By Bishop Glen John Provost, M.A., D.D.
We need a prophetic call to conversion. Horrific acts of violence and terrorist attacks only seem to increase around the world, in our nation, and in our communities.
I touched upon this topic and our response to it in my pastoral letter on Friday abstinence last year (September 4, 2015). In this letter, I mentioned that many good people request that we have a "day of prayer and fasting" in response to some tragic event. For Catholics every Friday should be a day of prayer and fasting. We should not think of God as we do an insurance policy, only when we pay our premium or collect benefits.
The failures of the human condition are an ever-present reality. We cannot ignore them. God, on the other hand, has given us a remedy and a hope in His Son Jesus Christ. Our Lord called us to repentance, to acknowledge our sins, seek forgiveness, and change our lives. This is the fundamental message of the Gospels; if we forget this, we risk descending even further into this mire of incomprehensible chaos.
The call to conversion is on-going. We cannot relax our efforts, nor can we forget the need for God and His abiding presence in our midst, particularly in His Church and in Her Sacraments. Focus groups, sensitivity workshops and humanistic and secular solutions, as well-intentioned and somewhat effective as they may be, will not solve our problems, for the root of the problem is our alienation from God.
If we continue to ignore God, both His mercy and His justice, refusing to recognize Him as a personal God who abides with us, then I fear we will continue to see, as one commentator recently described it, our country at "half-mast".
We need to stop thinking of God only when we need Him or in response to some tragedy. We cannot allow ourselves to compartmentalize religious faith, thinking of it only on Sundays or at church and then going about business as usual.
Faith in Jesus Christ is a program for life, guiding our every action, inspiring our thoughts, and moving us to live morally. The reminder about Friday Penance in my letter of September 4, 2015, was an attempt to bring to our attention certain truths – that is, we are not perfect, we need to repent, God is always there for us and the day on which Jesus suffered and died is a good day to recall these truths. If ever there existed an age that needed conversion, it is this one.