There is a billboard, outside one of our neighboring Protestant churches that says: “We need to talk – God”. Might this be the message God has for American Catholics? We seem to have forgotten that we are called to be different from the rest of Christians. Our faith is meaningless if we are the same as the rest of Christian churches. We might as well shut down the Church if we aren’t going to be different from the rest of Society.
There are those who say we’re behind the times. They claim the Church must change with the times. That is wrong. We are not called to change with the times but to change our times. We are supposed to be the light in the darkness drawing people to Christ. We are supposed to be the presence of Christ in the world today, not just like the rest of the world.
We are called to take up our cross, to sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. We are called to surrender on a daily basis. It is supposed to be about what God wants, not what we or Modern Society wants. We are called to be like children, a people of humility.
It is definitely a challenge impossible to do this on our own. We need God’s help. But we are a sacramental people. If we are open to the sacraments God pours a torrent of graces upon us. We receive the grace to become more like Jesus, more loving, forgiving, obedient and humble. Every time we receive Communion we should become a little more like Jesus.
Jesus taught that the way to heaven was narrow. It was not along the most popular route. One doesn’t get there by following the rest of society. Do we really understand that? Do we really want that or do we prefer to be like the rest of society?
We’ve been given the gift of the Church to guide us. Its teachings and doctrines are intended to help us follow the narrow road to heaven. Do we really comprehend how vitally important this is? Why then are so many people claiming to be Catholics yet contradicting the Church’s teachings?
Many people point to Jesus mercy and claim that the Church should be more merciful and therefore more open to Modern Society. You may recall his failure to condemn the woman caught in adultery. However, His last words to her were “go and sin no more”. He never condoned her sin. He didn’t say she should continue in her sin. He said to “go and sin no more”.
Jesus always forgave those who came to Him in sincere repentance but a desire to change was important. He was harshest with the Pharisees precisely because they failed to see their need to change. Everyone else was supposed to change.
We need to remember both Jesus’ call for mercy and for repentance. All of us have sinned. All of us need to repent. All of us need God’s mercy. All of us need to be merciful.
At the same time we need to stand behind the teachings of our Church if we are going to claim to be Catholic. Otherwise we confuse people especially youth about what the Church teaches. It is frustrating to listen to public figures who claim to be Catholic but take Protestant positions on various issues. They want the Church to change.
We need to remember who we are called to be. As a Church we are called to defend the truth. As Catholics we are called to defend our faith, not attack it. We are called to trust that the Holy Spirit is leading our Church. We are called to live by God’s values not the world’s.
I wonder if American Catholics realize how privileged this generation of American Catholics are. We alone of all the Catholics in the history of this country have the opportunity to stand with the heroes of our faith, people like St. Thomas More, St Thomas Becket and St Margaret Clitherow, all Englishmen who stood up for their faith against the persecution of tyrants. We can stand with the Apostles and early martyrs. We can stand with those in Spain who were persecuted by the Moors and later the Socialist government of the 1930’s. We can join with the Catholic heroes of Japan who kept the Church alive underground through 2 centuries of persecution. We can stand with those in Vietnam and Korea oppressed by first their emperors and later the Communists. We can join the priests in Revolutionary France who refused to renounce the papacy and the Mexican priests executed during the 20’s.We have the opportunity to join with the members of the Underground Church in China today who stand for the true faith.
We are challenged today to decide who we really are. Are we Catholics in name only, Catholic because our parents had us baptized or are we Catholic because we really believe in the mystery and power of our faith? Do we understand the gift our parents gave us especially the power and privilege of receiving the Eucharist? Do we understand we can’t make it in today’s world without receiving Jesus in Communion? Do we know what a treasure we have?
