By Nick Sciarappa
Throughout my entire life as a Catholic, I have had to play defense when it comes to my faith. I grew up in a post 2002 church, stained with a sexual abuse crisis; one of the darkest times for the Church in its history.
This event struck me deeply
as I covered stories of abuse survivors while working at National Catholic Reporter, a Newspaper based out of Kansas City. I read archives of the paper's many stories of sexual abuse spanning from 1985 through today. After spending a whole day archiving newspapers from 2002, I remember being brought to tears at the horrors I read.
It's difficult to tell people I'm a Christian at times, knowing the scowl or look of distain I will receive for it.
I know that for the span of my life, I will have to play defense on this, and many other issues. However, when I take into account the hardships that the Church faces, I remember two things.
I once heard a speaker say that if a ten foot timeline of Catholic History was hung on the wall, and you blind folded yourself to throw a dart at the wall, no matter where the dart landed, you could make a fierce argument for despair in the church, and an equally good argument for hope.
I think there are two types of hope. One is based on evidence. For example, on most Fridays, my family orders pizza for dinner. So I can hope that I will eat pizza tomorrow.
The other type of hope provides no strong evidence for change other than what Jesus says in today's Gospel:
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
If you ask most Catholics, they'll say this is the moment when Jesus named Peter the first Pope of his Church. I think that's cool but the next line gives me so much hope.
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I used to think that statement meant that evil won't trample over good.
But upon reading it a second and third time, it seems as though Jesus is talking about offense. The gates of hell will not stop the church from busting through them and it's Christ's confidence in his church to bust down Hell's boarders that gives me hope. It's in his call to fight evil as a member of his church that inspires me to work at a parish as a youth minister.
Though there are many obstacles
standing in the way of the church's victory over hardship, pain, and suffering, I feel like I have to do my part, no matter how small, to help Jesus' radical mission to bring love into the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick graduated from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, and a Catholic Studies Minor in May 2014. After a short residency reporting for the newspaper, National Catholic Reporter in Kansas City he stepped away from journalism into full time ministry. He works at Saints John and Paul Catholic Parish as a Media and Marketing Specialist, and at St. John Neumann as a Youth Minister in Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys playing the ukulele and singing.