This is a heckuva’ speech from Father John Higgins, the Pastor of Saint Raymond’s parish in California. We need more like him…
I’m the son of a Korean War vet and an Ohio girl. Raised in the Methodist Church, of which I still have fond memories. Converted to the Catholic Church at 21, entered the Seminary at age 25 and was ordained a Priest in 1981. Served in many parishes and taught Church History and Doctrine in a Catholic High School. I am currently Pastor at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Downey and also Chaplain to Downey Fire Department. I love doing both.
We all are very well of the very concerning events of the past two months. Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Chaput and here in Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez have all spoken out regarding President Obama’s betrayal of his promise to the Catholic Bishops that he would never even come close to asking Catholics to go against their own conscience. He simply lied and continues to do so.
We are people who are FOR! Freedom Of Religion!
Not Freedom of Worship, FREEDOM OF RELIGION!
This is the beginning of the FOR movement. F.O.R. Freedom of Religion!
The Radical Secularists are starting to use the term “Freedom of Worship”
That’s not a small change. “Freedom of worship” means that we can have church services, which is important, but leaves out protection for Christian schools, publications, and Christian compassionate ministries. It leaves out the freedom of Jews and Christians to run hospitals. It consigns Jews, Christians and people of every faith to their own ghettos…’Freedom of Religion’ means that ministries designed to help people change their lives, or to help the poor enter the workforce, can teach what the Bible teaches. Under ‘freedom of worship,’ these ministries could become illegal, as they are in many parts of the world. This is a development to watch carefully.
When I have time I like to study history or watch historical movies. So one evening, not long ago, I watched another film about the Third Reich. I seem to have a fascination with that period of history. I come from a German American family, in spite of the last name. Most of the names in my family are Dipples and Schmidts and such. That may be part of my interest in that part of history. But more likely it’s because of the tremendous suffering which came during the first part of the 20th Century. Maybe it’s because my parent’s generation lived and fought and died in that epic evil, perhaps because the Body of Christ was once again crucified by the violence of the two horrible wars in Europe, the second of which lead to the deaths of millions, not only in battles and bombings and disease, but in Nazi Concentration Camps, and in the Communist countries of the U.S.S.R. and Communist China. While 12,000,000 people died due to the Nazis torture, gas and ovens in places like Dachau and Trablinka and Auschwitz, in Communist Russia 23,000,000 died and between 50,000,000 and 75,000,000 died in Communist China at the hands of dictators literally hell bent on their own self will run riot.
What strikes me is that so many people of good will fell for the deception and lies of these extremists in the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazis) and the Communist Party. A few stood up and spoke out. A few examples were St. Maximillian Kolbe, Dietrich Bohnhoeffer, Karl Barth and many German Protestant Ministers as well as Catholic Bishops and priests and most importantly Pope Pius XII. But many Christian ministers and Catholic Priests and Bishops stayed quiet. Some even formed a National German Church, subject to the Nazis called “Die Reichskirsche”. Why?
It was in this era that two things were going on in the Christian Church. Both Catholics and Protestants had fallen into two seemingly opposing camps. One camp was enamored with legalism. In short, they believed that by following certain precepts and making certain devotions and prayers, gathering enough “graces” they were bound to please God and merit Salvation. They weren’t concerned much with showing compassion to those in need, but rather in earning their way into God’s favor by ritual and merely avoiding personal sin. The other group counted on the mercy of God, presuming that no matter what they did, how they lived, what they believed an all-merciful and all-loving God could NOT condemn them. The first group believed in expensive grace, the second in CHEAP grace. Both groups were wrong. Both groups unwittingly played into the hands of the extremists. The first group by seeking legalism as a way to avoid responsibility, the second group by presuming that God would not pay attention to their participation in evil and that He really didn’t care what they did. The first group justified the hateful precepts of National Socialism; the second group merely put on the brown shirt costume and waved their hands at the swastika with empty heads and empty souls.
But it is in the evil of this period that one can also see the grace of God the most clearly. Evil is darkness, and despite current trendy ideas, light and darkness are not opposite and equal as shown in the symbol of Ying and Yang. Oh, they are opposite, but they are not equal. Darkness can never conquer light. Even the darkest of dark can easily be defeated by the smallest of candles. Darkness retreats from light. Light invades darkness. Darkness can never even approach light, while light can enter into the very center of darkness and destroy it with ease.
In the Gospel stories Jesus usually speaks in the Priestly voice of compassion, healing, teaching and the gentle stories, which taught tremendous doctrines of faith, hope and love. But on occasion Jesus spoke in the prophetic voice of challenge and even anger at those who were charged with caring for and ministering to people, but were too wrapped up in their own self-interest to do so. This made the strong and powerful angry, but it gave hope to those who were poor and downtrodden.
On most occasions the Church speaks as Jesus in the Priestly voice. But now the Church is speaking in the Prophetic voice of Jesus. Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Protestant, Evangelical and Baptist Christians are standing together to proclaim the truth along with members of other faith communities.
