Friday, May 15, 2009

The Christian in the world

Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited!!
The following is a brilliant reflection from Wednesday’s Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. While it is an ancient letter to Diognetus, it applies to all times, especially our modern age as shown by recent events (e.g., Miss California), movies (e.g., “Angels and Demons”), media publications, etc.

“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language, or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based on reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”


At 3:48 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

According to a Gallup poll published today, more Americans identify as pro-life than as pro-choice:

At 1:46 PM, Blogger fran said...

At first glance the results of the Gallup poll seems quite positive. Now, this may sound cynical to some, but it is important to realize that there are many Americans who do in fact identify themselves, personally, as pro-life, while at the same time respecting another woman's right to choose. So which is it??

At 8:42 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

It IS rather contradictory to identify oneself as "pro-life" while respecting a woman's "right-to-choose," isn't it? Yet that is where many prominent "Catholic" politicians stand.

Seems to me that the "choice" should come BEFORE a child is conceived, not after.

But that's just silly me.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger fran said...

I'll join you amongst the "silly," CBC.

If this is the new definition of what it means to be pro-life,(identifying oneself as pro-life, while respecting another's right to choose) then pretty soon, all of America will be able to say they are pro-life, don't you think?

At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being Pro-Life means respecting ALL life- especially the lives growing inside those who think they have the "right" to chose. One who is Pro-Life cannot, without being contradictory, support another's decision to disrepect life. If a phrase could be an oxymoron, being "Pro-Life while repsecting another's to chose" would be an oxymoron.

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In good faith, one cannot say, "I am personally opposed to abortion but support someone else's right to kill their unborn baby.” Catholic doctrine respects the "rightful autonomy of the political or civil sphere from that of religion and the Church - but not from morality."


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