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The Happy Priest: Finding True Freedom through Obedience to the Lord

Obedience is a difficult virtue because sometimes the truth really does hurt

Obedience is a difficult virtue because sometimes the truth really does hurt.  But, we need to conform our lives to God's will, not our own.  I for one will continue preaching the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church, even if there are five people left in the pews.  The Catholic Church is not running a popularity contest.  The truth must always be explained with kindness and patience, but we can never compromise that which is true. 


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The word obedience comes from the Latin word ob-audire which means to hear or to listen to.  As baptized Catholics we are obligated to obey God and to obey the teachings of his Church.  Obedience to God and obedience to his Church is the most liberating experience known to the human person.

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock" (Matthew 7: 24).

Obedience gives us total freedom because we do not wallow in sin, opinion, doubt and error.  Let us recall what Jesus said elsewhere in the Gospels:  "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8: 32).

We all know that we live in a time of chaos.  There is chaos in the Catholic Church, there is chaos in society and there is chaos in family life.  Why is there so much chaos?  Disobedience.  People are not listening.  People are doing their own thing. 

Let's take a look at one example that comes to us from the news media.  During the time when John Paul II went on to his eternal reward and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as his successor, the news media gave us a clear window into the open rebellion still going on in the Catholic Church.

A CNN/USA TODAY/GALLUP Poll found that seventy-nine per cent of the Catholics polled said that the new Pope should change the Church's teaching on birth control.  Sixty-three percent said that priests should be able to marry.  Fifty-nine per cent want a change on the Church's ban on embryonic stem-cell research. Fifty-five per cent said that women should be able to be ordained as priests.  Thirty-seven per cent want a change on the Church's stand against abortion.  In addition, forty-nine per cent believe the Church should change her teachings on divorce.

As a Catholic priest I am continually criticized by some and ignored by others because I stand firmly and confidently with the Pope and all of the Church's teaching.  I hear comments from people who say that some people do not come to my parish because they are being told what to do or because I am too strict.  We live in an age of rebellion, disobedience and apostasy. Most people do not want to hear the truth and most people do not want to be told how to live their lives, even in the most fundamental aspects of the Christian way of life.

Actually, we can turn to another part of Sacred Scripture and find a perfect description of the times that we live in.  St. Paul, in his second letter to Timothy says: "The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths.  Be careful always to choose the right course." (2 Timothy 4: 3-5).

The time is sure to come.I believe that we are living in the time that Saint Paul predicted. 

Do you remember Cardinal Rat zinger's famous homily before the Conclave that elected him as Pope Benedict XVI?   He spoke to us about the dictatorship of relativism.  This is the present situation in the Church and in our society. 

Let us recall the words of Cardinal Ratzinger: "We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth."

Today, we all know that the Church, society and families are all in a state of chaos because most people are not listening and most people are doing their own thing.  What are you supposed to do in this present and on-going crisis?  Be faithful and persevere. 

"Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.  Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead" (Deuteronomy 11: 18).

Live and defend the Ten Commandments.  Live and defend the Bible.  Live and defend all of the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

We all know that today anyone can find a priest that will tell them whatever they want to hear.  We have the great gift of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  If the priest is saying something that isn't there, move on.  Find a priest that is faithful, speaks the truth and has the courage to take a stand.

Obedience is a difficult virtue because sometimes the truth really does hurt.  But, we need to conform our lives to God's will, not our own. 

Sadly, today, most Americans do not want to hear the truth.  In my life as a parish priest I have seen people walk away from the truth for a simple bowl of lentils.  Most of the time, all they wanted to do was to continue with their immoral life-style.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church brilliantly explains the connection between sexual immorality and the loss of faith with these words: "The sixth beatitude proclaims, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God'.  Pure in heart refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God's holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity; chastity or sexual rectitude; love of truth and orthodoxy of faith" (#2518).

I for one will continue preaching the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church, even if there are five people left in the pews.  The Catholic Church is not running a popularity contest.  The truth must always be explained with kindness and patience, but we can never compromise that which is true.  I am excited by the fact that young people and young families are hungry for real Catholicism.  I am very excited to see so many young people and young families at my parish.  They provide great hope for the future.  They really get it and they are making heroic choices in order to live out the Gospel in a very challenging world. 

"I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse: a blessing for obeying the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I enjoin on you today; a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, but turn aside from the way I ordain for you today, to follow other gods, who you have not known" (Deuteronomy 11: 26-27). 

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Father James Farfaglia, the Happy Priest, is the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas and is a member of the Board of Directors of Human Life International.  Father has a hard hitting blog called Illegitimi non carborundum.  He has also published a book called Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life.  You can click here for the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.  His second book, Get Serious! will be available soon.  You can visit Father James on the web at www.FatherJames.org.     

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Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.

Keywords: Obedience, rebellion, freedom, fidelity, Magisterium, Lent, discipleship, Fr James Farfaglia



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1 - 10 of 14 Comments

  1. Lonny D'Agostini
    2 years ago

    Man is not simply an individual "chooser" (that would be satanic sophistry) he is also a social "affecter". His decisions affect other people. That's when it gets complicated. Think about it: who has the right to take away someone else's right - to be born, to know the truth about God and themselves, to not be abused, etc. Even Jesus has a right not to feel the pain which His children cause Him when they choose to damn themselves forever in hell.

  2. alexandra
    2 years ago

    I love very much what Father James Farfaglia is saying and am in total agreement with him. I also love to obey and walk every step in obedience. We were created to love the truth that guides us. We were also created with choice. Being Led by truth is not mandatory. It has to be a choice. That's what Life is about. That we are Choosers. We know what is right and are tempted to go against what we know. Then we choose. As Father quoted "I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse..."

