Spirituality for Today – Fall 2017 – Volume 22, Issue 1


Reverend Raymond K. Petrucci

Imagine a Christmas Eve in the near future: a young couple have finished decorating their home for Christmas and their "Birth and Resurrection Club" representative has just called to remind them that it is time to go to church again. Gathering their children, they pile into the car and drive to the parish church where they grew up only to discover that it is now a pharmacy. Their old church has joined the many others that have had to close. I wonder if they recognize that their own desertion of the church has contributed to its demise.

Many decades ago, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen remarked that the church is still there, but now we have to go out to them rather than expect them to come to us. This outreach is occurring. In addition to the traditional methods, the avenues of social media host numerous Church related initiatives. Evangelization is a rather new experience for average Catholics to assimilate. We knew how to participate in our faith, but were ill-prepared to defend it or to spread it. Yet, the very nature of the Church called for the proclamation of the Good News through a vigorous mission to the world. The propagation of the faith, however, always has been present and active in the Church. All of those collections for the missions must have had a very positive effect. No doubt, but the work of the "Father of Lies" does not cease.

Introducing the faith to some and reawakening the faith in others is a daunting, but not an impossible, task. Most areas of life that require a person to commit themselves, to identify with a particular group or institution, to make sacrifices for the common good, or to be devoted to a higher morality finds difficulty inspiring those imbued with the current culture. How do you convince someone who thinks that the Church is irrelevant that they are irrelevant without the Church? How do you get a people to realize that the longing that they have to love and to be loved, to joy experienced in encountering the beautiful, and the troubling feeling of dissatisfaction in contemplating a life that merely ends are signs of the yearning for God? We need not wring our hands in despair or pull the covers over our heads, but we must persist living in Christ before the challenges already here and yet to come. The seeds of faith may take more than our lifetimes to grow in the hearts of those in whom we have striven to sow it. Take courage in the ultimate victory of the Savior and try to answer hostility or indifference with a patient love. I have seen it work.

Our advancing troops always know when they are nearing one of those mission stations, because the natives are friendly and trustful. There, some selfless man, serene in the face of death, has pursued his task of spreading education, loyalty, cleanliness, and Christian principles among flocks once turbulent and discontented. They are forerunners of the many who must soon take up the work of rehabilitation of the submerged populations who have lived through the storm sweeping Asia. They have cut a pathway of grace through the wilderness. Their weary hands need sustaining now more than ever.

The New York Times
October 14, 1944

One cannot predict the ebbing of current trends, but one can hope for the rising of holy men and women who will fuse their holiness with their talents in an effort to shine the light of faith on the shadowy confusions of this age. One never can tell what genius will come along and apply their skills and creativity in service to the Lord. Human nature, itself, is a creation of God and, therefore, would be expected to search for its creator. It is reasonable that human beings will not blot out the longing for eternal truths from their minds and hearts; for nothing less than God's grace can satisfy such a hunger.

What about ourselves? Depending on some superheroes of faith arriving on the scene is not necessary for helping the Church in the here and now. All of us can do what we are able. The poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once wrote: "What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you." Strive to manifest to this world the best Christian you can be; no sacrifice, no effort for our faith will ever be in vain. Amid the numerous closings, there will be great openings of actions of love from people of faith which, in time, may unbar the doors and fill the pews. The Church is driven by the energy of the Holy Spirit and no false gods will prevail against it. Be a reflection of the Light of Christ; be a gift of a loving and saving faith to the world around you.