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(Fr. Michael P. Orsi)— It’s not always apparent why particular scripture readings are included within the same liturgy. Indeed, sometimes the selections seem entirely random. One recent Mass was a clear exception, however.

The 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time featured the familiar story of the prophet Jeremiah being tossed into a cistern for speaking out against futile military resistance to the Babylonians.

The second reading was St. Paul calling on Christians to hold fast to their principles, even enduring opposition from sinners, as Christ stood firm under threat of the cross.

The week’s Gospel reading was Jesus’ warning that following him would create division, even in families: “I have come to set a fire on the earth.”

All three readings highlight the price of faithfulness in defense of truth.

That’s a timely message, because these days you could easily find yourself called upon to stand up for truth. And doing so might not be easy.

The “de-Christianizing” of American society has made it likely that, at some point, you’ll face troubling conflicts over issues that once would have seemed quite distant, even rare. Acceptance of abortion, sexual deviance, and a wide variety of random immoral behaviors can put you on the spot in ways you never expected.

One of the most prevalent issues is cohabitation, living together in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

How many people have friends or relatives in such situations? It’s all too common. Indeed, it’s become quite acceptable, a “non-issue” in sophisticated circles. Yet, it can create awkwardness and conflict for someone trying to maintain Christian moral standards.

We know that living in this way does not accord with God’s plan. In fact, it can be harmful to the individuals involved (especially to women), in that it doesn’t provide the stability of a marriage commitment. If things get difficult in the relationship, the door is always open to get out.

Cohabitation doesn’t even live up to the oft-heard claim that it’s a useful testing period for marriage, a time of getting to know each other and confirming the decision to be together. Studies have shown a higher incidence of divorce among couples who marry after cohabiting.

An issue that’s rapidly overtaking cohabitation as a source of moral conflict is so-called “same-sex marriage.” As a priest, I’ll frequently have someone ask me if it’s permissible to attend the “wedding” of a gay relative.

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Liberal bishops around the world continue promoting heterodox views on homosexuality, female priests, divorce, contraception, and more — advancing anti-Catholic positions that jeopardize the salvation of souls.

Such bishops often sideline, ignore and even persecute traditional Catholics who simply ask that the Faith be preserved and passed on to their children.

But traditional Catholics cannot be silenced any longer, which is why we are uniting in this international boycott of modernist bishops and dioceses until the deposit of Faith is upheld by the hierarchy again. 

SIGN: We will not fund modernist bishops or priests who undermine the Catholic Faith, but rather direct our contributions towards faithful clergy and orders that work for the salvation of souls.

There are countless examples of bishops working against Christ's Church in calling for divine law to be ignored in favor of sexual, doctrinal and liturgical deviancy, even trying to clamp down on Catholics who practise the Faith. 

Just last year, Cardinal Cupich banned traditional prayers after Mass, and more recently has curtailed the Traditional Latin Mass in his diocese. 

The attack on the Faith is out in the open, with modernist bishops causing scandal in countless ways:

We have seen enough. Now is the time to show true Catholic unity against those who undermine the Faith - do not be bullied into submission by these men who would disfigure Christ's Church.

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This is a tremendously difficult and painful situation — one that can split families for years — because the answer is always an unequivocal “No!”

Despite the Supreme Court’s travesty of a ruling (in Obergefell v. Hodges) and the examples of gay Hollywood celebs or high-profile figures like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, this sad caricature of marriage is always and everywhere profoundly immoral. Your attendance at such a ceremony constitutes an endorsement that makes you complicit in sin.

At a minimum, you’re giving scandal to anyone who knows you’re Catholic. Unless you’re standing there waving a sign in protest (an unlikely occurrence), your presence undermines the very teaching of that Church to which you claim fidelity.

There are other situations that can be morally compromising, even if they’re less obvious.

Destination weddings are a popular practice among the young these days. Even couples who consider themselves “good Catholics” often choose to hold the ceremony outside their parish. I’m not talking about arranging to be married in a Catholic church at some picturesque location, but rather out of doors, on the beach, or in that lovely Victorian gazebo in the park.

It’s not hard to understand why people think this adds to the romance of the event. But unless that outdoor ceremony is conducted by a priest or deacon (and agreeing to such a thing would raise questions about that clergyman), then the marriage is civil, not sacramental. Therefore it’s canonically illicit.

Consequently, the wedding guests are giving assent to a relationship that’s not valid (and must be regularized — what’s called convalidation — to make it legitimate). As with a so-called “same-sex wedding,” being there means you’re taking part in a ceremony that violates Church law.

Perhaps the most challenging and painful situation of all is failure to baptize children. Many grandparents whose kids have left the Church bite their tongues when the grandchild is left unbaptized.

This is a terrible dilemma, because you don’t wish to alienate your son or daughter by insisting on something which might be seen as objectionable. And of course you may be holding out hope for a return to the Church, and don’t want to create an emotional stumbling block to such a change of heart.

Still, scripture is explicit about being “born again by water and spirit.” Your grandchild’s soul is at stake.

Such situations have always been difficult, because they touch essential human relations. We all wish for closeness within our families and friendships. We all want to be welcomed, accepted, and loved.

These days we face the added pressure of “political correctness” and, in the current atmosphere of “cancel culture,” often very real threats to jobs and financial security. Those around us are easily offended (offended by everything but sin, that is).

Like Jeremiah, you can find yourself tossed into a figurative cistern.

Nevertheless, painful and risk-filled as they may be, there are times when you have to take a stand for truth — tactfully if possible. Souls depend on it.

And if you’re not concerned about the immortal souls of those people you claim to love, you are not a Christian. You are nothing.

This essay is based on a homily delivered by Fr. Orsi. It can be viewed online at:

A priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Rev. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Florida. He is host of “Action for Life TV,” a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications and online journals. His YouTube channel may be viewed here

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