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Asking Questions About Our Faith

Last night we had another gathering for our Young Adult Group.  For those unfamiliar with the group, we started the group in January and it is open to any young adult (Eighteen – thirty-something) Catholic in the Tompkins County Area.  It is meant to be both social, giving our Catholic Young Adults a chance to come together with people who share their faith and values and to help deepen our own faith.  You can find the group on Facebook at “Catholic Young Adults – Ithaca, NY”.

For last night’s meeting, we gathered at 6:30 p.m. for some social time and then prayed Evening Prayer together from the Liturgy of the Hours.  The floor was then opened for questions to me.  There were no restrictions on the questions as long as they had something to do with our Catholic faith.

There were various questions but I would like to focus here on an underlying theme that I was pleased to see in several of the questions.  It was the question of how do we live and speak about our faith in our culture today, both with people who share our faith and those with other opinions.  For instance, the Supreme Court decisions on Wednesday regarding gay marriage was discussed (click here to see our diocese’s statement).  One person told of a friend that had read various postings on Facebook from others on their wall about the court decisions.  Ninety-three supported the decisions and the only one against was this person at our gathering.  Another person spoke of a comment made by another in support of gay marriage that they responded to.  Once they responded against gay marriage, others joined them.  Somebody has to be first.  Maybe it’s you.

People asked what do we put on our Facebook or other social media accounts about such things.  Sometimes, we might want to post something with “anger” about such decisions but we know acting in angry can just get everyone ratting and raving.  Sometimes, we don’t know what to say to contribute constructively to a discussion.  I have to say this is true for me too.  For instance, I haven’t posted anything on this blog about the Supreme Court decisions because I don’t know what I could add to the discussion.  I support the Church’s position.  You can read the Church’s position at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/backgrounder-on-proposition-8-and-doma.cfm.  I think where I can do a better is using this blog to point people to such resources.  Not everyone knows about these resources.  I would suggest the same time of approach for people who want to post something on their social media accounts but aren’t sure what to put.  The website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB – www.usccb.org) offers the Catholic perspective on many positions.  In New York State, the bishops have a joint website, www.nyscatholic.org , that discussions many issues that are being discussed in our state government.

Turning to another example of the theme of how do live and speak about our faith was a question on how to we speak to people who do not share our faith or even have a faith.  It can be hard to find a common ground with them.  The topic of gay marriage can again be an example of this.  As Catholics, we believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality activity is wrong but if a person doesn’t believe in the Bible, that doesn’t help.  Here I offered that we might turn to an argument from natural law that a male and female coming together in marriage complement one another physically in a way that points to something deeper.  Two males or two females don’t complement each other in this way.  Yet, I have to admit this natural law argument is weak without faith to say it is God’s design.

Sometimes we know what we belief but we really don’t know what to say.  So we say nothing.  The problem with this is how do people interpret our silence.  For instance, if we are part of conversation where people are speaking in support of gay marriage and we say nothing, others may interpret our silence to mean we agree with them.  Sometimes, all we need to say is that we don’t agree and that, through faith, we believe it’s wrong.

My examples here have focused on the gay marriage issue.  Last night’s discussion also included parallel discussion on abortion and birth control.  The same principles of talking about our faith apply to any issue.

Ask yourself if you keep silent on such issues or if you speak up to let others know what you believe and what the Catholic Church teaches.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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