Dear Father XXXXXXX,
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. As you know, I have been a parishioner at St. XXXXXXXX parish for XX years and, during this time, I have had many positive experiences. You have made my wife and me feel welcome and we are happy to be a part of this community. Also, thank you for your homilies on God’s love and mercy. Knowing about His love and mercy is certainly important.
As you know, God exercises his mercy when people turn to him with contrition and a sincere desire to stop sinning. Although you do a great job communicating God’s love and mercy, I have never heard you or any other clergy preach on the need to stop sinning, especially with regard to the moral issues that plague both our secular and church societies.
Your homilies never address specific sins and our duty to purge them from our lives. This is a tremendous disservice! For whatever reason, you have chosen not to fully serve those who have been placed in your spiritual care. Therefore, I ask that you occasionally (once every month or so) preach against the sins (e.g. abortion, contraception, euthanasia, pornography, masturbation, adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, drug/alcohol abuse, gluttony, etc.) that have corrupted so many.
If you cannot do this due to fear of persecution or hurting someone’s feelings, then I must ask why you became a priest? Priests are charged with preaching the entire gospel. It’s part of their nature as a priest. How can you refuse to speak against these sinful actions knowing that many in the Church repeatedly engage in them? Speaking against these acts provides numerous opportunities to call parishioners to repentance, to confession, and to receiving the Eucharist worthily, without eating and drinking judgment upon themselves (1 Corinthians 11:29).
The USCCB’s instruction titled Preaching the Mystery of Faith (2013) states, “[St. Paul] more than once contrasts a life lived according to the ‘flesh’ with that lived according to the ‘Spirit’ (e.g., Rom 8:1-13). In his Letter to the Philippians, Paul argues against divisions and factions in the community by appealing to the profound humility of Jesus himself, who did not cling to his divine status but became flesh for us, even to dying on the Cross (see Phil 2:1-5). In his first Letter to the Corinthians, Paul responds to a number of practical questions and problems presented by Christians (factions, marital problems, immorality in the community, how to respond to the issue of eating meat offered to idols, and so on) by spelling out what kind of behavior life in Christ demands” (p. 22).
“The Catechism itself is organized into four pillars’ of Christian life, reflecting on the Creed, the celebration of the Christian mystery in our liturgical and sacramental life, the moral responsibilities of life in Christ, and finally, the meaning of Christian prayer. Over time the homilist, while respecting the unique form and spirit of the Sunday homily, should communicate the full scope of this rich catechetical teaching to his congregation” (p. 23).
“Without being pedantic, overly abstract, or theoretical, the homilist can effectively spell out, for example, the connection between Jesus’ care for the poor and the Church’s social teaching and concern for the common good; or Jesus’ pronouncements on the prohibition of divorce and the Church’s teaching on the sacredness of the marriage bond; or Jesus’ confrontations with his opponents and the Church’s obligation to challenge contemporary culture about the values that should define our public life” (p. 24).
“Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman shows us that moral challenges presented by the Church’s teaching—such as those in this Gospel story dealing with the delicate issues of sexuality, marriage, and relationships—can be offered and can be heard, provided that they are made in the context of the promise of grace” (p. 31).
“So, the Sunday homily—involving inspiration, information, and moral instruction—is meant to lead finally to the right praise of God, to true ‘thanksgiving,’ which is at the heart of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Nearly all parish communities include women and men who have been harmed emotionally and spiritually by an abortion experience. While reminding the community of the beauty and sacredness of human life, the homilist should always emphasize God’s infinite mercy for all sinners, including those suffering after an abortion. Like the woman at the well, such individuals need to be invited to approach the Church without fear, in order to receive God’s forgiveness and healing grace” (pp. 31-32).
In Hosea, God had a message for priests who refused to share his knowledge with the Israelites: “Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest.” “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me” (Hosea 6:4,6).
Accordingly, both God and the Church expect priests to preach about immoral behavior coupled with a call to confession and amendment of one’s life. In Romans 10, St. Paul asks, “And how are they to hear without a preacher?” You and I know that most Catholics are not reading their Bibles and Catechisms as they should, but, thankfully, many are going to Mass. Thus, preaching is probably the only way that many Catholics are going to hear the entire gospel message.
So, Father, please preach the entire message. The faithful, and the not-so-faithful, need to hear it. If it makes us uncomfortable, then the truth is doing its job and will hopefully prompt many to return to confession and receive Jesus worthily in the Eucharist. In a culture this corrupt, Catholics cannot afford to have timid priests. We need priests who will love God and battle Satan with fortitude. Don’t let Satan control the message. We will continue praying for you. Thank you again for your time.
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