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TYLER, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Joseph Strickland challenged Catholics to “constant vigilance” in prayer and guarding the deposit of faith while encouraging them to stay joyful during a recent conference in his home diocese.
During this year’s “Defending Our Faith Catholic Conference” in Tyler, Texas, Bishop Strickland stressed that because we are living in a time of great mendacity — of falsehoods — we must strive more than ever to “speak up” about the Truth.
The bishop teed up his talk with the audio of an iconic scene from the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, in which “Big Daddy,” played by Burl Ives, exclaims, “There’s nothing to live with but mendacity! Is there?” Paul Newman’s alcoholic character, Brick, then motions to Ives with a glass of liquor, replying, “Oh yes, sir, you can live with this.”
Strickland used this scene to underscore the fact that as Catholics, we have an infinitely greater response to the mendacity of our age, which has seeped even into the hierarchy of the Catholic Church: Our remedy is “Truth Incarnate,” Jesus Christ.
“He is the one we must constantly point to,” Strickland said.
He further stressed the life-giving power of Christ, sharing how although he drinks coffee, and his podcast host Terry Barber drinks iced tea, neither of them need it.
“What charges us up is Jesus Christ,” Strickland said.
Strickland said that today mendacity is “flowing like lava over civilization,” pointing to widespread gender confusion as an example. However, he added that it is important that we don’t lose our joy, “no matter how great the darkness is.”
“As Dr. Janet [Smith] reminded us last night, we don’t stop with mendacity and just say ‘woe is me.’ I’m sure we all do that to some extent, but we have to follow [Christ]. We have to live in His light, we have to continue the path.”
Strickland went on to share essential truths of the Catholic faith that serve as guideposts in our age of mendacity.
“The Catholic Church is guided by truth that God has revealed to humanity through his son Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the church protects us from natural errors that arise in human culture. Allowing these errors to go unchecked has devastating consequences for Christian Life,” Strickland shared.
He first emphasized that Truth personified, Jesus Christ, “didn’t just come to us 2023 years ago,” but is “with us now” in the Eucharist.
“Don’t doubt your truth. Don’t doubt Christ. Know in the depths of your being that you have been blessed to know the answers to the mysteries of the universe,” Strickland said.
Just as Christ as “Lord of the universe” was never truly asleep even while his human body slept in a boat with the Apostles during a storm, He is truly present with us today even in the midst of the crises of the Church, Strickland noted.
He referred to this incident with the Apostles as “a great reminder for many of us in this time, because, sadly, many have walked away from the Church saying God doesn’t seem to be with us any longer.”
“We know that isn’t true. We know that He promised us. He will be with us to the end of the age. And so I fully believe that the strongest thing we can do is turn to the Eucharist in adoration and in the Sacrifice of the Mass.”
Regarding the “natural errors that arise in human culture,” Strickland said, “For all of us, we have to remember the tendency to lose the truth. It happens in families. It happens in each of our lives individually. We’re always needing to correct.”
“In many ways that’s what the Church is for: to ship, to guide us through and navigate through the mendacity of every age.”
“One natural error that we have to call out,” Strickland said, is the idea that enough wealth will solve our problems. But “it becomes like a ball and chain that weighs us down.”
He then addressed modernism, which refers to “the spectrum of these errors in our present world.”
Strickland noted that while some identify the Second Vatican Council as a starting point for the “mendacity” of modernism, others point out that these errors can be traced back to the so-called “Enlightenment,” and as Dr. Janet Smith pointed out, mendacity ultimately originates with Adam and Eve.
“We have to be alert to those tentacles of modernism. I know I get lambasted — any of us do — if we speak the perennial truth of the Church.
Referring to those who have been swept up in modernism or any other kind of falsehoods, Strickland advised listeners to “Pray for them” and “for the conversion of their heart.”
“Pray for their eyes to be opened. Never forget that we as the mystical Body of Christ must operate and live and share real love. The kind of suffering love that dies for the good of the other,” he said, pointing to a crucifix.
Strickland then stated the third “essential truth” of the Catholic faith, that “the constant vigilance of the Church … and the rigorous conservation of the truth … constitute her fundamental duty to defend and transmit the doctrine of the faith without compromise … “
The bishop spoke of vigilance regarding not just doctrine but spiritual life in general as a requirement for every single human being.
“Constant vigilance. The scriptures tell us to pray constantly. In our human condition … it’s hard to do anything constantly. You can make a good stab at it, and make some progress here, and then you slip again.”
“I admit constant vigilance [is] exhausting. But just because it’s exhausting doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary,” said Strickland, alluding to “things coming out of the Vatican that curl your hair even if you’re bald.”
He pointed out that, when it comes to guarding the deposit of faith, while the ordained have the most responsibility, it remains a “fundamental duty” for people in every sphere of life to be constantly vigilant and help preserve the Catholic faith.
Toward this goal, “the greatest weapon of all” is prayer, Strickland said.
He emphasized that it is especially important to share the Truth today when so many without supernatural faith are suffering in these challenging times, noting that “many of us have been touched by the sadness” of suicide.
“That is why it is so vital that we know the truth, and that we share that Truth,” said Strickland, pointing out that while “the great philosophers can bring us to a … certain level of sanity, the only real tools that fight the despair that creeps into all of our hearts, even as people of faith, is to know Jesus Christ. To believe He died and rose for us and that he remains with us.”
The bishop left his listeners with a call to boldly voice the Truth in the face of lies.
“We cannot be silent. We cannot simply go along and allow the compromises, the mendacities, to overtake us.”
“I don’t want to leave you with mendacity. Instead, I want to challenge you to audacity,” said Strickland, pointing to the saints and martyrs as models of “audacious faith.”
“Audacious faith is what the world needs right now,” he concluded.
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