Friday, August 16, 2013

Where is the Fire?

Yesterday was a great day. Why? Well, for many reasons. But one pretty good reason is because it was the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary! I had the opportunity to go to Mass last night at a parish whose priest is particularly enthusiastic about spreading devotion to Mary. It just struck me that we are so lucky to have such a wonderful role model, someone who knew Jesus in such an intimate way, and someone who has appeared all over earth to reach out to us. She is like the world's greatest evangelist. She knew her Son so well, and knew His capacity and desire for love, that she wants everyone else in the world to know Him too. Whether it's praying the rosary or consecrating yourself to Mary, there are so many ways that our mother Mary gives us to ask for her help on the road to holiness. I could go on forever about Mary, but that's actually not the point of this blog.

Assumed body and soul into heaven... BOSS. 

Now that all non-Catholics have probably already navigated away from this page (sorry... but Mary is just really legit), I want to share another brief story from yesterday. Last night, after a beautiful evening of celebrating Mary, I came back to an email from one of my friends. She shared with me a really cool testimony of a woman named Monica who had been struggling with a lot of things, substance abuse, depression, loneliness, etc., but she was invited into a church where she heard God speak to her in a very direct and new way. Well, insert time lapse, and now she is now living a transformed life, a new person, alive in the joy of Christ. It's so beautiful to see a life change in such an incredible way, but there was something about her testimony that kind of disturbed me. She describes her experience growing up Catholic. She went to church sometimes with her mom and passed the checkpoints of receiving her first Communion and later Confirmation, but it didn't really mean anything to her. She describes feeling like it was an obligation, like it was something she "had to do," not something she "wanted to do."

This got me thinking of my own experience growing up as a Catholic. Now, even though I can count on one hand the amount of times I've missed Sunday Mass in my life, and I spent countless hours as a child inundated with Veggie Tales, I have to admit that I had similar feelings regarding my Catholic faith. It was always about rules. If I went to a wedding on a Saturday, did the Mass count as my Sunday obligation? Can I actually break my Lenten sacrifice on Sundays? Is the one-hour Eucharistic fast before Mass starts or before actually receiving the Eucharist? These were my greatest concerns. 

In college, however, I was blessed by encountering a community of people who were Catholic and proud to be so! They had a zeal for the teachings of the Catholic faith, and just when I was starting to question my beliefs the most, they showed me the beauty of the Church by the way that they lived their lives. I realized how AWESOME our faith actually is! We have friends in high places (namely, the saints) who are constantly helping us grow in holiness. And what about MARY?! We've already covered that. We have the sacraments, not because God wants us to prove our faith by participating in them, but so that He can POUR OUT HIS LOVE through them. Best of all, we have been given the gift of the Eucharist. We can spend time in adoration in His presence. Through transubstantiation (big vocab words...another perk to being Catholic) Jesus is present in His most vulnerable form just so that we can receive Him weekly--or daily if we choose; so that He can give us strength and be physically united with us. We have an awesome faith!! And this is only the basics... there is so much more! 
Pope Francis is sure happy to be Catholic!

So then, I have to ask myself, why, if this faith is so awesome, do people have to LEAVE it to encounter Christ? What are we Catholics doing wrong? It sure isn't GOD making people leave the Catholic Church. Where is the passion of the saints and martyrs? 

Well, I'm not going to answer that question for you. Just think about it. 

If your faith is just an obligation to you, don't you want something more? What is the point of your faith? Do you actually believe what you practice?

If your faith has come alive, do those sitting next to you in the pew every week feel the same? If not, maybe you should do something about that. If yes, praise God! Get together with them and show other Catholics the beauty of their faith! 

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