If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times, the cliché goes. Catholic priests are reluctant to preach about abortion (or any other pro-life topic). They are afraid they will make members of their congregation upset or to feel guilty.
And we all know there’s enough “Catholic guilt.”
As a result of this, the life issues rarely are addressed from the pulpit. This is a major problem.
THREE DOWNSIDES TO THE LACK OF SANCTITY OF LIFE SERMONS
I can find at least three large drawbacks to the life issues never being preached about.
For one, Catholics are contracepting and aborting at an alarming rate, despite the Church’s stance against such practices. The Church has been silent for so long as it is, so this is the situation that has resulted.
Two, a minority of Catholics make it to Mass on Sunday, as it is. Not everyone in the pews knows their faith, so no presumptions should be made. If those who actually attend Mass never hear solid teaching on the life issues, then where will it ever come from?
Three, the clergy must not think of themselves as our friends, and instead take seriously their role as shepherds of our souls. Just as a father needs to correct his children at times, so too a priest needs to caution his flock.
THE URGENCY IS REAL
The US Council of Catholic Bishops have actually mandated that diocesan priests preach on the life issues at least once a year. They require pastors to give a pro-life sermon during the Respect Life Month of October.
Since that just passed, I hope you heard a good, pro-life sermon from a priest or deacon during Mass at least once last month.
If you think about it, the Culture of Death has affected all of us. If not us, then we know family members and friends who can attest to this. The affects of divorce, contraception use, abortion, and the like are issues we have had to deal with at some level.
Perhaps we are a child of divorced parents. Maybe a cousin or a classmate procured an abortion. Or it could be we have to be the ones to defend ourselves to our family or friends, explaining why we do not use contraception. The examples abound.
Which is why to be able to discuss these real-life situations with the shepherds of our souls, our pastors, would be great. To hear from them on Sundays address the life issues would go a long way toward giving us encouragement and guidance.
This remains something we must press upon our pastors. Perhaps a short letter to him to explain as much would be sufficient. Or, you could schedule a meeting with him and bring it up in conversation.
“Father, I have a co-worker, whom I am close with, who is looking into IVF. I know the Church opposes its use, but I am unclear why. Could you maybe explain it to me? Also, I know I am not alone. I think a Sunday sermon on this topic would be a great help to the parishioners.”
“Father, my brother left the Church after Confirmation and just last year he married in Vegas. Well, he got a divorce a few months later, and now he wants to marry some other woman inside the Church. Do you see any problem with that?”
Again, the possibilities are endless. But I think if you bring these real-life stories to the pastor’s attention, then he will be more persuaded.
He may realize this was the third marriage question, or the fourth IVF concern in the last month. Maybe he better address this in a sermon, so as to help clarify a few points for his congregation. I can only hope.
THANKFULLY, WONDERFUL RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE
Father’s reluctance to preach on life issues might also come from a level of unpreparedness. He likely does not teach on these topic often, so he might not be comfortable.
Enter Priests for Life.
This wonderful organization, run by Father Frank Pavone, remains the go-to resource for every pastor in the country. They make available their stuff for free online.
I highly recommend priestsforlife.org/liturgy. Turn your pastor onto that site. He will thank you later.
There, your pastor will find homily help for every single Sunday of the year. For all three liturgical cycles, Father Pavone and his crew have provided guides. They can help turn any gospel or set of readings into a pro-life homily.
For instance, yesterday was November 2nd, All Souls Day. (Which is actually to be celebrated today, since November 2nd fell on a Sunday this year.)
Priests For Life provide general intercessions for Mass, a bulletin insert to use, and, of course, homily suggestions.
A portion of the homily suggestion for All Souls Day reads, “This Christian approach to the death of an individual applies to our approach to the culture of death generally, and to the holocaust of abortion. We grieve and weep.
“Yet we do so with hope, and with the unshakeable confidence that the kingdom of death has already been destroyed. Pro-life work, therefore, is carried out with confidence and joy.”
Death is not the end.
And Lord willing, you will not have to wait a year for Respect Life Month to roll around, before you hear again another of your pastor’s sanctity of life sermons.
Does anyone intend to take these resources from Priests For Life to share with their pastor?
Do you have other suggestions on how to encourage our pastors to deliver more sanctity of life sermons?
Not all priests neglect this important topic. Does anyone want to brag on their pastor below?