If you live in the United States of America you live in a nation that finds itself extremely polarized at this moment in our nation's history. The presidential election exposed many of the underlying hurts that have been felt for decades by a large segment of the population. Political pundits and elitists are still grappling with the end result. They seem to be incapable of understanding why so many people were disaffected with the way things were going in the country and why they chose to elect a political outsider (in some regard).
Unfortunately, politics has filtered into every aspect of society. Players in the National Football League want to make a political statement so they kneel during the National Anthem. The Vice President-Elect goes to the theater and gets a lecture from one of the cast memebers. Political correctness has impacted institutions of higher learning in dramatic fashion. Bakers, florists, and anyone else who disagrees with the progressives' agenda has felt the sting of being a labeled a racist, bigot, misogynist, homophobe, or simply an uneducated deplorable.
Sadly, the divisions in our country are also present in the Church. Ideologies seem to take precedence over the Gospel. Controversy arises in almost every gathering in one way or another. The Al Smith Dinner prior to the election shines a spotlight on the Church in a way that many find distasteful. Raising money for charity apparently comes with a cost. Also in New York, the St. Patrick's Day Parade is now a source of contention because of the perception that political correctness trumps Church teaching. These are just the high profile examples. Many more less visible examples could be given across the country.
The president of the University of Notre Dame said this week that he may break with tradition from inviting the newly elected President of the United States to speak at graduation. This raises the ire of those who protested the invitation to President Obama. Is it difficult to understand why people get upset over these things? President Obama has attacked the Catholic Church ever since coming into office. His pro-abortion mentality, his push to redefine marriage, and his incessant attempt to ram the HHS Mandate down the throats of orgaizations like the Litle Sisters of the Poor is a man who is then welcomed with open arms onto the Notre Dame campus. Mr. Trump has not even taken office yet but the president of Notre Dame has already begun to demonstrate that the exchange of ideas is only welcome when it pursues an agenda that matches a predetermined ideology.
Finally, anyone who follows Catholic news also knows the chaos, confusion, and divisions arising from the four Cardinals asking for clarification from the Pope in regard to his teaching in Amoris Laetitia. This scenario has the Church further dividing into conservative and liberal camps just as we do in national politics. Some appreciate the Cardinals seeking this clarification; others see this as a direct attack on the Pope. We are growing more polarized with each successive event that highlights the differing philosophies and ideologies of what it is to be Church. We obviously have a long way to go to become one flock under one shepherd.
As I look at the photograph above I am comforted by the fact that the sanctuary lamp reminds me that Jesus is truly present among us. The scenes depicted in the background above the altar remind us that there were divisions and challenges in the life of Jesus while He walked upon this earth. These divisions eventually resulted in His execution. Let us take solace in knowing that Jesus has overcome the world.
As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary tomorrow (December 8) let us ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for us. May each of us find the strength, courage, and perseverance we need to more fully unite ourselves to Jesus Christ with each passing day. "Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us!