When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. —For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not … Continue reading
Nov 11 at 10:05 PM
My new job has been going exceedingly well. A world full of hopeful students striving to become something seems different in this generation, yet all too familiar. Going through the hallways on patrol, I’m often surprised by their boundless energy and sheer ambition. Tonight is the meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Naturally, one could see how sports and God go together as man is constantly trying to better himself and run the good race. A well-trained athlete embodies the qualities we so admire, such as power, might and fairness, the qualities also admired in God. Being made in God’s image, human nature is to conquer himself and to conquer his enemies. It is one reason the ancient Greek gods so favored athletes for these were closest to the image of gods. Such things have been heavy on my mind a lot lately.
So, the meeting began as students slowly trickled in. I watched from my post in the security office. Suddenly a young female student came through the doors and the middle-aged football coach came out to greet her. Grey haired and wearing glasses and a sweater, he smiled and placed one arm over her shoulder. Such fatherly love emanated from him and her smile revealed a daughter’s delight. Was this not the one thing I had missed throughout my entire life- and even in my own Catholic faith? We had a thousand fathers in Christ, our priests, but I’d never been close to one of them. Like Batman, they were there only when I needed them the most, to save me quickly when I was falling but afterwards, gone in a flash.
Why did these Protestant groups all of sudden seem so appealing to me? Besides the often fatherly attributes of their pastors, they have something I lack: consistency. Mainly, their worship reflects their view of the world. It made sense to them. All their joyful, rebellious racket, absent of sacraments and “mystery”, was just fine in their theology. Our worship as Catholics, sadly does not reflect our own view of things. The music, decor and atmosphere seem so worldly at Mass when we are supposed to be reflecting the heavenly realms. For people who believe that the Lord Jesus Christ becomes actually present on our altars, many of us act remarkably blasé around that hallowed table.
Protestantism also entails a strong sense of community. Each person is obliged to take his or her duty seriously. We need to deepen our community life and steer our younger folks on the path to sainthood. Sometimes we can get so focused on going out into the world that we forget our own parish families. As the proverb goes: charity starts at home. I myself sway, weakened from a lack of support. Six years after being ministered to by Fr. (now Monsignor) Stanley Deptula at the college Newman Center, I look for that strong leader, that fatherly coach, and do not find him. Yes, priests are busy men and it’s not their personal task to mentor me but alas, where are our lay role-models? Many can’t count on their family of origin. Laypeople must step up and mentor. We exist to win souls! Team Catholic is not strong- and it shows. More young people walk away from the Church every day. They aren’t noticing that Jesus Christ is there. I myself will be doomed without the support of a faithful community and this need presses itself. Some people are independent. They don’t require personal instruction, correction and someone to show them how to do every, little thing in the Christian life. But I do.
But don’t worry just yet! I cannot ever become Protestant again, because in doing so, I’d betray my own view- and the truth revealed to me by God. I believe in sacraments, in mystery, in sacred space and in partaking of every divine thing. God has shown me the Eucharist and I can never turn my back on it. What I’m saying is that, as Catholics can be a better “team.” Conscious of our awesome gifts, we see Mother Mary cheering us on, sacred Scripture lighting our path, an arsenal of prayers and sacred tradition to guide. United under one baptism and one holy, apostolic faith, we have the Holy Mass as our most-powerful play. When the teamwork happens, saint are the result. Stragglers like me will be given swiftness to run the race. I will soar towards that finish line, towards my Lord Jesus; never longing for the onions of Egypt- for in my sights will be the Promised Land.
Are we boldly preaching the Eucharist in the world? What message are we sending to those around us who may not believe? Do we have a message to send?
By the tabernacle in every church, there is a sanctuary lamp. It burns steadfast day and night, telling all who enter where the Eucharistic Lord dwells. Let it be a strong symbol for us. As Our Lord, Jesus Christ has said “You are the light of the world.” Heat always moves from a hotter object to a colder one which means we must be hot in order to spread that light. It must be an authentic light, not dirty or faint or flickering. The primary way we evangelize is by the means of authentic Catholicism. What does it mean to be “authentic”? When we say a food is authentic, we often mean that it comes from the source, from a wellspring of tradition and wisdom that has carefully prepared the dishes over time, something that is diligent and loving, not thrown together. In a way, we can speak of an “authentic” Catholicism like this. However it is much more.
When a parish community is carrying the Blessed Sacrament through the streets, in broad daylight amidst many passerby, holding candles, swinging incense, singing a hymn that is well over 500 years old. That is authentic Catholicism.
A priest in his black clericals and white collar, a purple stole draped over his shoulders, listening to confessions in a busy airport. That is authentic Catholicism.
Standing on the sidewalk, praying a rosary, quietly reading the Liturgy of the Hours in a crowded cafe, that is authentic Catholicism. Visiting a sick man who is beaten down, weary and neglected, staying to pray with him, that is authentic Catholicism. Stopping amidst your daily errands to buy a sandwich for a homeless man outside of Walmart, that is authentic Catholicism.
When someone visits your parish and asks: “Why should I come here instead of at the Baptist church down the road?” and you tell them: “Because Jesus Christ, in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, stands here at the altar, loving you and asking you to love Him- so He can give you everything,” that is authentic Catholicism.
Not shrinking away, not trying to hide or compromise. Loving God and loving the other. Being an ear ready to listen to those who are hurting, having lips ready to explain the faith to anyone who asks, a heart willing to feed the humanity’s hunger for God. A timid “yellow-bellied” faith that tries to blend in and be safe won’t move anyone. It won’t address the needs of our time. A mere mediocrity will not speak to our generation nor will a faith which is only a matter of duty and not a matter of conviction. As Scripture says:” I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” – Revelation 3:16
Our mission as a Eucharistic people is to feed the hungering world, to give them God. The love of Jesus Christ compels us to have a Catholicism which will move and shake the world. We are called to make a bold witness, unafraid, unabashed, foolishly in love, willing to say “Yes Lord, we believe.”