Fr. Bryan Howard
Solemnity of Christ the King – Year A – 26 November 2023
King has meant different things to different civilizations. In the ancient Egypt and Persia, the King was a semi-divine figure who ruled because of his connection to the gods. In ancient Greece, the king was a political leader, the monarch of the city-state. In the Middle Ages, the king was a feudal lord ruled through a system of oaths of loyalty with his vassals. In the Enlightenment the kings considered themselves to be specially chosen by God to rule.
So, what do we mean when we say that Christ is king? Christ is king in all of these ways. Christ is the Messiah, the anointed one who was chosen by God to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Jesus Christ was crowned King of the Universe even in his sacred humanity because He was perfectly obedient to God the Father. He perfectly reflected the love, mercy, and fidelity of God the Father. God the Father pours Himself out for all eternity in creative love, first to beget His divine Son, then with Him to breathe forth the Holy Spirit, then together to create a universe perfectly suited for life. On the Cross, Christ likewise poured Himself out to give us life, spiritual life. Because of this, St. Paul tells us, “He was given a name above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee must bend, of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
The feudal kings of the Middle Ages vowed loyalty and protection to their vassal lords and knights, and in return they vowed themselves to the service of the king in obedience and fidelity. These were considered sacred bonds. Similarly, we have made vows promising fidelity and obedience to God, through Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ has promised loyalty and protection to us when He told His disciples that He would be with them until the end of the age, that He would always hear their prayers, and that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide and protect them. Christ is our King inasmuch as we have enthroned Him as King in our hearts. It isn’t enough to speak the words of the promises at baptism and every year when we renew them at Easter; we must choose to make Christ our King every day of our lives and in every decision that we make.
Like the political rulers of ancient Greek city-states, Christ is the monarch or ruler. Monarch comes from monos, meaning one, and arch, meaning chief, principal, or leader. A ruler, even in ancient times, was a stick used to make a straight line. Christ is our one leader; he gives us in the straight path, the narrow way. Human monarchs and political leaders always make errors or lead us down the wrong path. We can never err by following Christ and patterning our lives after His.
Finally, although many ancient kings and emperors pretended to be divine, to have a special connection to the Gods, Jesus Christ truly is the God-man. He is truly the Son of God and truly the Son of Mary. He often calls Himself the Son of Man. Some one who’s a son of man is obviously also a man, but that specific phrase comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel, who sees a vision of one like a son of man coming down from heaven riding on the clouds, a divine metaphor. Jesus Christ commands the wind and the waves, works miracles, and even returns from the grave, but He also ate and drank, made jokes, and wept at the death of a friend.
He is the meeting point of divinity and humanity, heaven and earth, God and man. Let us take Him as our ruler by patterning our lives on His, so that we might walk the straight and narrow way. Let us learn to pour ourselves out in love like He does. We were hungry and He gave us His own flesh as bread. We were thirsty and He gave us His own blood as wine. We were strangers and He made us His brothers and sisters. We were naked and He clothed us in His grace, ill and He healed our souls, imprisoned and He freed us from sin and death. Let us enthrone Christ in our hearts by doing the same for one another.
Question: Where did Advent come from?
We have evidence of the time before Christmas being a particular time of spiritual preparation dating back to the Council of Saragossa in 380 AD. By the end of the sixth century the season began to take shape as a time of fasting and prayer in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Pope St. Gregory the Great (pope 590-604 AD) established the time of Advent in the form we still use today, fixing it at four weeks and composing prayers and antiphons to be used specifically during this time.
Question: Why do you wear pink on the third week of Advent?
There are various liturgical colors for different seasons and celebrations during the year, but the color pink (technically “rose”) is only used twice during the year, and one of those times is during Advent. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, which means Rejoice Sunday. It comes from the first prayer of that Mass, “Gaudete in Domino semper. Rejoice in the Lord always,” which is a direct quote from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians chapter 4, verse 4. The idea is that we are supposed to rejoice at being close to the celebration of Christmas. The color pink symbolizes joy because it is a lighter color than purple, which represents repentance, but not the full gold of Christmas. We rejoice, but we’re still in a mode of repentance.
