“The absolutely worst way to respond to the challenge of secular culture is to adapt to the current cultural standards in language, thought, and way of life. If members of secular society turn to religion at all, they do so because they are looking for something other than what that culture already provides. It is counterproductive to offer them religion in a secular mode that is carefully trimmed in order not to offend their secular sensibilities … What people look for in religion is a plausible alternative, or at least a complement, to life in a secular culture. Religion that is “more of the same” is not likely to be very interesting … When message and ritual are accommodated, when the offending edges are removed, people are invited to suspect that the clergy do not really believe anything so very distinctive.” – Wolfhart Pannenberg
It appears there is great cause for concern when we look around our society and furthermore into the not so pretty reality of Church politics at times. If we are honest with ourselves and open to truly being accountable for how these external realities effect us, then we will surely recognize that we do not always meet these forces with humble prayer. We are quick to point fingers and more hesitant to fall to our knees.
I have found it rather bothersome these days to speak with others, who claim honestly to be faithful followers of Christ and yet begin conversations by offering a litany of everything “wrong” with the world, the Church, their Bishop, their parish priest, their husband/wife, and their dog.
To remain in this mindset, and to expect perfection without first being honest with our own shared shortcomings we foster further scandal.
Granted our secular society seems apparently rampant with madness through the lens of Christian morality, but expecting the world to glisten with the teachings of Jesus is to demand paradise today. We need to be accountable to what we are called to do as followers of Christ within our world. Our role, is to witness to the world what we profess by faith. To bring forth this counter-cultural and much needed message with a trembling reverence for God and love for those we serve. It begins with personal prayer and into the very ordinary dealings with our neighbour.
I once sought counsel for a very difficult situation in my own personal life. I was furious and angry. Giving into anger, though not outwardly, but within. It was perhaps even more detrimental. On a natural level I very well had every reason to be feeling this way. But the priest, offered me incredible advice, and I think it is fitting for all of us living in these “troubling times”.
He simply told me to “live the faith more intensely”. Blazing with anger and resentment I received these words at first with some hesitation. But with further reflection I saw in this advice a cure and remedy. To have faith, and to claim to be a Christian is often commonplace within some circles we may find ourselves. But to live the faith intensely requires much more. It is not just a series of deeds and empty sympathetic gestures towards others. It is not defined alone by filling a pew at Mass and praying the Rosary. It is a radical way of living and carrying out our business.
It is the way to respond to the madness that confronts us. To live our faith with intentionality and purpose demands a silence of spirit to the voice of God. A reverence for Him, and also accountability for our own imperfections. We can not be lukewarm of faith, but before we can go out blazing for Christ into the peripheries, and riddle off litanies of ills, sign petitions, and parade around with signs we need to do honest humble work of petitioning in prayer, and of sacrifice. Though our intentions may be for good, losing sight of Who sends us, and losing true hope in Him and in God’s power we forget something, we forget THE most important. “If we keep remembering the wrongs which men have done us, we destroy the power of the remembrance of God” (Abba Macarius the Great )
Zest is a good thing, but if misplaced, and if not born from humility of spirit and from truly living the faith than it is arrogant, proud, and divisive.
We cannot be lukewarm. We must strive daily to live the faith intensely, for from this flows the love of God. From humble obedience to our prayer life oozes the change that the world so very much needs.
If publishing article online please attribute source Serviam Ministries with link to original article.