5/21/2002 Keeping The Faith During These
As most people are aware, these are difficult times for the Catholic Church. It almost seems like every day brings a new accusation, allegation, revelation, or admission of acts of impropriety between church clergy and its members. Beyond our reactions of shock, outrage, and pain, there is a growing temptation to start to question the bigger meaning of all of this. For many people, this means wondering about the quality of their very own faith and beliefs. We want to ask ourselves, if the end result of placing our unyielding trust in those who represent the ideas we hold dearest is to have that trust abused and desecrated, what does it say about those ideas themselves? To put it another way, if this religion, this "body of beliefs" we have based our lives upon, could spawn the types of behaviors we have been reading about recently, perhaps there is a problem with what we believe in.
I believe that it's crucial at this time for believers to step back and view the events for what they are, but also recognize that they are not what our beliefs are all about. In fact, we have to see the faith that we feel as something that transcends all that goes on in the world, no matter how terrible. And a key way to keep focused on "what is important" is to make a concerted effort to pray.
Pray for WHAT during such difficulties? Pray that those who have perpetrated crimes against their community's youngest, weakest, and most innocent members will be made accountable, but also that they may experience redemption for their sins. Pray that the victims will experience justice and healing from the terrible things they have had to endure. Pray to St. Jude that, in spite of the failings of people around you (even those whom you may have placed all your trust in), you will continue to directly feel his comforting presence . And pray to God that he will continue to reveal His plan for you in your life. But whatever you do, whatever you feel about the shameful current events, continue to pray - don't break the communication between you and God and his saints, even when (especially when) your beliefs are being called into question because of the actions of others.
Unfortunately, people are and will always be people; they are capable of incredible acts of good as well as bad. It is our challenge, our calling to be able to look beyond events of this world to find the courage to base our lives on prayer, faith in God, and love of our neighbors. This is not the first time Christians have had their faith tested. St. Jude spent much of his time among early believers who were losing hope due to persecutions and false teachings. He urged them to stay strong during their difficult times. The weapon he encouraged them to use? Their faith!
As many of you who post prayers on the St. Jude Novena Site know, I often include in my e-mail reply to you the words "keep the faith" at the end of the message. This commonplace little expression has been around for years, but it's particularly relevant in light of the latest news developments. And that's the main message to be drawn from all of this. In times of trouble, doubt, and turmoil, when it seems we can't rely on anyone, including those we THOUGHT we could rely on, that's the time to reach deep down within, to tap into our own faith in God and His love for us, and use it to lead the way, lighten our struggle, and see us through. So as you develop your own personal reaction and opinion to what is going on in the Catholic Church today, make sure that, whatever ideas you consider, or reconsider, modify, or discard, you always KEEP THE FAITH.
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