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The Cost Of Discipleship (And Knowing When To Shut Your Mouth!)

Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.  ”Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.  For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’   “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;  and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.  (Matthew 10: 32-40)

As many of you know, being a follower of Christ has a price.  If we are to fully live and teach our Catholic Faith, we’re bound to ruffle some feathers.  Our Lord makes this fact very clear in the above “pep talk” to the Apostles.  What sometimes gets missed is the fact that the Lord is most likely using hyperbole in order to make His point.  Rather than telling us to “go out and make enemies of your family and friends”, He is reminding us that the Gospel message can be challenging and will often cause division.  We can’t be afraid to proclaim the “Good News”, but we also have to know when to “shut up”.

Father John Corapi’s recent decision to leave the priesthood has been discussed “to death” on many blogs, including mine.  I’ve made my point (and I won’t rehash it here) and there’s not a lot left to say except “please pray for all concerned”.  While some people agreed with me, others vehemently (and I do mean vehemently!) disagreed with my comments.  I tried my best to respond charitably and I apologize if I failed.  In an attempt to  “stop the bleeding” and get people focused on the bigger picture, I made some folks angry.  While there’s a time for boldly proclaiming the truth, there’s also a time to shut my mouth and for me…

the time is now!

Until something significant arises, I’m going to reiterate that we should pray for Fr. Corapi and all concerned and I really mean it!  Don’t think for a minute that God can’t fix this whole ugly mess.  I’ve recently been getting the feeling that this situation could still have a happy ending.  Will it?  Not knowing all the details and the mindset of the players, I really have no idea.

I’ve learned a lot over the past few days.  Many of your comments really caused me to think.  Was I being charitable?  Was I causing division?  Was my pride getting in the way?  Should I have spoken out?  When should I stop speaking out? 

Now I’d like to ask you a question.  Has there ever been a time when you needed to defend the Catholic Church or caution someone about sinful behavior, even though you expected to be met with resistance?  What was your approach and how did it work out?

I’d really like to hear your comments.  I think it would help many of us as we try to spread the “Good News” of Jesus Christ in a bold, but compassionate way.

8 Comments

  1. pilgrim says:

    First sign of a pricked conscience is when we attempt to justify our actions by quoting Scripture.

    James 3 : 1-17 also makes good reading.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      I would say sometimes yes and sometimes no. Scripture can be used to either confirm we made the right choice or, as you say, to convict us of doing something wrong. The point I was trying to make was that, according to Scripture, speaking the truth is sometimes going to make people angry. As Mother Angelica said, “If you’re not a thorn in somebody’s side, you’re not doing Christianity right”.

      Peace,
      Gary

  2. Catherine Alexander says:

    Were you being charitable? I think so.
    Were you causing division? No. Division was already there, and it began with Father Corapi.
    Was your pride getting in the way? Only our Lord knows for sure. Pride is always there, but whether it was getting in the way, I don’t know. It didn’t seem that way to me.
    Should you have spoken out? Yes. When should you stop? When there is nothing new left to say, or no new way to say it, or when you feel the Holy Spirit urging you to stop.

    I don’t know if it has helped, but as this situation has unfolded and I have been accused of being angry, judgmental, etc., I have asked the person making that claim to please provide for me a specific example of how I have been angry. This helps me to see if I have, in fact, gone over the line. And if I haven’t, perhaps it helps the person attacking me. A lot of people are so angry at the situation, and perhaps at Father Corapi himself, that they are projecting that anger onto others in a sort of “kill the messenger” response.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Catherine – Thanks for your comments. What I’ve learned from the past few days is the importance of prayer (especially before the Blessed Sacrament) and the practice of constantly examining our conscience. Not just in this case, but whenever you comment on someone’s actions, you’ll run across those who will scold you for being judgmental. What they fail to recognize is that, as Catholics, we sometimes have to comment (or even judge) someone’s ACTIONS. Otherwise, we slip into relativism where we deny the existance of any absolute right and wrong. Of course, we can never judge the state of someone’s soul…only God can do that.