Question: What are we supposed to do during Advent?
Remember that Advent is supposed to be a time of spiritual preparation for Christmas, and we prepare through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. You can pray during Advent by reading the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1:1-2:40) and considering what the birth of the Son of God means for the world and for you. Another tradition Advent prayer is the “O Antiphons,” which should be familiar because of the song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
You can fast by abstaining from meat, or some other food, on Fridays of Advent, which the Church asks us to do in Canon 1251 of the Code of Canon Law, “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.” This is binding on all Catholics who are at least 14 years old.
You can give alms by donating to Church, to the St. Anthony box, or to other charities. We say that Christmas is the season of giving, as God gave us His greatest gift at Christmas, His Son, but we can start giving already during Advent.
If you have questions or suggestions of topics for Fr. Bryan’s bulletin article, email them to Fr. Bryan at email@example.com
Fr. Bryan Howard
November 19, 2023
The Sixth Commandment: Chastity
Thou shalt not commit adultery. – Exodus 20:14
You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:27-28
Like the other commandments, the sixth applies to an entire area of human life. It names, as the specific prohibition, the sin of adultery, which is betrayal of the marital bond, but it also extends to other acts in this area of life. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord makes it clear that we are called to a higher standard in this area of life. We ought not to aim for the minimum, but to strive for virtue even in how we think of other people.
Reflecting on the marriage vows can help us to better understand the Church’s teachings in this area. In their vows a husband and wife promise fidelity to one another for the rest of their lives, not merely in this moment or until I don’t feel like it any more. They promise to be faithful to one another “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health” and “to love and honor” one another “all the days of my life,” or “to love and cherish until death do us part.” They each promise a generous, self-giving, fruitful love to one another for the rest of their lives and in each moment in between, and they are called to live out that promise.
The physical expression of that promise is the marital act, in which the marriage is consummated. The marital act is an expression of total gift of self. That is simply what the act means, and taking it out of the context of marriage is inherently dishonest. It amounts to making a promise of total love and commitment that we don’t really mean or intend to keep.
The call to chastity is a call to respecting the dignity of every person by not using anyone as an object for our own gratification, even just in our thoughts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Charity is the form of all the virtues. Under its influence, chastity appears as a school of the gift of the person. Self-mastery is ordered to the gift of self. Chastity leads him who practices it to become a witness to his neighbor of God’s fidelity and loving kindness. The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality. Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all” (CCC 2346-47). That is, chastity allows us to enter into true friendship and witness to the selfless love of Christ, because it frees us to work for the good of others and not to worry about what they can do for us.
“Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy” (CCC 2339). How do we develop the virtue of chastity and grow in the discipline of self-mastery? First, stay close to the Blessed Mother. The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is our greatest advocate in learning to imitate Christ. Praying the rosary daily and other Marian devotions is one of the best things we can do to grow in chastity. Second, practice custody of the eyes, which is the discipline of avoiding those things that can lead to temptation, both in the world and in media. Finally, practice seeing Christ in every person and treating everyone as a brother or sister. Each one of us is created in the image and likeness of Christ, and everyone is either our brother or sister in Christ or potentially so, and Jesus Christ calls on us to “love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
Fr. Bryan Howard
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – 12 November 2023
Death is one of the most powerful forces in human life. There are people right now working to defeat death through scientific means. Some people are working to make biological life unending, others are working on cryogenics, ways to freeze people in the hopes that humans in the future figure out how to defeat death, and finally some people are working to integrate humans and machines so that we can download our mind and consciousness into a computer. The Church fully supports efforts to improve the quality of life, find cures for diseases, and improve medical technology. However, our Lord has already defeated death, and He didn’t do it by avoiding death, but by dying, entering the realm of the dead, and returning victorious. We call this the harrowing of hell, when Christ emptied the realm of the dead of the souls of the righteous and brought them to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through His death, Christ has transformed death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1009) says, “The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing,” and St. Paul said, “This saying is sure: if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him” (2 Tim 2:11). Facing the end of our lives is terrifying. Spiritually, it is a very dangerous time, because we’re tempted to despair, to lose hope, to believe that God has abandoned us. This is why we pray in the Hail Mary prayer, “pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” We need God’s help now, immediately, and we will need it at the hour of our death, to unite our death with Christ’s death, to embrace the Cross and offer it up to the Lord, so that our suffering, both physical and spiritual, can become a redeeming act. Jesus Christ’s death redeemed the entire world; our deaths’, if they are united with Christ’s, can also become redemptive. The Catechism says this, “In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul’s: ‘My desire is to depart and be with Christ.’ He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ” (CCC, 1011).
