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Being Catholic on Our Own

by Father Charles L. Fuld

Father Charles L. Fuld

Wouldn’t it be swell if everyone agreed with us as to what is right and wrong — and there were laws in effect to make it so? Why, under those circumstances we’d probably end up doing the right thing almost all the time.

I remember a time when most stores didn’t open on Sundays, or at least not until late in the afternoon. In those days, some people probably went to church simply because there weren’t too many other things to do or places to go on Sunday mornings. There wasn’t even TV in those days.

There also was a time when divorce was a rarity. If you wanted a “quickie” divorce,” you had to trek all the way to the far distant town of Reno in the state of Nevada. But nowadays, states compete with one another to see who can offer the fastest “no-fault” divorce — it is, after all, a money-making industry. So too is a freewheeling medical marijuana industry and physician-assisted suicide — especially for the elderly who, in the view of some, have outlived their usefulness or are deemed a financial burden. Then there is the publicly funded abortion industry that seems to have no regard for the pain inflicted on human beings yet-to-be-born or even those who somehow manage to survive the abortion procedure, not to mention all those who later grow to regret their decision to abort their child. Turns out abortions too are money-making as body parts of these children are allegedly sold. And then we have a U. S. Supreme Court decision that declares that the definition of marriage that you and I and our nation’s Founding Fathers grew up with, that of a union of a man and woman, the union that God created in our very makeup, is “unconstitutional.” The “what’s next” possibilities are endless, aren’t they? 

We live in a democratic nation with elected officials and courts of law, but for all its benefits and greatness, it leaves us open to views and laws that sometimes clash with our Catholic beliefs. Though we are called to respect the law, our first obligation is to God’s laws.

And, of course, there are those who would tell the Church to “get with it.” But we are called to be more than conformists; we are challenged to be “the salt of the earth.” We are called to follow Christ and His Church even when it is not the popular thing to do — not by imposing our religion on others, but by living it ourselves.

Bishop Robert W. McElroy put it succinctly when he wrote that, “The Catholic Church, along with other faith traditions, teaches that the nature of marriage and family cannot be redefined by society” and that the Church “will continue to honor and embody its teachings” while respecting the dignity of all its brothers and sisters who are “our fellow pilgrims on this earthly journey of life.”

Yes, we are called upon to respect and safeguard the life of the yet-to-be born, those who are near death, and the very old. Yes, we are called upon to uphold and live our marriage vows and to reach out to the poor, the rejected and those with whom we may disagree.

We are to live our faith — even though, at times, that will be hard.

A while ago, an elderly parishioner of mine informed me that she was about to give up her home and move in with her son and his family. She told me that he had asked her to start attending his non-Catholic church while living with them — “for the sake of unity of the family,” he said. She asked me if that would be okay. I could hear the plea in her question. Even so, I answered “no” and recommended that she ask her son to respect her religious beliefs just as she would respect his.

We, just like the disciples before us, have always been faced with these kinds of challenges. After all, we were never promised that following Jesus would be easy.

The Southern Cross

This commentary first appeared in the August 2015 issue of The Southern Cross.

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