I have been working on a "Why does God let bad things happen?" post series on and off for some time, so this homily was a great kick in the bum for me to get this post finished. I will get to it eventually, once I have a lot more time on my hands. It's one of those posts that are better when they aren't rushed. This post deals with a topic that quite a lot of people have explored or despaired about...so I'd rather take my time on it and post it when it is ready to post. Perhaps I will get to it after my conference this week and a few other school and research-related things.
After the priest's homily, the priest called off all of the confirmation candidates by their chosen names and asked the parishioners present to stand along with the children if they shared a confirmation name. The experience was a remarkable one as one by one, all of the names were called. Someone had picked the name Caecilia, and so I stood up once I had an idea of what was going on. My sister stood up for the Teresa...quite a few Josephs stood up when one of the boys was called...and before you knew it...the church was full of standing people.
As I stood, and even as I sat, I prayed for these 8th grade students. I prayed for their faithful lives and I prayed for their salvation. I prayed that they would be able to resist the many temptations this world had to offer and I prayed that they would remain close to God. I prayed and asked for the intercession of quite a few saints. I prayed especially for my fellow Caecilia (whoever she may be). Perhaps these children will never now that I prayed for them...or they may find out one day when we meet up at heaven's gate. However, one thing I do know is that this experience was a powerful one for me and for quite a few other people in the church.
|Picture from Pater Eddie Dwyer|
I saved a bunch of these from his Facebook before Lent Started...
...I knew they'd come in handy!
This experience was beautiful because it provided parishioners with a tangible proof of how we, as Catholic Christians, are linked together. We are asked to support each other in our spiritual lives and to be strength for others when their own strength fails. We are to encourage those in need of consolation and to be faithful representatives for God and for Christ during our time here on Earth. Whenever there is another person in need, we are to help them. Whenever someone else is being tempted, we are to support them and be strength for them so that they may overcome temptation. We are to model our lives after that of Christ rather than to give into the same temptations that have become social norms.
"Love one another as I have loved you."
Yes, we are to love one another. However, this love does not mean "love your neighbor as they do whatever they please and endanger their own salvation in the process." Loving your neighbor is a lot harder than that. Loving your neighbor means looking out for their salvation too. This may be hard for some of us to accept, but loving your neighbor means that you do have some level of responsibility for them. Therefore, you must not only live your own life by the laws that encourage your own salvation...but encourage your neighbor to do so as well. This may make you unpopular at parties when everyone else is getting wasted....but at least your neighbor will have a sober driver to take them home even if they don't follow your sober example. This may make create some tension in a relationship if you choose to live chastely when everyone else is cohabiting, but at least your friends and family may see that it IS possible to adhere to Catholic sexual teaching in a world that encourages the other alternatives.
|Believe it or not, Christ is loving his neighbor here....|
...by teaching them a lesson they needed to learn...
Another from Pater Eddie Dwyer
I know I am far from perfect, but I do try to live my life in a way that leaves a good impression on the faith that I love so much. As terrible as the media makes us Catholics look at times and as unpopular as our teachings may be in a world that prefers abortion on demand to motherhood...I do what I can to make sure that everyone in my life knows at least ONE good Catholic. Everyone in my life knows at least ONE Catholic who does not take the Lord's name in vain even when things go downhill in an experiment. Everyone in my life knows at least ONE good Catholic who is faithful to the Magisterium even when so many others love to bash the pope....and some Catholics (*cough* Pelosi*cough* Sebelius*cough*) seem to go out of their way to bash basic Catholic teachings. Everyone in my life knows at least ONE good Catholic who observes Lent and takes this season seriously...even if it means missing out on alcohol, Facebook, and a few other things during this season.
Even though my laboratory isn't Catholic, they know when I am fasting and have been extremely considerate. I really appreciate it. I also appreciate the questions I've been getting regarding my faith and how I live by it. They may not be Catholic and may never be Catholic, but at least they are more familiar to my faith...and as a result, they understand it a little better than they would have understood it just by turning on the TV or reading the latest biased New York Times article.
Hopefully, you are surrounded by good Catholics and don't have to be the ONE good Catholic in your own life. If this isn't the case, take it up on yourself to "love your neighbor as I have loved you." Don't turn it into an opportunity to become a Catholic hypocrite. Turn it into the opportunity to improve your own life and bring yourself closer to God as you lead others on the same path.
We may not have a real-life Saint Francis walking barefoot through every corner of Manhattan feeding pigeons....
We may not hear Saint John crying out in the wilderness whenever we go hiking in the forest...
We may not have a Saint Thomas More giving the current administration a verbal thrashing over their recent treatment of religious rights...
|Defending your faith under penalty of death is a lot more badass|
than adjusting beliefs so that they are in accordance with those of the ruling folk.
We may not have a real-life Bl. Mother Teresa feeding the hungry in Penn Station ever morning....
....but we have plenty of people that have chosen these names for their Confirmation. Therefore, we have plenty of people that should be using these saints as models for their own lives. As a result, we should have plenty of Catholics out there to teach by example. We should have Catholics out there that are willing to teach us with their own example. We have Catholics out there to support us in our time of need. We have Catholics out there that encourage us to live our lives in a way that will lead to salvation.
My experience at today's mass was beautiful. I may not have been a Confirmation candidate, but I could feel the support. These candidates are only beginning to embark on their own adult spiritual lives and I cannot help but wish that I had their optimism for the life ahead. As much as I am told not to worry, I am truly afraid for these kids because I have a feeling that things will be a lot worse for them when the time comes to stand true to their faith. I have a tough enough time defending my stance against abortion, why I stand against the HHS mandate alongside our bishops, etc. I have already lost one friendship because I stood by my faith rather than allow them to continually spread their anti-Catholic messages on Facebook. I do not feel that a new persecution against Catholics is coming, because the persecution already here. It's been here for about 2000 years and it will remain here long after I am gone.
This is why I prayed for the Confirmation candidates today. I know how hard it will be for them in the years to come and they will need all the help, prayers, and intercessions they can get. Fortunately, there's hope. I felt a sense of peace today as I prayed for them and I know that my prayers were heard. I could feel the presence of God during mass today and I know that God will be with those candidates, the standing parishioners that shared confirmation names with these candidates, and all the other people in that church today. God is with us...and that, in and of itself, is a comfort. Why?
"If God be for us, who can be against us?"
We Catholics, confirmation candidates included, have a tough ride ahead of us...but fortunately for us, we have a great designated driver. All we have to do is trust Him.