We need to trust God in all challenges

aymond    In his Dec. 5 address at the 70th annual luncheon of the Council of Catholic School Cooperative Clubs, Archbishop Aymond emphasized the importance of Catholic education in imparting Catholic values and also about the 2013 archdiocesan celebration of the Year of Family and Faith.
    We are living in a society today that has become very secularized. For this reason, we need to keep our voice in the arena, calling everyone to Catholic and Christian values and calling everyone to remember that the Christ is among us. He was not just born among us 2,000 years ago, but he is born among us each day through family life and Catholic education.
    The theme of this luncheon is “Walk Fearlessly With God.” There is no doubt there are many times in our lives when we are fearful. In the Old and New Testaments, the words “be not afraid” were spoken by the prophets and by Jesus hundreds of times. God’s message is: “Be not afraid. Walk fearlessly with me. Let me guide you.”
    We have our own fears, and so does the young church and the young adult church. Some of these fears come about naturally from the ups and downs of family life. Sometimes there are rocky relationships or financial instability. Sometimes it’s the fear concerning someone we love who is sick or struggling. That’s why we need to do the best that we can to form children in the ways of the Gospel.
    I say these things not to be negative but to be honest. Vatican II specifically called us to read the signs of the times. We see our young people in our homes and our schools who are greatly challenged, and we need to help them embrace the values of Jesus and the teaching of the Catholic Church.
    We have great influence, but the reality is many of the cultural influences on our young people are contrary to ours. Fourth graders are exposed to things on the Internet, such as pornography and invitations into unhealthy relationships. It should worry us that we are not the only moral voice in our society. We are a strong voice, but if we are honest, there is a voice that is louder than ours. I’m talking about the television media, the movie industry and the Internet, and those are not bringing us good news.
    Hollywood has its own agenda, and it’s far from the agenda of the church or the Lord Jesus Christ. Young people are exposed to all that the iPhone has to offer. They are encouraged not to enjoy the present moment but always to look forward to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing, which keeps them in many ways from living in the present. I can honestly say I would not want to be a young person today because we are calling them to become adults and to make adult decisions before they’re old enough to make good decisions, much less adult decisions.
     So what are we to do with these legitimate fears? I believe the luncheon motto has an answer: “Walk Fearlessly With God.” That requires you and me to take a leap of faith and trust that even in the midst of our challenges, our God is among us. The one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas is living in our homes and our schools, and he has never abandoned us.
St. Theresa’s surrender
    St. Theresa of Avila, who knew fear and was hardly naïve, offers us a wonderful way to live our lives: “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
    In the last two years, we have spotlighted the New Battle of New Orleans. Just as Andrew Jackson walked fearlessly and won the Battle of New Orleans against the British in 1815 with a weak and inexperienced army, we now have our own battle to fight against violence, murder and racism. It’s a battle among our own human family, and it’s not just in New Orleans but in the entire region.
    We have posted yard signs around the area that proclaim, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” We are going back to the very basics of the Ten Commandments. When I think of the amount of blood that is being spilled on the streets, it is mostly young adult males. We are wiping out a generation of young adult males.
    So, what is the solution? It’s simple and hard at the same time. To the extent that our family is strong, we will respect life and accept the values of Jesus.
    As we begin 2013, I am inviting the entire archdiocese to celebrate a Year of Family and Faith. The theme of family and faith will resonate throughout all schools, parishes and Catholic organizations as we commit ourselves to experiencing and enhancing the richness of faith and family life. The year will begin with Masses on Dec. 30, the Feast of the Holy Family. A brief pastoral letter will be read before each Mass, and during the Mass, we will have the opportunity to recommit ourselves to Christ and to receive a blessing to truly become a holy family. I beg everyone to take advantage of this year of focused attention on family and faith.
Spiritual pause
    I also would ask everyone to simply pause. Our busy lives are filled with so many projects and tasks that sometimes we must wonder at the end of the day, what is this all accomplishing? We need to pause – pause to look at a child or a spouse and see in them the love and unique value bestowed upon them by God.
    There’s an ancient phrase – “The family that prays together stays together.” It’s true. When we pray together, our hearts are changed, whether it’s a blessing before a meal or a night prayer together. It could be as short as three or five or 15 minutes. When we allow God to come into our lives, we see things differently.
    I will do everything in my power to reclaim Sunday as a day set aside for family and worship in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. That means a Sunday without athletic games or practices, without church, school or community meetings – without anything. Wouldn’t it be a miracle if we could reclaim Sunday as a day of family and a day of worship? Then our priorities would make sense.
    In the recent synod on the new evangelization, Pope Benedict said faith is most effectively passed on in and through the family. It is unthinkable to foster faith without family life. Thus, for the next 12 months in the archdiocese, we will ask people to give attention to family and to faith.
    May God bless our efforts. May stronger families be the catalyst for a faith that is able to transform a culture.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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