A blessed Sunday to all our readers, the Sixteenth in Ordinary Time, or the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost in the usus antiquior. Either way, we celebrate the resurrection, which gives us joy and hope.
In that light we should read Paul Suski’s dire – but still hopeful – on Europe, and Poland in particular. Pope John Paul II warned his beloved country years ago – and I paraphrase – that, in casting off the shackles of Communism, they should not replace with those of hedonistic consumerism. Alas, but there is something rotten even in the heart of Catholic Poland, where the spiritus mundi has crept in, and which now has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, with ‘careers’ – a word I am tending to dislike more and more – over families, especially for the young kobieta. According to the Church’s own sources, less than 40% of Poles attend Sunday Mass, which may sound far better than neo-pagan Canada, but should make us pause, for not long ago it was far above that. Although the Faith is still vibrant and strong in many parts, I have heard stories of its weakness, even its entire loss, amongst the younger demographic, upon whom the great Pope placed such hope – see the quotation from his World Youth Day homily at Downsview Park in Toronto in 2002. I was there all those years ago, and remember not much of the homily, in fact, I’m not sure I heard much of it, with our group about two miles from the altar, and the giant television monitors on the blink. (The whole liturgical question of such million-man-Masses is one upon which we have touched before, and to which we will return soon enough).
The rain began to fall in the early morning, and kept up as Mass commenced, a veritable diminutive deluge, and droves of young people started to pack up and leave in a mass exodus, pardon the pun. I recall wondering if they were going to get to Mass somewhere – it was a Sunday, after all. If they had stayed a few minutes more, the Sun came out, and all was more or less well. A parable for life, methinks.
We must keep our Faith – hold on to it for dear life, for it is the only thing that will give us life, and all the other virtues are useless – not really virtues at all – without this anchor to our final end – God – and the assent to Christ and His authority through the Church, in some way. Certainly to cast off the Faith once given to us is a tragedy of eschatological proportions.
Here is the post-Apostolic bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch (+110), on his way to his own witness in Rome, from today’s Matins, we would do well to ponder:
All things have an end, and two things, life and death, are side by side set before us, and each man will go to his own place. Just as there are two coinages, one of God and the other of the world, each with its own image, so unbelievers bear the image of this world, and those who have faith with love bear the image of God the Father through Jesus Christ. Unless we are ready through his power to die in the likeness of his passion, his life is not in us.