One question I would like to pose, as we begin this time together, is “Why are you Catholic?” It is helpful for us to reflect on why it is that we keep coming back here. The Catholic faith is hard to practice. It demands that we forgive the ones we least want to forgive and love those who are hardest to love. It calls for sacrifice, discipline, and penance. Its teachings are hard. There are altars, crucifixes, and blood. Narrow is the road it proposes.
Many say that Catholic demands are way too stringent. There are many other belief systems out there. Few of them have as many rules, commandments, precepts, and obligations. There are other churches very close by who promise a lighter moral load. A lot of them even have more comfortable seats and better coffee.
But we Catholics know that a healthy spirit is one that strives. We have been created to rise up. There is resurrection only through the way of the Cross. So we thrill at our Lord’s summons to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).
G.K. Chesterton once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” We all know the path is difficult but we also know that there is no cost too great to pay. We have come to know the priceless value of the Good News and we have tasted the abundant fruit of God’s goodness. It’s too good to turn back. It urges us on to ever more glory.
As pastor, I always try to be in the discerning mode, continually asking, “What is God doing among the people? What new blessings are waiting to spring forth among us? How is God calling our parish onward and upward? Who among us is God setting apart for a new mission? Who among us is answering a new calling from the Lord?”
As your pledges and stewardship forms come in, I watch and listen, and I pray. You help me to know what is possible and to believe. You help me to see what God is doing.
So thank you in advance for your love and offerings here at Nativity of Mary. Thank you for not leaving the grace of God untried. May we all grow in our Catholic faith in the year to come, as we commend again our time of stewardship renewal to the intercession of our Blessed Mother and patroness.