Noticias de la Diócesis de Allentown

Five Faith Friday

Here is this week's installment of "Five Faith Friday" which contains five, faith-based things I found interesting and am sharing on Friday.

What I’m Reflecting On –
The month of June. In June, we celebrate the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Interestingly enough, during the same month, the world celebrates “Pride Month.” In light of the reality of the spiritual battle that rages each day, it is worth noting that these two months coincide. In a battle for souls, it would seem apt that during the month of the Sacred Heart, the world’s “counter-attack” is to dedicate an entire month to “pride,” one of the seven deadly sins, and the celebration of behavior that is “contrary to the natural law” (CCC 2357). As such, we should pray especially fervently this month to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for those who suffer from same-sex attraction, gender dysphoria, and those who have been lead astray by the world's harmful gender ideology and the LGBT+ agenda of advocating for and encouraging lifestyles that puts a person's soul in jeopardy. Because here’s the thing. As Catholics, we don’t fly the rainbow “pride flag," nor do we attend “pride” festivals, rallies, or activities because we cannot condone the lifestyles that the “pride flag” represents. Why? Because we care about a person’s immortal soul! We “thirst” along with Our Lord on the Cross for souls to go to Heaven! We shouldn’t affirm the "gay lifestyle" just as we shouldn’t affirm a "lifestyle of masturbation" or “fornication” or a “pornographic lifestyle,” all of which the Catechism lists as “sins gravely contrary to chastity” along with “homosexual practices” (CCC 2396). The fact of the matter is that we should not advocate any type of sinful lifestyle that persists in grave, mortal sin "...for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction..." (Matthew 7:13-14). The Church teaches, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” (CCC 2357, Cf. Gen 19: 1-29; Rom 1: 24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1-10). So it begs the question... why would we encourage somebody to engage in a lifestyle of “intrinsically disordered” actions that offend Our Lord’s Sacred Heart and puts the person outside a state of grace, which is needed at death to attain eternal life? To modern ears, these words can come off as harsh, especially to those who struggle with gender identity and homosexuality. But consider that, in light of our faith, it is actually merciful and loving to preach the eternal Truth that is the "same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) that will gain them eternal life in Heaven if they choose to live by it. The Church, in her wisdom, even lists this as one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy... admonishing the sinner.

So we should seriously consider this month whether, in light of the faith we profess as Catholics, our words and actions towards those who, in modern parlance, “identify as LGBT+" are bringing them closer to salvation or further away from salvation- whether we are doing what is truly merciful and loving in God's eyes or what we perceive to be "merciful and loving" in the eyes of the world. To put it into perhaps a silly analogy, if I was standing near a cliff and my friend was driving toward it knowingly or unknowingly without any intention of stopping or changing direction, would a true, loving, merciful person shout, “step on the gas!” or would they emphatically caution them to “pump the brakes!” You have heard, “hate the sin, not the sinner,” which is absolutely true. And, to take it a step further, we must love the sinner, as we all are sinners, which is why I encourage you to pray for those with these particular crosses. As Catholics, we believe life is precious. We love others because God has commanded us to love others as He loves them, which is why we love and defend life from conception to natural death and which is why we take courage to tell somebody to “pump the brakes” even when the secular world and culture is screaming “step on the gas!” God does not love those with same-sex attraction any less than any other person (and we shouldn’t either). In fact, He desperately desires their salvation. And there is hope! We are a people of hope, which is probably why it’s one of the three theological virtues. There are two apostolates doing amazing work for those that struggle with same-sex attraction and for those whose loved ones struggle with same-sex attraction... Courage and EnCourage International and Person and Identity. As Catholics, we know we already have a symbol of love despite our brokenness... it's the cross. And those who struggle with this “are called to fulfill God's will in their lives” and also “to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (CCC 2358). We must go through Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday. The saints declare the Cross as the way to sanctity. And those with same-sex attraction are called to be saints just as everybody is. If they put the "LGBT+" lifestyle behind them, become reconciled with the Church, embrace God's Mercy, and live a chaste, sacramental life, they can be examples of true, heroic Christian discipleship, just as the sacred words of Our Lord state, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Matthew 16: 24-26)

What Question I'd Like to Answer --
"Why do we genuflect at church?" Great question. I love when people ask questions and don't just accept things at face value, especially as it relates to the faith. The short answer directly from the dictionary is that genuflect means to "lower one's body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect." Spot on! And who deserves all of our worship and respect? You got it... Jesus. And where is Jesus? In the tabernacle - body, blood, soul, and divinity. That's why we genuflect towards the tabernacle. While we are on the topic of genuflecting, did you know that there is a correct way to genuflect? Since the early 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church approved genuflection and according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM 274), "A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament..." (emphasis mine). People genuflect with the left knee on the ground as a sign to pay respect to kings, propose to their girlfriend, etc., but the right knee is reserved for God alone as a sign of divine worship. Pay attention next time you genuflect at Mass.

What Articles I Read --
"Why Critical Race Theory is contrary to Catholic Education" and "Woke’ Catholic Schools Offer Poison in Place of the Gospel" Critical race theory (CRT) is evil, there is no better word to describe it. "The purpose of critical thinking is to arrive at what is true. Because of this goal, a critical thinker welcomes every possible objection to his position. Without this discipline, the human desire to be right easily corrupts our thought processes. In contrast, the purpose of critical theory has as its end not truth, but power. This disparate end radically shifts the methodology. Dialogue and intellectual rigor are demanded if one’s aim is truth. Suppression of dissenting voices and coercion are demanded if one’s aim is power. If critical thinking is the activity of the free man, critical theory is the activity of the controlled and controlling man." CRT rejects objective truth. As Catholics we know truth to be a person... Our Lord Jesus Christ. "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20). Rejecting objective truth is rejecting Christ.

What is Interesting to Watch --
Everyone's reaction to President Biden's refusal to say the word 'abortion'. While arguably being one of the most pro-abortion Presidents in history, the President refuses to use the word 'abortion'. Why? I don't know for sure but my guess is in order to try to soften the magnitude of what it is... taking a human life. In fact, even pro-abortion groups are upset that he refuses to use the word. The National Network of Abortion Funds even started a website about the topic titled "Did Biden Say Abortion Yet?" while offering their frustration on him not doing so. "Pope Francis once said in reference to abortion, “last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves.” President Biden’s silence speaks volumes — if he truly believes in his work to “codify Roe v. Wade” and protect “women’s health,” he could afford a specific mention of the abortion procedures his administration’s euphemisms are referencing."

What I Read --
"Pocket Guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation" by Father Mike Schmitz and Father Josh Johnson. This book is absolutely brilliant. I don't care if you are brand new to confession or a habitual confessor, this book is full of great wisdom. Here is just one of the many takeaways I had: "When you go to confession and receive absolution, your sins are so truly gone that Satan has no idea what they were. But if you don't go to confession, he knows. A number of years ago, I was talking with an exorcist about his work, and he said that he would always go to confession before he performed an exorcism. During an exorcism, the demon would taunt him by saying something like, "I know what you did." But the demon would not actually be able to name his sins because the exorcist had gone to confession.

Have a wonderful weekend and may God bless you and your family!