Ha, we thought it was a big deal when the new translation of the liturgy came out. Remember how worked up Catholics got?
Then, like a one-two punch, came the Komen debacle and the HHS contraception mandate. Catholics who are plugged into Catholic news all day long might feel like we’ve spent the last few years carefully applying paint to a canvas—a little cobalt blue here, just a dab of burnt umber over there. We’re paying close attention to composition, not wanting the warm tones in the background to overwhelm the subtly-weighted dynamic lines in the foreground.
And then, this past week, someone came along and said, “Ooh, you’re doing spin art—awesome!!” and flicked on the switch.
And all of a sudden, life in the Church looks like this:
It is very, very easy to freak out in times like this. But is that the right response?
Don’t get me wrong: I think that we should be worked up right now. The Church Militant should never feel comfortable and cozy in the world. Even when things are going well, it’s best to be alert; and the recent uproar reminds us that it is right and just to start dusting off old ideas that have been put in mental storage: civil disobedience, religious liberty, suffering for the truth, even martyrdom. It’s likely this mandate will be defeated, but this is surely only the first of many battles in a long war.
Some Catholics are absolutely required to report to the front lines: hospital directors, presidents of universities, bishops and legislators, and anyone whose job has to do with health insurance policy. These poor souls are probably running on pure adrenaline today, without a break in sight.
The rest of us have our work cut out for us, too: signing petitions, contacting our legislators, spreading the world to the secular world that something truly terrible is going to happen to our country if we don’t fight hard; educating and encouraging our children to remember that freedom is worthless without the freedom to follow Christ; and of course fasting and praying our heads off.
But for most of us, it has to end at some point. The internal uproar must be hushed. At some point in the day, we need to take a deep breath and realize that there is nothing useful about being upset. It doesn’t help anyone if our pounding hearts and racing minds keep us up at night, or if we’re too busy to make dinner because we’re debating about religious liberty on Facebook.
So if you don’t even know what I’m talking about—if you aren’t involved, aren’t upset, and haven’t done anything to add your voice to the growing crowd that’s pushing back against the tyrant, then you should be ashamed of yourselves! This is your fight, and refusing to choose sides means that your side will be chosen for you.
But if you find that the new HHS mandate is ruining your life a full year before it’s even scheduled to go into effect, then cut it out! It’s bad enough that the Obama administration awards itself the power to force Catholics to violate their consciences. Why also give them the power to drain the joy out of our days? Remember to smile at your children. Remember to take pains over cooking a meal, or remember to enjoy eating it. Remember not to cut people off in traffic, even if the news on the car radio is making your blood boil. Pray for the bishops, but continue to pray about your sick auntie or the neighborhood’s job interview, too.
The devil is not particular. He’s happy to win the souls of the cowardly, who update their consciences with the times—but he’s just as willing to welcome those who succumb to fear and rage, nastiness toward others, and neglect of duties. We can turn from love in the service of sin, or we can turn from love in the service of the truth—but the penalty is the same.
Are we going to war? Maybe. But we’ll fight better if we preserve interior peace, in our homes and in our souls.