Since returning to the Catholic Church nearly ten years ago and attending numerous Catholic Churches due to employment-related travels, I have heard many prayers for peace at Mass – prayers that are lacking the explicit desire for conversion.
Although praying for peace is good in itself, we should pray for it as part of a prayer for love governed by truth since this is the foundation of peace. Otherwise, peace for peace’s sake is nothing more than an attempt to tolerate lies in vain hope for some kind of man-made eutopia.
We see this playing out in contemporary culture. The mainstream media, social media propagandists, liberals, and a host of other misguided individuals accept abortion, sexual sin, transgenderism, drug use/abuse, pornography, unbridled technological and scientific advances, as well as obscene profit as morally good, or at best, morally neutral.
Those who disagree with this behavior rarely speak against it. Many clergy, Catholic and Protestant, seem to lack the fortitude to call out these abominations. They pray for peace but without the call to holiness by purification through grace. If we pray for a live-and-let-live kind of peace, we are saying that peace trumps morality and truth.
Jesus and Peace
However, the peace that trumps morality and truth is a superficial or false peace. Real peace comes through love governed by truth, not relativism. Consider that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, says,
I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law…. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:34-38).
Although Jesus speaks about division in the foregoing passage, the division is between those who follow the Truth and those who follow lies. Jesus, the Truth of God, is where we find true peace. If all peoples submitted to Jesus and His actual teachings right now, we would have peace in an instant. Proclaiming peace by any other means is lip service and a lie.
Consequences of Rejecting Jesus’ Words
Now, the only way for people to submit to Jesus is by faithful Catholics evangelizing the world and praying for it. Through the ages, the Catholic Church has done a phenomenal job evangelizing, but right now it is doing an abysmal job catechizing. Preaching a nice Jesus, one who does not require us to identify our sins and permanently turn away from them, implies that true conversion is not necessary.
It also implies that we can achieve peace by simply keeping our mouths shut and not disturbing the delicate fabric of our modern culture. However, this kind of kid-gloves approach does nothing to repair the evils that are decimating our societies, including the Church. Too many Catholics prefer to turn a blind eye rather than stand up for God-given truths.
I used to be one of these people, and I still sometimes struggle with what to say or how to say it. But this is no excuse. The more I learned, the more I realized I could not sit on the sidelines while those in the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9) overrun Christ’s Church.
A church that does not enforce or, in many cases, speak about the moral law is a church that is destined to fail in its mission. Thankfully, through Christ’s promise (Matthew 16:18), we know the Church will not fail, but that does not mean she won’t waffle. Unfortunately, in these times of moral vacillation, many stand condemned.
Just look at the Catholic Church in Germany. Good men like Cardinal Gerhard Müller of Germany, are fighting an uphill battle against those who are hellbent on blessing gay “marriages”, a heretical act that I believe will move beyond German borders in a short time unless Rome puts an end to their behavior. Cardinal Müller could remain silent and advance the cause of peace through relativism, but, thankfully, he is not.
Similarly, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, San Francisco, and certain others among the U.S. bishops are attempting to admonish openly pro-abortion politicians who, despite the Church’s explicit teachings on the Eucharist and morality, advocate for every form of immorality and receive Communion in a state of mortal sin.
Like the cardinal and archbishop, other clergymen are confronting those who believe they are above the moral law; but God’s law governs all human behavior, is intrinsic to our nature, and is promulgated by the highest authority. These men want peace but without sacrificing the truth, morality, goodness, and ultimately God. Where is everyone else?
Even if the likes of Müller and Cordileone filled the Church’s clerical ranks, we would have another problem. Many Catholics do not attend Mass, and many others do not believe all that the Church teaches. Therefore, lay Catholics must share the good news with their families, friends, and coworkers.
Talking with those who are closest to us can be the toughest form of evangelization, but every human being is worth the effort and, possibly, frustration. Ignorance of the Greatest Good eliminates the option to choose the Greatest Good. Therefore, we must at times have difficult conversations with those around us.
A family member entrenched in sin needs to hear that their actions are indeed sinful, that they offend God and society, and that God is waiting for them to repent. He wants to distribute sanctifying grace and help them overcome their enslavement to sin. But the only thing stopping God from acting in their lives is themselves. They must turn to Him by an act of filial trust. A loving expression of God’s desire for them may be the thing that helps them begin their journey with God.
In times like this, when many clergy, though certainly not all, are reluctant to preach the tough teachings of Christ, the laity must fill the vacuum. We must proclaim the truth with love. We must not cower. We must not give in to relativism and timidity. We must not join the synagogue of Satan! And we must not pray for peace apart from moral truths and conversion of heart!