For much of the time, ‘being Catholic’ isn’t really an issue for me, at least in this part of the world. I am free to practise my faith without fear or favour and our local Bishop is good and fatherly, writing beautiful letters to the faithful of his diocese. I am not too likely to die for my faith any time soon. And so any concerns I have are, in the grand scheme of things, insignificant.
But there are also times when being a Catholic brings with it a certain angst – and this is one of those times.
There seems to be a lot going on within the Church in other places which is hard to ignore, particularly when issues elsewhere find a prominent place on the national news here. It can seem hard to try to make some kind of sense of it all to myself; and harder still when trying to explain it meaningfully to someone outwith the Catholic faith, as I have already done on one occasion today.
Social media is not presently terribly helpful, as it seems to be filled with rancour and acrimony, opposing sides each vociferously making their case and no-one really appearing to listen to anyone else. So I keep away from the arguments for the most part.
I remind myself that the Church is a living and evolving thing – if not, she would simply stagnate and die. But she does not die. On the contrary, she constantly moves forward, trying to proclaim the Gospel to every age. Of course, she does that imperfectly because the Church is both human and divine; and it tends to be the human part where the isues lie. This is nothing new – throughout the centuries, going back as far as the days of the Apostles, this was the way of things – and this process of encounter, dialogue, argument and debate ultimately moved the Church forward and kept her mission and proclamation vital. I pray it will be the same in these present times, and I am sure it will.
So what can I do to help?
I can offer little, it is true – but I can pray for the Church and for her mission in the world; for her unity; and for her constant sanctification. The Lord knows His Church needs that unity and sanctification desperately, perhaps now more than at many other points in history. It seems to me that in the last few decades, the moral authority of the Church has been so deeply wounded, as has her unity. Perhaps the Lord is permittng these present trials to beset the Church as a means of regaining some of that purity she has lost, of attaining some of that sanctity of which she stands (always) in need; and of finding a path to greater unity, which presently appears so damaged.
The Lord tells us that His Church is built upon a rock, that evil will never prevail against her – and I believe Him.
On so many occasions in times past, difficulties have ultimately brought about good in the end – even if it did not appear likely at the time. And so, may these current turbulent waves – which can seem as though they might overturn the Barque – instead wash away her impurities and leave her clean and spotless once more.