At the Rite of Election on the First Sunday of Lent (Feb 17, 2013), Bishop Morlino spoke openly to the catechumens who will be joining the church this Easter. He told them that the church is not a place for those who want to feel good. It’s not a place for those who want to just get along. It’s fantastic to hear this stuff being preached on.
Also discussed was the battleship aspect of the church.
Here’s the heavy hitting section of his homily:
One of the lines that I’ve used every year at the Rite of Election I’ll use again, because it’s a truism that’s true. You’re about to embark on the barque of Peter. A ship where St. Peter is the captain. That ship is a battleship, it’s not a cruise ship. [...] And the battleship is against the devil. The battle is against the forces of evil.
Dear catechumens and candidates, we can not for a moment be naive of what we’re getting into.
We are not getting into the religion of our day. The religion of our day which has rightly been called moralistic therapeutic deism. You don’t have to remember the words, just remember the description, and remember that it’s bad news.
This religion of our day is deism. There’s a God who set the world on it’s course and basically doesn’t have too much interest in what happens after that. God wishes no evil in that religion, but He doesn’t actively participate in bringing out the good or the best in this world, he just keeps his distance. So that people don’t have to reckon with Him at all if they don’t want to. That’s deism.
That deism is moralistic. That means in this religion, the main thing is that we gotta be nice in our behavior towards others. Just be nice, smile at people, hold the door open, be nice. But this moralism has nothing to do with the natural law. This moral law says nothing about abortion. It says nothing about gay marriage. It says nothing about respect for conscience. Why? Because it’s deism, which is moralistic, and also therapeutic. The main point is just to be nice to everybody, don’t hurt anybody.
But the second main point is therapeutic. The point of this religion is that everybody comes to church in order to feel better about himself or herself, and everybody leaves with a nice warm, fuzzy feeling about himself or herself.
Moralistic therapeutic deism. God is distant enough that I can make him out to be whatever I want, he doesn’t make any serious moral demand besides “be nice,” “don’t hurt anybody,” and one of the main desires of those who practice this religion is that they always feel better and better about themselves. It’s like therapy. It’s moralistic therapeutic deism. That’s the religion of our time.
Unfortunately, there are some of our Catholic brothers and sisters who are into moralistic therapeutic deism. I don’t get a lot of letters anymore, I think a lot of people have given up on me. But I used to get regular letters: “Bishop, you gave that homily, and I came to church to feel good about the world and about life, and you disappointed me.” It was’t therapeutic enough. Didn’t feel like therapy. Didn’t end with a warm fuzzy.
The church which you’re entering is not practicing the religion of moralistic therapeutic deism. If somehow, you’ve fallen into that already before you’re even baptized or confirmed, it’s good for you to know today that it’s counterfeit. That ain’t the point when the water of baptism is poured and the anointing of confirmation is administered. It’s not the point. Because as the gospel reading says so well – and it says it so quickly that you could almost pass over it – he showed Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world in their power and glory, and he said “Since all of this has been handed over to me, I can give it to whomever I want. So this is what you need to do if you want all the kingdoms of the world with their power and glory. You need to worship me.” All the kingdoms of the world with their power and their glory have been handed over to me; says the devil.
That’s why this is a battle ship, and not a cruise ship. Moralistic therapeutic deists don’t believe in the devil. Catholics do. We would be foolish not to.
If you are interested, the audio of the entire homily can be found below. The transcription ends around 10:40 in the file, which in a circular way, is on the Cathedral Parish’s audio archive.