Fr. William Elder of the Archdiocese of New York gave the following homily in St. James Church in Medjugorje on October 21, 2010:
Welcome to Medjugorje. My name is Father William Elder and I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. I have been here, I may have lost count, but over 30 times. And permit me, I just want to savor this moment. It has been about a year and a half since I have been here last. It is so good to be back. I feel, in so many ways, that this is home. In so many ways, this is Our Lady’s intentions, and in so many ways, we experience ourselves here as a family. Now, you don’t know me. Your have just learned my name, that is about it. A good number of you know me because I have heard your confessions, but other than that, we don’t know each other. But yet, there is this tremendous grace, there is the tremendous presence, and it is Our Lady which makes us all one family.
I have to say, on a serious note, as an American priest, speaking for myself, as an American, and for you Irish and for the pilgrims from Canada and elsewhere, we not only share this grace, we share a burden, and we share a sorrow. It has been going on now for a many number of years, and it is very much connected with our celebration today of priests, and you know what it is. Those of you from Ireland have experienced more recently what we in the United States have been going through – this terrible scandal. And, the result of that has been a loss of faith on the part of some. And, the result of that has been, as you and I know, it seems like it is a field day when it comes to attacking the priesthood itself. That is what is under attack, and you and I today need to pray for priests.
What are priests about? Priests carry out what Our Blessed Mother said when She first appeared here. Very early on, the Blessed Mother said very simply, and I have repeated this so many times here and elsewhere in homilies about Medjugorje: “I have come to tell you that God exists.”
Why are there so many attacks on the priesthood, beyond what is justified? Obviously there is a lot of justification, and there is a lot of repentance that needs to take place, but there have been attacks beyond that. Why? Because, the priests proclaim, as the Blessed Mother has, “I have come to tell you that God exists.” The priest, in all his frailty, in all his humanity, is our key to Christ and to God. So, we have all these attacks on priests and others.
One of the reasons our Blessed Mother calls us to Medjugorje is that we need to remember God exists. God is alive. God calls us and God chooses us. Every one of us is called to proclaim that God exists. In a particular way, priest and others are called to proclaim in a very public way that God exists. I brought with me, to this Mass, two visual aides. They don’t want me to talk about them, but I am going to mention a little bit about them. I won’t even mention their names. They are two members of the Community of the Sisters of Life, a religious community founded by John Cardinal O’Connor in the Archdiocese of New York nineteen years ago. They were founded to proclaim the Gospel of Life. The Gospel that proclaims every human life has infinite value to Our Lord. They spend their lives in prayer, in penance, in fasting, and in working to build up life in many different ways. They are here to proclaim publicly that God exists. Why would a young woman choose to give up a life in the world to live a very disciplined life, to spend her life in a very quiet way, usually hidden, a life of self-sacrifice, a life of giving? Why? Because God exists! Because she has experienced God in her own life. Why are all these priests and deacons here in the sanctuary? Because God exists!
We have all been touched by God’s love, and we proclaim to you, and Our Blessed Mother proclaims to you, and you yourselves are called to proclaim that God is not some remote entity. God is very near to us, in our hearts. Christ is very near to us. So we come here to Medjugorje to experience, not just the fact of God’s existence, but to experience something of Who He is. The Incarnate Son of God proclaims, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing. There is a baptism which I must be baptized, and how great is My anguish until it is accomplished.” Those are the words of the Incarnate Son of God. He came to be close to us. He wants to set us on fire. That is why we are here, to receive the grace of God’s forgiveness. It is such a privilege for me and all the priests to hear the confessions of the pilgrims. We priests know, this is where the power is. This is where the fire is. This is where God sets our hearts on fire. The Lord Jesus Christ came to give His life for us, so great is God’s love. The Holy Spirit is the fire of God’s love. That is our God and He calls us to let Him come close to us. So He can set our hearts on fire with His love.
Here in Medjugorje, Our Blessed Mother asks us to open our hearts so God can give us the riches of His gifts: the gift of His forgiveness and healing, the gift of new life. God calls us to open our hearts, through prayer, fasting, and the Rosary, and let God come and gift us with the fullness of His riches. Then He calls all of us to proclaim that God exists! – Fr. William Elder
From Medjugorje.com: To some, the idea of proclaiming that God exists is a sweet one. However, according to Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje, it is something that should be a change of mentality and a belief that spurs us to action. A Friend of Medjugorje wrote in Look What Happened While You Were Sleeping the following, which is true not only for office holders and people of the United States, but for every person in every nation:
Many office holders today publicly profess belief in Christianity, but their actions are atheistic, thereby proving what they truly profess in their heart. In essence, an atheist would not have a proper conscience to be credible in upholding the oaths, testimonies, decisions, and judgements rendered. This shows us that no one needs to be sensitive to an atheist’s belief or accommodate them on a level constitutional playing field. This statement of not accommodating atheists on a “level constitutional playing field” may stun many mentalities. If it does, you must change your mentality, adapting back to the old mentalities that guided this nation right up to a few decades ago. God is God. He exists, and for a professed atheist to believe that He does not exist, does not cause God’s existence to cease. So who do we honor? The atheist or God? Who do we respect? The atheist’s belief that God doesn’t exist or those who believe He does exist? Both cannot be accommodated equally. One will offend; one will be offended. It is one way or the other. So whose way is to win out? Throughout the last decades, it has been the atheist’s mentality. However, it is time to make all things right. An atheist does not have an equal right to prevail in his views or to be accommodated in law. He has the right to excuse himself, nothing more. The Christian attitude toward the atheist or non-believer is to be one of love and respect. The atheist has a free will to choose not to believe. He does not have a right to impose his belief and mentality into our laws or institutions.
On the other hand, as a Christian nation, we have a right to impose Christian principles into our laws and institutions and to expect behavior based on them. It is to the advantage of the atheist, pagan, Christian and those of all other faiths to be governed in all of society by the “principles of Christianity.” It is to the disadvantage of atheists, pagans, Christians, and those of other faiths to be governed in all society by atheistic and pagan beliefs. There is no need for studies and research to examine this truth. In former times, all abided by Christian principles, even those who did not believe or practice a belief, and society was generally safe, wholesome, and righteous. Now many abide by secular atheistic principles and society is unsafe, loathsome, and unrighteous. The situation is now rapidly digressing into a grave crisis for our nation, endangering our continuance.
Taken from the book Look What Happened While You Were Sleeping, by A Friend of Medjugorje, Chapter 8, The Silent Majority Has Been Silent Too Long