Spirituality for Today – Winter 2017/2018 – Volume 22, Issue 2

Unto the Breach

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A gap opens in the walls of the secularist ideology during the Christmas season through which the salvation of Christ may enter. Jingle bells, sleigh rides, candy canes, lights, and egg nog, at first glance, might not inspire an awakening in the soul of the Word of God becoming incarnate, but they can become instruments that create an environment, an atmosphere of far greater stimuli toward faith than one might imagine. Most hardened minds soften and the morally blind gain some vision. Christmas decorations and sacred carols act as witnesses to Christian faith, an invitation to all in society to think higher thoughts and, perhaps, reach for the Savior's hand.

Any sincere Christian faces the task of living in the culture of the times without being drawn into identification with that culture. In this age, the desire to conform should be tempered by a critical approach toward conformity. Ideological pressure can muddy the waters of reasonable thought and can lead one down the path of casuistry. For decades, disdain for Christian values and indifference to God's justice have fashioned in many a mind today inability to utilize one's conscience effectively. Picture a modern person, steeped in moral relativism, comforting Adolph Hitler with the words: "I know that you ordered the deaths of 11 million people in your Death Camps, but that doesn't make you a bad person." Excuse my anachronism, today they would not even see the word "bad" as relevant. Speaking of relevance, one is reminded of that phrase from Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, "without God, everything is permissible." The battle for minds and hearts never ends. The war, however, has been decided in favor of God since the beginning of time.

Perseverance in the quest of salvation for ourselves and others through the surrender of our beings to Christ is a sustaining virtue in a spiritually storm tossed life. Why is it so difficult to overcome the evils within and without? Why does the world possess such a twisted proclivity toward the misuse of God's gifts and the distortion of vice into virtue? As if some toxic gas had poisoned the atmosphere, leaving humanity with an all but indiscriminant manner of moral understanding and choice. For the virtuous person, reclamation of mankind's soul might be concluded to be an illusory end. Although too many people treat their souls as if it were the marshmallow at a marshmallow roast, the power of the Holy Spirit in men's hearts can never be underestimated.

Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.

Brennan Manning

I should suppose that, often, it is difficult to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Yet, the recognition of one's own sins and the battle to govern them should provide insight into the like struggles of many others. Thus, one can forgive and correct the sinful actions of the penitent in the light of one's own need for the same thing. The season of Advent beckons the Christian to discover a new life, a rebirth. If we might determine to heed the call to sainthood, God's presence in us can make the unique gift of faith that each of us may share a blessing for our time. Truly, one can accept the opinion that a major cause of disbelief is the failure of those who claim to be Christian to live as Christians. Let us work to live up to the faith we hold.

As the lights of Christmas illumine the darkness of night, the Light born into the world will brighten the path upon which the faithful walk. As we travel into the dawning of a new year, trust in Christ and how his power can transform us.