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The Storm is the Norm: Weekly Message for 09-29-2020
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, Pax Christi:
Has there ever been a “Golden Age” in the Church?
Different historians would answer that question differently. Although I am not a professional Church historian, my path of conversion to the Catholic faith began while I was studying my undergraduate degree in history, and my confirmation occurred while I was a history teacher at a high school in Cleveland, Ohio. Then my priestly studies included a doctoral dissertation on one of the twentieth century’s great English-speaking cultural historians, Christopher Dawson. For me, the study of history has always been a true reflection of the ancient adage, historia magister vitae – history is life’s teacher.
The single most relevant lesson I have learned from this great teacher is that the storm is the norm. Even in what some historians consider the Church’s Golden Ages, heresies, corruption, and persecutions of various kinds raged. In fact, Church history is really an uninterrupted series of crises, of storms. The normal state of the Church is a state of crisis, which is one reason behind another ancient saying, ecclesia semper reformanda est – the Church must always seek to reform itself, to renew and revitalize itself.
Plenty of Wheat among the Weeds
And yet, in spite of this continual flow of crises, the Church also continually produces saints, men and women burning so brightly with the light of the Gospel that they keep on making Christ’s Kingdom more vibrantly present always and everywhere. The good seed continues to produce good wheat, even though the enemy has planted weeds right beside it – as Jesus explained in one of his most comforting parables (see Matthew 14:24-30).
Today, it certainly feels like our world and our Church are in the midst of yet another crisis (as usual). How can you and I respond to today’s challenges in such a way as to become the saints God wants us to be?
That is what I explore in our newest retreat guide, Navigating Stormy Seas: A Retreat Guide on Jesus Calming the Storm. The First Meditation of this retreat guide puts us in the boat with Christ’s Apostles as they cross the Sea of Galilee and encounter a life-threatening storm. The Second Meditation gives us a chance to explore why Jesus stayed sleeping in the back of the boat while the Apostles were fighting for their lives. And the conference takes us on a tour of church history showing in detail how storms, in the light of God’s providence, actually seem to be the norm.
What God reveals to us in the Gospels is meant to nourish and guide each one of us in the here-and-now of our lives. In this new retreat guide, we hope to help that happen with this somewhat strange, but deeply comforting passage on Jesus calming the storm.
God bless you!
Fr John Bartunek, LC, SThD