Deacon Blog July 7, 2019
Una Familia Católica
As this week’s title implies, I want to spend a few more weeks exploring the subject of Faith and our identity as Christians who walk in the light of the Catholic Church. Our world has become a society of labels, some positive and some not so much, but we seem bent on re-identifying ourselves. For many it is an ethnic identity such as African American, Irish American, Italian American, Native American, etc. Much of our societal focus, lately, is on labels that hover around either the gender we were born with or the gender we identify with. I can’t begin to list these because I don’t understand them all, so I won’t risk offending anyone. My point is our determination to identify as something. An identity of our choosing, either in concept or genetically determined for us. Here, I smile as I think of myself as Irish on St. Patty’s Day, or Swedish (16%) when I want to explain my stubborn nature or dull personality (some might say). My wife, who actually is Irish, defines herself to be “feisty ” whenever her “Irish” flares up. The list goes on to infinity, but it got me wondering at what point did we (who are Catholic) stopped identifying as such. Here, I don’t refer so much to a sign pinned to our shirts, but more as an internal “vision statement” that we use to shape the identity of our character and create the landscape of our lives. And maybe that is the issue… we have not consciously made a connection personally to our Church’s teaching. Maybe there are parts we don’t agree with or understand. Maybe we just get comfortable with the liturgical celebrations or of “someone’s notion” that Christ is present in the Eucharist. Whatever the case is, the question is, “What are we doing to further our understanding or confidence in the Church”. If not, what are we using for the foundation of our trust or beliefs? These are very critical questions to answer. In fact, I would go as far as to say that we cannot possess an authentic faith unless we do ask these questions. Our faith, as in personal faith, must have a basis upon which the things we profess each week (the things we lean on in difficulties, the things we look to for peace in our hearts)… find their authority or credibility. It represents the “skeleton” that carries the “flesh” of our religion on. The richness of Catholic doctrine depends on our understanding and commitment to it. Our Faith, if you have not noticed, is not a “spectator event”. It is active and engaged with a lot of moving parts. Google Catholic church activities around the world and you will encounter more material than you would ever be able to read. From charity and advocacy, education and evangelization, prayer and pilgrimage, disaster relief and job training… around the world the mission of Christ is continued through Church organization (and our participation). Not to mention its sanctifying sacramental efforts. But, at its core there is two thousand years of teaching, practice, and belief that underscores everything we do. It is a confidence that all our practices and efforts were demonstrably given to us directly by Jesus Christ and HIS Disciples, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Once you are onboard with this part everything begins to “fit together”. If you are not there, it is difficult to make sense of the immense depth and understanding available to us. Obviously, this is where we should begin. For some this effort will be a “reset” for a commitment to the Faith. Either way, the “easy path” was not used by Jesus and neither should we.
So, many receive their introduction to Church teaching through Catechism classes or Catholic school curriculums by virtue of their baptism and sacramental preparation. It appears that over the past forty years or so, the influence and guidance of religious education programs (children and adults) has failed to adequately teach and inspire new generations to become disciples of Jesus Christ and members of HIS mystical body. We are slowly becoming the “not-so-mystical” body of Me, Myself, and I. Sorry (I couldn’t resist), the translation is we are a society that lives for itself, individually. If we research charity work in the world, we discover that it is at all-time highs but that is because world populations are just growing at a rate that provides more workers and resources. If we look closer, however, we see the percentage of people who devote themselves to Jesus’ mission shrinking. This is true for all denominations. This will result in a tipping point where the interest in humanitarian efforts (and make no mistake… Jesus’ mission is a “Humanitarian” effort… as in *For Humans*) will decline. The further away from authentic Christian teaching we become, the harder it is to find our way back to a core belief we all have… Jesus Christ is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE and only through this belief can we be gathered to Heaven and eternal life. This is why Jesus says repeatedly, “Your Faith has healed you”. “You’re saved by Faith” as St. Paul tells us.
I will be exploring this deeper over the next few Blogs. If you have any thoughts you would like to share, please email me. I want to leave this here, for now, because this the jumping on point for Christian and Catholic faith. If we skip this step, and it doesn’t matter your age, then a deeper understanding of our purpose in life will suffer. If you have not meditated or reflected on this topic for a while, this will be an opportunity to do so. I want this dialogue to be that encounter… if needed. After this we will “excavate” things even deeper to further not only our personal understanding but to, hopefully, re-discover true devotion and the meaning and authentic purpose for our creation through a Church that exists to do just that… as One Catholic Family.
PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike
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