“Children are a grace that is given to a couple. … We need signs among us that when we put God first, others second, and ourselves third, that it works.”
In the early part of the sixth century, St. Benedict, appalled by the immorality of Rome, left to pursue the Christian life in the desert. People flocked to Benedict to learn how to live as Christians. This began a movement that produced monasteries all over the west, saved Christendom by preserving its cultural and intellectual heritage, and spread the Gospel back into what had once been a civilized Europe. In the twelfth century, another saint, Francis of Assisi, followed almost the same path as St. Benedict—only his friary was the open road.
In each generation the Church is renewed following this process which is really a re-living of the life of Christ by the Church, and our age is no exception. Such renewals are characteristic of the Church in her missionary activity: a time of cultural crisis causes good people to embrace the Christian life then, most important of all, bring the Gospel to the people in the world who are in desperate need of this grace. Religious orders follow this pattern, as do dioceses, parishes, families, and individuals in their personal spiritual life.
As one of our letter writers stated in this issue, for forty years now parts of Canadian popular culture have sullied every normal human decency, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of malice. Catholic Insight has been an important voice warning Canadians about the dangers of legislative policies that threatened the Church, the unborn, and education. We believe that this is still necessary. But now there is a difference: society has changed and the current generation has grown up in a post-Christian world. For example, when Catholic Insight began we could assume that everyone at least knew that the purpose of marriage was to bring children into the world. We cannot take this for granted now.
A year ago we presented the plan for the direction of Catholic Insight based on this analysis of our missionary vocation. It is a good time to revisit this. We are first and foremost pro-life and pro-marriage. This is the front in the culture war. We are dedicated to present to our readers the truth of the Faith—a truth that is life-giving, that sets us free, and that is fundamentally joyous. This is often misunderstood, but it is a fact that the martyrs on Tyburn and the Carmelite sisters killed during the French revolution sang, not in false bravado, but in genuine joy that their suffering would aid in the salvation of the very people who were putting them to death.
In modern Canada ours is a different kind of suffering, and we are more in danger of discouragement than the scaffold. We can be tempted to give up, a condition spiritual writers call acedia, and which is also known as the noon-day devil. The truth is that life is a gift, marriage is a blessing, and children are a grace. In Canada, our most pressing need is that “we need signs among us that when we put God first, others second, and ourselves third, that it works.”
If you have been wondering why a particular article has appeared in Catholic Insight, this is the reason—to remind ourselves that living a faith-filled life works. A family full of children is a joy, which can be seen when children help their parents make a rink, hunt with their fathers, or make a crèche with their mothers. The Catholic life is a joyful one. It works.
Presenting this truth is part of our missionary work. We cannot expect people to live the Gospel if they do not know what it is. Nor will people be attracted to the Gospel if we misrepresent it. Savonarola, that tirless critic of the Medici family in Florence, was a good man and was right about many things—but it is Philip Neri who is the saint.
St. Thérèse the Little Flower, patroness of missionaries, pray for us.