I want to share a truly moving post from Protect the Pope about a former abortion practitioner who gave the abandoned instruments of abortion to the Holy Father who prayed over them that evening. I was particularly struck by the doctor's words:
“The instruments of death were abandoned at the foot of the successor of Peter in the world, as death is put at the feet of Jesus in favor of life.”I wish I had the courage to give up my will to sin like he has, to say like he does "never more death until death".
I can intellectualise and have all the external signs of faith, but unless I actually find the courage to live out my convictions, as the doctor has done, it is nothing more than a mind game. I am not naturally a desparing person, I see the goodness of God before noticing the evil committed by those he loves, but I can't say that this Christian life is easy. I was struck by something in the talk I heard today from the local ordinary. He was asked to take the title of "Can I really be a Catholic?" and he said very plainly "no". I can't really be a Catholic, but in the context of the Church, with the support of the community of faith, we can.
What I took away from that is that it's not only that the Church dispenses the sacraments and so I couldn't be a Catholic without it, or that it speaks with authority on faith and morals and so I couldn't be a Catholic without it or even that it provides a structure into which I fit and so could not be Catholic without it. These are important and I cherish them, but above all of these, I find great comfort in the other Catholics in my life, in other members of the Church. We all know just how hard trying to live the Christian life is: we have that shared experience of struggle and failure and of renewal and rebirth. I never wish so ardently that I could deny the existence of God as when I am cut off from other Catholics for extended periods of time. I find myself just wishing I could ask Him to go away. I know that if I did so he would respect my free will and do so, but then I would be nothing. No man is an island and certainly no Catholic.