I hear and see it all the time. We decide not to wear that religious necklace or that saint bracelet. We tell our kids to keep their Catholic Bibles home from summer camp. We find ourselves conveniently “busy” when a neighbor asks us to join them for a burger on a Friday during Lent. We apologize for being late to the soccer tournament because we were attending a Holy Day of Obligation Mass. We ask for forgiveness when soliciting funds for our school, church or ministry.
Or worse, we just skip all the above and go on about our merry way. Quit apologizing for God and quit apologizing for your Catholic faith.
In full disclosure, I should admit that I’ve been guilty of all of the above. Sometimes, I’m proudly Catholic. In some circles it’s easier, you know? Later this week I’ll be attending the Catholic New Media Conference in Dallas. I have no doubt being Catholic won’t be too difficult. But, what about when the neighbors circle up and decide to do a potluck – at 5pm on a Saturday night? Do you go late and then apologize that you’re at Mass or do you thank them for inviting you and let them know you’ll attend just as soon as Mass concludes?
Or, as we solicit funds or volunteers for our Catholic ministries and organizations, we apologize to people for asking. Why do we do that? Why do we apologize for something in which we have passion? Perhaps we don’t want to come across heavy-handed or even needy. Maybe we want people to know we empathize and appreciate their sacrifices, so we hate to “put them out.”
Here’s the thing: when you’re doing God’s work, no apology is necessary. Certainly, our passion must be tempered with respect and inclusiveness. Nobody wants to be guilted into their beliefs. Understandably, though, in a society that proclaims “live and let live,” it’s hard to affirm your beliefs and go against the mainstream. It’s hard to ask people for money to continue a ministry, build a church or fund a school. It’s hard to say ‘no’ when it feels like all the world is saying ‘yes.’
The next time you find yourself opening your mouth to apologize, consider the greater good. Are you building up the church or tearing it down? Are you holding true to what your heart says or what the ways of the world would rather you do? Would God be pumping His fist in the air at your confidence and passion? Would He be cheering you on? If the answer is yes, then proclaim the good news with joy. And don’t you ever look back.