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… Christianity modeled a nobler way of life than what was on offer elsewhere in the rather brutal society of the day.  In Christianity, women were respected as they weren’t in classical culture and played a critical role in bringing men to the faith and attracting converts.  In the age of the plagues, the readiness of Christians to care for all the sick, not just their own, was a factor, as was the impressive witness to faith of countless martyrs …

George Weigel, in “The Easter Effect,” (The Wall Street Journal, March 31-April 1, 2018

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In these words Mr. Weigel is recounting how it was that Roman Emperor Constantine ended all state sanctions against Christians who heretofore were considered a danger to the ruling powers, outlaws of sorts.

In these words Weigel shows that the way Christians lived propelled their growth in Rome and across the lands to the East.  These early Christians showed others a nobler way to live, a way to live that provided meaning, access to purpose and promise, and joy as well.  This Christianity gave those who believed hope and a context in which one might live with optimism.  This Christianity offered a moral code and a way to an ordered life.

Christianity offers no less today.  But alas Christians are suspect in our land today and more to the point Christianity’s moral understandings are being dislodged from our culture.

In place of Christian moral values, we have not value-relative but valueidiosyncratic.  Each individual gets to be his own author of moral conduct.  The chaos that ensues is inexhaustible.

A little, insignificant waif (U.S. Army enlisted clerk) Bradley Manning gets to disclose troves of top secret material at will and is pardoned by a clueless President for whom both Christianity and the heritage of the West seem utterly alien.  Additionally, Edward Snowden, a contract security specialist, does the same thing and flees to Russia where he remains today with no efforts to secure his return to face the consequences of his criminal, treasonous conduct.

In contrast to the elevated place of women in early Christianity today we have the residuals of Sex in the City women – droves of women of all shapes and sizes that place their identity in sexuality and their clutch for power (that is, political in particular or mere public identity that has as to celebrity and mass communication an impact that comes not from any achievement but from having a familiar, fabricated image).

This, of course, is far enough afield from women in Constantine’s time – that it now befalls to men to model Christian values to others in a time and culture that holds men responsible for all the evils of the world (while still expecting them to lay down their lives in defense of others).

So here is “the bottom line” for us today – good and decent men and women who seek to parent children who will be immune from the ugliness of today’s culture must do and be as the early Christians  – must live by the code of conduct and morals of their early ancestors.  Failing that, further chaos and decline is predictable.  Such an ordeal hardly seems what parents and elders like me would wish for any man, woman or child.

Are you not so called?  Or do you wish to be the ones who watched as Christianity faded from view?

Shalom.

If today’s blog connects positively with you, send it to another who might benefit by reading it.

 

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… that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us …

Jn 17:21

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At the Easter Vigil Mass we welcomed ten people into the Catholic Church.  It was, as it always is in welcoming new members, a solemn and yet joyous event.

At the conclusion of the Mass many gathered to offer a personal greeting to the new members.  I had the pleasure of welcoming a tall, broad shouldered man and having a few warm words with him.  He was all smiles and greeted me warmly.

“Welcome, such a happy day isn’t it,” I said.  “Oh yes, it is,” he responded with a wide grin on his face as he stood within his family members.  “Sure is nice to feel the warmth and joy rather than the division that many in Washington seem intent on creating,” I offered.  His response.  “You too! … I am so sick of the division and hostility that I do not even watch the news anymore,” he said.

We both agreed that this nonsense of division must stop.

This was not the first such exchange I had with an African American.  Indeed, in the past five years or so, I have had much the same conversation and reaction.

As Christians we are designed to be one with Christ, one with God and one with each other.

When you hear the voices of division recognize them for what they are: destructive and contrary to God’s intention.

Time to turn away from those would divide us.

Shalom.

… Jesus was saying to those Jews you believed in Him, “If you continue in My word, then you will be truly disciples of Mine, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”

Jn 8:31-31

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The claim Jesus makes here is this: if you live in and by His words, you will know truth and His words will set you free from sin.

What if you could live a life free of sin, in truth – and the contentment that this would bring, would you choose to do so?

This is a very simple and direct question.  It is the question Jesus poses for each of us and particularly for those of us who say we are Christians and, especially for a nation that claims a Christian heritage.

So, do we live the offer Jesus makes?  Do you?  And can we claim Christian life by the acts of our nation?  Codifying abhorrent behavior is hardly consistent with what Jesus offers.  Nor are the deeds of those who lie, exceed their lawful authority, use their positions of power to enrich themselves, or spread immoral conduct.  Corrupt conduct is in opposition to Christ.

