From the Pastor: Thank you for your homily feedback
Last week in the sermon I explained a bit of the historical destruction of Jerusalem after the Chosen People rejected the Son of God. (Imagine this: I left out the really gory parts!) When God is rejected by those who absolutely, positively should know better, He will (and did) bring about a Justice the likes of which most people of today cannot fathom and no sane person of any time would ever wish to endure. It was not a pretty picture which I described and it was not meant to be. I believe very firmly that we, both Catholics and society as a whole, are so overly sensitive to such things as others hurting our feelings or being made to feel uncomfortable by every perceived slight or rebuke, that we have lost sight of reality in several ways. Mention the first three Spiritual Works of Mercy (To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubtful; To admonish sinners), for instance, and people think you are making an excuse to be “mean” to others. The unremittingly misused phrase, “Judge not!” will then be used to keep the “meanie” from performing any of these traditionally virtuous deeds. As a result, nobody can really fathom such Divinely ordained things as how terrible are the eternal torments of Hell, nor even the cleansing but horrendous pains of Purgatory. Even the very existence (and length of) these two places is doubted by and large resulting in masses of people doing absolutely nothing to avoid them and, conversely, doing next to nothing to get to Heaven. This is a great paradox, for while we are sure God could not inflict His forewarned punishments, at the same time we are also quite oblivious to actual hurts, whether emotional, physical or spiritual, which we mete out to others.
Because I believe this to be true, I will sometimes (perhaps often) preach and write things that are meant to show that throughout the history of Man and the Church not every good and holy thing done by either God or man was sanitized marshmallowy sweetness--as I think the world wants God and the Catholic Church to be at this point in time. I do not do this to be iniquitous but to be charitable. People need to wake up to the fact that doing what God has revealed to be good will bring rewards, sometime temporal and sometimes eternal; doing what God has revealed to be evil will bring the stipulated punishment. Unlike the “Left Behind” false teachings, both the rewards and the punishments will affect both the good and the bad here on Earth, the people directly and indirectly involved in the deeds and those who are innocent bystanders. We need to learn from revelation and history that crying, “But that’s not fair!” or “A good God would not do that (though he warned and/or promised to do so) does not change Truth, for God will not be mocked. Rather, mercy without Justice, which is what we expect, is meaningless.
Still, sometimes I may be the blind one, not realizing what kind of pains I might be inflicting upon others as I try to fulfil my mission. I am not immune to the societal maladies of which I just wrote! That is why I thank you for all your input. I can tell you that at this parish I have never had anyone give input on my teachings in such a way that they seemed to want the Church to change Her teachings or at least to get this priest to shut up about them. Believe it or not, in other parishes, in lands far, far away and a long time ago, the “protestant Catholics” to whom I often refer, cause terrible problems and go to great lengths to get priests to either outright deny God’s revealed teachings or to at least be silent about those teachings of which they wish not to adhere. As I thank you for your input, please know that I do listen to what you say and I try to discern if I need to make adjustments in what or how I do or say things. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I will change, for I may not, even after careful consideration, agree with your point of view. It also doesn’t mean that I was right and you were wrong. Not everyone is going to agree with how to present what Truth to whom and when. Or I still may be in denial, and if everyone (including me) got everything right the first time (or even the tenth time) they heard the Truth, there would be no more need for the Church! But I do listen and I do appreciate concerned criticism. In case you were wondering, I received more feedback on last week’s sermon than any other I have preached this year. By far most of it was positive, but the negatives (again, good observations and questions) were good for me to hear as well. Thank you for caring enough to keep me on my toes.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka