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What can it hurt?

Friday evening, the vigil of the Feast Day of St. Thomas More, American Catholics began a Fortnight for Freedom. Today our priest spoke extensively about St. Thomas More and his deep abiding faith. He was willing to die for his faith. He refused to sign a statement approving of King Henry VIII's divorce from Katharine of Aragon. Nor would he sanction the marriage of the King to Anne Boleyn. His friends and family pleaded with him to sign. What would it hurt, they asked, if he just signed the document. He didn't have to really believe it. Just put his name to it and his life would be saved. Yet, Thomas More would not compromise the integrity of his faith even if it meant he would be killed. He would not risk his soul for earthly treasures.

Some will dismiss the current Fortnight for Freedom as political grandstanding. Why should the Church raise such a fuss? What would it hurt to just accept the HHS mandate and pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients? Isn't it more important to be helping the poor? Church leaders and the faithful laity who are sounding the alarm over the HHS mandate know that there can be no compromise. Once freedom to fully practice and live our faith is undermined, there will be a steady erosion of the rights guaranteed the First Amendment to the Constitution. Archbishop Lori, in his opening homily for the Fortnight for Freedom stated:
The efforts of the government to divide the Church into a worship wing and a service wing do not spring from a theoretical interest in how churches are organized. It is part of a broader movement to limit religious freedom to freedom of worship — to accord a fuller degree of religious liberty to houses of worship but a lesser degree of religious freedom to charities, hospitals, and universities.
If left unchecked, this tendency will continue to diminish the influence of religion in helping to shape the character of our country, not only by our words but above all by the way we conduct our ministries of service
But this tendency to ask, "What can it hurt?" is not limited to issues of national importance. Every day we are tempted to bend the rules. What can it hurt if I gossip just a little? She makes me so angry I need to vent. Or what can it hurt if we use contraception for a little while? We will be open to children later. Or what can it hurt if we live together for a while before we get married? We love each other and we will eventually get married. Or what can it hurt if I sleep in today and miss Mass? I will go on another Sunday. 

I would answer these questions with another question: Do you really believe that God loves you? Do you really believe that His love dwarfs every other love you have ever experienced? If so, do you really think that God would ever want anything other than what is best for you? So do you trust that His will for you is always in your best interest, even when you cannot see it? 

Every time we try to cheat and say this or that Church teaching does not apply to me at this time, we are saying that we really do not trust God. Our judgment is better than His. We know better than God what is best for us.

Perhaps during this Fortnight for Freedom we can pray for the courage to trust God in all things, large and small.

St Thomas More, pray for us.


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