Last weekend our daughter-in-law was formally received into the Catholic Church. Although baptized as an infant her faith journey was varied and non-traditional. Colleen is a very spiritual person and has being searching for some time. I believe she has found a home in the Catholic Church. As she journeyed through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults for the last nine months and celebrated her reception into the Church last Sunday my prayer has remained the same: “God please hold her in your hands.”
Politically I am often at odds with the Church. The treatment of women in our Church is disappointing to say the least. Too often it seems that the hierarchy is more concerned with THE RULES than with the people – the people of God. Public debate about homosexuality, girl altar servers, women priests, birth control, celibacy, church finances, priest sexual abuse, and true Catholic identity (whatever that means) serve to be painful distractions from Jesus’ message of love and peace. The Official Church sadly seems to be more concerned about power than empowerment; about righteousness than about justice; more focused on sin than on forgiveness; more dedicated to doctrine than spirituality.
But listen to Jesus’ words: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” He didn’t say, but first make certain that the person you love is worthy. He didn’t say make sure that they have followed ALL the rules. He didn’t say judge and then love. He simply told us to love another. As Catholic Christians that is our call. To love. As Christ loves.
Recently I have witnessed this love so many times. My family and I have certainly been held in God’s hands. As I watched Colleen receive the Sacraments of our Church for the first time I felt the presence of Christ in our midst. As her sponsor Kim placed a hand on her shoulder I knew it was Jesus’ touch that Colleen would feel. Last week we attended “Grandparents’ Day” at our granddaughter Anna’s school. During Mass that morning, Anna sat between us and sang Sanctuary – a hymn that I have always loved but now has new meaning having heard it in her sweet voice. Last night my ‘Partners in Mission’ group visited residents at Villa Theresa Haven, a care facility for the elderly and infirmed. Our simple visit brought some light and life to those we met but mostly we were blessed by the love that they returned to us. Being Catholic is relevant today because love is always the answer. And God’s love for us is timeless and boundless.
As Catholic Christians we can squabble about protocol and theology. We can disagree about traditions and priorities. But Jesus remains our mediator. And love is what defines us.
“Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary; Pure and holy, tried and true.”