Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers!
The month of May is dedicated to increased devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us ask Jesus and St. Joseph to teach us to practice great love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary! This weekend I share with you a reflection on choosing to live and act according the moral principles of our Faith. I encourage you to read it through a few times this week!
“Doing Good and Resisting Evil - The Apostles’ resistance to obeying unjust commands. Firmness in Faith: In spite of a severe prohibition from the High Priest and from the Sanhedrin that they should not preach again or teach at all in the Name of Jesus (cf. Acts 4:18), the Apostles preached every day more freely and with more determination the doctrine of the Faith. And there were many who were converted and who were baptized. Then, as we are told, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this Name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching’. Peter and the Apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’ (Acts 5:27-29) And they continued to announce the Good News.
The Apostles’ resistance to obeying the commands of the Sanhedrin was not a matter of pride or lack of knowledge of the social duties towards lawful authority. They resisted them because the council wished to impose on them a command which was against the Law of God. They reminded their judges courageously and simply that obedience to God comes first. They were fully convinced that for those who fear God there is no danger but only for those who don’t fear Him (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 13), and that it is worse to commit an injustice than to suffer it. The Apostles showed by their behavior their firmness of Faith, how deeply they had absorbed the Master’s teaching after having received the Holy Spirit, and the weight they attached to God’s honor. (cf. The Navarre Bible, Acts of the Apostles)
The fortitude and conviction of the first Christians is what Our Lord is also asking from His followers today, when, in certain environments, there breathes a climate of indifference or even direct attack, more or less veiled, on true human and Christian values. A wellformed conscience will lead a Christian to be as law-abiding as the best of his fellow citizens, at the same time as he is ready to take a stand against anything contrary to the Natural Law. The State is not juridically omnipotent; it is not the source of good and of evil. It is an obligation for Catholics who are present in political institutions to exercise a critical role within their respective institutions so that their programs and activities correspond every day more to the aspirations and criteria of Christian morality. In some cases it could even be obligatory to object in conscience to activities or decisions that go directly contrary to some precept of Christian morality. (Spanish Episcopal Conference, Witnesses to the Living God, 28 June 1985)
The effective protection of fundamental individual rights, the right to life from the very first moment of conception, the protection of marriage and the family, equality of opportunities in education and in work, freedom of education and of speech, religious freedom, personal security, contribution to world peace, all form part of the common good for which Christians should be prepared to fight. (ibid., Catholics in Public Life, 22 April 1986) Passivity in the face of such important affairs would really be a lamentable error and omission - at times grave - of the duty to contribute to the common good. They would form part of the sins of omission for which - as well as those of thought, word and deed - we ask Our Lord for pardon every day at the start of the Holy Mass. Many things, whether they be material, technical, economic, social, political or cultural, when left to themselves, or left in the hands of those who lack the light of the Faith, become formidable obstacles to the Supernatural Life. They form a sort of ‘closed shop’ which is hostile to the Church.
You as a Christian and perhaps as a research worker, writer, scientist, politician, or laborer, have the duty to sanctify those things. Remember that the whole universe - as the Apostle says - is groaning as in the pangs of labor, awaiting the liberation of the children of God. (J. Escriva, Furrow, 311)
All earthly existence has to be directed to God. Unity of life.
The power of example: All around us there is a constant movement, an ebbing and flowing of currents of opinion, of doctrines, of ideologies, of very distinct interpretations of man and of life. And this happens not just in books for specialists, but through fashionable novels, illustrated magazines, newspapers and television programs, all of them accessible to old and young. In the midst of all this doctrinal confusion there is need for a norm of discernment, a clear, steady and profound criterion which allows us to see everything with the unity and consistency of the Christian view of life which knows that everything derives from God and is ordained to God.
