Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We have been placed in a secular society. We are therefore asked by God to be faithful in a social context that is at best tolerant of religious devotion. It is not that religion has no place in a secular context, even from a secular point of view.
One place that religion has in secular society is as an adornment. The great works of art and architecture throughout history are incomprehensible without acknowledgment of the place of religion in their making. All recognize that they represent the “highest aspirations of mankind,” whatever that might mean without reference to God. This acknowledgement keeps religion firmly in its place as a department of esthetics.
Another place that religion has in our secular society is as an adjunct mental health maintenance organization. Our coming together is seen as an “outlet,” like any club, where sub-communities are set up that replace to a degree that which used to pertain to neighborhoods before the automobile and urban dispersion. Religious bodies are seen as a way to avoid “alienation” and the other bad effects of isolation, since all know that man is a “communal animal.”
Whatever benefits may accrue to our secular society from the Church, and there are many, what the secular outlook wants to suppress from general awareness is anything that would actually enlarge our view to know that this world, this time, is not all there is. The secular outlook refuses to see eternity. It would call delusive any outlook that sees past this world. What we do as the Body of Christ the secular world-view sees as delusive, or as mass-hysteria. This, brothers and sisters, is what we are called upon to resist and persist against, with our Faith.
The first field where we are to fight off the secular world-view is within ourselves. If we find ourselves shying away from normal acts of piety, like making the sign of the Cross or keeping the fasts, because of the pressure of our secular context, we need to remember that He who saved us, Jesus Christ, was not ashamed to advance and establish our salvation with His own blood on that Cross. Our Lord was not a philosophical leader or the founder of one-among-many movements. The Church is not a special form of club.
The Church is sustained by the Lord of Glory, God come in the flesh, Jesus Christ. He is come out from God as Himself and as one of us. The use of the present tense is on purpose to illustrate that He is with us, bringing all eternity with Him in our every interaction with Him and among ourselves as members of Him. This is a power above all powers of this world, this time and this place. It becomes our responsibility, as conscious and rational members of His Body the Church, to tell this to everyone by word and action, by thoroughly being converted to a Christian world view, a view that sees not the limitations but the opportunities.
That opportunity in front of us this moment is the development and establishment of this parish. God has showered us and lavished on us incomparable bounty. What are we doing with this in response? There is no “been there, done that” in the case of what God does for us. We likewise should emulate Him. As one author noted, our God creates with child-like enthusiasm. We have all seen the way little children say, “Let’s do it again” in wonder at some new thing in their life. We need to emulate this in our faithful actions of praying, worshipping and, especially at this time, in our giving. See and pursue these avenues for giving in the rest of this month’s bulletin. Let us be doers and not hearers only.