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Sermons and Conferences


First Meditation S2
Questions and Answers

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

MP3 Disc 2 Received from Breslin

These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
traveled and taped Fr. Hardon from 1990 to 1995

Transcriber’s note: This is a conference to the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.

That’s a lie. Children make moral judgements even before they reach what we call the age of reason as mothers tell me. Because the parents asked me to and the children wanted to I’ve heard the confessions of four- year olders. Now, by the time they reach adolescence it is too late. Too late.

How are we to explain to people that pornography is sinful and evil?

Well, you could tell them it’s forbidden by God because, as Christ tells us, we are forbidden not only to commit sins against chastity externally, but even internally.
However, we have so far seen…by the way, our next conference is on consecrated poverty.
So there is the fifth commandment and there is the sixth commandment…sixth and ninth. Those two commandments are related as cause and effect. In other words, un-chastity induces cruelty. Remember when we said that the root of chastity is charity. And given the limitations of our time, we could say much more how chastity is at root the virtue of charity. As the person becomes unchaste, and pornography induces sexual thoughts, sexual desires, and sinful, sexual actions, stimulates the sexual passions. The more unchaste a person becomes, the more cruel that person becomes. I didn’t learn that last night.
Now there are so many ways of masking cruelty. But, I repeat, un-chastity leads to cruelty.
How can we prove to people that pornography is bad? It is pornography that produces a homicidal society. In other words, these two commandments lead to this one. Unless we observe chastity we will not respect the rights of others.
Did I tell you about Father John Rooke? No? He was from Poland, a Jesuit. And during our years of studies in Rome, after ordination, he wanted to learn English and improve his use of English. So we’d walk the streets of Rome. Well…learning English. For four and half years he was a prisoner in Dachau as a Jesuit scholastic. As far as he knew, he was the longest survivor of Dachau. And the reason was, because he could speak other languages, so the Nazis used him. Cruelty. His job was wheeling the wheelbarrows of the people who were killed in the gas chambers and then he would have three, four, or five bodies on a wheelbarrow and then take them over to the furnace to be burnt. Before they were burnt, the scalps, especially of the women, were to be torn off. The hair was used for mattresses. Cruelty. Indescribable. And he said, “they fed us very little, many died of starvation. So far into the night…we couldn’t sleep for hunger…we would talk: ‘What is it…what is it…that makes these SS guards… and listen, men and women … SS guards be so cruel against innocent people.’ It took us several months to find out. Every single one of those SS guards was a sex pervert.”
In other words, you want to prove to somebody that pornography is bad; many other ways…but one way: A pornographic country becomes a homicidal country. There is just so much pleasure…this is what we say in psychology…there is just so much pleasure that sex can give…and then to get more pleasure you have to cause pain to another person. There is pleasure in sex perverts from causing pain.
Thanks for the question.

I believe you teach another danger is to be well educated or to be in an authority position. These people can also be materially and spiritually poor. Please elaborate.

Oh, indeed. The greatest danger to a country is for unbelievers to be in education. And the more educated they are, the more degrees they have, the more dangerous they are. Because, well, the person is educated. I’m a simple person so we believe them.
Two questions. How would you answer these two questions? Is every educated person intelligent? No. Not every educated person is intelligent. Is every intelligent person educated? No. And I’ve said this to many audiences. The Missionaries of Charity that I’ve known, and by now in various countries, I consider well above average in intelligence. And my job is dealing with intelligent people who are not educated. So what! You are better off! The number of ignoramuses who have got their degrees is beyond counting.
So, yes. And that means they too can be very poor spiritually and they need what you can give them.

What kind of offence to God is misuse of our free will when we don’t give it back to God?

Oh, that’s simple. That’s the definition of sin. Sin is not giving back to God the free will that he gave to us. That’s easy.

Can you explain?

Well, that’s why we have a free will. We have a mind. Then we have a will. The mind is to know what God wants and the will is to choose what our mind tells us God wants. That’s it. That simple.

So many of our people, even our own families, brothers and sisters, live unchaste lives and have been exposed, if not to pornography, at least, to suggestive literature, pictures, and so forth from a very young age. How can we help them to regain their senses when they are surrounded by bad example from priests, religious, and the laity?

