There was a book by Morris West entitled, The Clowns of God. A futuristic fiction, it was written back in the 80s, and centered on the Pope's revelation of the apocalypse. It was a fast moving, and wonderfully intriguing. As I recall the person responsible for putting all of the pieces together was a Jesuit professor from Boston College. He had to struggle with faith, fear, and his academic background. While I do not remember how the book ended, the scenario that was presented was not too far from what is happening today in the world.
I thought about this book as I considered that this weekend we enrolled our second graders as on the journey to receive the Eucharist for the first time, and we had the rite of sending for our catechumens and candidates. It is interesting to consider how different the experience of faith is for both of these groups. Sadly for some of the families of the second graders, Church is an occasional experience at best. Not unlike one's local BP or Road Ranger station, they stop in for a moment, and maybe pick up a cup of coffee or chips while they are there. For the catechumens and candidates, this is part of a faith journey made after prayer, reflection, and discernment. They are in this for the long haul.
The readings suggested over the weekend that our faith cannot be part-time faith. Belief demonstrates itself in our response to God. On one of the morning news shows today they were discussing the tendency to put emphasis on a 'proper' engagement, and a personalized wedding. One of the commentators chimed in that marriage is more than the wedding day. It seems that so much of what afflicts us today is because we fail to forgive, love, and to show compassion and mercy. Our faith becomes way too personal, and surface level at best.
The basic tenets of our faith are to love God and one another. While that might bring about images of butterflies and rainbows, the reality is more about doing the work of reconciliation and peacemaking. It is easy to lend forgiveness and kindliness to those close to us and those whom we like, but we have determined never to offer compassion or care to a co-worker, neighbor, or the clerk that was 'mean' to us. Even the scriptures challenge us to love our friends and enemies.
Our faith really has to challenge us to be counter-cultural in the world today. Not just the Church, but men and women of faith have to be stumbling blocks that cannot allow anger and nastiness to rule the response of Christ in the world today. The virtues of charity, chastity, reconciliation, peace, and justice, really have to be part our homes and communities. We go to church to pray, and we reflect everything we do through the filter of our faith. Faith rules.