    It's not hard to obey. That's not from truth. Life is hard when you don't ... a curse.

  3. Dennis White
    2 years ago

    I found this article very interesting. As a " true and faithful" catholic that supports and believes in the doctrine of the church, I ask this question. When we as catholics find a priest who is not followig the true teachings of the catholic churce, should we confront the priest who it spreading teaching in which the "church" does not profess, or should we like most everyone, ignor the priest.

  4. Lonny D'Agostini
    3 years ago

    On the two interpretations of the Ten Commandments and the Mystery of Iniquity.......................................................

    The Ten Commandments were given to man to steer him away from eternal perdition; much like a fence that parents build around their home to protect their children. However, if we are irrational we might see these rules as a suppression of our freedom. And so time and time again we will find ourselves climbing over that fence, doing what we want - and getting hurt in the process. (Human freedom, while vast, still has limits.) Although God loves us we are always free. It’s up to us to decide whose interpretation of that fence we will accept. This is the real conflict: the battle between truth and falsehood. God says that the prohibition is there for our protection. Satan says it’s there to limit our freedom and to deprive us of autonomy. Keep in mind there is no such thing as “absolute freedom”. Freedom always implies relative restriction. We are either free from vice and subject to virtue or we are free from virtue and subject to vice. The act of breaking God’s Commandments is never an act of freedom but of slavery. We could say that in the name of our freedom we act against our freedom. The man who boasts of his “freedom” to sin is like the man who brags to his friends that he has the freedom to mutilate himself. In hell, all creatures know this as the supreme definition of insanity, the ultimate contradiction...............................................................................................................
    The Ten Commandments are not arbitrary rules which God sets up to test our obedience, they are rather an expression of Who He is. And since we are made in His image they are also an expression of who we are. The Luciferian concept of freedom if it exists at all, exists only as an illusion....................................................

  5. Sheryl
    3 years ago

    Amen to that Father. I'm 29 yrs old and every day I'm refreshed by the Church's teaching. It's just so sad that so few of my generation and younger are wiling to give the Church's teaching a chance. They are seeking but not willing to make the sacrifices to change themselves. Their parents don't seem to be much of role models either. I think it's gift & a privilege to be a Catholic, to know the Truth and to receive the Eucharist.

    May the Lord in his mercy never let me forget that!

  6. D
    3 years ago

    Irene - Our church (St Leo's, Minot ND) has confession everyday and priests that tell us how important reconciliation. If you want to make a confession you could find a confessional. Your opening statement identifies you as one that Father is talking about.. God bless and heartfelt love to you.

  7. K.C.Thomas
    3 years ago

    I feel so sorry when I read that the gallop poll indicated that a large percentage of catholics want change in Catholic teachings on birth control, divorce, abortion, priestly celibacy, priesthood for women etc. This means that they want rules to be framed according to their tastes, and they do not approve of the commandments of God and His Church. For example when Jesus whom we consider as God told us that " what God has joined, let not man put assunder " how can we think of amendment by us ? Our Church is not a Government formed by the people but instituted by God our creator.I feel the hierarchy should give utmost importance for adult catechism to make them aware of all Church teachings.

  8. Adam Hordos
    3 years ago

    Good-morning Fr. happy Priest. I am so grateful for this web site there is more dialogue on here that in my own parish. I cannot get passed Vatican 11 no matter how I try Father. I was there. How do I go against my heart. I was "Confirmed', where I believe that I received the Holy Spirit which is supposed to be the truth. My own thought is that something has gone wrong with how we perceive the third person of the "Trinity". You and me received the same blessing from a consecrated Bishop. Then why are there so many disagreements. I don't expect to see tongues of fire on my head but how do I go against my conscience which leads me to your comment about obedience to the Church. Then in return if the church approved "Fatima" why is there so much confusion about the Third Secret of Fatima. Should Pope John the Twenty Third, not have read the letter did he disobey our "Lady". I understand the words given to St.Peter, what ever you bind on earth etc.. In conclusion do you not agree the the confusion started soon after this. I love you Father.

  9. John Bosco
    3 years ago

    Thank God! There is a change in the church that we have priests who are not afraid to speak the truth. May God's blessings and guidance be with Fr. James Farfaglia.
    May he give him good health and courage of St. Paul in leading the catholic faith to his creator?

    Suggest he be transferred to the seminary where the formation of priests takes place so that we can have more such priests.

    Blessed Be God!

  10. Irene
    3 years ago

    "Sadly, today, most Americans do not want to hear the truth. In my life as a parish priest I have seen people walk away from the truth for a simple bowl of lentils. Most of the time, all they wanted to do was to continue with their immoral life-style."

    Father, while I admire your zeal and courage in preaching the truth, I strongly disagree with this statement, which seems to adopt a judgemental and overly generalized approach to people who are assailed on every side by culture. Many priests are not "happy," nor interested so much in the challenges that culture poses for people in general. Often priests are inaccessible. In my experience, people are hungry for the Gospel and hungry for the truth. ButHowever, parish life is so often dry and unwelcoming, and not integrated into the rest of their lives -which is the point if we are to truly live the Gospel. There is a lack of a sense of community, support, fraternity and all those things which support and reinforce what the Church teaches. Try, for example, finding confession outside of 3:30 - 4 pm on Saturday in most parishes across the US. Add to this the fact that while one priest might understand and preach Church teaching on sexuality, a priest in the neighboring parish thinks birth control is acceptable. Renewal is here and is spreading, but judging most people as uninterested and lazy is unfair.


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