Reflecting upon Word of God and Natural Law Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 -- 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,

Prior to launching into a reflection upon our readings from this past Sunday, I find myself desiring to reflect for a moment upon the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, of our United States Supreme Court.

I only met Justice Scalia twice, very briefly, and so my reflections are not necessarily drawn from personal experience. But they are certainly from the reliable and personally related experience of his family and of friends, who were very close to the Justice.

Through their close relationship I can say for a fact that, putting aside the influence and success of his career, we have lost a very good man, a good husband, a good father, a good friend to so many -- even those who disagreed with him philosophically.

Exemplary Catholic layman

Justice Scalia was exemplary, by God’s grace, in living out the mission of a Catholic layman in this world. In the complicated world of the judiciary, which so often is touched by the political, his vision was clear and his sights were correctly set.

Also, of course, he was a great husband and a great father of nine, one of whom is a priest, and one of whom, Chris, was a faithful member of our Cathedral Parish and a good friend to me while he was completing his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin.

And so we thank God for the gift that He gave us in the life and the work and the family example of Justice Scalia. And we keep the soul of the Justice, and the whole Scalia family in our prayers, especially Maureen his wife, Father Paul, and Chris.

Temptation can be useful

Now, the Gospel of this past Sunday (Lk 4:1-13) begins, “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” So Jesus was filled with the Spirit, and it was the same Spirit, the Gospel tells us, that led him out into the desert to be tempted.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the desert to be tempted! So many people tell me that they are failing in their growth in holiness because it seems they’re always tempted.

Jesus Himself was led by the Spirit to be tempted! Temptation, understood properly, can be a useful tool, allowed by God, for our ultimate good.

At the end of our passage from Luke it says, “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time (Lk 4:13).” Another translation says, “Then the devil left him, only to await the next opportunity.”

For us, being tempted is essential to the journey towards holiness, towards our being conformed to the image of Christ. Temptation is not a sign of failure. Temptation is God’s call to training, to discipline, to going against evil. It’s part of the training school that is Lent.

That being said, we do not typically seek out temptation. Temptation is of the devil, but God permits it because every temptation opens us to the possibility of a victory for Grace.

The Word of God

In the Second Reading (Rom 10:8-13), we hear a very profound line: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (Rom 10:8).” We should not be left asking where the Word of God is, St. Paul says prior to this passage, wondering, “Is it up higher than the heavens? Is it across the seas? Is it at some great distance?”

“The Word of God is already in your mouth and in your heart,” Paul says. You only have to carry it out. “So if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved!”

If you confess with your mouth and believe with your heart, then you will be saved, then you will overcome temptation. And what is the great temptation, of our own day and age? How is the devil continuing his operation of tempting?

Going against Natural Law

Unbelievable as it is, the devil is tempting our society and people in the Church to go against the Natural Law. This law is written on our hearts, it has been confirmed and affirmed through Scripture, the teaching of the Church, and the Lord himself, and yet many are left tempted to wonder, “Perhaps what the Lord really wants is somewhere else?”

In terms of wide open abortion, in terms of gay “marriage”, in terms of gender confusion being inflicted upon children, in terms of our inability to see clearly the dignity of each and every human being, we are being tempted to seek for a different “word.” All of those temptations are against the Natural Law.

Check out the Catechism

And the devil is doing a really good job because at the last synod, there were a few bishops and cardinals willing to give in to that temptation. That’s why I say to you, this is a time in the history of the Church where you shouldn’t let your Catechism out of your sight!

This bishop says this . . . that cardinal says that . . . you’re wondering about it. People say there is great confusion in the Church and, well, there is. But that confusion can be resolved by checking out the Catechism.

Everyone certainly should own a Catechism these days and not let it out of his or her sight. It reflects the Church’s stable and consistent statement of the law of God, which conforms perfectly with the Word already in our mouth and in our hearts.

Word is written on our hearts

The Word of God is already in our mouth and in our hearts. We should not lose sight of that, nor succumb to the temptation to seek for it far from what has already been written on our hearts.

Our concern for women who are anguishing with a pregnancy (regardless of the circumstances) should not cause us to be tempted to allow for the life of that child to be destroyed. Human circumstances are complex and often tragic, but the reality of the dignity of the life of that child is already written on our hearts and knowable by reason alone.

Our love and deep concern for our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters who feel that they are attracted to persons of the same sex, or who feel that they somehow do not fit in their own bodies, should not cause us to be tempted to throw away what we already know about the truth of marriage and human sexuality and complementarity, written upon our hearts and confirmed by Christ and His Church.

We love deeply those who struggle with these and so many difficulties, but we must reflect upon the Natural Law of reason and upon the Word of God written on our hearts and knowable by reason alone.

Look to future of our country

And just as we began by reflection upon the life of a public servant, we must take these reflections deeply into consideration as we look at the future of our own United States. In so many ways, this coming presidential election is going to be a referendum on the Natural Law.

Are we going to make decisions in an effort toward going along with God’s design for all eternity? Or are we going to be more like Burger King and Frank Sinatra and have it, or do it, “our way?”

We must confess with our lips, dear friends, and believe in our hearts, that God’s plan is the only truth. And, in a world of such confusion and disbelief, in a world of so much rebellion, we must consider that if Justice Scalia was able to navigate those straits and to protect the Natural Law insofar as he could, in that very difficult position, how much more does God’s grace makes it possible for us to uphold and to protect and to proclaim with our mouths the Natural Law, the ecology of Human Nature.

Ours is not a time for silence that almost bespeaks cowardice. This is a time to hear Jesus, who has assured our victory in the end -- saying to us, over and over again, as the Lord said to Gideon by way of His angel (Judg 6:12), “I am with you, oh, champion!” Let the Lord speak that beautiful “word” to us every minute of every day and especially in times of temptation.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! May the Lord continue to strengthen you in this Lenten Season! Praised be Jesus Christ!