by Aaron Matthew Weldon

March 26, 2018

One blessing that comes from celebrating the liturgical activities surrounding Easter, from Ash Wednesday through Passiontide to the Triduum and on to Eastertide, is that one can experience the sense of struggle and disappointment one must endure to reach the new life that Jesus promises.  St. John reports Jesus' words: "I am the way" (Jn 14:6).  The way of Jesus is first a descent before there is a resurrection and ascension.

It is also a way of trust in the Father.  Particularly on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, Jesus offers up his whole life as a sacrifice to God.  His act of self-abandonment goes down to the core of his being, for as he says in John's gospel, his will is to do the will of the Father (Jn 6:37-40).  So, in order to conform ourselves to Christ, we must learn to trust completely in God, and learn to give up the pretense that we are ultimately in control.

It's good to think about these things in the face of disappointment.

Over the past few months, people of good will have made a major push for the inclusion of the Conscience Protection Act in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill.  The CPA would provide common-sense conscience protections for medical professionals.  This kind of legislation should be fundamental to a society that claims to respect basic human dignity.  As Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Kurtz noted: "Those inside and outside of Congress who worked to defeat the CPA have placed themselves squarely into the category of extremists who insist that all Americans must be forced to participate in the violent act of abortion."  

The failure of Congress to pass the CPA is most disappointing.

As Catholics who seek to be faithful citizens, the way of Jesus Christ informs how we view these disappointments.  The way is filled with disappointments and unexpected obstacles.  Indeed, we should expect outright hostility on occasion.  And yet, particularly on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we see that Jesus gives himself completely in love and service to the world, revealing a perfect resolve to do the will of God.  Holy Communion joins us to this act of self-gift.   In the celebration of the Eucharist, we too offer our lives with Christ for others, regardless of the obstacles.

When my colleagues Greg Schleppenbach and Lauren McCormack spoke with me about the CPA and advocacy in general
, they helpfully pointed out that the way we persevere in hope is by remembering that our first task as Christians is not to win political battles but to be faithful to Jesus Christ.  Easter is an apt time to remember that truth.  We can work to serve our neighbors as faithful citizens, and when the culture of death seems to prevail, we put our hope in the Lord who brings life out of death.

Aaron Matthew Weldon is Program Specialist in the Office of Religious Liberty.

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