The Perfect Storm : Homily by Father Thomas Dufner

Homily by: Father Thomas Dufner.
July 22, 2012
Epiphany Church
Coon Rapids, Minnesota, USA


  1. Jeremiah says, “Woe to the Shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.”
    1. In the last few weeks we’ve heard the true role of the prophet to lead and guide the people
      1. There were many false prophets who served only themselves.
      2. Typically, the true prophets faced opposition because their message was unpopular.
      3. From Amos to Ezekiel, and from Jeremia and John the Baptist, they spoke the truths that God wanted them to speak, popular or unpopular, welcome or unwelcome. They served the Lord.

    2. Pope Benedict XVI said much the same last week:
      1. In a homily delivered July 16th, 2012 Frascati in Italy Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI noted that the Apostles were called by Christ to preach the truth even if people don’t want to hear it.
      2. The Pope said, “This remains the mandate of the Church: she does not preach what the powerful want to hear. Her criterion is truth and justice, even if that garners no applause and collides with human power”.
  2. We are in an enormous Culture War, devastating to Faith, Family, and our own Personal Lives. It is the Perfect Storm!
    1. So far, Christians have hardly put up a fight. They have hardly entered the fray.
      1. Part of the problem is the shepherds being silent or even supporting the errors, wanting to be popular and well accepted.
      2. I don’t want that judgment rendered against me!
    2. Look at the Television Shows 50 years ago:
      1. Television is clean and wholesome with Ed Sullivan.
      2. Westerns are the rage with Maverick, Johnny Yuma the Rebel, Gunsmoke, and Chuck Connors with the Rifleman, brought to you by Tide.
      3. Now its Wife Swap!
    3. What was the culture like in 1961?
      1. Marriages were strong. Divorce was very low; maybe 5%. Now its 50%.
      2. Illegitimacy is very low at only 5%. Today it is at 40% nationwide and 74% for the African American Community. Babies born outside of wedlock are given up for adoption.
      3. Halloween was fun night when hundreds and hundreds of kids knocked on every door for tricks or treats.
      4. Schools were safe. Teachers were treated with respect.
      5. Teachers report the biggest problem was kids smoking in the bathroom and chewing gum. Today its smoking Crack Cocaine and bringing Guns to school.
      6. Parents sided with teachers and police, not their kids.
      7. Kids were made to work hard, act with respect and be civilized.
      8. Mass attendance was 70% (its 25-30% now).
      9. Pornography is illegal. Abortion was unthinkable.
    4. What about a work ethic?
      1. There was no Failure to Launch. You learned to work at home and contribute to the good of the family. You got your first job as soon as you could so you could by your own bike, your own car, and your own stuff.
      2. Politicians were statesmen who wanted the common good for the nation, not merely seeking power or hoping to protect some private interest.
      3. We spent only the money we had.
  3. What happened? How could our culture have collapsed this far? This is the Perfect Storm! (Intellectual Underpinnings).
    1. The Culture is not just drifting. It’s being subverted.
      1. Jesus told the story of farmer who planted good seed in his field.
      2. The gospel records that his kingdom is in competition with Jesus Kingdom!
      3. But at night an enemy came and sowed cockle in his field.
      4. And the enemies of the Church are not few.
    2. Have any of you ever heard of Wilhelm Reich? He was a psychologist who wrote in the 1930’s and 40’s and died in 1957.
      1. Like Freud, Reich was obsessed with sex.
      2. He was an atheist who hoped for a utopia, and all utopias are founded upon unlimited happiness by unlimited sex and freedom from the shackles of marriage.
      3. He saw Christianity as the obstacle, with its moral teaching that the only place for sex is in marriage between a husband and wife.
      4. He saw the disciplines of Nuclear Family further holding back sexual freedoms.
    3. But it goes further: Reich saw the Political Dimension to Sex.
      1. Moreover, Reich saw Marriage and Family, (what calls "bourgeois sexual morality",) as the repressive framework of government.
      2. He hoped that Communist Revolution in Russia, which broke down the Churches and families and opened the door to immorality, would prevail. But even Stalin himself reversed the course needing stronger families when he saw war coming.
