I was remiss in meeting my deadline for this month’s article, and chose a rare lazy Sunday afternoon to get caught up. While drafting an entirely different article, my phone began blowing up with the most recent division causing a stir among Catholics in the United States. I noticed every. single. Catholic. group I belong to on Facebook had individuals posting about the seventeen year old young men and the Native American drummer during a Friday in January.
The thoughts I had spent days drafting about community and the importance of relationships began to unravel, as I watched people begin to launch into political tirades, name calling, and derogatory attacks.
I’m not going to weigh in on this most recent controversy. But, as I drafted my article, trying to temper the anger and sadness welling within, the following message came to my head and heart.
Satan loves division. In fact, Satan thrives on division. As I’ve explained to my six year old before, Satan does a little happy dance any time we argue and fight with each other, and any time there are bad things occurring in the world. Satan would like nothing more than to have us throw our hands up in the air in exasperation with each other, sling mud and intolerance back and forth, and level our communities with hatred.
I once had a military chaplain say during his homily, “Where there is the Holy Spirit, there is unity.” The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, repairs the ripped seams torn apart by God’s enemy. The Holy Spirit provides a strong barrier and fortress against wickedness and snares. The Holy Spirit provides comfort and draws people into community.
Oddly enough, my initial post for this month was going to be about community… and, a reminder that humans are made for relationships. Not necessarily romantic relationships, but we are made for community.
Scientific studies have indicated that those who live within community settings live longer than those who do not routinely interact with others. Married couples live longer than unmarried individuals.
At the end of the day, family is the most basic formation of communities. Family is the initial community of which one is exposed. As 2224 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reminds readers, “The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.” It is in the family environment that every small human begins to learn the construct of how to be within a larger community. Behavior that is accepted at home will presumably be allowed within the larger community. What is not allowed at home will presumably not be encouraged within the larger community, or society.
And yet, almost daily, there is a new headline breaking which reports on the negative behavior of individuals and negative interactions between groups of people. Scrolling through Facebook feeds, we see calls to action – not advocating compassion, respect, love, and unity; rather, calls to action involving name-calling, derogatory commentary by news reporters and observers alike, and vitriol aimed at making another person feel devalued for their contribution to the matter at hand.
Section 2227 of the CCC reads, “Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.”
The charity of Christ demands that, within families, “each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect.” Within a family structure, we are to learn how to forgive. But, we also learn how to coexist. Every person in a family has their own unique personality and approach to situations, and within that family structure, we are supposed to be learning how to interact with others who may have differing views and opinions.
Yet, somehow, there has been a disconnect. If these lessons are truly being taught within the walls of our homes, then how are we not seeing the wider community positively influenced as an outcome of these lessons?
In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul exhorts in Galatians 5:13-14, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Furthermore, in Galatians 5:22-23, we find the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Where there is the Holy Spirit, there is unity.
Where there is the Holy Spirit, we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
If we want to see our society grow together, then we must look first at our own homes.
We must stamp out racism, anger, hatred, and ignorance beginning at home. We must not allow the adults within our walls to breed contempt, mistrust, or derision; and, we must not teach our children the error of those ways.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, we must become united in the fight against evil and the fight against Satan.
We must stand united in the goal of reaching the eternal salvation of not just our souls, but the souls of our children.
This unity begins at home, within the family. It extends out of the walls to the greater community and society at large.
At the end of the day, we are not alone in this struggle. We have a legion of saints who provide the framework of the way ahead. We have a legion of angels backing us up and joining us in fighting the invisible war for our souls.
Will you join me in playing your part? And, will you add the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel to your prayers today?
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And, do thou, o prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God,
Cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls.