Don’t just do something – be.

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.

COMING UP: Synod: Topics from the final document on young people

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After intense days of dialogue and discussion among bishops and invited young people, the Synod on young people, the faith and vocational discernment came to a close in Rome on Oct. 28.

Here we offer a brief summary of the document which was approved a few days before the closing. It contains 167 points and proposals which seek to transmit the Word of God and address the needs of young people throughout the world.

The citations provided are not approved English translations of the document. The document has only been released in Italian.

Sexuality

The document states that the Church works “to communicate the beauty of the Christian vision of corporeality and sexuality.” It asks for more adequate methods to communicate it. “An anthropology of affectivity and sexuality, capable of also giving a fair value to chastity, must be proposed to young people.” To do so, “it is necessary to tend to the formation of pastoral workers, so that they may be credible [witnesses], beginning with the maturity of their own affective and sexual dimensions.”

Accompaniment

Another recommendation asks for better accompaniment to help young people “read their own story” and live out their baptismal call “freely” and “responsibly.” The document also asks for better accompaniment of people with same-sex attraction, reaffirming the “decisive anthropological relevance of the difference and reciprocity between man and woman,” and considering it “reductive” to define a person’s identity based on his or her sexual orientation.

Women

The difference between men and women can be a realm “in which many forms of dominion, inclusion and discrimination can emerge,” elements the Church must free itself from, the document says. It says that among the youth, there is a desire for a “greater acknowledgment and valuing” of women in the Church and society. Furthermore, it says that the absence of the feminine voice and outlook “impoverishes” debate and the path of the Church, robbing it of a “beautiful contribution.”

Vocation

The final synodal document calls for a “true and specific vocational culture” and a “constant prayer commitment” for vocations. It affirms that the mission of many consecrated men and women who give of themselves to those in the peripheries of the world “manifests concretely the dedication of an outward Church.”

It highlights that the Church has always had a particular care for vocations to the priestly order, knowing that it is a “constituent element of her identity and necessary for the Christian life.” Moreover, the Synod acknowledges the condition of the single life, which, assumed with a logic of faith and self-gift, can lead to paths through which “the grace of baptism acts and directs toward that holiness we are all called to.”

“The Eucharistic celebration generates the communal life of the Church. It is the place for transmission of the faith and formation for mission,” the document states. Young people have shown “to appreciate and live with intensity authentic celebrations in which the beauty of the signs, the care for preaching and the communal involvement truly speak of God.”

It encourages that young people discover “the value of Eucharistic adoration as an extension of the celebration, in which contemplation and silent prayer can be lived out.”

Migration

The document expresses the Church’s preoccupation regarding those who “escape war, violence, political and religious persecutions, natural disasters … and extreme poverty.” In general, immigrants leave their countries in search of “opportunities for themselves and for their families” and are exposed to violence on their journey. Many leave with an idealized version of Western culture, “at times feeding it with unrealistic expectations that expose them to hard disappointments.”

The synodal fathers highlight the particular vulnerability of “unaccompanied migrant minors” and see that “it is necessary to decisively reject” a xenophobic mentality regarding migration events “frequently promoted and exploited for political ends.”

Featured image by L’Osservatore Romano