I’ve been corresponding with a few Catholics by email recently about HHS and religious freedom. Many believers are profoundly troubled by recent events. I don’t think they’ve gained much satisfaction or peace on the internet. I doubt division (in the secular sphere) is a terribly sound foundation on which to build unity (in the Church). Catholics are all too well-prepared to cast off their sisters and brothers not only for doing wrong, but for thinking differently. It is a particular burden of our age, and a stumbling block for us internet believers.
I was thinking of a story from the Desert Tradition in which a hermit and an abbot are conferring on what to do with a “certain heedless brother.” The hermit suggested expulsion, and the abbot concurred. Later, temptation came to the hermit. In throwing himself on God’s mercy, a voice came to him:
This tribulation came to you for this one thing, that you have despised your brother in the time of his temptation.
We might feel, sitting alone at our computers, that we are hermits. But really, the connections are deep, and all around us. And our treatment of others bears directly on how our lives fall apart when under pressure. Perhaps we convince ourselves of John 2:13ff and say we’ve done WWJD (WJWD?) on folks. Count me a deep skeptic on that one.
I’d rather focus on Catholic unity in reflecting on the Word of God, in the Eucharist, and in the expression of charity and justice to those in need. That will be a more long-lasting foundation than a temporary president and his temporary policies.