Public dimension of Christian faith
Sermon delivered during Radio Maryja Family meeting at the Holy Spirit Parish in Plock on 2 August 2004
Bishop Stanislaw Wielgus
Bishop Stanislaw Wielgus
In the reading from the Gospel of St Matthew, chosen for today's liturgy, we have heard very significant words of Christ, calling us to declare ourselves for him in public: So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven (Matt 10:32-33). Numerous Christians of all times had these words in their minds and hearts. They witnessed to Christ with their lives and very often with their martyr's deaths. They did not renounce Christianity even when they faced the cruelest tortures they were to undergo. They remained faithful to Christ when Roman pagans murdered them in the ancient times, in the subsequent centuries and in the modern times as well. In periods of various revolutions and wars they were persecuted and killed for their faith by godless men: French, Bolshevik, Mexican, Nazi, Chinese and others. The Nazi and Communist totalitarian ideologies, born of atheistic philosophies of the Enlightment, and rejecting God and Christian morality, caused ordeal and death of tens of millions of innocent people in the 20th century. They caused the whole world was bathed in tears and blood. Therefore, after World War II the nations, e.g. the Germans and other European nations, horrified by the tragic results of organizing the world without and against God, introduced into their constitutions a clear reference to God as the warrant that in future their statutes and rights would not be directed against the Decalogue, against Christian moral law and against the natural law. Unfortunately, the memory of individuals and of whole nations is very short. One quickly forgets the old wise warning: anyone who forgets past crimes and misfortunes will be forced to experience them the second time.
A progressive man?
Since late 1960s in the United States and Western European countries, and recently in our country as well, a new anti-Christian ideology has developed. It is the ideology of atheistic liberalism, in the form of the so-called political correctness, referring to the old motto 'God died', coined by the father of German nationalism Friedrich Nietzsche. On the throne of God it placed the so-called progressive man, who is devoid of all code morality. This man adopts laws, which destroy the commandments. He states that there is no objective truth or objective good. He promotes absolute willfulness, which does not take into account any moral and religious principles. He destroys natural law by passing parliamentary bills, which allow people to kill - abortion and euthanasia. He questions the indissolubility of family ties and marriage. By supporting various anomalies he destroys well-tried educational theories and substitutes them for theories, which corrupt young generations. Finally, he states that the only formula to have a successful life is not to follow God's commandments but to follow hedonistic consumerism, which is expressed in the motto: most pleasure, most extreme experiences, most free sex, shopping and constant fun. Contemporary false prophets, active in various media, institutions and parties, choke the spirit of faith, sacrifice, hope and love. They proclaim the greatest of possible lies, namely that happiness can be achieved without God; that man can save himself; that he can create paradise on this earth himself, and that he is an ordinary animal without any supernatural dimension. They trample on the greatest sanctities. They blaspheme against God and mock faith. They do this in various newspapers, the Internet, the Parliament, television, radio, theatres, cabarets, art exhibitions, etc.
Since they sow the wind...
The rejection of all transcendence, i.e. the existence of spiritual world, and the rejection of Christian moral law by many of the so-called authorities, who are constantly invited to participate in influential mass media, leave traces in many people's consciousness, especially in young people who go away from God and undergo moral destruction. We are continuously overwhelmed by news about crimes committed by the juvenile, who without any scruples, murder innocent people for money to be spent on fun and clothes. They kill because someone is on their way. They even kill when they want to celebrate a birthday (the recent case of killing was of that kind). It is absolutely outrageous that these media people, who promote worldwide love without any moral constraints; who boast of breaking the sixth and other commandments without any scruples in front of millions of TV viewers and radio listeners; who say that they have broken their marriages and other families several times - at the same time these people lament over crimes committed by the juvenile. But in a way they themselves induced the youngsters to commit crimes by spreading, trivializing and promoting moral evil. In many cases they are to be blamed. 'Since they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind', says the Bible. And as always the Bible is right.
Does God pose a threat to freedom?
In the times of extraordinary ideological chaos, moral viciousness, boom of irrational sects, false theories, magic and all kinds of deviations, many people see God as a threat to their freedom. For if God exists, if he is almighty and just, if he knows all human thoughts, hears all words and watches all deeds, one should take him into account in every second of his life. One will account to him for his life some day, maybe sooner than he expects. That is why many people rebel against the existence of God. They tell themselves and others that God does not exist because they fear their responsibility for the evil they have committed and for the harm they have done. That is why they cry out that man is free only when he removes God from his life. The famous French atheist and philosopher Jean Paul Sartre wrote, not without reason, in one of his books: 'One should necessarily deny the existence of God even if he really exists because the thought that God is limits human freedom'.
