Like most people, I am addicted to bad news.
Good news is nice, but I can’t help but find there is something enticing about scandal. Not in the sense that I want it to happen, but that I enjoy getting caught up in the outrage. While scandal and gossip have walked hand in hand throughout the ages, there is a new sense of amplification caused in part by modern media.
Unsurprisingly, getting drawn in by bad news has a negative impact on my outlook on life. This is only intensified when this news is coming from within the Church. It is despairing to read reports about church affairs in Germany and Belgium or listen to Youtubers who are keen on denying the legitimacy of Francis’ papacy!
So, how can we, the many in the middle, safeguard ourselves from this despair? For me the answer lies in three areas: prayer, practice and perspective.
Just as with a friend or a spouse, intentionally carving out time from my schedule to spend with God allows me to deepen my relationship with Him. From this relationship, trust is born. And through this trust, the act of surrendering to his permissive will becomes all the more bearable.
Whilst it’s good to keep up with the news, there is also a need to manage it well and be disciplined. Take a media fast or seek counsel from a spiritual director, friend or family member. We need to limit our intake as our minds can only consume so much, and where we feel burdened it is best to not internalise our concerns.
Prior to the media age, I imagine the average lay Catholic’s awareness of church affairs wouldn’t extend further than their parish or diocese. Essentially their immediate spheres of influence.
Whilst remaining informed about global news can be good, centring your perspective on what God is doing locally seems crucial to living a positive and fruitful Christian walk. This way, the search for solutions goes from ‘what can they do?’ to ‘what can I do?’.
Though not exhaustive, ordering my life to involve more prayer, better disciplinary practices and a locally-focused perspective seems to be a good start to remaining hopeful. It also ensures the love I have for my Church isn’t diminished by whatever is in the news about it today. That, and believing Jesus when he promised us that the ‘gates of hell will not prevail’.
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Sign up to receive our fortnightly email with our latest news, features and events…