One of my first sights at the World Meeting of Families this morning was the News 10 crew interviewing two nice older women. As I walked to get out of the shot (not wanting to be that millennial on her cell phone in the back of a news shot), I realized one of them was wearing a Roman collar. Later, when the other woman was getting interviewed, I saw that she was as well. Of course, it was a white clerical shirt, which she was sporting with a purple suit jacket, khakis, and sneakers, but it was clearly a collar. They had a big banner they spread out for the reporter and her camerawoman that read, “Support Roman Catholic Women Priests.”
At first I was annoyed, and I wanted to ask the reporter if she wanted to interview me as well. Let’s get another woman’s view of women priesthood. Then I got angry, because the reporter was clearly excited to report this story, and I worried it would be the only thing mentioned about the incredible event that we’ve witnessed thus far.
Why? Why are they allowed to hijack this incredible event? If we could survey the 20,000 people in attendance, would that be the story they would want reported?
It’s easy to get discouraged when you witness so much truth and beauty and goodness and you wonder how much is getting through to the world. You feel helpless because you’re at the mercy of the mainstream media. The catechist in me wanted to talk to the reporter about why the Church teaches what She teaches. I want the beauty of our faith to be known and loved.
So what keeps us from getting discouraged? Well, luckily I had a whole day of talks after that incident, to remind me why we are here and to keep me from getting frustrated. I was thinking on the way home about Helen Alvare’s keynote on the “Creating the Future: the Fertility of Christian Love.” She, more than anyone, knows the bleak times we live in when it comes to the family. She’s in the religious liberty trenches, for heaven’s sake. But despite that, her talk was very hopeful.
She pointed out that not many people will read studies like she does, or pick up a book on the Church’s teaching on the family. But they do see us. We must be the witness of what authentic family life is and what it does for society.
So who cares what the media wants to say about us, the Church, or the World Meeting of Families. We can speak louder than the media, because we can be witnesses to the real, selfless love and joy of self-gift. The world wants to preach the Gospel of Me (another great Helen Alvare quip) but joy is only found in living for the other. We can have that joy, and we can share that joy with the world. We can preach that Gospel of love that the world so craves.