True foundation of new Europe
This is the reason why so many people, and even several contemporary societies, have accepted this godless ideology and thrown God out of their lives. This is the reason they live as if God does not exist. They remove crosses and other religious symbols from public places. They jeer at them in cabarets, theatres and mass media. They have made themselves free of God. They do now want to hear about God. They have denied him completely. They do not want to mention him in the EU constitution in spite of the fact that 80 % of all Europeans still adhere to Christianity. Therefore, they betray the principles on which the European Union was founded. These principles were profoundly Christian. Having in mind the unimaginable evil of the two atheistic totalitarianisms that destroyed mankind in the first half of the 20th century, namely the Nazis and the Communists, three outstanding statesmen: Schuman, Adenauer and De Gasperi, representatives of the nations which had fought against one another not long ago, laid foundations, based on Christian ethos, for the European Community. They knew quite well that if politics wanted to serve people it could not be based only on pragmatism and economic effectiveness but it should necessarily have some moral dimension. The founders did not have doubts that the Decalogue, completed and deepened by the Gospel, should be the basis of social justice and peace. Therefore, not only was the origin of Europe, with its magnificent culture and science, after the fall of the Greek-Roman world, the work of Christianity but also the dynamic restoration of Western Europe after the barbarian World War II.
There is no humanity without God
The one who wants to build a united Europe as a territory of law, peace and justice for all its nations and cultures on the sole basis of pure reason, which does not want to know anything about God and his moral law, will irreversibly suffer a defeat and cause millions of people suffer new misfortunes. What freedom can human reason alone, separated from God, guarantee and from what abuses can it protect this freedom? We have seen this many times in history. We have seen many times that people who reject God, the only Father of all mankind, have been unable to feel as brothers. There is no brotherhood without a common father. Today accountability to God and roots in constant, timeless values and truths of Christian faith are the only way to create such a Europe that will be something more than an economic block; that will be a community of justice, peace and friendship in its nations. When you forget God you forget man. And the results are always tragic. Therefore, those who know history and show concern for the fate of European nations, including our nation being a special victim of godless totalitarianisms, have so anxiously received the news that the preamble of the constitution of the enlarged European Union, adopted by the Parliament but still to be confirmed by every nation, does not have any reference to God or mention of Christianity.
Preamble maps the direction
The lack of reference to God and mention of Christian roots of the whole European culture in the preamble of the EU constitution cannot be treated in the category of symbolism, which has no significance for the fundamental statute. A preamble is to play a very important role in every community. It is some kind of constitution for the given constitution. Its first task is to show the principles the community, its state and culture, defining the national identity, originated from. The second task of the preamble is to map the ideological direction of development of the given community and the ethical limits, which its legislation cannot exceed. For no other reasons, but exactly for this one did the non-Christians - which is a paradox - the leaders of still 80% Christian Europe oppose so fiercely the introduction of God into the constitution. They were aware that the reference to God would have some concrete consequences. It would not permit to make the legislation and life of European nations atheistic with the sanction of the law, which is really what the leaders aim at.
Appearance of dialogue and democracy
Some Europeans, including the Christian ones, say that one should not demonise the fact that God was not introduced into the constitution, which is to be binding in the European nations, because the 51st article of the constitution states that the Union respects, and does not contravene, the status of Churches, associations and religious communities. The article guarantees open and regular dialogue with them. The authorities of various EU countries have carried out this alleged dialogue for years. But has this dialogue any meaning when these authorities do not completely take into consideration the voice of the Churches; when despite the protests of the Churches they introduce and pass laws which are contrary to natural law and the Decalogue, for example abortion on demand, euthanasia or homosexual marriage? Has this dialogue any meaning when religious symbols are thrown out of public life by virtue of law, when the authorities obstinately push religion into a private sphere; use various ways to show disrespect and discrimination to people who publicly confess their religious beliefs, etc.? What was unthinkable several years ago has today become a fact.
Fear and anxiety
Taking all these things into consideration Christians are right to fear that they will be push more and more on to the margins of public life like they were pushed in the communist times. They are right to fear that the powers, propagating complete relativism of political correctness, together with pagan liberalism, which controls leaders of many nations, enormous finances and powerful media, begin censoring the Gospel itself. Who knows if they, with amenability to law, do not forbid people to proclaim the truth about life after death, God's judgement of every man, that God is not only merciful but just as well, that there is not only heaven but also eternal punishment. They can do it in the name of their alleged concern for good mental state of the wicked. By the way, such situations have already happened in some countries. The Church has no doubts that one should give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and not what belongs to God - human souls and conscience.
Every Christian is to be Christ's witness
The Church preaches that Christians should under no circumstances deny being children of God. A Christian should never, and before anybody, be ashamed of the Gospel. As St Paul says the message of the cross is foolishness to the gentiles and an obstacle to the Jews but not for us. For us it is the greatest treasure, like the treasure found in a field, and the finest pearl of Christ's parable, more precious than all pearls of the world. For us the Gospel is life and light. We, Christians, cannot apologise to the secularised world for the fact we live and we cannot thank the world for letting us live on its margins. It is not the Church, which is to justify before the world her proclamation of the Gospel. It is the secularised world, which is to justify before the Church that it destroys God's order of creation through its godless laws.
