Spirituality for Today – May 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 10

Wake Up!

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

An photo of a sunrise.

They are out there; those who deny God but who listen intently for inspiration from the "universe." There are many who say that they can believe in God without belonging to any religion, but I often wonder what are the characteristics of the "God" they say that they believe in. I can't help but think that their divinity would have a strong resemblance to themselves. I offer the opinion that the time has arrived for a fundamental change of attitude regarding the tendency toward designer spirituality as opposed to the revealed Truth of Jesus Christ and the Church founded through the Apostles. The current spiritual individualism falls in line with the comprehensive concern about self over the community. In fact, there can be little surprise that the culture provides sparse room for the individual to exhibit any sincere spiritual or humanistic care for others.

In Tom Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation, he shares this telling comment of World War II veteran, Dr. Charles Van Gorder: "'The war taught me the importance of integrity in dealing with people,' he says. 'I worked with some five surgeons and we helped each other. Medicine was more altruistic. I just wanted to help people. Kids start out now thinking 'How much money can I make?' not 'What can I do, how much can I help?'" One predominant characteristic of this generation is a strong religiosity. They were people of faith who witnessed to that faith by worship within the community of the church. Yes, all the evils of today were present then, but these evils were neither dominant nor celebrated as they are in this time.

The hope for societal change rests within the witness of the good people of the world. Powerful and effective modalities for positive change await discovery. I do not pretend to have expertise in current technology and an awareness of what is on the horizon, but there are generations of faithful that do. I challenge them to use and to create instruments of evangelization that will reach the masses with the message of the gospels. In celebrating the Pentecost – the birthday of the Church – we must acknowledge the mission of Christ as one extended to the faithful. In the beginning of Jesus' ministry he looked for those who were to "come" and follow him; as he was to ascend to the Father, Jesus told his disciples to "go" and spread the gospel throughout the world. As heirs to this mission, we can do nothing other than use our talents, our skills, and our very beings to make visible the person of Christ to the people of our age. We need an awakening!

In the 1730s, before the United States was the United States, the thirteen British colonies and extended territories would give birth to a spiritual Great Awakening. Preachers, such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whiteside passionately spoke against the secularism and religious lethargy of their times. Their zeal and others of their ilk drew multitudes to hear their message of religious renewal. Interestingly, the preaching of these men led to the rising of an increased number of denominations and with it an increase of religious toleration as well as a revolutionary spirit that, decades later, would contribute to the political atmosphere leading to the American Revolution. In the here and now, this spirit of religious awakening needs to be present in men and women in order to usher in a new age of faith.

I live for those who love me,
for those who know me true;
For the heaven that smiles above me,
and awaits my spirit too.
For the cause that lacks assistance, for the wrong
that needs resistance, and the good
that I can do.

G. L. Banks

Over twenty-one centuries the Church has had to make its presence active in the various social realities in the world. The Church has been no stranger to operating its mission amid persecution and adversity; this century is no different. The task of helping humanity awaken to the fact that they are in the world, but do not belong to the world, that they have a capacity superior to reason which is faith, that success in life is not in what we possess, but in how much we love is the call of every believer and is achievable by daily prayer and effort. In humility we ask God for mercy in the face of our sins, but also we seek God's grace to enhance his gifts of the Holy Spirit in striving to spread the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Christ. Thus, we pray that Christians throughout the world will awaken their spiritual genius in the mission of awakening spiritual life in others.