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August 25, 2010
Preaching Jesus Christ with all the energy of our lives
The archbishop’s column this week is excerpted and adapted from his Aug. 24 comments to the 15th gathering of Slovakia’s canon law association, under the auspices of the Slovakian Catholic bishops’ conference.
We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates.
So what does this mean for us as individual disciples? Let me offer a few suggestions.
My first suggestion comes from the great Lutheran witness against the paganism of the Third Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The renewal of the Western world lies solely in the divine renewal of the Church, which leads her to the fellowship of the risen and living Jesus Christ.”
The world urgently needs a re-awakening of the Church in our actions and in our public and private witness. The world needs each of us to come to a deeper experience of our Risen Lord in the company of our fellow believers. The renewal of the West depends overwhelmingly on our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and his Church.
We need to really believe what we say we believe. Then we need to prove it by the witness of our lives. We need to be so convinced of the truths of the Creed that we are on fire to live by these truths, to love by these truths, and to defend these truths, even to the point of our own discomfort and suffering.
We are ambassadors of the living God to a world that is on the verge of forgetting him. Our work is to make God real; to be the face of his love; to propose once more to the men and women of our day, the dialogue of salvation.
The lesson of the 20th century is that there is no cheap grace. This God whom we believe in, this God who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to suffer and die for it, demands that we live the same bold, sacrificial pattern of life shown to us by Jesus Christ.
The form of the Church, and the form of every Christian life, is the form of the cross. Our lives must become a liturgy, a self-offering that embodies the love of God and the renewal of the world.
The great Slovak martyrs of the past knew this. And they kept this truth alive when the bitter weight of hatred and totalitarianism pressed upon your people. I’m thinking especially right now of your heroic, Soviet-era bishops, Blessed Vasil Hopko and Pavel Gojdic, and the heroic sister, Blessed Zdenka Schelingová.
We need to keep this beautiful mandate of Sister Zdenka close to our hearts:
“My sacrifice, my holy Mass, begins in daily life. From the altar of the Lord I go to the altar of my work. I must be able to continue the sacrifice of the altar in every situation. … It is Christ whom we must proclaim through our lives, to him we offer the sacrifice of our own will.”
Let us preach Jesus Christ with all the energy of our lives. And let us support each other—whatever the cost—so that when we make our accounting to the Lord, we will be numbered among the faithful and courageous, and not the cowardly or the evasive, or those who compromised until there was nothing left of their convictions; or those who were silent when they should have spoken the right word at the right time.
Aug. 25: Symposium on “The Commitment of Catholics in the Political Life,” Slovakia
Aug. 28: Mass and Blessing of the Stations of the Cross, Religious Sisters of Mercy Convent, Denver
Aug. 29: 40th ordination anniversary of Father Donald Debes, O.F.M. Cap., Odin, Kan.
Aug. 30: Provincial Bishop’s Meeting, Denver (10 a.m.)
Aug. 31: Opening Mass for the academic year, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, Christ the King Chapel, (5:30 pm)