      3. Reich hoped the Nazis too would succeed with their socialist aspirations and lax morals and allow the Sexual Revolution to occur.
      4. This should give us a hint that Socialism and Communism are Corrosive to the Family! The government becomes our mother and father, our provider. We become subjects, obedient to the government that gives us benefits and lets us do what we want.
    4. Catholic thought goes the other way:
      1. We believe that the Family is the fundamental cell of society.
      2. The Family is the basis of economic prosperity.
      3. The Family is the basis of self government, harnessing our passions to stay together and build one another up.
      4. Those who govern themselves want limited government!
      5. Those who can’t govern themselves need a powerful government to provide for them and govern them.
    5. But after the war settled on the slower path of working within the system to bring about revolution.
      1. He understood that sexuality is the most powerful felt urge known to man and wrote a book called Sexual Revolution (1936) describing how to use these urges to change the world.
      2. After the war he seemingly reversed his course wanting a sexual revolution to bring about political revolution.
      3. He wanted people, the young in particular, to be sexually active and to renounce the guilt of it.
      4. He held that if we can get adolescent children to be sexually active and renounce the guilt, we can overcome mysticism (by which he meant all religion)!
      5. (See how important it is that you fight sex education?)
      6. Margaret Sanger, Wilhelm Reich, and a host of others worked together to bring about a change of the culture.
  4. Legal Underpinnings of the Culture War:
    1. The Courts have also taken a negative role in the Culture War.
      1. At almost every opportunity the courts have struck down the Obscenity Laws.
      2. In 1965 the U.S. Supreme Court rendered the Griswold vs. Connecticut decision legalizing the advertising and promotion of Contraception. This opened the door for Congress to pass a law funding Planned Parenthood and SEICUS, for national sex education that same year.
    2. At that moment the default settings of the country were changed in law, where sex had been presumptively fertile, to sterile, from life giving to contraceptive.
      1. And of course, with the Sexual Revolution in Full Swing, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973 legalizing Abortion.
      2. Despite the loss of so many lives by abortion, it’s really not about the baby, but about defending the lifestyle.
      3. (Jack Bauer of 24 had a 16 year old daughter, and when his wife became pregnant, the daughter exploded, “You’re having a baby and you didn’t even tell me!” All sex in now presumptively sterile unless we choose otherwise.)
  5. The intellectual and legal underpinnings were in place, but “What made the Sexual Revolution possible?
    1. For generations utopian thinkers have wanted to produce heaven on earth.
      1. The dream always included unlimited sexual activity in a setting where people were freed from the shackles of marriage.
      2. The problem of course, and the reason it was never really tried, was that pregnancy occurs bringing with it new life and responsibility.
      3. What was the change that came about in the in the 1960’s that made the Sexual Revolution possible?
      4. Contraception! The Pill and other contraceptive devices!
      5. Abortion, and many of these other problems, are the flowering of the Contraceptive Mentality.
      6. Contraception and the Contraceptive Attitude made the Sexual Revolution possible.
      7. Contraception enabled people to misuse their sexuality and avoid the immediate responsibility of children.
      8. Beyond that, it destabilized the roles of men and women.
      9. Even Abortion is only a symptom of the Culture War, not a cause. It’s the flowering of a deeper problem.
    2. These ideas launched Sexual Revolution, began in the 1960’s.
      1. It brought us Quantum Increases in premarital sex, extramarital sex, pornography, AIDS and other venereal diseases, violent crimes such as rape, finally and abortion.
      2. The fallout of this has often been divorce and broken families, unsocialized and undisciplined children.
      3. There is so much crime that the streets are not safe at night any more, and sometimes not even in the day! All this is the break down the fabric of the society.
    3. I’m not trying to cause a guilt trip. This was the Perfect Storm.
      1. If anything, it’s the bishops and priests who are responsible for this crisis by our silence.
      2. What I would like you to do today is THINK! Put these changes in society into perspective. Look for the connections and causes.
      3. We’ve tried this utopian experiment for 40 years in the quest for happiness. Has this dream of unlimited sex, and freedom from the shackles of marriage made us happier? In effect, did it work?
