Other than the extreme damage done to victims of clergy abuse and their families, perhaps…
Trust at the center
At some point during a few-and-far between break at a “convening” sponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, my friend Elise turned to me to make sure I had a copy of the “Litany of Trust.” It’s a prayer that one of the Sisters of Life, a favorite group of women religious we know, wrote up, clearly inspired to reach the hearts of people right now. It’s not that, as far as I know, Elise was struggling in any particular way at that moment. It’s more that this has become part of the prayer she breathes.
For a moment, though, I went to make sure I had my stash in my purse. I tend to pass them out to all kinds of people, too, who may or may not be asking or looking for such a thing. In the last week, a potential catechumen after a Mass and an Uber driver or two come to mind. It is such a help to us, we want to share! Life is too short and hard not to.
The prayer, which you can find online (www.sistersoflife.org/litany-of-trust), does prove helpful for everyday life and even for the goals of the Georgetown gathering of “right” and “left” Church leaders.
One leader, who regularly crosses ideological divides, candidly admitted that he finds it more difficult to find common ground with people who are Catholic with whom he has some fairly serious disagreements than others, believers and non-believers of just about any stripe. And yet, we have the common bond of baptism and the Eucharist and confirmation.
And I think, too, it’s safe to assume that people get nervous when the topic of the Holy Spirit comes up. I remember having some college text on relativism that was titled “Who’s to Say?” Well, yes, exactly! This is some of what makes some of my friends on the right nervous about Pope Francis. What exactly is he saying and what are Jesuits wanting us to discern? Well, God’s will!
Now, surely, not everyone enters into such conversations and journeys and convenings with the same level of prayer and contemplation and honest desire for God’s will. There are restrictions and obstacles we put up or we won’t — or can’t — be honest about that limit our freedom to truly seek his will and trust it completely.
We cling to agendas because that’s a comfort zone. Ideology can be such a security blanket! It’s why we might often choose to keep associating with people who think alike politically. One of the blessings, perhaps, of such tumultuous political times is they have shaken up some of those.
What does the Litany of Trust have to do with any of this? One of the materials for the “convening” includes this quote from Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium: “An authentic faith — which is never comfortable or completely personal — always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it.”
Are we doing that? Close to home? Right in front of us? With a heart for people a world away?
One of the beauties of the litany is that it acknowledges some of the deepest wounds and desires of the heart. And they are universal. Even among those who may be leaders or quite clearly identify as “left” or “right” or “progressive” or “conservative.” If we’re Catholic, there’s more than common ground; we are members of the same Body.
What are we going to do about that? Trust more deeply not ourselves, not talking points, but God himself, to make straight crooked lines and make a path possible.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review and co-author of “How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice” (OSV, $17.95).