Stepping Up Our GameMay 16th, 2012
St. Paul tells that “Where sin abounds, grace overflows all the more.” That certainly seems to sum up what we are experiencing from within the Catholic Church today.
Ten years ago, the twin towers fell from the sky, the child abuse scandal broke, and… my class graduated from high school. Since then, we have continued to see rising societal anxiety and falling Mass attendance. Music has gotten even more vulgar. Movies have gotten even more violent and sexually explicit. Churches are being forced to close, cluster, and serve more people with fewer resources. The housing market has crumpled and families are working harder just to break even. Schedules are more demanding. Schools are more demanding. Jobs are more demanding.
Six states have severely undermined the health of family life by redefining the meaning of the institution of marriage. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued an ultimatum to most Catholic employers and institutions: “Disobey your consciences or face crippling fees and penalties.”
Now, only ten years out of high school, I look back on the challenges and discouragements that my generation has witnessed. It would not be difficult to despair. Then, I look to our pope, our bishops, and our priests. What do I see?
I see men who are stepping out boldly and charitably to speak the truth in all circumstances. The U.S. Bishops have spoken firmly on why the HHS mandate is so detrimental to our faith. They have compiled a wealth of easy-to-understand resources so that anyone can grasp what is really happening. But the bishops refuse to be partisan. They also continue to oppose immigration laws that incompatible with “humanitarian principles.” I have no doubt that they will continue to speak more firmly in favor of every good and against every evil.
What is more, the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops are taking serious and intentional steps to encourage our continued faithful growth. Pope Benedict has taken the welfare of the family as his personal intention for the month of May. He is praying “that initiatives which defend and uphold the role of the family may be promoted within society.” At the end of May, the pope will be meeting in Milan, Italy with families from all over the world to celebrate family life and work to protect its future. To further encourage and teach us, he has also announced A Year of Faith, which will begin being celebrated on October 11, 2012.
Our U.S. bishops are likewise inviting and encouraging us in multiple ways. The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis recently released a document entitled Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization. It is an inspiring yet surprisingly practical guide for enabling parishes to accomplish the evangelizing mission of our faith. They are also inviting us all to participate in A Fortnight for Freedom from June 21st through July 4th. These are two weeks of prayer, education, and action to ensure our civil liberties are always protected.
Locally, much is even happening within our own Archdiocese to open wide channels of grace. Lighting the Way is an initiative seeking to form a unified vision for our Catholic Schools in order that each of them might learn from each other and achieve their potential. In case you have not heard, Archbishop Schnurr has invited representatives from every parish in the Archdiocese to come together for a Summit in October. It is entitled Revitalizing the Domestic Church, and it will focus on identifying and better fulfilling the complex needs of our families.
“Where sin abounds, grace overflows all the more.” Let us all follow the lead of our priests and bishops. Let us step up our game with more prayers, more fasting, and more intentional efforts to inform ourselves and others. Thus, we will be more prepared to receive and know Christ, and more prepared to accomplish His mission for us.
Where can we begin? We might not all be able to travel to Milan for the World Meeting of Families, but we can still participate. Visit the World Meeting of Families Online Retreat to learn more.