Saturday, January 24, 2015

Subject matters

You know, two weeks ago, I used this precious space to tell you something that you could have learned from any number of sources, including the local newspapers – that there was an exhibit of Marian art and imagery at a museum downtown.  That’s not something I usually do, but every exception has its reasons.
In this case I not only wanted to inform you of the opportunity to enrich your experience of our faith and culture, but to emphasize what a rare opportunity it is to find such a sacred treasure presented in a place that is otherwise so secular.  If you had read a review in one of the local newspapers, you would have found it laden with deconstruction and dissent from a critic who is consistently and explicitly hostile to the faith. 
As I finish my morning poke at the local paper, this is on my mind.  For the hostility to the faith that animates you and me and our community is consistent, but rarely explicit.  It is like the atmosphere we breathe, the very environment we inhabit.  In fact, I am convinced that in many of its advocates, it is even unconscious. 
Predictably, this question of thought and ideas is revealed in the reality of language.  The words the chatterers use, the goals they espouse, the virtues they extol; all of them betray a certain mindless acceptance of jargon and slogans that have been made to sound hopeful and exciting, but at best are empty and meaningless, and at worst, toxic. 
The language of the faith is rich and full of life.  Remember the great feast we just celebrated: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.  Words matter, and the Word is the greatest matter of all.
Like the Marian aspect of our salvation that is so beautifully and truthfully on display in that exhibit, there is a straightforward humanity and reality to the faith we have received.  All that is good, true, and beautiful participates in and leads to our relationship with the one God living and true.  But if this is so ubiquitous as to pervade the world around us, why is it so rare to find it recognizable, much less celebrated?
Cynicism, sarcasm, and irony are the common coin of our social discourse today.  Willfully deployed or not, they cover over the goodness that is in us, around us, and for us.  In our society overflowing with riches, this novel and synthetic poverty claims more and more of us every day.
What is the antidote?  What program, protocol, or process can we implement at the highest level, or the grassroots, to break the bonds of deprivation of the living, and malnutrition of souls?  We must not only speak, but we must work to listen to Word of Life.
In the midst of the confusion and rejection of the crowd after He had asserted unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you… Jesus said to the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
A voice crying in the desert is not what you’ll find on your doorstep (or web browser) every morning.  So what I have to offer you here is quite clearly not the same as what you hear all about you.  Instead I must strive to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.  Before you put it aside in your cabinet of religion and other curiosities, ask yourself:  Where do you turn for your transfusion of hope?  To whom do you go for the Word of Life?

Monsignor Smith

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