In some ways, now is a terrible time to be a Catholic.
I involuntarily wince every time another Catholic scandal — another revelation of sin and evil in the Church — hits the headlines.
It hurts me, because I’m embarrassed. But it hurts me more because I love Jesus Christ. And I can only imagine that these scandals — from the lapses to the outrages — hurt him very much.
Our Lord founded the Church — by that I mean, he commissioned us, his disciples down the ages — to proclaim the Good News. To attract people to him.
Sometimes I think we’re not doing a very job of it. When I read those shameful headlines, I often think of Mahatma Gandhi’s words:
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
We all know people who are so disheartened by the Church’s dysfunction, that they are leaving. But then there are also people who — despite everything! — are coming into the Catholic Church.
Four young men — ranging in age from 12 to 28 — became Catholic during Hamilton’s Easter Vigil last night. They are accompanied by more than a million others, all over the world, who are receiving the sacraments this Easter.
So in other ways, now is a wonderful time to be a Catholic! Jesus Christ is risen! Light has overcome darkness. Life has vanquished death.
If the headlines I mentioned evoke the betrayal of Holy Thursday and the darkness of Good Friday, then the reception of our new Catholics evokes the dazzling light of Easter Sunday.
A new dawn. New life.
It’s no coincidence, of course, that the Church celebrates so many baptisms at Easter. The two are closely related. As Archbishop Coleridge so memorably puts it, “Baptism is Easter with your name on it.”
(If you’ve got six minutes, watch his Easter message.)
Given this link between Easter and baptism, and the phenomenon of so many adults coming into the Catholic Church at Easter, it’s a good time for all of us to ask, “Why am I a Catholic?”
The bloggers at Patheos’ Catholic channel have answered just that. There are as many answers as there are posts! That speaks to the catholicity of Catholicism I think.
Our faith is sometimes painted as narrow and authoritarian. Sometimes, we’re even tempted to view the faith that way ourselves. But we should reject that!
In the words of James Joyce, “Catholic means, ‘here comes everybody.’” Our faith is too big for any one person to get a handle on it. The Catholic faith is as large as the heart and mind of God, which is eternal.
When we live the Catholic faith sincerely, when we “become like Christ,” as Gandhi put it, then our own hearts and minds are enlarged, so that we can bring to others the hope and the light that Easter brings to us.