Through the generosity of our pastor, I was able to fly to Nashville this past weekend and attend the International Catholic Stewardship Conference. I spoke with many of the vendors (who I have come to know over the years) and they each shared their relief and amazement at how many stewards were at the conference and how uplifting and hopeful the mood was. They had been concerned because of the recent crisis in the Catholic Church and how it has impacted the hearts of the faithful.
What I witnessed at the conference was a counter-narrative to the shame, embarrassment, outrage, and disappointment of our current Church. What I saw was a fortified hope. I encountered faithful men and women who were saying that nothing could take away their faith. They would not succumb to shunning Jesus because of Judas. I saw these faith-filled stewards link arms and charge into battle, ready to defend their faith.
I know that it is easy to be disheartened by what we’ve seen in the past and what is hitting the news as we speak. I know that the easiest response is to turn away from what pains us. I know that attendance is down in Catholic churches all across the nation. I know that this is the time when attendance should be up. We need to be down on our knees asking God to heal those who were injured, asking God to heal those who made bad choices, and asking God to give us the fortitude to stand up for our Catholic faith and heritage.
An old adage warning a person not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” sounds silly but I think it makes a point. We need to sort through what we know, believe that God will guide those trying to make sense of all this, and pray for the strength and wisdom to carry on.