This Week’s Ask Alice: Why don’t we hear more preaching at Mass about the evils of birth control and abortion?



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Rob K. asks: Why is it our clerics (bishops, priests, deacons) are so soft on birth control and ultimately, abortion?

We hardly ever, especially at weekend masses, hear any mention of the evils of birth control and abortion. Sitting in attendance are millions of Catholic women using artificial birth control, many with their spouses approval, and possibly even teen age children using contraception. Almost without exception, they all march up to receive the body and blood of Jesus.

Does the pastor or priest believe all these women are not participating in the evil of birth control? How can the continued silence on this matter be justified?

(Rob goes on to mention the lack of modest dress, along with other problems.)

Who and/or what is responsible for all this?

Alice Answers: You’ve raised 3 separate questions, which frequently are asked by other Catholics.

1) Your first question concerns priests’ homilies. Many parish priests preach eloquent, prolife homilies on a regular basis. If your priest does not, consider these suggestions. Please pray for your priest(s). After Sunday Mass shake his hand and say, “Thank you for preaching a good homily, Father. I was wondering if you could give a homily about the sacredness of life, chastity or the sanctity of marriage?” (Mention only ONE of these topics). You must be respectful and polite. No priest wants to feel that he is being commanded or manipulated into preaching about a particular issue.

2) Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is an intimate experience between the Communicant and Jesus. We are not called by God to be Communion Cops. Only God can judge the heart. Many years ago my dear friend, Fr. Dan Cambra, M.I.C., Assistant Rector at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge said, “Of all the people who come to receive Holy Communion on a given Sunday there probably are some who haven’t gone to Confession in 20 years, others who don’t believe in the Real Presence, divorced Catholics remarried outside the Church, parents committing child abuse, a non-Catholic attending Mass, and someone who has stolen money from a corporate employer. There is neither a Sin Detector nor screening process available to weed out people who are in a state of mortal sin. However, if Communion was given only to people who had gone to Confession right before Mass, there still would be no one, not even me, who is worthy to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.”

Before receiving Communion we pray, “Oh Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

And St. Paul reminds us, “All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

3) Your third question addresses the Dress Code at Mass. Should the ushers tell everyone who is not well-dressed to get out of church? Would it be better for Catholic churches to have 10 pews filled with perfectly attired parishioners or 40 pews filled with worshipers wearing a variety of clothing?

On August 31, my husband and I attended the funeral of Robert Gowyrlowf, who died at age 74, after a four year battle with cancer. A parishioner at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago for 38 years, Robert lived alone. He arranged altar flowers and served as an usher and greeter at Holy Name Masses. Called “The Cookie Man,” Robert baked and brought cookies to sick and disabled patients at the Jesse Brown Veterans’ Hospital in Chicago. As his age and illness progressed Robert’s attire wouldn’t have earned a spot on any Best-Dressed List.

In June we were attending devotions with Robert, when a member of the Rosary group approached me and asked, “Who is that man and why is he dressed that way?” Later, another member of the Rosary group approached my husband and made unkind comments about Robert’s clothing to him as well.

Robert’s funeral Mass was concelebrated by three priests and a deacon. Present were mourners in wheelchairs whom Robert had visited at Jesse Brown Hospital, homeless people who sold “Streetwise” newspapers near the church, and teens clad in grocery store uniforms whose boss had excused them from work to pay their last respects to Robert. More than 80 people filled the Cathedral to attend Mass for the kind-hearted, little man with the unusual wardrobe.

Military Chaplain Fr. Christopher Myers’ eulogy brought tears to many eyes when he said,

“Few people knew that Robert had always wanted to be a priest. The reason he never went to the seminary is because he felt he was unworthy. How wrong he was. No one is worthy to be ordained a priest, only Jesus. Robert was a good man, a holy man. I know because I’ve heard his Confessions. When Robert confessed his small sins, all I could think of was my own sinfulness.”

Who should receive Holy Communion? What is the perfect dress code for every parish? Although we can’t dictate what worshipers wear to Mass, we can make certain that we are on God’s Best Dressed List.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Finally, please pray each day for our priests. Theirs is one of the loneliest, most difficult vocations on Earth. Every priest is called to be another Jesus in a sinful world. Do you want holy, faithful, kind-hearted priests serving at your parish? Then pray each day for your priest(s) by name. Every priest needs our prayers, love, support, and encouragement!

In Christ’s love,

Alice

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

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