As my wife and I prepare to travel tomorrow I find myself reflecting on a conversation I had with an agnostic friend a few years ago. He asked me what I liked about being Catholic and wondered why I didn’t see the Church as old and outdated. I said I viewed the Catholic faith as a large rock in a flowing stream. Over time the currents rush by every day and the rock remains. Over huge periods of time, the rock may move a little due to the current but the change is gradual.
Our society clings to constant movement in life. Apps, Facebook, Twitter and the latest polls are constantly telling us to change our minds, update our lives or post our views. We are barraged with thoughts that constant change and updates are a requirement of life equal to breathing. Sometimes I find myself in a need to slow down and worry less about updating my life and start living my life. Sometimes we all need a rock.
The Church is my rock. It is what I need when everything else is about living in the moment and believing in what is popular. The Catholic faith provides stability for me…it is the mighty rock that does not change with the rush of new fads, new technology or new information. It remains steadfast. One of my favorite things to do is to go to Church on vacation. It is a reminder that with my faith I can go anywhere in the world and experience the same Mass as my parish at home. If you take a moment to reflect on that simple fact, it is an amazing view of our faith. That every hour of every day in this world someone is praying for you and me and celebrating what we hold sacred.
Are their things that I personally wish would change about the Catholic Church? Sure. But that is the best part; the church does not change for the individual or even the majority. It only changes when… change better reflect Christ’s mission of service to fellow man, to increase our resolve to protect and hold sacred every human life and to better reflect God’s love for us all.
So while politicians may attempt to use the Pope Francis’ Welcome Ceremony at the White House to bring attention to the differences of the Catholic Church and American society (see WSJ article on invited guests). I will use it as an opportunity to Stand with my Rock and pray that God continues to give Pope Francis the wisdom to guide His faithful people.
There are times in every person’s life where everything feels like a struggle and around every corner there seems to be unexpected burdens, additional costs and unforeseen roadblocks in life. The beginning of this summer was that time for me. It seemed that everything in our house was broken at the same time, it took almost a month to have my AC fixed and things at work were stressful. And, my 40th birthday was June 10th.
Two days after my 40th birthday, my wife and I found out that God had chosen for us to have our 4th child (to add to my 12 year old daughter, and 10 and 8 year old sons). While I was overjoyed to welcome this great news, as a Father, I was also overwhelmed with all of the issues that new fatherhood brings: did I make enough money to support another child, could I be a good father to a newborn at 40, how was I going to stay up at night, is our house big enough, and the realization that we have donated every baby item to friends or charity.
Needless to say I had a lot of questions and doubts. And when those times happen, I find myself turning to God for a sign. As I write this, it seems so foolish to ask God to give me something to let me know it would be OK. But two days after my wife’s 1st OB visit, I received an email that stated as CEO of Catholic Charities I would receive 2 tickets to the Papal Mass in DC. This was my sign…
I remember instantly feeling that I didn’t deserve this opportunity. Here I was worried about the blessing that God has given my wife and I, when some of the very couples we help at CCEVA are struggling to create their own families. The truth is that there are so many people on our staff, and many volunteers at local parishes and in our community that deserve to be in the presence of our Holy Father more than I.
So, I have to bring you with me. While physically this is impossible, spiritually this is a necessity. As my wife and I make our way to DC next week, we will be doing our best to show you everything we are experiencing through this blog, our CCEVA Facebook page and Twitter feed. And, more importantly, we will be bringing our CCEVA book of prayer intentions to pray for at the Papal Mass.
When I told my grandmother about the Papal Mass I realized something very important. My grandmother’s family consisted of generations of Catholics and none of them would have ever dreamed of being in the presence of the Pope. In turn, the likelihood that my children will ever be afforded the opportunity that I am given next week is slim.
This is not the chance of a lifetime… it is the opportunity of generations.