Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Will He Find Faith?"

Yesterday, I went to the Saturday Vigil Mass at Immaculate Conception Church on 14th Street in the East Village. It was a spontaneous thing -- I was around the corner from the church just about that time and I've been curious to see what Mass there is like.

So, I was quite surprised when the celebrant of the Mass turned out to be Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the author of several books and the editor of "First Things," a conservative journal on topics spiritual, political and societal.

In the past, I have sometimes thought that Fr. Neuhaus has too harsh an approach to some questions. (Maybe the word 'curmudgeonly' comes to mind. Maybe.) I do like that he's never afraid to speak his mind -- even when he's criticizing archbishops.

Yesterday evening, I must say Fr. Neuhaus gave an excellent homily on the topic of faith -- referencing the current popularity of some new books on atheism. (He mentioned Christoper Hitchens by name.) He also criticized the way some in the secular press have described the revelations of Mother Teresa's decades-long "Dark Night of the Soul."

The homily reflected on this Sunday's Gospel, which was from Luke Chapter 18:

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being.

"And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'

"For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"

The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

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