Loss Leads to New Beginning

July 12, 2020

The call came in on what was otherwise an ordinary Monday morning. It’s a good thing I was sitting down because the news that was about to be delivered came as a bit of a shock: After 35 years, The Catholic Sun was no more.

It wasn’t a hiatus or a hiccup or a temporary stop. It was over. The 18 years I’d spent chasing down leads, transcribing interviews, pondering and penning articles and columns had come to a swift conclusion.

Somehow, I felt … free. For some time, the Lord had been nudging my heart, telling me it was a season for change. I’d been feeling restless and ready to sink my teeth into something fresh.

Hello, blogging! And, hello, Encounter, a publication carried out by Wrangler News with the authorization of the Diocese of Phoenix. On June 6, Bishop Olmsted ordained four men to the priesthood. Back when The Catholic Sun was still going, that would have meant a May edition devoted to advanced coverage and a June edition containing the actual coverage of this momentous occasion.

Due to the pandemic, each of the priests-to-be could only invite a few guests and family members to attend. Don Kirkland, owner and founder of Wrangler News, wondered if our little community newspaper might be able to fill a void. I’d been working full-time for Wrangler, an East Valley newspaper, since 2017.

Thanks be to God (and the powers that be in the diocese) we were able to produce a 16-page publication dedicated entirely to our newest priests and their vocation stories, plus some incredibly beautiful photography by the amazingly talented Billy Hardiman.

And now for the next step in this new journey: a little blog called The Soulful Catholic. And by soulful I mean  impassioned, unabashedly and fervently Catholic, following Jesus Christ and seeking to share His saving message with everyone. In a culture which rejects the existence of absolute truth and derides belief in our Lord Jesus Christ,  I like to think of it this way:  Back in 2014, the world watched as the Islamic terrorists of ISIS painted the letter N on the doors of the Christians in Iraq they demanded must convert, pay their insanely high jizra tax or die. The N, which stands for Nazarene, was meant as an insult. Instead, Christians around the globe adopted the iconic Arabic letter as their own symbol.

From Facebook to Twitter, hundreds of people displayed a yellow N on a black background to show their solidarity with persecuted Christians.

Like the Arabic letter N, Soulful Catholic is right up there with Bible Thumper and Jesus Freak–epithets that are rarely applied to Catholics. Well, perhaps not soulful Catholics. At any rate, terms like these are hurled as ridicule. Once you’ve been labeled and mocked this way, you’ve become a source of derision.

OK, I’ll  take it. In fact, please DO call me The Soulful Catholic because I am in love with Jesus and the beautiful Church He founded! I’m in awe of the love and mercy we receive through the sacrament of confession and the joy and peace we embrace and consume in the Eucharist. I’m in love with all of it, the messes and the miracles and especially the Mass.

I can say all of this with my whole heart even when the Church in recent years (and really from the very beginning) has been marred by appalling scandals. Don’t get me wrong on this. I’m as outraged and brokenhearted by the scandals as you are, but then I realize this: We are the body of Christ and we are traitorous, treacherous sinners, each and every one of us. It shouldn’t surprise us that priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and even popes are made of the same frail humanity as we are. We’re broken and we need a Savior. His name is Jesus.

Our Lord tells us in Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” These are words we ought to bear in mind particularly in today’s politically correct culture. If you defend the Church’s teaching on marriage and the dignity of human life, you are sure to be branded a hater. That’s OK. In fact, it’s a badge of honor.

May each of us find our strength in the Lord Jesus Christ so that we may become soulful Catholics who remain faithful to Him and endure to the very end.