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Stepping up to the Catholic Plate

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A battle of wits has been waged – rhetoric, propaganda, deceptions, and smokescreens appear to be the modern weapons of choice in many political arenas. Very often, the objects of such attacks: religion, faith, Christianity, and God in general. On other fronts there are more serious conflicts and confrontations in the Middle East and Africa where full-blown violence has erupted and seems to be sanctioned by indifferent “civilized” countries. Could it be said that Christian religious culture is the victim of weapons of “Mass” destruction?
The source of this penchant for religious oppression, for minimizing God as an integral part of human life may not be clear, but the apparent results are undeniable. Modern secularism, a cult of widespread proportions with no boundaries, has gained momentum in recent years – and if one is honest, it can be called none other than a holy war. Once-faithful Christians are being seduced into a lulled state of thinking in a new way – a way which subjugates God to a near non-entity. St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and current Pope Francis have been urging Catholics to step up to the Catholic plate – defend the Church, evangelize, and live Jesus.
For many Catholics, this directive may still be unclear. What is the average Catholic to do, we aren’t trained to go out and preach the good news. We’ve been trained to learn the catechism, go to Mass on Sunday and holy days, and receive the sacraments regularly. Evangelizing was not part of the program, but now it’s being requested. Catholics may have forgotten that upon receiving the sacrament of Baptism we became part of a family of Christ, at Confirmation we accepted the gifts of the Holy Spirit – not to be tucked away in a place of safe-keeping – but to be used for the very purpose of evangelization.
The idiom “stepping up to the plate” means to move into a position where one is ready to do a task (The Free Dictionary). Catholics are no longer (if ever we were) living in a comfortable culture where faith is a live-and-let-live attribute of life. Someone has pitched a challenging sphere of tyranny in our direction. We are no longer spectators; like it or not we are in the game. Sitting by is not an option. We must ready ourselves to step up to the plate so when the opportunity arises to defend the faith and be messengers of Christ’s love and extend the good news, we are ready. Any baseball player will tell you that being ready takes practice and plenty of it. Our Catholic faith was never meant to be idle or “benched.” Saint Cajetan once wrote that “[We must not] receive Jesus Christ simply to further [our] own plans.” We must go out there and do whatever he asks. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges all Catholics to renew their sense of discipleship. They strongly urge that we begin with our families, our communities, parishes, workplaces, and everywhere we see the opportunity to bring Christ to others. (See http://usccb.org/ for more details). Catholics, step up to the plate, and bring our family home.

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