By Archbishop William E. Lori
The election is over and from the church’s perspective the results were mixed. The law known as the DREAM Act was upheld, giving immigrant students the same opportunities to achieve their dreams through education. The church had advocated for its passage because we believe it gives children the best chance to fulfill their God-given dignity and to contribute to the only country most have ever known. Early polling on this issue revealed a hard-heartedness. Over the course of the ensuing months, Marylanders would hear the many reasons why this is indeed a fair law and they would pray about it before finally coming to the understanding that upholding the law was the right and just decision.
Unfortunately, Maryland voters also upheld the law redefining marriage in our state. For the same reasons we supported the DREAM Act we also supported overturning the new marriage law: Both are best for children. In spite of what others said, the church’s concerns were not for herself but for the impact on society, most especially children and young people who deserve to know and be raised by their biological parents wherever possible. Though there are many loving adoptive families, the raising of children by their biological parents is the ideal and what we should be striving for as a society, not the dismantling of marriage and the family unit.
Similar laws were upheld in Maine and Washington state, and voters in Minnesota rejected a proposed amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. These results beg the question: “Has there been a change in the mood of the country on same-sex marriage?” The results of a national post-election survey suggest the answer is “no” as 60 percent of American voters agree that “marriage is between one man and one woman.” The results of the marriage election in these four (very politically blue) states are reflective of the very difficult political environment and do not necessarily portend a shift in national public opinion.
To dismiss what occurred on Election Day, however, would be a grave mistake. That a slim majority of Marylanders chose to redefine an institution created by God makes our work of promoting and strengthening marriages all the more challenging and important. The ads for Question 6 are over and those promoting a change in the law will likely not be heard from again. But the church remains, and so does her message, which we must continue to preach in love and in truth.
The nation’s bishops have once again descended upon our archdiocese this week as they held their fall assembly in Baltimore. Among the issues being discussed is a new document on preaching, the first of its kind in over 30 years, which emphasizes the importance of connecting the homily to people’s everyday lives.
With fewer priests, the importance of homily preparation becomes even more important. The document, “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily,” says “The homily is intended to establish a ‘dialogue’ between the sacred biblical text and the Christian life of the hearer … Preachers should be aware, in an appropriate way, of what their people are watching on television, what kind of music they are listening to, which websites they find appealing, and which films they find compelling … references to the most popular cultural expressions – which at times can be surprisingly replete with religious motifs – can be an effective way to engage the interest of those on the edge of faith.”
The document reflects the desire of many Catholics who stated in surveys that they want homilies that help them more directly apply God’s word to their modern lives. In this Year of Faith, there is no better time for us priests and bishops to offer homilies that reintroduce our people to the person of Christ and to hear his Gospel anew.
“Preaching the Mystery of Faith” says “The ultimate goal of proclaiming the Gospel is to lead people into a loving and intimate relationship with the Lord, a relationship that forms the character of their persons and guides them in living out their faith. … By highlighting His humanity, His poverty, His compassion, His forthrightness, and His suffering and death, an effective homily would show the faithful just how much the Son of God loved them in taking our human flesh upon Himself.”
What an awesome responsibility and what a gift every priest can give to his flock!
This is my last column before Thanksgiving. Following an acrimonious election season, this holiday highlighting our many blessings comes at an apropos time. May it help us heal our divisions and take stock of God’s many blessings in our lives. May He continue to bless each of us and keep us in His love, and may He bless our Nation and those elected to lead us. A very happy and joyous Thanksgiving to all.
Copyright (c) Nov. 15, 2012 CatholicReview.org