The Faith provides us with a stable criterion of guidance and the firmness of the Apostles in putting it into practice. It gives us a clear vison of the world, of the value of things and of people, of true and false goods. Without God and without knowledge of the ultimate end of man the world ceases to be intelligible or is seen only from a partial and deformed angle. Precisely the most perniciously typical aspect of the modern era consists in the absurd attempt to reconstruct a solid and fruitful temporal order divorced from God, the only foundation on which it can endure. (St. John XXIII, Encyclical, Mater et Magistra, 15 May 1961, 217)
The Christian should not leave his Faith aside in any circumstance. Non-sectarianism. Neutrality. Old myths that always try to seem new. Have you ever stopped to think how absurd it is to leave one’s Catholicism aside on entering a university, a professional association, a cultural society, or Parliament, like a man leaving his hat at the door? (J. Escriva, The Way, 353) This attitude is equivalent to saying - in politics, in business, in leisure or in entertainment, when I am with my friends, when it comes to choosing a school for my children - that here in this situation God has nothing whatever to do with it; in these affairs my Christian Faith must not exert any influence, for none of this comes from God or is ordained to God.
Nevertheless, the Faith casts light on the whole of existence. Every-thing is ordained to God. But this ordination must respect the particular nature of each thing. It is not a matter of turning the world into one big sacristy or homes into convents, or the economy into a benevolent institution. Without naïve simplifications, the Faith should inform a Christian’s thought and action, because he should never in any circumstance, in any moment of the day, cease to be a Christian and to behave and think as such.
Therefore Christians will exercise their respective professions moved by the spirit of the Gospel. He is not a good Christian who subjects his way of acting professionally to the sole desire of earn-ing money or of obtaining power as the supreme and definitive value. Christian professionals should be, in any area of life whatever, an example of industriousness, competence, honesty, responsibility and generosity. (Spanish Episcopal Conference, Witnesses to the Living God)
The faith cannot be left aside when it comes to evaluating earthly realities. Resisting evil: A Christian should not set aside the light of the Faith when trying to evaluate a political or social pro-gram or a work of art or of culture, nor will he consider just a single aspect of it - economic, political, technical or artistic - in order to reach the conclusion that it is good. If in a particular political or social event, or work of art or whatever, its proper ordination to God - as shown by the demands of the Divine Law - is not preserved, then the overall evaluation cannot but be negative, in spite of its having certain merits in some limited way.
One cannot praise a political action or social regulation or work of art when it becomes transformed into an instrument for evil. It is a question of strict morality and therefore of common sense. Who would praise an insult to his own mother just because it was composed in verse which had perfect rhythm? Who would broadcast it and praise it for its perfections even with the advertence that these were only ‘formal’? It is clear that the technical perfection of the means does nothing but aggravate the evil of the thing which is in itself disordered and which otherwise would perhaps pass unnoticed or be less virulent.
Faced with abominable crimes, as the Second Vatican Council described those of abortion, the rightly-formed Christian conscience requires that one should in no way take part in them, should vigorously discourage them, prevent them if possible and, besides, participate actively in efforts to avoid or correct this moral abuse of the legal system. In regard to these very grave matters and others of a similar kind which are directly opposed to morality, nobody can think that there is nothing he can do. Whatever little each person is able to do, he should do it, especially should he be in public life.
By exercising our vote we entrust certain institutions and specific people with the management of public affairs. On this collective decision very important aspects of social, family and personal life depend, not only in the economic and material order but also in the moral order. (ibid., Catholics in Public Life)
It lies in the hands of everybody, of each individual, provided he acts with Supernatural outlook and with common sense, to make this world, which God has given us to live in, into a more human place and a means of sanctification. If we strive to fulfill our social duties, whether we live in a big city or in a little out-of-the-way village, with an important job in society or a lowly one, even though we may think our contribution is tiny, we shall be faithful to Our Lord. And the same applies if it should happen that one day the Lord were to ask us for a more heroic action: He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. (Luke 16:10)” (From In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless us with great love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
In Christ through Mary,