December 16, 2005

Seeking the Face of the Lord

The sacraments can help us live a life of authentic freedom

Some people call it “the perfect storm” on the wireless communications network. They are talking about the invasion of the pornography industry on video cell phones, iPODs and PDAs.

This abuse of the development in technology is particularly worrisome because these wireless instruments will be in the hands of many if not most of our children and youth. It is worrisome because these invasions cannot be blocked by parents; they come at no additional cost to the user and, of course, they can be viewed anonymously.

It is a technological setup for instant temptation that preys on our inherited concupiscence. What may be unwanted pornography can and does quickly become addictive pornography. This is a serious and relatively new problem for everyone. It adds one more cultural burden for you parents who try so hard to oversee the proper development of your children. Addiction to porn is demeaning and enslaving at any age, but it would be devastating for children and youth.

I mention this now as an advisory for all of us because undoubtedly the new phones and other wireless gadgets will be likely Christmas gifts.

Our secular culture is more and more tolerant of the invasion of the pornographic industry. Increasingly, our Christian faith and values are strikingly countercultural. My generation can only observe the phenomenon with amazement. Nothing like these dramatic developments blatantly accosted us in our youth. Parenting has never been easy in any era, but one can argue the case that today’s parents have far more challenges from the society in which we live.

What can people who genuinely embrace our Christian way of life do?

First of all, we are challenged to become more alert and better informed ourselves of our Christian values and virtues.

Second, we need to seek out and embrace the assistance that is offered to us by the Church that Christ gave us.

I don’t believe it is possible to walk against the cultural stream of our secularized society for very long without the strength of the sacraments of the Church. Christ gave us the sacraments to nourish us and to strengthen us as pilgrims on the journey of life. We need the strength of the Eucharist, of penance and reconciliation and of the sacrament of confirmation. Jesus gave us these sacraments not just as a matter of arbitrary ritual but because we need them. The sacraments are free gifts to help us in the challenges we face as people who want to be good Christians.

We also need to inform ourselves about the moral teachings of our Church, which are based on the teachings of Jesus. He gave us the direction for living our love for God and respecting our dignity as human persons who are marked with the image of God. We owe it to ourselves and our children and youth to know what Jesus taught about living with authentic freedom.

Pope Benedict XVI has made a point of encouraging us to recognize that much of what contemporary culture proposes to us ignores, often quite intentionally, the existence of God. A world that does not need God is a world headed for enslavement. It is a world that succumbs to the very same disastrous foundations that undergirded Nazism and Communism. How quickly our secular society can forget social evils that plagued it in recent times. Atheistic secularism is equally hazardous.

But we don’t need to wring our hands as if there is no antidote to a godless environment. As I intimated above, Christ gave us what we need to make our journey with confident faith and hope. In fact, the liturgical season of Advent reminds us dramatically of our reason for joyful hope. Nothing can take away from us the sure trust in the gift of redemption that Jesus won for us.

All through the ages, in times of war and relative peace, in the dark times in the history of our world and in the midst of the good things of our life on this planet, we Catholics have been able and continue to be able to anticipate and celebrate the birthday of Jesus with wonder and awe. External circumstances that present us with difficulties cannot take away the joy and the gift that Christ brought to our human family—the gift that continues to be ours through the Church and the sacraments and the gift of Christ’s teaching enshrined in the Scriptures.

Let’s take the opportunity of these last weeks before Christmas to embrace the opportunities that enable us to be faithful and free in our embrace of the best that we share as a human family. We have what we need to stay the course on the road to the Father’s house. We do so in solidarity with Jesus and each other. †


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