I mentioned in a previous post that I am working through Bede Jarrett’s wonderful Classic Catholic Meditations as part of my daily spiritual reading. A particular line struck me:
If every Catholic were a credit to his religion and openly professed the whole round of Faith, how the evil of the world would be cowed!Jarrett, 147
This evil has manifested itself in a particular way in the unrest of last year that was topped this year by the recent horrifying events at the nation’s Capitol — topped not in lives lost (though this was certainly tragic) and destruction but most certainly in symbolism and intent. How did we get here? By not professing unequivocally the fullness of the truth of God. Fr. Jarrett goes on to say:
Laymen should also be keen on their religion and be able to give a reasonable account of the faith that is in them. But the strongest argument of all is a religious and edifying life as a courageous Catholic.Ibid.
The first sentence echoes the First Letter of Peter (see 1 Pt 3:15). The second reminds me of a debunked quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach always; when necessary use words.” Jarrett tells us that both are needed: the foundation is built on being an example by living out our faith, but we must be ready to share our convictions cogently as Peter admonishes us to do. Might it take courage to do so? Yes. But it is our calling. If all Catholics — if all Christians as a whole –, lived their professed faith in deed and word, these abominations would not stand and our culture would be transformed.
I continue to fervently pray that the incoming president, a professed Catholic, embraces fully the Faith and governs and acts in accord with it, despite the cost he would incur in his political career. But his reward will be great in heaven (see Mt 5:12). And the example he would give would be an incredible encouragement to many Christians, particularly Catholics, as well as emboldening many to be outspoken in their convictions.
I have been saying this beautiful Prayer for the President of the United States for weeks now and intend to do so for the rest of my life. It is by Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian pastor who was chaplain of the U.S. Senate for a short span (1946-47) until his untimely death. I encourage you to pray it as well. And, if you are inspired to do so, pick up a pack of them and start distributing them as I have.
“My body, my choice”? Not according to Holy Writ, per the headline. To lend even more force, Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians:
Do you not know that your body1 Cor 6:19-20
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body.
Of course, the popular mantra with which I began this section is most associated with abortion advocates (Cardinal Dolan does a great job of explaining “Why We Catholics Are So ‘Hung Up’ on Abortion”; and, by the way, the Church’s position follows the science). They need to hear Paul’s message that we are so much more than temporal and finite creatures made of flesh and bone. Rather Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit and members of the Body of Christ redeemed by Jesus through the Paschal Mystery, and non-Christians are called to faith and baptism. So this is an especially important message for those who promote and commit abortions.
But it does not stop there. In our everyday lives, we must “glorify God in [our] body.” This directive should give us pause. Does everything we do, say, or not do, project the glory of the Almighty? “Avoid immorality,” the Apostle says. The Bible and the Church inform our conscience to know what is right. Frequent Examination of Conscience and recourse to Confession can strengthen us in the resolve to emulate the Lord. Then we can be healthy, not gangrenous, members of the Body of Christ, the Church.
I just finished a little book by Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, TX called Light and Leaven. I appreciated his frankness in providing in simple language profound truths and solid direction for lay people (see my review here). The key to it all: proper liturgy and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Also, I just began The Cross and the Eucharist in Early Christianity: A Theological and Liturgical Investigation. The title intrigued me so I picked it up. And because I will be once again lecturing the Eucharist course for deacon candidates, it seemed to me a good warmup for the weekend I will be (virtually) hanging out with the guys from Indianapolis next month. I always look forward to my time with these engaged and interested men of faith (and sometimes their wives).