Father began the sermon by reciting the Hail Mary.
As I have said many times before and it is always a good rule, if you want to know what the Church intends for us by any specific time of the year and season, look at the gospels, look at the Mass, look at the liturgy.
What I want to look at today is something that came up in the gospel from last week, because starting with two weeks ago which was Septuagesima; we are in a time where the Church prepares us to celebrate a worthy Lent and gives us things to think about, as it were. To start out with we need to bear in mind that our Creator wishes, desires, everyone on earth to be saved and go to heaven. This is His desire. Man chose against that by the sin of Adam; chose against everybody going to heaven. It made it more difficult but the desire of the Creator is that we do all go to heaven. Consequently, in spite of original sin and the obstacles that it posed to us, He gives every person on earth sufficient grace to find his way to the true Church and to be saved. Now just digest that for a moment. Everyone! Not just every Catholic but every Muslim, every Hindu, every Buddhist, at some point in their life receives the grace from God to search, by way of an idea or a thought or an impulse, to search for the true Faith.
Now intellect plays a paramount role in this. God gave us intellect to be used correctly so that let’s say some Buddhist in Taipei or someplace like that gets the notion, or even some Communist in Peking gets a notion that maybe there is a real way to heaven and I should look for it, but then they do not apply their intellect to looking for it, they will not be saved. They are given the impulse at which point they must apply their resources, principally their intellect and anything whatever that takes.
That being said, Our Lord describes – remember it was the parable of the sower so let me just go over that: “The sower went out to sow; as he was sowing some fell by the wayside and was trodden down and the fowls of the air devoured it. Other some fell upon a rock and as soon as it sprung up it withered away. Other some fell among thorns and thorns growing up with it choked it. And other some fell upon good ground and being sprung up yielded fruit a hundredfold.” So the Lenten season is to do what the point of this gospel is which is to take care of our Faith, to take care of our souls, to give them proper attention. Keep in mind a human soul is the most precious thing you can possibly imagine. There are many precious things made by man in this world that we highly esteem and we tend to take the soul for granted. But the soul is more precious because it is eternal and it is destined to be with God whether it goes there or not.
One thing that comes to mind, you’ve probably heard of Fabergé eggs. Carl Peter Fabergé was the jeweler to the last czars of Russia. He proposed to the czar this notion of making these eggs and the czar gladly accepted because he never knew what to give his wife for Easter anyway. Now it’s not just an imitation chicken egg. These are eggs that are all made of precious metals and set with many many precious stones and just beautifully designed. They are a wonder to look at. And they are in museums; if you go the museum you have like six-inch-thick glass that comes up on hydraulics and on timers and there’s guards with submachine guns around, there are laser alarm systems, all these kinds of things and that is to safeguard something made by man which will eventually go away. That will perish too at the end with everything when we have the new heaven and new earth. That will perish. But they take so much care with it.
Our soul is worth infinitely more than all the Fabergé eggs and all the jewelry and all the other crud ever made by people over the history because it is eternal and that’s why you have to take so much care of it. Well, a soul with the gift of Faith is the optimum in precious commodities. And this gift of Faith has to be taken care of as part of the life of our soul. So Our Lord gives us this parable which I will talk about just for a few minutes. The sower is God and the sowing is the giving of the gift of Faith, that impulse to start on the road to your salvation. That is what the seed is. The seed, like I said, it is given to Hindus; it is given to Buddhists, it’s given to Muslims, this impulse to look for the true Faith.
Now the first condition He is talking about: “It fell by the wayside, was trodden down and the fowls of the air devoured it” those are the ones who get the impulse – like even something closer to home let’s say: A Protestant, somebody who thinks they’re Christian and has the basic concepts down already, they are given the notion, Well, I’m a Presbyterian or a Baptist. I wonder if that’s what Christ really intended for me for salvation? Is that the way to salvation? I really need to look into that. At which point they would ask their pastors and their pastor would say, “You gotta believe in the Baaabul and you just have to say, “Ah accept Jesus Christ as mah Lord and Savior” and you’re saved and you don’t have to do any of the searching business and you’ve already done that – which is a lie. That’s not how you’re saved, okay? They would be obliged then to go looking. But if they don’t, if they’re given the impulse and they don’t act on it, then that’s the seed that’s trodden under foot and it’s devoured by the fowls of the air.
I have a good example of this living in my front yard at the moment by the chicken who adopted me. Henrietta is her name. I came home from Mass about six months ago and she was sitting on the bed of my truck just kind of looking at me out of nowhere and I thought, Okay, somebody’s going to be going around tacking notes on telephone poles saying, Have you seen my chicken? It never happened so she’s still out there. So every so often I’ll go out and I’ll throw some bird seed. Well, it’s funny because she has to be really quick at this because the fowls of the air which are sparrows, they know I’m going to throw a handful of seeds and boy, in less than three minutes it is completely devoured by the fowls of the air. I think of that when I think of this parable about you know you really need to see how quickly these things are devoured when not taken care of.
