Columnist Joe Nocera shares family history. “My father never stopped being devout,” but not so his mother. In 2002 the Boston Globe reported sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. “My mother wasn’t just upset or disillusioned when she read the Globe’s stories. She felt utterly betrayed. One of the foundations of her life had been ripped away. How could she believe in anything a bishop or a priest said anymore? She couldn’t. From that point forward, she was done with Catholicism. Even worse, she was done with God.”
Life narrows down, and last summer Joe’s 90-year-old mother needed hospice. The hospice worker “was a believer, and at one point, when we were gathered around the bedside, and my mother was complaining of pain, the woman said: ‘Don’t worry, Rosalie. You’ll be with Jesus soon.’ My mother opened her eyes and pulled herself up as far up as she could. ‘Oh, puhleeze,’ she replied. ‘Gimme a break!’ Then she plopped back down and closed her eyes. Those were her last coherent words. She died the next day.” (Chicago Tribune, August 27; 13)
There’s the tragedy when our conduct doesn’t match our prayer, “Hallowed be Thy name.” “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” pleads Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1). George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., writes, “Catholics aren’t—or shouldn’t be—at Mass on Sunday because they admire the pope of the day, or their local bishop, or their pastor. Catholics come to Mass on Sunday to hear what we believe to be the Word of God in Scripture and to enter into what we believe to be communion with God because of Jesus Christ.” That should be true of every church-goer. Mr. Weigel once asked a young couple why they were joining the Church with all its problems, “Because, they said, any Church that could be this honest about what’s wrong with it had to be based on the truth and on Jesus Christ.” (Wall Street Journal, September 1)
Today Jesus asks, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).