.- The Archbishop of Denver warned that an increasing rejection of God endangers the foundations of democracy, urging Catholics to embrace the truth of the Gospel and to live it “both personally and publicly.”
“When one does away with God, one embraces, whether knowingly or unknowingly, the father of lies and the evil one,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila said in an Oct. 27 homily.
“If there is no truth and if there is no God that is referenced, it means that we, as human beings, are the ones who decide what is good and what is evil,” he added, warning that the complete rejection of God results not in true freedom and justice, but in “dictatorship” and “totalitarianism.”
His homily was delivered at the archdiocesan Red Mass, celebrated at Regis University in Denver. The Red Mass is a more than 700-year-old tradition invoking the Holy Spirit's aid for lawyers, judges, and government officials.
Archbishop Aquila drew on Christ’s parable from the Gospel of Luke about the prayers of the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble tax collector. He noted that both men recognized the presence of God, but the humble one who recognized “his dependence on God, is the one who is exalted.”
The archbishop said that modern society’s rejection of God is a unique challenge.
“While the two men who prayed in the parable both recognized God, the great challenge for today, and especially in our own society, are those who want to impose secularism upon us, and radical secularism – a complete denial of God.”
He contrasted this with the view of the Founding Fathers, who held that natural rights come from God.
The archbishop said the founders’ decision to include the First Amendment’s religion clause was a recognition of the importance of religion. They believed in God and “the free exercise of their faith in the public square.”
“Our democracy is truly based on the natural law and its survival depends upon the recognition of the Creator.”
“There would be no discussion today about the freedom of conscience and religious freedom if everyone acknowledged that truth,” he continued. “Both of those freedoms are greatly challenged today because of the desire to abandon God.”
But despite negative trends, Archbishop Aquila said Catholics should be “filled with hope” because of their faith in Christ, and because of the truth of the Gospel.
“We as Catholics are called to live our faith in the world; it is not something that is private and solely personal.”
“We are to be witnesses, as our founders were witnesses, to the Creator and to the unalienable rights bestowed by the Creator and to the truths that can be discovered by reason and that certainly are more clearly seen by faith.”
He encouraged legal professionals to be “people of prayer” and to take time in prayer before they make decisions.
He said judges should take their decision to the Holy Spirit and pray for the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, fear of the Lord and piety, adding that they should especially seek Christ in the Eucharist.
The archbishop then told the congregation to “live your faith in the world.” Citing Pope Francis, he urged them to follow Christ through the renunciation of evil and egoism and through the choice of “good, truth, justice.”
“We are called to recognize that the Lord is the one who stands by us and gives us strength,” he explained.
Christians are called to witness as the martyrs did: “not to water down the Gospel, not to water down the faith, not to have a Christianity that is not lived or that is like a little decoration on a cake.”
Archbishop Aquila said Catholics are called “in charity and in love to proclaim the God who is love.”
“It is not some soft love, but it is a love that is all demanding and all consuming. It is the love of Christ as revealed in Christ, as lived by St. Thomas More, as lived by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as lived by so many other martyrs who gave witness to their faith as governments rejected faith.”