Dear Friends in Christ,
Lately, as we continue to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and the recent social unrest, I have been telling people that this has been a test. In my mind, this is becoming clearer and clearer. How we have been dealing with all of this and the subsequent challenges is revealing who we are and what we really believe. As we remember from our school days, tests reveal how much we have absorbed and understood and how well we can effectively communicate what we have learned about a given subject. Tests reveal our proficiencies and our deficiencies. In many ways, the results of this current testing are troubling. For society at large, there are many areas of concern: from where we get our information and the quality of the information we receive to the role of the media, to how we prudently judge, make rational decisions and properly act. Likewise, this testing has revealed and exposed certain values and attitudes. There have also been questions about the appropriate role and authority of government. These are fundamental questions of rights, freedom and responsibility that will have far reaching and serious consequences long after this pandemic and period of unrest have passed. The test of these days has shown serious inconsistencies and not a few failures at the very least.
For us as Catholics, the testing during this time has been revealing as well. Here too, we have been faced with some serious and fundamental questions. How strong is our faith in times of crisis? How important is our faith? Is our faith integral to our lives or superfluous, accidental or non-consequential? Do we put our faith in God and our relationship with Him above all else? Why do I believe? What do I believe? What does faith offer me? What am I willing to do or not do for my Catholic faith? What do I believe about the sacraments? About prayer? About the Eucharist? What do I understand the Mass to be? Is my understanding of the Catholic Faith what the Catholic Church actually professes, teaches and believes or is it just my own version or interpretation? Where do I get my information about Catholic teaching: friends, hearsay, the secular media, social media or the actual authoritative teaching documents of the Church? How important is the Mass in my life? What am I willing to do to offer Mass? Is Mass primarily about me getting something? What is my daily obligation to live as a disciple of Jesus? How have I lived as a disciple of Jesus during times of trial? What is greater in my life, fear or trust? Dread or faith? Hope or despair? In this time of trial, have I given witness of my faith in God with my actions, words and attitudes? Does my life belong to me or have I given myself totally and completely to the Lord? Have I used this time to grow closer to the Lord in prayer and stronger in my faith? Do I really look to Jesus as my savior in all situations of life?
Why am I a Catholic?
This has been a difficult test. Fortunately, continuing the school analogy, the semester is not over. There is still time for us to correct our errors, improve what is lacking and grow in faith, wisdom and love. Each and every day is a gift from God. The Lord gives us today not so we can waste it but so we can use it. We have been given our lives to love and to be loved and to grow in God’s grace. We are given today so that we can glorify God and experience His love and share His love with others. Some days are easier than others. There are going to be more difficult times ahead. The question is how we use the time we are given. Do we rise to the challenge of loving God and serving Him above all else and in every time and in every situation? Do we keep our relationship with God in His Son, Jesus, as the defining mark of our identity? Do we love God above all else and want to live with Him forever? When we desire God above all else, He will give us every grace we need to face every challenge and trial this world has to offer. We remember the words of Jesus, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” (Mk 8:36) “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!” (Mt 6:33) When we live for God and not for ourselves, all our desires and happiness will be fulfilled and more so. Time, however, is not infinite and there is going to be a final exam for everyone – at the Last Judgement!
Now is the time and today is the day to love the Lord with all our hearts!