Saturday, November 30, 2013

Do we have hope to share? (Sunday homily)

The first reading, with all those people coming 
to the Lord’s mountain together--
got me thinking about my family getting together for Thanksgiving.

Over the years, when my family has gotten together, 
we’ve had some arguments and some tears--
from both children and adults--and some hurt feelings.

So, when I got home Thursday evening, 
I was happy to post on Facebook 
that we’d had a good meal, 
lots of funny stories, and no arguments!

As good as that is, that’s not what Isaiah is describing.

Because, you see, we avoid arguments 
by not talking about politics--or even about God!

So the peace we had was a kind of thin peace.
An absence of conflict--good; but not a real unity.

Now, it’s tempting to say, it’ll all work out.

But if that’s true, why do both Saint Paul, in the second reading, 
and the Lord, in the Gospel, tell us to wake up! And be watchful?

Monday through Tuesday nights, 
we’re having a mission at Saint Cecilia--
and I’m Father Martin Fox, 
the priest your pastor invited to give that mission. 

Our topic is “Christ our Hope.” So we’re going to focus on hope.

Which raises the really basic question: what do we hope for?

The truth is, not everyone hopes for the same things.
That’s one of the reasons we stay away 
from certain topics at Thanksgiving.

Not everyone puts his hope in Jesus Christ. 
And many who say they hope in God, 
do not wish to entrust their hopes to the Catholic Faith--
including many who were raised as Catholics.

Why not?

Maybe because their hopes have been dashed.
It takes courage to hope.
A lot of people will say they believe in God--
but they have little or no hope 
that they can really know anything about him.

Or they will say, they have experiences of God--
but they don’t put any trust in any sort of organized religion.

Now, a lot of times we’ll say, that’s enough.

That vision of Isaiah’s 
isn’t everyone just happily talking 
about how good the mashed potatoes are--
but about what the Lord is teaching them.
That vision isn’t everyone sitting around 
having personal, separate experiences of God--
but a People of God, together.

And that’s the hard part. How does that happen?

Pope Francis issued a letter last week, 
called “The Joy of the Gospel.”
You may have already heard about it.
A lot of the media are focusing on a lot of side issues--
they’re good at that!

But the main thing Pope Francis focused on 
is the urgency of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

And in that context, he talked about the needs of the poor.
And he said three things I want to highlight on that subject.

First, that helping the poor is absolutely necessary--
but it is not the sum total of what we Christians are called to do.
It’s the starting-point, not the end result.

The second thing the pope said was that helping the poor 
has to be more than just giving out food or clothing. 
He said we have to be willing to have an “encounter.”

Last week, I went with some folks 
out to a food pantry in Brown County, 
where we passed out food items for almost 600 folks, 
for their Thanksgiving.

“My job” was simple. 
They put me in front of a table filled with cans of sweet potatoes. 
I had to pass them out.
That’s all they’d trust me to do!

So while I’m doing that--
and everyone has a grocery cart 
and we’re giving folks turkeys, vegetables, gravy, 
fruit, bread, and the rest--the line gets backed up. 
And so I hand someone a can of yams, but she doesn’t move on.

So now what do I do?
Good thing I can make conversation.

But what do I say? What do I ask?
What I wondered was what brought them there?
And as looked at everyone, it was tempting to guess.
But I had no right to ask that.
So I asked them, how do you make your sweet potatoes?

You know what I found out? 
Most people--at least out that way--
make them pretty much the same way!

Now, the subject was sharing the Gospel. 
And here I am talking about sweet potatoes!
And--if I’d had more time, I would have talked about Jesus Christ more.

As it is, people saw my collar, 
and asked if I was a minister or a priest, 
where my church was, and so forth.

Now there’s an idea that’s current 
that in order to share the Gospel, 
we don’t really have to say anything. 
We just give our example.

But that is only half true.

It’s certainly true that if we don’t have a good example, 
our words are nothing--worse than nothing, 
because our bad example makes our words seem fake.

That’s why many give up hope 
in the Church or in even knowing God.

But a good example isn’t enough. 
There is a need, at some point and in some way,
To tell people about Jesus Christ.

At  some point, we have to tell people what our hope is.

And that leads me to the last thing 
I want to mention from Pope Francis’ letter:
Whether our sharing of the Gospel is joyful?

