As a Catholic priest I am charged with preaching the Gospel—the Good News. I can certainly point out all of the things that are confusing or even scandalous in the Catholic Church. However, there are important reasons why true Catholics do not give up hope in spite of the many obstacles we face. We do not flee when the wolf attacks the sheep. We do not deny Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We remain faithful even if everyone calls us ridiculous, stupid or out of touch. Remember in the Beatitudes we are told that we are actually blessed when we are unjustly persecuted.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt. 5: 11-12)
Opposition and persecution have been present from the beginning of the Church and continue to this day.
Let me reflect with you on some of my reasons for ongoing hope within the Catholic Church:
- Jesus is victorious over sin and death. Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, rather than being a defeat, was a victory. Jesus rose from the dead. Death has no more power over Him. His Resurrection gives every Christian the hope of eternal life. While we have not yet seen the culmination of all of God’s plans, we know Who has already won the victory. Christus Vincit!
- Jesus promised to remain with His Church. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28: 20) First, Jesus remains with us in the Holy Eucharist. We believe in His Real Presence on our altars and in our tabernacles. We also have the Sacred Scriptures to guide and inspire us. Through the ministerial priesthood Christ still acts in each sacrament. Christ remains with His Church whenever we gather in His name, but most especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
- Jesus told us that evil will not prevail. “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16: 18) Through the centuries, there have been bitter battles for the soul of the Church. We have seen many martyrs. We have had bad popes, bishops, priests, etc. Attempts have been made to destroy the Church from within and from without. Despite all such attempts, the Church remains. And it will remain.
- Our Lady continues to intercede for us, her children. Devotion to Our Blessed Mother is a sine qua non for any believing Catholic. I have been especially devoted to the apparitions of Fatima (Portugal) and to the other approved apparitions like Lourdes (France), Guadalupe (Mexico), etc. According to the seer Sr. Lucia, the message given at Fatima from Our Lady was ”In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” When we pray the Hail Mary, we ask for Our Lady’s intercession now and at the hour of our death. She was given to us at the foot of the cross to be our spiritual mother. She continues to intercede for her children and to care about their eternal salvation as any good mother would.
I continue to have hope. What is going on in the Church still concerns me tremendously. Yet, we need to remain faithful to the Lord as He is always faithful to us. If you have any doubts, look at the crucifix.
Fr. Ed Namiotka