Our Hearts are Restless...
We live today in a largely secular culture which embraces many values which differ from the Christian way of life, and that culture is often hostile to Christianity. That culture has influenced large numbers of Catholics, young and old, to turn away from the Church into which they were baptized, so much so that it has been said that the second largest Christian group—after the Catholic Church, which is the largest—is made up of people who were baptized Catholic and have left the Catholic faith. I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know, since many of you are suffering the pain of having loved ones who have left the Church.
In the First Letter of Peter we hear an important message: Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope [1 Peter 3:15]. This message was originally addressed to Christians who were living in an environment very much like our own … Christians who faced a difficult time because they often suffered ridicule or oppression from those among whom they lived. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the same message is relevant for us today.
I’m going to post here some questions which I believe are very important for us to be able to answer intelligently, both for our own good and for the good of those who challenge our Catholic faith. I invite you to think about how you would answer these questions:
 “I don’t think religion is very important or even relevant to life today. Why should I think otherwise?” And you would say …?
 “I’m a good person and I don’t need to worry about any divine judgment about my life.” And you would say …?
 “I consider all religions to be true; how can you Catholics say that your religion is the true one?” And you would say …?
 “Look, it doesn’t really matter which religion you believe, does it?” And you would say …?
 “We can’t know which religion is true, even if we did think religion was important.” And you would say …?
As the First Letter of Peter says, Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. During Lent I would be interested in having some meetings with any parishioners who would like to explore the answers to these questions and others like them. I believe it’s crucial that we be able to respond to them, partly because these are the kinds of questions our young people are facing when they encounter our culture, but also because the Faith which is so precious to us is so often misunderstood and/or the subject of ridicule.
I know that Saints Peter and Paul parish in Virgil is having a Lenten program called
on late Sunday afternoons, but I’m not aware of anything scheduled for St. Mary’s. I am open to any suggestions about when we might hold something there. Of course, St. Mary’s parishioners are welcome to join the program at Saints Peter and Paul.
Whatever will be available for us during this coming Lent, I encourage you to consider the questions above. Fortunately, due to the blessing of the Internet, we can find all kinds of good information about our Faith. Unfortunately, it’s also true that not everything on the web about our Faith is correct, so please feel free to check things out if you have a question about something you come across.
Here are some names I would recommend if you’re going to search the Internet for good Catholic material: Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire) ... Scott Sullivan (Catholic Theist) ... Peter Kreeft ... Catholic Answers (Catholic.com) ... Fr. Robert Spitzer … Brandon Vogt. Of course, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible are basic for Catholic teaching.
We should be proud of our Catholic Faith, and humbly grateful that God has given it to us. May we come to know, embrace and love it ever more deeply.