How to Respond to Offenses Against the Faith

Ask a Carmelite Sister…

Dear Sister,

I am starting to ask myself, “Why don’t I stand up for my Catholic religion when it is mocked or spoken of disrespectfully or when something wrong is being done?”  All things considered, it seems easiest just to be quiet. Even at home, my teenagers share some mighty strange ideas they have picked up somewhere, and I want a peaceful home, so I just listen. Am I doing the right thing?

Dear Friend,

Your letter touches such a deep chord.  Our faith comes from our deepest center; our soul. Our whole moral/ethical standards arise from it. Many of us have ancestors who have literally died for that faith. My own ancestors are from Northern Ireland, and I can recall my mom telling me, “Our family has suffered for our Catholic faith.” Our faith shapes who we are.

Well, I suppose if you would ask this question to several different people, they would answer in their own ways – for example – me. I’m a Catholic nun and I literally wear my religion. I wear a rosary almost as long as my legs. I wear a crucifix larger than my hand. My religious habit stands out in any crowd. So for me, I don’t have to say too much, really. My habit says it. People know who I am and what I stand for and sometimes they come up and ask me questions. Sometimes the opposite happens and some people can be antagonistic or even downright cruel. The wearing of my habit reminds me to behave, to live what I represent, to be what God has called me to be.

So, are you doing the right thing by keeping quiet? Let me answer with another question. May I use the Amish as an example?

When I was in Ohio and we went on a lovely Sunday outing and drove into Amish country, everything about it spoke of their faith – the horse and buggy; the simple farm; the beautiful carpentry; the CLOSED signs on Sunday; the way they comported themselves. Just by being there, we absorbed the “Amishness” of the place.  And delving deeper, I think I can say that we actually expected to encounter that “Amishness” once we entered Amish country. I think we would have been disappointed if the Amish ambiance wasn’t there. So, here’s the question, “Wouldn’t you say that the Amish teach by example?”

Let’s apply that idea to us Catholics in a like manner…

  • Our homes should have a “Catholic” identity. The very home atmosphere teaches.
  • As visitors and friends enter the front door, they should see a crucifix in a prominent place on the wall.
  • A Bible in a place of honor and treated with respect.
  • A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in one of the rooms and rosaries placed around it.
  • Grace before meals.
  • A television with programs of integrity.
  • Conversations and actions manifesting the dignity of all people interacting within that home.
  • Modesty in demeanor and in choice of clothes.

People should know we are Catholic once they enter through the doors of our home.

At work, our co-workers should see:

  • Ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday.
  • Meatless lunches on specified days.
  • Our conversation should reflect our Catholic values.
  • We should try as best we can to live the 10 Commandments while at work.  Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.
  • Speak of healthy and interesting topics,
  • Do not judge others with harsh words that never should have been said.
  • Treat all with respect.

And now to answer your original question as what to do:

  • Just quietly walk away, not in a judgmental manner.
  • Pick up your cell phone as if were ringing and simply excuse yourself.
  • The Holy Spirit will give you a nudge when it is time for you to speak.
  • Just live your Catholic religion.
  • Attend Mass each Sunday.
  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often as you can. It brings great graces within it.

And regarding your children, they will just absorb the goodness around them.  One mom I know quietly lights a blessed candle when one of her teenagers goes out on a date and quietly blows it out when that teen has returned home. That action is powerful.

Actions speak louder than words. You may choose to be quiet in speech, but, believe me, those around you will know that you are Catholic and, if the truth be told, respect you all the more for it.

Thank you for your question and until next time,

Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.


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About the Author

Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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1 Comment

  1. That is an interesting article sister.

    I read through you list of what our homes should be like, and I have all that is mentioned.

    what is surprising is the action I get when we have visitors, You see I live in Greece, an Orthodox country, they are not used to us Catholics or our statues, and they look at them in amazement.

    They have a tradition here that when they pass a holy building they cross themselves right to left 3 times, of course as a Catholic we do the same but left to right, so they know that there are some Catholics here at least.

    It is a great Joy to share our Catholic faith with others.

    God bless you sister and thank you for this article.

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