Five of us priests were together enjoying a meal celebrating a birthday. The conversation was light until one asked, “What you think about the challenges we face from fellow Catholics who question the Church and whose faith is diminished?” He added that increasingly he has been encountering some tough questions and comments from prominent Catholics about the Church, its teachings, and leaders.
Each of us responded and agreed that we are facing tough days exacerbated by the pandemic causing us to wonder if the empty pews we preach to on weekends will fill up again. There are pockets of believers who remain strong, but the diminished practice is a challenge.
Alone with my thoughts about the question and having read the Scriptures for the mass today, I asked myself if belief and people’s response to God and religion are that different from what we heard spoken of by Jeremiah and Jesus in the Scriptures today?
Jeremiah painted a hurtful and sad picture of how his contemporaries responded to God when God asked them to listen to him and follow His advice about the road to travel that would lead to fulfilment. They refused to listen to God. They turned their backs on him. When He called out to them, they did not answer.
Their response had to have felt like a nail through His heart. And His final words; faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.
So, when asked how I respond to people today whose faithfulness seems to have diminished and the word itself is no longer uttered, I feel saddened but am reminded that from the days of Jeremiah, this has been how it has been and will continue to be until the Second Coming.
As the dinner ended, we did agree that our religion and Church is alive and in some places is thriving. In every age, God has been our refuge and while it is sometimes painful to acknowledge that the faith we possess is no longer shared by those we love and are closest too, for the five us Our God Reigns.
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About Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C.
Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C. is Chaplain at the Father Peyton Center in Easton, MA. Before coming to Holy Cross Family Ministries he served as a teacher and a parish priest. He also served for six years as a General Assistant of the Congregation in Rome, Italy. Originally from Fall River, MA, Father Leo grew up with eight siblings. Gifted with several languages, he is able to serve the Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian communities. When he's not greeting everyone who comes to the Father Peyton Center, you can find him regularly reading newspapers!