I am thinking and praying for those who will be received into the Church tonight at the Easter Vigil. So welcome home! God is great!
It also marks my own anniversary as a Catholic as I also came into the Church on April 3rd, 1999 at the Easter Vigil.
I count myself lucky that by the time I was received into the Church I had read enough Church history to not have been expecting an idealized Church. That the Church was made up by fellow sinners like me. I expected to be frustrated by the hierarchy, fellow Catholics, and my own sinfulness. That we are all on a journey and that we must constantly fix our focus on Christ and our final end. That our consciences can be like a GPS to always say “redirecting” as we once again go off track.
If you don’t have the time to go in-depth into Church history, it is contained in this summary.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Dickens’ ”A Tale of Two Cities”
Despite this truth—in all conditions, God has raised up saints. That it is in the here and now that we are called to holiness.
I am so grateful to God for how far he has brought me and also thankful that he will not just leave me in my current miserable state, but desires to bring me closer to him.
In Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter “Salvifici Doloris” he writes:
“Christ did not conceal from his listeners the need for suffering. He said very clearly: ”If any man would come after me… let him take up his cross daily ’’, and before his disciples he placed demands of a moral nature that can only be fulfilled on condition that they should “deny themselves”. The way that leads to the Kingdom of heaven is “hard and narrow”, and Christ contrasts it to the “wide and easy” way that “leads to destruction”. On various occasions Christ also said that his disciples and confessors would meet with much persecution, something which—as we know—happened not only in the first centuries of the Church’s life under the Roman Empire, but also came true in various historical periods and in other parts of the world, and still does even in our own time.”
It might seem like a bit of a buzzkill to talk about welcoming people to the Church and saying that her disciples will suffer. This quote is from his chapter on the “The Gospel of Suffering”, literally the “Good News of Suffering.” It is indeed good news that our sufferings have meaning and can be salvific in cooperation with Christ.