These words above are a constant challenge to each of us and those who assume leadership positions in this land.

It is time to look at yourself honestly … and to challenge those in positions of power who besmirch Christ and reject what He has offered.

Shalom.

Life in Christ is a wonderful adventure.  He alone can give full meaning to life, he alone is the center of history.  Live by him!

St. John Paul, II

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These are the words St. John Paul II spoke in 1997 at a Mass for youth in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.

St. John Paul knew that life and history bring us personal and political hardship.

He was orphaned when his mother, brother and father died before he was 20 years of age.

He saw his beloved Poland occupied by the Nazis and then shamefully handed to the Communist Russia by the West after World War II.

He had to attend an “underground” seminary.

He risked his life to sustain the Catholic faith of others during the Nazi occupation and did the same under Communist occupation – smuggling seminarians into Poland when their native counties, occupied by the Communists, prohibited the ordination of Catholic clergy.

Christ alone is the center of history.

It is now our turn.  Those who are Believers face our time to witness.

Christianity is under attack – in the world, in the Middle East, in Europe and here in the United States.  Godless people dismiss the importance of faith, others have antipathy for religion, for Christ and for Christians and for our country and its heritage.  We find each in positions of public leadership – from politics, to media, entertainment, public and higher education, and corporate life.

Like St. John Paul II and Christians in Poland and others throughout history, we must demonstrate overtly what a Christian life is – who God in Christ is, how purposefully a person lives once a relationship with Christ is engaged and established.

Difficult things come to us personally and collectively so God might see His creation perfected.  Such opportunities are blessings.  We are living in such a time – a time of challenge, of opportunity and of blessings.

If we love God, if we are Christians – would we not join together to respond, to teach others who Christ is and what the love of God for all looks like?  Is it not unimaginable that we would do nothing less?

Brothers and Sisters, time for us to witness Christ – He who will never be diminished. We have been silent too long.  Live has been easy for a while – our faith left to prosper – but that has changed.  Now it is our moment.  It is a sacred time.

True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather … the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school … at work … in social and political life.

St. John Paul, II 

We are many and God is invincible!

Shalom.

If this message appeals to you, please share it with others.

Let no one deceive you in any way.

2 Thes 2:3

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It is hard not to notice the many ways in which faith, and in particular, Christ is denied in present day American culture.

I am most struck by the proposition that is often uttered, especially by the modestly educated from our once-prestigious universities and (of course) by the most political among us, that “religion is to be excluded from our discourse and public and private life.”

What these people are saying is, in essence, this: we are too good, too advanced to need religion, more in-the-know, smarter – and far more intelligent than to follow any supernatural nonsense like religion.

Let’s face facts – we live in an age of apostasy.  Yes, we live in an age where others (the Leftists, modern liberalism, secularists, the modestly-educated class, and the government, judiciary included) try to coax or force Believers to give up their faith – and as for Christians: deny Christ.

The Second Letter to the Thessalonians (among other portions of the Old and New Testament) address our circumstance and is useful in providing fair warning to each of us in these days.  (2 Thes 2: 3-17)

In a Chapter entitled “Christ and the Lawless One” we learn that it is through apostasy that the lawless one is revealed to us.  And that the one who is lawless is doomed to perdition as he exalts himself above all others and all else so to claim his status as “a god.”

Does this not provide a fascinating proposition?

We learn in this chapter that the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work.”  Yet, that this lawless one will be killed by “the breath” of the Lord and rendered “powerless by the manifestation” of the Lord’s coming.  Yes, the lawless one and in the advert of apostasy, are the herald of the Lord’s coming – a each a necessary element of Christ’s return.

In the presence of apostasy and the Lawless One – those who adopted “the lie” and “not believed the truth” face condemnation.

In these times – and in the present day, it is the sacred task of Believers to stand “as the first fruits of salvation,” to witness in the face of challenges “the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thus we are instructed to “stand firm and hold fast to the tradition you were taught … 

Thus is our call today.

Shalom.

Addendum – After reading this chapter last night, I prepared to retire and the thought came to me that I might want to turn on the radio.  When I did: I heard a discussion of the second chapter of Thessalonians – yes, a discussion of “Christ and the Lawless One.” What are the chances of that happening?  What do you make of it?

For an excellent read on faith and apostasy, I highly recommend Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo’s Silence which depicts the plight of Catholic missionaries in 16th century Japan.

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