Pastor’s Descant (Sept. 4)

Fr__Perrone_001Summer vacation time is nearly gone. Back to school and to our fall schedules. I regret the end of summer as much as I long for the beginning of spring. Year after year of my life I feel the seasonal cycle of expectation and resignation.

On the parish level many things get back into operation: catechesis, parish meetings, choir, liturgical planning, special events and conferences, etc. These are the ordinary activities of parochial life and our parish bears its goodly load of them. In my twenty-second year of pastorship I’m well familiar with what to expect in the year to come. Yet there are strange forebodings in the air that cause me anxiety.

Much on my mind, and on yours, surely, is the political campaigning in preparation for the November presidential election. Although I do not as a rule become much heated over political debates, this time around I’m greatly concerned. It’s not the partisan preferences which worries me but the grave consequences for the USA and for the Church.  I wrote last week about our rosary said here after Masses. Without repeating my exhortation to pray the rosary together with parishioners, I want to give my approval to an idea from Father Bustamante. When discussing together our mutual worries over the significance of this presidential election he asked whether we might, to tip the scales, tack on to our daily rosary after Mass the Memorare said three times. The stated intention would be “for a good outcome to the presidential election.” He quickly acknowledged the objection that although one can never say too many prayers, on has to ‘draw the line somewhere.’ I doubt that this brief addition to our daily public rosary would cause undo prolongation to our prayer. I can hardly refuse Fr. John’s suggestion to do something that may be consequential for the outcome of the November election. I hope that you will join in invoking Our Lady for this most important intention (Aside: Heaven itself will have to decide what we mean by a “good outcome.” I dare not specify more.)

For a long time our country has been undergoing societal changes that have affected and restricted our freedoms. These have been so gradual and frequent that we are largely unaware of them. As an instance, I learned an interesting, shocking fact this summer as evidence of this.

On the campus of a high profile American university there is now a Bias Incident Response Team. The purpose of this investigative body is to discover among faculty and students any speech or actions that in any way have been deemed offensive or biased in regard to reach, ethnicity, and gender. This is a sort of freelance campus police that examines claims of any “incorrect” language or conduct. (Your tax dollars at work.) Of particular interest to me in this regard was the fact that on the Facebook page of this institution of higher learning there is listed an astounding 58 genders from which students must now choose an identity. (We’ve come a long way from the simple alternative of male or female!) Consequences for transgressing the norms of acceptable behaviors are unknown. Doubtless at this early stage of regulation, penalties will take more the form of verbal censures. As time goes on one may expect more substantial sanctions imposed on students or faculty whose stated views or acts are found distressing to the indignant minority. The prospect of a brave new world with its assumed legislative, judicial and penal authority becomes more and more a reality. This is, in part, the reason for my nervousness about the approaching election. Its outcome will affect our freedom.

I need to add that the Church in the USA (and in the wider world) has a particular reason to be troubled about the outcome of our political game. Her mission is to teach all nations the Gospel, that is, the truth God revealed in Christ, is divinely mandated. The Church needs freedom to proclaim this truth and to offer mankind the means of eternal salvation. If the Church is hampered (or forbidden) in carrying out its mission, she will have to resist those who restrict her. In short, there could well be a showdown of Church versus State.

This is how things look to me as I look toward the horizon of the November election. So much is at stake. Kindly join me, Fr. John, and your fellow parishioners in praying ” for God’s mercy on our country” and “for a good outcome to the presidential election.”

Fr. Perrone



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