This is No. 5 in the series. Please read my introduction and explanation here.
I remember when I had just left the Catholic Church, my dear, very devoted Catholic father telling me that folks leave the Church or don’t want to join because it’s too hard. It seemed to me a statement borne of a stubborn pride, but he knew whereof he spoke. His obedience to the Church’s rule on birth control meant helping raise ten children with my sainted mom. They both worked very hard and scrimped and saved to put us all through Catholic schools. They got us all up and out the door to Mass every Sunday, and to Confession on a regular basis. And they both suffered through much grief seeing many of their kids reject the Faith that they treasured so.
But they continued to love all of their children, wayward or not, and poured into our lives whatever they could. So although I can say unequivocally that finding the Church too difficult was not a reason why I left Rome, in my parents’ honor and in honor of all the godly, sacrificial, wonderfully loving Catholic people who are faithfully serving the God they love, I’m going to use this non-reason as the fifth installment of my series in order to highlight just some of their good deeds.
I firmly believe in protecting the life of the unborn, and the Catholic Church has been on the front lines of this issue for decades…praying, picketing, and providing resources and services for unwed mothers and their babies. The movement battling the tide of easy-access abortion would probably have all but died out by now if not for them.
Catholics can often be found serving the shunned and abandoned, the hungry and sick, and the poor and destitute. There is a local organization founded and run by nuns that provides multiple services to people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. They are committed to serving the “oppressed and exploited” by meeting everyday needs like transportation and locating food pantries, by helping with Medicaid and filling out forms, and providing education and counseling.
Many food banks are run and/or staffed by mainly Catholics. Catholic Charities is a massive umbrella organization that along with its local affiliates works to reduce poverty and hunger, provide elementary education for the disadvantaged, shelter and job training for the homeless, adoption services for the childless, and so much more.
Mother Teresa was Catholic…did you know that? 😉 She and her Missionaries of Charity are the gold standard for sacrificial service to the poor in Jesus’ name. I was going to try and summarize her life and work, but it would make this post much too lengthy. The total offering of herself to Jesus and the poorest of the poor and the influence she had globally on their behalf may never be matched. Read it…and weep. Her willingness to divest herself of all worldly comforts and suffer along with those she loved and cared for puts me to shame.
Exemplifying Jesus’ healing ministry to the leper, the ultimate social outcast, was the Catholic priest known as Father Damien of Molokai. His tireless efforts to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those exiled to the leper colony in Hawaii in the nineteenth century, sacrificing his own comfort and health, are still being lauded. I heard Ravi Zacharias reference his work in Christ’s service just the other day. Damien contracted the disease and died of it at the young age of 49.
Add to these the countless humble, obscure, unsung heroes of the faith who serve parishes in Jesus’ name, raise families to love and obey him, and wrestle in prayer for others and for God to be glorified. Our communities are blessed by them. And my soul is convicted by their example of selflessness.
This series I’ve begun of reasons why I left the Catholic Church may seem like an attack on its people. I really hope and pray my readers recognize that it’s not. I believe God’s call on my life has been primarily to uphold and defend Truth…that’s one of the ways I serve him. My concern is with some of the Church’s doctrine and teaching because as a distortion of truth it confuses and misleads.
But Catholics themselves…a number of whom are close to me…I love and admire. And thank God for them.
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