And that brings us back to hope. 
Do we say we have hope--
or do we really put our hope in Jesus Christ?

Well, do we?

See, I can’t answer that question for you. Only you can.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

'Why is our King on a Cross?' (Christ the King homily)

Since today is the Feast of Christ the King, 
we might wonder why these readings are chosen for this feast.

Or, to put it more plainly:
Why is our King on a Cross?

He’s not on the throne, dispensing wisdom and justice.
He’s not being received with joy as he enters his  city.
He was--on Palm Sunday, several days before.
But now he’s on the Cross. Why?

There are a lot of reasons, but one is, 
because the people who ought to have welcomed him, did not. 
Instead, they beat him and nailed him to the Cross.

There’s a very simple, but very important point from this.
Lots of people don’t like Jesus Christ.

We have these debates: 
oh, if only the Church would say this, 
or stop talking about that. 
Everything would be so wonderful.

Or you’ll hear,  it was so wonderful when John XXIII was pope.
Or when Father Friendly was pastor.

But notice: it isn’t lazy bishops, or mean priests, 
or the Church’s teaching on contraception 
or anything else that they nailed to the Cross;
But Jesus Christ himself. 

Which is what Jesus told us:
This world does not want him as King.
“If they hate me,” he said, “they will hate you.”

This is so hard--but it’s so important.
We live in this world; it’s all we know. 
And when Christ speaks of “the world” that hates him,
He doesn’t mean the beautiful world 
he himself created, and all that’s good about it.

He means the way this world operates.
The things its values. That’s the kingdom of this world.
And that’s what put him on the Cross--rather than worship him.

And it’s still true.

The system of this world is driven by 
greed, by lust, by wrath, by pride, and by grasping for power.

Last week, I saw a powerful movie called, “Twelve Years a Slave.” 
It tells the story about Solomon Northup, a real person, 
a free black man who lived in New York State in the 1840s, 
who was kidnapped and taken to Louisiana to be a slave.
After 12 years, friends found him and set him free.

Now the shocking thing, to me, 
wasn’t the violence or cruelty, 
but the thought of so many people who took part;
And even more, who shrugged and looked away.
And they were almost all Christians.

It reminds me of what Dr. Martin Luther King said, 
A century later, when the issue was segregation:
“History will have to record 
that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition 
was not the strident clamor of the bad people, 
but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Now, our response is to say, oh, that was then; we’re different.
Sometimes; but not always. 

Things have certainly changed 
in so many ways for the better--
thanks to Dr. King and others 
who didn’t remain silent or indifferent.

But there are other injustices crying out to heaven.
And good people still remain silent.

This week, I read an article 
about the latest developments on “stem-cell research.” 
And you’ll recall that while some of that 
involves stem cells obtained in an upright fashion, 
some of it comes from the destruction of a tiny, unborn child.

And when this started a few years ago, many--
including the Catholic Church--
said no, it is wrong to destroy human life, period--
and medical research is no excuse.

Well, the Church wasn’t listen to.
Now, this research has grown into a vast, billion-dollar business, 
involving not just a few scientists, but industry across the board,
From drug companies to the testing of consumer and food products.  

And now, all the energy is going to cloning tiny unborn children,
To guarantee an abundant supply.

The truth is, I could cite many examples. 
My point isn‘t to say how terrible the world is.
This is a good world, but it needs to be converted.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving.
But if we’re not careful, 
it becomes more about gluttony than prayer.
Soon it will be Christmas: 
will it be about the Savior? Or the stuff?

I asked earlier, why is our King on the Cross, and not on the throne.
Well, the first throne we can offer him is our own hearts:
Is he on that throne?

Our King is on the Cross 
because that’s where this sinful world puts him.
Our task--his invitation to us--is to join him 
in confronting the injustice, the wrath, and the greed, 
That govern so much of our world.

First, king in our hearts. Our families. Our Church.
Someday, the whole world will follow.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Coffee, bagels, evolution and God's trustworthiness

After Holy Mass this morning, the deacon and I got some coffee and bagels. We've been doing this more or less regularly as a way to talk about goings on in the parish and to make plans.

