Hungry For The Truth

Humanae Vitae Priests
By Fr. Don Blickhan
Parish priest in Illinois
Volume 01, Number 07
April 24, 2008
Reproduced with Permission
Humanae Vitae Priests Website

The first time that I noticed it was while preaching. I found it unsettling. Everyone was listening intently, their eyes riveted to me, hanging on my every word. "What is happening here; what am I saying that is so powerfully connecting with them?" It is not unusual in preaching to observe people drifting off, day-dreaming till the sermon was over. Now they were listening intently.

Over the years I had evolved in my preaching style. Perhaps it was because I was tired of hearing the same old sermons that I decided to place an emphasis on the basics, the fundamentals that we rarely talked about anymore.

I began to talk about sin, grace, salvation, hell, Satan, angels. Some said it was the first time they had ever heard a sermon on hell or on angels. They loved it!

One individual recently wrote, "I am appreciative of the fact that your homilies are not all sugar coated lovey-dovey fluff. I was very impressed when you spoke about the devil here tempting us, and about no cross in the sanctuary because of the attitudes of the people. It's nice how you get down to brass tacks."

What I came to see was that people listen when you teach the truth. When I departed from this emphasis I would lose the people; they would become glassy-eyed and restless.

There is a hunger in the people. When a person tastes a fine recipe, he relishes it. When a dish is not palatable he pushes it away. "No thank you!" Over the past few years, I have noticed that when people hear the Truth, not only do they listen, but they begin to get excited about their Faith, and they want to learn more. Some have asked for book suggestions, one even began a master's program in theology.

People want the truth - and instinctively know the truth when they hear it - and they get excited and listen. It changes their lives. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when he said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

This is also what the late Holy Father, John Paul II meant when he said that there was a certain splendor to the truth, "The splendor of truth shines forth... Truth enlightens man's intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord." (Veritatis Splendor)

I also noticed this in another area of my pastoral ministry. As I instructed couples for marriage and took time to share the Church's teaching on contraception and natural family planning, I was astounded. I thought they would be resistant. What surprised me was not only that people received this information with much interest, but that they had never heard the material before.

As I reflected on my nearly 34 years as a priest, I realized I have never heard one of my bishops speak or write on contraception nor natural family planning. But then few ever hear priests preach on this vital area of Catholic life either. We have been strangely silent. Why?

People are instinctively attracted to beauty, be that beauty a stunning vista, a moving poem, a great musical work, a powerful painting or an attractive person. Such beauty turns our head. It captures us - and it captures us because it is a reflection of the Truth and Light which is God.

Jesus Christ is that light. Jesus Christ is that Truth. Why have we priests kept a bushel basket over that light?

People want the truth - and we priests have not been giving it to them!

As John Paul II so often preached, "Do not be afraid!"