Unprecedented Challenges for Neophytes

 by Joyce Stolberg

 In normal years, as we complete the seven week Mystagogia series and anticipate the celebration that concludes the catechetical year, I prepare a class which centers on the Church's social teachings and on vocations to the priesthood, religious and consecrated life. This year, in contrast, I did something much more urgent and unprecedented, because the challenges facing our neophytes are far more intense than they were just a year ago.

 These are some of the challenges. Although the specter of legalized abortion has been with us for 40 years, the federal Health and Human Services mandate now attempts to force most Catholic institutions as well as other Christian based businesses, notably Hobby Lobby, to fund abortion and contraception in the process of insuring their employees, even though such payment violates Catholic and Christian conscience. This has surfaced ominously just within the past year. In addition, unrelenting pressure from secular society to accept intrinsically evil homosexual activity in the name of "tolerance" and to support "homosexual marriage" as a "right" has been front and center on the judicial agenda. The casual acceptance of "living together before marriage" and the high prevalence of divorce in our society are other issues on which we as Catholics must take a stand. While we make strenuous efforts to preserve the life of unborn children, we must also protect the life of the aged and disabled from the steadily encroaching use of euthanasia, stealthily disguised as "care protocols" or "comfort care" in clear violation of Pope Pius XII's instructions on the appropriate use of analgesia for the dying. Many other issues could be cited in conjunction with the rapidly increasing secularization of society; however, I centered my attention on a few of the most egregious violations of our Judeo Christian moral code.

 I discussed this stunningly rapid societal change in my autumn essay, Catholics Must Rise above Conventional Morality, in which I cited Kohlberg's theory of moral development. I also incorporated this concept into my class. I demonstrated how, in 1963, Kohlberg's definition of conventional morality was essentially in line with the 10 Commandments and with Natural Law. Today, many concepts that society may classify as conventional thinking, behavior, and morality encompass serious sin against the same 10 Commandments. First among these, of course, is the grave sin of murder, which encompasses all deliberate taking of innocent human life, from preventing a newly conceived embryo from nesting in its mother's womb, to deliberately hastening the death of an elderly patient. Then, while affirming the sacredness of human sex within the bonds of holy matrimony, we must hold that any sexual activity outside these bonds is gravely sinful. This includes homosexual acts: yet today, opposing these can result in accusations of bigotry and intolerance. It includes any sexual activity outside of marriage, including pre-marital sex, fornication, adultery, and masturbation. In how many ways does society try to tell us that these behaviors are normal? Contraception follows the acceptance of uncommitted sex. Moral deterioration in our society is evident in other ways, including fraud, theft, greed, and material excess. We normally commission our neophytes to proclaim the gospel and to become part of our Catholic family. Now we must also prepare them to stand up for their beliefs even in the face of persecution, and we have no idea to what extent they will be required to do this.

 This was an extraordinarily tough lesson and I apologize for posting it so late in the Mystagogia season, but I have just compiled it for our own neophytes. In preparing this lesson, I used Chapter 9 in my own book, God Calls You by Name, but I have also gone way beyond the scope of that chapter to include issues that never even surfaced when I wrote it. I cannot cut and paste copyrighted material, therefore I will provide some references and Internet links which I used in developing this class.

 Allocution To Doctors On The Moral Problems Of Analgesia (especially Question 3) Concern about the proper use of pain medicine was addressed by Pope Pius XII in 1957.

 standupforreligiousfreedom.com This site provides a good one-page poster describing the urgent need for action to stop the HHS mandate.

 gwhatchet.com/2013/04/04students-mobilize-to-remove-priest/ GW Hatchet is an independent newspaper of George Washington University.

  This story tells about two students who want their Newman Center priests fired for their moral stance against homosexual activity. You can find many other news articles on this story.

 Look up: Are you being targeted for Euthanasia/ by Mary Therese Helmueller, R.N.

 Look up "Stealth Euthanasia" and you will be astonished at the prevalence of euthanasia in our medical systems.

 Type a keyword for any moral issue into your search engine, and you will be flooded with an abundance of materials.