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(LifeSiteNews) — As the tensions in the Catholic Church in the United States continues to rage, I am reminded of the well-known Bible verse in the Gospel of Matthew that reads: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Though the ongoing restlessness among the faithful may easily lead many to great despair and loneliness, the reality remains that God has not abandoned His people.

The controversies in the Church have stirred up passionate opinions and emotions from all viewpoints. Consequently, the division is hard to ignore. It’s remarkably easy to fall into the false conviction that the Church itself is failing, collapsing to a point of utter destruction. But “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). The apostle John’s words are no less true today than they were when he first put them to paper.

Finding the light in the darkness of the modern world, however, is much easier said than done. Thanksgiving is a holiday set aside for gratitude — we give thanks to God for all His blessings and gifts, recognizing that He has never abandoned us, even in the darkness. Such a wholesome motivation is inevitably a prime target for the devil, who tries to thwart our genuine attempt at gratitude through discouragement.

And what better way to discourage faithful Catholics than convincing them their Church is falling apart? He does so by reminding us of major controversies in the universal Church and throughout the United States. But for all his clever influence, Satan simply cannot reverse the truth that the Catholic Church is very much alive in America, and local communities of the faithful are the quiet epitome of this reality.

My own Catholic community in central Virginia — which is considerably smaller compared with more populated areas of the state — has provided me with the spiritual strength needed to be truly grateful this Thanksgiving. In recent months, I have found myself overwhelmed by controversies in the universal Church. Even attending daily Mass, weekly adoration and regular confession just seemed like going through the motions with little impact. The devil has certainly targeted me as one he was trying to get to give up on faith because of human beings, not God.

This twisted reality is, sadly, what leads many to abandon faith in God. But our faith is in God and His Holy Catholic Church, not in any human being involved in its mission. And it was the efforts of the local Church — not a Catholic public figure or program — that led me back to the peace and confidence of this reality.

In recent weeks, my parish has put on two special evenings devoted to Eucharistic adoration with the intent of reviving belief in the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. I attended both and, in a much-needed testament to faith, witnessed a church filled with the faithful. Catholics of all ages came to worship the Lord without any drama. I left the church in awe, my doubt that there was any collaboration between God and His people vanishing in a matter of hours.

This reality rekindled a desire to participate in the mission of bringing others closer to Christ — anything to inspire greater faith in God during a time of rapidly dwindling faith. And God does not disappoint. Within weeks of those inspiring gatherings at the local parish, my parents began a monthly retreat program for local high schoolers to help them claim the faith as their own — events for which they recruited some of their adult children to help. He has also given me the opportunity to form a group of young Catholic women to build a community grounded in faith.

Here are some questions to consider instead of dwelling on the trouble and division in the Church as a whole: What is my local Catholic community doing to live out the Gospel message? How can I engage in the apostolate? Am I adequately thankful for how God is working in the local Church?

Yes, there are many problems in the world and in the Church. And no, turning away from them will not solve anything. But neither will despair. This Thanksgiving, may we either start or continue building a habit of gratitude for our faith, the effective and dedicated work being done behind the spotlight by clergy and laity alike and for our country, which allows us the freedom to practice our beautiful faith.