We hear a lot these days about problems within our church. Dissedent theologians, populist groups with petitions, priests teaching heresy, breakaway parishes denying the legitimacy of the Pope. You've heard it all. Before we throw up our hands and cry, "All is lost! Abandon ship!" let's just step back and calm down. Look at things in the context of the whole of Church history. The Church has had problems since day one. Even St. Peter denied our Lord after the Last Supper. Some Popes have been ether hypocritical, or just not very holy.
We have the privilige of living under one of the greatest Popes of the modern era. His writings will be used for ages to come to illuminate the Gospel of Christ. People in the future will undoubtedly look back with gratitude for the direction he has put the Church in.
Now then. Back to the present. Are there problems now? You bet. But let's get practical. No amount of handwringing, whining or gnashing of teeth is going to save us. If there is a mess in the kitchen we can either stand back with our arms folded and complain or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work. John Paul II is a great man and a great Pope. We have fabulous priests and religious working for us too. But they can't do it all by themselves. They need our help. We are the ones who, under the Pope's leadership, will help put the Church to right. How are we going to do this? By following the Pope's example of course.
First we have to know the faith completely. We must know our faith inside and out, becoming such experts that no dissedent, crack-pot, or door to door huckster can lead us astray. We must attempt to be walking encyclopedias of Catholic knowledge. It's a tall order, but we are tremendously fortunate in that we have excellent resources to accomplish this. The new catechism is wonderful at breaking down the the teaching of the Church into manageable bite-size pieces. We must become intimately familiar with it. In times past few people could read. Today there is no excuse for not reading the word of God in sacred scripture every day.
Second, like John Paul II we must proclaim the teaching of Christ fearlessly. That doesn't necessarily mean setting up a soapbox on a street corner. We can proclaim our faith by doing something as simple as reading a bible on a bus, or setting up a small crucifix on our desk at work. Even just going to Mass makes a powerful statement.
Third, we must never stop thanking the good priests for the job they are doing. A word of encouragement for dishing out a hard truth in a homily can give them the courage to defy the "politically correct" mob that will surely take them to task.
These are just a few suggestions for defending the faith. You can surely add to the list. Just keep in mind, "Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket..."(Mathew 5:14)
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Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, April 1998.