by Rick Cheek
I was recently at the Christ Our Life Conference in Des Moines, Iowa.
While there were many speakers, even Bishop Robert Barron, one of my favorites was Cardinal Thomas Collins, the archbishop of Toronto.
He talked about holding onto our faith amid the scandal that’s going on in the church. He used the analogy of a maelstrom.
One definition of a maelstrom is “a powerful whirlpool in a sea, river or ocean.” But the second definition was the one that related to what was happening in our church today: “a situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil.”
Cardinal Collins told the story of a man in a boat who got caught in a maelstrom. Assessing the situation, he noticed the barrels that were on the boat were floating to the top while the boat was sinking. Thinking quickly he caught hold of one of the barrels and made it safely to the top while the boat sank.
From a few conversations I’ve had with parents, their children are really struggling with what’s going on in the church. It seems to give them all the more reason not to go to Mass or leave the church altogether.
However, it is important that we sit down with our children who are questioning their faith and listen to them.
Ask them to share what they are feeling and let them know that you will listen and help them through whatever issues or questions they may have.
It’s easy to blame the church for what’s going on today, but it’s not the church.
I love what Pope Francis said in one of his general audiences: Jesus’ love for sinners shows that the church is not “a community of perfect people, but disciples on a path who follow the Lord because they recognize themselves as sinners and in need of his forgiveness.”
It is so important to pray for our church and, even more so, for our leaders.
In his talk Sunday morning, Cardinal Collins shared that it is so important to know our faith and know it well, and to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
There are many opportunities to help young people cultivate a relationship with Jesus through Teens Encounter Christ, Camp Tekakwitha, National Catholic Youth Conference, March for Life and Junior High Youth Rally as well as other experiences through their schools and youth ministry programs.
For parents, there are classes through the School of Faith that can help you go deeper in your faith as well.
As we continue to move forward through this maelstrom, let us take time to pray from the heart so we can grab hold of the barrel that is Jesus Christ and rise to the top.