Whatever Happened to Fire and Brimstone?

Finally, a Novus Ordo sermon on abortion, birth control, and sexual sins

By Frank M. Rega, S.F.O.

Published in the September 30, 2009 issue of "The Remnant."

Yes, it is the same old story – tell the people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.  Bill Dunn has been writing sermons (he calls them essays) for the past ten years, and they are posted at the “Catholic Homilies” web site ( www.homilies.com of course.)  Bill is one of the few laymen who are featured on the site, and he is thoroughly committed to writing about what we need to be told, rather than what we think we should be told. Bill says that in the past thirty years, he cannot remember hearing a single homily where “hard teachings” such as abortion, same-sex marriage, or other aspects of sexual morality have been honestly and bluntly discussed.  That is one of the main reasons why he began writing his own forthright essays.

Not surprisingly, the feedback from priests that have accessed his sermons mentions that they borrowed only an idea or two, or a just adapted a few of his phrases.  In all these years, he had never heard from a priest or deacon who had preached one of his sermons in its entirety.  Consequently, Dunn was delighted to learn that one courageous priest, Fr. Bob Burk, MSA, delivered a strong sermon on today’s revolution against sexual morality, that was almost totally based on Dunn’s essay for August 23, 2009.  The gospel reading for that day was from St. John 6: 60-69, telling about the many disciples who walked away from Jesus, because they could not accept the hard teaching about eating His Body and drinking His Blood.  Today, the hard teaching that people walk away from concerns sexual morality, and that is what Dunn wrote about.   

Following is the sermon as delivered by Fr. Bob Burk at Mary Mother of Peace Church in Millsboro, Delaware that Sunday.  Fr. Burk, a late vocation who attended Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell Ct., is the parish administrator.  Bill Dunn’s original “essay” can be found at the aforementioned homilies.com website, and also at his personal web of www.boomertrek.com.


21st Sunday Ordinary Time Homily,  August 23, 2009

     Today’s gospel concludes Jesus’ teaching on the bread of life discourse from John’s gospel, that we have been reading about over the past 5 weeks. Today we heard that many of Jesus’ disciples were bewildered by his message. They said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” And today also, we read some of the saddest words in all of Scripture, They are; “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied [Jesus].”     How tragic.

Just because one particular teaching was “hard,” they refused to accept ALL of Jesus’ teachings and returned to “their former way of life” (which presumably was also a life of sin and separation from God, which means for the past 2,000 years, and at this very moment, and FOREVERMORE, the  souls of those poor fellas are not in a very good situation).  

     But do you know what? That same kind of thing is happening in our generation. Many people have a major hang-up about one particular teaching by Jesus, and so they completely walk away from Him, the Church, and anything to do with religion. Unlike Jesus’ followers some 2,000 plus years ago, the hard teaching nowadays is not about Jesus being the bread of life.   It is about human sexuality.

     Boston College professor Peter Kreeft points out that if God had only given Moses nine commandments, leaving out that one about sex, then no one today would be upset with Christianity, not even some of today’s liberals. However, God gave Moses the complete set, all ten, and so the traditional Judeo-Christian teaching on sex is directly opposed to the modern “enlightened” view (or as Kreeft says, the “endarkened” view).

Jesus expanded on the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” commandment by teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman (Mark 10:6-7), and, “If a man looks at a woman lustfully he has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). Woo, talk about strict. Nothing enflames wrath against OUR Church like the sexuality issues: abortion, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, pornography, unwed motherhood, same-sex marriages, divorce, celibacy, birth control, etc.

     The modern world hears these teachings and wails, “These sayings are hard!  No, make that ridiculous! Who can accept them?!” People today are convinced the church’s teachings about sex are so hopelessly puritanical and old-fashioned, they simply walk away, just like the folks in this week’s gospel reading. Of course, after four decades of following the Gospel according to Hugh Hefner and Playboy; Margaret Sanger and her birth control and planned parenthood, and Alfred Kinsey and his human sexual response, a growing number of people are having second thoughts, realizing that maybe the old-fashioned view isn’t so stupid after all.

Included in what has been brought about today because of the above previous sexual revolution we see: children growing up without a father in the home; millions of people who acquire sexually transmitted diseases because of sexual promiscuity each year; middle-aged men who lose their wives, families, and self-respect because of an insatiable addiction to porn and strip joints; middle-aged women suddenly “on their own” because hubby saw nothing wrong with running off with a bimbo he met at work; and saddest of all, the countless women whose dreams are haunted by the tiny faces of children whose lives they “chose” to terminate.

     Sometimes, the so called “enlightened” path leads right over a cliff. A train wreck! Whether a particular teaching is hard or not, we must step back and focus on the big picture.    We have to ask ourselves: What is Jesus’ overall message? Why should we listen to ANYTHING He says? Saint Peter gives us the answer in this week’s gospel reading. He had no intention of leaving Jesus because, as he told the Lord, “You have the words of eternal life.”    That’s the key. Jesus came to earth to save our souls and give us eternal life. He didn’t come just to give us a long list of dos and don’ts about sex. He came to free us from the bondage of sin and death. That is truly the Good News. There is no middle ground about the Gospel of Jesus. If Jesus’ Gospel is really true—if Jesus really can give us eternal life—then it is the most spectacular news in the history of mankind.  But, if the Gospel is not true, then the WORLD has never seen a bigger scam,  nor a bigger waste of time. The Gospel is either true, and therefore the most important thing in the world, or, it is the ravings of a madman and thus we should ignore everything Jesus said, not just his teachings on sex.

The one thing we must not do, the very thing the guys in this week’s reading did, is walk away because of one hard teaching. We must look at the overall message of Jesus.

     If we realize the grand truth about Him, we receive the greatest gift ever, and surprisingly, we eventually come to understand that His so-called “hard” teachings actually make a lot of sense. But, if we get our noses all bent out of shape because of a single issue and walk away in a huff,   we miss the big picture, and more importantly, we miss the big prize:     everlasting life.     What a tragedy that would be.    So, as we go forth from this Mass today – allow this Gospel to challenge us. Are we Catholic because we adhere to, and follow a certain set of rules and regulations prescribed by the Church?  OR….Are we Catholic because, like Saint Peter, we can truly say:

“Master, where else would we go… we REALLY Do BELIEVE that You are the Christ, that You are the Holy One of God, and, that You have the Words of eternal life.” 

 Controversial, bold and thought-provoking, the above book is available in print or Kindle format.



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Frank Rega is the author of:  Padre Pio and America,
St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims,

The Greatest Catholic President: Garcia Moreno of Ecuador
  Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - Journeys in the Divine Will 
vols. 1 and 2
Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - volume 3 in preparation
 The Truth about Padre Pio's Stigmata and Other Wonders of the Saint
Vatican II, Evolution, and Medjugorje: Hubris, Heresy, and Mystery 

www.frankrega.com      www.sanpadrepio.com   www.thepoverello.com    www.lifeofluisa.com

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