One of the reasons I take my time before I comment on a situation is my attempt to practice 'restraint of pen and tongue'. Too many times I have reacted only to be given information later that changed my opinion or, at the very least, gave me a different way to interpret the events.
Thus when I got the news that James Foley had been beheaded by Islamist currently torturing, crucifying, murdering, raping, and otherwise behaving exactly like they have always behaved when given half a chance, I kept quiet. I felt such grief, such anger, such incredulity at the response to this whole situation by the rest of the world that I was afraid I would open my mouth and just start spewing. I did not want to do that; it is unCatholic and it is wrong.
I am glad I did refrain, because today I can look at that horror through the eyes of Faith and I can see why God allowed that evil to happen.
James Foley is a saint.
He is a martyr to freedom of the press, to the ideals of American culture that shaped his upbringing and to his Catholic Faith.
That's right, people. James Foley was a Catholic.
James Foley was not just a Catholic - he was a Catholic during his imprisonment under Ghadafi and he was a Catholic under the lash of the evil now pervading the Middle East. He was a Catholic, praying the Rosary out loud with fellow prisoners and doing so because that is what he had been taught by his Catholic parents. He did not walk away from Jesus in the Eucharist because The Church did not embrace whatever political agenda or current social fad is the grooviest. He stayed faithful in the face of the sword.
Was he perfect? Of course not. No saint is perfect and despite what some believe the saints are not proclaimed simply to make the rest of us feel bad about ourselves. The Church proclaims saints for us to look to and emulate - St. Monica, struggling with alcoholism and the feelings of abandonment and betrayal brought about by the behavior of her son, Augustine. St Theresa of Avila, dealing with migraine headaches and dumb male members of the clergy questioning her desire to reform the Carmelites because her family were conversos. St Catherine of Siena, struggling with her own personal vanity and her lack of formal education in an Order that prizes learning. These people, saints one and all, struggled every day to stay faithful to teachings they did not always understand and may not have even agreed with but they did it because for them how close they could stay to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist was more important than getting their own way or 'being fed' by a homily.
James Foley, Jesuit educated and Catholic to the core, stood strong under conditions I am blessed with not having to endure. What can I learn from him?
I can stay faithful despite being scorned.
I can stay faithful despite the loneliness.
I can stay faithful despite being misunderstood and misjudged and disliked.
In other words, the little slings and arrows I experience as a result of being active and Catholic Out Loud in a culture that looks at that as some sort of personal attack cannot become my focus. I must be willing to put on the armor provided me by the Sacramental Life of Holy Mother Church. I must be willing to speak and to ask for help and to pray without ceasing when I am told what I do is not very valuable.
My heart goes out to the Foley family. What I hope is that they know the time they spent instilling the proper values into their son was not wasted time. What I hope is that other parents do not become discouraged when they are laughed at or scorned for doing the same thing. What I hope is that they know they will see their beautiful boy again, and that when he went to the gates, that son of theirs heard the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the kingdom".
St James Foley, pray for us.