Thursday, July 2, 2015

Of missions and mercy

In case some of you are keeping track, we have completed another cross-country move. God's mysterious ways have brought our family to the Lone Star State. That's right. We're now Texans.

Why did we move again? Many people have asked me this question. The short answer is that my husband works for the Church. He is good at Churchy stuff. It's what he does best. While the Church can be a wonderful place to work, let's just say it has some quirks. Instability can be one of them. Many people who have worked for dioceses or apostolates know this to be true. Many people have found this to be discouraging, that lay people who have families would be subjected to fluctuating paychecks, low salaries for high academic requirements, and the interesting dynamic that the absence or change of a bishop brings to a diocese. I used to struggle with that. In fact, to my shame, I have even caught myself telling my children not to work for the Church. I know they don't take to heart everything I say. I hope they don't remember that one.

This past May, a colleague and friend of my husband's greeted my children and me at the last graduation ceremony for a program he had created. Instead of being filled with bitterness at events that had unfolded to cause the program's end, he spoke to my children with words of fatherly wisdom and encouragement. He knew we were on our way to moving to another part of the country, and he remembered the struggles his own children had experienced during the time when his own job was in transition. He told them not to let these times discourage them in their faith or cloud the way they see the Church. He shared how his children, now grown, look back upon their teen years as a time of growing in faith and strengthening them in the skills of meeting new people and being able to adjust to change. This prepared them to be Christ's disciples, ready to deal with life's peaks and valleys, and readied them for their work as adults in the faith.

It was a sobering encounter with a chasm I had created. I was willing to follow Christ, but when the road got rocky, I would complain about the journey and curse the road Christ was leading me on. He has picked this road especially for me. He knows that I need to be challenged, and that I whine when I am. He knows that I need to be humbled in the compassionate words of a wise man who would contradict my bad advice to my children.

In the past, young people have asked me how we got started working for the Church. They were on fire for their faith, and they couldn't wait to get out there and set the world ablaze with the light of Christ. Too often, I have looked at them with tired eyes and the battle wounds of a seasoned soldier just ready to go home. I regret this lack of enthusiasm, this subtle attempt to dampen their spirit. It was pride that told me if they knew what I know, they would bolt.

I believe that our country is in the midst of a great awakening. As I look around, I see that many people are just starting to realize how strong we are going to have to be in our convictions, how much courage it is going to take just to live our faith in our everyday lives. A new generation of Catholics is on the horizon, ready to fight the battles and win souls for Christ, equipped with fresh supplies of the New Evangelization and the heritage of good catechesis and renewed faith. Regardless of momentary slips in judgment or bad counsel I gave them, mercifully, I see it in my children's eyes. They know they are called to mission. They know the time for witness is now, and they are ready for spiritual combat.

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