Saturday, August 25, 2012

St. Louis and The New Evangelization

Today is the feast day for St. Louis.  He was a very godly ruler in France in the 13th century.  In today's Office of Readings is featured an excerpt from a letter he wrote to his son.  In it he gives some great advice that can be followed by anyone even if you're not going to inherit the rule of a country.  However, this made me begin to wonder what our country would look like with a truly godly President.  True, he would not be a king and could not do as he wants without the help of others in our government.  Yet, what kinds of things might we expect of a leader who truly wanted to lead his people in godliness?

Perhaps he would begin by working to do away with unjust laws.  Laws protecting things like pornography and abortion come to mind.  But there are others.  The current debate on marriage would be a good place to start as well.  If St. Louis is an example then there are a lot of things he could personally do to help the poor.  This would, in turn, encourage a public policy to do the same.

At this point I can hear someone protesting that this would be an unjust imposing of one's personal views on the nation.  And that's the point!  The fact is that we have numerous views imposed on us.  It is the essence of democracy that the majority imposes its views on the minority.  The media routinely imposes its views on the public and in recent times we have been suffering at the hands of various judges who impose their views on the nation, many times overriding the will of the majority.  In fact, in every age and in every form of government, and in every society someone or some groups are imposing their views on the others.  Since this is a given, then why is it that only Christians are thought to be the exception to this rule?

In contrast we see someone like St. Louis who realized that someone in his position would necessarily impose his view on his nation.  But he soberly contemplated that reality and then did something very positive with it.   He governed by Christian principles so that he loved his subjects because they were his neighbors made in the image and likeness of God.  If we were to have a truly Christian President I am convinced he would do the same thing.

What does any of this have to do with the New Evangelization as I mentioned in the title of this post?  Everything!

In a democracy the government is us.  Each of us has the opportunity to have a part in forming public policy.  We do this by voting and by speaking out on the issues of the day in a way that leads to a moral formation for our nation.  The New Evangelization is all about bringing the Gospel in a new way to an audience that has heard it before.  It is a call to renewed dedication and vigor in bringing this message to our nation again.  What kind of nation do we envision as an effectively evangelized nation?  Certainly one that is more morally sound and more loving to one another.  Certainly one that cares for our neighbors at least as much as we care for ourselves.  Certainly one that enacts laws, not according to what the populace wants, but according to that which is truly beneficial for the common good.

These are but a few thoughts on government and the New Evangelization.  It is simply the beginning of a conversation in  which there is much more to be said.  But the question is will we even begin the conversation?  As we reflect on St. Louis and the potential that exists in a nation that truly honors God may we find the strength and fortitude, not only to begin such a conversation, but to see it through to a most beneficial conclusion!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Full Presence of the Lord

Sometimes it takes me a while...

Last weekend we had the wonderful privilege of attending the Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville.  It was the first time we attended a conference at Franciscan.  It was the first time we had ever been to the campus.  What an experience it was.  I knew it would be good. I've heard so many talk about how good these are.  But I didn't know it would be this good.

I don't remember how far into the weekend it occurred, but I knew the Lord wanted my attention and to say something to me.  I have gotten into the bad habit of doing most, if not all, of the talking when it comes to prayer.  I am accustomed to thinking of prayer as talking.  But it isn't.  It's conversation, which means it's both talking and listening.  There's to be a dialogue, an exchange.  Prayer actually goes beyond conversation.  It is fundamentally becoming aware of God's presence which is always with us.

Anyway, God began communicating to me.  He was asking me why I am always so angry, so frustrated.  Why do I so often ignore the needs of others and think only of my own?  I knew the answer.  It was because somewhere along the line I stopped loving others.  And why was that?  Because I no longer had a sense of God's love for me.  It isn't that I thought God doesn't love me.  Nor that I was not aware of His presence.  It was simply that I was not thinking about the immensity of God's love for me and therefore I was not able to give it away.  The Lord offered me an opportunity to change all this.  Would I open my heart and let Him come in and impact me to the core, transforming me into a channel of His love?  All I had to do was answer "yes".  I said yes.  He came in and began to work.  He wasted no time.

During the Saturday night Holy Hour I had a revelation of something I have believed for quite some time:  Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist!  I looked at the Lord in the monstrance and thought, "This is not a symbol of Jesus.  It's not like Jesus.  It doesn't even represent Jesus.  It's Him!"  With that came a new dimension in prayer.  All of a sudden I could hear Him speaking to me.  And what He was saying was transforming my life.  We heard from a lot of well known speakers over the weekend and they were all very good.  But the best moment was when I heard from our Lord Himself.

Sometimes it takes me a while.  It's taken me a whole week to record this reflection.  It's taken the better part of a lifetime to really get what many Christians already understand: God loves us, really loves us, and if we let that love pierce us to the core it changes us and enables us to become the means by which the Lord is daily, moment by moment, sharing His love with others through us.

If you ever have an opportunity to attend a conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville, take it!  But even more, the next opportunity you have to be before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, take it!  Listen to what He says to you.  Let His love pierce your heart.  Then go out transformed by  His presence to be a transforming agent in this world.