Twenty-five years ago, a Catholic parish in Arizona had a conundrum serving its mostly immigrant farm-working community. As the immigrants travel the circuit, their children are not in place long enough to be properly educated, including religious education. Two nuns asked a local farmer for permission to use his barn to give religion class to the children while their parents worked, to which he agreed. It eventually morphed to nuns coming back in the evenings to catechize the adults as well. This is the way of proper Catholic action, people helping one another. We have lost sight of this as our vision is distracted by a polarized mentality fueled by the media. It is a heritage and a freedom we risk losing altogether.
It is important that we take part in public discourse promoting the intrinsic value of life at all stages and ages from conception to natural death. However, that discourse needs to be the outcome of a lived faith. A lived faith is one that changes us, the believers.
In December we awaited the Christ Child. On Gaudete Sunday we shouted rejoice! On Christmas day He arrived, and we celebrated for an octave. Christmas is now behind us and we are well into the new year. Jesus continues to give us the gift of His Spirit in every breath; the love between Him and His Father animating our very being. He continues to give His Sacred humanity to us in the Sacraments. The best New Year’s resolutions will be those that serve to focus us on this very reality every day. Review and revise those resolutions so they can bring you more deeply into relationship with Him, and through that bring His love into your relationships with others. Then, take concrete steps to extend that love to others.
In 2021, share the gift of you.
With all good intentions we seek the path to sanctity, doing whatever we can fit into the day: fasting, rosaries, novenas, good deeds to others. But the path to sanctity isn’t in the ‘doing’. It is in surrendering to God. It is out of surrender that ‘doing’ comes. In the not-too-distant past, people could recognize a Catholic not by the clothes or crucifixes worn but by how they think, shown by how they speak and act. A Catholic mind is formed by God and so holds no duplicity.
Can people recognize you as Catholic not by label (pro-life, pro-marriage) but rather simply by your way of being?