So that’s the first, the ones who never act on the impulse of salvation. Others act on it; they get all excited. They take a course in Catholicism, they get baptized, they get confirmed, they are converts but then they don’t take care of their gift of Faith. And you see what happens, not just converts but anybody who receives the Faith, goes so far as to be baptized. You see, the second seeds fell upon a rock, they spring up but then they wither right away. So these people, either they are baptized as infants or they are converts and they receive baptism. The roots have started but they’re shallow. They don’t take care of the gift that they’ve been given. And like I’ve said, you’ve seen it probably in your own families, in people you know. I see it here, I see people like this, right? And then (if you have a child and you’re standing outside don’t worry. I’m not thinking about you because that’s a necessity when the darlins’ start acting up.) But you see them start to stand out there, looking in the doors, and then you see them outside in better weather and then you don’t see them at all. It’s very symbolic. They are leaving God; they are leaving the Church in stages, right? And the reason for this is they did not take care of their gift of Faith. They chose spiritual sloth rather than do what they should. You see it when they stop going to confession, then they go outside, then you don’t see them anymore.
Okay, if you haven’t been to confession in a while you need to man up. The way to solve that is not to go outside and then disappear because you have some justification. You’ve got to man up and do what it takes to save your soul which is get in to confession, whatever it is that you’ve done it’s certainly nothing new to me. And I don’t do anything but give you absolution and send you on your way and you’re right as rain after that, okay? But you can see that’s what happens. So these are the seeds that fall on the rock. They spring up but then they’re not taken care of, they don’t have the soil, you don’t do spiritual reading, you don’t pray like you should, you don’t go to the sacraments like you should and you wither up your gift of Faith and your soul literally dies for lack of moister and depth of soil. You need to pray, you need to do penance, you need to make sacrifices, and you need to do spiritual reading. You need to do all these things. This is how you take care of your soul and if you are not doing any of those things, Auf Wiedersehen, you know. That’s what’s going to happen to you.
So if this describes you then get back to confession, catch an extra Mass when you can, do your spiritual reading, say your prayers. Don’t let a day go by without saying at least your three Hail Marys twice a day or whatever.
Okay, then there’s the others – other some fell among thorns and the thorns growing up with it choked it. These are the ones who are going along okay but then get into bad situations. Specifically, bad friends who scandalize you, maybe non-Catholic friends or non-practicing Catholic friends who draw you away from your Faith; in fact, even make you seem to redicule it and be apologetic for it because you know, it’s what you do with your friends. Well, he’s not a Catholic so I’m not going to play up this Catholic business. I’ll just pretend to be like he is or she is, all right? So bad friends, bad company, company that scandalizes you, leads you towards sin instead of God but also the many, many sins that are possible with the internet these days. Our Lady at Fatima said that more souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than any other sin. Well, I think that just takes on a whole new dimension. I think if Our Lady appeared these days she would add internet to that. So let me tell you for your own sake, for your own souls, but also for your children. If you give them unrestricted access to the internet, you let them watch whatever they want to, you don’t make them turn off their electronic devices at a reasonable hour – you don’t love them. You’re not taking care of them. You’re not keeping them from sin. You’re throwing them into the mouth of the lion because I can tell you there’s a lot of garbage out there to be found on the internet and these teen-agers, even younger God forbid, they will find it and it will find them and there is no good can come of it.
The internet is fine when properly used. I use the internet for my sermons but that’s a whole different thing. For me the internet is like this grand encyclopedia, I mean better than the Encyclopedia Britannica ever was, but there are places you can’t go and there are things you can’t do there. If you let your children do that unrestricted, simply speaking you are failing abjectly with them as a parent.
These are the thorns that grow up with the wheat and choke it eventually. Because this will choke it; the internet unrestricted is a way to hell basically. It’s way out of the Faith. And bad company, bad friends, whatever. Parents, whether for your children or for yourselves, cultivate Catholic friends. And if you can’t find people that you particularly like – I mean there’s no shortage of them here – I think I like everybody so it’s not my problem anyway but if you can’t find anybody you particularly jive with, then become somewhat monastic, enjoy your family, stick to them or your spouse or your parents or whatever you’re doing. You don’t have to have friends-at-any-expense, especially not at the expense of your soul.
So that is basically what I wanted to say and Our Lord says, He yelled in a loud voice, “They who have ears fo hear let them hear“ and that is precisely the message of the Church, especially in Lent, but for the whole year long. You have ears to hear, meaning hear what the word of God is, hear what God expects you to do to get to heaven and if you have ears to hear, do that, implement it in your life and there is no better opportunity than a fresh start with the beginning of Lent.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.