The weekend before the ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family began, I had been hearing from listeners who were expressing concern about two major stories that had recently broke: Pope Francis’ visit with Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis and the news of a now-former monsignor with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith admitting he was in a homosexual relationship.
Media outlets were abuzz with reports alleging that Davis’ encounter with the pope was “accidental” and needed to be dismissed. Davis, of course, is the clerk who refused to sign “marriage” licenses of same-sex couples because she said it violated her strong Christian beliefs. She met the pope briefly in Washington, D.C., and soon after that meeting became public, the media circus began.
The monsignor, meanwhile, had conducted an interview with Polish media in which he admitted to being an active homosexual who believed the church’s teaching on chastity was inhumane and needed to change. He was quickly fired from his post, but the two stories were weighing heavily on many as the synod moved closer.
The stories were beginning to get me down as well. While I certainly understand what the synod is and isn’t, and while I am well aware of the fact that doctrine isn’t up for grabs and can’t be changed, such bad news can be unsettling because it makes for more confusion, which is the last thing we need in the Catholic Church.
But as I headed for a speaking engagement in Erie, Pennsylvania, I kept praying for encouragement as well as courage, as I knew that the synod was going to be covered extensively on my program.
God began to answer my prayers during Mass on the Sunday that marked the beginning of the synod. The Mass readings from Genesis and the Gospel of St. Mark were so specifically connected to the discussions being held in Rome regarding marriage, ministering to those with same-sex attraction, as well as the question of divorced receiving holy Eucharist, that I found myself grabbing for the Kleenex buried in my purse.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them shall become one body” (Gn 2:24).
“Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mk 10:9).
God was reminding us, as he often does through his word, that he’s got this.
After Mass, I was taken to the adoration chapel of St. Joseph’s, which is the home parish of Father Larry Richards of the Reason for Our Hope Foundation. The minute I walked into the adoration chapel, my eyes were drawn to the xcripture verse painted on the wall behind the altar. While others were admiring the stained-glass windows featuring many of our saints, I couldn’t stop staring at the scripture verse, because it felt like another little kiss from heaven.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:11).
The words gave me the confidence to get on with the business of covering the synod and comforting my listeners.
This doesn’t mean we bury our heads in the sand and don’t discuss problems that arise when those within the church are openly dissenting. It does mean that we continue to preach the truth with love, charity and clarity, all the while remembering that God is still large and still very much in charge of his church.
Yes, he’s got this. So let’s rest in that. Let’s be still. Pray for the pope and all those involved in the synod — but know that God is still God.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio, Sirius Channel 130, and KFHC-FM 88.1 in Sioux City.