Finding hope and light in the darkness Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Apr. 03, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

“Night is coming, when no one can work,” we heard in the Gospel reading of this past Sunday (Jn 9:4).

Jesus told his disciples: do the works of God while it is still day, “night is coming when no one can work.”

No one can work and, I might add, no-thing can work. And I would suggest that night has come.

Even as we’ve just marked the Sunday that we call “Rejoice Sunday,” we acknowledge that we have to rejoice in the truth. God gives us the grace to rejoice in the truth. And the truth is that the night has come and so no one and nothing can work -- but the splendid Light of the Resurrection will make that night as bright as day!

The story of the man born blind, which we encountered in the Gospel reading, is in many ways an allegory for our very own culture and our very own society. It is a culture and a society of death. A culture upon which night has descended, so nothing works.

Living by the law of reason

In order for life in a democracy to work, we have to have a starting point as a people from which we begin to live our lives -- a starting point that belongs to all people, whatever their religion.

And for that purpose, God the Creator gave us a starting point. He wrote the law of reason in our minds and in our bodies that we would have a common starting point so people could be trusted to be free.

Even apart from the laws that civil society makes, God gives the gift of reason and He gives the gifts -- strength and courage -- to follow the law of reason.

But now we live in a society that overwhelmingly wants to choose death. Society chooses abortion on a large scale. Society chooses artificial contraception on an almost universal scale. And society is more and more, by a larger majority, choosing to support same-sex unions. All of those things go against the law of reason and thus, we don’t have a starting point from which to dialogue.

We believe in dialogue, but dialogue requires a common starting point, otherwise it is just noise. And, we find ourselves with “just noise” in this country and in this culture.

Especially significant right now is the push among people, so many Catholics even, for the regularization of same-sex unions. The polling on that reality is clear and well known. We try to respond in a loving, compassionate way to this push -- upholding and safeguarding the dignity of all human beings -- while recalling what reason says on the matter.

When we try to respond in a loving, compassionate way, we are called intolerant. We are called hate-mongers. We are accused of using hate speech. In Canada it is already a crime to simply state publicly what the law is that is written on the minds and hearts of human beings by the Creator.

In a culture wherein it is a crime to hand on the message that we have from the Creator, it is clear that the society and the culture indeed have contempt for the Creator.

When there is such hatred and contempt for the Creator and His plan, then it really is night because once the Creator and his law are held in contempt, no one and nothing can work.

Seeing through blindness and darkness

We all are like the man born blind.

Through Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist, we receive our vision, we receive our sight, and we proclaim. In these days of darkness in our own society, what occurs when we try to proclaim the light?

Our American culture and society throw us out just like the Pharisees threw the blind man out of the synagogue. So too, the American society and the American culture has thrown us out. We are not to be tolerated. We are to be persecuted and our religious freedoms are to be curtailed. The night has come and no one and nothing can work.

Those who have discovered Christ are those who were interiorly blind but now see. But the vast majority of people in our culture and our society have become interiorly blind. They have given in to darkness and night has enveloped them. They are the ones who through elections and decisions in the court, are little-by-little throwing us out of their culture and their society. That is the way it has to be.

They are becoming blind interiorly, so that those who really can see interiorly stand out. But, once we stand out, then it is necessary to punish us; we have become the outcasts. When we argue the case surrounding these various issues -- especially the case about same-sex unions -- I am certain that our arguments are strong and valid. And yet, I know with just as much certainty, that they do not work, because no one can work, nothing can work when it is night. But we will never give up hope because we have the victory in Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.

Never giving up on the beauty of marriage

We’ve just celebrated Laetare Sunday.

We never give up hope and the way we show that we never give up hope is by proclaiming the beauty of marriage. We do so with two simple points: God created marriage and God created male and female for marriage.

Marriage is His design for human unity and human fruitfulness. This is the reason that is inscribed on the human heart.

If you look at the male anatomy and the female anatomy, it does not take a brilliant IQ to discover that male and female can become two in one flesh. It does not take a PhD to figure out what goes where, so that there might be a one-flesh union -- a union that is very joyful and a union that is pleasurable.

This union is one that is rightfully called love, because of the self-abandonment and acceptance of vulnerability that it involves. It is a beautiful union! And it is also a union where God can bring new life into the world, according to His own will.

When he calls them to marriage, God gives male and female a wonderful gift to be coworkers with Him in the space that He created for Himself that He might create new human life. That is why marriage is the highest human good. The space of sexual intimacy is so sacred that God uses it, with husband and wife, to bring new human life into the world. That is a beautiful, sacred thing.

As husband and wife express love, their love is so strong that by the power of God and according to His will, their love is strong as to be life-giving.

That is beautiful! It is a beautiful reality, and I think we need to have hope that the beauty of true marriage can still overpower the darkness that has brought us into this night.

We have to realize just how beautiful marriage is and we have to talk about the beauty of marriage. We have to talk about how it is a call worthy of the dignity of the human person and worthy of the cooperation of male and female.

God calls male and female to marriage. God does not call, according to His plan, two males or two females to marry each other. He just does not do that.

Going forward with hope

The whole world knows what we believe and they know what our arguments are. But it is night, so no one and nothing works. These realities are still self-evident even in human biology, but they are considered politically incorrect and even hateful.

And so, every day, those who attempt to uphold such realities are more and more thrown out.

But the Resurrection hope from Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist is so strong that we still go forward with great hope, telling the truth about the beauty of marriage according to God’s plan.

No mission in the Church today in the United States is more important, because if we lose the meaning of marriage, we lose democracy and we lose our culture.

God’s will is clear and now we do well to emphasize the beautiful side. People know what we are “against.” They have heard the arguments; the arguments do not work.

Beauty -- the beauty of marriage -- is what needs to be put forth, day-in and day-out, as the expression and the reason for our hope in Christ, because anyone faced with utter beauty will not turn away. That always has to be our hope.

So during these closing days of Lent, let us make that proclamation about beauty, especially the beauty of marriage. Let us pray that where there has been darkness there will be light; and we know that there will be, as sure as we know that there will be an Easter Vigil with an Easter candle and the proclamation, “The Light of Christ!”

Praised be Jesus Christ!