There are a lot of misconceptions about what actually happens after we die, so let me try to make some things clear. Christians do not believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is the belief of some Eastern religions, some indigenous religions, and some new age spiritualities that a person is reborn into a new body, a new life, after they die. This usually goes along with the idea that you will continue to be reborn until you reach enlightenment. Another popular belief is that we lose our individuality when we die. When we die we keep our individuality; you will be the same person after you die. In that moment, you will undergo your personal judgement, as you answer to God for how you’ve lived your life. Then, you will go immediately to your “just reward,” either heaven, purgatory, or hell. Heaven is the state of perfect union with God reserved for the angels and saints. Purgatory is for those who die in God’s grace and friendship but need to be purified of their attachments to sin before they can proceed to heaven; anyone who gets to purgatory will eventually get to heaven. Hell is the state of definitive self-exclusion for communion with God.
There are many people, even Christians, who don’t believe in hell, or who think that hell will be emptied out at the end of time so that everyone ultimately gets to heaven. The Catechism says this, “Jesus often speaks of ‘Gehenna,’ of ‘the unquenchable fire’ reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost,” and “to die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice” (CCC 1033-34).
In today’s Gospel, the Lord warns us, “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”None of us knows the hour when we will go to meet the Lord. In the parable of the 10 virgins, the virgins all represent Christians; they are all waiting for the bridegroom, who is Jesus Christ. Some of them are wise and make sure that they are prepared, and some of them are foolish and unprepared. Practically, we may wonder why all 10 of them needed lamps. Wouldn’t the light from five lamps be enough? However, the lamps represent our faith, and the oil represents the acts of love for God and neighbor that fuel our faith. We prepare ourselves to meet the Lord through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, good deeds, and virtuous acts. The foolish virgins come to the door and knock and call for the Lord, but the Lord says to them one of the most terrifying lines in the entire Bible, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.” Imagine hearing the Lord say that to you. Do you go to Mass, visit the Lord present in the Eucharist, take time for prayer every day? If you haven’t talked to your friend for five years, even though they’ve been calling you and sending text messages, how good of a friend are you really? If we’re presumptuous, thinking that we’ve done enough, then we may be caught unprepared. If we humble ourselves, doing all we can and making use of the grace God gives us in the sacraments, then we may be ready to meet the Lord when He comes.
Have you ever wondered why Catholic churches are designed the way they are? In the earliest days of the Church Christianity was under nearly constant persecution. First, the Jewish officials were trying to get the apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ to stop preaching about the Resurrection. Then, in the 60’s AD, the emperor Nero Caesar started the Roman persecution which would continue, with some interruptions, until the emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 AD (although the persecutions didn’t end immediately in every part of the empire).
Suddenly, after over 250 years of persecution, Christians could practice their religion openly and didn’t have to gather in people’s homes or the catacombs to celebrate Mass. The very first Churches during this time were converted from public buildings and meeting areas, but soon the Church in Rome was building the first great basilicas. These Churches took inspiration not only from Greek and Roman architecture but also from our Jewish roots.
The first holy places were on mountains. When the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, the journeyed to Mt. Sinai where they offered sacrifices to God and received the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law. In the first book of Kings, the Prophet Elijah flees from King Ahab to Mt. Horeb where he encounters God. Also, Solomon’s Temple was build on Mt. Zion, in Jerusalem, which was considered to be a sacred mountain. That’s why Psalm 24 says, “Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord, or who shall stand in His holy place?” The mountain of the Lord is Mt. Zion, and the “holy place,” or sanctuary, is the Temple.
