January 7, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

The light and the darkness of our Catholic faith

Shirley Vogler MeisterSince childhood, I have been drawn to contrasts in life. However, when playing with friends, I always wanted to be the peacemaker rather than an antagonizer.

I preferred good over evil and couldn’t understand why other children often got into trouble.

I still believe that good eventually overcomes evil, but experiences in life since then have honed my sensibilities to better assess the variations of good and evil.

So it was with great interest last month when I read a blog, Peace Garden Mama, by Roxane Salonen, who lives in Fargo, N.D., with her husband and children.

Her blog can be found online at http://roxanesalonen.blogspot.com.

I am always edified by her observations and deep thoughts that remind me of myself when my husband, Paul, and I were raising our three daughters.

However, Salonen is probably much bolder than I am when it comes to defending our Catholic faith. Not long ago, she came across an atheist’s blog.

Troubled by the atheist’s observations, she respectfully responded to her, sharing her completely opposite point of view.

She shared beautiful thoughts about her Catholic faith, and the other blogger defended her own beliefs.

Salonen believes that “one can be lifted from the darkness by faith.”

She wrote, “There is nowhere for me, as one who has experienced the light of faith with every fiber of my being [body and soul] to go with this except back to the Light of Light.”

One of Salonen’s friends shared something that St. John of the Cross once wrote—something to the effect that, “It is not the ones who boast about sitting next to God who are closest to him, but those who are silent because they realize how impossible it is to contain God in their words. In the end though, there is nothing I can say to appease those who believe that a life of non-belief is the more honorable, the right path. The lived reality of its fruits are enough.”

Words can only go so far in explaining faith. It must be experienced to be grasped.

Most Catholics instinctively realize that Salonen’s position is Godly based, and that only God can judge an atheist’s position.

My father converted to Catholicism, and I am grateful for my faith. So is my husband, Paul. Despite some doubts and challenges, we are Catholics forever.

I began my 2011 columns with this subject because many people who believe in God have experienced spiritual darkness. So did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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