Friends, I've been part of the Church ever since I was baptized 19 days after my birth. And for almost all of my childhood and adult life, I've been involved in ministry, mostly liturgical, in some way.
Growing up, I had many mentors who modeled for me the joy and hope they had in our Church—in serving it through ministry, in shaping it through collaboration with clergy, and in sharing proudly why faith—their Catholic faith—mattered and made a difference.
But times have changed, and that joy and hope that was so infectious among the people I looked to for encouragement, have slowly seeped away and become tepid by years of disappointment and discouraging events. I look around and some of those leaders from my youth have left ministry or the Church or even a life of faith altogether, very few of my peers remain, and many of those younger than I find ever fewer reasons to stay.
As I get older, I continue to understand even more my responsibility to build up and encourage those around me, especially those who wonder if it will ever get better, this Church we love. Can we learn to pray together despite our differences, forgive and offer forgiveness despite our hurt, express our thoughts and listen to the thoughts of others with mutual respect and openness, serve side by side in the mission of Christ in all the varied ways the Holy Spirit transforms hearts and the world? Most of all, can we stay at the table and act and respond with charity even when it seems impossible to find common ground?
The idea for this blog started because a good friend of mine was losing hope not just in the Church but in himself. To lose a committed minister in the Church because of discouragement is sad; to lose a person of faith because of my own silence is sinful.
So why do I stay? Why do I believe it gets better? What still gives me joy and hope in the Church, and why does it still matter?
This will not be an easy effort, and I don't want this to become a place for simple, easy, feel-good answers. Finding joy doesn't always mean things are going just fine and being hopeful is an act of faith in what we can only see dimly or even not at all. As a wise friend said, "there's no real 'better' that doesn't go through the Cross."
The Church is both holy and in need of healing during this advent time of waiting in joyful (and blessed) hope for our final transformation and union with Christ. Thankfully, that Cross gives us a common mission of dying to ourselves that Christ may transform the world through the faith we share, the hope we give, and the love we show others.
Will it really get better? I don't know for sure. I have faith it will. But I think we're all in need of some gaudium et spes these days.
So get your video cameras and iPhones going and your thoughts down in writing and share with us:
- your full name and a little about yourself and your faith story,
- where you still find joy (the gaudium part) in the Church,
- and where you see the hope (the spes part) for deeper conversion to Christ.
E-mail your YouTube, Vimeo, or online audio links, or your written thoughts to:
I'll post any contributions that serve the mission of this project: to encourage others in their Catholic faith by naming the joy and hope of being Christian in the Church today. I reserve the right to not post submissions or comments that do not serve that objective or meet common standards of respectful discourse.
I hope this effort helps us remember why we stay and encourages us to do what we can in our own circles of influence to call the Church and all its members—on whatever level we work in, whether that's our home, or parish, or chancery, or national organization—back to the mission of Christ.
- Diana Macalintal