      4. Has it made us a stronger and more productive nation?
      5. Is our society better today than it was in 1960?
      6. Are our morals as strong?
      7. Are our marriages as strong?
      8. Are our values being passed on to our kids?
      9. Are our streets safer to walk today than they were in 1960?
      10. We’ve taken our pleasures.
      11. In so many cases we’ve broken our families.
      12. We’ve given power to the government to make up for lack of self government.
    4. Today we face:
      1. Infidelity, divorce, and what is called the porn generation.
      2. Today we need to add deviancy to the list.
      3. Some have thought that there were two paths of sexuality, normal and abnormal. Others are suggesting there is really only one path. When we depart from normal there is no end to the deviancy a person is capable of. And so we find every sort leading up to missing persons and Bundy.
      4. All of these flowers stem from the sexual revolution.
      5. And the ROOT of the sexual revolution is CONTRACEPTION.
    5. We have tried to make peace with an irreconcilable enemy!
      1. By making peace with the sexual revolution, at least in part, we have made peace with the forces behind the sexual revolution.
      2. We have weakened our Faith and sapped its vital energy.
      3. Like the Israelites of old, we have sold ourselves into slavery.
      4. Fr. Hardon gave a talk whose very title is frightening. Contraception: Fatal to the Faith.
  6. What are the effects of Contraception on Marriage
    1. What does Jesus have to say?
      1. In his teachings on marriage and sexuality Jesus always goes back to "The Beginning."
      2. When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce he said, "In the beginning it was not that way."
      3. When Jesus taught in these matters he always looked back to the beginning, to the Book of Genesis, because we are supposed to live and love as it was in the beginning.
      4. All people were made in the Image of God.
      5. Just as God is both Love and Life at the same time, (in fact, in God they are the same!), so He gave Adam and Eve one very sacred action that shared both love and life at the same time–the act of marital love!
      6. This one act joins together husband and wife, love and life!
      7. Jesus said, "What God has joined, man must not divide."
      8. This applies not only to marriage, but to the sexual actions through which a marriage is renewed.
    2. But Adam and Eve, like all their children, were tempted by the serpent to play God! "YOU WILL BE AS GODS," the serpent said. They were not content to be Images of God.
      1. When they disobeyed, when they bit the apple, they lost God’s blessing.
      2. The Contraceptive Mentality tries to play God. It separates love and life. It rejects the life-giving consequences of sexuality.
      3. It says "I’ll determine the meaning of this act." "I’ll determine what is good and evil" "I’ll determine which acts will be life-giving."
      4. And ultimately leads to decisions as to who lives and who dies.
      5. We started with contraception, we moved on to abortion and euthanasia, and now we have arrived at cloning! We really do want to be God!
    3. To love means to give of yourself.
      1. In marital love you give all to your spouse: it is lifelong, faithful, and open to new life.
      2. The opposite of to love someone is to use them as an object or a stepping stone.
      3. The contraceptive mentality looks like love, looks like the total unreserved gift of self. But it’s selfish.
      4. The focus, which may begin very nobly, and altruistically, ends up focusing on pleasure, and finally on self.
      5. We can’t separate love and life.
      6. Contraception is wrong as we stand before God, and it wounds on the love of husband and wife, it wounds the relationship.
      7. We can’t get rid of the life aspect, and think we get to keep love. Love is corrupted in the process!
      8. The couple will suffer lost intimacy. The love may seem to never quite blossom.
      9. The focus on self also leads to a certain unwillingness to sacrifice and may lead to the end of a relationship.
      10. After getting off of contraception, one wife wrote to her husband: If someone would ask me, “How’s your love-life?” I would say, “Beautiful, Awesome and Wonderful!” But in the past I wasn’t always able to say those words. When we used contraceptives the first few years of our marriage, I felt an emptiness. Something was missing! I felt used! Remember when I would share with you how I couldn’t feel close to you, but I didn’t know why I felt this way!
      11. We develop an attitude which expects certain pleasure, enjoys certain immodest shows, tolerates immorality.
    4. For a great many people who practiced contraception, sterilization is the preferred option after they have arrived at the desired family size.