Well, first, get them to pray. Of course, pray for them, which I’m sure you’re doing. Get these people to pray. Without prayer nothing else will happen. They must pray. Then, and of course we ourselves, to live, if necessary, heroically chaste lives to merit the grace they need. Then to encourage them to have friends who will strengthen their chastity, and not deprive them of their chastity. This is, maybe, an easy question to answer. It is, however, hard to solve, as you realize. But it must be done.
God cannot choose his will; it is true. But when we pray, sometimes we say that God can choose his will rather than our will. How it could be possible, sometimes, that God can say choose his will rather than our will?
Well, not sometimes…he always follows his will.
Then what good is prayer? Do we have to inform God what we need in prayer? No. Why pray? Because, God needs to know what we need now. He wants us to show how much we need his help to enlighten our mind and strengthen our wills. And Sisters, and this may be occasioned by people praying, “I’ve made so many perpetual novenas and our prayers are not answered.” Now maybe that should be a lesson. Maybe you’re not praying for what God wants. What we should pray for is what we need. And what do we need? What God wants. “But, I don’t like it.” My dear, that’s your problem.

Please, how it is with a preference in service to be materially and spiritually poor, materially rich and spiritually poor, materially poor and spiritually rich when we cannot serve everybody and we have to choose to whom we are able to go. What shall be the criterion for choosing?

Oh, that’s easy. Your superiors.
Some of these are hard questions. That’s an easy one!

May you tell us what the Church speaks or says about Maria Valtorta and about her book, “The Poem of the Man God”?

That book has been condemned by the Church. And the long, you know, introduction allegedly claiming that one of the popes approved it. Not so. That is not a safe book to read.
Why not?
And I’ve read the book. I didn’t read every word, but after you’ve read a couple hundred pages, you know what it’s all about. The Christ in “The Poem of the Man God”…the Christ is the Christ of Nestorius. Remember, Nestorius is the heretic who claimed that Jesus was two persons.
Oh, by the way, how many persons are there in Christ? How many? One. We’re making progress.
One passage after another Christ is there speaking or acting like a human person. No. Christ had a human nature, but he was not a human person. Maria Valtorta, that book or books are what we call “Nestorian Christology”. Fascinating reading. Very attractive reading. But, I answered the question.

Give how one should master their affections, how to grow in affective maturity, how to master one’s affections.

First of all, we have affections so we might use them. So, no problem having affections. But, as we know, because of our fallen human nature our affections are not under control by themselves. We have to control them. How to control them?
First, make an inventory. And if you wish, two columns: “People, I like.” “People, I dislike.” You don’t have to put it on paper. And, naturally, there are some people we like. Naturally, some people we just don’t like. It has nothing to do with love.
Can I love people I dislike? I better! That’s what St. Luke’s Gospel is all about; loving people that you don’t like. Now, know who are the people that people you naturally like. You’ll have no trouble mastering your affections regarding people you don’t like. The problem there will be to show them any affection. But people I like…can the people that I like be those that I am living with? Yes. Can they be people that are living a thousand miles away?
So how to master my affections? First of all, control your thoughts; sacrifice your thoughts about people that you like. “But, Father, are you telling me that I shouldn’t love?” No, no, no. You’re asking me how to control. I’m telling you how to control. So, and that can mean praying. There are some people we say so many prayers for…other people we never think of praying for. So control your thoughts, even in prayer. Secondly, to master our affections and begins in the mind. Ask myself in God’s presence, how I can be of spiritual benefit to the person, say, that I like. And it may be that the person whom I like can be in deep spiritual need. So then, I master my affections for the people that I like by asking what can I do for that person or those persons, which would be of spiritual benefit for them. Like what? Like praying for them. But maybe…. Oh, Sisters…you never guess….
Can we ever wish that a person have some, what we call, misfortune; some problem, some difficulty, some trial, sickness, or something like that? Is that all right? Yes. Maybe there’s someone I might like very much. I maybe should ask our Lord to send them, well, some trial. Maybe they need it. “Oh Father, what are you talking about?” I know what I’m talking about.
Then in a community: How to master my affections for my fellow religious? Well, see in the last week, ask yourselves: “With whom have I spent how much time?” It’s remarkable. Unless we examine our conscience, we won’t realize we are very choosy in whom we speak with. So, the best way, and this is year’s of experience, the best way to master affections is to sacrifice the manifestation of my affections. Let me repeat. The best way of mastering my affections is to sacrifice the manifestation of my affections. But if I love somebody very much, shouldn’t I show my affection? Well, yes and no. You’re asking how can I master my affections? So, not to talk to the person that I most in the community would want to talk to. “But, Father, it will kill me.” Well, if you die it will be in a good cause. And maybe, just a smile or manifestation of affection. Look, as Missionaries of Charity, you don’t have anything much to give, you see. Thanks for these varied pieces of paper. But, little notes, little “billy do’s”. We call them “billy do’s”. Little notes or just a holy card. Oh, how we treasure that holy card. And then it may be “with love” and then the name at the bottom. Am I making sense? I know of no better way to master our affections than to sacrifice our manifestation of affection. You see, affection, if it’s real is inside. Inside. And so many people love other people selfishly. Am I clear? Selfishly. It’s what the other person can give them. And they call it love.
What time do I…is it 10:00? What is it? My Jesuit Superiors never tell me that. I tell you what. We have Mass at eleven, don’t we? Now, what if we…nobody has dosed off&3133;so you’re wide awake. Do you have some scheduled prayers before Mass? What if…look I’m willing to do it…either at 10:30 or 10:45…we have at least fifteen or twenty minutes before Mass.