When Solomon built the Temple it was designed as a sort of artificial mountain. When you went up to the Temple to worship you would first ascend a flight of steps from the Outer Court to the Upper Court, which housed the bronze altar of sacrifice. Only the priests and Levites could enter the Upper Court. You would then go up another flight of steps into the Holy Place which housed the altar of incense, ten lamps stands, and a table holding bread (The Bread of the Presence) and wine. Finally, you would then ascend another flight of steps into the Holy of Holies, which was blocked off by a veil and housed the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a symbol of the presence of God, since it contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments and a jar of the Mana that the Israelites ate in the desert after the Exodus and which was a symbol of the Eucharist.
If you look at the picture of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, you can see how traditional Catholic churches are modeled after Solomon’s Temple. You would first ascend into the Church itself, where the people gather for Mass. Then, you ascend another flight of steps into the Sanctuary, or Holy Place, which has the ambo for the readings and the celebrant’s chair. Then, you ascend a final flight of steps to the tabernacle, which contains the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, just like the Ark in the Holy of Holies was a golden box containing the Mana.
You further you go into the Church, the more you are ascending the “mountain of the Lord” and the closer you are getting to Jesus and the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Ultimately, the sacred mountains in the Bible, Solomon’s Temple, and our Catholic Churches all point to something beyond themselves. They point us to heaven. Our goal in life should be to grow closer to God that we might one day ascend to heaven to be with Him for eternity.
Recently, I had to refill and bless the holy water in our holy water font. If you’re interested in seeing how that’s done at St. Cletus Roman Catholic Church check out the video below.
Fr. Bryan Howard
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – 5 November 2023
Our readings for this weekend are all about those who hold spiritual authority and the responsibility they have to exercise that authority for the good of the people of God and not for their own benefit. However, everyone should pay attention to this warning, because it applies to everyone who exercises authority of others. Is the purpose of authority to gather power, honors, and privileges for ourselves or to exercise it for the good of others? Jesus warns us, “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Lord says that the Pharisees, “have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.” In the synagogues, the rabbis preached sitting down, so the chair became a symbol of teaching authority. We still use the symbol of the chair in the Catholic Church. The Pope sits on the “Chair of Peter,” meaning that he teaches with the authority that Christ gave to St. Peter. Bishops also have a chair that represents their authority and that no one else is allowed to sit on. The chair is in the main church of the diocese, and, since the Latin word of chair is cathedra, we call the that has the bishop’s cathedra the cathedral. The point is that the Pharisees are wielding legitimate authority, even if some of them are abusing that authority. Still, Jesus tells the disciples, “Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.” They same thing is true in the Church today. There are many very good bishops, priests, deacons, and men and women religious; holy men and women simply trying to win souls for Christ. Unfortunately, there are also quite a number who seek to exalt themselves. The Lord didn’t guarantee that every member of the Church would be good and holy, but He did guarantee that the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. Place your faith in Christ, seek the truth, and live in it. Pray for the Church. Pray for the clergy and religious. Pray for vocations.
The Lord says that we shouldn’t call anyone rabbi, father, or master, because we only have one teacher, one Father in heaven, and one Master, the Christ. Well, rabbi is jus the Hebrew word for teacher and mister is another form of the word master; does Jesus mean that we shouldn’t even use the words teacher, father, and mister, except to talk about God? No, He doesn’t. In fact, in another place Jesus refers to Abraham as “father,” and the apostles call themselves spiritual fathers to their converts. Rather, Jesus is reminding them that everything they do should point people to God. After all, Fr. Bryan can’t save anyone, neither can Archbishop Aymond, or Pope Francis, or even St. Peter or St. Paul. Only Christ saves us. My role as a priest, and your roles as Christians, is simply to point people to Christ. Cult leaders, like Charles Manson and Jim Jones, use their personal charisma to gather followers and make themselves the center of their lives. On the other hand, saints, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Thomas Moore, although they are often very gifted and charismatic people, follow the words of St. John the Baptist, “He must increase, while I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
What is the ultimate goal of your life? Sometimes we put ourselves at the center of our lives. We think about all of the things we want to do for ourselves: the things we want to accomplish, the degrees, honors, and awards that we’ll get, the luxuries we’ll work for, and the vacations we’ll take. None of those things are bad; the problem is when we focus all of them on ourselves. On the other hand, we can put Christ at the center of our lives: how we’ll use our gifts and talents for Christ, what we’ll accomplish for Christ, how we’ll better ourselves to better serve Christ, and how we’ll improve the lives of the people around us for the sake of Christ.
