Are we willing to stand up for what is true and right and be counted, or do we go along to get along. Most of us don’t like arguing and fighting. We like to be liked, and we don’t like to be criticized. We can become very emotional about important issues. No one seriously argues about the best flavor of ice cream, but we do argue about politics and religion. Two weeks ago hundreds of thousands of people went to Washington, DC, to participate in the March for Life, and hundreds of thousands more participated in smaller marches for life in their own states, such as the Louisiana Life March in Baton Rouge. Some of those people paid a price for their willingness to stand up and be counted, such as the students from Covington Catholic High School who were targeted for who they were and what they believed in, but they kept their heads, exercised patience, and kept the situation from escalating to physical violence.
This is a good example of how to stand up for the faith. First, educate yourself. Make sure that you know why we believe what we do and are able to explain it to others. Second, live the faith. Don’t be embarrassed to visibly live the faith or be afraid of what people will think of you. Sure, some people may give you a funny look or call you a Jesus Freak, but that’s okay. That’s a small way of participating in the suffering of Christ and it brings you closer to Him. We should always care more about God’s opinion than those of other people. Third, don’t sink to the level of those who use physical or verbal violence against those who disagree with them. We don’t need to use violence if we stand in the truth.
Finally, always speak the truth with charity. In the phrasing of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, we must “Love in Truth.” Speaking the truth in an uncharitable way can be harmful, but to fail to speak the truth at all is not charitable either. It’s precisely because we love our neighbor that we stand up for the truth, so that they might see what is true and live it out in their lives. Ideas have consequences, and the things we believe affect our lives. We may suffer consequences for what we believe, but we place our trust in Jesus and remember His words, “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt 5:11-12).
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.