In the course of our conversation, we talked about evolution. That is to say, the hypothesis that life on earth has evolved from lower forms through a long process of periodic mutations that proved advantageous for natural selection. Because our deacon is a really smart, well read fellow (he teaches philosophy at our seminary), I wanted his take on this question: given the problem of so much science being driven by political or ideological agendas, does he give much credence to the claim, by those who are skeptical of evolution, that the "scientific consensus" for evolution isn't real?

His response was that he thinks the science probably is on the side of the evolutionary theory, even as he readily granted that a lot of ideology -- particularly a materialistic mindset -- is certainly injected into the subject by many of those who argue for evolution. But, as he said, "just because there are those who insist the evidence for evolution supports a materialistic worldview, doesn't mean it has to" -- and he cited Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II, among others, who argued that evolution and materialism aren't that great a fit.

My response was that while I would like to learn that evolution wasn't true, it seemed to me that the arguments of those who dispute evolution just haven't shown themselves to be very rigorous scientifically. He agreed.

More was said, of course. When we both take the evolutionary theory for granted, that's as a scientific proposition: namely, that all science can show is the way God's creation came about. No scientific theory can disprove whether God was at work, and therefore, whether there was and is an "intelligent design."

(Later, as I thought about this, it occurred to me that what arguments I've seen that seem to have any juice to them are not so much arguments against evolution, as against evolution without a Divine Providence guiding it.)

Then we talked about the idea of the earth being "young." That is to say, among those who argue that the various species were created more or less as-is -- as opposed to having evolved -- there are those who are "old earthers" and "young earthers." Old-earth creationists don't dispute the scientific evidence that seems to show the earth and solar system all began many billions of years ago; they focus their rhetorical guns on the theory of natural selection.

But young-earth creationists go further: they claim the Cosmos isn't more than 10,000 years old. How do they square that with all the evidence that seems to show otherwise? (Including, for example, the fact that light travels at a certain speed -- and given the apparent size of the universe, those stars out there are too far away for the light to have reached us in just 10,000 years.) Well, they take many expedients, ranging from the claim that God created the universe "old" -- i.e., even on day one, if measured, it would have seemed old -- or else they argue that other "scientific" measures support their claims.

One of the points I made -- which the deacon agreed with, but didn't think was the knock-out I thought it was -- is that, even if human frailty makes it hard for us to penetrate the mysteries of how the universe works, the character of God, who wants to be known, argues against the idea that we can't trust the evidence of our senses. In other words, since we believe as Christians that God seeks to make himself known via revelation, it stands to reason he wants to be known through reason and observation too. The deacon had a response to that, but I can't recall what it was.

Here's the question I posed to the deacon: what keeps people who take that approach from also buying the theory that, all appearances to the contrary, the earth really is the center of the universe? (And, no, I'm not kidding.) Or, for that matter, buying into the flat-earth "theory"? (No, I'm not kidding!)

His answer? You can't, really; the same non-realist way of thinking that can do an intellectual game of Twister with the apparent age of things, can do the same with the apparent motions of heavenly bodies, and even with the apparent evidence of a round earth.

My question: do people who believe these things not build things? I.e., don't they use things like rulers and plumb lines and so forth? How can they trust them?

The deacon smiled and shrugged; and we both thought it a good idea to get back.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

If you don't want heaven now, what makes you think you'll want it later? (Sunday homily)

Traditionally, November is when Catholics focus on 
what are called the “four last things”: 
death, judgment, heaven and hell.

We don’t like to think about it—
but winter is coming whether we think about it or not; 
whether we prepare for it or not. 
And it’s the same with death.

Talking about death makes a lot of people uncomfortable. 
But who are we kidding?

Do you think our kids don’t know about death?
Look at video games! Look at our TV and movies!

It’s not a question of avoiding the subject.
Rather, it’s a question of looking at it as a Christian—
or as someone who has no hope.

I have been in hospital rooms and people’s homes, 
and no one would say out loud what was obvious. 
I don’t see how that helps anyone, children or adults.

On the other hand, I remember a woman: 
a mother and grandmother, 
surrounded by her husband, children, grandchildren. 
They were all holding hands, praying with her, as he breathed her last. 
And I heard the husband say: “I’m broken hearted, but I’m happy.” 
He lost his beloved, yet he knew she’d left this life looking for Christ. 
She faced death and was ready!

We believe in life after death. 
But how often do we think about what that means?

If we really we are eternal, then that changes everything. 
If I live 100 years, is that long—compared with eternity?
And it’s worth asking: 
how much of what I spend money on, or worry about, in this life, 
is going to matter in eternity?

If you want an investment that goes beyond the grave, 
Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, give a helping hand—
but, above all, help bring other people to heaven! 
People are the one and only form of riches that you can take with you!

So we die, and at that moment, we stand before God. 
That’s our personal judgment day.
Is that frightening?

It doesn’t have to be. 

No one gets into heaven because we’re good enough.
We get there through faith in Jesus Christ.
Everyone needs mercy; and if we ask, we receive it.

One form of that mercy is purgatory.
Purgatory isn’t an alternative to heaven—
it is the front porch to heaven.
It’s where we go for a final clean-up.

But there is one catch. 
Even mercy isn’t, in a sense, “enough.”
Because all this depends on one more thing.
Heaven—and thus, purgatory--is only possible for us if we want to change, 
and become what Christ intends us to be.

To put it even more plainly:
Heaven is for those who want it. Really!
If we want heaven—if we want to be heavenly—we’ll live that way, here.

On the other hand, if we don’t want to live that way now,
What makes us think we’ll want it, then?

We prayed in the psalm: “When your glory appears, my joy will be full.”
That’s only true if the glory of God—his truth, his ways—give us joy.

Last week, we heard about the man in the temple 
who didn’t think he had any sins.
He’s not going to change—he’s likes himself just the way he is. 

God warns us away from sin: 
gluttony, lust, wrath, greed, pride, sloth and envy. 
Those are the seven deadly sins. Avoid them.
But I like gluttony! I like wrath! We like these things.
But what God says is this: you won’t have them in heaven.
If you can’t let go of them now—
What will you do for eternity?

You see, the danger is not
that we’ll arrive at Judgment Day 
and find God’s mind made up.
No! The danger is, our mind will be made up!

Heaven can’t be heaven if we can’t be happy there.
And purgatory can’t do us any good 
if we don’t want to be made ready for heaven!

If you want a definition of hell, there’s one:
What you get when happiness can’t make you happy!

So, hell is real—but let’s not stay there!

The Catholic life boils down to this.
We spend our days learning who God is, and what he loves, 
and asking him to help us become people who love those things.
We love lust; God loves chastity.
We love greed; God gives with an open hand.

Then, what we prayed in the psalm will come true:
“Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.”

Sunday, November 03, 2013

CNA: Pope regrets interview

This is interesting.

An item appeared on the Catholic New Agency site on Thursday: "Pope was concerned interview could be misunderstood, writer says." In particular, there was concern about this part of the article:

In the interview, Eugenio Scalfari, founder and former director of “La Repubblica,” quoted Pope Francis as saying that “the conscience is autonomous, and everyone must obey his conscience.”

Pope Francis reportedly reiterated his phrase, adding that “everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

These sentences led to a certain amount of criticism for the Roman Pontiff.

No kidding!

Apparently, after people pointed out that, as presented, this statement about conscience doesn't fit well with what the Church actually teaches (because the Church teaches that a conscience can be malformed--and must be informed by the truth, which is objective, and which includes the teaching of the Church), the pope's spokesman was directed to “maintain that the text of the interview had not been revised by Pope Francis and that it was penned by Scalfari after an informal chat.”

Fr. Lombardi also underlined that “the interview is not part of Pope Francis' Magisterium.”

And then, according to the article, the pope expressed his unhappiness to the person in charge L’Osservatore Romano--the Vatican's own paper--for publishing it as well.

All this comes from a Catholic writer, Antonio Socci, who also says, “critics of Pope Francis for his view on conscience are double-dealing.”

“Would you really believe Pope Francis thinks that everybody can have his own idea of good and evil and thus justify what he does?” he asked.

“Is it really possible Pope Francis has an idea that would make being Christians, or believing in God, into nonsense?”

Um, yes, Mr. Socci--that's precisely the problem!

There are people who believe that very thing, or would like to. Heck, the so-called National Catholic Reporter (it's none of those things: not national, not Catholic, and it does not merely report) believes this! This is what its editors and writers tell their readers day after day; with the predictable result that NCR readers believe this!

