NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 5, 2013

What they're missing

As I See It
Kevin Noa

---- — With Christmas in the rear-view mirror and Lent continuing, the atheists, secularists and far left continue their war and criticism of Catholics and Christians.

Locally, this is evident in the vandalism of St. Thomas Villanova Church in Wilmington. The statue outside the parish was spray-painted along with a caption on the building that read: brainwashing. However, their anger and jealousy through all these efforts that always reach a crescendo during the Christmas season, will never serve their goals of shaking the faith of pious Christians.

With the Rocks Village Bridge closed for repairs, my wife and I have been attending Mass at Holy Family Parish in Amesbury, under the direction of Father Lou and Father Michael. The church itself is a marvel of beauty with its many intricately carved statues, Stations of the Cross below beautiful stain-glass windows running down each side of the nave. Marble steps and floor lead up to a magnificent altar where more intricate carvings, crucifix and tabernacle welcomes each person coming in the peace and joy to worship. In addition to the entire magnificent ambiance are the folk guitarists whose delightful melodies and harmonies set a perfect tone for reverence. Their contagious smiles make one want to join them and enjoy every part of the Mass.

The accusations of brainwashing go right along with the other disrespectful behaviors to attack Catholicism. As someone who spent many years in the RCIA program, which brings adults into the faith, I can assure all critics of Catholics that we do not force Catholic theology on people wanting to become part of the church. At any time in the process anyone can drop out if they feel it is not for them.

Pondering all this, I’m glad that Catholic League, under the direction of president and author Bill Donohue, has taken on the role of defending the sacriligious insults hurled from various individuals or groups. This keeps all priests and bishops away from the fray doing their work and better enables them to ignore the attacks, which is how it should be.

There is no doubt, however, that the disparagement of religion, especially Christianity, has taken its toll on America. The disrespect, moral decay and irresponsibility have brought our country to where we are today. This is evident in the recent case of the young woman in Florida who swore and gestured at the presiding judge. Somehow I think her school record would mirror her attitude in court.

To all those who have made condemning the church part of their life and then use the excuse of separation of church and state to try to break traditions, it is as simple as this. The faith journeys of Christians and Catholics bother you a great deal. If the joy and love exhibited by those who follow Christ didn’t bother you, you wouldn’t go to the lengths you do to try to thwart our faith. Because faith is one of the most important gifts one can give to oneself. It is like many of my students over the years who give themselves the gift of literacy. For children, a love of reading is the most important gift they can give themselves. And the gift of faith is vital to feeling worthy in doing the work the Son of Man calls us all to.

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Kevin Noa of Merrimac is a writer, author and teacher in the Lowell public schools.