One of the things I like to write about here is current events in the news. At times I have also considered starting a discussion group about current events. I believe it is important to reflect on what is going on in the world in light of our faith. As we pray in “Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs III”, “Grant that all the faithful of the Church, looking into the signs of the times by the light of faith, may constantly devote themselves to the service of the Gospel.” We cannot and should not view what goes on in the world as separate from our faith.
Having said that, as well as saying in the past that I believe it is important to follow the news, I have to admit, I don’t watch the news as much as I used. I do still follow the news by looking at news websites. I just don’t sit down as much to watch the news on TV.
Why? Sometimes it is because it seems to be the same stuff over and over. Another reason is lack of interest on my part in what news they choose to show on the TV. Following the news on the Internet allows me to filter out things that don’t interest me or seem like the same old stuff. With the later, the challenge is to not miss something that is new.
The coverage of the Coronavirus is an example of this. Along with many others, I have grown weary of hearing what seems to be the same old stuff about the Coronavirus. However, things are changing. New cases of the Coronavirus are on the rise with the new “delta” variant. We need to pay attention to this. We need to be able to respond appropriately. We pray that the Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, courage, and right judgment to be able to respond appropriately. To do this, we need to pay attention to what is said in the news. Some people say we need to trust in Jesus. This is absolutely true. Jesus wants us to trust him. However, Jesus also wants us to use our brains (as God gives us the ability to reason). We also ask God to give us the grace we need to persevere in our efforts to follow wise precautions to protect ourselves and to protect others.
Another reason I do not watch the news as much is being discouraged by the “bad” news. This is something I have cautioned against in the past. Now, I find myself doing the same thing. I don’t want to hear about all the violence. Just yesterday I read a news story that said this year in Nigeria there has been an average of 17 Christians killed each day. It might seem easy to ignore this story because it is in another part of the world. However, we are called to love our neighbor wherever they be. Plus, we have priests serving in our diocese here that are from Nigeria.
Besides, while this particular story is about religious persecution in another part of the world, that does not mean we don’t have violence near us. The violence may have nothing to do with religion. Sometimes we don’t even know what leads to the violence but it does happen and it is getting closer to home. I follow the local news in Rochester, Elmira, and Ithaca. I see more violence on the news. It is not just something that happens far away. It is something near us.
As to the Christians being killed in Nigeria (we pray for them), we are unlikely to be killed for being Christian in the United States. However, that doesn’t mean our religious freedoms are not being limited. We pray that we be able to freely speak the Truth that God gives us.
Even within the Catholic Church there is bad news. We continue to hear of more cases of past sexual abuse. We pray for every victim and we pray for an end to sexual abuse by anyone on anyone. It is a sin against the Sixth Commandment, “you shall not commit adultery” and it is a sin against the victim.
Just as there is polarization in politics, there is polarization within the church. Sometimes it is on moral issues and what behavior is and isn’t sin. Another example is the recent restrictions regarding the Tridentine Mass. What we need to do is pray for unity. Jesus prays for our unity in John 17:11, “so that they may be one just as we are.” As we pray for unity, it is not simply unity with other people that we are to pray for. We are not to pray that everyone believes what we want ourselves. We pray to the Father, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy will be done.”
I hope I have not discouraged you. The reality is that there are bad things happening in the world that we must not ignore. There is hope, hope because we have a God who loves us and is willing to die for us. There are good people doing good deeds. We pray for the grace to do our part. We can’t change everything ourselves but we can do our part. Here, I think of the beginning of the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” (For the full Serenity Prayer, see my article “The Serenity Prayer.”)