We meet so many people whose conscience is dead. They don’t know that an action can be sinful. How can we help them?

Well, what I’ve said before, I would say here. Get them to pray. Because nothing that we can do, nothing we can do for anyone, compares with what God can do for them. Get people to pray. They don’t like to pray. “Would you mind if I prayed with you?” At least they’re embarrassed over the telephone. I start praying. Then, at least, they mumble something. Get them to pray.
Secondly, you’ll find out, their conscience is dead, because they’re living in sin. And there’s nothing that so dulls the mind, the conscience, as sin. But I would say this. Do not practice a mistake in charity of thinking that because you are telling them that something is wrong, or correcting them, or reprimanding them, that you’re failing in charity. No! The correction of sinners is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Remember? And you’d better practice it. Tell them they’re doing wrong. Tell them how unhappy you are. Tell them you’re praying for them. And you want to, even, that you’re practicing some mortification for them.

Father, we are told that Jesus on earth had human and divine nature. If he has two wills, human and divine, did he use both of his wills during his life on earth?

Oh, yes. He used them both.

Can you give us an example?

Every time that Christ opened his mouth. Because his two natures were united, his divine will, shall I say, told his human will, “Now, you say so and so.” So he said so and so. But he worked miracles. Clearly he worked the miracles as God, but through his human will, who then as we know chose for whom he would work the miracles. Always.
Do the Missionaries of Charity get all the good Catholic women? If not, will you ask the Sisters to pray that Mary our Mother will spare one…
Oh. I began; I’d better finish it.
If not, would you ask the Sisters to pray that Mary, our mother will spare one good woman to lead Daniel to heaven?
You don’t mind that question, do you? Daniel…am I being recorded…does want to marry. Daniel is the man taking care of this machinery. And, oh, last summer I gave a retreat to women and one of the young women…she wants to marry…but she said, “Father, where can I find a good man?” So from the Retreat House we called up Daniel. That, Sisters, is an act of great charity. Would you pray? Daniel. Can’t lose!

If someone wants to receive Holy Communion in the hospital, can we give it or must we inform and ask the priest?

Well, we touched on this before. Sisters, the number of people who are not priests handling the Holy Eucharist is not good for the Priesthood. Of course, in a case of real need, an emergency, I would say yes, if you have the faculties to give Communion yourselves. But the priests need, oh how they need, to exercise their priesthood.

Which kind of argument would you use to persuade prisoners to take off bad pictures from their walls?

Well, first, two suggestions. Have some good pictures they can put on the wall. Does that make sense? Some good pictures. And not even necessarily holy pictures. Maybe you could do this in stages. First, a good picture…not pornography…and then maybe even a holy picture. But then, look, Sisters as women, you should cultivate the art of influencing people, especially men, to come closer to God. Tell them how pained you are. It makes a man feel. Tell them how pleased you would be. And now you have to get your superior’s permission, and I’m saying this out loud. You might have a little bag with you and then, “Would you mind if I borrowed this picture?” Have another one to replace it. And then, of course, forget to return it.

