“Dear Jesus, please make the houses stand back up and the families find each other.” “Dear Jesus, please give those families, everything they need.” These were our daughters’ (ages 3 and 2) prayers for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
In our world, fear is a reality. As husband and wife with a young family, we spend a lot of time fighting it. In the midst of economic upheaval and working for Catholic owners of a company fighting for religious liberty, what will our job look like tomorrow? Will our health last? Will our marriage? What future are we offering our kids? How will we forge their small spirits in a forcefully unprincipled society? When will the cultural war become physical war? Will they be martyrs? How do we even begin to explain the suffering they sometimes glimpse around them, like a dear uncle whose brain tumor presented on his honeymoon, the “explosions and sad, hurt people” in Boston on TV, or the other kids who don’t have food, homes, or moms and dads to love them. If we look at it from the perspective of this world, fear is our reality.
There is an answer. There is hope. Through the Catholic Church and her leaders, we have discovered a hope-filled “alternate reality”. We have met our God! Rocking our newborn to sleep, we realized: his little existence is worth co-creating, because the joy of encountering his God will outweigh the suffering he will experience in this passing world.
“Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid! Be brave. God…is with you.” Blessed John Paul II was talking about God’s reality (the one we want to live in!).
In our lifetimes, God has sent his Holy Spirit through this Catholic Church to inspire whole communities of people with fresh realizations of this reality. Movements of people – known in the Church as Lay Ecclesial Movements – have a deep desire to bring others with them to this encounter with God, the one true Answer to the deepest questions in our hearts. (More information on the Lay Movement can be found on the Archdiocese of Chicago website).
On Pentecost, more than 120,000 members of the Lay Ecclesial Movements met with Pope Francis in Rome. This past weekend, almost 700 members of these same Movements met with His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, OMI at St. Lambert’s Parish in Skokie. We were there. Cardinal George shared the words of Pope Francis, encouraging us to walk together with the entire Body of Christ, to proclaim, and to build the Kingdom of Christ’s love here on earth. To engage others and share not only the philosophical concepts, but about the Person we’ve met, that has changed our lives forever. The love for the Church among the people who gathered at St. Lambert’s was palpable – so real, you could feel it!
This is what we want for our children as they are confronted with the question of what they want to be when they grow up, what their American dream will be, and the very meaning of why they’re here. They are loved and they must share it. There is hope. God may not literally make the Oklahoma homes “stand back up”, but he has created a Church full of people He is calling to do it for Him. They…we…are those people. Let’s go walk, proclaim and build.