“Socci underscored that 'Pope Francis' teachings on corruption, confession, the danger of the devil, all prove that Pope Francis’ view is orthodox, and that he had not watered down the teachings of the Church, and particularly the doctrines of the Church.'”

Indeed. But unfortunately, there are those who are using this interview in particular to paint a very different picture. Looks like the Holy Father sees the problem. I certainly hope so.

Is it possible for all people to be saved?

The admirable Father Robert Barron has recently come under attack by the energetic Michael Voris, who -- among other things -- produces a series videos under the title of "The Vortex": in which he proposes to expose "lies and falsehoods." The equally energetic and voluble Catholic writer Mark Shea recently posted something on this, sparking lots of commentary.  It started with Father Barron offering some meandering comments about whether we might hope for all human beings to be saved in the end; then Mr. Voris attacked that "wrong" claim with his Vortex; and then Mr. Shea decided Mr. Voris's  criticisms were a "smear" of Father Barron.

Well, I think that's too strong. I think Mr. Shea heard more in what Mr. Voris said, than he actually said; just as I think Mr. Voris heard more in Father Barron's comments than were there.*

So I think I'll disturb this hornets' nest and see what happens!

In seeing the discussion that ensued at Mr. Shea's site, it's clear that people get worked up--and like both Mr. Voris and Mr. Shea seem to have done, they don't quite get what others are saying. For example, many people seem to take Father Barron as either (a) denying hell exists or (b) claiming that everyone will, in fact, be saved, or (c), that hell is "empty." As far as I could tell, he said none of those things.

What I heard him say was that it's possible that God will find a way to touch every human heart, and convert each one.

Which means that people (like Mr. Voris) who assert he's wrong, are saying, no, it's not possible God will do that. Which strikes me as simply wrong.

Let's be clear here. No one but God knows how many will, on Judgment Day, end up in heaven or in hell. But I think is fundamentally mistaken to deny even the possibility of God saving all human beings.

Now, I think many are arguing against this possibility because they don't understand what they are arguing against. They seem to think that if you allow for the possibility of God's saving plan being so hugely successful, that it either invalidates sources of Divine Revelation, or else it means going to heaven is easy. But neither is true, if you think about it.

Suppose I were an advanced English teacher, and I told you everyone in my class passed.  Does that somehow prove passing was easy? No, of course not.

Suppose I also told you that, at the beginning of the year, I warned those students of their grave peril of flunking. I really laid it on. And I wasn't exaggerating: they really were in danger of failure.

So now that I have told you they all passed, is there a logical inconsistency here? What is it?

It seems to me the explanation is easy:

1. They were on the road to academic doom.
2.  I warned them in vivid terms.
3. They took it to heart.
4. I worked hard to prod and pull them, giving them help every step of the way.
5. It all combined to produce a change of heart and destiny.
6. They all passed.

Please: show me the problem here?

In the case of salvation, of course, it's not about "passing a course" but about repentance and faith. And what many will argue is that Divine Revelation--Scripture and Tradition--has already told us that some human beings (the fallen angels are a separate matter) will certainly be damned.

And, ultimately, the debate comes down to that question: does anything in Divine Revelation assert this unequivocally?

I would say that there are a lot of passages taken that way that need not be. The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man or the parable of the sheep and the goats. Note well, I said "need not be." They can be taken that way; you may be correct in taking them that way; but that's not the same as saying anyone must take them that way.

How else would anyone take them? As a warning: this terrible doom is hanging over your head, and you actually are headed for it...unless you repent.

Someone might ask, but if all human beings end up making it to heaven, what was hell for?

Well, first, for the devil and his fellow fallen angels. It is fairly clear they cannot be saved.

And that means hell is real, and not an empty threat.

At any rate, let me repeat myself. I have no idea of whether few or many will, ultimately, be saved. I will admit that there are some passages of Scripture that make it hard to suppose there won't at least be some human beings in hell. Judas Iscariot, for one, and there are others.

That said, all I would argue for is the possibility of all human beings being saved -- not certainty. And just as with the English class example I gave, a highly successful outcome -- even an entirely successful one -- does not mean the outcome was ever a sure thing, or even an easy thing.

Even if you believe that quite a lot of people end up being damned -- which is very possible -- I don't know how anyone can simply rule out the alternative scenario: few, or even none, are damned. Again, I said, "rule out."

Let's put it this way.  Do you pray the Rosary?  Do you add the "Fatima Prayer"? What does it say:

"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy."

See that? "Lead all souls to heaven." Are we praying for something that Scripture tells us is impossible? Why do that? We don't pray for the salvation of the damned angels. That is impossible.
And lest you say, that's just one prayer: I would suggest listening closely at Mass. Many of our prayers in Mass express the hope of salvation for all sinners, all the wayward. We pray for these things rather solemnly every Good Friday.

Hell is real. Everyone, but for the grace of God, is in grave danger of hell. Only grace can save us--both in the offering of salvation, and in prompting our response to the invitation, and in assisting us in the ongoing conversion, and in completing our purification in purgatory.

We have free will. We can choose to reject the invitation. It seems many have. But I can't see anyone's heart, or know what transpires between a soul and God, at that last moment. I do know how far God will go to save sinners: pretty far indeed.

So hell might be crowded; but for the grace of God it will be. But it might not be, thanks to God's work.

Why is it wrong to hope God is hugely successful? And how can one hope for what is impossible?

*Update: It didn't take long for what I  described in this prior paragraph, to happen again! My first commenter on this post thinks I said something I did not say. How many times must I say this? No one (but God) knows who or how many will be saved; thus, no one, including me, can say whether everyone will be saved.

Got that?

I'm raising a much narrower question: is it even possible for all human beings to be saved.

If you don't understand the distinction, say so, and we'll go into that, OK!

Do you wish God loved you less? (Sunday homily)

That first reading is rather beautiful, isn’t it?
As it describes both Creation—and all that is in it—
As well as God’s merciful concern for Creation.

It’s very pleasing to think about how much
God cares for his Creation,
no matter how insignificant it might seem.

As the reading said: The whole universe is—to God—
like “a drop of morning dew.”

And yet he cares!

Notice what the author goes on to say:

“Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little…
that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!”

Notice how beautifully this matches up with the Gospel story.
First we see God looking down at the entire Cosmos as if a grain of sand.
Then we see God entering into this world, so small to him—
and there he is, walking along the road to Jericho!
Then we have a small man, easily missed in the crowd, who climbs a tree.
And God looks up and says, I want to come to your house today!

He does go to the man’s house—and people see it, and disapprove.
And Jesus has a powerful effect on Zacchaeus, changing his life.

But while our Lord sat with this lost son of Abraham, what did he say?

Whatever he actually said, does anyone think he didn’t challenge him?
That visit didn’t just bring a marginal change—but a radical change.
So why are people so surprised when we, in our time,
Find the teachings or demands of our Faith are so challenging?

Or, how about this?

If Jesus came to your house today, would he challenge you on anything?
For myself, I confess I don’t like my question.
But Zacchaeus’ response suggests Jesus maybe got to him.

It reminds me of something the C.S. Lewis said:
God pays us the “intolerable compliment” of loving us very deeply—
and therefore, caring intensely about what becomes of us.

God is the artist—and like an artist,
he might make a simple sketch to amuse a child—
and not worry too much about how well it’s done.

But, as Lewis said, “over the great picture of his life,”
the artist “will take endless trouble”
and if the picture could feel, it might, after being
“rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time,”
wish it were just a thumbnail sketch that wasn’t so important.

You see the point? When God works at us—
and pushes and prods us to change—
that’s when it’s very tempting 
to wish God would leave us alone, instead.

November is the month we set aside 
to pray especially for those who have died. 

What we’re praying for is that God will finish the work 
of their salvation in a personal way. 

But pay close attention to what I just said.
Purgatory completes something that began in this life.
We start on the path to heaven here—
by answering the same invitation Zacchaeus accepted: 
welcoming Jesus into our lives—and letting him change us.

Folks wonder why people walk away from their Faith. 
And they’ll say, it’s because the Church is too demanding. 
That’s true, in a sense.

My grandmother used to say 
being Catholic can be a hard life, but an easy death. 
And that’s what a lot of people reject.

Another way to put it is, 
a lot of people want a God who will leave them alone, 
leave them be just the way they are.

But to quote Lewis once more: 
when we “wish that God had designed for us 
a less glorious and less arduous destiny…
we are wishing not for more love but for less.”