How do people live without faith?

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

The wedding I officiated last weekend was a beautiful experience. It was in San Luis Obispo, California, which is halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is gorgeous! The young bride and groom are good, fun, and generous Catholics who did it just about all right throughout the process and ceremony. As you may or may not know, California was the site of over 20 Catholic (Franciscan) missions in the late 1700s and early 1800s. So, many of the cities in California have Spanish, Catholic names! For example, San Luis Obispo translates as “St Louis, Bishop” in English. This is from where the bride is. The church was a bit awkward for a wedding, but we made it work. The rehearsal dinner and wedding reception both took place at the beautiful ranch and vineyard on your right. My caption would be, “Wedding reception, California style.”

Flying in and out of San Luis Obispo was refreshing. The airport is not much larger than our church! Passengers use the tarmac and stairs to board and depart from their planes. For the flight home, though, that’s where my fun ended. My plane was late in taking off, so I missed the connecting flight in Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. After spending a few hours in the Phoenix airport eating, walking around, and praying, I caught a plane to Detroit that would get me closer to home Sunday night / Monday morning (given the three hour time difference, it was 1:30 EST Monday morning by the time we arrived in Detroit). The “reflection room” (chapel) in the Detroit airport served as a resting place for a few hours before the final flight brought me home later that morning. (I think that “chapel” was built more for the “spiritual but not religious” crowd). Needless to say, Monday was a long day of rest…!

I knew it would be a ton of travel in a short amount of time, and didn’t like being away from you on a Sunday. But, I still think it was worth it. The Lord gave me several opportunities to evangelize and minister to young adults at the wedding, including a few confessions. In one of the conversations, a young and perfectly healthy woman said she suffers immensely from a fear of death. We talked about life after death, and she revealed she is quite shaky in her Catholic faith about heaven. I asked her if she believes in the Resurrection, and she chose not to answer. Hopefully, our conversation will continue…

I don’t know how people live without faith. How do people without faith in Christ live the Lord’s saying in today’s Gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”? Fear is the lack of faith, so, of course, people without faith will be afraid (of death, for example). And, their hearts will be troubled, restless, anxious, and desolate. It’s not that we believers don’t struggle with this, although when the young woman asked me of what I was afraid, I could only think of sports-related fears like the Capitals losing again in the playoffs! The Lord’s saying is challenging for all of us, believers included. But, when we come to Him regularly, as our first Holy Communicants come to Him for the first time in the Eucharist, we receive His peace regularly. His Grace begins to work on us and our hearts so that we rest in His peace. Even when we are tested by an illness or injury, loss of a loved one, family or work crisis, traveling nightmare, or sports defeat, our hearts are not troubled or afraid. As St. Augustine beautifully prayed, “our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord”.

Congratulations to our first Holy Communicants!!

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg