via the Integrated Catholic Life
by Randy Hain
Do we sometimes feel overwhelmed in the face of the relentless assault on the Church, our beliefs and our families by the media and modern culture? Is it difficult to stand up for what we believe? Do we ever feel like we can’t make a difference? Many Catholics I encounter are struggling through daily battles to live out their faith and protect their loved ones… all in the midst of very difficult economic climate. It would be easy to throw in the towel and give up or remain silent, but that is not an option for us. We are called to do more. We are called to be holy: “Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification.’” (Lumen Gentium, Second Vatican Council, 39)
Part of our challenge is getting past feeling overwhelmed. We are not able to tackle everything at once, so let’s make it simple and focus on what we can do. We need to work on ourselves and pursue lives of personal holiness. Our ultimate destination is Heaven and we need to live our lives on earth in a way that will help us get there. So, what can we do?
First of all, we can’t stand on the sidelines and watch. We also must believe that one person can make a difference; consider the examples of Pope St. John Paul II, St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Josemaria Escriva and St. Paul to name a few. Our brave acts, no matter how small or large, can have a profound influence on others if we are simply willing to make the effort.
At times it seems we have lost our way and forgotten or ignored the teachings of the Church. Maybe we have forgotten to put our trust in God and rely on Him. “Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” (Ephesians 6:10-13) I love the thought of putting on the “armor of God” as we fight the battles ahead!
5 Simple Ways Catholics Can Make a Difference
I am involved with a group of Catholic business leaders that meets every month. When we first started gathering in 2007, we had dreams of taking on the world and making a real difference through our Catholic faith! But we soon realized that we had much work to do in getting our spiritual lives in order. We understood after much prayer and reflection that we had to be humble and work on surrendering and conforming to Christ before we could make a positive difference in the lives of others. Here are five simple ways we have learned to make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us:
- Knowing what is necessary for spiritual growth. We will not grow in our faith without daily prayer. We have to make prayer time a priority and stop making excuses. “The first rule for prayer, the most important first step, is not about how to do it, but to just do it; not to perfect and complete it but to begin it. Once the car is moving, it’s easy to steer it in the right direction, but it’s much harder to start it up when it’s stalled. And prayer is stalled in our world.” – Peter Kreeft
- Remember we are called to lead lives of holiness. As unpopular and out of step with our modern culture as this may be, we are all called to become saints. “The call to holiness is rooted in Baptism and proposed anew in the other Sacraments, principally in the Eucharist. Since Christians are reclothed in Christ Jesus and refreshed by his Spirit, they are ‘holy.’ They therefore have the ability to manifest this holiness and the responsibility to bear witness to it in all that they do. The apostle Paul never tires of admonishing all Christians to live ‘as is fitting among saints’ (Ephesians 5:3).”
- Live as a Catholic; speak as a Catholic. We can’t be Cafeteria or Cultural Catholics. We are called to live authentic Catholic lives and be true to our beautiful faith. “To acknowledge God before men is to be a living witness to his life and to his words. We want to fulfill our daily tasks, to carry out everything we do, according to the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and we should be disposed to make our faith transparent in every one of family and professional obligations. Let us stop and think for a moment our work, of our colleagues, of our friendships: are we seen as people whose lives are totally consistent with our faith?”
- We can’t serve God AND the world. We can’t have it both ways. There is no way to pursue a life of holiness and worry about chasing illusory pleasures and the things of this world that don’t matter. We can’t serve God and the world at the same time.
- Be a light for Christ to others. One of the most profound ways to affect others is to radiate joy and let people see Christ at work in us. Our personal example can be the catalyst that helps lead someone into the Church. “Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)