It’s awfully easy as Catholic today to feel discouraged with what is going on in the world and with the Church. We’re under withering attack and it seems there’s no end in sight. Now is not the time to back away from the attacks of the devil but instead to trust in the Lord. He’s promised he would never abandon us and he’s true to his word.
One of my favorite Gospel passages is the 16th chapter in the Gospel of Matthew and that familiar exchange between Jesus and his disciples. He asked them “Who do people say I am?” and they answer with Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Elijah. It was an easy answer since they were just repeating what they had heard from others. But then Jesus, as he so often does, turns the question back on them and asks, “But who do you say I am?” Peters answer acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God at which Jesus identifies Peter as the rock on which he would build his Church.
That question of “Who do you say I am?” is the one that should hit all of us. At the core of our Catholic identity is the answer to that question. If we are proclaiming who he is as Peter did, then our life is owed entirely to Jesus. All of what we can become and will ever be is because of the gifts given to us and the grace and mercy of the living God. That means that God must be first in our life and if we put him first, we don’t have anything to worry about.
Here at the parish, we have more than 30 people in the process of coming into the Church. Despite the negativity around the Catholic Church, people are still coming, and they will keep coming. We have truth, beauty and goodness on our side and there are many people today who are looking for that very thing. We have within us the innate need to know the Creator and it is through our Catholic faith that will happen. I am so impressed by the enthusiasm and the questions that we get at each class. Our approach is to follow Jesus first and then the teachings of the Church are organic to that desire. We’re not shy about it, he is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and we are proud to profess it.
In my experience at St. Anne Retreat Center, I see people coming back to the faith who have been away for a long time. I see people energized and renewed in their commitment to what the Church teaches. Our Catholic Café on Monday mornings with Father Cleves has grown from a handful of people to 25 or more who show up each week. People are hungry for the truth and Good News of the Gospel. Our women’s retreat in February sold out and we see more and more people coming on retreat. They need it and they want to have their Catholic faith be an integral part of their life.
Don’t let the devil win, be Catholic and be true to your faith. Walk with the Lord in these trying times and he’ll walk with you. Trust that God is in control of things and not the world and especially not social media. It’s a poison environment and we need to keep tighter reigns on what we expose ourselves to as well as our children. To stand for the dignity of all human life is not popular today. That’s a shame because that’s what the Gospels teach us, that every human life matters from natural conception to natural death. Life matters and character counts, the character that comes from being a follower of Jesus Christ and Holy Catholic Church. Be bold, be Catholic and be assured that Lord will be with you.