St. Clare

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/07/01 at 12:00 AM

You’ll notice that our beautiful statue of St. Clare – here on my right – depicts this heroic virgin holding a monstrance with our Eucharistic Lord. This is to commemorate a most daring moment in the life of this extraordinary woman.

In September 1240 a band of Saracen soldiers, in the employ of Emperor Frederick II of Sweden, laid siege to the picturesque town of Assisi in the Umbrian mountains of Italy.
Not content to pillage only the town, the Saracens broke into the cloister of San Damiano, where St. Clare of Assisi lived with her newly formed community of women religious, whom we now know as the Poor Clares.
Terrified at the invasion of the Saracen soldiers, the sisters cried for help to St. Clare, who at the time was deathly ill.
Despite her illness and the natural fear that anyone would feel in such a situation, St. Clare summoned her daughters to courage and faith in the Lord.
With a look of steely resolve and unwavering trust in our Lord’s goodness, she took up the monstrance with the Eucharist inside and met the Saracens at the wall of the cloister, all the while praying to our Lord for deliverance.
Though merely a defenseless and sickly woman, St. Clare possessed an authority that made her stronger than all the soldiers in her midst: the authority of Christ Himself. With the authority of Christ, she struck fear into the hearts of those brutish men without uttering a word, and they turned away and fled.
Interestingly, the name Clare means “light that stands against the darkness,” and so she is a natural patron for all who fight the darkness of evil.
While this story in the life of St. Clare is recounted as one of her miracles, the truth is that we are all called to this same type of prophetic witness. We are all called to face evil head on by calling on the authority of Christ, just as St. Clare did.
Our readings today speak of this prophetic witness and the authority of Christ, especially over evil. And as we consider the current state of affairs in our country, I think it’s especially important that we all understand the necessity of being a prophetic witness in our world today.
Truly, now more than ever, our dear country needs people to stand up as prophetic witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is only through Jesus Christ and by the power of His grace and mercy that any of us will ever be saved.
The culture wars that have plagued our country (and all of western civilization) for the past several decades are not merely political issues. They are moral issues.
And the fights that we see taking place in our country are not simply disagreements between opposing political forces. There is truly a fight between good and evil, and souls are at stake.
Last Sunday I mentioned briefly the new mandate from Health & Human Services that beginning this August, virtually all insurance plans must cover contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and even abortifacient drugs free of charge. I’ve also written about it in this week’s bulletin.
Despite the massive protests and lobbying by our Catholic bishops, our Catholic agencies, institutions, and Catholic for-profit companies will be required to provide this type of insurance coverage, even though it violates our consciences and most deeply held principles.
The exemption clause is so narrow that even the Diocese, which is staffed primarily by Catholics and serves primarily Catholics, will have to comply.
This is not simply a religious issue; this is a constitutional rights issue – for Catholics in the United States are now being denied the right to practice their faith fully in the public square.
Last Sunday I spoke about the need to do reparation for the sins of our country, most especially for the sin of abortion. But we must also be willing to fight the evils of our society by other means too.
Whether we want to face the truth or not, our country is now reaping the fruits of widespread acceptance and usage of contraception. Contraception promises the joy of the conjugal act without consequence and without responsibility.
Contraception and sterilization change the very nature of the conjugal act by rendering void its life-giving quality. Over time this had led to the widespread belief that the conjugal act is not primarily about procreation, but rather about recreation.
What was designed by God to be an act of sacrifice and self-gift leading to new life has now become an act of selfishness that often leads to death for an unborn child. We have distorted one of God’s most precious gifts to satisfy our own selfish desires.
And now our country sees fit to enshrine contraception, sterilization, and abortion as rights so sacred that all who want them must have unfettered access to them through their insurance plans, at the expense of us all.
Our government is now telling us that the right to contracept our children into oblivion, to maim ourselves through sterilization, and to take pills that induce the abortion of unwanted babies is so sacred that it trumps even the consciences of those who object to these evil practices.
Truthfully, we cannot be surprised, for we cannot distort the natural law and the God-given order of creation for selfish reasons and expect there to be no serious consequences.
But brothers and sisters, if we are anything as Catholics, we are people of hope. Moreover, we know by faith that when we preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with courage and integrity, we speak with the very authority of Christ Himself.
It is not too late for us to be a prophetic witness to our society that seems hell-bent on destroying itself.
So in addition to doing reparation for the sins of our country, as I mentioned last Sunday, we must also convert! If we want our country to change, we must change by refusing to cooperate with the culture of death in our country.
We must say no to any practices that close the conjugal act to the gift of new life, such as contraception and sterilization.
We must say no to anything that mocks or tears at the fabric of traditional family life, such as cohabitation and same-sex unions.
And we must say no to anything that violates our God-given human dignity or destroys innocent life, such as in-vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and especially abortion.
These things are not freedoms that should be protected and enshrined within our laws. They are evils that lead to selfishness and spiritual bondage, and we must oppose them both privately within our own lives, and publicly as well.
Like good St. Clare, we must arm ourselves with Christ Himself, which we do through prayer and by living our Catholic faith with integrity and in its fullness. And then we must be willing to speak out against these evils and to share the good news of the Gospel.
May God bless our country and save us from our sins. St. Clare of Assisi, pray for us.

29 January 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

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