Monday, October 17, 2005

An Old Favorite

So I'm sitting here, handling e.mails and listening to the satellite radio.... And "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Stones just played. Which reminded me of why I so appreciate the archbishop of Denver.

Before you jump to any conclusions with that statement, I present this excerpt from Chaput's 2001 keynote to a symposium of USCCB officiali (fulltext here).
We live in odd times. Those of you who are my age may remember a song the Rolling Stones did about 30 years ago called Sympathy for the Devil. There's a verse in that song that kept coming back to me as I thought about our discussion today.

Every cop's a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails, just call me Lucifer
And I'm in need of some restraint.

These days, Lucifer is in need of a lot more than "some" restraint. We live in an age when fertility and the creation of new life can be divorced from love. It's an age when words don't mean what they mean; when the breakdown of the ties that connect us as a people is described as social progress; and when even the definition of the family can be turned upside down. The Pontifical Council for Culture described our situation this way two years ago:

"Painful personal situations call for understanding, love and solidarity, but what is a tragic breakdown of family life should never be put forward as a new model for society. Anti-family and anti-birth campaigns and policies are merely attempts to modify the very notion of 'family' to the point of robbing it of its meaning. In this context, forming a community of life and love which unites spouses in association with the Creator is the best cultural contribution Christian families can offer society."

One of the biggest lies of our age is that individuals can't make a difference. It's exactly individuals who do make a difference -- and united in the love of Christian families working together, they can change the world.

Let me close with one final reflection. We call the Church Ecclesia Mater for a reason. She's our mother as surely as the mother of any family. The Church continues the mission of Jesus Christ in the world. She suffers for the world, forgives, heals, encourages, corrects and guides us exactly as a mother does. So the sooner we stop calling the Church an "it" instead of a "she," the sooner we stop thinking of the Church as a religious institution, or corporation or sociology project, and begin to listen to her again as our mother, our mater et magistra, the better she -- and we -- will accomplish God's work of changing and sanctifying the world.

C. S. Lewis once wrote that "There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan." John Paul II once said that, "Against the spirit of the world, the Church takes up anew -- each day -- [a] struggle for the soul of the world." And the great French theologian, Henri De Lubac, once wrote that "The Gospel warns us that salt can lose its flavor. And if we -- that is, most of us -- live more or less in peace in the midst of the world, it is perhaps because we are lukewarm."

God doesn't need lukewarm Christians. He doesn't want lukewarm families. The mission of the Church is sanctifying the world; and all of us as her sons and daughters -- especially those of us responsible for forming and nourishing families -- share in her mission. "Go make disciples of all nations" is still the mandate. So let's pray honestly, work honestly, love honestly and live honestly so that others will see and believe.



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