Not long ago I met several Rabbis while on my day off at a street fair (they had a booth there called “Ask The Rabbi)”). I was speaking with them about the meaning of the foods of Passover. One of the Rabbis asked me: “How do you, a Gentile, know about Passover? Where did you learn what you already know? What gives you such curiosity into what we Jews believe?” When I told them that I am a Catholic Priest one of them said “Oy! Now that Obama has opened his mouth and we can see who he is we’re all Catholic now!” We all laughed. But perhaps this is a lesson for us. During World War II, when the Nazis invaded Denmark they demanded that all Jews wear the armband with the Star of David on it. The King of Denmark appeared in public, shortly after the order, wearing an armband with the Star of David on it. The people of Denmark began to do the same thing by the hundreds of thousands. We’re all people of Israel, we’re all Catholic, we’re all Christian and as we stand here today with our brothers and sisters from the Charismatic Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church we are one. And did you know that we have folks from “Hispanics for Life” with us? And did you know that as Roman Catholics we are all “Latino”? Yes, we’re the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Trabajamos junto con vosotros para Vida y Fe en Jesucristo! Viva Cristo Rey!
Now that we know what is going on and are united to our opposition to it what do we do? Well, since I’m a man I have a tremendous temptation to resort to doing damage to someone’s nose. But I’ve learned, over the years, that I cannot change anyone else. It just can’t be done. President Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, Nancy Pelosi, the Kennedys the Roybals, the so called “progressives” of our world are going to be convinced as quickly as Saul Alinski. I can’t change them, but I can change me. Why do I need to change? Because it is in me that the message of Jesus Christ must be lived. So what do I do? What do we do?
We need more firm grounding in the basic truth of the Gospel, in real morality and in having the courage and conviction to truly stand up for what our Christian faith demands of us. No longer can we tolerate the subjective morality that says “There are no right or wrong answers, only how you feel!” We can no longer participate in the Jellybean and Rainbows religion of those who believe that God is not a judge, but a really, really nice guy. We must turn from religiosity and legalism to the truth that we are responsible for the world around us, and our own actions in it. We must accept the responsibility of saying “yes” when we mean “yes” and “no” when we mean “no”.
And we need to be people of prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God and throwing ourselves into His merciful love.
Something happened in my parish last year. We have a very active teen ministry and Confirmation ministry. Our Youth Minister asked if I would participate in a one day Confirmation retreat for the candidates by doing exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration and then Benediction. Of course I agreed.
I got things set up in the Church and the teens came in. I had decided to be a little bit “Old Fashioned” and do Exposition and Benediction like we did in the Seminary. One young man knew how to swing the thurable (incense), so he helped. I exposed the Blessed Sacrament and read from the sixth chapter of John, where Jesus tells people that He is the Bread of Life. Then I gave a short homily and instruction on what that meant, that Jesus wasn’t just up in the sky somewhere, but right there in the Church with us, in person. Then something struck me. I now believe it was the Holy Spirit, because I didn’t plan it. I said “I’m going to be quiet now and sit down. If anyone wants to come and touch the base of the Monstrance (the stand in which we expose the Eucharist) you can do it. Just be reverent.
At first no teen moved, and then one young man came up and knelt at the altar and put his hand on the base of the Monstrance. Then another teen came, and another. In five minutes every teen was kneeling, some had tears in their eyes, some were praying quietly. One young girl had the sweetest smile on her face as she prayed quietly. Then, one by one they went back to the pews in the Church. Those moments of instruction, prayer and being in love with the Real Presence of Christ are more powerful than a rally, a march, a poster, a pamphlet or a computer message. Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of those and we need them. That’s why I write. But without a strong foundation in Jesus Christ we’re out of touch with the light of the world. And that light is more powerful than anything we can do on our own. And that Light of the World is Jesus Christ who is more powerful than anyone who arrogantly believes that persecuting the Church will ever succeed for long, no matter if it’s a Roman Empire, a Feudal King, a Napoleonic Tyrant, a Nazi or Communist Dictator or the current sorry threat we have before us today.
So what do we do? We can talk among ourselves and get fired up, and that’s OK. But we also need to talk to our neighbors and friends in love. Bring them to the home that they’ve missed so long, whether it’s a Catholic Church, an Episcopal Church, a Lutheran Church, (I’d skip the Rev. Wright Church, that might not be a good idea). a Jewish Synagogue or any other place where people of faith wish to be free of the dictates of a government who has the audacity to interfere with our faith. Our faith, our rights, our freedom do not come from government, or from any earthly power, but from God Himself.
1) Everyone can call Congressional switchboard.
2) Vote pro-life in the Primary (California is June 5)
3) Ask family, friends & neighbors to do the same
4) Sign on to a “support our shepherds” letter
5) Encourage everyone to personally encourage & support their clergy.
6) Vote Prolife on Nov 6
Go to your Parish Church or Congregation and speak with the pastor, the board of Deacons, the Minister or anyone you can. Bring the message of Christ’s authority to the people you love and the members of your own faith Community. Get on the Internet and send information to as many people as you possibly can. Simply avoid conflict with the very people to whom we want to spread this message. I firmly believe that an overwhelming number of people in our beloved America want nothing to do with what is planned. They simply haven’t heard the truth about it yet. They’ve been convinced that this is a “War on Women” or “All about contraception” It isn’t. It’s about the authority of Christ over the temporary power of human enterprises, even the government of the United States, which will not survive into eternity.
So, take courage and be the Light of Christ in the world. Show his love, talk about His Love, and speak with confidence and with Grace, which is God’s undeserved favor, his Love, which is present in YOU ALL!
F.O.R. stands for Freedom of Religion! We are FOR people!
FOR Freedom of Religion!
FOR Freedom of Religion