For a few months now in the daily readings, I have noticed an overarching theme proclaimed through the prophets. Here are a few examples.
“Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt.” (Hosea 14:2)
“Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!” (Isaiah 7:9)
“Behold, I am planning against this family an evil from which you shall not withdraw your necks; Nor shall you walk with head high, for it will be a time of evil.” (Micah 2:3)
“Why cry out over your wound? Your pain is without relief. Because of your great guilt, and your numerous sins, I have done this to you.” (Jeremiah 30:12-13)
We all should have a heightened sense of hearing in these current times and pay particular attention to what befell the Israelites for so many centuries, due to their failure to be faithful to God. You might be thinking, we are nothing like those people. We don’t worship pagan idols.
No, we don’t worship Baal, but instead ball, baseball, football, basketball.
Maybe it was because they didn’t follow the Ten Commandments, which we may regard as merely outdated suggestions.
Weekly Mass? “I’m really more spiritual than religious. I feel God in nature, not some stuffy old Church.”
The ever popular, “I haven’t murdered anyone.” Abortion counts. Have we helped someone else in their decision to end the life of their unborn child? Do we give funds to those who support pro-choice causes? Do we vote for those who promote the killing of the unborn through all 9 months? Do we kill someones reputation through our tongues?
Adultery? “I haven’t slept with anyone besides my spouse.” Pornography counts. Lusting after someone that is not your spouse is “adultery in your heart” according to Jesus. Porn use is up 400% during the last couple of months. Somebody is watching it.
Without being too much of a downer, I need to point out that I don’t think we are any better and perhaps we are actually worse than the Israelites. You see we have the perspective of learning from their mistakes, from the teachings of Christ Jesus, and from the Catholic Church He left us as a guide.
I had a very dear friend I knew since high school. We were both baptized Catholics, raised in Catholic homes, and received all our sacraments. We both were in each other’s Catholic weddings and Godparents to each other’s children.
Where we strayed was in our political convictions. It was a topic that I avoided for decades. Call me a coward, gutless, ignorant. I was all of those. I simply was unwilling to risk breaking up our friendship.
Notice the past-tense reference.
I finally spoke up a couple of elections ago, on why I could not vote for her party’s platform as it went against everything that is non-negotiable as a Christian Catholic. I guess I was naive to think that because we were both Catholic that we held the same values. I had hoped that two longtime friends could have a genuine honest dialogue as we tried to understand where each was coming from. In the end, her political convictions mattered most. She left the faith. She left the friendship.
I rather loathe the election years. It is for me exhausting and terribly divisive. People seem to turn into something out of Jekyll and Hyde. Tempers flare almost immediately, lines are drawn; words fly like arrows aimed to silence an opponent. Healthy disagreements should be normal. Those sadly are a thing of the past.
Being Catholic means that we hold what the Church in her wisdom teaches. All of it. On some issues there is some wiggle room. On others, there is none. No matter our intent or feelings on the matter. Is our Catholic faith the lens that we see everything through; or is it easily dismissed when embarrassing or awkward? I think what makes it so hard is that there are faces that go with the whole matter. People we love and don’t want to hurt. Ours is not to judge the person, rather the action. Ours is to love and this is where it gets messy and confusing. In this culture of “you be you,” loving me means you consent to everything that I consent to, no discussion.
That is not love at all, that is manipulation.
So, as followers of Christ we must have a conviction to truth and goodness. I get it, we do not want to lose friendships, rock the boat, or cause conflict. I miss my friend and have tried to reach out to her. Christ said to His Disciples, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you…” (Jn 15:18-19)
Dare I suggest that the world is not in a better place by going along to get along.
When we do not speak, evil advances, and more minds and hearts are led astray in the cryptic, illusory, murmurings of the ancient serpent always leading souls to destruction. Know your faith and live it yourself as a tangible, charitable witness.
Finally, pray with all your strength. It is the mightiest weapon we have in our arsenal. In the months leading up to one of the most important elections in American history, we must use all the weapons at our disposal; fasting, novenas, rosaries, acts of mortification. Pray that God will clear the fog that clouds judgments and obscures vision. And PLEASE, join Catholics all over the nation in praying the Novena for our Nation, from August 15th to October 7th. It is a beautiful way to be united as a country in prayer, seeking the will of God.
Spread the word about this Novena and entrust our country to the powerful intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. May she come to our assistance in this time, to convert hearts, and intercede for us at the throne of her Son.