Jesus said to his disciples:“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,which a person finds and hides again,and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price,he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. (MT 13:44-52)
When the priest at the Mass I attended that week repeated this Gospel reading as a preface to his homily, he ended with a paraphrase "will be cast aside/off" and then skipped the last four lines above about the "fiery furnace."
Keeping with my personal opinion that the general Catholic population lacks a serious understanding of sin - that is connecting their behaviors with the Commandments and the Gospel - or ignores Catholic teachings about sin and penance, it was a huge mistake to not mention the "fiery furnace." The fiery furnace is real folks! Catholics could do with a lot less pandering of the faithful in this regard.
I think I understand where the typical middle-of-the-road, indirect manner of preaching comes from. First,
In his infinite goodness he desired the free love of humanity over forced obedience to his will. For love cannot be forced, it must be given by desire and choice. (http://www.saintaquinas.com/belief_in_God.html)
This notion is pervasive throughout Catholicism. In a question I asked Ask A Priest about why the Catholic Church only required confession once-a-year, here was his response:
[Your "Ask a Priest" Question has been answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC. God bless, RC Spirituality Center]
Dear Dan, The requirement for once-a-year confession and communion is a minimum standard. The ideal, as you mentioned, is for frequent confession and frequent communion. But it’s one thing to hold out an ideal, and another to require it.
Put another way, the Church isn’t contradicting itself by recommending frequent confession and communion on one hand, but only legislating their reception once a year on the other. The Church in effect is leaving room for the faithful to voluntarily choose to make frequent use of the sacraments. Things done voluntarily are usually done with more genuine piety (not always, but often enough). I pray that you make frequent use of these great sacraments. God bless.
You might ask, can't you be more direct without scaring them off? I think so, but, here's the real concern I think behind this soft-peddling of the faith: pastors are concerned about parishioners leaving the parish. This is a very real concern. For so long what I would call a indirect, middle-of-the-road, soft-peddling of the faith approach has been taken. Suddenly or even if it was done over a period of time (with a warning) a more direct, calling-a-sin-a-sin (especially sins of the flesh) homiletic approach is taken. People will leave in droves! But I think eventually people will come back - in droves! We have Jesus ministerial approach to leverage.
There are two types of men, those who are afraid to lose God, and those who are afraid that they might find Him… --Blaise Pascal, philosopher and scientist