Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

In his best-selling book published over 20 years ago, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote of the importance of what he called the Character Ethic, which "is based on the fundamental idea that there are principles that govern human effectiveness — natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as 'unchanging' ... as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension."

To illustrate this point, he re-told this story published by Frank Koch in Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute:

"Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.

"Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, 'Light, bearing on the starboard bow.'

"'Is it steady or moving astern?' the captain called out.

"Lookout replied, 'Steady, captain,' which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.

"The captain then called to the signalman, 'Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.'

"Back came a signal, 'Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.'

"The captain said, 'Send: I'm a captain, change course 20 degrees.'

"'I'm a seaman second class,' came the reply. 'You had better change course 20 degrees.'

"By that time, the captain was furious. He spat out, 'Send: I'm a battleship. Change course 20 degrees.'

"Back came the flashing light, 'I'm a lighthouse.'

"We changed course."

In the course of our lives we encounter many people who throw their titles, power, prestige, influence and wealth at us demanding that we change course to suit their whims.

"We're The New York Times; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm a university professor; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm a federal judge; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm a state legislator; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm a member of Congress; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm the Attorney General; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm the Governor of Illinois; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm the Vice-President of the United States of America; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

"I'm the President of the United States of America; change course and accept same-sex marriage."

Our response: "The church is a lighthouse."

We cannot change course from the path set out for us by the Lord. We must remember that we became an integral part of this church at our baptism, when we were entrusted with the light of Christ to be kept burning brightly. We must remember that Jesus said, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). We must stay true to our principles and follow the beacon of Christ's light that will lead us to his kingdom.

May God give us this grace. Amen.