“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” — James 1:2
How many times recently have you read an article, overheard a conversation or saw a heated panel discussion on one of the many cable news shows regarding the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion, marriage, the male priesthood or artificial contraception? I’ll take a wild guess and presume that this has happened to you more than once in the last few months. It also probably wouldn’t be going too far to suggest that your experience probably involved the Catholic Church being strongly criticized, mocked and insulted for not caving on these core, fundamental teachings.
Whether it is the arrogant United Nations claiming the Church’s pro-life teachings promote psychological torture of women, some cowardly college students attempting to mock the source and summit of our Faith, the Eucharist, with a black mass at Harvard, or a co-worker at the coffee machine or water cooler calling you a hate-monger for supporting marriage between one man and one woman, you’ve probably noticed it is open season on Catholics and the Church. The intolerant tolerance police are coming at us full speed ahead, no holds barred, and their politically correct guns are fully loaded and pointed right at us and the Vatican.
If you’re at all like me, you might be a little punch drunk. There is only so much one can take. On top of all the bad news out there, I also felt this way after covering the canonizations of Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII. While being in Rome for the special events was powerful and moving and a blessing to cover as a Catholic journalist, my experience with the media was anything but. It was frustrating and, at times, downright depressing.
They didn’t want to talk about the hundreds of thousands of people who traveled to the Eternal City for the historic canonizations of two popes, nor did they want to talk about the contributions of these two incredible men of God. Instead they wanted to examine the Church’s need to conform to the times instead of the other way around. Wouldn’t this make the Church larger and stronger, one reporter asked me — as if the Vatican were running some sort of popularity contest. Wouldn’t this about-face give the Church more credibility and allow it to be embraced by the world and have a real influence?
In the end, however, we know that while disciplines and customs can change, over time, fundamental truths handed down from Christ cannot. We can certainly learn more about the truths, and the way to apply or teach them may also be adapted differently over time.
But the Church is still the Church, and as Jesus promised in Matthew 16, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I am determined not to let the Catholic naysayers get me down. Instead, I realize that in many ways these attacks are good news; they serve as an affirmation of the truth.
We must be doing something right. We must still be pretty important in the overall scheme of things. If not, why bother? Why not just leave us alone and let us practice our faith the way we choose? Why try so very hard to ostracize or silence us?
So I’ve decided to take the advice of St. James: when our beautiful Faith is again attacked, I’ll see the attacks as badges of honor. They can hit us with their best shot, and we will still be standing — maybe a little rougher around the edges with some bruises and broken bones, but still standing. So, indeed, count it all joy.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ava Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.