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  A Christian Faith Magazine April 2005, Volume 10, Issue 9  
Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci In Living Memory
Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci
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Civil War - the Angle

The light of early evening splashed on the stonewall marking the field upon which the deadly work of passionate men had occurred. Nearly a century and a half has passed since those rocks vibrated with the shot and shell of war. More than once I have visited the battlefield at Gettysburg. I cannot say that I am a Civil War buff, but I do have a keen interest in the conflict and, in particular, the pivotal battle that took place on that farmland in Pennsylvania. I walked past the copse of trees representing the point at which the doomed Confederate attack was to converge and soon I reached the sharp turn in the wall that history remembers as the Angle. It was there that the Confederates made a short-lived breakthrough of the Union line. I recalled a picture taken in 1938 at the 75th Anniversary reunion of the surviving veterans of the battle. With that low wall between them, these once young men - now in their nineties - faced each other as they did on that hot July day in 1863. Hands that had born the weapons of war and had exchanged shattering blows now were grasped in friendship and in appreciation of the shared experience of fellow soldiers. How are the great deeds remembered? These very old men would soon be gone and their vivid memories with them. Nearly all who knew them also are gone along with their memories. Now, I and others, separated by generations from those who struggled and bled at the nation-forming event that happened here, are left to remember.

During this Easter season, how do we remember the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Those who took part are gone, those who knew them are gone, and we are left to remember. Memory upheld in faith lives in a special way. It is no mere recollection of the power and significance of an event but it is a participating, a sharing in the occurrence itself. The Resurrection was an act meant for all who have lived, for all who are alive, and for all who ever will live. An historical event, such as the battle of Gettysburg, has an immediate and a lasting impact, but its circumstances and meanings may be molded somewhat to meet a particular need at a particular time. The glory of the Paschal Event cannot be open to such variations, but stands as the eternal affirmation of the mission of Jesus Christ. The veracity of the purpose of our being depends on it.

I must ask if I believe that the four Gospels tell the truth.
My answer to this is yes.
So I believe in an absurdity, that Jesus rose from the dead?
Just answer without any of those evasions and artful
tricks employed by theologians: yes or no?
I answer yes, and by that response, I nullify death's omnipotence.

- Czeslaw Milosz (from If Only This Could Be Said)
Civil War - the Angle

Whether regarding the expanse of Civil War battlefields or, by comparison, the humble dimensions of our front lawns, our national as well as our personal history speak to something more than measurable facts. Christianity reveals a dual dimension to life: the mortal and the immortal. Traveling this two-lane highway requires a consonance of theological awareness and worldly action. Rejecting the temptation to go with the flow in the face of the challenges of secular life rests on the firm belief that life is much more than sensory knowledge and that one is called to make evident in daily living the presence of God within the person of faith. In literature throughout the ages, it has been stated that the quality of one's thoughts dictate the quality of one's being. If heeded, with righteous intent, one's words and actions are brushed with a divine hue and make remarkable the commonplace. The facile and determined use of a virtuous conscience is a gift whose value is beyond measure.

The community of worshipers in the first century received the gospels written and proclaimed for the singular purpose of averring that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that faith in Him will bestow eternal life. Thus, the believer is interactive with the life of Christ and the mission of the apostles and the disciples. The Christian of every age is a living memory of salvation realized. Easter is life.

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