Is it possible to love and pray for those who offend us — even our enemies? Is it possible to suffer and find blessings even in persecution? I know of four people on the way to sainthood in the United States who exude such hope.
We have a parishioner here in Magadan, Russia, who has struggled with alcoholism for some time. She is a mom of two sons. One is a teenager, the other an eight-year-old who is extremely handicapped and the gem of our parish.
The bishop, with the laying on of hands, imparts the gift of the Spirit and then the priest, placing his hands inside those of his bishop, promises perpetual obedience. To the secular world this must seem horribly arcane but not to priests.
I am an older priest now and it seems I still know very little. But I do know this: If we want to stop the tragedy of abortion, we must show more active love to the mom and her unborn child.
Religious education methods from 50 or 60 years ago simply aren’t working now. Millennials don’t accept church doctrine and authority just because it’s what they’re supposed to do. They need more. They need reasons to believe and causes to believe in. Unfortunately many parishes fail to offer either.
Those who doubt the existence or goodness of God as affirmed by Christians often point to all the suffering in the world. How can God be compassionate if he allows suffering? How can he be a mighty God if he can’t end suffering?
I write this column to young, 20-something Catholics. You are a treasure for the church, and in need of real answers to the hard questions you face. I also write to parents who suffer when a child leaves the church and perhaps even loses her faith in God. Today’s young people need clear answers to questions that come at them from friends, the culture and even family members. Parents need help answering questions children pose. We must do better in this regard because the church is hemorrhaging young people.
In the midst of a secular society that preaches its doctrines from modern university classrooms and secular media platforms, we need to represent Christianity not as merely a good option, but the very best option for human flourishing and happiness.