For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12

"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Monday, November 17, 2008

Father Brankin's Homily --What Every Priest Should Say

On November 16, 2008, Father Brankin delivered this homily to his parishioners at St. Odilo Church, the National Shrine of the Poor Souls, in Berwyn, IL. It is an homily well worth posting for all to read. Click HERE for the entire bulletin.

[Ramblings - Fr. Brankin

Sunday, Nov 9th - Feast of St. John Lateran

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of a beautiful old Roman Church, St. John Lateran—one that sits in the middle of one of the most amazing cities in the world. Part of the universal fascination with Rome is that it is old—so much so that even by the time of Christ it was considered an Ancient city.

And here we are two thousand years later still talking about Rome, wishing we could see it or regretting that we never got there—what an incredible place.

Did you know that it is against the law in the city of Rome to dig in your basement or backyard—at least any deeper than for a tomato plant? The reason is that the present city of Rome is built on the foundations and remains of the ancient city; and if you were to dig too deeply—which is not deep at all— you might come upon all kinds of ancient Roman artifacts and relics. Understandably enough, modern day Romans do not want their patrimony disturbed and destroyed.

There is a big old palace there, the Casa Santa Maria, which was built five hundred years ago as a large convent for sisters. Eventually it became a residence for American priests. But when you go to the basement—say to do your laundry, you can see along the walls of the basement, a series of windows with iron grates opening up into a lower basement.

Peer into those openings and you see into large rooms half-filled with earth and rubble; It is then that you realize that you are looking at a whole lower level of building beneath, complete with walls and windows and floors. You are looking at the basement of the original Roman building from two thousand years before! They told us it may have actually been a fire-house for that district of Rome. You get new respect for those old Romans.

Well, today is the Feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran Church. The land and original buildings had been given to the pope by the wife of the Emperor Constantine in the three hundreds. It was her family’s palace and quite a gift it was.

It has been rebuilt a couple of times since. But St John Lateran is more than just a church—it is the cathedral of the Pope. If the Pope is a pastor—St. John’s is his parish—not St. Peter’s. And when the Pope teaches as the Shepherd of Souls—as the Fisher of men, as the successor of St. Peter—it is from the Chair—at St. John Lateran. That’s how important that church is.

Now, thinking about the relationship between a church building and its meaning we need to remember that all the bricks and stones—all the marble and glass—and the gold and bronze, the pillars and porticos are more than just decoration and symbolism. Every element of every church, including St. Odilo, contains in some mystical way the souls of all those who built that church and who worship there, and who maintain it.

And above all the church building contains Our Lord—as His House. In fact its very appearance on the street shows forth His presence in the world. And when the Pope utters teachings and declarations from St. John Lateran Church—he is doing so with the Authority of Almighty God.

If the Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, then a Catholic church building –like St John Lateran – is the visible expression of Christ. Therefore when the Pope proclaims something that we as Catholics must believe or do to be saved—he does so in the person of Christ who is the first pastor, the Eternal Pastor. That is why it is so important to celebrate feasts like these—feasts about churches—because they remind us so powerfully and beautifully and concretely that when we see a church—it is a sign of the Church-- the very Body of Christ, teaching whatever must be taught to the world.

Now sometimes the Church—like Jesus— has to say things that the world does not want to hear, but she has to say them anyway otherwise the Church is just a bunch of go-along get-along guys—“Hey! Everything is beautiful in its own way.”

But sometimes things aren’t beautiful—sometimes they are ugly. And even though our recent election indicates that so many more Americans now accept these ugly things as part of our moral landscape—like abortion or contraception or gay marriage or assisted suicide, or war, our Church, which consists of the Pope and the priests and the people must stand as one and stare down these forces of evil and say boldly, “These things are still wrong and deeply so and cannot and will not be swept under the rug”.

People can feel morally superior by responding to the Church when she teaches these things “The Church and the priests should be quiet! There are many issues!” or “It’s the economy stupid!”

But there is only one issue and it is not the economy. It is Life. Do we foster it or kill it? And that then leads us to issues about love and family. If we cannot lovingly take care of little babies and their mothers—then we cannot take care of anyone!

And that is what the Pope, the pre-eminent Shepherd of souls, preaches from his pulpit at St. John Lateran: “We will not stop talking about the sacredness of family and the inviolability of all human life—from the moment of conception to a natural death—because if we surrender to them about any of it — then we lose all of it.”

The next few years may be difficult for Catholics and other Christians who still hold to traditional understandings of family, life and love. Oh no—I don’t think they will arrest us—I don’t think there will be the knock on the door in the middle of the night as they come for those who dare criticize The One.

More effectively for their purposes, the mavens of this culture of death will just marginalize us, ignore us, laugh at us, put us on the fringes of society and ask every so often, “Are you people still here? Are you still talking about all that stuff?

Well, we will not go away, and we will not be silenced.

Remember Rome? It is still there—foundations and all—after 2700 years.

And perhaps in another thousand years the Pope may be preaching from another building—but it will probably still be in Rome and on the site of St. John Lateran, and it will certainly still be part of the Body of Christ; and the Pope will still be preaching the same Gospel—that our God wants us to have Life and life to the full—and nothing less will do.

Over the next few years, we may lose many battles in regards to life and love and family. We will lose many more children and many senior citizens as well. They will eventually start going after the handicapped and the ill. This is how blood-thirsty they are; but it is certain we will win the war—because the Lord of Life is also the Lord of Hosts. And even The One must answer to Him.]

Wonderful sermon! I would love to hear that kind of message every Sunday, if only I lived near Berwyn or in Ilinois. But I wonder if Father Brankin has too much faith in the reasonableness of Obama followers. After hearing about the possible Citizen Homeland Security Forces, I have to wonder if they will simply ignore us, like Father Brankin suggests, or throw us in jail for the audacity of intolerance ---> standing up for morality.


Paul said...

Father Brankin is my own pastor (by choice, as I do not live in his "geographical" parish), and he is an admirable exemplar of Catholic/Christian orthodoxy.

I simply can't foresee a time of ever throwing Fr. Brankin under the bus (as Obama did with the Rev. Wright). based on his "shocking" views after months and years of hearing them and being comforted by them. Indeed, he is a treaure and a blessing to be relished.