      1. Quite a number of couples are now deciding to have their sterilizations reversed.
      2. One couple I know had a reversal recently, and the husband, an attorney, said, “I realized that we had taken away God’s rights over our marriage.”
      3. Marriage is a loving union that shares in God’s creative power. God has the right to bring forth new life from our marriages, perhaps to bring into the world a doctor who will cure AID’s, perhaps to bring another Mozart, or a priest or nun!
      4. By eliminating the possibility of new life he realized he had taken away God’s rights.
    5. Again, this is not to lay a guilt trip on anybody. This is the Perfect Storm.
      1. Yet we need to take stock of where we are.
      2. We need to trust the Church who has always been on our side.
  7. What does the Church propose?
    1. On July 25th 1968, the Church gave us a profound teaching on Human Life called Humanae Vitae.
      1. It was much neglected in the spirit of the times.
      2. Yet now in hind sight it’s prophetic truth is seen in the carnage that remains.
      3. In it the Church asks us to keep love and life together.
      4. The Church never says how many children we should have.
      5. It calls us not to reject life with any marital act, but to keep love and life together, as God intended.
      6. It taught that contraception was wrong, dishonest.
    2. The Catholic Church proposes that we use Natural Family Planning.
      1. NFP is a scientific day to day knowledge of when you are fertile as a couple. Whenever a couple chooses to act, it should be a total self gift including fertility.
      2. Most couples are only fertile about 7-8 days per cycle, and with Natural Family Planning.
      3. They can know precisely when the are fertile. Then they use this knowledge to either achieve or avoid a pregnancy.
      4. Natural Family Planning is not rhythm. It’s accurate. Natural Family Planning works!
      5. It’s also interesting to note that in Poland every couple that gets married takes the Natural Family Planning course.
      6. In fact in the diocese of Cracow before Pope John Paul left in 1978, every parish had a Natural Family Planning Clinic!
      7. Contraception is not the same as Natural Family Planning.
      8. There are sacrifices. But there are also great rewards!
    3. There is a little bit of rebellion in each of us, but maybe we can use that in our favor.
      1. Do you know why the Irish are Catholic? Because somebody told them the couldn’t be!
      2. Well the Polish rebelled by embracing the Church! Pope John Paul, as Archbishop of Cracow, had a NFP Clinic in every parish in his diocese.
      3. The Poles embraced the Faith, embraced the teaching on marriage.
      4. They knew that family is the fundamental cell of society.
      5. They knew the family is the fundamental economic unity of society.
      6. They knew the family is the basis of self government.
      7. And in the strength of Christian Marriage they threw off the shackles of a Communist/Socialist government!
  8. What I would like you to do is think about these things in a spiritual way.
  1. Far from posing simple solutions what I want you to do is pray.
    1. Talk to God. Could the things you’ve heard today be true?
    2. Could Jesus and his Church have been right all along?
  2. I want you to read. Study the Church’s teaching. Learn to trust the Church.
    1. Read Humanae Vitae (42nd anniversary is in July)
    2. Read Familiaris Consortio and the Theology of the Body.
    3. You’ll find a table in the foyer with information. Feel free to take some home.
  3. Take the Natural Family Planning class.
    1. If you’re still in your fertile years, take the class.
    2. Learn about your fertility.
    3. Experience deep, enriching married love.
    4. But the Church was right all along. This is the way to follow God. This is the way to peace in the family, and in society. This is the way to end abortion too, by keeping love and life together.
    5. We need to understand that the battle is not going to be won any time soon.
    6. I believe that God is pointing out the way to success for us.
    7. This battle will be won through grace, one person at a time, until those who love God and believe in his ways are again the dominant group in our country.
  4. Don’t treat it as guilt trip.
  1. Its not meant to be that. It took us 50 years or more to get into this situation. Its going to take a while to get out of it too.
  2. If you think you’re uncomfortable, you should feel how I feel!
  3. Its meant to be an honest moment, a thought provoking moment, when we can look at our lives and look at our culture and see how we’re really doing, and reclaim this as a Christian Culture.

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