Celebrant: To the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, we now turn, bringing the needs of the whole human family…
That all who proclaim the word of God may find strength in times of persecution, we pray to the Lord…
For families that are divided, that the Lord may draw them to his truth and to accept the demands of the Gospel, we pray to the Lord…
For all in our families who may not be practicing their faith, that they may return to an active and faithful Catholic life, we pray to the Lord…
That parents may be generous in fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we pray to the Lord…
For the healing of the sick, the consolation of the dying, and the eternal repost of all the departed, we pray to the Lord…
Hear our prayers, eternal God of Love,
And enable us to use the gifts you give us
To serve you and one another faithfully.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pope Benedict on Conscience
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, ‘Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right’ (n. 1778). From this definition it emerges that the moral conscience, to be able to judge human conduct rightly, above all must be based on the solid foundation of truth, that is, it must be enlightened to know the true value of actions and the solid criteria for evaluation. Therefore, it must be able to distinguish good from evil, even where the social environment, pluralistic culture and superimposed interests do not help it do so” (Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life, February 24, 2007).
Jer 38:4-6, 8-10
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We are destined, in this life, to be divided from at least some people, and today’s readings urge us to be divided for the right reasons. Prejudice continues to raise walls between people. That is the division that happens all too naturally, and the conflict between the culture of life and the culture of death is largely a problem of prejudice against the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled. None of the reasons offered for abortion would be tolerated as reasons to kill the born; it is only because the victims are unborn that they become victims. Similarly, none of the reasons for killing the less functional people would be tolerated as reasons to kill the functioning; hence again, prejudice is revealed as the real problem.
When we stand against that prejudice, however, we get treated like Jeremiah. He was accused of “demoralizing the soldiers” because he was saying that the Babylonians, who were about to attack Jerusalem, could not be stopped because they were being used by God to punish his people. The problem was not military or political, Jeremiah said, but rather moral. In our day, when we point out the moral problems that stand at the foundation of so many other societal ills, we too will be rejected and mocked.
Moreover, issues like abortion will divide family members, as the Gospel promises, and will require us to resist sin even “to the point of shedding blood,” as the second reading says. The blood to be shed, in other words, is our own, as we stand against the opposition that others will launch against us. The fact that so many people will say, “The opposition against me isn’t that bad and I don’t foresee that it will be” becomes in fact a good reason to stop worrying about what will happen to us when we fight for what is right.