You did a masterful job in your reply to this poor soul who expressed his questioning faith. As a Catholic who left the Church( regretfully) almost 50 years ago and have now returned, (I must say joyfully). My questions, my searching, my reluctance –all have evaporated in the face of once again being able to receive the Eucharist and experience Reconciliation. After wandering through a different faith venue, graduating from seminary and being an active pastor in the United Church of Christ, finally of an age to retire I began to ruminate about the sense of absence in my life and finally concluded that the Holy Spirit was leading me back, and believe me it was a long road.
Pope Francis is the first to call himself a sinner. However, the Holy Spirit has given us just what we have needed. Someone who smells like the sheep he tends which he does so well. He loves all of us, cares for all of us, wishes for all of us to achieve the goal for which God has destined us.
P.S. Regarding that “Cross” It did just what the giver intended, stirred up a hornet’s nest among “believers.” Bad JuJu!
I think the thing that strikes me most about the Faith is the fact that it places the act of Thanksgiving–Eucharist–right at the core of life. What has made it impossible for me to take the Francis-haters seriously is the radical absence of gratitude, of a sense that there is anything at all about the Church to be grateful for. Don’t get me wrong. I get that there are people who are confused and afraid and for such folk I have nothing but empathy. The thing is, such people want to find peace and hope. And as my correspondent makes clear, peace and hope are there in Christ Jesus and in his holy Church.
When I encounter people like my correspondent, people are just tickled pink to see the immensity and plenitude of gifts God is pouring into their lives, I find myself resonating with that.
But when I hear, not from the Francis-confused, but from the Francis-haters–people who have committed themselves to waging bitter war on him and on almost everybody in the Church as unworthy of their massive spiritual superiority–the subliminal (and often not-so-subliminal tone) is that a heart of thanksgiving–for life, for the faith, for the wonders of creation, for the wonders of grace, for the obvious goodness of a good man in the chair of Peter, for the very struggles we face–is ridiculous and contemptible “Kumbayah Catholicism”. Gratitude is instantly and constantly derided as pollyanna “All is Well” denialism. Gratitude is spat upon as ultramontanism. Gratitude is derided as Novus Ordo Happy Face Catholicism.
It is the perpetual commitment to the refusal of gratitude–to the need to go on complaining even when it endangers the souls of people like the guy I replied to–that convinces me that the willed commitment to that way of living the Faith is devilish. We do well always and everywhere to give God thanks and praise, says Holy Church. Period. End of story. Those who labor to fight against that labor to fight against God, whatever they may think they are doing.
Friend, I am glad you have found your way, by paths known only to our amazing God, back to Holy Church and the incredible mystery of his Church in all its messy, screwy, astonishingly human grace.
And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. ¶ Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, ¶ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. (Eph 4:11–16).