Please excuse typos, grammatical errors, etc. My editor (wife) has not had a chance to clean this one up. Edits to follow at a later date.
What does Everyday Catholic mean?
It’s a question I have had to revisit this year. (I’ll explain why in a couple paragraphs, hang with me) Typically, when you hear someone or something called “everyday” it implies a certain ordinariness. “Oh, him? Yeah, he’s you average, ordinary, everyday guy.” So, basically, we named our apostolate “ordinary Catholic.” I know, inspiring, right"? Well it should be. Ordinary, everyday Catholicism should be anything but ordinary. By virtue of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives we have become the adopted sons and daughters of the Living God. The Spirit of God dwells inside of us. An everyday Catholic is a dangerous force in the world, or we should be. Too often ordinary Catholicism has been relegated to a bland, sort of going through the motions. So, through this Apostolate we decided that we were going to really proclaim and preach the truth of who we are.
Admittedly, our mission is a triumphant one. It is the Good News of Jesus Christ. And, don’t mistake it, this is good news. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us, that we may be called the children of God, and yet so we are…” (1 John 3:1)
Our example of what it means to be a Christian is first and foremost Christ. I love the Gospels. If you have ever heard me speak you know that I love the real people who encountered Jesus. I love the flesh and blood reality of Jesus life. I love that he was a baby for me. I love that he was a teenager for me. I love that he demonstrated his authority over creation, for me. I love those stories. But the thing is, as triumphant as the Gospel is, and it is, we have to face the cross. We can never forget the suffering of Christ. Even in his suffering, especially in his suffering, Jesus is our example as well. We can never forget that Jesus didn't promise our lives would be easy. He actually said the opposite.
In this life you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
You know what is crazy about that? Right before Jesus says that, he says “I am telling you this so that you will have peace.” When does he tell the disciples that? At the Last Supper. So, they are hours from his passion and Jesus lays it on them that their lives are going to be hard, but that he’s got it, so relax. And then he gets tortured to death. . . The Gospel of the Lord.
But the thing is, death wasn’t the end of the story. It was just part of it. Jesus really did have it under control. . . even when it seemed totally out of control. The suffering is real, but so is the victory. Jesus shows us that in his life, death, resurrection and ascension. The peace he gives us is the Holy Spirit in our lives guiding, consoling, and reminding us that even when life is dark and hard, Jesus is the light that overcomes even death.
All of that is part of what Everyday Catholic means. The thing is, when we chose the name, we really were not thinking about the cross and suffering. But like I said, I have been thinking a lot about what Everyday Catholic means.
It’s been a hard year
In January my Dad, Dcn Bob Mueller, the chairman of the board for Everyday Catholic, lost his fight with kidney disease. He was in the hospital for most of the holiday season and our family Christmas eve (I am one of youngest of seven siblings, and my older siblings kids are grown and have their own kids, so, it’s a very large gathering) was moved to a community center near the hospital so that each family could take turns visiting him and my mom. What was striking in all of it was the how my family prayed. Yes, of course we prayed for healing, but there was so much worship. Sometimes communally, sometimes just a breath of “praise you Lord Jesus.” The peace that Jesus spoke about, well, it was our peace. Yes, this life has trouble, and yes Dad was suffering, and we were too, but that was just a part of the story, and so we worshiped.
Dad’s funeral was awful. Not that is was bad. It was not. It was hard. So, very hard, but it was also so full of awe. There was so much worship. The Mass truly is our highest form of worship, and every time we join in that celebration it is a cause for awe, but Dad’s funeral was something special. To hear a Church, mourning the loss of someone so loved, worshiping the Lord with full voice, even in pain and loss. Well, that is who we are called to be.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t grieve. It doesn’t mean we are not still grieving. Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb, even though he knew what he was about to do. We wept and worshiped, and carried each other. Again, that is who we are called to be. I wish that Dad’s passing was the only reason I had to be contemplating what Everyday Catholic means, but this year has had more than it’s share of troubles.
And then things got even worse
It seems like the storms of Dad’s passing had just begun to settle upon the shores of our hearts when another tempest, unexpectedly crashed upon us. (Yes, that sentence was a little overly dramatic) On Good Friday we sat down to watch the ZonderKids, Beginner’s Bible Animated series, account of the Passion and Resurrection. As we watched our three-year-old willggled as three year olds tend to do, and managed to stand directly in front of my wife. I was standing behind the couch, behind her, and we both saw it at almost the same instant. There was a lump on Ben’s neck. We took a picture, texted it to a friend who is a pediatrician and well, long story short, a month later we found out that Ben has Stage 2 T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. Don’t worry, I will give the longer version of that month long journey from lump to diagnosis in another blog. This one is getting a little long, and I’m gonna wrap it up.
I was in a hotel room in Mississauga, Canada when the specialist told my wife it was time to worry. We live in S. California, so I was about a continent away. There in my room, processing the news of my son’s, at that point, possible cancer, feeling helpless, I really could do only one thing. Worship.
Jesus said to have peace, that this life would have trouble, but that he had it all under control. I had just weathered one storm, trusting in the Lord’s faithfulness. I couldn’t be home. Despair is a lie. God is faithful. So, worship was the only option that made sense. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t worried. I am worried. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared. I am scared. But what it mean was choosing to give my worry and fear over to the one who set the boundaries of the sea. He told me to have peace, and so in that moment I sought it in Him.
So, what does Everyday Catholic mean? It doesn’t mean our lives are perfect. It doesn’t mean there will not be struggle. It doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. It doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard. It doesn’t mean that we are perfect followers. It means that we are putting our faith in the Lord, in all things. It means that we are trusting in his faithfulness. It means that grief does not become despair. It means that our faith in His victory is bigger than our fears. Honestly, when we named this apostolate Everyday Catholic I thought it was going to be about teaching the faith through a TV show (actually it looks like the show will be on terrestrial television very soon) but over the course of this year it seems like God has asked us to witness to something a little different. Our mission has always been to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and so even in this. . .especially in this. . .Everyday Catholic.