Planted by the Stream

for March 20th, 2014
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Liturgical texts here



TWENTY years ago, my wife and I, both cradle-Catholics, were invited to a Baptist Sunday service by a friend of ours who was once a Catholic. We were amazed at all the young couples, the beautiful music, and the anointed sermon by the pastor. The outpouring of genuine kindness and welcoming touched something deep in our souls. [1]cf. My Personal Testimony

When we got into the car to leave, all I could think of was my own parish… weak music, weaker homilies, and even weaker participation by the congregation. Young couples our age? Practically extinct in the pews. Most painful was the sense of loneliness. I often left Mass feeling colder than when I walked in.

As we drove away, I said to my wife, “We should come back here. We can receive the Eucharist at a daily Mass on Monday.” I was only half-kidding. We drove home confused, sad, and even angry.

That night as I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom, barely awake and floating on the events of the day, I suddenly heard a distinct voice within my heart:

Stay, and be light to your brothers…

I stopped, stared, and listened. The voice repeated:

Stay, and be light to your brothers.

I was stunned. Walking downstairs somewhat dumbfounded, I found my wife. “Honey, I think God wants us to stay in the Catholic Church.” I told her what happened, and like perfect harmony over the melody in my heart, she agreed.

To make a longer story shorter, over the next few years, the Lord poured into my heart a deep hunger to know my faith. I dived deep into the Scriptures and began working away at every Catholic doctrine to understand for myself what the Church taught about purgatory, the papacy, Mary, etc. To my amazement, I discovered that not only were the answers logical and clear, but firmly rooted in Apostolic Tradition and the Scriptures.

That is not to say that I did not find some teachings challenging at first—such as on contraception. [2]cf. An Intimate Testimony But as my wife and I embraced everything that the Catholic Church was teaching us, we soon discovered for ourselves the meaning of today’s words from the Psalm:

Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.

The Church is not the Pope’s. It is not Peter’s nor the bishops, but it is Christ’s. She is His Bride. And He literally took great pains for our happiness. And our happiness, our joy, comes from keeping His commandments.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love… I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (John 15:10-11)

We know what these commandments are, for they come to us through the stream of Sacred Tradition.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream… (first reading)

So I want to say to all my brothers and sisters in Jesus, put down your roots deep into the gift that God has given us in the Catholic Church. Despite her scandals, despite her flaws, the River of Life carries the truth that sets us free in an unending chain of Apostolic Succession. So don’t be afraid! You don’t have to figure it all out. Simply be humble before the mystery of the Word of God that comes to us safely through His Church, and the Lord will do the rest in your heart. For fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom… obedience to all He has taught.

Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD… If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead. (First reading; Gospel)


Don’t forget that Mark publishes occasional reflections on the “signs of the times” and other topics to help you navigate these changing times, such as The Great Antidote.
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