Farewell. I knew when I started this writing project that it couldn’t last forever. All good things end, and as I move on to more responsibility in my profession, this column must end. For now, at least.
We face a tremendously challenging time to be Catholics in the West: our civilization is under attack by forces from within and without. Human life is held in contempt by some while others are indifferent. Catholics in political life have caused public scandal by endorsing pro-abortion candidates and even attempting to instruct the Church on her beliefs. In voting for and endorsing “pro-choice” candidates for office, they ignored the instructions of the Holy Father and over 120 American bishops. Liturgy is often abused past the point of recognition and the symbols of our faith (not to mention our actual beliefs) are derided and physically attacked. In this year alone, there have been multiple public acts of sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament.
We have work to do. A lot of it.
I’m a man of action as well as prayer, ora et labora, so permit me to leave you with a proposed ”action plan”. I leave this proposal with you not as an attempt to hold myself up as some sort of role model — Lord knows I am a sinner in need of redemption — but with the hope that my words can be of some inspiration to you. Call it a “Seven Part Field Order.”
First, worship honestly and authentically. The Holy Mass is the most sublime and wonderful act we can participate in this side of heaven. Go to Holy Mass every Sunday, and every Holy Day of Obligation. Remember, it is not ours to adjust, add to, or take away from. A plea to our priests: as Fr John Zuhlsdorf says, “Say the Black, do the Red.” The Mass is not yours; it is Christ’s. A plea to the faithful: participate with your hearts and leave the hand-holding and folk music to other venues.
Second, read Sacred Scripture. The Bible is a Catholic book; it was assembled by the Church, and she reveres it because it is the Word of God. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
Third, go to Confession… often. The Holy Father receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation weekly; surely we can muster the will to go more than once a year. May God forbid us from presenting ourselves at the Altar for Holy Communion without being spiritually ready to receive Jesus Christ.
Fourth, study our Catholic Faith and live it. I love being a Catholic because everything fits together so perfectly. I am not required to go through any mental gymnastics to reconcile Catholic beliefs and practices with reason and logic. In short, it all makes sense. If something doesn’t make sense to you, rest assured it does make sense — seek out the answer until you’re satisfied.
Fifth, evangelize the baptized and unbaptized alike. Speak the truth in charity, but speak the truth. All of us are called to be Christ’s “witnesses to all the world;” don’t let Him down. Invite someone to Holy Mass, start a Bible study, keep a stack of tracts in your car or purse, be ready to explain the Catholic faith when challenged. Be kind, be gentle, but tell them about Christ and His Church!
Sixth, be involved in society and refuse to give in to cultural attack. The “spiritual and cultural anarchists” who want abortion “rights”, attack marriage by advocating homosexual “marriage”, want to grow human beings just so they can be dissected for parts (embryonic stem cell research), and peddle the smut that passes for popular culture count on your silence. Challenge them by not being silent: write letters to the editor, put up YouTube vids, blog, plurk, twitter. What ever it takes, never surrender the public square to people who want to shout you down.
Seventh, in the words of Our Lady: “Pray, pray, pray little children!” Ground yourself in prayer, and pray and fast for conversion and holiness for yourselves, your family, our priests, our bishops, and our political leaders. Don’t forget that Fridays, all Fridays, are penitential days.
Lastly, the March for Life in Washington, DC is 24 January 2009, two days after the Inauguration of President Obama. It’s a perfect opportunity to show the world that America loves life — women and children, all of them.
Meet me on the Mall. We have work to do.