Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bishop Finn on Humanae Vitae

Bishop Finn met with pro-life coordinators throughout the diocese last Wednesday at St. Therese Parish in Parkville. He preached on the subject of the 40th Anniversary of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae.

He opens with some words about the challenge of fidelity:

"In fidelity and wisdom the Church listens to the Sacred Scriptures, the clear representation of revealed truth. She does not spare us the challenges of the Gospel, by which our Lord constantly calls us to conversion of heart and to conscientious living. The Magisterium of the Church, is clear and consistent about the demands of the Gospel of Life.

It is true, and also tragic, that individual baptized Catholics embrace positions across a wide spectrum of issues and values. We variously describe ourselves as pro-life, or even “pro-choice.” Catholics are against Capital Punishment, and yet some support the application of the death penalty enthusiastically. Catholic men and women who practice their faith and would never think of missing Sunday Mass, will nonetheless take stands contrary to the Church’s teaching against human embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.

For Ezekiel, it seems clear, our alliance with such “abominations” has an impact on our eternal salvation. The judgment concerning our eternal destiny is God’s, who alone knows and reads hearts. But God writes on the human heart an immutable law. Through the Holy Spirit promised to the Apostles He provides us the substantive guidance we need for the formation of a right conscience."

A petition we never forget in our family prayer is for the priests and bishops we know. They lead a difficult life and it is not for nothing that the Church insists we remember them, the bishops even by name, in all of our liturgies. Even one like Bishop Finn is not unaffected by the expectations of our culture and needs our prayers for support as he reveals later in his homily:

"I remember, years ago, summoning up my resolution to preach, for perhaps the first time in my priesthood, about Humanae Vitae and the meaning of married love. I began to speak of the vocation of husbands and wives to find meaning in their love and union by participating in God’s creative love. God wanted to share His goodness and called man and woman to give themselves to each other completely and forever. . .

When couples come together in intimacy, but say a defiant “no” to God’s plan for life, they are holding back something necessary for the full flowering of their married relationship: They are giving themselves only partially and without full trust, and they are consciously excluding God from their plans. . .

When I had preached this message, I was a bit sheepish about people’s response, but something wonderful and unexpected happened. Several couples, of varying ages, came up to me and said “Thank you, Father. We have been trying to live this. It has not been easy at times. But we have wanted someone to help us – by a few words of encouragement – to reassure us that we were on the right track.”

I remember thinking, “Well, now this is something!” I don’t have to think only about getting people to stop using artificial contraception. All I have to do is realize and exercise my responsibility as a spiritual Father and a teacher to give couples who are trying to be faithful the support and encouragement they deserve.

Yes, friends, we deserve the joy and the light of the truth, and we want to hear it from one another as an inspiration and encouragement to persevere in faith."

You can read his whole homily at The Catholic Key.