Where Will You Be This Time Next Year
By Fr. Robert J. Carr
A Homily For January 1st 2006
As we begin this year things are looking rather difficult for Catholics. You may know that a court in the State of Oregon has ordered that the Diocese of Portland has to sell its churches and other assets to pay for abuse settlements. I should also add that abuse settlements are exactly that, they are financial payments that settle cases without taking them to court. Therefore, they are not trials.
Last week, a woman on Cape Cod in Massachusetts angry that her mother signed the petition against gay marriage publicly proclaimed on the internet that she had the urge to beat the Catholic out of her mother. Media continue to bash the Church. Last week, for example, both local newspapers published headlines that took sides against the Church in the latest rounds with lawyers.
You know that three weeks ago a US Congressman joined in a pro-gay protest against the Catholic Church outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.
The questions of what is ahead of us for 2006 as Catholics can be quite ominous. That is if we look at it ominously.
If we look at it all through the eyes of faith, we may take the same line as a writer to Domenico Bettinelli's Blog (www.bettnet.com.) "This is an exciting time to be Catholic," he writes. Indeed, it is. Clearly, it is a difficult time, and you can expect it to be more difficult, but it is an exciting time. One reason is that we have to make a more conscious choice of whether or not we will live our faith everyday. That is because it may become harder.
When darkness moves in, light becomes more obvious. It appears that we are entering darker times and have been in dark times since 2002. Yet, the more we live our faith, the brighter our light will shine in contrast to the society around us. The Lord is calling us to make that choice.
Do not worry, God will be with us in every step of the way.
If you look at society around us, we are no longer just a litigious society, we have become a society of laws. Laws are stronger, more tyrannical and more intense. Why? The answer is simple, when laws increase it is because charity in the society has decreased. What you are watching has its symptoms in an attack on Catholics, but its cause is that charity is ebbing away in our society. Charity is that element of human existence that seeks to do for another what is best. It is that virtue that is self-sacrificing in its ideals and it is self-giving that others may live. The greatest form of charity we see is Jesus' death on the cross. Our nation is losing charity.
Charity is falling away and its counter opposite, fear, is growing. I think what we are watching is a psychic effect of 9/11. People are feeling vulnerable, they need a target. Catholics have become their punching bag, yet, the fear does not go away, it grows.
The bible teaches that perfect love casts out fear. You and I have to take this time as an opportunity to grow in that love and to grow in Christ.
Today's readings all talk about Jesus in our midst through the incarnation. The day, the Solemnity of Mary, focuses on His Mother's yes to being part of that incarnation. We cannot forget that through Jesus' birth, death and resurrection, we are formed into the body of Christ. Now Jesus works through us to be his servants on Earth. We are his ambassadors here in our society. However, in order to be so, we need to be in relationship with Jesus our king. We need to seek to be more and more like him and we need to grow in holiness.
We also need to understand it is not really we who are under attack in our society, it is our society that is under attack by itself. Like a societal form of leukemia, it is attacking itself. We are its first victims, the immigrants the next in the eventual long line of victims.
One of the most powerful witnesses to our faith in the twentieth century is that of St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was the Catholic Priest murdered in Auschwitz during the Nazi Reign in Poland. One of the great mysteries is to wonder if God was so great, how could he allow the holocaust and even one of his priests to be murdered in the Holocaust. After all the number of holocaust victims is 14 million people and most of those who were not part of the 6 million Jews were Catholic.
The answer needs to be seen in reverse. NAZI Germany was likewise a society imploding on itself and eventually that is exactly what happened. Again fear and lack of charity moved in bringing a similar societal disease and self destruction. Yet, those like Kolbe were not victims of the holocaust they were agents of God in the midst of the Holocaust. Kolbe's choice brought God's presence into the most starkest of places. The same can be said for the likes of Fr Walter Czizek S.J., author of He Leadeth Me, who lived fifteen years in the Soviet holocaust in Siberia and Moscow.
You and I have to realize that the more we choose Christ, the more we become similar agents of Christ, lights in a growing darkness. The darkness is the disease of the society breaking down out of fear, the light is the stability of Christ leading those who see it to his freedom. You have been given the choice to be that light.
This coming year is the year we need to say to ourselves everyday that we will be lights in the darkness. We will commit ourselves to holiness, we will commit ourselves to deepening our relationship with Christ and we will commit ourselves to looking back one year from now and seeing that on this very day, we may have thought we knew Christ, but this year led us closer to him than we even imagined. We have grown in our service to Christ and in his working through us to be a light to the world.
The writer to Domenico Bettinelli's blog, John Curran, makes an interesting quote: Even the dead float along with the current. This means, he explained that anyone can be Catholic when things are easy. Yet, those days are past. We need to focus on Christ, and have confidence that he is working through us. This week I had the opportunity to visit Our Lady of Czestochowa parish in Turner's Falls, Massachusetts. I saw a parish that was filled with the spirit of our faith. The pastor there hears 7000 confessions a year that is about 20 per day. There were about eight altar servers in the one mass ranging in age from high school to college. It was a powerful reminder of the work of the Holy Spirit in that parish.
We can ask ourselves where our parish will be one year from now, where our faith will be and our country will be. The answer will be all up to you and your choice. Will I be Christ's ambassador this year, trusting fully in Him and allowing him to help me grow in wisdom, charity and faith and be a light to my world? Or will I lose faith in him, leave the church and join the rest in our country and especially our the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lost in darkness. That choice is given you today and it is given to you 364 more times this year. The nation needs you to make the right choice, as does your family and your parish. That is because the nation needs to see the light of Christ, even if people within it appear to be cowering from it.
Today resolve to make the choice and continue doing so until we look back at 2006 and see what fruit that daily choice has brought to us in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
http://www.revrobertjcarr.com MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 230-3300
Jesus Christ, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Charity, Holocaust, NAZI, Choice, holiness, faith
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