Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled – Fr. Gary

Dear Ascension Parishioners,

For the many of you who labored so diligently for the passage of the Value Them Both Amendment, your hearts might well be troubled today and might wonder if God has even heard your prayers.  Let me assure you, He has, but God never forces people to do what they do not want to do.  Others of you might well feel embarrassed or disillusioned that the Church has put so much effort into a single cause that demanded political action but ended up failing.  Maybe you feel the Church’s image has been tarnished by the intense focus on the VTB amendment.  Indeed, in some people’s eyes it has been.

The VTB message stressed the need to let the citizens of Kansas choose what abortion would look like in our state.  Well, now they have, and we must live with the consequences of that choice.  I want to thank the many parishioners who so diligently labored to advocate for passage of the Value Them Both Amendment.  I am especially grateful to our Pro-Life ministry and the Knights of Columbus.     

Regardless of the reason for your disappointment I do not believe that the efforts have been in vain. While the VTB efforts were unable to convince the masses of the evils of abortion and the inviolability of life in the womb, a fundamental moral issue, the efforts have nonetheless revealed some other important truths.

First, the animus against the Church’s advocacy for this issue has revealed that the Catholic Church in Kansas is not on the same page as the world around us. And that is not a bad thing! Christ did not establish His Church to adapt to the world, but quite the opposite, to challenge it and convict it.

Second, the VTB effort mobilized many Catholics behind an important cause and revealed that we have the ability to redirect that commitment to the numerous good things that the Church and our parish already do and those that still need to be done, the many ministries that teach, heal, help and serve our brothers and sisters.

Today we live in a world where abortion is embraced, where religion gives way to worldly influences and a world that holds a very utilitarian view of the human person.  The premise behind the VTB effort was aimed at challenging the prevailing worldview.  Our present world is much more akin to the world that the early Church faced than the era of Christendom that the oldest among us grew up in.  We might say we are living in a new apostolic era.

The early Church was commissioned to be leaven in the world, to be light in the darkness and to give witness to a different worldview.  They faced much resistance, but they persevered in love.  This is the work to which we are called, and indeed much work still awaits us.

I want to encourage you to take heart and be not afraid.  I invite you to heed the words of St. Paul who frequently encountered setbacks and trials, but trusted in God’s grace when he said, “we are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor 4:8-10).

The Church’s efforts at amending the Kansas Constitution have failed, but we must continue our work at changing hearts, for this is the work of Christ’s Church.  Regardless of the reason for your disappointment, we must carry on for “we know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). 

The protection of new and innocent life is surely in accord with God’s purpose.  The countless ministries that our Church offers for the poor, for mothers in need, for foster care, for spiritual and emotional healing, for stability of marriage and family life, and for immigrants are all in accord with God’s purpose.  So, do not let your hearts be troubled, but “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” (Heb 12: 1-2).

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,