my own prayer for frustrated catholics
With gratitude for Fr. James Martin’s inspiration:
Sometimes I, too, get so frustrated with your church.
So much I love, so much I hold as true. But so much I struggle to understand.
I look into the bright eyes of my children, so young and trusting. I wonder what questions they will ask about our church. I wonder if they will see my staying as hypocritical. I wonder if they will choose to leave when times get tough.
I want to lead them into a life of faith, but sometimes the road seems so dark. Storm clouds are swirling above, and my light flickers so small below.
When I hear news that disheartens, help me not to despair. Let me remember that we have been struggling from the beginning with blindness and brokenness. But Your Spirit has always been blowing among us, strong and steady. Perk my ears to that small, still sound of hope.
When I’m tempted to shove those who disagree with me into neat boxes with easy labels, help me to look beyond divisions. To see Your face in each of theirs. To learn from the challenges they pose to my faith.
When friends tell me they’ve had enough – that they feel battered and bruised enough to leave – widen my heart to hold their hurt. Bend all our winding paths to you, no matter how far they roam. Remind us that You have always been bigger than our imagination and institutions.
And when I’m tempted to draw the line in the sand, to shout with tears in my eyes that if they push me one step farther I will leave too, pull me even closer to You and whisper words of peace. Remind me that You sent the life You loved most into this world – Your child – to preach peace and forgiveness and radical love. All of which is still vibrant and humming in Your church, no matter how far flung in corners it sometimes seems.
God of light, many people I love are calling this a dark time for the church. The pain on their faces, the anger in their voices, the sadness in their hearts – I share it, too. But I refuse to let go of my stubborn faith in resurrection. I refuse to leave a community that has been full of sinners from the beginning. I refuse to believe that I have it figured out on my own.
God of truth, I am deeply grateful for what this church has taught me. To defend life from its beginning. To work for justice for all. To celebrate sacramental moments. To find You in word and prayer and community and the poor.
When I think of all the gifts your church has given me, I am overwhelmed with love. But when I think of all the ways your church continues to fall short of striving towards Your kingdom, I am overwhelmed with sadness.
When I doubt, help my unbelief.
When I feel alone in my struggles, let me strengthened by all who came before me, who claimed the name of Catholic with fierce and faithful hearts.
And when I worry about how to raise my children, let the memory of their baptisms run deep in my heart. Let the echo of promises, the splash of water, the smear of oil and the spark of light remind me that a whole communion of saints promised to help me on this journey.
When I was younger and people would ask me how I could call myself Catholic in the face of scandals and failures and deep, deep sin, I would respond that I loved Your church like I loved any person in my life – as flawed and broken but beautiful and full of grace.
Now that I am a mother, I think perhaps I’m called to love Your church like my child. Not in a condescending way, but with eyes that see all its potential and promise. With a stubborn heart that loves despite the difficulties. With patience that forgives failure and never gives up on hope.
Help me, God. And help Your church.
Don’t give up on us, and don’t let us give up on each other.
A Protestant Dad, but I enjoyed your prayerful heart here. The Catholic Church is having a rough time of it. I admire your enduring faith in God through the church. While churches will always be full of sinners (yeah!), Jesus is faithful to His own.
Thanks, Sean. I often find it helps to look outside my church and see that every group that tries to be faithful to the Gospel struggles in its own way. But there’s so much beauty, too – I just can’t shake the truth of that.
This is a stunningly beautiful and powerful prayer. Thank you so much for sharing it and a bit of your journey to embrace Christ’s body as it stands: broken and yet alive.
Broken yet alive indeed. I have to believe it’s been that way from day one.
You’re so right – we cannot give up hope! As a mother, I am always looking for the positive …and the more I look, the more I can find to be grateful for. I am an “old” mom… 🙂 I have nine children and three beautiful grandchildren…I’m finding new hope for the passing on of our faith in The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program as well. Our Catholic school incorporated the CGS program in time for our youngest. I fell in love with the program instantly…and became a Catechist in the work. Because I have older children I can compare how they learned about our faith with our youngest..Oh how I wish all of my older children could have had this! I love that there isn’t a teacher’s desk in the atrium…( the classroom where this program takes place ) for the only real teacher is Jesus himself…and the opportunity to work beside Him doing their work … I am determined to share this program with our grandchildren…Thank you for your beautiful blog and it’s breath of fresh air in a world that wants to see the glass half empty- when it’s really half full…for those of us who believe…God bless your work.
Thank you, Barb. The half full / half empty image never loses its simple power. The way we view the world matters greatly. God bless your work, too!
This is so wonderful, so beautiful. You say so much here and with such power. Thank you for adding such important sentiments, thank you!
Oh.my. Oh my. Yes, this. YES ! This is how I feel, too ! “When I think of all the gifts your church has given me, I am overwhelmed with love.”
Through my children starting religious education through a program called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I have come to love the Church even more passionately.
I’m new to the Catholic blogosphere, and parts of it have been so very, very upsetting.
Thank you so much for posting this !
Thanks for your kind words. I would love to find a local CGS program for our boys – a good friend who is a catechist has shared so much with me about it, and I think it is such a wonderful program! My lofty goal is to try and do some similar pieces with my kids at home before they get to Catholic school, but we’ll see…
I hope you’ll find other kindred spirits in the blogosphere – I certainly feel blessed by the people I have “met” through this space, who come from all different corners of the church. As Joyce said, “Here comes everybody!”
Thanks for this beautiful prayer. It gets disheartening every time we hear more bad news about the Catholic Church, but in trust and faith in God, we stand by her despite her human frailties.