Wednesday, January 21, 2009

May We Be Hopeful

I would like to share with you, my dear readers, a response I wrote to an article, which I found posted to an online list that I am on. Although the article to which I responded had ended on a positive note, it was too painful for me to get that far. I had the same experience recently with a talk I heard. I'm sorry I can't share with you what I was responding to, as it was a forward rather than a link.

Below is my email:

Personally, I find articles such as the one you shared with us to be discouraging. Of course, I could always hit the delete button. But instead I would like to share a bit from my own life...a different perspective from a different middle aged woman.

In my senior year of high school (class of '71), I thought the world was indeed a gloomy place. My fellow classmates were being conditioned to accept abortion and euthanasia; my school was on a new academic system that I thought was designed to ruin education; and, in addition, I felt that my parents and I seemed to be living on two different planets.

Attracted to the Catholic Church, but not well grounded in its spirit, I was ripe for the plucking by a pseudo-Catholic cult. Its leader ranted about the problems in the country and raved about the problems in the Church. With reverently offered Masses, public Rosaries, and Benediction what more could one want? Although I left the cult after a couple of months, it took longer to realize more fully what had been missing there: Not only did they not have true unity with the Church but living, growing hope and charity seemed to also be lacking. And just what are hope and charity?

Hope is an abiding confidence that God will give us all the graces we need to go to heaven. But I believe that hope is also a daily virtue of confidence that God will always somehow bring good out of evil, that Our Heavenly Father will guide us and our loved ones through each day, come what may.

Charity is to love God above all, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Over the years I have come to feel that it also means separating the sin - which offends God - from the sinner - whom He loves, whom He loved so much as to give Himself on the Cross for him, yes, for each and every one of us individually.

I have observed over the years that if we focus too much on the problems, sometimes a temptation to pride arises, a temptation to think that we are special because we are the elite, the chosen few. If we are overly critical of people who make bad choices, then sometimes when young people grow into young adults and find kind, happy people who make the wrong choices, they decide - at least temporarily - that maybe the choices were not so bad, after all. I have noticed through the years that if we put too much emphasis on what is wrong with the world, we sometimes discourage our young people from pursuing what is right.

Change is constant. Sometimes the pendulum swings back and forth, as in a "conservative" or a "liberal" government. Some other changes occur for the worse and remain, but there are others that occur for the better, as well. In my lifetime, I have watched the evil of abortion become legalized. On the other hand, I have also watched homeschooling become legalized, and parents, both homeschooling parents and others, take a great interest in their childrens' lives. While I have watched homosexuality be encouraged as an alternate lifestyle, yet on the other hand, I have taken great joy in observing a greater respect for all God's children, without regard to race...just like in the Communion of Saints.

Good and evil exist together. And yes, these are indeed difficult times. Today, many of us know someone who needs health care and can't afford it, or we may have a family member who is looking anxiously for a job. I believe we need to pray for one another and encourage one another even more in these challenging times.

Do I think we should put our heads in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich? No. When I was that high school senior, I was writing articles for our high school newspaper, trying to alert parents to what I saw as flaws in the new educational system. My dad once told me that a couple years later they gave up the new system, due to pressure from parents. I think I was right to take a stand. But I think it was my mistake to put a chip on my shoulder, "looking for help in all the wrong places".

Tomorrow some of us will participate in the March for Life. Others will join us in other ways, or in prayer. Let us fight the issues we face, one by one. But let us also count our blessings, one by one.

As the song says, "Count your blessings. See what God has done." If we look, if our eyes are not darkened by discouragement, we will always find many good things that God has done.

May God bless us, everyone.

Margaret Mary

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