Growing in holiness is hard work. Growing in virtue, and ridding ourselves of our vices is hard work. We do battle with temptations from the world, from the flesh, and from the devil. The book of Job tells us that “Life upon earth is warfare” (Job 7:1), and I think that characterizes how I feel about my own life, and probably how many of you feel about yours. It’s warfare. There is goodness and beauty in this life, to be sure, but when we’re making that climb toward heaven, we are climbing up a road that is hard, perilous, and it makes the climb arduous, even if there are some beautiful things to see and experience at times on that road.
But through it all I feel very blessed, because God has given me (us) so much help on this journey. One of the most beautiful and vital things he has given us is the thing we often complain the most about—the Church. But complaining about the Church (the crisis she is living through, etc.) just seems so strange to me, because while I recognize that the Church is going through a dark period in our day, what is most significant in my experience is that I always feel like my soul is in her good and competent care.
The Church is going through a rough time these days. I won’t take the time to enumerate all of the issues. But I will say that we spend too much time thinking about them. The issues in the Church don’t effect me, and they shouldn’t effect you.
God is still God. He is with us. He is within us. We receive the Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist every week, or every day, for those of us who are able to. The sacraments haven’t gone anywhere. They’re still here, we can still participate in them, and they still have effect. The mass is a kiss between Heaven and Earth, and we have an encounter with God every time we attend. The 2000 year legacy of Catholic wisdom is as available to us today as it ever was; the works of the saints, doctors of the Church, mystics, encyclicals of Popes and so on are at our fingertips, ready and waiting to be read, pondered, learned from. Our souls are in very good care! All we have to do accept that care, with faith and hope, in spite of the issues the Church faces today,
I know the Church’s issues are often confusing, and even infuriating, but they needn’t be. I don’t let the Church’s issues confuse me. God, the saints, and my spirituality keep me grounded and pointed in the right direction. In fact even the Church keeps me pointed in the right direction, because her teachings haven’t changed, and the volume and breadth of her wisdom throughout 2000 years continues to educate, enrich and guide me. Furthermore, the Church’s issues don’t infuriate me, because I don’t allow myself to think about them. I’m spending too much time thinking about the right things, and have no time, no interest, and no energy left to think about dark things. My soul is in good care, even as the Church suffers through this crisis which God has permitted. Though things are rocky from parish to parish (some parishes are better than others), I always feel like my soul is in good care, even at my parish. I am so thankful to God for the parish, the priests, the priesthood, the masses and the sacraments. Without this parish-level care, I’d have no hope. Without the Church, her wisdom, I’d have no hope. Without the saints, and without God (all of whom would be foreigners to me without the aid of the Church, with the direct assistance of her parishes), I’d have no hope. But I have all hope, because I know my soul is in good care.
I offer this to you to encourage you to take heart, as I do. I am so thankful to God for what he has given to me. He’s given me, indeed to all of us, the Church, the sacraments, the mass, the saints, our guardian angels. He’s given us so much to help us in this war, in this battle to become holy and to rid our lives of vice. He’s gives us so much! Please, let’s not get caught up, lost, disoriented or even worried about this dark time that the Church is living through. Our souls are in good care. Have faith and have hope. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5).
Ave Maria, Virgo Fidelis!