Thursday, September 1, 2011

Silent Shepherds

Fearful Shepherds?

I am writing in response to Father Michael N. Lavalle’s Sunday Epistle on ‘body image’ The Catholic Free Press Aug 26, 2011. I have something to say to you Father, “gracias, merci, danke, salamat, and so forth. . .” Thank you Father from one of the beleaguered faithful, for voicing the little proclaimed truth that sexual immorality within the Church is intolerable and massively destructive to the human soul. Growing up in the sixty’s, I can write from experience. Having drifted away from chastity as a young person, and consequently having also drifted away from The Catholic Church, I know full well the dangers to both soul and body. The two are fundamentally connected and as I see it, the pastors of the Catholic Church, as Christ’s representatives on earth, have a solemn duty to preach on the dangers of sexual sin. How much misery, attendant to unchaste living such as fornication, adultery, contraception, abortion, pornography, pedophilia, divorce, homosexuality and so forth and so on . . . . . could have been avoided if our priests had had the courage of the Apostles and had challenged the depravity of our modern culture, is sadly unknown. By its very nature sexual sin has caused the decimation of many lives. It is not for nothing that St Paul exhorts the Christian to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). I know of no other sin that we are told to flee. One flees a situation that is fraught with imminent danger.

It has been a perpetual question of mine, as to why our spiritual shepherds have remained largely and steadfastly mute on the most dangerous sins of our day. Why have I never heard a forthright sermon against the absolute tragedy of babies slaughtered in their mother’s wombs? Why have I heard not a hint from the pulpit that contraception is gravely wrong in God’s eyes? Why have our priests blithely married cohabitating couples without so much as a blush at their premarital behavior, nor even a mild warning that their sexual sin may be detrimental to not only their future marriage but also to their souls?

By the grace of God I found my way back to the ‘Truth’ established by Jesus Christ, but the journey has been long and filled with suffering.

Having been back in the Church for over twenty years, I am happy to see this subject broached by a pastor of the Catholic Church. I can’t help but wonder why it has taken so long for me to see a published article by a Catholic priest, addressing a subject that has caused so much loss of faith and even life. I have taught many religious education classes over the years and I and have often addressed the subject of sexual sin with my young high school students. I have always found it necessary to first, educate those entrusted to me, on the nature of objective mortal sin, its consequences and its gravity, in light of the Church’s teaching. I have found consistently that the vast majority of young adults lack an even fundamental understanding of what constitutes a grave sin. When, after explaining the relationship of the grave nature of sexual sin, to their salvation, their faces register shock. Their expressions are a testament to the woeful failure of both pastors and parents to protect these treasured souls. Whenever, I have taught on the nature of venial vs. mortal sin, my young students wish to know one thing only, mirroring the question of the young ruler, “What must I do to be saved?” When presented with the truth that behavior matters to their eternal destiny, they wish to be saved and they are indeed willing to change their behavior.

How can they be saved if no one is willing to tell them? They wish to know the truth and to follow it! To not tell the full truth to our young people as well as to the middle-aged and even the elderly, is to leave them defenseless and in ignorance. It is to leave them prey to the agents of moral depravity, which the contemporary Christian must inevitably face. Do our priests simply not understand what their silence has accomplished?

If I sound angry, I am. We must all do our part in passing on the ‘inconvenient’ truths of our faith but is it not primarily the responsibility of our shepherds, by their weekly sermons, to protect and instruct God’s flock, preaching the gospel in its fullness? Today, parents as well as children are awash in a sea of moral ambiguity and the consequence of this lack of knowledge is self-evident. Young and old alike are victims of the sexually depraved era in which we live and we need courageous leaders to pastor the flock into safe pastures. My heart continues to long for an unequivocal sermon, preached from the pulpit on the moral choices that face the contemporary Christian and I must admit, that I fear for the majority of our priests who will give an accounting one day to the God of Heaven and Earth, when He asks them why they remained silent as His flock was devoured by wolves.

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