At the gates of hell

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June 1, 2012 by Nicole

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Mt 16:18)

I wonder at times if maybe because I am now in my mid-30s that I am more aware of what goes on around me compared to the normal ego-centric enthusiasm of my early 20s.  At the risk of sounding as though I am the little old lady waxing nostalgic about life back in the “good ‘ole days,”  I, like many people of my generation, had my innocence shattered the day that two airplanes slammed into the world trade center back in 2001.  Maybe I am just more aware of evil in the world.  I don’t know.

It’s hard to know what to think these days, particularly when you look at all the news headlines.  You wonder when common sense went out the door, what happened to morality and ethics.  The more soul searching I do, the more I question my own Church, especially in light of less serious matters like the changes in the wording of the Mass, and even more so with the gravity of the recent priest sexual molestation scandals.   The Vatican “crackdown” on rogue nuns is the icing on the cake.

Being a good Catholic is hard enough when you look at all the bad press we’ve been getting: we have pedophiles running rampant in our churches, and there is corruption all the way up to the very top of  a very secretive “good ‘ole boys” club back in the Vatican.  All of that certainly doesn’t help to ameliorate the anti-Catholic sentiment and prejudice there still is in this country.  When the evil of the world is compounded by the attacks on not only being a Christian, but a Catholic Christian, my heart breaks.  There are some days where you find yourself looking around wondering about that verse from Matthew, and that while Satan hasn’t brought down the Church, he has certainly managed to set up camp pretty close by.  It’s almost enough to tempt you into despair as you wonder where to look for encouragement and comfort.

Oddly enough, one source of comfort for me has been the nun “crackdown.”  I recently read an article posted on Facebook by a friend of mine, which quoted excerpts from a powerful and inspiring  bulletin letter written by Fr. Doug Koezel. (Btw, lots of people are talking/blogging about it.)  What this really reminds me is that while some of the “important people” in my Church have done some pretty  reprehensable  and shameful things, being Catholic is not about that.  It’s not always about dogma, doctrine, and what not (However, I do love much of what my Church has to say about a lot of things!) Popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, they are all human, and they, like everyone else, have the capacity for doing good and evil.

What it is about is the weekly personal communication to Christ in the Eucharist.  It is about experiencing the power of God’s forgivness through the sacriment of reconciliation.  It is about experiencing Jesus’ love for everyone through the Gospel, that we are saved by Grace.  It’s about stiving to become more like Him by expressing and reaffirming our love for Him through works of love and charity. 

Sadly, despair sets in when you take your eyes off of this reality–when, like Peter, we panic and begin to sink because we take our eyes off of Jesus and allow the storm around us to overwhelm us.  When you focus on the essense of what is at the core of our Christian faith, you just cannot depair.

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