Father Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, got more than one spontaneous ovation during this stirring homily regarding a Catholic’s (really, every Christian’s) duty to be a witness for Christ during the “interesting times” in which we find ourselves.
In sum, to quote Chesterton (it is Father Henry), “You can no more have a private religion than a private sun, or moon.”
He quotes Philly’s Archbishop Chaput, Bishop Jenke of Peoria, G. K. Chesterton, and Churchill’s “finest hour” speech, and the Declaration of Independence.
This homily, from Mass at this summer’s Defending the Faith Conference on campus here at Franciscan (where I work), followed not too long after Franciscan University filed suit in federal court against the HHS mandate.
The “tsunami” of secularism we face today, Father Henry explains, demands that we be bold witnesses for Christ, remembering that He, Jesus Christ, is the alpha and the omega of time. “Christ wins, Christ reigns, Christ commands.”
But even though we know that Christ wins in the end, that does not mean we can sit in our rocking chairs and wait for the end of time. We live in the now, we must act in the now. Our duty is to bring souls to Christ, and a government that hampers this mission loses its legitimacy.
He quotes Archbishop Chaput’s homily at the end of the Fortnight for Freedom:
You and I are responsible for this moment. Today. Now. We need to speak out. Not only for reel liberty and the ideals of the nation w love, but for the sacredness of life, and the dignity of the human person. In other words, for the truth of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.
Father Henry continued: “That is what a witness does, and does is boldly and courageously. [Archbishop Chaput] says this: ‘We need to be witnesses of that truth, and not only in deed.’”
Our government is, at present, intent on taking away God-given rights, among them the freedom of religion. The government is acting as though it, and not God, bestows these rights rather than guarantees and protects them.
Father Henry again quotes Archbishop Chaput,
Real freedom is not something Caesar can give or take away. He can interfere with it, but when he does he steals from his own legitimacy. His actions make him illegitimate when he robs us of unalienable rights that God bestowed upon us.
The Christian must oppose all efforts of the government to supplant God by claiming that the rights God gave us are beneficences with which the government privileges us. To fail to do so is a failure in one’s duty as a Christian to be a witness for Christ and a protector of the freedoms God wrote into the fabric of humanity.
The Gospel reading for the day was the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. He used the Apostles’ unimaginative incredulity at what the Lord was telling them to do as an example that if we are Christ’s witnesses (which we are if we are Christian) we can always do *something,* and usually more than we thought possible. We have only to work for the genuine good and allow Christ to work through us.
Father Terry closed:
Let us realize: we are not alone, and let us realize that in the end of history it will come out alright, but what is important is that we are not in charge of the end of history, we must act in the now. Let us be resolved that we will act. Let us implore God to send his Holy Spirit upon us, and let us get out there and be His witnesses, and let this be our finest hour.