In recent days, I’ve been approached by several friends who are very upset and even frightened about the state of the Church, and where things are going. I’m a worrier by nature, so I can sympathize with them, but I can’t help but think that things are getting a little over-blown. The Church is always in trouble, but I’m not seeing any icebergs in the immediate future.
Let me offer a few suggestions to my friends who are feeling such deep anxiety.
The first is to relax. The best way to do that is to ignore everything being said by the mainstream media and the secular pundits (including most of the Catholic pundits). The news reports are obsessed with their favorite issues, and don’t understand anything that they’re talking about. As far as the pundits go, they’re all projecting their own agendas (and fears) onto the Holy Father and Church. Don’t read any of them. Just think of Mark 8:33.
I’m sorry to say that, in my opinion, much of what passes for the Catholic blogosphere is only a little bit better, and some of it is much worse. If certain Catholic blogs and websites are causing you agita, then ignore them. They have no more authority than anyone else with a keyboard and an internet connection (such as yours truly). Or, if you can’t resist yourself, ignore the comboxes. Many of the comboxes are toxic, and bad for our souls. (In this regard, I’m reminded of a famous warning). In any event, all the suspicion and arguing that’s going on in the Catholic blogosphere encourages a spirit of division into the Church. That’s neither useful, not good for the state of our souls.
The second is to relax. Another good way to do that is to ignore Vatican politics. I have no idea why some bishops are promoted, and others are cast aside, which cardinal is in favor and which is in Siberia, and which party or conspiracy is ahead and which is losing. And you know what? Nobody else does, either. Fretting about all that stuff does nobody any good. Think about — or even better, pray about — Psalm 131.
The third is to relax. One of the best ways to do that is to pray more. We should pray constantly for each other, and particularly for our Holy Father and our bishops. Most people have no idea how hard the life of a bishop is. I can’t even imagine how hard the Pope’s life is. They really need our prayers. Our pastors, parish priests and deacons, too, are hard pressed to give wounded people the pastoral assistance they need. They could use some more prayers too. Prayer helps them, but it also transforms us. And I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some major transforming.
If those suggestions aren’t sufficient for you, can I make a few more? Are you worried about how the faith is being transmitted to the youth? I don’t blame you — and I bet your parish could use your help as a catechist. Are you concerned about the state of marriage, and what’s going to be done about the separated and divorced? You should be, we all are too — so how about volunteering for some kind of marriage ministry? Unsure about how the Church will give pastoral care to homosexual persons? So are we all — could you maybe give some support to the Courage apostolate, which reaches out to homosexual persons and helps them live chaste lives?
There’s no doubt that we live in “interesting times”, as the old expression goes. When things are unsettled, it’s always good to relax, and return to Christianity 101, to make sure that we’re solid on the basics — prayer, solid belief, sacraments, charity. If our foundation is strong, then the whole structure will withstand whatever storms may assail it.
In these times, I think it’s also particularly important to pray to the Holy Spirit, who has been guiding the Church through thick and thin, and to Mother Mary who has been tirelessly protecting her Church.