In the RSV interpretation of the Bible, Lamentations 5 has the subheading, “A Prayer for Mercy.” It continues to lay out the persecution and suffering from enemies, reminding me of the current state of the Catholic Church in America and perhaps the world. Recently as a whole, we have struggled, we have failed to catechize, we have failed to evangelize, we have sinned, we don’t know Scripture well, and we have ultimately forgotten how to be a truly Christlike, spiritual people.
We beg God for mercy and forgiveness for hurting others, continually seek conversion, and pray that we may find respite in this society which has become vehemently antiCatholic in the process.
But the dreary current state of affairs is nothing new for God’s people (as displayed repeatedly in the Old Testament, including here in Lamentations) and certainly not for Christians after Jesus’ death. We know that every Catholic can’t be categorized by the descriptions above, just like the book of Lamentations is not an entire representation of God’s love. It is one perspective from which we can learn about suffering about humility, but it must also be looked at in the context of hope and mercy.
We know that the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against Christ’s Church, so I want to challenge you for a minute.When you see antiCatholic media, do you respond with love and pray for those people? Do you speak respectfully of them? Or do you speak poorly of them and become irate? How well can you relate to people who are not Catholic or even Christian? Do you tend to avoid them because you feel uncomfortable? Or do you firmly defend the dignity of the human person?
If a stranger was given an audio tape of your conversations throughout the entire day, would they be able to guess that you are a Catholic? What if they were given a video with no audio? Do your actions and words align with your beliefs?
I ask these because I think it’s important to reflect on them every few weeks and truly take a hard look at ourselves. We owe it to our families and friends, to the world, to God. Are we who we say we are? Do we really believe that God’s word is true and that the gates of hell can never prevail against us? What are we afraid of?
Christianity is countercultural by its very nature, so I don’t expect to be graciously accepted anytime soon. However, changing the perceptions of the Catholic Church and Jesus Christ begins in each one of us individually. Let us send God prayers of mercy. Let us be courageous and daring and bold. Let us be Catholic. Are you up to the challenge?