Catholics urged: 'Either be hot or cold – don't be apathetic'
'Vigil for Liberty' ends after 80 hours of prayer
CHARLOTTE — A solemn Holy Hour concluded three days – 80 hours – of continuous Eucharistic Adoration at St. Patrick Cathedral to coincide with the Democratic National Convention Sept. 3-6. More than 100 people from Charlotte-area parishes participated in the "Vigil for Liberty," held to pray for religious freedom, protection of the right to life, and an increase in vocations.
Each day of the vigil, worshippers prayed the Chaplet of Adoration and Reparation, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Holy Rosary.
In his Holy Hour homily, Father Christopher Roux, pastor and rector of the cathedral parish, called out Catholics who are apathetic about their faith and encouraged all of us to embrace the Cross like we really mean it.
"Either be hot or cold. Be one or the other. Don't be apathetic. Don't be wishy-washy," Father Roux said.
He recalled praying out in front of abortion mills in Steubenville, Ohio, when he was younger. The pro-life demonstrators and abortion facility staff were in such close proximity to each other so frequently that they came to know each other, and they would wave hello in mutual greeting at the start and end of each "shift" at the abortion facility.
It was almost humorous, he said, as if it were Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph E. Wolf from the old Looney Tunes cartoons. (From Wikipedia: "Most of the cartoons begin at the beginning of the workday, in which they both arrive at a sheep-grazing meadow, exchange pleasant chitchat, and punch into the same time clock. Work having officially begun, Ralph repeatedly tries very hard to abduct the helpless sheep and invariably fails, either through his own ineptitude or the minimal efforts of Sam (he is frequently seen sleeping), who always brutally punishes Ralph for the attempt. At the end-of-the-day whistle, Ralph and Sam punch out their time cards, again chat amiably, and leave, presumably only to come back the next day and do it all again.")
"But it felt so odd," Father Roux said, "that we were just walking down the street, having nice conversations and then the rest of the day we'd be beating each other up spiritually. Sometimes we'd leave feeling that way ... until we spent at least an hour of Adoration prior to going to the clinic."
Pointing to the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar, Father Roux emphasized, "This has great power to keep one's peace in the midst of trouble."
He noted that the passion each side felt for its beliefs – even if one side was completely and utterly wrong – is valuable. Imagine what kind of passion the abortion mill staffers would have if they experienced a change of heart and became pro-life advocates, he said.
They could be people like abortionist and NARAL Pro-Choice America co-founder Bernard Nathanson, who once admitted that he had killed more than 60,000 unborn babies including one of his own. He had a conversion after viewing an abortion real-time on ultrasound, converted to Catholicism and became an ardent pro-life advocate.
Or people like Planned Parenthood manager Abby Johnson, who was so shocked by viewing an abortion on an ultrasound that she quit and joined the pro-life demonstrators on the sidewalk outside the clinic. Johnson converted to Catholicism and now writes and speaks about the evils of Planned Parenthood from the eye of someone who saw it firsthand.
"When their conversion happened they fell hard, and they became some of the greatest pro-life advocates you can even imagine," Father Roux said. "But the wishy-washy, the mediocre, the apathetic – what can God do without at least some kind of investment in what you believe?"
Three kinds of people were at the foot of the Cross, he said: the sympathetic – Mary, Mary Magdalene and John who were weeping; the anti-pathetic – the crowd who mocked and reviled Him; and the apathetic – the Roman soldiers casting lots for His clothes.
"They didn't care," he said. "It was just a job to them. It was just a job. They had to crucify someone, so they did."
"We live in a very apathetic world," he continued. "We live in a world where many people don't care, one way or the other. They might, sorta kinda, be pro-choice – or they might, sorta kinda, be pro-life, but it's not going to cause them any loss of sleep."
Some of the Catholics at the Democratic National Convention fell into this category, he said.
"What bothered me was not the fact that they were there lying, or even that a national political group had put them out there to lie, but that there were people watching it on television and going, 'Really, oh my goodness,' and they didn't even care to have the truth.
"They don't care that 4,000 babies a day die in their mother's womb. They don't care that you and I are having our religious liberties taken away from us, one at a time. They don't care. And some of them sit with us every single Sunday, when it's convenient, in the pews of our churches. We say, 'Peace be with you' to them, and they say it back to us, and yet if they were here right now they would call us fanatics – because we're praying."
"Our Lord can do nothing with those who care not, one way or the other," but, he added, "We cannot leave it there."
Catholics cannot sit back and shrug in such a case, he emphasized.
"It is our obligation, as Christians, as Catholics, as believers, to evangelize those in the pews with us, and let them know they must care! They must embrace their faith – for if they do not embrace the faith, they will lose the faith."
That is what the "Vigil for Liberty" was all about, he said – a way of seeking reparation for others' sinfulness as well as our own.
"We cannot go out and say, 'How dare they not care!' unless we first recognize our own sinfulness, and seek to repent and repair and convert our hearts," he said.
"We have to stand up for our religious liberty, but we first have to have conversion of heart, to embrace our faith, and to care about what's happening – not only to the children within their mothers' wombs, not only to the mothers, not only to those in the pews with us on Sunday who may be apathetic, but also to the doctors, also to the nurses, also to those who run Planned Parenthood ...
"We must be praying for their conversion. We cannot step back and in any kind of holier-than-thou way say, 'Look at us, we are pro-life.'"
Because if we love other people truly as ourselves, we would want them to enjoy eternal life with us in heaven, he said.
"If we don't, who will? If we don't pray for the reparation of their sinfulness, who will pray for them?"
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor