The Challenge is Great

10-02-2022From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

To say the least, it is very challenging to live as Catholics in our nation today. But is there any other way to peace in our hearts and peace in our world? In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Luke 17:5-10) the Apostles say to Jesus: “Increase our faith.” The stronger our faith, the more our lives are centered in Jesus and His presence in our lives and our presence in His life.

The past two weeks I have written about our upcoming parish retreat in the first week of Lent. Certainly that is a time to nurture our faith. But every day is a time to nurture and be nurtured by our faith.

In following pages of this bulletin you will see a report of how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is trying to “prevent Catholic hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and health care workers from carrying out their work.” I encourage you to read this report. It is a dreadful challenge to who we are as human beings and as Catholics in the current place of morality we are immersed in at this time in our country. It has to do with sexual feelings and the consequences of sexual activity between men and women. HHS obviously promotes abortion and now, the latest challenge, sex change operations for children. HHS guidelines accuse Catholic institutions and individuals who object to these practices as being discriminatory. How sad that evil has such a stranglehold on the minds and hearts of so many of our elected officials and of some of our fellow citizens. Not only are we accused of discrimination, we are portrayed as narrow-minded bigots who are out of step with 21st century America. If we keep going in this direction, I truly fear what a moral disaster our country will be if it makes it to the 22nd century.

Our encouragement is to take to heart the words of St. Paul to Timothy in the second reading at Mass today (2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14): “Beloved: I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.”

We are not a problem for our government and HHS but the hope of our nation. It is not our job to condemn, belittle, or walk away. Filled with the love of Jesus, we have the treasure of His presence and the power of His Spirit. Jesus bore witness to the truth of God’s love and justice to His last words on the cross. He is the light of the truth of who we truly are as human beings and all we are truly capable of when we live in the light of faith as individuals and as Catholics. The challenge is great and seems insurmountable at times. The cross was not an insurmountable victory for evil, only a temporary distraction from the power of who we are - children of God created in the very image and likeness of God Himself. Ours is a challenge but also the joy of knowing we are sustained, encouraged, and guided by Jesus who is the only Way, Truth, and Life. We seek to reach out to those with same sex attraction through Courage and Encourage. We support and open our hearts to women who come seeking help at Pregnancy Centers that offer the alternative to abortion. We are not the problem but lights on the path to truth and peace.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, too many people are on the highway to destruction of who we are as the children of God. How encouraging it is to pray Psalm 139 with hope.

O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar. You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you. Before ever a word is on my tongue you know it, O Lord, through and through. Behind and before you besiege me, your hand ever laid upon me. Too wonderful for me this knowledge, too high, beyond my reach. O where can I go from your spirit, or where can I flee from your face? If I climb the heavens, you are there. If I lie in the grave, you are there. If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell at the sea's furthest end, even there your hand would lead me, your right hand would hold me fast. If I say: "Let the darkness hide me and the light around me be night," even darkness is not dark for you and the night is as clear as the day. For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother's womb. I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation. Already you knew my soul my body held no secret from you when I was being fashioned in secret and molded in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw all my actions, they were all of them written in your book; every one of my days was decreed before one of them came into being. To me, how mysterious your thoughts, the sum of them not to be numbered! If I count them, they are more than the sand; to finish, I must be eternal, like you. O search me, God, and know my heart. O test me and know my thoughts. See that I follow not the wrong path and lead me in the path of life eternal. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is how and ever shall be.

Psalm Prayer: You watch over heaven and earth, Lord Jesus. Your death brought light to the dead; your resurrection gave joy to the saints; your ascension made the angels rejoice. Your power exceeds all power. Lead us to life eternal, and watch over us with your love. May your friends be filled with honor and join you in heaven.