It was a priest friend of mine who once said. “Get off your ass and fight it!” I’m taking that advice today and trying to apply it for the tomorrows.
I took a summer break from “The Holy Ruckus” and when we were set to return to posting content we found the Church in a state of hurt.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about it is time to roll away the stone! Here’s what’s been happening in the Church since we’ve been gone.
Jesus Christ still reigns
The gates of Hell shall never prevail against the Church
Pope Francis says things that confuse the faithful (or doesn’t say things).
The Church, especially in America, is hit by huge sex abuse scandal... again.
Church Millitant and Lifesite News have become the worldwide leader in “we told ya so” content.
People want my priest friends to get married when they are already married to the Church
Fr. James Martin is still public enemy #1 to right-wing Catholics.
There is a thing called “right-wing Catholics”
We have sinful clergy.
I went to confession yesterday…Again.
I’m sure I missed something. Regardless, it’s been a confusing, heartbreaking time as a lay Catholic who also happens to work for the Catholic Church. I acknowledge that the Church needs purification and justice needs to be sought for the harm done.
More than ever, I’m asking myself now, why am I still Catholic? Should I stay or should I go? (Cue the song)
I want to shout out trust no one! Yet, Christ still calls me on the carpet and says “will you leave too?” Within that I recall the phrase “The gates of hell shall never prevail” (Matt 16:18).
But what do you do when the boat’s crew and its biggest servants might be pirates? What do you do when you lose trust and even consider jumping off the boat entirely?
My answer? I am still forming it. I am still being formed. But I definitely believe God wants me to grow in Virtue. Virtue is defined as a “habit oriented towards God and Others.” A habit doesn’t happen overnight so bear with me as I try to respond as a layman to the Church’s abuse crisis and clergy cover-up with an exercise of virtue.
In that vein I made a list (yay!) of things that help me maintain HOPE for the Church!
1.) This thing called HOPE “The theological virtue by which we desire and expect from God both eternal life and the grace we need to attain it (ccc. 1817).”
In other words, hope is trusting in God to provide and trusting in His promise of Salvation. AND trusting that the Church is that boat that will lead us to Himself.
I trust that Christ laid down his life, knowing the scary reality that the root of the scandal would be self-inflicted and that these men would be frail human beings. Just. Like. Me. I trust that when I fall, I can get back up because Christ showed me. I trust that when tempted I can beat it, because Christ showed me and the Holy Spirit is within me.
I rest in Hope that we are all made “Very Good” not because I say so but because God says so (Genesis 1:31)
With that I accept the challenge to learn to look at each person new, not just by their faults and short comings.
We should all cling to hope, that God will right these wrongs but that He also will call us to “Repair My House. Go, rebuild My Church.” It’s on us too!
2.) LOVE “To will the Good of the Other” This would mean to make love a decision and to uphold that love no matter the circumstance, unconditionally. Why? Because we love because God loved us first!
What I choose to do is love my Church and lay myself down for her in the capacity God has called me to do so.
My domestic Church (My home life): I’m Called (by God) to sacrifice for my home. To serve my family, scrub toilets, not eat the last piece of chicken pot pie, spend time with the kids and give the wife a break even if it’s on football Sunday (especially when my squad is playing). That’s love even when I don’t feel like it. That is what is owed to my family that comes from God.
My Parish Home: I’m called to love my parish family. I’m called to fast and pray for this home. Pray for my Pastor (especially when He and I are at odds), staff and parochial school. I’m called to listen to many in this circle who are hurt. I’m called to stay abreast to what is going on with the Church and to not excuse myself from being a solution but also not be an accomplice to accuse others either (Matt 7:3).
Simple acts of love can combat the evil we face daily. I believe it’s the church that promotes St. Therese of Liseux’s “the little way.” I believe it’s this Church of Christ that seeks to make “ordinary life something extraordinary” the holiness achieved through daily tasks.
One of my favorite quotes on this “little way” of holiness is actually by a fictional character…In this quote, Gandalf the Wizard (good guy) is explaining why choose an unassuming ordinary person to combat evil. Why trust it to a “lesser” one.
Many believe “It is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
Bam! What’s better? Even saints can back this up.
After all, St. Mother Teresa loved the people of God regardless of creed or religion by these “small acts.” She even say’s “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
3.) The Virtue of FAITH needs to be replenished constantly, feeding the flame not just when we are in darkness. “Both a gift from God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence (loyalty) to God.”
How do I keep this virtue alive? By speaking to God Himself. Through daily prayer and encounters with Him who is Love and the subject of our faith. The cornerstone. Easier said than done. If it still sounds hard to love this church made up of sinners, it’s because it is absolutely a hard challenge. Nevertheless, a challenge worth accepting.
That’s how I believe we will make a “Ruckus” not a sick gross mess but something of a Pentecost, a Ruckus of evangelism, of heroism. What a challenging time to be a believer, but I guess this is where we can become saints of our generation.
Dear Lord, help me to cling to you more closely and to defend you rightly. Lord, bring your justice but never withhold your greatest attribute, your mercy.
I love your Church with all its scars and those wounds still in need of your touch. I ask for the grace to help me to see the Church as a mystery that has a divine dimension. A place made up of sinners and saints. Amen.
Fight on Church. Fight on. Choose your words carefully in fraternally correcting others. Leave room for the Holy Spirit. And try these three Virtues that can truly guard us from despair and help us to stay and not flee from our Church.