Ten years ago in July 2005, Canada legalized same-sex “marriage.” It took the United States ten years to catch up, but finally this past week, SCOTUS ruled in favour of same-sex “marriage.” We all know that the ruling in both Canada and the United States affects more than homosexual couples wishing to tie the knot. Their insistence that marriage laws and the definition of the family be changed to reflect their values has repercussions that continue to challenge those of us who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, ordained by God.
When same-sex “marriage” became legal in Canada, marriage commissioners who refused to preside at homosexual weddings were made to resign. A Knights of Columbus chapter in British Columbia was fined $2000 by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for refusing to rent their hall for a lesbian wedding reception. People have been fined for expressing their opposition of same-sex “marriage” in letters to the editor and have lost their businesses for refusing to provide services for same-sex weddings. Trinity Western University in British Columbia, a Christian university, is fighting a ruling upheld in several provinces that refuse to accredit their law school graduates. This is because students at Trinity Western are required to abstain from sexual intimacy “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” In Ontario, a new gay-friendly sex education curriculum is being introduced in all publicly funded schools despite massive protests from thousands of concerned citizens.
The United States is just beginning down the road of the destruction of the traditional family and Christian values. The story of the Christian couple in Oregon who lost their bakery and have been ordered not to talk publicly about their religious beliefs because they refused the request of a lesbian couple is just the latest incident. In total, twenty two countries recognize same-sex “marriage.”
The other day, as I was thinking about the increasing attacks on traditional family values and on religious freedom and freedom of speech, the hymn Faith of our Fathers came into my mind. I didn’t know anything about the history of the hymn or its author so I did some research.
Faith of our Fathers was written by Frederick William Faber, a theologian, poet, writer and priest who lived in Victorian England. The son of a Calvinist minister, he was born in Yorkshire, England on 28 June 1814. After serving two years as an ordained minister in the Church of England, he converted to the Roman Catholic Church. With John Henry Newman, he founded the Oratory in London. While Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman went on to establish the Birmingham Oratory, Father Faber remained in London. For his prodigious work, he was granted a Doctor of Divinity degree by Pope Pius IX.
He wrote about anti-Catholic sentiment and increasing secularism even among Catholics of his time. Of Christians abandoning their beliefs in favour of the secular attitude of the day, he wrote that God was “an inconvenience in His own world, an impertinence in His own creation. So He has been quietly set on the side as if He were an idol out of fashion, and in the way. Men of science and politicians have agreed on this and men of business and wealth think it altogether the most decent thing to be silent about God; for it is difficult to speak of Him or have a view of Him without allowing too much of Him.”
In The Creator and the Creature, Father Faber explained that the degeneration of morals and the spread of modern apostasy was “because mankind has forgotten that we are creatures in need of a Creator.” Mankind, he observed, had embraced the spirit of worldliness: “It is a false faith, a false religion. It does not recognize the right of the Creator, nor occupy itself with the duties of the creature. It begins with self and ends with self, and if compelled to lodge an appeal outside itself, it appeals to the judgments of human respect…. The creature forgets himself and makes himself the standard of truth.”
Father Faber wrote 150 hymns that expressed Catholic beliefs, practices, and history. His most famous hymn, Faith of Our Fathers, was written as a remembrance of the suffering and martyrdom that Britain’s Catholics endured under King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
Father Faber could just as well have written about the state of the world today. I wonder if he would be surprised at how deeply the spirit of worldliness has attacked Christian beliefs. But we can never lose hope because we know that Truth triumphs over evil. And so we continue to humbly and charitably speak the Truth and uphold and defend Christian beliefs. We are the Church Militant.
We must have the kind of faith immortalized in Father Faber’s hymn. We must have faith that is uncompromising, honours the blood of the martyrs who have gone before us, and is willing to say, in utmost charity: No. We will not comply. We will not deny Truth. We will lay down our lives for God and Holy Mother Church.
Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free:
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
The original third stanza reflected Faber’s hope that England would once again be a Catholic country. It was omitted by Faber’s publisher so that the hymn would be acceptable to Protestant denominations.
Faith of our fathers! Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to thee;
And from the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.
Illustration: Detail of Blessed is the Host of the King of Heaven (alternatively known as Church Militant). Russian icon, ca. 1550 – 1560. Tretyakov Gallery. This icon is traditionally perceived as an allegorical representation of the conquest of the Kazan khanate. In the public domain. Wikimedia.org