I knew I was going to be irked as soon as I saw the envelope: “Documents on the War on Catholic Youth and our Church enclosed”. I was too curious to throw the envelope away, and I opened it to find a “survey” and appeal from an organization for which someone dear to me volunteers, but which I’ve never been able to get behind. The work they do is good, the ideology doesn’t resonate with me.
“The advocates of secularism and godlessness are targeting America’s youth and the Catholic Church just as carefully and heartlessly as an insurgent points his rifle at an enemy soldier”.
Let’s imagine that the “forces” influencing youth are interested in anything other than making money. Let’s imagine they really are taking on the Church. Let’s imagine religious faith is seen as a threat. Why would it be?
Because religious convictions ideally mean that people base their choices on that most powerful and unpredictable force: Love. A life based on Love is harder to manipulate or control. A life based on Love finds its own meaning rather than searching for meaning in consumption and strength. That is the power of a spiritual life at its best.
I believe Love is what leads people to religion and spirituality, not railing against “anti-Catholic” college professors or sending push polls. I find nothing attractive about imagining myself beseiged, or retreating to the fortress. Yes, troubling cultural trends may convince me to work harder, but they won’t convince me to be afraid.
The only other piece of mail yesterday was from my mother. In a twenty-year-old envelope from the family business’ previous incarnation she had stuffed an article about a chocolatier with “ROAD TRIP!!!” scrawled across the top, and a picture of a duck from a newspaper circular, just because she liked it.
For me, that’s what being Catholic means: being open to seeing beauty in little things, and caring enough to share that beauty. I am Catholic not because any side of the culture war won the battle for my soul, but because I’ve integrated the sacramental lens of grace into my worldview and discovered it is more than enough for me.