June 19, 2012

Standing Firm on our Principles

We seem to be going from crisis to crisis, at least according to the dominant voices of our culture.   There is a reason for this.  In the midst of a crisis, we are usually told that the end justifies the means.  In other words, a state of crisis is often used by the unscrupulous to manipulate and to silence people of principle. Here is the battle in which we are tested.  The principles we believe, those propositions of our faith as Christians, those things to which we boldly adhere, our Creed itself is what is under assualt.  No matter the crisis, the principles of the Christian faith are infallibly true and in this battle, our faith is being made pure and strong if we stand firm. 

Faith is a contest that involves courage, struggle and constant effort.  Today more than at any time in history we face a constant onslaught of all kinds of trials, hardships and persecutions against Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular.  We confront all kinds of evil both from within and from outside the Church.   In each scandal that rocks the People of God, in every governmental assault on the consciences of faithful, in the endless cultural attacks by the entertainment industry on all that is good and wholesome in our way of life; in all of this, the principles of the Christian faith are tested again and again. 

It is a grave mistake to see this test from only a human level or to try to overcome it by human cleverness alone.  In fact, we must persevere against principalities and powers not only for our own sakes, but especially for the sake of those who have made themselves our enemies.  Love for them demands our fidelity to the truth - such fidelity may help not only our enemies but us ourselves to rethink our hostility to one another and rediscover the dignity we share together.  Such humanzing fidelity is rooted in a radical trust in God - our faithfulness to Him flows from the fact that He is always more faithful to us.

In the midst of a battle this fierce and prolonged, it is easy to lose heart and to be gripped with all kinds of insecurities.   A lack of confidence thwarts many who otherwise would do something beautiful for God.   This is why we must not only be faithful to God, but we also must encourage one another by both words and prayer.   The battle of our faith is a personal struggle for freedom but it is also a battle for communion, true communion with God and one another.  The battle is won when our love for one another is built up deeper and stronger in friendship with God.

The battle of faith is won by standing on the principles that live in our hearts, the truths we know are true.  The articles of our faith handed on and entrusted to us by the Church: this is the firm ground of our hearts, the battlefield where we take our stand.  Our weapons are prayer, fasting and works of mercy.  If we stand firm, our victory is assured.  This is because by believing what we profess in the Symbol of our Faith, we have access to the Lord Himself -- He is our courage even when we feel no courage at all. 
With Him and through Him, all things are possible, even victory in the face of overwhelming and oppressive force.   For indeed He has already won this victory and we are only extending the fruits of his triumph into our own lives when we stand firm in prayer and refuse to lose heart. This is the substance of our hope - the living presence of the Risen Lord who never abandons us and to whom we have bold access in faith.