November 21, 2018

Giving thanks for the Church

By Maureen Ferguson *
Credit: Zach Brown/PNAC Photo Service.
Credit: Zach Brown/PNAC Photo Service.

It’s a great time to be Catholic. I mean that sincerely… in the sense of Dickens’ opening lines in A Tale of Two Cities. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
 
The cause for despair is obvious; look no further than last week’s baffling directive from the Vatican to the bishops of the United States to halt their plans to address the scandal surrounding former Cardinal McCarrick and clergy abuse. Perplexing and disheartening.  
 
But can it also be the best of times, a springtime of hope? Can only an irrational optimist think so?   Reflecting on this past week while the bishops were meeting in Baltimore, the stark contrast between the dysfunction in the hierarchy, and the church I experience every day on the ground as an ordinary lay Catholic, became apparent to me. And I realized all I have to be grateful for in the Church.
 
Looking at a snap shot of my week, while the bishops were stuck in seeming paralysis, I had the privilege of visiting our local Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen to drop off proceeds of a food drive, and enjoyed a delightful visit with the indefatigable Sister Nishi who cheerfully carries on Mother Teresa’s legacy in the Anacostia neighborhood of DC.
 
Later in the week, I was blessed to attend a retreat with the Sisters of Life, who radiate God’s joy and love in a manner that inspires beyond description.   
 
Each day, I was fortunate enough to drop off my children at their respective Catholic schools, where they receive a first rate education not only academically, but in virtue and faith. I cannot imagine raising my children in today’s toxic culture without the blessing of these schools, which are run by the prelature of Opus Dei.
 
And each day I was able to receive the Eucharist at my parish from our two dear priests, who carry on selflessly bringing light and hope to our community despite the scandal and tone-deafness of some of their bosses.
 
I am grateful for the many movements within the Church that are vibrant, attractive, beautiful and holy. Just recently, for example, I happened to run into a college friend who is leading a ministry to promulgate the beauty of church teaching on women called ENDOW, and heard from another friend about a new formation program for young women called GIVEN.  I could go on and on.
 
Finally, I’m grateful for the domestic church, my family, and the challenges and adventures of family life. I wake up each morning to the sweet chirping of our 7-year old. She came along in my 40’s (we have two in college as well as two teenagers at home).  Without the bold proclamation of Humanae Vitae by Pope Saint John Paul II, I would not likely have been open to receiving the gift of our “Catholic Caboose” as we call her.  
 
So I’m praying about this season of darkness in our Church, but I am choosing to focus on the light.  As C.S. Lewis encouraged us, “Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’”

Maureen Ferguson is Senior Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association. Previously, she was the Congressional Liaison and spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee. In that capacity, she appeared on numerous television interviews, including ABC World News Tonight, This Week, Nightline, CNN, Fox News, and C-SPAN, and was quoted in various print outlets as well.

Maureen and her husband have five young children, and split their time between their homes in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.