      The point I was trying to make in this post is that sometimes if you speak out, there will be negative consequences. Just ask Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, whose memorial we celebrate today! That’s to be expected and it shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing. But we also have to know when to “shut up” and that’s where the discernment comes in. As you mentioned, that’s something between each of us and the Lord.

      God Bless,
      Gary

  3. Kevin Pichon says:

    Yes Gary within my own family. Well, my in-laws who are in their 70s and life long Catholics failed last year to speak out on the subject matter of their oldest daughter (my sister-in-law) also a lifelong Catholic who has never married and met someone and decided to marry, just prior to her turning 50 years old. Well, the gentleman HAD been previously married in a Christian church; I believe Methodist.

    When they announced they were planning to be married, they did go see a priest who instructed them, the gentleman would require an annulment. Well they just didn’t like that answer, so they sought out another priest (obviously in an effort to get a different answer) who promptly told them, the gentleman would require an annulment.

    The future newlyweds continued to plan their nuptials, shopping and ordering the wedding gown — and even bought dresses for flower girls (they were assuming my daughters would fill this role) — and then I spoke up! Well, it was my wife who initially wrote a most charitable letter directly to her sister kindly asking that if she were to marry, please do so as a good and faithful Catholic, please place the wedding planning on hold and commence the annulment process as instructed. Well we heard every excuse in the book about that process being political etc, etc. I conferred with my pastor and our parish deacon who had recently served on a diocesan tribunal. I broke it down to the couple, that my daughters would not be a part of their ceremony, nor would our immediate family attend . . . . . and the firestorm began. My in-laws have vilified me because they couldn’t fathom their daughter, my wife, could conjure such boldness. My wife was so torn that she went to speak with a priest apart from our parish priests somewhere near her work and get this . . . he told her, “Oh keep peace in the family, attend their wedding ceremony and the kids, well they likely won’t remember partaking in this event.” Excuse me my children are quite bright at 6 & 10 years of age and I would not live a lie in order for my children to serve in a farce wedding! My wife began to take this priest word as truth and I will tell you it lead to one of the biggest fights we have had in our marriage. I told my wife if need be I would have the local ordinary personally explain it too her!!

    The big rush to marry before turning 50, my sister-in-law accomplished that goal and in doing so allowed a man to come between her and God. The wedding ceremony took place in California where they now reside. My wife’s parents and her two other sisters were the only persons in attendance. This sheepish move to have the ceremony in California spoke volumes for me as all family and friends are in Texas and Louisiana; my sister-in-law knew what she was doing was wrong yet still did it. And furthermore, my in-laws participated in this farce and did or said NOTHING to curtail it from occurring!! Oh, how I so want to ensure the perpetrating married couple and my in-laws see & read this beautifully written instructional letter by a true and faithful pastor Archbishop Sheehan of Santa Fe, NM. http://www.archdiocesesantafe.org/ABSheehan/ABSMessages/11.04.03Cohabitation.pdf

    Kevin

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Great story, Kevin! I admire your desire to do the right thing. I’ve been through situations like that and they are VERY difficult. Thanks for sharing Archbishop Sheehan’s letter. While he doesn’t hold back, he is very charitable. I’m always encouraged when I read statements like this. So many Catholics are unfamiliar with or unwilling to accept the Church’s teaching and we need to hear more such messages!

      God Bless,
      Gary

    2. Catherine Alexander says:

      Kevin, I had a similar experience with my own sister. I won’t bore you with the details, but “firestorm” is definitely the word for what ensued. It left me with an understanding of certain Scripture passages like I had never had before — ” I come not to bring peace, but a sword…” etc. Sometimes it’s tough. I feel your pain, and I will pray for your family.

  4. pilgrim says:

    “…the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is these that make a man unclean. From the heart comes evil intentions: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander. These are the things that make a man unclean. But to eat with unwashed hands does not make a man unclean.” Matthew 15 : 18-20

    Blogs and comment boxes are like the heart, capable of expressing good and evil. Like all of God’s gifts we have the freedom to use them for the glory of God, or to perpetuate evil. The choice is ours.

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