I was handed a blow last week when someone I had trusted to be a faithful practitioner of our Faith hit me with a "You Catholics" line. It surprised me and it hurt me. Oh, I have heard this type of attack in the past. I was simply caught off guard by the person flinging the verbal lance.
Now why would I ever have thought that? Maybe because of my own naivete.
I have maintained for the past twenty years that Catholics do not hide what we believe. In fact, 2012 is the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One would have to have lived their life under a rock for the past 20 years to be unaware of what we believe, what Holy Mother Church teaches.
You can find the Catechism everywhere - there are aps for it now for your smart phone. The document has been reviled by Barbara Walters on The View, preached by Father Corapi on EWTN and taught in faithful and effective RCIA classes all over the world.
It is not a surprise to me that the beautiful teachings of the Church Jesus founded would be published at the beginning of what would be such a horrid time for the Faithful. The priest scandal, war, accusations, attacks on Christians all over the world and the encroachment of the stunted theology that teaches one can never lose one's salvation and that The Eucharist is not important - all of the things Satan throws at The Church of Jesus Christ have not been enough to tear us down. In fact, the Church has grown. Vocations to the priesthood are up, Catholic Universities are returning to Truth and the average Catholic in the pew are responding to the fullness of faith as never before; we see it in our parish every day.
Beyond the publication of The Catechism, however, is the Liturgy itself. I stand with this person Sunday after Sunday and recite the Nicene Creed. I declare before Christ Himself in the Tabernacle, and all my brothers and sisters, that I BELIEVE what those who sacrificed everything struggled to protect and proclaim. I know, when I am at Mass, that I am where JESUS told us to be as Christians when we come together to worship and it does not matter if I don't like the priest or if the music stinks or the homily is boring. I am there because HE said that if I do not eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood I WILL NOT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. If is plain, it is simple and it is where I am going to be next Sunday too.
St Paul warns us that to receive The Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is to put ourselves in danger of death. To receive the Eucharist if one does not believe and all that the Church teaches and proclaims to be true could mean danger.
So, I assumed that the person who began the sentence with "You Catholics", shocking me to my toes, believed as I believe....and when I discovered that may not be true, I felt hurt and alone and scared and sad. So very, very sad.
Today, I don't feel as sad. Today I accept that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are content to be ignorant of their own Faith and accuse those who wish to learn, study and grow of thinking we are better than they are or holier than they are or WHATEVER because they are frightened by the world in which we live. They never thought there would be such a disconnect between life, liberty and the ability to worship without fear. For many, they survived a World War that tried to systematically wipe off the face of the earth the people with whom God made His Covenant and they are puzzled and unsure of what is happening in our country today.
And they are worried that there are those of us who are going to vote, march, write, post and pray about what we believe is an attack on our personal liberties as American citizens. This frightens them.
When people are frightened, they lash out.
Well, I understand. I don't like it and I hope it ends and I am going to avoid the verbal blows as best I can - but I understand.
What I have to remember is that the very people who wrote the Nicene Creed did so despite years and years of horrible persecution - some came to the council so crippled by the torture they had endured that the emperor himself kissed empty eye sockets and mangled hands as a sign that the previous rulers had gone too far trying to destroy that which no man can - The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by God Himself.
If they can endure, I can endure.