Beside the Holm Oak Tree

The Catholic Response to Dobbs Decision

Homily on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Fr. Seth Brown, Pastor

Mother of Dolors Catholic Church, Vandalia, IL

I had already written a homily.

But then The Dobbs Decision was released Friday. Roe vs. Wade was overturned.

On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A coincidence? Impossible.

The question of the legality (not morality) of abortion returns to the individual states. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of children will live each year.

The prayers and sacrifices of almost 50 years have suddenly yielded miraculous fruit. And we must celebrate and spend hours on our knees in thanksgiving to God.

But don’t think for a moment this ends.

The fight continues. We now have 50 fights instead of one. Especially in this state, where the priorities are abortion, pot, and gambling.

We are a pro-life parish. We work for the end abortion in this state. We care for all lives, born and preborn, young, old, and everyone in between, materially or spiritually poor, anxious, sick, imprisoned, confused, broken.

So many have, and continue to, suffer from the Sexual Revolution and the culture of death that dominates today: abortion, divorce, broken homes, abuse, meaninglessness, depression, grief.

We may feel powerless to change it. We may at times feel tired, or overwhelmed, or ask, “What’s the use?”

Friday gave us the answer. If we rely on God and all pull together, things can change for the good. And it can here too.

General Chesty Puller, considered the iconic Marine, tells the story of a soldier approaching him and saying, “Sir, we’ve found the enemy. He’s all around us. We’re surrounded.”

Puller responded, “Then we’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em. Now we can shoot in any direction.”

We are surrounded to be sure, surrounded by those who despise what we hold true, good, and beautiful. But the momentum is with us, sustained always by God’s grace.

We can shoot in any direction because everywhere is mission territory. We can repent, pray, worship, and do good.

We will NOT be ashamed of being Catholic. We will NOT apologize for any of the Church’s teachings, or worship, or devotions.

Instead, we’ll lean into them; Heaven knows, we might even enjoy them.

Living the Catholic faith brings joy—and humor and celebration and the flourishing of life. It is not a drudgery; it is the most beautiful thing in this world other than the presence of Christ Himself.

Hilaire Belloc writes, “Wherever the Catholic Sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino.”

Yes, Let us Bless the Lord, for if we live as his disciples, we will be blessed, even if the world disintegrates around us. The Culture of Life will effervesce and be caught be others. That’s how we went from 12 disciples to more than a billion.

It is our task to build up a robust, even if small, stronghold of Catholic culture here in Fayette County. We will provide a resilient, vibrant, life-giving alternative to the vacuity, the emptiness offered by everyone and anything else.


First, cultivate the interior life—in ourselves, in our parish, allowing the love of Christ to change us through prayer and worship.

Second, pastoral care, which simply means when you are with someone, ask, What is best for their soul? And then do that.

Third, care for the poor. Christ reminds, What you did to the least, you did to me.

If we live into those three necessities, we will be an even more vital oasis of God’s peace, radiant charity, and forgiveness.

People should encounter a parish like they would a flower in the desert—with surprise and wonder.

How did this beautiful thing get here? How does it survive?

It will intrigue them, and give them a real choice, because the center is not holding. The future is Catholic or it is Godless.

And we have a part to play in which it will be.

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