DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     June 14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 114


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today Pat addresses the discouraging situation of those who cleverly degrade Catholic teaching both outside the Church and inside the Church, forgetting what Jesus and His disciples said in Sacred Scripture. He encourages us to stay the course, not give up for there is no shame in falling, but only in failing to get up and after being beaten down so many times by Catholic bashers, it makes it difficult sometimes to answer the bell but remaining loyal to the truth allows us the strength to rise above the discouragement with great hope.


          A recent e-mail I received got me thinking of the Church, the times, and discouragement. It's understandable that someone would be discouraged over things occurring in the Church today. Bishops, priest and other religious are making up their own versions of the Liturgy. Militant lay groups are making up their own versions of Vatican II, theology, spirituality and morality. A life of service as a priest or other religious is seen as a waste (and faithful service as a religious is often discouraged), what's NOT to get discouraged about?

          "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

    "and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

          Discouragement is a natural emotion that we face in many facets of life. But it's when we let that discouragement be the driving force of our life that we end up the losers. What person hasn't been discouraged with something? Whether a job, a person, a love done, etc. If we allow the discouragement to overtake us, we give up on our job, the person, or our loved one. It's the hero, the saint, who perseveres in the face of discouragement.

          When the disciples left Christ in John 6 because His teaching was too hard, did the Apostles, discouraged, leave also? After all, it appeared that His mission was at an end, everyone left Him, turned against Him. "Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also wish to go away?' Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God'" (John 6:67-69).

          Besides the implicit and explicit rebellion by many IN the Church (which has occurred from the first Pentecost), we also see the subtle anti-catholic forces (even IN the Church) gaining ground. For example, the movie "Elizabeth" was from beginning to end a treatise against the Catholic Church. Priests as agents of assassination, cowering in hidden rooms making plots. (The reality is that those where "Priest Holes" used to hide priests so Catholics in Elizabethan England could hear the Mass since it was a capitol offense to be a priest or even hear the Mass.) Elizabeth as a 'new' Mary, etc. But it does make a point. Today, many try to remake the Church, give us a 'new' (but artificial) spirituality. According to the movie, Elizabeth may try to transform herself into a new Mary, but she isn't Mary. Just a cheap knock off.

          From a movie of the same era, we can see a person faced with discouragement hold fast. In "A Man For All Seasons" (I'm always amazed on how it mirrors what we are facing), we hear St. Thomas More say, "This isn't reform but war against the Church." And the Duke of Norfolk says of the Pope "Well the Pope's a princess isn't he?" (The Church is an organization isn't it?) In the end, he said, "I die the King's good servant. But God's first." Discouraged? Here he was, from humble parentage, rising to be Chancellor of England, and almost overnight, he loses it all. But his faith and loyalty remained strong. For 'fellowship's sake', he refuses to water down his beliefs and follow the crowd. And though not seeking martyrdom, he doesn't bend when faced with it.

          Yes, it can be discouraging. Are we facing the same thing? Just as King Henry's 'wants and desires' ushered in the "Church of England" rather than the Church IN England, we seem to be facing the emergence of the 'Church of America' rather than the Church IN America. Yes, it can be discouraging when we seem to the lone voice at home, in our parish, or in the Diocese who remains faithful to God and His Holy Church. But we are not alone. Not even counting the countless faithful Catholics who are silent observers, we have Christ with us. As well as His Mother and the saints.

          So, when we are faced with discouragement recall the words Christ said to Peter, that His Church shall not perish from the earth. That He will be with it until the end of time. Recall those who went through the same, and even harder times. And remember the words of St. Paul. "…brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

      Pax Christi, Pat

June 14, 1999       volume 10, no. 114


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