I am 25 years old and I have been Catholic my whole life. My faith has been challenged time and again, and I have always come back to the same loving God I have always known. I grew up in a family that taught me to be a good Catholic, that is, someone who loves and accepts everyone. After all, I was told that Catholic meant "universal", and as the universal church, we are called to be welcoming to all. When it comes down to the reality of the matter, I don’t know how to be anything but "catholic". I don’t know how to be a lover of Christ and an oppressor of my neighbor. It’s just not in me. That is why today has been a struggle for me.
I have only known one pope throughout my lifetime. Like many, I had my problems with him and parts of his theology, but I always knew things could be worse. Let’s just say that I knew my church history! Nevertheless, I still managed to find faith in God, and I believe that is what is important.
As a member of the church who is often oppressed, it's even harder to accept this new pope into my life. It's hard to see the Spirit at work in all of this, when clearly, the church is not truly represented today. It is hard to be a believer when thinking about the future of this church that I call home.
Yet the reality is, I am never going to be just another face in the pew. I am not going to sit and accept more oppression. I am not going to give certain people power over me by leaving the church. I am not going to be silent.
I am going to believe in God with my whole heart, and love His people well. I am going to continue to fight injustice within society and the church. I am going to make myself known. I am going to stay in the church to make sure that there is still a voice of the faithful.
I certainly don't know how long this guy is going to last, but I know that I will last longer. I know that this time is like the temptation of Christ, but I will not faulter. I am frustrated that my brothers and sisters are oppressed daily in this world by the church and their inability to address the needs of her people. But I am also encouraged by the faith of the people and the great love that grows in the hearts of others around the world.
Faith is a journey, and I will accept this path with all that it has to offer and teach me. May the Lord grant us all a sense of love and comfort in these confusing times.
I read today this passage by St. Francis de Sales, I think it's important for these days.
Do not look forward to what my happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and ever day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strenth to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually: "The Lord is my strenth and my shield; my heart has trusted in Him and I am helped. He is not only with me but in me and I am in Him."