Spirituality for Today – April 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 9

Spring Into Action

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

An photo of cherry blossoms

Hollywood responds to the coming of spring by launching promotional trailers of what it hopes will be "summer blockbuster" movies. Among them will be a fair number of offerings designed for the younger set; many of these will feature superheroes. This cinematic genre is as old as movies themselves. A young person is attracted to the notion that he could be a brave and powerful hero who fights evils and rights wrongs. Fortunately, when I was a child in the 1950s, I had many movies about Jesus and the saints to inspire a religious spirit within me. This faith-centered idea of the superhero is much needed today.

The greatest want of the world is the want of men – men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.

Ellen G. White

Whether or not an age will come that issues individuals or bands of individuals who will serve as defenders of the faith does not dismiss the need for champions of faith to rise among us. Perhaps, it would be melodramatic, somewhat, to envision the emergence of a Special Forces of faith battling with evil influences by witnessing lives of Christian virtue; men and women of extraordinary and courageous faith who face down Godlessness and heresy with outstanding moral values. How nice it would be, however, to discover that the strongest voices and the most active spirits would be those who hold high the Christian banner. Then again, unless your vocation was to the ordained ministry or to the consecrated life, how much would you expect from the average believer concerned with making a living and raising a family? I would hope that every Catholic would infuse their faith with an attitude of evangelization. Catholics ought to assess their ability to explain and offer their faith to others. I know that already there is a large body of material available on-line, in bookstores, churches, and on diocesan web sites and, in some dioceses, seminars and other programs designed to educate Catholics not only in grasping the doctrines of faith, but also in witnessing effectively to that faith. The time living in blissful lethargy regarding our beliefs is over. We need to resist being pushed around spiritually by those who deal in fallacious statements or half-truths in speaking about the Catholic Church.

Among the other tasks befalling believers within this century is a spring cleaning of a culture encrusted with sinful attitudes, practices, and biases. As the above quotation indicates, we need to call sin by its rightful name. The promotion of crass over class, degradation over enhancement, and sufficiency over excellence now has a lengthy history. A factor in its attractiveness is that it asks so little of thought or conscience – just follow your whimsy and emotions. Applying no influence higher that your own desires to what you are to pursue in life leaves little room, or requirement, for moral discernment. Even if it did, I wonder how aware many people would be of what moral values are and how they are to be employed.

With Easter not long in the rearview mirror, its meaning for the world ought to be fresh and operative. The presence of the Risen Christ defines life. If the emergence of superheroes of faith is to take place, the basis as well as the goal of life is shaped within the understanding of what Jesus has done for humanity. All of the reference points of mortality are changed forever, the natural processes of dying and of death itself has lost its power. In Christ, the faithful experience death not as an end, but as a beginning. Every definition of accomplishment and success is determined by the criterion of the degree of love we have learned to extend in the service of God and toward one another. This, of course, leads to the strength of our will to witness our faith and of our perseverance in standing strong before the foes of that faith. If we can cheer Superman in his defense of "truth, justice, and the American way," then, we must support each other in our dedication to standing for "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." After all, this is the season where nature unleashes so much artistic energy; it might be a sign for us to release our creative activities to grow and help blossom the presence of Christ in the world.