Power of Gospel
The Gospel seems weak and helpless in human eyes. But in fact it is a great power, the power that gives salvation. The contemporary wicked think the Gospel has no chances to influence the fate of the world but actually the chances are enormous because the Gospel is not a human product but comes from Almighty God. The first Christians, whose number was very small, indeed a handful having no political, social, economic and military significance, converted the powerful, wise, cynical and rich ancient world. They did not use any programmes or political and social strategies. No, they simply believed in Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross for all people and rose from the dead, and stayed in the Church and in the life of each of them. According to this faith they lived in generosity and cordiality with their neighbours. And this has changed the face of the earth. We most of all need living faith. We need faith, which we will practice openly in every moment of our lives. We will live by this faith when we worship the only God, when we celebrate the days devoted to him, when we do not betray, do no harm, cheat no one, when we neither steal nor lie; when we work honestly, when we do not become addicted; when we bring up children properly; when we do not slander our neighbours and when we support them as much as we can. Like we need air we need willingness to proclaim the Gospel and accept it in our lives. This is the only way we can reform the world. All other ways to reform it are bound to fail. Neither money nor drive for prosperity nor uncontrollable moral lawlessness, which today many call freedom, can save and make man happy. Only Christ and his Gospel can do this.
Do not be ashamed of Christ
Christ needs us, Christians, to his salvific mission. He needs our minds, hands, hearts, abilities and talents. Let us not hesitate to do good. Let us not be ashamed to show our faith in Christ, to be his witnesses. Let us not be afraid to say 'no' to evil, which tempts us from every side. Only a slave always says 'yes'. A free man can say 'no' to what destroys his soul. Let us live the way God wants us to. Let us have courage to proclaim our faith and to live according to our beliefs. A Christian needs such a courage not only when he faces persecutors who threaten to kill him or threaten to torture him because he proclaims his faith. He also needs such a courage facing scoffers, who jeer at his faith; he needs courage when he faces ironical comments of his acquaintances, and sometimes of his relatives, who bear him a grudge for being faithful to God's commandments. Henri de Lubac wrote, 'Sometimes it is harder and more difficult to proclaim faith when you face scornful smiles of your brothers than when you face a hostile tribunal'. Remember that it is not the fault of liberal atheists and the wicked that the world is being secularised, that it departs from God, that it passes godless laws and that it did not refer to God in its EU constitution. First of all it is the fault of those passive and cowardly Christians, who do not defend Christ's faith and morality. It has always happened in history that the power of evil has come from blindness, laziness and cowardice of good.
Christians can vote
The population of Europe is 80% Christian, and the population of our country is over 90% Catholic. Then who votes for godless members of parliament? Who gives them power? Who lets them pass godless laws? Who buys and reads magazines, which are full of pornography and hatred for the Church? Who lets some group hating the pastor of some parish, call for help the godless, and thirsty for sensation, media and let them inflict summary punishment on him and compromise the Church? Who votes for such politicians whose political-social programme embraces abortion on demand and who promote homosexual relationships and the same Bolshevik hatred for the Church, which firstly Lenin and Stalin and nowadays the left wing expressed; the hatred for the Church, which has been the strength and anchor of Polish identity for a thousand years; the identity they wanted to ridicule, impose tribute on and trample like their ideological fathers did for many decades? Those politicians assign budget money to refund contraceptives while the public health service is in deep crisis and many people have not got any money for expensive medicines, which can save life. Who gives power to such people in the country, which is over 90% Christian? No one else but we, Christians.
The greatest sin - indifference
Nowadays the greatest threat to Christianity is not militant atheism but religious indifference of people, who regard themselves as Christians but live like godless pagans so that there is no difference between these two. Like pagans they steal and cheat, embezzle funds and harm other people; instead of going to Mass on Sunday they go shopping to supermarkets; like pagans they worship a golden calf instead of worshipping Lord God; they do not pray to God but have got rid of him in their daily lives. There is nothing worse to Christianity than bad Christians! When our world is being seized by the civilization of death we, Christians, must wake up to zealous faith. Let us not stay with our faith on the margins of social and political lives, but let us enter these lives, let our voices be heard, let us take part in elections and vote for just people who live according to the Christian way. Let us join other people of good will. Do not allow to be pushed on to the margins of public life.
Our lives as witnesses of our faith
Let us show Christ to people everywhere we live and work. Let us show him through our beautiful and honest lives. Let us pray and teach others to pray. Let us multiply our religious knowledge and teach others about Christ. Let us preserve the signs of our faith at home and outside of home. Let us not yield to the pagan way of spending Sundays. Let us protect human life in every dimension, human life, which is so much in danger today, especially in its beginning and in its end, because of abortion and euthanasia. Let us strongly oppose to criminal experiences on human embryos. Let us preserve marital fidelity. Let us care for our Christian families. Let us show solidarity to people in need, the sick, the lonely, the unemployed and the disadvantaged. Let us support Catholic media and defend them against constant attacks of hostile powers. Let us always remember that we are Christians, in good and bad times, in good health and in suffering, in private and in public, in social and political lives, at home and at university, being humble workers and high officials, going to work and taking a polling card. Remember that when we declare ourselves for Christ in public he will declare himself for us on the Day of Judgement that every man will surely face. Amen.