A couple of months back I had a conversation (via email) with a friend of mine about the Catholic Church (it is still ongoing, I have just been very, very bad and lazy and not emailled my latest response...sorry Liam! I will do it!) We decided right from the beginning to...erm...agree to disagree what with him being an atheist. And to date everything we've discussed has been in a pretty friendly manner. I get a bit worked up sometimes, but that's just me and my childishly short fuse rising to the bait I think. Anyway, back on topic, in my first mail back to him we got to talking about the Body of Christ. I (feebly) attempted to explain that, although made up of about 1.2 billion individuals, we are all united through Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments to form one community that lives, works, prays, laughs cries etc., etc. together no matter who or where we are. By our actions we can either strengthen or undermine the Church and one another and because of the beautiful communion that we all share we can reap a great deal of encouragement and joy from things like the Mass and the Eucharist but, equally, when one member sins we are all affected by it.
Reading the papers sometimes it's very easy to only see the bad, only the sin and miss all the wonderful things people do to support us and renew our faith. But, if you trawl through, you can find some real gems, like the Bryce Daniel video. Another one I stumbled across this evening was this fantastic story of a Belgian religious sister, Jeanne Devos (a Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), who has spent the last twenty-five years trying to improve the situation of millions of domestic workers in India. In 1985 she founded the National Domestic Workers' Movement (NDWM) which has worked tirelessly to give domestic workers (who are, predominantly, women and children) fair wages (the news report I linked has the testimony of a woman who was paid on 55 rupees, $1.10 dollars, per year), days off, better working conditions and in general trying to remove people from situations of exploitation and discrimination. (She was also, I believe, considered for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.)
So although there are plenty of things that we see or hear about other Catholics doing that makes everything we do seem so unbearably difficult and hopeless there are always (praise God!) plenty more fulfilling Christ's command to love God and our neighbour to build us back up again.