Do we know how awesome our faith is? For two thousand years we have stayed true to the faith despite persecution and political pressure. Individuals have broken but the Church has stayed true to the mission given her by Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel and lead people to heaven. Always, always despite persecution, political correctness and pressure by politicians there have been Catholics willing to say no, to lay down their lives rather than compromise their faith. Unlike other religions which seem to change with the times we’ve stayed true to the teachings of Christ. Our liturgy may have evolved, fasts may have changed but the core of our faith, our understanding of the Commandments and Christ’s teachings have remained true. We should be proud of our faith and angry over our government’s attempt to change it, to force Catholics to go against it.
As we say in the Creed, we “believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church”. We are called to be a holy people, set apart, living by God’s standards and not the World’s or the president’s. We are a people called to sacrifice, to follow the “narrow road”. Too many people have forgotten that and fallen for Satan’s lies. No issue has been more divisive in the Church than the issue of artificial birth control. Too often our viewpoint has been shaped by those with something to gain, who distort the truth for profit or political gain.
What would we see if we looked at the issue from God’s perspective? Would we see the 600 percent increase in breast cancer since the Pill became popular? Would we see the danger of thrombosis, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, strokes and deaths attributed to the Pill? Would we see the millions of girls hurt and abandoned because they were conned into having sex before they were mature enough to make the right decision? Would we see the emotional damage caused by an anything goes lifestyle? Would we see the millions of marriages destroyed because one partner was too emotionally damaged to fulfill a permanent commitment to their partner? Would we see the extent of adultery made possible by the Pill? Would we see the decline in morals destroying our society? Would we see all the pain caused by the promotion of an immoral lifestyle? Would we not want to protect people from the pain?
Would we see the benefits of natural family planning where couples work together and practice discipline? Would we see marriages strengthened rather than weakened by the need to work together? Would we see families growing in their commitment to their faith and to each other? Would we see people growing in holiness?
We should be grateful to belong to a Church that believes us capable of greatness with God’s help, that sees our potential for true love rather than lust that believes us to be capable of controlling ourselves, that recognizes the strength of our character and calls us to follow Christ through the “narrow gate”. We should be proud to belong to a Church that has the courage to stand up for truth, no matter how unpopular it may be to do so.
We have the opportunity to share in a small way with the sufferings of millions of Catholics who gave their lives for the faith, who found our faith worth dying for. We have the chance to stand with them with St. Thomas More, Thomas Hemerford, Robert Ludlam, Edward Waterford, Margaret Clitherow and the other Englishmen who died for their faith. Or you can stand with the President, Henry VIII and Cardinal Woolsey who betrayed the Church. What do you choose?
I think it was the old Mission Impossible series of the Sixties that began each show with “your mission, should you choose to accept it…” We too as Christians have been given a mission, a rescue mission.
All around us people are lost and dying spiritually, headed for hell. We are called to rescue them. We have to reach out to those around us who are suffering?
You might be thinking I don’t know how to. I’m afraid. I don’t know what to say. People will think I’m weird. I’m too young. I’m too old. Moses and Jeremiah had similar excuses for saying no but God didn’t accept them. Instead He sent them out with a promise that He would be with them.
Our focus shouldn’t be on who we are, on our weaknesses but on who God is and on His strengths. We need to trust Him to supply what we need when we need it. We need to open ourselves to His power and allow Him to use us.
We need to open ourselves to His love in the Eucharist and allow Him to change us. We need to focus on His love for us so that we may experience peace in any situation. We can put up with anything if we know we are loved immensely by God and that He is with us. We can ask for His grace to help us love those who seem unlovable. We can remember that the obnoxious person in front of us is someone for whom Jesus gave His life.
Our job today is to go out into the world and bring the love of Jesus. We are to love those with whom we come into contact with one person at a time. That might mean something as simple as greeting them with a smile. It could be listening to their problems. It could mean being silent as they ridicule us and forgiving them in our hearts. It sounds difficult but our model is Jesus, who loved even those who scourged Him, ridiculed Him and even those who drove the nails.
