As announced on my Events Page, I had the honor and privilege of addressing guests and parishioners on Thursday, January 17, at the San Diego Diocesan Pastoral Center. My deep thanks to Bishop Flores for opening the event and blessing the gathering. And my special thanks to Kent Peters, Director of Social Ministry for the San Diego Diocese, and his staff, for inviting me, and organizing and promoting the event. There were an estimated 120 attendees, whom I also want to thank for their kind attention and participation.
My focus during the 40-minute address was to reinvigorate those whose faith is challenged by the vagaries of our secular culture, and to emphasize the invaluable role that faith plays in coping with serious illness, such as cancer. My motivation for promoting these ideas is that all too often I find that my terminally ill patients are conflicted in their faith just when they need it most. This is a terrible burden that we as a society have inflicted onto them, and one that myself and others, such as the San Diego Diocesan Office of Social Ministry, are determined to remedy.
What will we do without faith? Where will we put our trust and where will we find ultimate meaning if not through faith in God? We are constantly distracted by a world of burgeoning materialism, so much so that what we do, hear, say and even think is often framed in material terms, communicated by the latest gadgetry, and assimilated electronically instead of personally. Little by little, our mystical roots are eroded until they are withered and ready to die. But if we let that happen, we will eventually become little more sentient than the machines we designed to make our lives “more functional” in the first place.
To this I say, “Rage rage against the dying of the light! Do not go gently unto that sweet goodnight.” (Dylan Thomas).
Do not betray yourself. Do not lose heart! Realize that for all the fantastic comforts of modernity that we are so privileged to experience, there is nothing within that that compares to true love and comfort of spirit. Remember always that we are spiritual creatures endowed with an undying soul. This is our spiritual birthright, and cannot be abrogated, compromised or sacrificed at any cost!
We live in an age where so-called reputable media outlets broadcast programs that portray demonstrable falsehoods as scientific fact, all for the explicit purpose of convincing a scientifically naive and trusting public to reject ancient faith and belief in God. To those responsible I say, “Shame, and accept my challenge to debate the scientific basis of faith anywhere anytime with any scientific atheist.” Because my patients do not need your lies and propaganda. My patients need and deserve the hope and faith that God gives to us as His most important gift.
It is time for a new birth of faith in our culture, in our lives, and in our community. The work of the San Diego Diocesan Office of Social Ministry, along with so many other like-minded religious organizations across the country, is energetically promoting this vital message. It was my privilege and purpose to embrace and acknowledge this ministry’s work and to offer my deepest support and praise for their worthy and blessed mission.