Struggling to stay Catholic? You're not alone. Faith seeks wonder to flourish. I'll share it when it shows up.

Thankfully, God has a fundamentally different take on reality than I do.

For thou lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it. - Wisdom 11:24 (RSV-CE)

I struggle anymore to love the things of this world. The witness of humanity these last eight years has broken that in me which looks for the image of God in other people. Yes, I pray on it. Yes, I have talked with priests I trust about it. Yes, I recognize it is a basic tenet of the faith that humanity is created as a reflection of the Divine, broken now and slowly being repaired by the true icon of the Incarnate Logos. I do not teach otherwise. I just confess that it now defies the evidence of my eyes and heart. The universe whose long moral arc once bent toward justice, now seems only to bend toward doom. Sadly, it is often the witness of the Church itself that strips me of hope.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. - Matthew 7:15-16 (RSV-CE)

Even the best of its leaders often seem devoid of wonder, promoting a temporal belief grounded only in the world of matter and form instead of a spiritual belief grounded in the higher, unseen reality upon which it must rest. Theirs is a faith of received certainties instead of discovered possibilities, of psychological altruism over spiritual desire.

Occasionally some small movement gives me a glimmer of hope only to dash it. Last month, a scandalous, openly partisan, schismatic bishop was finally removed from his seat as the head of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas… but not, seemingly for his scandalous, partisan, schismatic teachings. Like Al Capone, in the end it was just administrative mismanagement that ended his reign. And once again, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (of which the scandalous, partisan, schismatic bishop remains a voting member) trotted out their tired election-year statement of “Faithful Citizenship” reminding American Catholics that the “pre-eminent” moral evil in post-Roe America remains abortion, without uttering a word about electoral integrity as a fundamental requirement for sound government.

That makes the readings this week especially precious, these final days as the Church year dwindles to a close before Advent. Here all the wonder of Wisdom literature and self-critical challenge of the Church finally finds a voice. Any more, I need the Gospel to restore the faith that my Church destroys in me.

Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven... Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. – Matthew 7:21, 24-25 (RSV-CE)

Before God, I am as scandalous, partisan, and schismatic as my enemy. How, then, am I to act on these words that I hear? I sit here with an angry heart, trying to pray, any Divine awareness drowned out by annoyance at the sound of spattering water overflowing the roof after having just cleaned the gutters.

For thy immortal spirit is in all things. Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass, and dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, O Lord. – Wisdom 12:1-2 (RSV-CE)

For as much as I distrust the witness of spirit in matter, how do I look to it for God's correction, little by little, to be freed?

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Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1965, 1966 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.