Our job or mission is to love one person at a time doing whatever is necessary. We may think greeting someone with love to be a little thing but we don’t know the impact of such a greeting may have on the other person. It may be that person was having a bad day up to that point. Your greeting lightened their mood and they were nice to the next person they encountered who was nice…. There is a ripple effect as the little bit of love we share was passed on to countless people.
The same could be true of negative reactions or harsh words. These too could be passed person to person way beyond our understanding. This is a scary thought to a former teacher when you realize how far one negative thing said in a classroom could spread.
With God’s help we can do better at bringing His love to the world. We need to feed ourselves, fill ourselves with His love as often as possible so that we can bring His love to the world. His love is the best sermon we could ever preach. It is His love not our words that will draw people.
We need to focus on our mission, to be aware that we have a mission and ask God daily for the grace to carry it out. Ask Him to help us respond to every situation with love. Ask Him to guide us and show us how to respond. Ask Him to bring you into contact with people who need God’s love. Ask Him to give you any words that might be needed.
I know many people upset with the election results and all the radical changes taking place in America. There is a sense of powerlessness. We desperately need to do something to save America but what? What does God say?
Two verses from the book of Revelation seem to be speaking to the American Church
Revelation 2: 4 really challenges us. “Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first”. Even more thought provoking was Revelation 3:16; “So, then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
Haven’t we lost the love of Jesus that we should have? Isn’t the problem the fact that we have been lukewarm? We are supposed to be on fire for the Lord. He is supposed to be the center of our lives. We are supposed to point to the Lord at every opportunity. Have we?
Today our Church is challenged. Society and the government want us to be a people, who go through the motions, go to mass on Sunday if we want but keep our mouths shut about the sinfulness in this society. We are expected to go along with laws that contradict our faith. As far as the world is concerned our faith should be restricted to an hour on Sundays.
Yet the Bible reveals that our faith and love for Christ must be the driving force of our lives. Everything we do should be rooted in our love for God. We are called to be a light in the darkness, an agent of love and change in society, changing or at least challenging society to be better rather than surrendering to society.
The book of Revelation tells us that we are involved in a spiritual battle, not a political battle. Our enemy is more than the politicians and activists. We are challenged to stand up and fight. We are fighting for the souls of those around us and the soul of America. Prayer and the Sacraments must be our weapons. We need to pray as we have never prayed before, for our family, friends, our country and our Church.
Is not our country in such a sorry state because we have been lukewarm? We have failed to bring Christ’s love to the rest of society. We have not been on fire. We’ve been more concerned with winning votes than souls. We have not been praying like never before.
Yet the only thing that can save America is prayer and Adoration. We possess such powerful weapons in The Eucharist and Rosary yet we use them so rarely.
We desperately need to pray for the conversion of our nation especially the lukewarm and fallen away Catholics. We need to pray seriously, passionately every day for the salvation of souls. Every day more and more lost souls are dying. How can we do nothing?
Don’t wait. Start now! Say the rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, whatever prayers you choose for the conversion of those you know and our country. This is what we are called to do.
It can’t wait! People are dying today. Our society is spinning out of control morally. Politics isn’t the answer. God and prayer are.
We belong to a faith that over the course of the past two millennium hundreds of thousands if not millions of people have given their lives for. These martyrs believed that their faith was worth dying for yet this generation of Catholics seems to have abandoned their faith. With the exceptions of Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter, we’re lucky if 40% of American Catholics attend mass. In Europe it is far worse. In France less than 5% attend Sunday mass.
This raises the question. What are we missing? We have the same faith that St. Stephen, St. Peter, St. Andrew and St. James died for. This is the same faith that St. Thomas More and the martyrs of England died for. Century after century Catholics have given up their lives rather than abandon their faith, wealthy and educated Catholics as well as the poor, all classes of people, all ranks of society, all levels of education even high ranking politicians. Yet this generation seems to have abandoned their faith for the sake of convenience. We have to ask ourselves what it is that we are missing that the martyrs knew. What was it that made them willing to give up their lives rather than give up their faith? What would make them risk execution rather than miss the opportunity to go to mass?
