The Catholic Church today is responding to a culture of anti-faith, according to visiting Guam priest Rev. Fr. Francis Michael Walsh, who said today’s modern world has resulted in both bad and good consequences.
“The bad consequences include the fact that the task of the church to preach the Gospel has gotten harder,” Walsh told dozens of youth parishioners on Monday at Mt. Carmel Cathedral as a part of the annual Come Back to Life activities of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.
The world is up against a popular culture that is shaping in very subtle, but powerful ways, how people both think and act, he said.
“The values that shape their lives more and more come from the materialism that surrounds us in the culture and the most insidious thing is that they do not realize what is happening,” he said.
Walsh said that too many families do not realize the responsibility of passing faith to their children. “They think that if they send their children to CCD that they are doing all that is necessary.”
Walsh’s one-hour-and-a-half speech also covered “the emergency room principle” which he explained is the concept that God works on the “worst cases” first. He said that if people want to be at the head of the “mercy line, they have to think well of everybody else.”
“Otherwise, what you are saying is that others are worse than you. In which case, you lose your place in the mercy line.”
One Kristo Rai parishioner, Eloise Lopez, took Walsh’s message to heart. “I agree with everything he said. His message was moving and I just hope that a lot of the other young people take what he said to heart.”
San Roque perishioner Kristine Avandaniel said that Walsh was “inspiring and I think more people need to think about what he said.” She added, “God always has other plans for us.”
John Benedicto, from Mt. Carmel Cathedral Parish, expressed the same sentiment. “I think it’s important to have more events like this. I think that the culture is changing in our community when it comes to religion and I plan to do something about this more as a follower of Christ because of tonight.”
Walsh’s address also invited the students to think about sexuality in the service of life, the structure of pleasure, faith, safe sex with consequences, and the culture of heterosexuality.
“Sexuality allows love to exist in the service of life. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
He also told students that having sex with someone to whom they are not committed in marriage and who is not committed to them means that the experience is separated from the experience of commitment.
He said that when people do this, the end result is selfish pleasure seeking, instead of fostering the unity of marriage.
He encouraged the youth to seek the Gospel as it brings good news that changes the horizons of their life. “Where there was no hope, light was shown.”
Fr. Ryan Jimenez, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, said the community is blessed to have Walsh on island. Walsh also spoke at last week’s Sunday Mass and participated in confession services later on Thursday night.