August 31, 2014
The Voice Within
"There is a fire burning within my heart, imprisoned in my bones. I grow weary holding it in. I cannot endure it."This passage from the prophet Jeremiah, our first reading for this Sunday, explains why Jeremiah had to continue proclaiming the truth of the Lord even though he was being derided and mocked by all who heard him. There was something within him, the very personal presence of the Lord that Jeremiah could not ignore and still be true to himself.
John Henry Newman, the great cardinal of the last century who led the Oxford Movement of Anglican Scholars to Catholicism, wrote that there is within a person something that aspires to more than the earth can give. This something is the very presence of the Person of Jesus Christ, given to us at baptism and calling us to seek the truth.
All of us make the mistake of thinking that we can always respond to the Lord later, at a more convenient, less busy time of our lives. The trouble is, the Lord does not call us to check in with him sometime in the future. He is calling us now. We have to stop ignoring that voice within us. If there are aspects of our lives that are incompatible with the voice, that drown that voice, they have to be removed from our lives. If the voice is calling us to certain directions, we have to listen.
I want to focus now on a special group of people who are in our parish and who also may be hearing a voice within them calling them to action. I am speaking specifically to those whom we welcome to worship with us but who are not members of the Catholic Church. I am also speaking to those who have a spouse, relative or friend who do not worship anywhere.
Don't wait until it is too late to respond to God's call to action. Whether it is for yourself or for others. Consider joining the Church now or leading others into the Church now while there is still time. Consider becoming a member of our RCIA--Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults--experience as an inquirer, a candidate, or as part of the support team, a sponsor or a catechist. Consider bringing a loved one to our introductory meetings for a look. The RCIA meets on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm starting Sept. 24, 2014.
Perhaps you have been away from the faith for a long time and do not feel comfortable in our large church. Perhaps you have questions or issues you would like to discuss. Maybe you would just like to join a small community of people who will welcome you home. Part of our RCIA team is to support your journey home to your faith.
Why join the faith? Why come home to the faith? Why are any of us Catholic? Because, simply speaking, we need the Lord, and the Lord is present here. Our Catholic churches are never empty. Jesus Christ is personally present in our tabernacles. He is personally present in the Eucharist and in those who receive communion. He is not just symbolically present in a meal of fellowship. Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. Again, quoting Newman, "This great presence of the Lord, this personal presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, makes the Catholic Church different from every other place in the world."
Does becoming a Catholic merely entail attending RCIA meeting and learning dogma and morality? No, Catholicism demands much more than this. Catholicism is not equivalent to dogma and morality and should not be reduced to these. Catholicism is the revelation of the person of Jesus Christ. It is transmitted by a community of persons called the Church who are passing on the message of God. From the teaching of the Magisterium in Rome to the wonderful RCIA experience here at Holy Family, the message of Catholicism is the Word of God. Catholicism is a way of life, a journey to God walking with the very person of Jesus Christ.
We need the Lord, all of us. We need his presence. And we find his presence here in our Catholic Church.
Whether you are a Catholic seeking your own way through life or a non-Catholic attending Church to worship with your fiancé, spouse or family, do not attempt a life journey alone. Walk with others. Walk with the Eternal One who became one of us. Walk with the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one whose voice is deep within us. Walk with us, his disciples.
We cannot be true to ourselves and keep this voice imprisoned any more than Jeremiah could refrain from prophesying.