Sermon from Dana Point

The following note (of which we print a few excerpts) was received by email on March 13: My Brothers and Sisters: Lynn and I happened to attend St. Edward’s (Dana Point in Orange County) on Sunday and went to the 11:00 am Mass and the priest saying Mass was Father Chris Heath. I have not heard a homily this powerful and inspiring since the old days at the Mission when Monsignor Martin was in his prime. For his efforts Fr. Chris received a rousing round of applause from the vast majority of those present.

“I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” This statement by St. Thomas More may be an appropriate expression of how we Catholics look at our relationship with civil authority….

The Church throughout its institutions must be free to carry out its mission and contribute to the common good without being pressured to sacrifice fundamental teachings and moral principles. It’s not “imposing our morality” as some say, but rather insisting that our moral teachings are from “nature and nature’s God,” as even our Constitution acknowledges the role of morality and conscience in civic life….

Sometimes our politicians forget this. Henry VIII thought that he could assume to himself authority over the Catholic Church in England so that he could divorce and remarry as he wished. His 1534 Act of Supremacy made himself the final decider of what religion would teach, and almost all of the Catholic bishops of the time signed the Act, and by doing so officially abandoned the Catholic Church and started with King Henry the Church of England….

The government’s new health care mandate has created a situation in which the Catholic Church would be forced to compromise its long-standing teachings and pay for insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization procedures, and drugs that will cause abortions….

Why would so many outside the Church add their voices to ours over what appears to be a “Catholic issue” like contraception? Because it’s not just about that, it’s more about the erosion of religious freedom.

The growing voices of opposition remind me of the famous quote by the Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller in 1946: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

There has been a subtle shift in civic discourse that speaks no longer of “freedom of religion,” but rather “freedom of worship”: this narrows the Church’s influence only to what we do within these church walls, and seeks to silence our voice in the public square ….

After the Louisiana Purchase of 1804, Sister Marie Therese Farjon of the Ursuline Order of nuns wrote to President Thomas Jefferson “to ask whether the sisters’ property and ministries would be secure under the new government,” since Louisiana had been under French jurisdiction and was now part of the United States.

In response, President Jefferson replied: “The principles of the Constitution and the government of the United States are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules without interference from civil authorities….”

Perhaps it’s enough to fight against the Health and Human Services mandate on First Amendment grounds, but the only reason it’s a conscience issue is because the Church has always held artificial contraception to be a sin. In fact every Christian church used to believe this until 1930 when the Church of England thought it would be okay under certain circumstances to allow couples to use contraception, then Christian morality unraveled from there.

Since then the world over has experienced 1) the general lowering of moral standards, 2) the rise in infidelity and children born out of wedlock, 3) the reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men, and 4) government coercion in reproductive matters. Pope Paul VI said this is exactly what would happen if contraception became the norm in his Encyclical Humane Vitaein 1966.

50 years later his prophecy is undeniable, yet it hasn’t stopped most people—and most Catholics—from acting like contraception is no big deal. Time to wake up, Catholics. Those who dislike the Catholic Church point to the majority Catholics who don’t follow the Church’s teaching in this matter as a primary reason why the Church is wrong and why a federal mandate is perfectly okay to impose on the Church.

The world thinks we’re a bunch of idiots who need to be forced to do what they think is best. Contraception and abortion are bad for the soul, bad for marriage, and bad medicine. Contraception is not preventative medicine: pregnancy is not a disease people have to be protected from. Sex is not a recreation and marriage is not the government’s to redefine….

Trying to find political leaders who hold all the Church’s concerns, in the same order that the Church holds them, may be impossible. So then it comes to a matter of choosing among candidates, sometimes choosing the lesser of two evils. But what is clear in Vatican and American Church documents is that there is a priority of issues, beginning with those of the gravest moral consequence….


Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 4:55 AM By Neil C
It is important that as faithful Catholics that we support and encourage the boldness of our priests and religious willing to speak out -not in defense of our beliefs- but in truth, to dispel the overwhelmingly biased messages coming from main stream sources. May God continue to bless all religious “leaders” such as Fr Chris Heath for their contribution. Hallelujah!

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 4:56 AM By don byrnes
Great story – but a caution; “Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” ( Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 198, by Cardinal Ratzinger) AND in this case maybe the priest is subjected to an unnecessary test of his humility – “what if they don’t applaud the next time?”

