Sunday, May 27, 2018

CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES: a homily on Trinity Sunday, May 27th, 2018

            Friday was a day of choice.  It is a privilege of our democratic constitutional system that we get to vote on changes to the fundamental law of the land.  Our people voted and they made a choice.  Every choice, no matter how small has consequences many of them unseen. There will be consequences to the choice our people have made whether we like those consequences or not.  
            This was not a vote about being Catholic but a vote about respecting that objective moral order about which I have spoken to you before.  Our nation has voted to reject that objective moral order.  It has chosen to remove the protection on the life of the unborn child and so to give the government a free hand in legislating for abortion. It has done so with such a majority that the same government may feel free to go further than they claimed they would go.
            One consequence of the vote will  definitely affect every one on this island but not immediately.  Within the last few weeks Minster Zappone herself announced that she was going to take action to try to stop the decline in the nation's birthrate.  This is a problem that has been there since the 1980's mind you.  The problem with our birthrate is not ours alone; it affects all advanced nations.  It is due to many reasons but the technology that has allowed it to happen is primarily that of contraception and surgical and chemical abortion. This will mean that the day will come, about twenty to thirty years from now, when there will not be enough young people in the population to support all the old people.  No one knows how this will play out because never before have we been able to observe whole nations go down this path together. We do know that such events have lead to the collapse of whole empires in the past. It happened to the Romans.  
            It's because of that prospect that there's already talk of raising the age at which people retire.  It's one of the reasons that there's so much emphasis on private pension schemes.  It is also why there's a push to bring in euthanasia.  I would've thought it was obvious that you don't save a sinking ship by poking holes in the hull and then trying to plug them.
            Friday's vote means that for those of us who are Catholic we too must make a choice.  If it wasn't obvious to you before it should be glaringly obvious now that 'Catholic Ireland' has been dead for some time.  Not just Catholic Ireland but even the capacity to reason about right and wrong seems to have left us.   We have only ourselves to blame though some may carry more blame than others.
            We are now a minority Faith on this island.  There was a time when everyone went to Mass.  Many went because they believed but some went to be seen and others so no would talk about them.  The Church was as part of Irish society as the GAA, the pubs and the national school.  There is still a certain amount of that.  It is called 'cultural Catholicism' where the Faith is not embraced but simply worn like a badge of identity, an expression of a brand of Irishness like wearing green on Patrick's day.  It is cultural Catholicism that makes an avowed atheist think that he can be a sponsor for someone's Confirmation.  
            The 'cultural Catholics' may still hang around but we will have to offer them a choice: "Take the Faith seriously or move on."  We can't afford to carry those who don't really care, who don't really believe.   I'm not talking about those who struggle with sin. We all struggle with sin.  I am talking about the superficial Catholics, sometimes called 'a la carte' or 'pick'n'mix' Catholics.  About those who can't be bothered to be one thing or the other our Lord Himself has said: "I will spit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3.16)
            Our choice is whether we take our faith seriously or not.  It's a choice about whether we allow our Faith to touch every aspect of our lives and our behaviour or not.  There's much that must change in the Irish Church but not in the way some may want it.  We cannot go back to the 50's but we can live the Faith handed down to us from the Apostles, the Faith lived by St Anthony of Padua, Padre Pio, Mother Teresa and all the saints.  We can take the Gospel and the teachings of the Church seriously and put them into practice or we can walk away.  That is the real choice before us and it will have its own consequences.  


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