But we also have to lead them by example. Sheep leading the shepherds? Bear with me a minute.
The other day, I wrote a post on why we should fight the HHS Mandate. Today, I return to that theme, and expand upon it while clearly sharing the not so earth shattering information that many Catholics in the pews do not care one iota for what the Bishops say about contraception, much less the HHS Mandate.
In fact, many don’t really give a hills worth of beans for much of anything that the bishops say because, quite frankly, we don’t hear an awful lot from them, one way or another. In the same vein, many couldn’t care less for what their pastors say either. Read all about it here if you need to atCatholic Bishops Fight for Authority Over U.S. Flock.
Make no mistake about it, though; Catholics of every stripe do care about what our bishops do or don’t do, say or don’t say. I know that I care, and that was even before I was a Catholic. As a rookie blogger, I wasn’t shy about blasting the handling of the sexual abuse scandal, for example. But I’m a newbie Catholic too, remember? Nothing the bishops have done or said over the forty-three years leading up to my conversion (since the close of the Second Vatican Council), really made any difference to me in driving me into the arms of the Church. At least not overtly.
No. Something supernatural urged me into the arms of the Church, and as I’ve shared in this space numerous times before, the credit for that goes to the Holy Spirit guiding me to the works of a laymen named Blaise Pascal, and a couple of non-canonized clerics who share the same surname: Thomas à Kempis, and Thomas Merton. All of whom led me to delve deeper into the Bible, get my sorry butt into the RCIA program, and to discover the beauty and majesty of Catholic teachings. It’s a love affair folks, and I hope and pray that each one of you is ensnared in the same loving trap that I find myself caught up in. You have to want that, and seek it. You must knock, and that door will be opened to you.
But getting back to my point, see, if we in the lay state just sit back and float through life on what the leadership of the Church does, or doesn’t do, without engaging our own hearts and minds in the Christian journey, bearing our crosses as Christ said we must, leading our families by example, falling down, and getting back up again through faithful allegiance to our Church and through faith in the efficacy of her sacraments and teachings, then we deserve nothing when we stand before Our Lord and King when our day comes. The whole scene where Our Lord separates the sheep from the goats will be a day of whoa. The luke warm will be vomited out, and those who cry “Lord, Lord” will knock and not be answered. And it won’t be the bishops fault if we don’t cut the mustard, because we are all called to be leaders and followers. As the ridiculous pop song by Tag Team goes, Whoomp! (There it is).
Some of the goats will be cardinals, bishops, pastors, and laity, obviously. I know I personally fall short in countless ways, but it isn’t because I’m sleepwalking in the faith. On the other hand, I don’t go around constantly pointing out the specks in others eyes while planks are in my own. Nor do I find any joy in following Catholic “insider baseball” stuff, of the type that you can find on other blogs, unless it hits me squarely upside the head. Nor do I believe I will be judged harshly for not following all the machinations of the Vatican. I am one Christian, one man, one husband, one father, one servant, and one parishioner. Knowledge of where my duties come from in all those capacities are informed from Holy Scripture, and from the Church through her teaching authority (Magisterium).
But I spent enough time in the Marine Corps to learn that the officers alone could not get things done either. There is no mission accomplished without the rank and file doing their part to the best of their abilities. And I don’t mean by trying to grab all the glory from our leaders either, but by being their brothers and sisters at arms.
I’m a needy soul, see, not a holier than thou one. Which is why I head to mass daily if at all possible. It’s why I utilize the prayer of the Church through the Liturgy of the Hours as often as I can. It’s why I immerse myself in the Liturgical calendar, delight in reading books written by or recommended by the saints, and generally attempt to live out the two greatest commandments, and seek out the sacraments, especially when I fall short, which is often. It’s why I bother to write about my personal experience as a Catholic in this space, sharing with you what I’ve found along the Way.
In summary, I try to be worthy of being lead by my pastors and my bishop, and hope that you do the same. But Christ never promised us a rose garden either. Nor did he say we can walk the Way asleep in our shoes. So as St. Paul instructed young Timothy, we need to encourage one another to,
proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.