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 5:28 AM By Fr Richard Perozich
I know Fr. Heath. He is a faithful priest who brings Jesus to God’s people. Thank you, Fr. Heath.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 5:52 AM By Gabriel Espinosa 

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 6:24 AM By peter
“marriage is not the government’s to redefine…. ” As long as there are secular benefits tied to marriage, it most certainly is the government’s to define.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:40 AM By Tm
Nice to hear that some priests are preaching the whole truth. May the Lord give us more holy and zealous priests.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:48 AM By MD
Let us all remember Fr. Heath in our prayers, and all priests for that matter. Our culture will shift to a culture of life when all priests speak in this manner every week from the pulpit and educate Catholics to follow the Lord. God Love You.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:32 AM By grampsc
Too many are willing to bend to the state in order to find comfort here on earth, St. Thomas quiered Richie Rich, about giving up his soul to become provost of Wales. We see today, too many Catholics and too many Jews trying to politicize that which is above politics, a Catholic VP Catholic senators and Catholic representatives all clamoring to be “supportive” of the church but complicit with the administration, the Jewish senators, representatives by into the dump Israel mind set of this president and his cabinet, there is a reminder of the Berlin jews who thought they were so safe simply because they were part of the establishment and so very secure in Germany, until the knock on the door.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:37 AM By keithp
The world thinks we’re a bunch of idiots Sermon from Dana Point “The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.” -St. Francis de Sales

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:58 AM By JLS
The Church defines what God has ordained as marriage. Governments are not absolute but temporal, and thus their definitions of things blow away with the wind, or fall over like the Tower of Babel.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:59 AM By MD
Peter-Couples can receive the exact same secular benefits with civil unions. There is truly no need to re-define the institution of marriage, an institution created by God. The argument is not about rights, but about religious liberty. God Love You.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:06 AM By MIKE
MD, the government is trying to re-define ‘MARRIAGE” between one man and one women. There is no need for a civil union by others. In Wills and all other documents we can name anyone as our beneficiary, list them as visitors allowed at hospitals, etc regardless of their gender. This civil marriage stuff is a hoax for social engineering, allowing those who practice sodomy to adopt children, call all those who believe in the Bible (against homosexual acts) to be called criminals for hate crimes, etc.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:07 AM By Bud
I am becoming prouder every day of the many young priests showing as well as preaching the hard facts of faith that has been on such a slippery path.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:30 AM By Catherine
MIKE, Thank you for nipping these social engineering attempts on CCD right in the bud! Good job.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:34 AM By Anne T.
Fr. Heath’s article hits the proverbial nail right on the head. They have already tried to come after the Jews and Muslims by trying to outlaw circumcision, now they are after us. Thank God many Catholics, including bishops, stood up for the Jews and Muslims right to circumcize their sons in a humane way. Now will they stand, too, with us on this issue? I certainly hope so.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:37 AM By Sarah
St. Edward’s, Dana Point, Orange County, should be added to the list of churches to be visited. That is a homily that should be repeated in all the churches.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 10:31 AM By Sandee
I am very proud to be a Catholic and feel very secure about the Catholic Church fighting for God for what is right. I am shocked that our good old USA is actually trying to force us to pay to kill those little sweet babies. Obama scares me but knowing God is more powerful and aware of everything brings me peace through this madness.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 10:32 AM By Sandra
It’s just like in the “Trilogy” by Brian Gail. Fatherless, Motherless and Childless. Good Priests can make a difference. Bless Fr. Heath and other true Shepherds.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 11:06 AM By Catholic Joe
When Father Heath quoted Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller, he reminds us that COURAGE is the weapon. Under ominous conditions, the Church faced Arianism. Against the culture, St. Francis de Sales ‘reconverted’ Catholics away from Protestantism. With so many silent voices amidst the turmoil and collapse, we need to pray for the few who have COURAGE and especially pray that more have it, too–that includes ME & YOU!

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 11:26 AM By Delilah
I wondered who made the statement about speaking out. I often quote it when talking about religious freedom with others that disagree. I tell them, if they take me, who will be left to speak for them? Pax

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 12:38 PM By k
Why are they missing the teachable moment to instruct the country on why birth control is offensive to God and the right use of the sexual gift?

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:07 PM By Seraph
don byrnes, In the tradition of the Church, the sermon was not considered part of the liturgy. In fact, it was considered a break in the Mass. In the TLM, the priest would take off his maniple, as a sign that the Mass was suspended, and put it on again when the Mass resumed after the sermon. It is only with the Missal of Paul VI that the sermon or “homily” was given a more exaggerated importance and is now considered part of the liturgy in which the readings are to play a bigger role.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:08 PM By MD
MIKE-I agree with you. The point I am making to Peter is the re-definition of marriage has a deeper agenda than rights and benefits, but its an attack on the institution of marriage as established by God. Currently gay couples can adopt as a civil couple, so there is no reason why marriage has to be re-defined. Gay couples have every right afforded to married couples now, so there should be no reason to re-define marriage.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:16 PM By David
Good comments…I second Sandra’s citation of Brian Gail’s three books. Buy and read !!!. Also take a deep look at the works of Michael O’ Brien whose characters are in similar situations.

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:42 PM By MIKE
MD, thanks for the clarification. Gays can not adopt in all States – we have to be careful not to generalize based upon only our own experiences. The legislatures of CA, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin are the only ones to date who do not care about the moral messages sent to children regarding sodomy. Florida outright bans this immoral practice. (I could have missed one or two States.)