As Christians we are called to be in the World but not of the World. That we recognize this call and respond to it at this point in history is particularly critical in terms of the witness we give to those around us who live, as we do, in a time of great spiritual tribulation. We know with absolute certainty that the proclaimed “conventional wisdom” in so many areas of our societal life is flawed and opposed to Gospel values. One need only look at the secular approach to the sanctity of life to see this driven home with great emphasis. Of course we are not called to be peculiar or eccentric but rather are called to develop the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fruitfulness, gentleness and self control: a tall order it would seem in the midst of the world we inhabit.
In the 3rd century, St Cyprian, wrote to a friend named, Donatus:
“This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden——But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out—you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheatres men murdered to please the applauding crowds—
Yet in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people—They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians”.
[ Max Lucado, Grace for the Moment, Volume 1, pg. 261]
In the 21st Century, great evil persists. Today, our sophisticated means of communication facilitates the spread of the secular values that all too often support that evil and much of it is now institutionalized. Technology has permitted Society to become more adept at spreading the secular propaganda that would see us abandon God and Gospel values.
There is hope however and that hope rests with those who vest themselves with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We can be seen as a “quiet and holy people” dedicated to the task of loving by caring for those around us and for our environment, of being inclusive and of striving to meet the needs, both spiritual and temporal, of those with whom we come in contact. This may be a tall order but if we are to counter the secular influences that seek to pollute our spiritual landscape then we need to promote the product best suited to that end which is our faith and the reason for it. Take courage and be different. The Holy Spirit is with us and the battle in the end will be won.