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

By Fr. James Farfaglia
March 7th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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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