Our likeness to God is in our free will and reason. What about mentally sick people?

Well, I’m sure there are people who are totally, completely deranged mentally. I’ve never met one. No matter how mentally sick they are, they’ve got a free will. Five years I was Chaplain at a mental hospital; all supposedly mentally sick. The root of we call mental sickness, in my judgement, is mainly moral by their free will. They have a free will. And they’re open to being trained, educated. For years I helped out at a place for retarded girls; young girls, retarded. Got all kinds of ideas of what we call mental sickness. They have a free will.

How does one know when to defend oneself and when to just take an unjust accusation?

Here’s the norm that St. Ignatius gives: If somebody insults me or acts unjustly towards me, how much should I take? I can take…first of all, I must have the grace to take it. But secondly, one condition that my…it is not a sin…can be a sin…to not answer, say, an insult. Yes. Yes. Supposed I’m charged with something of which I’m innocent. I may be willing to accept the accusation in humility. It would be a sin for me not to defend myself. Am I clear? So the silence cannot be sinful. First condition. Secondly. It cannot be detrimental either to the person who insulted or harmed me or detrimental to my own apostolic work.
Over the years, I’ve had many accusations levelled against me. And many times I have had to defend myself because my work for the Church would suffer. Or the person would be harmed.

Do you believe that some pop music is satanic in origin?

I think most pop music is satanic in origin.

Can we recognize it?

Well, by now, as you know, it’s non-melodic noise. One of my definitions of pop music: Non-melodic noise.

How can we help young people who listen to this music all day and all night?

Provide…and this can be a wonderful apostolate…provide good, satisfying music. I don’t necessarily mean, the Adoro Te. But, good, secular music that will be satisfying. Yes.
And by the way, I made a study of this pop music. Most of it is satanic, and it comes mainly from polytheistic cultures where they have evil deities. In other words, it’s the kind of music they play in honour of their evil deities, which for us, of course, would be in honour of the devil. And it has a devastating influence on the human mind and the human will.

For legitimate separation, do the couple need permission from the Church?

Well, canonically, if the separation is permanent, yes. Of course, it has to be very grave cause, like for example, infidelity. But even if it’s a temporary separation, they should have, if not permission, at least the counsel of a balanced priest. For permanent separation, permission should come from the Bishop.

How can we explain to people who are not Catholic that contraception is wrong?

Three arguments against contraception for people who are not Catholic.
Number one: Contraception is bad for the body. It damages the woman’s body. Always, always. Always, always.
Secondly, the offspring, the children, are also damaged. We are talking about medical contraception effects the reproductive organs and affects the children.
Thirdly, there is nothing that divides the love of husband and wife more than contraception. They may both agree on it. But my favourite definition of contraception is: mutual masturbation. Each person is indulging in their own sex pleasure and using the other person to heighten that pleasure. But, and this is years in the priesthood, there is no way, no way, that a husband can trust his wife, even though they agree on the contraception…the husband can never really trust his wife that she will be faithful to him if she uses contraceptives. And same for the wife not trusting the husband.
All contraceptive societies in history, all of them, lead to abortion. All nations in the history of the world that practice abortion destroy themselves.
Contraception leads to abortion. That’s the fourth reason.
The third reason is contraception is the main reason for infidelity. Because once people are accustomed to use contraceptives, even in marriage…husband is working away, two, three weeks, or whatever, from his wife…they’re used to contraceptives. He can have sex relations and nothing happens, except that he’s been unfaithful. In other words to preserve marriage, contraception is hostile, fatal to the stability of marriage. Either they stop contraception or the marriage is in danger of not surviving.
Well, there are few more left. Sisters, you are very generous with your questions. Shall we go on?
This is our eighteenth conference, and it is on voluntary consecrated poverty. When God became man, he divinised, if we could use that verb, he divinised everything in human nature. The human race was no longer the same when God became man and entered the world. Mankind took on a super human dignity.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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