By Haley Arndt
Y’all, I’m not going to lie. I had absolutely no intention to write about this topic. But, as how things in my life usually go, God had a different plan! (Pro tip: life is a whole lot better when you do what God tells you to do).
As you probs know by now, the Church is going through a rough time. And by a rough time, I mean that the Church has had some horrific, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking truths brought to light. I am disgusted. I am hurt. I am disappointed. I am upset. And I am questioning. I am questioning as to why this happened, how this could have happened. How could the Church have shepherds that are blatantly turning their backs on Christ and their people in such horrific ways when they are supposed to be imitators of our all-perfect and all-loving God? And then I think about my own life, and all the ways that I too have turned my back on God. All the ways that I have hurt others and brought darkness into this world.
Now I am not at all trying to downplay the sin and the hurt that happened in Pennsylvania. It was horrible. It was wrong. And it shouldn’t have happened. But when I step back and look at my own life, I don’t exactly have a squeaky-clean record either. I am a sinner, I am broken. I have turned my back on God in so, SO many ways. I have put other things in my life—grades, relationships, popularity, pride—before God. I have looked away while injustice was happening before me. I have stepped aside and not stood up for what I know to be true. I have let the enemy get the best of me because sometimes sin seems like the easier, more comfortable path at the time. (Wow, it feels like I just went to Confession). And I know that I am not the only one out there.
Brothers and sisters, look at the world today. Look at the abuse in the Church and look at society as a whole. Look at what the media promotes as good or at what society defines as success. The truth is, there is not a whole lot of Jesus out there. Amongst this darkness, there needs to be true light, there needs to be a change.
And guess what.
You are here right now to bring about holy and virtuous change. Yes, you.
God intentionally placed each one of us in this place and at this time for a reason. And I am convicted that the reason you and I are here right now is because we each have the ability to combat the darkness that has stained our Church, to stand before the adversary and to say, “Enough is enough.” We need to turn away from the darkness of society and to start reflecting the truth, beauty, and goodness that the Catholic Church is founded upon. We are the generation that is going to bring about the good and righteous change that is needed. As my bud, JP2 once said,
“The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with Him in building up the civilization of love.”
It’s time for a change. But what exactly can we do? How can we become the leaders that the world needs right now? How about giving some of these things a try…
Give your heart a shower
If we want to see large-scale change happen in the Church and the world, there needs to be change in our own hearts first. If we are to be the leaders in the years to come, a transformation in our interior lives is needed so we can exteriorly reflect the true light of Christ around us. Essentially, we need to cleanse our hearts. We need to repent, to strip away our unhealthy attachments, and to refocus on our heavenly destination. Are we going to falter and to attach ourselves to worldly things again? Yes, but that is what the gift of Reconciliation is for. So keep on cleansing that heart on the daily so we can better bring the true virtue of Christ to the world.
Don’t be lazy
Have you ever stood to the side as you watched injustice happen? For example, upon hearing classmates talk unfairly of another classmate? Yeah, me too. It only takes one person to stand up and to speak out with kindness and love. Challenge yourself to fight idleness and to not let unvirtuous things slide around you. Have your friends commit to holding each other accountable in your faith walks. Take a stand and uphold the dignity of each other. Don’t let things slide.
Give God a call
Well, duh Haley… this one seems obvious! But prayer is so, so necessary. Pray for strength. Strength for the victims in Pennsylvania, strength for all the victims of any abuse, strength for the priests in our homes and parishes, and strength for us.
As I said before, I am saddened, and I am angered by the tragedy in our Church; but I am hopeful. I am hopeful because I look around and see all of you. I see how you are all striving for holy goodness. I see Christ shining through you. And because of that, I am hopeful for the future of the Church. Good things are to come.
We each have the ability to bring about change. Now it’s up to us to decide whether we are going to use those abilities to stand up and fight for virtue and holiness, or if we are going to step to the side and contribute to the darkness. It’s your choice friends, it is your choice. #LeadTheChurchDon’tLeaveTheChurch #IStoleThatPhraseFromFrMikeSchmitz #GottaGoToConfessionNow
I’m praying for the cleansing of your heart, of my heart, and of all the hearts in our Church.