Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
(Click here for readings)
Jesus said to the crowds: “…Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.”
It doesn’t take much to become a Muslim. The only thing required is the recitation of the Shahada or a short declaration of faith; which, by the way, is very brief indeed: “La ilaha illallah, Muhammadur rasulullah.” This translates to “I testify that there is no other god but Allah, and Muhammad is God’s prophet.” By saying this, you become a Muslim. Now of course, you must say it sincerely and with that intention in mind.
For an adult to become a Catholic, one is required to go through a two year period of discernment. Classes are required. Knowledge of the faith is mandatory. And of course, the reception of the Sacraments is essential, especially baptism.
Knowing all this, I was pleasantly surprised when I read there was a record number of people entering the Catholic Church this year in the Archdiocese of Washington. [I’m sorry to say this, but my first thought at the news was reminiscent of something John the Baptist once said (Lk 3:7): “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
Well, the Archdiocese welcomed over 1,300 catechumens and candidates into the Church this past Easter. The largest number in its history! How blessed the Church in Washington must be to have so many politicians, lawyers and government employees! Am I sounding sarcastic? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Even the Archdiocese of Boston – where the sex abuse scandals first broke – saw its largest number of new Catholics in over a decade, with over 650 coming into full communion with the Church. A pleased Cardinal O’Malley blogged, “It was the largest group that we have had in recent memory and about 100 more than last year. Perhaps it is the “Francis Effect.’ I do not know!”
I’d like to take a guess, please? I think the Francis Effect is simply the sweet aroma of God’s grace that settles upon a humble, yet tenacious man, and permeates the Church and all that surrounds her.
What I find most remarkable in all of this is what people will go through to join the Church. This is no easy step. This is no easy step ladder. Each step requires grace, discernment and hard work.
It also requires some risk taking.
On March 9th 2014, just a few weeks before Easter, Ulf Ekman stood nervously before the congregation of the Word of Life church in Uppsala, Sweden. Dressed in his Sunday best, the Swedish pastor looked out at the congregation of nearly 3,000 members and shared some shocking news with them. The founder of one of Scandinavia’s biggest Bible church and school was becoming a Catholic.
“I have something special to tell you….My wife and I have in recent days sensed the Lord’s leading, urging us to join the Catholic Church. This may seem a very radical step. But we have great peace and great joy in this decision…
In a recent interview, he went on to say: “We need what the Lord has given to the Catholic Church to live fully as Christians.”
Wow! Talk about putting some pressure on yourself. But isn’t this what faith does to us? Doesn’t it put some pressure on our shoulders?
We all know what Jesus said: “Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.” But now we have to ask ourselves one simple question: “Does anyone who listens to us and learns from us go to Him?
If so, then that would make some great news. (0)
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- la ilaha illallah
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