Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles

Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor
Chapel of the Assumption
Tabor Retreat House of Saint Charles Center
October 15, 2016

Permanent Diaconate Retreat 2016
“When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”  Luke 12:11-12
We celebrate a feast today of a great reformer, St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582).   She was a reformer not because she lobbied against an all-male priesthood or because she wanted her sisters to be “empowered.”   After all, while St. Teresa lived, a woman sat on the throne of England (Mary Tudor 1516-1558), a woman governed France as regent for a while (Catherine de Medici 1519-1589), another was Queen of Scotland (Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1587), and women, sometimes called “mitered” abbesses, administered large and important abbeys.  No, her reform was of a different sort.   In her day the order to which she belonged was in need of reform because the members were straying from an evangelical lifestyle and a profound commitment to prayer.  In effect, they had lost their zeal and had become interested in the pursuit of this world rather than the world to come.   This reform, she thought, was God’s work, calling them to fulfil the Gospel mandates of our Lord.   Her reforms only came with great effort and after great suffering and, yes, even persecution. 
It is for this reason that I find the Gospel of today from St. Luke so appropriate.   Jesus warns His followers that in preaching His message they will be persecuted.   They are not to worry, however, because “the Holy Spirit will teach [them] at that moment what [they] are to say” (Luke 12:12).   St. Teresa understood this dynamic also.   She knew that when one was committed to the truth of Jesus Christ, there was no compromise possible, but the spirit of the world enjoys immensely the spirit of compromise and accommodation.   But this is not the Spirit to which our Lord refers.     The Spirit to which He refers is the Divine Spirit to which His followers must be absolutely faithful.   Otherwise, they risk being unforgiven (Luke 12:10).   Why?  Because the truth He is proclaiming is so essential as to be defining, and God thinks the truth is so important that He gives to His Church the Spirit to insure its integrity and permanence. 
We were reminded of what disdain the secular world holds the truths of the Christian faith this week when we read about leaked emails between leaders in a particular political campaign.   What I say now has nothing to do with politics or any endorsement but rather has to do with the flagrant condescension which secularists demonstrate towards Christians in general and Catholics in particular.   We were informed that these “secular progressives” were appalled at how many in the conservative moment had turned to Catholicism, i.e. Justices of the Supreme Court, members of think tanks, and social groups.    To what cause do these “progressives” attribute this embrace of Catholicism?   “They must be attracted,” wrote one, “to the systematic thought and the severely backwards gender relations” (WSJ, Non-Catholics for Church ‘Reform’, Friday, October 14, 2016).   Another progressive activist wrote that there needed to be a Catholic “spring” to “demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church” (ibidem).  
We live in a world where if you preach the truth about marriage or the dignity of the human person, this is considered bigotry.  The Church is viewed by some as a sort of “middle ages dictatorship.”   We can close our eyes to it or try to reach some accommodation with this “spirit of the age” but we do so at our own risk.   This progressive secularism makes a pretense of tolerance which only masks its pursuit of power and ambition to neutralize any opposition and marginalize any voice contrary to its own.    In the words of a well-known Cardinal, “Satan is a bloody tyrant” (Raymond Cardinal Burke, Hope for the World, Ignatius Press, 2016, p. 48).  So what do we do? 
We do what our Lord asked us to do.   We hold fast to the truth and, yes, prepare to suffer the consequences.    Let the famous admonition of St. Teresa be our final word:   “Let nothing disturb you/ Nothing dismay you/ All things are passing/ God never changes.”