Saturday, November 17, 2012

Anno Domini 2012

I often wish more people could see what goes on around the parish.  I wish they could witness directly the exchanges that combine to form the conversation that is the fabric of our community in Christ, because I believe that most people do not understand what it is that Christians do, much less why.  I believe that now more than ever this is a handicap not only for us Christians, but even more, for the rest of society.  The motivations that characterize our identity -- our generosity, mutual concern, respect, and even sacrifice -- these elements are formed according to Christ's revelation of his identity as God, and therefore our own identity.

One of the great fruits of the elections last week is the clear lesson that the Church and her members are not only a minority but a distinct and different element of society.  We have been disabused of the comforting notions that we share the fundamentals with the majority of our fellow citizens, and differ only in colorful distinctions and surface diversity.  The portrait of Christian faith and life displayed in the Letter to Diognetus that I referenced two weeks ago is even more clearly what sets us apart from many of our fellow citizens, rather than what we share with them.

This is a new era, an era when even Americans begin to realize that it is foolish to expect our circumstances to continue to get better and better, as if that were the natural order of things.  More accurately, it is the end of a brief era when that illusion could find enough evidence to hold sway.  Everything good is precarious and fragile; nothing destructive about the world or human nature ever is eliminated or left behind.

How could this be an improvement?  It can when it calls us not only to deepen our understanding of what it means to be members of Christ's body, but also to deepen our commitment to live out what it entails, that is, to be holy.  This is not only what we need, but also what the people around us need from us.

This new circumstance makes it possible and even necessary for us to give of what we have, even giving what we ourselves need, which will distinguish us from political groups, who find their union or purpose in keeping what they have, grasping for what they can get, or demanding what they think they deserve.  It will set us even further apart, because we regard our spouses and our children neither as commodities, nor as liabilities.  Rather, we hold them to be reasons for gratitude, placing them at the very center of our lives.  How we pour ourselves out for them will reveal love as God has revealed Himself to be Love.

It will mean that our joy, which is Christ’s incarnation, and our hope, which is His cross, will shine ever more brightly to those who are disappointed and discouraged.  Our confidence is rooted in our intimacy with the God who is Lord of the universe, whose mercy endures forever.  We will find no companionship among them who take their confidence in their own strength, wealth, or power.

As I watched, read, or listened to the horrid ads and rhetoric that bombarded voters leading up to our elections, I asked myself, Who are they talking to?  Not me; not anyone I know, surely.  But the result proved that these accusations and demands, the untenable promises and shameless false pathos, were indeed what motivates so many in our nation.  The Way, the Truth, and the Life does not interest the majority, who are eager to marginalize His Church, and to silence His faithful.

Our own nation is trying hard not to see us.  But this is a new kind of grace and a new kind of gift for Catholics in America, making it our challenge to live the faith.  They plunge gleefully into darkness; we have custody of the Light.  They will need us, that they be able to see. 

Thanks be to God.
Monsignor Smith

1 comment:

Ron Farias said...


Thank you for articulating so well the position we find ourselves in, post-election 2012. The results do not signify a new, wrong turning but rather they verify and make ever more clear the existing situation in which we Catholics and Christians find ourselves in the present culture and time. We live in a post-Christian era indeed. Western culture no longer transmits Christian values and in fact is unremittingly hostile to them. And as you write, the majority of our fellow citizens prefer it that way.

It is oddly liberating, though. The ambiguity has been swept away. We can leave behind our futile search for small patches of common ground with the majority political and cultural climate of modern America, and instead concern ourselves with the job that we have to do, as Catholics and Christians, to live the Faith and show the way to others. As the dead ends and empty promises of modern secularism manifest themselves to more and more of our non-Christian friends – well, as you say, we will be needed.

Thank you for this great post, and for your leadership of our parish.