Imitation is the highest form of flattery!

11-01-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

It’s said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. That old saying, which many of us have heard over the years, makes a lot of sense. If we really think highly of someone, we tend to want to follow their example. While we know we have to live our own life–we are well aware that we can learn a lot from many good people.

The saints are just such people. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a holy monk who was one of the best preachers of the 12th century, said that ‘the honor we show the saints does nothing for them, but inspires us to follow their good example.’ On All Saints Day, let’s remember that the best way to honor the saints is to do what they did.

The saints worshipped God, prayed, and did their best to lead holy lives–we do well to do the same. The saints helped the poor, forgave those who persecuted them, and challenged people to live as God wills–we do well to do the same. When the saints failed at these things, they didn’t make excuses for themselves. Instead, they humbly went to Confession, did penance, and tried to do better. We do well to do the same.

I want to apologize to those who could not find last Sunday’s 9 AM Mass on our website. I’m not sure what happened, but will speak to our technologist, who will no doubt have it resolved by the time you read this! We will keep streaming that Mass for the foreseeable future for everyone who is unable to come in person at this time. Please spread the word, and let me know if you encounter a problem in the future.

I would be remiss if I did not address the questions that so many people raised after hearing the story about Pope Francis’ remarks on Civil Unions. These remarks were not in any kind of official teaching document issued by the Holy Father–such as an encyclical. Instead they were part of a documentary which has all kinds of official and off the cuff remarks by His Holiness–arranged by the producer of the film.

The Archbishop of San Francisco offered an excellent explanation which I will include here. His comments are far more concise then I can possibly be. I hope you find them helpful.

“It was reported that in a new documentary, Francesco, Pope Francis stated, ‘Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

Archbishop Cordileone explains: “In our ad limina visit (the visit diocesan bishops make every five years to the Vatican), the topic of civil unions came up in conversation. The Holy Father clearly differentiated between a civil arrangement which accords mutual benefits to two people, and marriage. The former, he said, can in no way be equated with marriage, which remains unique.”

“I would add that a civil union of this type (one which is not equated to marriage) should be as inclusive as possible and not be restricted to two people of the same sex presumed sexual relationship. There is no reason, for instance, why a brother and a sister, both of whom are unmarried and support each other, should not have access to these kinds of benefits” (i.e. health care, etc.). “Marriage is unique because it is the only institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, and therefor is presumed to be a sexual relationship. The nature of marriage, the place of sex within a virtuous life, these great teachings of the Church come to us from God, are illuminated by reason, and do not change.”

In closing, let me say that we should know from experience that most media outlets and the like frequently quote the Holy Father out of context–often making it sound as if he is saying nearly the opposite of what he intends. That’s why I felt it important to clarify this. You can also look to the Catholic Spirit – our diocesan newspaper – and even the Vatican Website (which is very accessible and can be read in several languages). Here you can read the Holy Father’s many beautiful statements and homilies – in their entirety!

Please say a Hail Mary for me today – and every day. Let’s also pray for our nation as we elect our leaders. Finally, in this month of All Souls, let’s remember to pray for our deceased loved ones – and for peace.

Happy All Saints Day!

Fr. John