Lead article from the December 2018 bulletin, online now.
As Catholics, we get up on Sunday, morning, get dressed and make our way to Mass. It could be in Albertville, St. Michael or anywhere else on the planet. We come to give thanks. We come to seek direction. We come to acknowledge the beliefs we hold dear. Our lives may be running like a finely tuned sports car as we listen to the homily. We are doing what we think is natural and good. We see all around us in church our friends and other familiar faces. We see role-model leaders who receive special blessings and gifts allowing them to rise in order to give practical proof that what we strive for can be done. We see great marriages based on love and faith. We see those who hold a secure and steady job over the years creating comprehensive family stability. Our priests articulate our Catholic beliefs during Mass and explain to us how to live out the faith.
We all then walk back through those same church doors into our cars and smack headlong into something called the human condition---the sometimes harsh, on-the-ground, real-life week to come. There are those whose lives are not running like a finely tuned sports car. Theirs are more like an old beat-up Chevrolet overdue for a tune-up. Their marriages may be neglected and weakened. Their kids may not be burdened with seamless transitions into the teenage years. Many have to work their butts off to get Bs. They may be struggling with poverty, unemployment, addiction or severe health issues, physical or psychological. Any fill-in-the-blank human condition reality. No one leaving Mass on Sunday is immune from these possible predicaments including our leaders and priests.
It's important that we hold this truth close, lest we fall into an idealized fiction we cannot reach. The saints are among those we hold most dear. They are great examples of those who were able to overcame the world by lifting their faith in Christ above all. Their stories are replete with how they were able to meet and defeat the human condition through faith. Their sufferings in some cases were beyond our imaginations. Many of their stories seem idealized and beyond credulity. One thing we know for sure is they all had to live within that same condition.
I am a fair distance from the starting line to sainthood, let alone the finish, and would think myself foolish and pretentious to believe I could be close. One interesting observation in my limited study of the saints is that very many of them chose a life of solitude versus settling down and having a load of kids, a bunch actually leaving arranged marriages to give all to Christ. (Just saying....somebody should write a book about this.)
Let's remember this Christmas to pray for all who are struggling and remember that they sit in the same pews that we do every Sunday. It is true that the Catholic tent is filled with strong families. It is no less true that there are many families who struggle. Most I suspect are mired in the middle (my family included). One thing is for sure, the answers for all families can be discovered in Christ within the walls of their local Catholic Church. Merry Christmas to everyone.