you like me to say? Need I say anything more?
Fellow Christians, if this message has moved you, please send it on to our Holy Father in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Re, the prefect for the Congregation of Bishops. Let them know what a faithful servant God has in Father Kuchinsky.
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI PP.
Bishop of Rome
Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano
00120, Vatican City State
Note: Please do not put "Italy" on the envelope when mailing something to the Holy Father.
His Eminence Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re
c/o Most Rev. Archbishop Francesco Monterisi
Palazzo della Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 10
00193, Roma, Italy