Friday, July 04, 2003

Signs of the Times

I have tried to impose a rule upon myself in doing this blog: I will post nothing except that which I have spent time in prayer and meditation over. I have frequently, especially lately, broken that rule to the point that it lies in powdery ruins somewhere in the bottom of my computer.

I am not proud of the fact that I have not spent serious time in thought, prayer, and meditation over everything I have written on this blog. I know it shows, for one thing, and this alone does not bring glory to God.

In fact, one reason why I am going to spend some time over the next month or so meditation on Fides et Ratio is to try to instill something of the element of deliberation, dare I say thought, into what appears on this blog; I want to try to remove myself from reacting to current events. I also wish to establish a regular schedule that includes prayer, meditation, and writing. I hope, in the process, that the result will be, indeed, to truly bring glory to God with this blog.

However, I realized that there is an underlying, unarticulated assumption that has been in the back of my mind regarding this purpose. It is that I have assumed that writing out of the fruits of prayer necessarily means emphasizing comments on Scripture and the writings of the saints, possibly also including great literature within my purview.

But I have been wondering if that is a valid assumption?

On the one hand, it seems that, but for a very few of us, keeping up with current events is a difficult and time consuming process. The time used trying to keep up with the news could, in most cases, be better spent reading and praying, then, if we must, writing about what comes out of our prayer. I am still tempted to say this is the best course for most of us Catholic bloggers.

However, there is another way of looking at this that comes out of my personal experience, which is this: One of the ideas that brought about my adult conversion experience was the realization that God is Lord of everything we are and do. Our faith in Him must influence all aspects of our lives. I was a Protestant when I came to this realization and since then I have come to see that the Catholic idea of vocation is a most apt presentation of this truth. As lay people our vocation is to bring Christ to temporal affairs, to bring Christ's influence to bear upon the temporal world.

If we are to live our vocation, then we must be, at a minimum, fairly well informed about what is going on in the world. Further, it seems we should be able to express how our faith should, or could, influence current events; we should be able to explain to others how Catholics view the events of the day. In other words, we should be able to explain why it makes a difference being Catholic.

Conversely, the "signs of times", the social, cultural, and even spiritual climate of the society can have a profound effect on our spiritual life. How many of you have been told, in the face of barely noticeable efforts to present the Gospel to someone "Well that's what you believe, but don't try to impose your beliefs on me!" Or have you ever been told that any personal expression of religious faith might even be a violation of the law.

In our public life, how many times have we seen or heard news stories about a Nativity scene on public property, or prayer in the public schools, violating the principle of separation of church and state and being “hurtful" or, even, "offensive" to those who do not wish to acknowledge God in their lives.

The effect of these types of societal influences is profound and reaching. For example, in May, a Cardinal of the Church, speaking at a supposedly Catholic university's commencement exercises, set off an uproar when he enunciated the constant teaching of the Church concerning human sexuality and moral conduct. His remarks were deemed "hurtful" to the homosexuals in the audience. The pagan influences of society seem to be stronger than that of the Church, even within the Church. (I would submit, incidentally, that an eternity of separation from God would be infinitely more "hurtful" than hearing the truth of Church teaching from a prince of the Church.)

These are examples of a society that is becoming increasingly pagan and materialistic. While claiming the ideals of "tolerance" and "diversity" it is becoming more and more intolerant of any sort of religious belief and expression. It is a society bent on elevating man to the place of God.

The way we seek to influence our society and the way our society influences us, have a profound effect on our relationship with God; they may even determine whether or not we are able to worship freely and openly. We ignore them at our peril.

I still believe that my now shattered rule is still valid and I will try to abide by it in the future. I share, I guess, St. Francis impetuousness and that is not always a good thing. But, I do not believe there is any topic that, after careful thought, prayer, and meditation, is excluded from comment on a Catholic blog.

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