I just returned from the Catholic Leadership Conference — or, as I like to call it, “the best three days of the year.”
In the midst of the current crisis in the Church, it was truly inspiring to spend several days with holy, committed lay leaders who are ready to do whatever we can to heal the broken body of Christ.
And boy, did it inspire me. We talked about what we’re going to do, together and separately. We talked about “swinging for the fences,” about winning souls for Christ. I left all fired up and raring to go do something.
I suspect that I am not alone in this. Those of us who love God, or at least profess to, are always thinking about the great things we’re going to do for him. We’ll bring a scorecard to show him on Judgment Day. We preached. We served. We converted. By golly, we did a whole lot of stuff!!
But then, a little voice inside asks me, “But what are you going to be?”
It has become increasingly apparent to me that this crisis was brought on in no small part by men on many levels who may have, at some point, had good intentions. Maybe there was a time when some of them actually wanted to do good for the Church or for the world. Maybe not. But either way, it’s clear that they were, in the end, not holy men. Some of them did unspeakably horrible things. Others made very poor decisions in the wake of those unspeakable things. Many, in myriad ways, placed power and prestige over the good of the faithful.
Not the actions of a truly holy man.
So, if the lack of holiness led to the problem, what do you suppose the solution would be?
I think that, above and before all, the solution is for all of us to become holier.
Remember why Christ came. It wasn’t to tell us to do stuff. Of course, He did tell us to do stuff. And to avoid doing other stuff. But all of that was to flow out of what were to become. In him, we become new creations. New men. New wine that won’t fit in old wineskins. We are to be changed, converted. We are to decrease while he increases in us.
It’s those “New Creations” he wants out there doing things. Holy, converted men and women who hear his voice, answer his call, and bring his love into the world.
I don’t know about you, but on my own, I am capable of achieving very little. And even less am I capable of discerning what I should be doing. What will be most effective. Where my talents can do the most good.
When it comes to this realm, he knows what is best, far better than I do.
He can’t operate in us if our agendas and our egos keep getting in the way. He needs us to be committed to him, profoundly changed, ready to be led by the One who is the source of all true healing.
Fortunately, for me and for the world, the Catholic leaders I was with last week are those people. They are humble. They are holy. They are completely “sold out” for Christ. These are the men and women we want swinging for the fences, acting on his prompting, doing their part to restore his Church.
As for me, I’m doing my best to keep up. Trying to grow in holiness, trying to listen to his voice.
How do we do that? How do we grow closer to Christ? How to we let him convert us? Through prayer. Through the sacraments — especially confession and the Eucharist. Through the Mass. Through reading about the lives of other men and women who were on fire for him — namely, the saints. Through studying the Word and getting to know the One who loves us most, whose Spirit brings us to new life. And through surrendering to him.
So, if you’ve been sitting around wondering what you can do for the Church in the midst of this crisis — or even if you haven’t — how about starting there? Work on growing in holiness, on really submitting your life to him and letting him convert you on a deeper level.
And then hold on tight, because he will undoubtedly take you on the ride of your life.