Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Joy in my trials as a Catholic

It is Holy Week, and I think of this last Sunday, Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry of our Lord. It is triumphal in that He is going to the cross. I also think of last week’s homily when Fr. Michael encouraged us to give our testimony to people. I have thought all week about that, and I have concluded that my testimony consists primarily of trials and hardships since my baptism and especially since becoming a Catholic. Non-Christians also undergo trials and hardships, so what is the difference? As Catholics, we have—or should have—joy that goes simultaneously with our trials and hardships. We know that God has a purpose for each trial and hardship, that it is for our salvation and sanctification. It is similar to the training that an athlete undergoes to become competitive and similar to the fasting someone on a diet undergoes.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is 1 Kings 17:8-9: “Then the word of the LORD came to [Elijah], ‘Arise, go to Zar'ephath, which belongs to Si'don, and dwell there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you’.” What I like about this passage is the fact that the widow did not know of the command but she nevertheless obeyed. This gives me encouragement. Another favorite passage is Luke 22:31-32 where our Lord says, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” How inspiring it is to know that when we undergo severe trials our Lord is praying for us, and His prayers are always answered.

Many times we forget the second part of salvation. We were saved at Baptism; we are being saved now; and we will be saved. It is this second part that gives us joy, happiness. This is why we are thankful; this is why we are able to persevere. Our psalm for today, 27, substantiates this: The Lord is my light and my salvation. He is our salvation today and tomorrow. Evildoers will come at us to destroy us. God allows them to come “this far, and no farther.” At that time, they must stumble and fall. “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living; wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.” Some people believe that a particular political party will bring social justice, but heart our God: “[Jesus] shall bring forth justice to the nations… Until He establishes justice on the earth, the coastlands will wait for His teaching…” Jesus brings forth justice now through the Catholic Church, of which He is the Head. We as individuals practice justice when we are in union, in agreement—communion—with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Jesus will bring justice in toto at His second advent.

Hold onto the Prayer After Communion; clutch it to your heart: “Visit your people, O Lord…and with ever-watchful love look upon the hearts dedicated to you by means of these sacred mysteries—not what we do—so that under your protection we may keep safe this remedy of eternal salvation, which by your mercy we have received, through Christ our Lord.” “How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?” In this way: “The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.” As a result, “my vows to the Lord I will fulfill before all his people.” “My vows” mean obedience to the commands of Christ—which are the teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, we pray: “You are the Christ, the Anointed One of God: remake in the likeness of your death and Resurrection all those who are anointed with the sacramental oils of the Church; You are the redeemer of suffering humanity: bring us out of the shadow of death into the light of your eternal kingdom; you are the deliverer of the dead: raise to new life all those who have been anointed in your name.” T.T.