Season of renewal

With the autumn comes the opportunity to begin anew. The promise of crisp mornings and cool evenings invigorates a sluggish soul and even the most distantly removed from the back-to-school scene can’t help but smile at the sight of a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. Never has an infusion of newness been more appreciated than after the summer of scandal.

“What is new?” one counters.

Indeed. No crisis has been settled or solved. What is new is this day. What is new is this season. What is new is the strengthened resolve of committed Catholics to live their faith more fervently because truly, it’s costing us something. These are not easy days to be Catholic.

Many of us feel relatively powerless. We sign letters. We voice concerns. We follow the news carefully, and express bewilderment and concern when there is no news except professed silence. It seems like it matters not. What do we do? How do we inhale the newness of this season into our souls and renew our lives of faith?

First, know and support the good priests. If you live in a community where you have questions about practices at your parish that seem open to potential abuse, speak up. Get to know the people who live and work in your rectory and parish office. On a very local level, insist on the wholehearted pursuit of holiness. Then, be supportive. Most priests are good and holy men. They’ve vowed to spend their lives in fulltime service to God. They are wedded to the church. How heartbreaking and discouraging these days must be for them. Encourage good priests with enthusiasm. Ensure them of your prayers, express gratitude for the good they do, and don’t hesitate to offer practical support as well. 

Fully engage in the life of your church. Locally, this means faithful attendance at Mass on Sundays, but it means so much more. Consider adding daily Masses to your plans, shoring yourself up and regularly pouring grace into your being. Celebrate with reverence and with love. Look for opportunities for fellowship outside of Mass as well. Seek to be better formed in your faith, to continue learning about its depth and drawing from its wisdom. Much is being asked of Catholics today, but it seems like such a small price to pay when one considers the treasure of the Catholic faith. Do you know what those treasures are? 

Then, look to your home. Particularly if you are someone who is struggling to trust your local church (or the current hierarchy of the universal church), home is a good place to start to renew your spiritual life. May I recommend that you take the Bible from its shelf and put it somewhere that invites you to check in frequently during the day? God is there. He has written his love story for you. It’s ready and waiting and he wants to share.

I also recommend that if you’re struggling with the church — as in the building and the people — enter into the liturgy of the hours. Pray in rhythm with the church and gather grace and strength there. Read the wisdom of church fathers in the Office of Readings. Immerse yourself in the scripture that the universal church prays each day. You will find yourself in step with the good and holy Catholic Church. 

Open your doors. The early church made its home in the houses of people of faith. Let your dining table, living room or patio be a place of fellowship, of study and of prayer. Gather just a few people at a time into your home to foster mutual support and encouragement. Learn together. And pray together. 

The last few weeks have been so ugly. They have been angry and exhausting and terrifying. 

What do we do?

We look to our children to see what they do when they are angry and tired and afraid. Then, we climb up on our mother’s lap and we weep. We seek Mary and her consolation. We remember that it was when he was suffering that he looked down on us and said, “Behold your mother.”

This is where we go when hurt.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

@elizabethfoss