Hubby and I went for a quick cocktail and appetizer at Applebee’s last evening. He had been out shopping for Tony Hawk bedding (how cute is that) for our son who is moving in for good TOMORROW, and he asked me to join him for a drink before we headed home. We’re thinking the quickie cocktail date on the fly may be a thing of the past for a while, so “OK I’ll meet you there”.
The place is surprisingly busy for a Monday evening at 9:00pm so we take a seat at the bar. Plus the bartender has met Jesse (she is related to one of the DHS people) so we wanted to give her some additional dish on developments. Anyhow, the guys sitting next to us are having an interesting conversation about religion, during which the lit up one slurs. “Catholics are the worst”, to which I laugh out loud and Hubby interjects, “We are hah”?
The sober one makes appropriate “nothing personal” noises, but the drunken one isn’t done.
“When my parents got divorced my mother had to make me a bastard in order to go back to Church, and the Church is full of hypocrites, and the Catholics are the WORST”.
I tell him he is mistaken, the Church did not make him a bastard (no he’s doing that all on his own I’m thinking). He rants off a bit more about religion in general and Catholics in particular and it occurs to me he is a man in some pain. It occurs to me as he rattles on about the hypocrisy of cafeteria Catholics that while he is not well educated in the faith he knows enough to know that Christians are called to follow the Lord in word and deed, and he’s been watching the Catholics around him. I realize Archbishop Fulton Sheen is right, people don’t hate the faith, they hate what they think they know, or they hate the Catholic people who have hurt them, or who knows what, but it’s not the Catholic faith they hate, they don’t know the faith, how can they hate it?
The same prejudices apply to Protestant attacks on the Church that tend to be based on ignorance of Catholic teaching, but mark my word, Protestants are watching the Catholics around them looking to see if we follow the teaching of the Church. Making their assesment of the Church based upon the way we live our lives.
People are in pain out there and they want to know the truth. My drunken friend on the bar stool wants the faith to mean something, he wants to cling to the Lord, he wants the witness of Catholics who have closed the cafeteria, he wants to come home and be reconciled to God. If he did not he would have nothing to say on the matter whatsoever, it would not even cross his mind. People are only angry when they care about something. Could it be that those who attack the Church really just what to know - is she who she says she is? Can she bring Jesus into the world, can I trust her, can anyone tell me this business of virtue and faith and healing and love is true, is she Christ’s body?
Is God there? That was certainly Jesse’s question last Sunday as we took him to his first Mass. We told him yes, and showed him the red lantern lit to let him know God was in the house. Now will we show him day in day out that yes, it’s all true, God is love, he loves you and wants you to live with him forever, will we teach him the faith, will he learn and internalize a loving relationship with Jesus so that when the storms of life come he has safe harbor strong in the knowledge that Christ weathered storms too, or will he be hurt by our hypocrisy and end up on a bar stool lamenting his disillusionment?
I pray we teach him that our failures are our own not those God and that we may fail a million times, but that Jesus forgives a million and one if we but repent and ask his forgivness.
Lord teach us to love others as you love us, teach us to pray for our enemies and those who attack us, have mercy on us and teach us to be merciful with others. Amen.