Aren’t we hearing a lot of voices, secular and from other believers? I am, and many of these voices are angry or fearful or despondent. I have to remind myself that the Church and many Christians have been in more peril than we are today. And I remind myself to consider these things:
1. No political party or ideological camp is “home” for a Christian. We are Christ’s before any other affiliation.
2. The Gospel should be challenging and humbling. If it isn’t, we have to read it more carefully. If Jesus’s words challenged and humbled Peter and Paul, why shouldn’t they challenge and humble us?
3. Will a ship come for me? J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbit hero, Frodo Baggins, was admired by all for casting down the Enemy, but Frodo knew that for all his sacrifice he could never have achieved his mission without the unintended assistance of Gollum. He found no peace in the aftermath of his “victory”, but because of his humility and cooperation with grace, imperfect as it was, a ship came to carry him to a land of peace and bliss. So too do we hope, imperfect as we are.
4. Why are so many Christians living in as much fear as unbelievers? Aren’t we supposed to be different? Thus, I challenge myself.
5. Popes deserve our allegiance, whether we like them or not. Peter tried to talk Jesus out of the Cross and denied him, but the risen Christ didn’t ditch Peter.
6. Even so, we aren’t obliged to agree with everything a pope says, but he’s still Peter and deserving of our respect and Christian love.
7. Slogans such as “Science is Real” and accusations of science-denying shouldn’t faze Christians because we are seeking truth, wherever it leads, because truth is of God. Galileo’s views on the solar system, Pasteur’s theories about microorganisms and human illness, Boltzmann’s and Planck’s theories about entropy, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, Lemaitre’s Big Bang Theory were out of the mainstream in their times, so we should be cautious of people who are shouting down or “canceling” contrary ideas about current topics of scientific interest and concern.
8. It has never been easy to be a disciple. Often, harder than it is now: Maximilian Kolbe in a starvation bunker, Edith Stein in an extermination camp, Walter Ciszek twenty-three years in a Soviet prison, Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan thirteen years in a Vietnamese prison, Cardinal Kung many years in a Chinese prison, holy men and women religious beaten down by their superiors. And by all accounts, these women and men were more grateful and joyful than the rest of us.
9. Images that help me; a spiritual desert where we can go like the monastics for respite from TV, the internet, and social media. And our little tattered net that Our Lord wants us to cast with into the water with storms all about us—“But at your word, I will lower my net.”
10. What Jesus himself says about how we should deal with our enemies—today’s enemies, yours and mine—is so radical that we want to ignore it or water it down. I often wish I could. But we can’t because he said it and lived it to the end.
11. The greatest of us and the least bring nothing with us when we die—power, wealth, pleasure, honor—except what is of God. When we are tempted to think we know better than God, consider the billion-galaxy universe that He created out of pure love—an unimaginable gift, and then a sacrifice we cannot come close to imagining. If that doesn’t humble us, nothing will.
12. From a purely human perspective, all times are crazy times. Only with a perspective like Solanus Casey can we say, “Blessed be God in all his designs.”
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