Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

Our vocation as Catholics is always to pursue the truth despite discomfort

Published: September 10, 2022

By Katie Karp
Ozark Catholic Academy

Following the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, I have watched as friends and acquaintances take to the internet to express their feelings of injustice. As a Catholic, I rejoice at this victory for human dignity, but I am not blind to the division it causes.

I struggle to know how to respond to them. Often sharing my perspective is written off as “preaching,” and earnestly questioning their rationales can come off as “interrogating.” It can be tempting to ignore the conflict altogether and rely on commonalities of our ideologies to preserve the status quo.

If I only share the portion of the truth that is acceptable to both sides, then no one will be upset. However, I compromise myself and my beliefs in telling a half-truth.

What does it look like to uphold the full truth? For Christ, it meant loving people while still sharing the truth of who we are and what we are created for.

Cultural and political phenomena like this make me ask, how are we supposed to respond as Catholics? The answer is quite simple: now more than ever, we are called to live our vocation of pursuing the truth, regardless of the discomforts accompanying it.

Being a Catholic today feels akin to being a member of the early Church. I am reminded of the gospels where Christ calls the apostles to abandon everything they have to follow him. While Jesus has not asked me to leave my Chacos home and travel without a second set of clothing, He has asked me to abandon my fear of what others may think of me.

The weapon of the enemy is fear. Openly speaking the truth engenders the fear of being labeled a bigot or “being canceled.” Unfortunately, those fears are not ungrounded and can be difficult to overcome. Nevertheless, pursuing the truth is how we are called to live out the gospel in the year of our Lord, 2022.

Some fundamental understandings of humanity and natural law are blatantly countercultural – acknowledging the sanctity of life or the existence of two genders will inevitably rock the boat, even in Arkansas. Pursuing the truth means accepting the reality of these things even when the world tells you you are bad for doing so.

After all, there is a reason Christ concludes the beatitudes with “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me” (Matthew 5:11). It is difficult to uphold the truth in a fallen world.

By no means does Christ call us to become aggressive in online comment sections or rudely call out people in the grocery line, but there is a requisite firmness necessary to preserve these truths that will inevitably cause discomfort to some.

What does it look like to uphold the full truth? For Christ, it meant loving people while still sharing the truth of who we are and what we are created for. Jesus never uses a partial truth to lure people into following him or smoothing things over so the Pharisees will like him.

I have to think that if he were here today, he would still love us while propelling us towards the fullness of truth. We are called to love our neighbors, desiring their ultimate good. To allow misconceptions about what is good to prevail is to do them a great disservice.

A relativistic and excusing mentality might feel more comfortable now, but it contributes to the degradation of Catholic identity; we cannot afford to water down the faith to make it more universally “appealing.” Saying these truths matter to you but they don’t have to matter to your neighbor is the same as saying they don’t matter at all.

So, I choose to take heart in the way that our daily interactions can mirror those of the apostles and try to remember that the truth always brings light in the end, even if it gets uncomfortable in the meantime.

Katie Karp holds a master’s degree in education from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Central Arkansas. She currently teaches Humane Letters and theology at Ozark Catholic Academy in Tontitown.

Understanding Our Church