In our first reading from Acts today we notice that not everyone was quick to embrace the early church. We read about jealousy arising for some as they see crowds gather to hear Paul and Barnabas speak. Towards the end of this account from Acts we hear that one group was “delighted” as another “stirred up persecution.”
In 1565 Jesuit Peter Canisius also encountered divisions regarding matters of faith. Tensions were extremely high during this time of the Protestant Reformation, and with the Council of Trent concluded, the Pope needed someone to distribute the Council’s decrees to the bishops throughout Europe. The first attempt to deliver these documents was met by thieves and Protestant opposition. For the second attempt Peter Canisius was chosen for the task and was able to distribute the documents to the European bishops.
In addition to helping the church by delivering these important documents, Peter went on to help defend the faith by assisting in the writing of a Catholic catechism. Though it was not uncommon at that time to have heated debates and harsh criticism about religion, Peter was more in favor of education and charity in our actions as ways to bring people closer to the Catholic faith.
On today’s feast of St. Peter Canisius, S.J., let us reflect on ways we can become witnesses for the Catholic faith. Are there parts of the faith we are unsure about, parts we could benefit from reading and studying about our Catholic teachings? Are there ways we can increase our charity towards others who may not believe by what we say and do? Would people know we are Catholic by the way we talk and treat others?
As we journey on this Easter season may we pray for the grace not only to better understand our Catholic faith, but to also experience the grace to live it out.
—Br. Pat Douglas, S.J, is Vocation Promoter for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus and a residence hall chaplain at Creighton University, Omaha, NE. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.