MY recent Marian pilgrimage to Fatima, Lourdes, and the other Marian shrines in Spain convinced me even more of the importance and the urgency to bring back Catholic fervor in our homes and families. By “Catholic fervor” I refer to the intense practice of our Catholic faith, which we can show through our authentic love and observance of the Sacraments, devotions, and other forms prayer and discipline.
I say this because the strong forces of secular values and beliefs have influenced our thoughts, decisions, and everyday lives. They have affected the minds of our young people, making them question our practices and moral beliefs and distant from the Church.
I believe that prayers and genuine faith that show a deep love for God and neighbor are our weapons to fight the influences of secularism and materialism. I also think of the vital role of fathers and mothers in nurturing lasting faith in their children. They have to work hard together to enliven family life with healthy practices of the Catholic faith. After all, as the Church says, parents are the “primary teachers” of their children in their growth as Catholic Christians.
Some parents may argue that this can be “easier said than done.” But I am convinced that we can’t make this as an excuse. In recent years, our Catholic faith has suffered dramatically, especially with many scandals in the Catholic Church. If we love our Catholic faith and if we want it to continue to grow, then all of us—lay people, priests, and bishops—must do everything possible to inflame our families and homes again with faith in God through prayers, devotions, and a better understanding of our Catholic beliefs and practices.
The Gospel this Sunday (Mark 12:28-34) brings light to my point. Our love for God can’t be half-hearted. We must love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. We can’t get discouraged either by our weaknesses and failures. We must get up when we fail and persevere in prayer and our deep love for God and other people.
There is a critical person in our life as Catholics that would help us to become stronger in faith. It’s Mary, the Mother of God. It has always been her role to bring us closer to her son Jesus and to intercede for us. She’s our ally and friend, our mother and confident. In the wisdom of God, she can help us have easier access to mysteries of our faith and to grow in our love for God and the Church. Her role is to help us develop an intimate relationship with Jesus, to fight temptations, and to protect us from the snares of the enemy of Christ.
Furthermore, if we want to grow in the virtues of humility, charity, purity, and sacrificial love, we should turn to Mary who exemplified these virtues during her earthly life. Mary is not only an intercessor but also a source of wisdom for us to practice a genuine faith.
Our role as Catholic leaders and parents has never been more challenging and demanding than today. With the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, with the intercession and examples of Mary and all the Saints, we’ll bring back glory to God and our Catholic faith in our homes and society!
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.