Could it be that we don’t really understand our faith? Have we missed the fact that our faith is about a relationship with the God of Infinite Love, who loved us so much, wanted a relationship with us so badly He came to earth as a baby, being born in a smelly drafty stable. It is about a God who loves us so passionately He came to earth to live in poverty in a backwater province long before the invention of air conditioning, central heating and indoor plumbing. He chose to live in Palestine knowing He would be rejected and executed on the cross, the most painful form of execution ever invented.
He came knowing that most of us would reject His love and prefer the lies of the modern world. He chose to die for us despite the fact that He knew every vile, selfish sin we would ever commit. Do we really understand how much He loves us?
Do we understand that He came to earth so that we might have life and have it abundantly that He desperately wants to bless us, wants us to be happy and knows what we really need to be happy. Do we comprehend the God who wants a better life for us than the world offers, better than we can ever imagine and gave us the Commandments to protect us from the pain and bitterness caused by sin? Do we realize He knew how much we would be hurt if we followed the world and that He longs to heal and restore us? Do we really believe that He ardently wants to forgive our sins and set us free from all that holds us down?
Our God knows what we feel when we suffer pain or feel afraid because He suffered and was afraid too in the Garden and on the road to Calvary. Our God understands what it is like to feel a failure and rejected. He knows what it is like to be exhausted, too feel overwhelmed. He knows what it is like to lose someone He loved and He knows what it is like to weep. Our God understands from a human perspective all that we go through. He longs to be there for us, to share our pain. He longs for us to come to Him with our burdens and pain. He wants it all.
Jesus loved us so much He could not bear to leave us alone. He created the Church and the Sacraments just so He could be there for us. He waits for us day after day in the Tabernacle yearning to spend time with us, to bless us if only we’d open our hearts to Him. He created the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we would know all is not lost if we fall but that we could always come back to Him and He would forgive us no matter how far we fell. He longs to guide us, to protect us and lead us to heaven.
He fervently longs for us to come home to Him and His Church.
I challenge you to take another look at your faith. It is a faith that millions through the ages have found worth dying for. Ask yourself what have I missed, what they knew that they were willing to give up everything.
Open your hearts to the greatest love you can ever imagine. Come back to the God who loves you so passionately He gave you everything even Himself in Communion.
This was originally published on Catholic Lane.
We need to reconsider the prayer of Jesus in the Garden, “yet not my will, but yours be done”. Knowing everything that was going to happen, all the pain and suffering He would endure He prayed thy will be done. Shouldn’t that be our prayer too?
Jesus was rejected because He was not the Messiah they wanted. The people wanted a military leader who would free them from Rome. Even the Apostles misunderstood Him, expecting positions of power. The Pharisees felt they knew better and saw Jesus as a threat to their power and prestige.
Right now Pope Francis is in the Garden praying the same prayer as Jesus, thy will be done, not mine. Soon he will enter his passion. He will not be the pope that many people want. He can not be and do the will of the Father. He can not ok abortion, contraception or gay marriage among other things. He has to do the will of God just like Jesus. He too will be attacked. He may not be physically crucified but he will be scourged emotionally and attacked for trying to carry out the will of the Father.
We need to consider where we fit in the gospel story. Are we like the Pharisees who rejected Jesus because they knew better than He did and His success would threaten their position? Do we think we know better than the Pope and the Church? Do we consider the Church hopelessly old fashioned and irrelevant?
Are we like the Apostles who abandoned Jesus? Are we silent rather than speak out on unpopular positions? Do we prefer not to be noticed? Are we afraid like Peter of what people will think or do? Do we deny the teachings of the Church?
Are we like Judas? Do we betray our faith for personal gain, political advancement or popularity? Have we rejected the teachings of the Church because they interfere with our career or income? Do we only support the Church when it is profitable or painless?
Where do we stand?
It is the role of the Pope and the Church to help us get to heaven. This is what it is all about, leading people to Christ, getting us to heaven.