Sunday, November 5, 2017

Entirely Catholic


What a gift to see the young communicants being presented at Mass today and taking their vows. My first thought though is we will see them after First Communion with their families. Anecdotally speaking there seems to be a decline in commitment to continue with the sacraments or at least Mass attendance. Our church today was burgeoning at the seams as the missals were taken up and communion line was exceptionally long.  The question remains will the parents continue with their duty to raise their children with the teachings of the Mother Church? But what about today's Gospel message? Will we as individual Catholics be identified more than in just name, but by our actions?


Today our celebrant spoke of people who lived out their faith despite the costs. He mentioned those who died during the Spanish Civil War who are up for beatification.  His reference was to the of the Holy Order of Vincentians but also those citizens who died during the conflict, some as young as a year old. The postulator, Sr Angeles Infante stated in the article published by the Catholic World Report, “It‘s not a violent death that makes you a martyr, but the cause you die for, which is Christ. They gave their lives for God, embodying the faith through their witness, forgiving and asking their families to forgive.” 

This week I heard another heartwarming story of a priest is truly is living out his faith. The story coming from the Seize the Day show hosted by Gus Lloyd on the Catholic Channel of Sirius XM radio highlighted a priest who would frequent a food court in a local mall and approach people asking them if he could pray for a particular petition as he carried his Rosary. If the person allowed for him, he then would pray a Hail Mary in their presence. 


All of this provoked me to think, "Can I be truly identified as a Catholic, more than in just name?" In another words am I entirely Catholic? Initially, the answer is yes. I attend Sunday Mass and at times if I am able to daily Mass. I make sure I attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation. I go to confession four times a year and make an effort to complete an examination of conscience nightly.  I have a prayer and meditation time early every morning. These are things that visible for those people close to me, that is the easy part. I can't rest on my identity as a Catholic like the scribes and the Pharisees (MT 23:1). My actions must extend beyond my label.

Here is the real challenge for me. Am I Catholic as I navigate the congested freeways of Southern California on my daily commute to work? Of course the answer is yes as I listen to Catholic Channel. But wait a minute I approach a driver who is on their cell phone moving across the divided line that divides the lanes. Or a car that is exceeding the speed limit rapidly approaches behind me than suddenly swerves into the lane next to me as the driver seemingly clueless hurdles down the freeway. What is my response? Well, put it this way I won't put it into words. However a prayer for the safety of these drivers might be the right approach.

Arriving at work I need to make copies for my classes and our every so reliable copy machine is down on a Monday again. This is only the 50th time in the last three years that this has happened. What is my first response? Catholic or not? Once again no words need to be mentioned. As my co-workers come by and see me on my knees (no I am not praying) pulling out the innards of the machine to retrieve a crumbled up paper do they hear silence or do they hear the copy machine litany which cannot be printed here? 

I am challenged daily by interactions with people both young and old as well. Is my reaction Catholic? Do I pray for patience with difficult situations or do I force my will? This is all so quite difficult especially when it relates to Church teaching on controversial issues.  My hope is that I have the courage to voice my beliefs no matter what the cost even when it is not convenient. How I approach the poor, marginalized and powerless as well is another daily challenge. 


But I am asked to truly live out my faith. I am not perfect, but knowing that is quite liberating as long as am connected to God. So here is my readers challenge. Take one day and see how you are able to live out your faith. You might surprise yourself and find that you are living example of true Catholic and at the same time you might find that you have some areas that need some work. I know that I have and will continue to do so.  I am reassured that many who have gone before me have done the same. As our celebrant reminded us today as he told the congregation about the sparse crowd during All Saints Day Mass due to the Dodgers playing in the World Series, we are called to be saints and to put our faith first and the rest will follow. 

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