Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

March 30, 2010

"From the Same Mouth Comes Blessing and Cursing" (James 3:10)

I was out for dinner and drinks with a few of my colleagues last Friday, which I had been looking forward to for awhile. Sometimes we just need to support one another in our work and in persevering when the going gets tough. For the most part it was a really fun evening -- $5 martinis -- who could not be excited? But as the night went on and more people joined us, namely one brother of a colleague, I began to enjoy myself less and less.

Inevitably, whenever I am out at a bar or at a party and people I ask what I do, 9 times out of 10 the conversation is going to stay on the topic of the Catholic Church and her supposed misunderstanding of the human person and the human condition. Sometimes I really enjoy talking to people, but other times I grow weary in explaining the Church since I do it all day long (this is something I am asking Christ to help me with -- never to grow weary of building the Kingdom).

This particular night, the brother of my colleague was very hostile and aggressive in his feelings toward the Magisterium; naturally, he proposed many solutions from his point of view as to how the Church could get it right. Others chimed in to agree with him, and I found myself feeling smaller and smaller. Of course, the conversation mostly had to do with the Church should let people have premarital, extramarital, and homosexual sex, allow contraception, back off of people when they vote, etc. (It's so apparent to me that people really resent anyone calling them to a higher standard of love in their sexuality and that they are arguing from the defensive). Anyway, at one point, my colleague (and someone I consider a friend) said, "It's fine, Julian. You're just a 'crazy Catholic.' We get it. But I still like you anyway." A curse and a blessing. It really cut me. I found myself silent for the rest of the night, not really desiring to joke around even when the conversation left the topic of Catholicism.

You know, we are crazy in the eyes of the world. This whole thing that happens in Holy Week looks like folly to others, right? But I've promised myself to Christ, to study and penetrate the depths of the Truth that He proposes and to share it with others. Every human heart needs and wants Him. But my colleague has also challenged me, perhaps unknowingly, to make my silence productive. Am I conveying the joy and peace that Christ brings me? Or am I allowing anxieties to appear so that others cannot recognize it? Is my mouth speaking blessings or curses? Can they recognize in me that I have fallen in love -- yes, crazy love -- with the Lord?

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. -- Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
St. Mary Magdalene, help me rise to the challenge of loving more perfectly and witnessing more purely.


meimah said...

I love that quote from Pedro Arrupe, it is framed and has hung in every apartment and house I've lived in over the past 7 years!

I appreciate the use of the word "practical" in describing falling in love with God. To most of the world, loving God is the most impractical thing to do, to most it's crazy, as you said Julian!

Yet the reality is that falling in love with God and letting that love transform our lives is the most practical thing we could possibly do! It is the most practical, and really the only way, to find fulfillment in our lives because truly loving God leads us to give a complete gift of ourselves back to Him who is Love itself!

The tricky part is finding 'practical' ways to convey this message to others in a way that they can best hear and receive it. I agree, sometimes silence can be this way, but a productive silence.

Angela Miceli said...

Oh, my dear Julian! I so know how you feel! I've been there - outcast and looked down upon for loving what seems so foolish. The Cross is a joke to those who don't believe. And during these times with scandal reaching its way to the top - it seems the darkest of times. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles. But - as a priest told me in Confession recently: "Be strong, and do not be afraid." Sometimes you must remain silent, and sometimes you should draw out the true reasons people feel this way. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide - one of His gifts, after all, is Fortitude.

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