Thursday, February 2, 2012

Catholic Survival Guide for Today and Everyday

If you read the headlines, watch the news or just go on Facebook in the Catholic blogosphere (admittedly my favorite place to hang), you know that the administration's HHS policy has long tentacles, and that it is an assault on religious liberties for the government to tell religious institutions that they must violate their creed and consciences or face heavy fines.  Catholics in particular have been put on notice, we have a year to discern how to engage in civil disobedience or get the rule changed.

So what does this mean?  Does it mean the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown, Boston College, Saint Mary's College and all Catholic universities, high schools, elementary schools and hospitals, charities and outreach programs that employ people must then cease to provide health insurance, inflating the rolls of the uninsured into the millions?

Does it mean the Catholic Church cannot provide coverage for retirees who have served in good faith for decades and who now need that help to manage existing health needs?  Does it mean people will be paid more so they can then purchase insurance themselves?  Will this simply mean people now have to individually purchase products which provide these products deemed illicit (contraception/sterilization/abortion pills)? How will individuals being forced to purchase things as part of a bundled package be less in violation of one's faith values? 

 There has to be another way to turn the other cheek, to simply not provide what the government demands, but remain true to being a source of light and hope to the world in word and deed.  Perhaps it is time to create a Catholic insurance company to provide for those who wish to be fully faithful? Or are we in a deeper problem than we recognize? Will they even allow that?  I suspect not.

 I don't know, but I hear the faint cry of lions. Think it is Cassandra calls to the Trojans? Perhaps these concerns will go unheard, but then the Trojans didn't listen either. 

What will Civil Disobedience look like?   I don't know. But we'd best be prepared.

As such, if we have to go and fight our government to allow for our Faith to be lived out in our daily lives, in home and work, we need to be ready. What does every Catholic need to be prepared?

1) Get to mass. The weekly obligation always existed, but many of us dismissed this as an option.  It's necessary. More necessary than the 3,000 mile oil change.   We need to celebrate the mass because it is where our identity as Catholics comes from, and the word and the Eucharist provide spiritual strength, grace, Christ himself as strengthening for the trials of our lives, both outside and internal.

2) Get to a Doctor.  I don't mean your local physician.  I mean now is the time to go bone up on the giants that helped pound out in words, what it is we believe and why we believe.  There are 35+ to choose from; they are a means of deepening what may have become simply habit.  There is a list here.

3) Talk to your Mother.  Yes. I mean Mary.  Pray the rosary...daily.  You've got a commute. It's a great way to relieve the stress of traffic.   You've got troubles, Mary listens.  You've got people to pray for, Mary intercedes.  You've got things to be thankful for, Mary smiles.   The rosary is one of the most potent weapons we have in this battle that is always ongoing. 

4) Avail yourself of the sacrament of Reconciliation regularly.  Being free from sin allows you to see more clearly, to understand more as God understands.  It allows you to love better those you are called to love. 

5) Open the bible.  Discover your heritage.  The Old Testament and the New are waiting, they are treasures that can develop and deepen your understanding of all that is.  I recommend the Psalms.

6) Spend an hour in adoration.  Once a week, can you give an hour?  We are supposed to chose the better part, and that means sitting at the foot of Jesus.  It's hard.  It's contemplative prayer. 

7) Fast.  Give up a little something every day. It can be different every day, no computer, no diet coke, no chocolate, no fast food.  Surrender one of your go to appetites each day as a gift, as a form of prayer, as a sublimation of one's self. 

8) Live out your faith in your deeds. In what you do and don't do.  It includes all of that feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, caring for the sick, and praying for the deceased and also praying for one's enemies and using charity in thought and deed and word. St. Francis's words, "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." have to be lived.  And no, it's not easy.

9) Seek the help of the experts, the all stars, the Saints. They aren't just patrons for specific petitions, they're guides to Christ.  All of them have wisdom about how we're supposed to live, how we're supposed to respond to trials, and what these trials have to teach us.  

10) Be of great cheer about all of this, it's going to be a full life. 


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