“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Pe 5:6-10)
We are living in a critical moment in the history of the Catholic Church. There’s no denying that many in the Church are suffering right now. Feelings of disappointment, betrayal, distrust, hurt, and anger fill many Catholics’ hearts due to the faults, failures, sexual sins, and lack of accountability of some of our Catholic ministers and leaders. These emotions are understandable as they are a natural response to the scandalous decisions and behaviors that the laity have become aware of. Certainly, they are part of our human nature.
Overcoming This Period of Suffering
In these times of suffering, Saint Peter’s words remind us to be sober and vigilant at all times because the devil seeks opportunities to divide the Church’s members, weaken her moral authority, and scatter the faithful. It’s easy to get discouraged during periods of ecclesial crisis. The Church has been through a large number of them over the course of two thousand plus years. Nevertheless, we become discouraged because we expect more from our Church ministers and leaders. When they let us down, our faith can get tested because the enemy of our soul will attempt to use these circumstances to stir up despair within us. Hence, Saint Peter said, “Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” As Catholic believers, it is encouraging to remember that our hope and reason for living the Catholic Faith is Jesus Christ.
The faults, failures, and sins of our brothers and sisters can be discouraging and upsetting, but our eyes must remain fixed on Christ! He is the Way of living we must imitate. Jesus Christ is the Truth we ought to believe completely. Our Savior is the Life we must desire and manifest in the world. Consequently, true Catholics follow Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Church Belongs to Christ
It is true that we can be tempted to doubt the authenticity of Catholicism because of the apparent insincerity of some of her members. But let us not forget that Christ Jesus our Lord is the Founder, Good Shepherd, and Sovereign Lord of the Catholic Church. His presence and truth shall always abide with the Church because He solemnly promised, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20)
Holy Mother Church has undergone numerous trials, tribulations, and scandals since Christ established His Church. But when He said to Peter, “You are kepha (Aramaic [Jesus’ language] word for a massive rock) and upon kepha I will build My Church,” He continued with these prophetic words, “And the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18) These words should offer us hope that Christ’s light will guide the Church through this period of darkness.
An Urgent Time of Prayer
As we experience this period of suffering, we would be wise to pray for justice and truth to prevail. Rather than remaining in anger and hatred or leaving the Church, prayer is a powerful and necessary response we cannot fail to offer. Ask Jesus Christ to reveal the truth, no matter how difficult this truth may be. May Jesus, the true Judge, be the One who judges those that have been accused of wrongdoing because only He knows the whole truth. Also, may we pray for this not out of vengeance, but for the Church’s purification, edification, and holiness.
In addition, charity impels us to pray for the Church and her members. Although the Church is holy because she is the holy bride of Christ, all her members on earth are not holy yet. We are all called to grow in holiness and to care for our Holy Mother, the Church. Now is the time to accompany her during this difficult period as Saint John accompanied Jesus during His crucifixion.
We Have to Persevere
Our Lord said, “The one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” (Mt 24:13) The graces obtained through prayer, the sacraments, penance, mercy, and works of charity can help us persevere. Also, we are called to “[humble ourselves] under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt [us] in due time.” Dear Catholic, do not leave the Church. It is my earnest hope, my friend, that Saint Peter’s words will be fulfilled in abundance: “The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” May God bless you.