Les Femmes

Truth, Not Ear-Tickling, Frees Us

By Father Leo Celano, O.Praem.

Fr. Leo Celano, a Norbertine priest from Orange County, CA, and long-time friend of Les Femmes, was asked to replace a vacationing pastor for four Sundays last summer. On the first weekend, July 25, Father gave the homily below at two Masses. “A few persons walked out,” he said. “Obviously they did not come to receive the Lord. And just as obviously, I did not come to tickle their ears…Some got their knickers knotted…including the Assistant who called me the following afternoon to request that I need not return for the next three weekends (arranged beforehand), saying among other things, ‘I can’t take the pressure.’ A sign of the times…The less people hear from the pulpit about the moral issues and what the Church teaches, the less they want to hear.” Pray for bold priests like Fr. Leo who speak the truth in love lest the flock perish. Editor

“In those days, the Lord said: ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grave, that I must go down and see…whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them….” The opening verse of today’s First Reading, is taken from the 18th Chapter of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.

Are any two towns in the ancient world, both destroyed by an earthquake 3,900 years ago and now completely covered by the southern waters of the Dead Sea, better known than Sodom and Gomorrah? It’s doubtful. Each is mentioned time and again, not only in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament – in the Old Testament by the authors of Genesis and Deuteronomy, and the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Amos; and in the New by Saints Peter, Paul, Jude, Matthew, and Mark.

What sin could be so grave as to cause such a great outcry throughout the centuries by so many historians, prophets, and saints? The sin, referred to in Sacred Scripture as an abomination, i.e. a thing disgusting and detestable, is the sin of sodomy. In Doubleday’s publication of the Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon, S.J., sodomy is defined as an “unnatural sexual relation.” It goes on to say that “the term is derived from the biblical city of Sodom on the Dead Sea, destroyed with the city of Gomorrah because of the wickedness of the people, places of infamy, and sinful living. More particularly, sodomy is a homosexual act between male persons or between a human being and an animal.”

Generally speaking the consequences of sodomy and homosexuality go far beyond a private act. In a democratic society, how we view homosexuality influences, for better or worse, how we live our daily lives and vote as Catholics. Our views affect the present and future cultural, judicial, and political climates. They affect our values and how we vote on major social and moral issues. They affect our children and their public or private educational systems.

Another question we might ask this morning is, “What is more current in our daily newspapers or weekly periodicals or more heard of on daily talk shows or newscasts than so-called marriage between members of the same sex? We all know well what the secular and popular media parrot. Not only do they support and promote perversion, they also celebrate it! But what does the Catholic Press or the Catechism of the Catholic Church have to say about homosexuality? In order for us to be informed Catholics and understand the Church’s teachings and rationale on both moral and religious issues, it is essential that we educate ourselves by subscribing to sound Catholic journals and publications and by listening to sound Catholic programs on radio and television. I specify sound because unfortunately not everyone who calls himself a Catholic is in fact equally knowledgeable or practices the true and orthodox Catholic Faith!

We most certainly cannot expect to receive what the Church teaches from the popular press or view it on secular television channels. Nor should we! The mass media is in the business of entertainment, propaganda, and sales. Truth doesn’t always sell. The media’s moral standards are often below subterranean, and they’re quite up front about it. They do not profess to be paragons of virtue, but rather, purveyors of vice.

Since the Lord Himself offered us the classical text regarding homosexuality in this morning’s First Reading, I think I would be remiss, irresponsible, and culpable to my Lord Himself for not exercising my role as priest and teacher by speaking on the subject.

From the moral standpoint, homosexuality is distinguished at three levels: tendency, attraction, and activity. 1.) Homosexual tendencies in any person are within the normal range of human nature, considering that fallen nature includes every conceivable kind of impulse and temptation. Yet, with sincere effort, divine grace, and a working relationship with God, tendencies and temptations can be controlled.

2.) Sexual attraction for members of the same sex may be partly due to the peculiar make-up of certain individuals or, more often, early influences and the result of indiscretions or seductions. This presents a grave problem, yet, is not by itself sinful and may, in fact, be an occasion for great supernatural merit. All homosexuals are not gay, i.e. acting out, as indeed not all heterosexuals are acting out their fantasies. Temptations are just that. God’s grace is always a factor in the equation. Did He not tell St. Paul that His grace was sufficient for him to cope with his problem? Does God not tell us the same?

However, when the homosexual condition is pathological it requires the help of good therapy, no less than pathological heterosexual conditions, e.g., a man who sees all women as objects and potential sexual conquests. When persons with disordered tendencies, such as same-sex attraction, receive healthy therapy they may become aware of influences in their formative years, however early or even unconscious, that caused the disorder. They can learn to control and eventually reorient disordered attractions through what is called Reparative Therapy. As mature Catholics we pray for grace and can expect God to help us as He said He would. “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened. For whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; whoever knocks, is admitted.”

3.) Active homosexuality, or to use the more popular term, being gay or gayness (i.e., acting out), is always morally wrong and indefensible; and has been forbidden numerous times both in Sacred Scripture and the constant and authoritative teachings of the Church throughout its 2000 year history. As educated and practicing Catholics, we believe that when the Holy Father speaks on matters of faith and morals he speaks for Jesus as the Vicar of Christ. “He who hears you hears me.” Jesus Himself guaranteed this. It is what we believe and teach.

The recently published and authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church further informs us that based on Sacred Scripture, homosexual acts are gravely depraved and perverted. Tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” Why? Because they are contrary to the natural law, a law designed by the Author of nature. They are intrinsically immoral because they pervert and close the sexual act to the gift of life. These perverted acts do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity, and under no circumstances can they be approved.

I don’t mean to imply that all so-called Catholics or churchmen accept or practice this teaching; or that there are no betrayers among laymen, priests, and bishops in the Roman Catholic Church. For as George Weigel, Pope John Paul II’s biographer, recently pointed out in his book, The Courage to be Catholic, “betrayal has been part of the Christian story from the beginning….[but] betrayal is not the story line of the Church. Fidelity is. That is the story told in the Acts of the Apostles….Judas is mentioned in Acts, prior to the selection of Matthias, his replacement in the Twelve…but treason is not the main story line of Acts. Faithful witness, often unto death, is the story.” As a contemporary Catholic theologian and author who has received international acclaim on his major study of the life, thought, and action of Pope John Paul II, George Weigel can be recommended and read.

I will close on a simple truth offered to us by the teaching Church. Marriage is a Sacrament instituted by God. When couples ask God to join them in this holy and sacred union, our Lord offers them a wedding gift – the marriage act. The secular world refers to this merely as “the sex act,” or by other crude expressions. But it is more, far more, than a sex act. It is sacred. It brings into the world children created in the very image and likeness of God, with eternal souls, meant to live with God forever, not only on earth, but in heaven, and this forever. Like no other precious wedding gift, this gift is not to be opened or used before marriage, for truly it is God’s wedding gift. This is God’s plan. This is what we believe and teach. This has been revealed to us, through His Body the Church. For those of you here this morning who have received God’s precious wedding gift of the marriage act, we end as we began, with the Book of Genesis and listen to the very words you may remember having heard on the day of your wedding, the words of God our Father who called out to you to “be fertile and to multiply, and to fill the earth.” For this is God’s plan for you. Go forth, then, and do so.

Table of Contents