The English writer and poet Percy Shelley wrote a short poem about an ancient king called Ozymandias. In the poem, a traveller going through a desert wasteland comes across the shattered remains of a giant statue. He describes the ruins of the statue and then ends the poem with these words, “And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing besides remains. Round the decay of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.” Such will be the fate of every person who lives their lives for their own glory. Eventually, they will be utterly forgotten. However, those who humble themselves and make of their lives a monument to the true King of kings will share in His unfading glory for all eternity.
Thou shalt not kill. – Exodus 20:13
The Sacred Scriptures depict life, especially human life, as being holy, sacred, set apart for God. God created everything that exists as good, but when He created humanity He did something different; He created mankind “in our image, after our likeness” (Gn 1:26), and breathed life into us Himself (Gn 2:7). The Bible goes on to depict all of humanity, whatever nation we come from, as one family. All of humanity comes from our common first parents, Adam and Eve, and all murder is seen through the story of Cain and Abel (Gn 4), which was fratricide, brother killing brother. Later, murder and warfare in the world leads to the great flood (Gn 6:11), so that God begins again with Noah and his family, once again depicting all of humanity and the many nations of the world coming from one common family (Gn 10). In the Biblical perspective murder is wrong because every life comes from God, is created in His image and likeness, and therefore possesses human dignity. We’re called to treat one another as brothers and sisters, not competing for resources, honor, or power, but cooperating with one another and treating others as we would have them treat ourselves.
Murder is defined as directly destroying an innocent human being (CCC 2258). Murder is inherently evil and can’t be justified under any circumstances. When someone tries to justify murder they’ll usually argue that it doesn’t fit some part of that definition. They may say that it’s not directly destroying the life because they were “only following orders” or “they made me do it.” They may say that no one is truly innocent. Finally, they may argue, as the Nazi’s did, that their victims aren’t truly human or that they’re less than us in some way. None of these rationalizations can justify murder.
God wants us to have peace with one another, but He also understands that life isn’t that simple. The Bible clearly shows instances of legitimate self-defense, for example in David and Goliath (1 Sam 17:41-54) or Sampson and the Philistines (Jdg 16:23-31). However, we must keep in mind what the Catechism says:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful...Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s. Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge. – CCC 2264-65
Therefore, we have a right to protect ourselves form harm by driving someone off or retendering them unable to harm us, but killing someone when we don’t have to is not legitimate self-defense. This is not a defense of killing someone in an honor duel or over an insult, but in defense of our person or those whom we’re responsible for. Notice that I’m talking about Christian morality, not civil law. The law in your area may be more or less restrictive on the right to self-defense.
The purpose of this reflection is simply to give the basics of Church teaching on the 5th Commandment, and to give us some things to reflect on. We do have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in the world, to treat one another with respect and dignity, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. For a more complete look at the 5th Commandment, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church numbers 2258 through 2330.
Anyone who visits a cemetery on any day from November 1 to November 8 and prays for the departed can gain a plenary indulgence for the souls in purgatory. On November 2, the indulgence can also be gained by visiting a church and praying an Our Father and the Creed. Praying at a cemetery on other days of the year is a partial indulgence. A prayer service for visiting a cemetery has been left in the back of Church and is available on the Church website in the “Links” section.
What is an indulgence?
