Do not be discouraged, God is at work

I grew up in Southern California. On hot days, my imagination turns to the beach—to cooling off with a dip in the ocean and perhaps even to time spent surfing. When I lived in Italy, I joined the thousands of people who flee Rome every summer—I spent the hottest parts of the year with my family in Sicily. Since I’ve come to Colorado, I’ve spent hot days in the mountains, hiking into cooler temperatures and shady forests.

No one wants to spend a summer day in the heat and congestion of the city. Saturday, June 22 was very hot, especially in the city. But on that day, like many of you, I witnessed hundreds of Coloradans gather in the center of Denver. They gathered together to pray. They gathered to ask the Lord to protect, to lead and to bless our nation.

A few days later, the United States Supreme Court dealt a crushing blow to family life in our nation. The U.S. v. Windsor decision, released by the Supreme Court on June 26, suggested that our government can find no difference between same-sex relationships and the grace and gift of true marriage—which exists only between a man and a woman.

The decision is frightening, and gravely disappointing.

At the same time, in Texas, anti-life advocates worked furiously this week to prevent laws from passing that would protect the unborn across the state. The hate expressed for those who would protect the unborn was disturbing.

It can be easy to take stock of our nation and be discouraged. To presume that we are destined for destruction. To imagine that God has left us, mired in our own sinfulness.

Brothers and sisters, the Gospel faces unprecedented challenges in our nation. Christians are an ever-shrinking minority. And many Christians are unformed and uneducated—unable to explain or defend even the basic moral tenets of our faith. Furthermore, secular  agendas—anti-life, anti-family, anti-truth—are well organized, powerful and determined to undermine truth.

But the Lord has not left us. Our prayers—like those prayers in the heat June 22—effect real change. They consecrate our nation to the Lord.  And whether we see it or not, the Lord is working in our country.

The Lord is working through the sacraments. He is working through grace and the Holy Spirit.  And the Lord is working through us. We may never, in our lifetimes, see the fruit of the Lord’s work. But our call is to be tools in the hands of the Master, and to trust that all good things are accomplished in him and through him.

It’s easy to be discouraged. But it is important to be faithful. And it is easiest to be faithful when we remember that we are not destined for this world. We live in this world and we serve the Lord in this world but St. Paul reminds us not to be consumed by this world. He says, of those who persecute us, that “their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things.”

“But,” says St. Paul, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let us continue, dear brothers and sisters, to work for truth and to be faithful to the Lord. But let us remember that we are his servants—he is in control.  And let us remember that we are citizens of heaven—that if we are faithful to the Lord and trust his plans, we will spend eternity in our true, lasting and just home.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash