Tuesday, February 19, 2013

{UPDATED} Full transcript on Bishop Morlino's powerful homily on, "moralistic therapeutic deism"

I finally had a chance to listen to what Fr. Z describes as Bishop Morlino's "super-sermon."  Bishop Morlino's mode of speaking made it easy for me to capture the first part of his address. Please excuse any typos, grammar issues, etc.  I had a limited amount of time.

Quite honestly, I don't know if any other bishop has so eloquently captured one of the biggest problems among Catholics, and other christians, today.  What I like here is that His Excellency is not condescending in the way he describes the prevalent attitude of today - which, as he explains, is a religion unto itself.  People are more apt to listen and hear when problems are described this way, without bite.

EDIT:  I am replacing my transcription with that of Ben Yanke's.  He had a little more than I did and it is without some of the grammar and format problems in mine.  But, I continue to transcribe, to the best of my ability, after that.  I make a note where my transcription begins.  Please feel free to drop any notes or corrections into the comment box and I will try to update when I have a few minutes.

I just want to re-iterate that the text is not to be considered the original. Refer back to the audio for anything that is not clear.  You can find that at the blog of Ben Yanke, who uploaded the audio.

After opening salutations, Bishop Morlino begins his homily thus:

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 wasn’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.

[End Ben Yanke's tanscription; begin mine. Pardon any errors since I am doing this on the fly with little time. The original recording is the master and should be consulted if there is confusion on a point]
That’s why this is a battle ship, and not a cruise ship. Because ever since the sin of Adam and Eve, evil has had a certain reign in the world. And [through] the Resurrection of Jesus Christ we know that evil in the end will be conquered by good, by the risen power of Jesus Christ. We know that evil doesn't have the final victory. But it doesn't take too much insight to see that evil is alive and well. And it's out there, in the kingdoms of the world and their power and their glory. And those kingdoms with their power and their glory are stirred=p with evil because the devil is on the job 24-7.  

Moralistic therapeutic deists don't believe in the devil; Catholics do. We would be foolish not to. So we are born into a world where evil has a certain strong influence led by a super-intelligent, super-strong being, superhuman intellect [and] superhuman will who is the Devil and his angels; there are many.  That's the first thing we see in the short phrase in today's Gospel.  The world is charged with the grandeur of God. The world is receptive to grace for those who are interested. But even for them, temptation will come because the world is charged with evil from the sin of Adam and Eve, conquered by Christ, but yet to be worked out in history. 

The weeds grow up with the wheat until harvest time. And we've got to spend a good bit of time dealing with the weeds that are out there growing. Thats the first point. 

So we've got to be realistic as we prepare to enter the Church.  This is a battleship against the Devil and his angels - a battleship against the forces of evil in the world that, at the moment, are stronger rather than weaker.  Look at all the violence in the world; look at all the hedonism; look at all the materialism; look at all the selfishness.  

Look at the complete ignoring of the natural law. There's no such thing as a Catholic who is pro-choice, or pro-gay "marriage" or pro-restriction of religious freedom.  No such thing. Let's be clear and honest, about the Church into which we enter. clear and honest about he truth of Christ. 

Now there's another phrase right at the end of the Gospel reading that could also be missed.  The Gospel said, 'When the Devil finished with all of these temptations', it seems to hint that there were more than those mentioned. 'When the Devil finished with all of these temptations he departed for a time.' The devil doesn't give up. 'He departed for a time.'  

That's why coming into the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Penance, going to Confession, is so important so that we receive Holy Communion in the state of grace and are strengthened by Confession and Communion to deal with the fact that the Devil never gives up.  And, the holier life you are able to live with God's grace, the less the devil will give up on you.  The more holy you are, the more attractive a trophy you are for the devil to crash through discouragement or whatever.  The more you are chasing after holiness the better you get the devil's attention and the harder he will work to destroy you by deceiving you. Remember he's a liar and th Father of Lies. 

So chase after holiness as new Catholics... but don't forget for a minute, that your adversary, the Devil, is roaming about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, and the holier you are, the more he wants to devour you.  And, he is armed with a super-human intelligence, a super-human will to wage war against Jesus Christ by waging war against his grace, alive in you. 

So, it's a wonderful time to be together. It's a wonderful moment to give thanks to God for the grace of the vocation to be a Catholic. It's a joyful time. But it's a serious time, too.  Because being Catholic never amounts to belonging to a club of therapeutic moralistic deists.  It's not a club of people who have chosen that path.  There is a part of the Church like that, and that part of the Church is holding us all back, as we try to rush towards holiness in Christ. And we have to invite that [part of the] Church with love out of it's doldrums.  We've got to call it forth from darkness into the unapproachable light of Christ. 

Today you are proclaiming publicly that you want to be a part of that family of light in Christ; not a family of darkness.  Look forward to your candle at the great Easter Vigil in all of your parishes.  Look forward to that candle! And, don't get into... [the thought that], "Oh, this candle is a nuisance, I'm liable to dribble some wax or ... burn somebody..." Don't get into that.  If you are focused on that light at the Easter Vigil, that you are about to become in Christ, the last thing you'll do is drip the wax the wrong way or burn somebody. You'll be focused on that light.  It will be your pride and your joy. You will understand the beautiful hymn to the Easter Candle.  A flame divided, but undimmed; a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.  

At the Easter Vigil you will be transformed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit into a pillar of fire - for the honor and glory of God; all aglow, for the honor and glory of God. Yes! You! Really You! That's a lot to look forward to.  And there is every reason to be fervent in prayer, and in love with one another, as you continue to prepare to be enlightened through Baptism or through Confirmation, or both.  

When we chant at the Easter Vigil the Light of Christ, we thank God, first of all for Christ the Light.  We thank God secondly for the light of Christ as it's lived and taught in the Church. But, thirdly, the Light of Christ refers to the baptized, confirmed, eucharistic community.  When we sing about praising the Light of Christ, we take joy on the fact that we are praising God for his mighty deeds worked in the hearts of so many of you women and men who are here today because you love the Lord and you love his Church.  Let it always be so! 

Praised be Jesus Christ!


It's been pointed out by others that the term, "moralistic therapeutic deism" was coined by sociologist Christian Smith, I think in 2005.  Like with many "ism's" it may be beneficial to have some history, but I don't think it is necessary for someone to attribute it every time it is used, especially in the few minutes a priest or bishop has to get his homily out. This homily was about 20 minutes already. And, I do not believe Bishop Morlino was in any way attempting to coin an expression, already coined.  Nonetheless, for those interested, you can begin your research at the wikipedia entry for, "moralistic therapeutic deism."  

Listen to the full audio at Fr. Z's blog, probably around 15 minutes.

If anyone is aware of full text, please drop a note in my combox or email me at TeDeumBlog (at) gmail (dot) com.

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