Sin hurts the people around us, hurts ourselves, hurts the Church, and ultimately damages or destroys our relationship with Christ. Jesus Christ became man and died for our sins to restore us to the love of God, and we can receive forgiveness of our sins and be reconciled to God and the Church in the Sacrament of Confession. However, justice requires that we atone for those sins or in some way make up for them. If we don't do it here on earth, then we will have to do it in purgatory. An indulgence doesn’t forgive our sins; it is the remission of the temporal punishment for sins which a properly disposed Christian can gain by following the directives of the Church and to which the Church adds from the treasury of the merits gained by our Lord, our Blessed Mother, and the saints. As the supplement to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae says, “He who gains indulgences is not thereby released from what he owes as penalty, but is provided with the means of paying it.”
Plenary and Partial Indulgences:
A plenary indulgence is a complete indulgence; it makes up for all of the temporal punishment that is due to us because of our sins. A partial indulgence only makes up for part of it. You can gain one plenary indulgence per day or multiple partial indulgences.
Prayer for the souls in purgatory:
Indulgences can also be offered for the souls in purgatory, since we are all united in baptism as one body in Christ. In fact, the All Souls Day indulgence can only be offered for the souls in purgatory, not for oneself, and, in that way, it is an act of selfless love.
What do I have to do?
At the time that you do the indulgenced work:
1.Intend to gain the Indulgence,
2.Pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary for the intentions of the Pope,
3.Exclude all attachment from sin, even venial sin.
Within 20 days before or after the visit, you must also:
1.Receive Holy Communion
2.Go to Confession
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may have a long life upon the land, which the Lord your God will give to you. - Exodus 20:12
The Fourth Commandment is one of the three commandments that are expressed positively. Instead of “thou shalt not,” it tells us something that we are obligated to do. God has willed that we should honor Him above everyone and everything for having created us from nothing, and after Him we should honor our parents first for having given us life, and then other people who are in positions of authority over us. It is also the first commandment with a promise for those who keep it; God says that they will “have a long life in the land.”
Honor doesn’t mean blind obedience. If anyone in authority over us, even our parents, tells us to do something that is contrary to the Law of God or teaches us something that is contrary to what God has revealed, then we have an obligation to disobey them because God must come first. However, when respect for our parents and for civil authorities doesn’t contradict God we ought to respect them for God’s sake and in His name. Just as parents have an obligation to love and care for their children, so children have an obligation to respect their parents and be grateful for the sacrifices they make for them. When parents and civil authorities respect the Law of God and the Commandments, and we honor them in God’s name, there will tend to be peace and prosperity among families and communities. When either side fails it brings great harm to communities and individuals.
God, and the Church in His name, calls on families to care for the children of the family, the elderly, sick and handicapped, and for the poor within their own families. Since we all struggle at times, the Church calls on families in a community to help one another in times of need. Finally, society should make it possible for families to care for their own and to care for one another. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life (CCC 2209).” The principle of subsidiarity states that issues should be dealt with locally, at the nearest level, whenever possible. When we are close to one another we can see what’s going on and come up with solutions to fit the specific need and respect the people and families involved.
The Bible is a book about family. It begins, in Genesis 1 and 2, with the creation of the world and the marriage of Adam and Eve, it continues by telling the story of Adam and Eve, their children, and their descendants, how God chooses Abraham and his descendants, and the fulfillment in Jesus Christ a descendant of Adam and Abraham, and concludes in Revelation 19-22 with another marriage, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and the marriage of Christ and the Church. God wants us to see one another as family. Therefore, the Catechism says, “In our brothers and sisters we see the children of our parents; in our cousins, the descendants of our ancestors, in our fellow citizens, the children of our country; in the baptized, the children of our mother the Church; in every human person, a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called ‘our Father.’ In this way our relationships with our neighbors are recognized as personal in character. The neighbor is not a ‘unit’ in the human collective; he is ‘someone’ who by his known origins deserves particular attention and respect (CCC 2212).”
About this Blog
This blog serves primarily as a place to archive my bulletin articles to my parish, my homilies, and my thoughts and writings on various topics.