Last night I gave a presentation, "Getting Ready for Advent" to a great group of Catholics at Saint Cecilia Parish in Mount Prospect, Illinois.
There was a man sitting in the group with his wife and teenage daughter. He was gruff-looking and was wearing a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt. He was following my every word quite closely.
When I came to the part of my presentation when I began to speak about the upcoming jubilee year of mercy, I found myself talking about the recent terror attacks in Paris. I talked about the fact that Pope Francis said that he simply didn't understand how a human person could commit such terrible acts. I shared about how much all of this has troubled me so deeply. I said that to talk of mercy in the face of all of this is such a challenge.
The man in the sweatshirt then simply blurted out, "It is really difficult and hard to be a Christian right now." He went on with such passion and gentleness. "I know that I am supposed to love, but for the past few days it has been so difficult to do so. I don't know what I am supposed to do. Jerry, what am I supposed to do? How should I feel?"
I looked him in the eyes and said, "I think what you are supposed to do is what you are doing right now; struggling like the rest of us with what our Christian calling is in these very difficult times. And I think that's probably enough for right now. Just remember that our pope is struggling with it all as well."
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.