Faith shaken in the Body of Christ, but our faith will not fail us
Archbishop asks for prayers for victims of clergy sexual abuse
Fullness of Truth Catholic Evangelization Ministry’s San Antonio conference, “Why Do Catholics Do That?” answered frequently asked questions on Catholic faith, worship, culture, and customs.
Blending religious history, a deep appreciation for art and culture, and an enlightened reverence for the traditions of the Church, the event, held at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort Aug. 24-26, was designed for anyone who wanted to learn more about the rituals, symbols, and traditions that can strengthen the faith every day. Fullness of Truth assembled a unique array of dynamic speakers to give fitting treatment to such an important scope of faith-building topics.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, celebrated the Sunday morning liturgy, and at the beginning of the Mass asked for prayers for victims of the clerical sexual abuse crisis.
In his homily, he focused on the Gospel reading from John. “Does this shock you?” Jesus asked his disciples. He had said that he is the Bread of Life and that those who eat his flesh and drank his blood will live forever. As listeners heard, “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
“Does this shock you? Does it shake your faith? When are the times when you are tempted to break away?” the archbishop questioned, listing a number of unexpected shocks of life that can shake our faith: A parent dies without warning, a youngster contracts a painful disease, a terrible crime intrudes on an innocent, peaceful life.
Archbishop Gustavo acknowledged that recent reports of sexual abuse by priests and an archbishop, as well as the failure of some bishops to handle these matters appropriately, shock us. “They shake our faith. We feel anger, shame, confusion, disgust. These crimes and serious sins wound all of us.”
Pope Francis said in mid-August that “if one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). But Jesus asks us a second question: “Do you also want to leave?” The San Antonio prelate asked, “Is Peter’s response our own: ‘To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’”
Peter adds: “We have come to believe… that you are the Holy One of God.”
“Faith is not often arrived at in an instant. It is more gradual than that, like a seed growing in the earth,” the archbishop continued, “Ironically, perhaps, faith often grows stronger in times of darkness and trial, when we might be tempted to believe that our faith is failing us.”
The Missionary of the Holy Spirit reminded conference attendees that we belong to the People of God — the sinful People of God, in constant need of conversion, reform, and renewal. “That includes each of us and all of us,” he emphasized.” When Pope Francis was asked by a journalist who he really is, the pope answered simply “I am a sinner.”
We are all in this together, Archbishop Gustavo stressed. “If we are to reform and renew the Church — to get rid of the poison and evil that we sometimes find in our midst — we will have to work together, all of us. It can no longer be seen as simply the responsibility of the bishop or the priests,” he said. “Because of our baptism we all share responsibility for the Church’s mission and ministry. As missionary disciples of the risen Lord, we are to proclaim the gospel of love, especially through our daily actions. We are to bring healing to those who suffer.”
The archbishop concluded by saying Our Lady of Guadalupe is with us always.