Fr. Denis Lemieux with words of wisdom flowing from Pope Benedict's wise words:
Everywhere in the history of religion, in various forms, we encounter the significant conflict between the knowledge of the one God and the attraction of other powers that are considered more dangerous or nearer at hand and, therefore, more important for man than the God who is distant and mysterious. All of history bears the traces of this strange dilemma between the non-violent, tranquil demands made by the truth, on the one hand, and the pressure brought to make profits and the need to have a good relationship with the powers that determine daily life by their interventions, on the other hand.”
[Pope Benedict] Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, 98
Depending on the tenor of the times we live in, that choice may involve martyrdom (imperial Rome, Nazi Germany), or it may not (say, Victorian England, Canada 2012). But it will certainly involve some cost.
It may involve humiliation. It may involve ridicule. It may involve a loss of money, of jobs, of prestige, of status. It may involve the loss of a relationship, or of easy family ties. God is absolute, and the demands faith in God makes of us are absolute. The world, its powers and principalities, its social norms and written and unwritten laws also want to be absolute in their demands. We have to choose.
Of course, we can choose to compromise, to burn that incense, sacrifice to Baal, keep our heads down and say nothing in the face of injustice or evil. ‘The Jews’ are not disappearing in our day, but a lot of unborn babies are. And it appears, anyway, that many and maybe most people in our society are fundamentally OK with that. Are we? Are we speaking out? Are we doing anything about it? We really must, you know.
The choice to compromise with ‘Caesar’ has its own cost, of course, And that cost is God. Oh, God is merciful and I suppose we can spend a life compromising and making half-measures and awkwardly trying to straddle the world and faith, and at the end repent and be saved, but the cost is a high one for that.
God wants to live in us and love in us, you see. But He cannot do that if we are compromising, if we have one foot in both camps, if we allow all the pernicious nonsense of our times—the culture of death—to have sway in our hearts and minds. The Year of Faith is a summons, not merely to a sort of adult education program, but to action, to mission, to the Cross, and to the Resurrection.
Origen famously said that a Christian is either a martyr or an idolator. He lived in an age of martyrdom, of course, and so we cannot take his words strictly literally. But… he is right, you know. Either God has an absolute claim on our lives, no matter what the cost, or we are worshipping other gods. We have to choose. Let’s choose well.
I have to constantly remind myself that not choosing is choosing and when the choices are as stark as Fr. Lemieux makes them here, not choosing is choosing wrongly and choosing to endure a great cost for myself and consequently for my loved ones.
This underscores for me that choosing who to vote for, though clearly important, is no where near as important as making other more significant choices.
Choosing well is choosing to endear myself to that which will equip me to choose wisely.
The Church, her sacraments, her teaching.
To not endear myself to these things is to remain ill equipped to deal with the culture of death and her appeal.
The consequence of which is fatal on too many fronts.
Lord, help me to choose wisely. Mother Mary, pray for me.