Work and Pray

As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress."...And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; be it done for you as you have believed."  And the servant was healed at that very moment.     -St. Matthew 8:5-13

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David."  When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"  They said to him, "Yes, Lord."  Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you."  And their eyes were opened.     -St. Matthew 9:27-30

And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.    -St. Matthew 13:58

This weekend I saw two movies, "For Greater Glory" and "The Perfect Game," that have set me to thinking more so than usual about our lives here as Christians in the United States or, perhaps, more precisely, pushed my thoughts on this to the fore.  One reviewer apparently said that "For Greater Glory" was too Catholic, which, since it is about Mexico in the 1920's, is like saying the movie was too Mexican.  His review betrays his complete ignorance of Mexico at that time and his abject laziness in not finding out more about the subject before he wrote his review.  Maybe he thought that it was better to be anti-Catholic than to be racist, although, he's probably both and too lazy to be neither.

That it is better to be an anti-Catholic bigot than to be a racist is what we're facing today in the United States.  The long-simmering bigotry in this country fails to admit to the racism in its bigotry or, perhaps, it does.  Bigotry is bigotry however it's aimed.  The danger in bigotry is the hatred that feeds it and it is this hatred that is becoming more palpable as we move through this new century.  As always, the Church is hated as Christ was hated and this hatred will be present until the end of the world.  The Catholic Church has never fared well in this country precisely because of the racism of many of its non-Catholic citizens.  During earlier times, when Catholics were within a generation or two of their immigrant ancestors, their Catholic faith was almost all they had.  They grew up immersed in their Catholicism and their native culture.  Out of fear, ignorance and hatred of the truth, the non-Catholics in the country have spent centuries and billions of dollars to make Catholics feel ashamed of and embarrassed by their faith using everything from newspaper articles to feature films and from employment policies to federal mandates to accomplish their goals.

Over the past five or six decades, this anti-Catholic campaign has born much fruit.  Combined with the Church's abysmal catechesis of her own membership and her members' failings in other areas, this campaign has led Catholics to consider assimilation more important than salvation and many have fallen away from the Church or are Catholic in name only.  For these citizens of the country, the riches, power, honors and luxuries afforded them are the new sacraments of a spoiled and depraved generation.  No longer seeing Christ on the cross, they kowtow to the priesthood of our representative democracy.  Having abandoned God, but still needing gods, they worship politicians and sing slogans rather than hymns.  Unable to serve others, they hate them for their perceived advantages and rage for what they don't have looking to the government to redistribute what it has stolen.  Many have become universal in their "tolerance" and very specific in their hatred and have joined those, who only a very short time ago persecuted their ancestors.

What remains for the rest of us is a battle.  While it may seem very romantic to take up arms against those who usurp our rights and assault our faith, as did the Cristeros, it is much better, if we open our arms to our brothers and begin to evangelize our neighbors.  The only way we can weather this storm is to build networks within which Catholics can provide for themselves and others, while maintaining our Catholic faith and, simultaneously, change how the Catholic Church is understood and perceived through Catholic action within our neighborhoods.  We have to pray and work, ora et labora, and do both as fervently and as resolutely as we can.  While we are not a country that would hang Catholics from utility poles, we have become a country that is very adept at conducting a very clean persecution of those who won't agree with the party line.  What is frightening is the degree to which the citizens of this country have become so fractured and so self-centered, that there may not be much of an outcry, if the government did hang Catholics from utility poles.  Bill Maher would probably write a new stand up routine around it and garner critical acclaim for his insouciant, yet piercing, critique of religious fanaticism.

Almost everything our society has to offer forces a choice between serving God or serving mammon.  So many have chosen to serve mammon, as they claim to be serving God and that is true religious fanaticism.  Right now we have many, very effective ways to fight legally and morally for our religious liberties and we must do so.  We, also, must begin getting out of our parishes more and serving our neighbors, so they, by seeing Christ in us, will gain a more realistic view of Catholics and we can begin healing all of these divisions foisted upon us by the politicians and their media.  Please support our bishops and our priests more actively than you think you can right now before we lose even more.

Fortnight for Freedom


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