Emmitsburg Council of Churches

This is a hard saying,
who can accept it?

Father John J. Lombardi

In the Gospels of Jesus, as well as in our Roman Catholic Religion, there are many hard sayings-teachings that we cannot accept or understand unless we have supernatural Faith. The world and our earthly egos sometimes get in the way and cause doubt to our discipleship. But if we have the Faith of the Saints then we can accept and follow these daring teachings. Ask yourself, while reviewing the following "A to Z List of Difficult Teachings, "Will you too walk away?" (Jn. 6: 67). And while pondering this list, remember the martyrs who followed these teachings, to the point of death. Be faithful! The hard teachings are difficult, but they are also divine; they are sometimes dangerous but they are doable. Don't waver! 

I Believe, Help My Unbelief!

Abortion-is always wrong. Never do it. If you have, seek the sacrament of Reconciliation, and remember Dr. Nathanson who performed 60,000 abortions and eventually realized that they were babies, boys and girls, real persons, and stopped performing abortions and sought Confession and actually became a Catholic!

Birth Control-is one of the most common evils and sins of Catholics, and is destructive to marriages and human sexual dignity. A doctor-friend once witnessed that he and his wife practiced contraception, eventually found out the Church's teaching on it and repented. He then gave $5,000 to the Church to promote the teachings of freedom from contraception and the harm it brings.

Celibacy for Priests for the sake of the Kingdom---we priests love our celibacy. This is the lifelong practice of the Roman Catholic Church and we all need to support our priests in their celibate commitments. This frees them up to serve you and everyone and the Church. If celibacy is good enough for Jesus then it should be good enough for all of us priests!

Devil-evil and Satan are pervasive in today's world. The Devil is a personal being and there is evil too-and through witchcraft and occult practices this can come into your home and attack your family, your marriage and discipleship. The great priest Padre Pio fought him-so can you.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research-this dangerously promotes the operating on little, innocent human beings, albeit small ones, to allegedly help other persons like actor Christopher Reeves and your relatives who are sick and in need of help. We must always remember we should never do an evil thing to bring about a proposed good (Rm. 3:8)-this is a cornerstone of Catholic-Christian morality. Also remember: persons are not objects and shouldn't be treated as such.

Fidelity lifelong in marriage-we live today, Pope John Paul II said, in a culture of divorce. We need to help married couples stay married and sacrifice for one another and the Church; marriage is one of the cornerstones of our culture. I recently met a couple who asked for a blessing. "Sure-how long have you been married?" I asked. The Daley's, from Nebraska, responded 65 years. If they can do it so can you. Commit-and be faithful--forever!

God as One: God has revealed Himself to us and there are no gods or goddesses. Remember: humans are meant for worship and we will worship anything if our human nature is not guided by God's supernatural revelation and the Church. Recall St. Thomas' exclamation when He saw the Risen Jesus: -"My Lord and My God" and repeat this often and worship the One True God.

Hell exists and means everlasting separation from God. Heaven is its direct opposite-eternal Bliss in paradise. Which one are you choosing?

Immaculate Mary is without sin, she is the Mother of God and Mediatrix of Grace-so, if she is good enough for Jesus to honor, then emulate her, especially thru praying the rosary.

Jesus as unique - only Savior of all: Many people think "there are many roads up the mountain" of salvation. Perhaps, but all roads somehow lead to Jesus at the top, as He indicates: "No one comes to the Father except thru Me." So receive Him into your heart as personal Lord & Savior---this isn't just for Protestants anymore!

Killing as in the death penalty should be rare, as Pope John Paul II taught, and killing also comes thru gossip which harms souls. Ask yourself before speaking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Does it cause harm?

Love God/others-these twin commandments should be in harmony-we should not be "pick & choose Catholics"-either loving God or loving others. No! - both go together.--- Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati loved beggars on the streets of Milano, Italy, and also loved God in the Eucharist and became saintly in the process and shows us how to honor both commandments. Yes, difficult, but these four words to lead to Heaven: Love God, Love neighbor.

Modesty of dress: This is one of the most practical and abused disciplines of spirituality today. Do you "dress to kill" to call attraction to your body sensually? Or do you ascribe more to prudence than prurience - "the less you show the more you glow?"

Negation of riches-people today worship gods and goddesses and possessions. Think of St Francis of Assisi who stripped himself of actual clothing and passions and loved the Lord of riches and served the poor in heroic charity.

Obedience: this is one of the most misunderstood and rejected words today. The Latin word means "to listen to"…as listen to the Lord, His teachings, His church-do you?

Pope and papacy have been under attack so pervasively. Yet think of the millions at the Philippines who gathered with Pope John Paul II for World Youth Day and in Mexico City and re- kindled our love for St Peter's successor.

Quell the Passions. Passions are neutral in themselves but can often go haywire if we let them. Love can turn to lust; fear to cowardice; sadness to depression and joy into laxity and carefreeness. St John of the Cross counseled that the Holy Spirit can purify our passions and direct them aright.

Relativism-meaning there are no absolutes, even Ted Koppel asked wryly if The Ten Commandments have turned into Ten Suggestions. The Church teaches there are absolutes: do not fear-these are helpful, not hurtful to human freedom.

Spirituality and prayer: we are called to talk to and listen to the Lord, yet so few do. I recently went to a drug treatment center and asked the clients what they wanted to talk about and they responded immediately, "Prayer." This is so hard, yet think of St Teresa of Avila who sought the Lord thru prayer in "The Interior Castle" (her book) and found the Lord Jesus within the center (of her soul).

Telling sins to the priest in holy confession. A man recently said that some say their sins to God, so who needs the priest? Yet God is in the priest. Go to His Divine Mercy and confess!

Usury of others thru pornography, cohabitation, illicit sexuality and also usury of the human body thru self abuse. These are all degrading to human dignity and sexuality. You can be free.

Vices like thievery, lying, pride and slander show that mankind does have a fallen nature, but also, save-able!

Will of God-is sometimes mysterious but like the great priest DeCausaude and his book, make "Abandonment to Divine Providence"- a habit in your life--trust in Him.

X is the Cross-on which hung the Savior Jesus Christ and embraced His sufferings. He can help you accept yours in your marriage, your job and family and work.

Yes to the Holy Eucharist-that it is really Him, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament-in Mass, Adoration, He is waiting for you: visit and adore Him often!

Zeal for souls: St Francis Xavier sailed across the world to baptize thousands because he wanted their salvation. One man said another hard saying is "There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church" ("ecclesia non salus est"). Yes, this is mysterious how the Church is present in various non-explicit Catholic persons, but we should all seek to help save souls by evangelization and love.

So: Will you walk away like those in the Gospel or follow these hard sayings like a holy Apostle? Remember-these hard teachings are difficult, but they are divine!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi