by Fr Richard Heilman | May 27, 2018 6:47 PM
Today, I celebrated my 30th anniversary of priesthood. I took the opportunity, this morning–since my anniversary landed on a Sunday this year–to do a bit of reminiscing with my parish family. Beginning with how Trinity Sunday was the day of my First Mass in 1988 and, “coincidentally,” the day of my First Traditional Latin Mass in 2015.
I told my parish family that, if I get hit by a bus today, and my funeral suddenly occurs this week, please put this on my funeral card:
“Peace Through Strength.”
Followed by this scripture passage:
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).
As I reflected on my 30 years, whether I did a good job or not (God will judge), “Peace Through Strength” sums up everything I “tried” to do over the past 30 years.
Of course, this phrase was made popular by President Ronald Reagan who said,
“We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.”
Nothing could be more true. The premise is that evil has no moral boundaries; no moral compass. In other words, evil will take what it can–if given the opportunity and/or seeing any sort of weakness from which to penetrate, evil will seek to “gain ground”; evil will seek to “gain power.”
The naïveté of some is to believe evil plays by the same set of moral standards as does good. It does not. It’s sole rule is “the end justifies the means.” So, evil will lie, cheat and steal in order to “gain ground/power.” Evil is evil.
We see this on the political stage, as evil aging hippies (peaceniks), et. al., will lie, cheat and steal to gain power within our own government, but when dealing with evil foreign governments, they somehow convince themselves these evil governments will play by the rules these aging hippies are not willing to follow themselves (See the liberal/progressive ruling classes/cabals who have gained power in most Western governments).
And so, what happens when “evil gets in?” Having no moral boundaries, chaos ensues. Order is lost. Now, having little or no moral compass, the government’s military must seize “control” to attempt to regain “order.”
At the spiritual level, the exact same thing holds true. When evil enters in, chaos ensues …
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Galatians 5:19-21
Let’s be honest. We have allowed aging hippie leaders to lay siege of our Church over past 50+ years. What have they done? They’ve “negotiated” and “compromised” with the world. Much like Judas negotiating with the powers that be for, what he believed was, an “end that justified the means.” Jesus said be “poor and meek” and the aging hippies within the Church in our times heard “accommodate and compromise” with evil.
As a result, evil found an open door. The most recent reflection of this is the vote to “accommodate and compromise” with the culture of death in mostly “Catholic” Ireland. The progressives controlled the narrative by pointing an accusing finger at, “what they called,” an “old and dictatorial” Church, and the leaders in the Church recoiled, fearing they will lose the infatuation of the masses if they appear too heavy-handed. This has been played out in every corner of the world, when it comes to our Church’s “fearful” leaders (I am truly blessed to have one of the few “fearless” leaders in my diocese in Bishop Robert Morlino).
The problem, these “fearful” leaders calculated, is that we are “too Catholic” and we are “too demanding.” If we look more Protestant in our worship, and more worldly in our statutes, we will win more souls. What. An. Abysmal. Failure!
No, the answer is not more Judases who negotiate with the world, the answer is more martyrs who are willing to “close the gate and stand in the breach” to any amount of evil looking to gain ground and seek control.
In other words, what is needed is a clarity of teaching, a strong devotion and reverence of the Sacraments, and a love and celebration of our Catholic identity! What we need is STRENGTH! And, what will follow is PEACE! Why? Because we more closely “belong to Christ” and we are “in step with the Spirit” …
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” -Galatians 5:22-26
Yes, first and foremost, I want to get my parish family to heaven. But, I also want them to live lives filled with love and joy and peace, etc. I told my parish family, this morning:
“Listen how many times you hear the word ‘peace’ throughout this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Note that, last weekend, we heard Jesus say to the Apostles in that locked room: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (John:14:27). Then he breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Jesus. Wants. You. To. Live. In. PEACE!”
This is not a Holy Spirit of weakness and compromise, but a Holy Spirit of STRENGTH that would lead those Apostles to lay down their lives for TRUTH and GOODNESS. In every place where this Holy Spirit is STRONG, you can almost ask the police to retire. Order and virtue and morals and, yes, PEACE reigns. Evil, the Devil himself, is not welcomed in these bastions of STRONG faith. Yes, PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH.
This is why I have devoted my priestly ministry to helping us all become strong in our faith. This begins by the way we offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If we are weak and superficial in our worship, we can’t help but be the same in our daily lives. “Weak and superficial” welcomes “accommodation and compromise” with the world. This, I firmly believe, explains the virulent and hostile rejection of “reverent worship.” At a spirit level, it is known that once we take our worship seriously, we will need to take our faith seriously, and that will mean removing any way we have accommodated and compromised with the world. Sadly, I have lost many parishioners to local parishes, who angrily reject reverent worship. Happily, I have gained many parishioners who are seeking to take their faith to a more “serious level.”
Last but not least, I believe any “real talk” of “strength of faith” means a firm belief in the “supernatural power of God.” Which is why I want Ephesians 6:10-13 on my funeral card. We simply MUST be in a “state of grace” at all times.
This is why I have dedicated much of my priesthood to being as available as possible for the Sacrament of Confession. This is why I rigged the foyer of my rectory to be a Confessional. I keep a First Class relic of St. John Vianney near me, and ask him to keep me strong in this resolve. Literally, I panic that those with a diminished or complete loss of this “state of grace” are in grave danger. Yes, for their eternal salvation, but also that they are sitting ducks to be manipulated by the devil. I simply must do all I can to keep them strong so they may rest in Christ’s peace.
This is also why I am, very soon, launching a new app – MY CONFESSOR APP – that will allow anyone to see if I am available, and come over to the rectory for Confession. There cannot be “one moment” that my beloved parish family, and beyond, are left vulnerable to the devil. This App will be available for all priests.
Peace Through Strength – You want peace of heart and soul? You want peace in your home? You want peace in your parish and local community? You want peace in our country and the world? Then you MUST keep the devil at bay by becoming VERY Strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power!!
I love you all in a way you will never comprehend!!
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