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Father Muench Says...

Striving to live out a bold Catholic life

July 5, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

On a recent Sunday, the Scriptures for Mass pointed me toward speaking about living a bold Christian life in the Spirit of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.  This was close to the Feast of St. John the Baptist, who is obviously a perfect example of a bold Christian.

John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus into this world and he did this by speaking a challenging message: calling upon the people to change their lives through repentance and living a good life.
John’s mission is actually our mission. We are called to be bold Christians just like John by making the world more open to the message of Jesus.  The best way we do this is by living a good Christian life, by being unafraid, like John the Baptist, to make the message of Jesus – the message of love and peace – influence the way we live our lives.

I then began searching for another good example of a bold, yet loving, Christian and Catholic. 

Quite surprisingly, I came upon a Public Radio interview program one evening as the host was interviewing Martin Sheen.  Sheen is the movie actor – I hope that you recognize his name.  He acted in many fine movies including the one called, “The Way.”  It is a story that is about people walking the pilgrimage in Northern Spain – “camino de Santiago” – the walk to the Shrine of St. James. Actually, many from the North Country have traveled this site. In addition, Sheen portrayed the President of the United States on the television series, “The West Wing.”  Again, you can find replays of this series – so be sure to check it out – it is great.

The part of the interview that impressed me was Sheen talking about his own spiritual life.  He admitted that he had been away from his Catholic faith and mentions that meeting Mother Teresa in India while making a movie had a profound effect on his life. He found a new and strong faith in God and rediscovered his Catholic faith.  He spoke of a new and strong realization of God’s great love for him, God’s great love for each one of us.

Sheen goes on to speak of the importance of being involved in a community – the Catholic community – that is the Catholic Church.  Because of this he became dedicated to Social Justice.  He boldly became involved in public demonstrations, especially those calling for peace and an end to violence.  His dedication to his Catholic faith developed a certain boldness and readiness to make his daily life reflect his Catholic faith. 

Sheen also spoke of his great love for the Mass and the importance for him of the reception of Holy Communion.  He spoke of finding a spiritual strength in this sacrament.  He has found peace through the Blessed Eucharist – this challenged him to be a bold Catholic, living a good, bold life.

So, how about you and me? How do we ordinary folks live a bold Catholic life? There may not be any huge, noteworthy events in our future.  I often think how wonderful it would be for me to transform large crowds of people but that will not happen.  I believe that, for us, our efforts to bring Jesus to our part of the world means living our Catholic faith as well as we can.  It is the simple things that truly make the difference.  Living the simple, the ordinary, well will bring the love and peace of our God to those we meet each day.  Being a bold Catholic for us is about the little things that we do for those who need us.  We do this because God loves us so much.

A long time ago someone gave me a good definition of a saint: a saint is someone who does ordinary things, extraordinarily well.

Recognizing God’s love for us, recognizing God’s longing to be part of our lives, God’s readiness to dwell in our hearts – this is the Spirit that we must share with those we meet.

It is all about gratitude.  We life our Catholic faith in gratitude for God’s great love for us.  Our gratitude prompts us to accept the challenge of being a bold Catholic.Our prayer is a constant flow of thanksgiving to our loving God.

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