15 November 2013

What are you saying to break the arrogant tyranny encouraged by silence? A lesson from Cardinal Zen

As the struggle in favor of religious liberty over the attempts to redefine marriage continue in the United States of America, there are many - even within the Church - who suggest that the faithful, both clergy and lay, should simply be quiet and accept the inevitable.  This betrays two presumptions.

It betrays first the presumption that so-called same-sex "marriage" is inevitable, which in fact it is not.  If the legislators will listen to the voices of those they claim to represent - and that is a very large if, I know - they will vote against these attempts to refine marriage.

At the same time, though, such a mentality also betrays the presumption that faith - especially Christian faith - has no place in the public square.  It is especially deplorable when such a mentality takes root among Catholics because they fail to recognize the great dignity to which they have been called by Christ and that mission that comes from his call, which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council summarized thus:
But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. Therefore, since they are tightly bound up in all types of temporal affairs it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such a way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer (Lumen Gentium, 31).
It is for the laity, then, to speak up, boldly and with great conviction.  The faithful must make their voices heard and even hold public office because the salvation of souls is at stake, not just in the arena of the redefinition of marriage, but wherever an intrinsic moral evil is being promoted and even enshrined as something morally good.

This vocation to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs is succinctly stated in the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 225 §1. Since, like all the Christian faithful, lay persons are designated by God for the apostolate through baptism and confirmation, they are bound by the general obligation and possess the right as individuals, or joined in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation is made known and accepted by all persons everywhere in the world. This obligation is even more compelling in those circumstances in which only through them can people hear the gospel and know Christ.
§2. According to each one’s own condition, they are also bound by a particular duty to imbue and perfect the order of temporal affairs with the spirit of the gospel and thus to give witness to Christ, especially in carrying out these same affairs and in exercising secular functions.

The words of the Savior must resound clearly and emphatically in the modern world; they must be echoed on the lips of the laity: "You are those who justify yourselves before me, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

The Christ whom the laity must make known in the public square welcomes all people to himself, yes, but he also demands a conversion of heart and mind.  The Christ they must make known called people "whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23:27), a "brood of vipers" (Matthew 23:33), and cried out cities, "Woe to you" (Luke 10:13); he overturned tables and drove unrepentant sinners out of the Temple with a whip (John 2:15); and he said "it would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin" (Luke 17:2).

The Christ that must be made known in the public square - within homes and business, in parks at the beach and even in churches - is not the "nice guy" Jesus we have fashioned after our own image, but the Jesus who is loving, yes, but also demanding.  It is he who says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21); it is he who says, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23); it is he who says, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26); and it is he who says, "whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:33).

As might be expected, I've been pondering all of this for some time and stumbled upon an intervention given to Zenit by His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-Kiun, Bishop-Emeritus of Hong Kong.  In discussing the plight of the Church in China, Cardinal Zen said:
There is absolute control, contempt for the Church, the humiliation of our Bishops. Some of them have been in prison for ten years! We, who in Hong Kong still have freedom of speech, must make our voice heard and say what we think, because harmony is lacking in China. There are those who are content at least with an apparent harmony, precisely to avoid any clash. But this is mistaken! -- because arrogance is encouraged by silence. Instead, it is a duty to continue to talk and to protest, especially for religious liberty.
We are not far from a time of contempt for the Church and the humiliation of Bishops; if you don't believe me, simply take a look at the comments posted on news articles.  Some of the criticisms are justified, but the vast majority are not and are clearly formed by both bigotry and ignorance.

If the laity in the United States of America do not speak up now with great force of conviction, repeatedly and continuously, in defense of religious liberty and a demand for its protection and restoration, their silence will only encourage the arrogance of tyranny.

It is time now to speak boldly.  What did you say yesterday?  What are you saying now?  What will you say tomorrow?  Let your voice be heard and live out faithfully the calling you received in Baptism!

1 comment:

  1. O Please God, give us a lot more priests like Fr.Daren Zehnie! O God give me words like this every day from the pulpit! God bless you, Father. God bless you. Susan Fox www.christsfaithfulwitness.com