See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Roman Catholic Presence on the Internet, in the Marketplace...



... everywhere.

I have always loved the book and film, The Hiding Place, the story of the TenBoom sisters arrested by the Nazis for harboring Jews during WWII.  A crime which resulted in their internment in the Nazi concentration camp.  Betsy died a saintly death there.  The female inmates had no church, no ministers, no sacraments, but they united together faithfully in prayer, a witness to the Risen Jesus in the midst of a cruel, hateful death camp.  Amidst that population were communists and anarchists and other unbelievers, many of whom hated religion or opposed Christianity, and some of them challenged Betsy for her faith.  One of her responses to them always gives me courage, "There is no pit so deep that His love is not deeper still."  Betsy was a light in the darkness of that place, in the midst of those who did not accept Christ.

Thus, as the light dims in history once again, and as love grows cold, and many follow other gods and religions, the Christian is asked to evangelize culture, the Catholic is expected to witness to the reality of the mercy of God in Christ.  Even in the most mundane circumstances of life... in the workplace, the market, school, the gym, online - in ordinary life - in the midst of those who do not accept Christ.
 

There is a religious order which traces its charism to Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who tried, unsuccessfully, to found the way of life they embrace.  They are the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus.  They live amongst the poor in many places in the world, as well as amidst non-Christians in various countries, indeed, one group I know of actually travels with a circus.  They are a silent, loving witness amongst those who do not know Christ.  Their life is contemplative and Eucharistic.  They remind me of the early Fools for Christ, especially Simeon Salus who went to live amongst the prostitutes and outcasts.  Sometimes Christians are called to go outside the camp, sharing in Christ's shame, and sometimes, sharing joyfully their faith - even in the midst of those who do not accept Christ.


I try very much to continually read the Letters of the Apostles, particularly St. Paul: such reading is known as lectio continua, as opposed to lectio divina which is prayerful reading. As a matter of fact, I've done this most of my adult life - or at least since my return to the Church. I mention it because I am always amazed at Paul's ability to fit himself into the culture of his times. I think he is a fine example for us in our cultural pantheon of relativity, so to speak, on how to be present to the reality which surrounds us in secular life - in the midst of those who do not accept Christ.


It occurred to me that perhaps it would be good for many of us, floating about in cyber space - or, wandering the digital continent, to remember in particular St. Paul's visit to Athens.  There, amidst the Greek pantheon of deities, the pagan philosophers asked Paul to explain to them what his new teaching was, because the people were excited that he was "introducing new teachings to them and they should like to know what it is all about." 
Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:

“You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’* What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you..."  Continue here.

St. Paul went amongst the Athenians with respect, and presented the faith.  He went amongst the gentiles and pagans and taught. Wheresoever we find ourselves, we have that same opportunity to make Christ present.  Even in the midst of those who do not accept Christ, or believe as we do - we can be present, and thus make Christ present.


As John of the Cross says: "Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love."

8 comments:

  1. I consider something really special in this web site.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I read "The Hiding Place" as a child in school. We went to see the film at a local protestant church. I've seen the film many times in my life. It is one of my favorites. I have introduced Christianity/forgiveness in a "subtle" way to nonbelievers with this film. One of the most touching scenes is of Corrie and Betsy taking their Sunday school class of mentally handicapped children on an outing. The group is stopped by a nazi officer who asks Corrie why they "waste" such time on "half wits" when it would make more sense to teach the "sound" of mind. I think this mentality is widespread today in our society. Another line is Betsy in her pleasant way begins to speak with gypsies and/or prostitutes and they ask her why she would speak with them who are considered "Trash" and Betsy's line was, "we are all trash"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Martial - I forgot about that scene. Thanks for retelling it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Terry, Thank you for this post which is challenging, yet oddly comforting. I well remember meeting some Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus. Their gentleness, simplicity and complete openness to the Divine was inspiring; it brought both joy and peace to our small group.

    The brothers and sisters were so incredibly respectful of those those around them and for what they believed. I remember one brother, Jules, saying that any fruit that the Community might enjoy was the result of the Holy Spirit already being in the lives of people and also of the efforts of those who had come before. Real humility.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Terry this is a wonderful post.

    I need to learn how to love, and to believe I am loved.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mercury, go to Adoration. Or sit in front of the Tabernacle. You will know. You will believe. It might not be right away. It might not be every moment. It may take time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for this post which is challenging, yet oddly comforting. I well remember meeting some Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus. Their gentleness, simplicity and complete openness to the Divine was inspiring; it brought both joy and peace to our small group.

    ReplyDelete


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.