Admittedly, I enjoy listening to some good songs by the Grateful Dead. Their song, Comes A Time, includes the lyric: "Comes a time when the blind man takes your hand, Says, "Don't you see?......”
I thought of this line last week when I was offering up my morning in prayer while working out at the gym. My 5:00 am exercise routine has served as my dedicated daily prayer and rosary time for over twenty years. I give thanks for this precious hour where I am able to receive the spiritual fortitude and physical energy I need to carry out God’s work for the day ahead. However, many days I gaze at the secular news headlines while at the gym and wonder why our nation has cultivated a seemingly apathetic culture. On certain levels, we have entered into a crisis of civilization. So, I pray harder!
Headlines? Cultural apathy? What do you mean? Well, recently while jogging along on the treadmill and praying my daily rosary, I glanced at the TV monitors lined up in front of me. I could not hear the news headlines because I do not plug in - remember, I am praying! I saw three, separate news channels, each with a different news story. One screen featured “Same Sex Unions” (fornication), a second screen pictured scenes from the Ebola break outs (disease), and a third screen brought news on ISIS (destruction, persecution). All this reminded me of another Grateful Dead line, “I may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I’m enjoying the ride.” Sadly, so many seem to take all this debauchery with a dangerous level of disinterest.
On another occasion, not even a month ago, I had to shake my head in disgust at how men and women are portrayed in secular media. Headlines that day used phrases such as: “getting hitched” in reference to a celebrity’s engagement, with subsequent by-lines that he would be soon be “off the market” after “tying the knot!” Not one mention of the word “marriage” or “covenant.” Of course with marriage depicted as a commodity of convenience, society is quick to accept when these marriages are “returned for customer dissatisfaction” and divorce ensues. “Tying the Knot” is a badge earned in Boy Scouts, and Getting Hitched is for cowboys and steers on the ranch – how are these idioms made acceptable substitutes for the sacred bond of marriage? Would you look at someone next to you when you see/hear these slogans and say what a shame marriage wasn’t honored?
Comes a Time…for you to remind people about sacredness, even at the gym.
How many of you hear, “Mother to be” or “Parents to be” when public announcements are made about a pregnancy? It is all too common and even touted in ads for baby gear or greetings on Hallmark cards for baby showers. The grave mistake lies on the predicate verb of being “to be” which subtly suggests an empty womb, no mention of the baby who already lives and has a being. I gently correct people who use these mindless semantics of “mother/father/grandparent to be” by telling them they are definitively a mother, a father or a grandparent already. Comes a Time….for you to educate others about life at fertilization, even in the grocery lines, especially near the magazine covers.
Then there’s the irony of the CVS pharmacy chain’s latest move to improve healthcare. They have banned the sale of tobacco products and are considering the ban of sweets/candy, but continue to distribute birth control pills as well as other contraceptives. And, what about the AMA recommending birth control devices for teens?!
Comes a time….for you to say something that helps close gaps, even among our healthcare professionals.
How do we respond, not react?
Comes a time….for Grace.
We are born for grace and our culture must begin to act on grace. The secular taglines that water down the most sacred miracles in our earthly midst – marriage and life – need to be corrected. This begins by Catholic Christians infusing Truth each day in ordinary ways. How do we make such heroic and virtuous acts part an everyday routine? Start by seeing the world around you from God’s perspective, act from His viewpoint. The Catechism states, “Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call…..Grace is the participation in the life of God.: (CCC 1996, 1997).
As Catholic Christians, we have the unique ability to experience daily life in sacramental ways. Thus, we are able to avail ourselves of the fullness of Grace. The headlines of today’s worldly perspective seek to objectify humanity and normalize atrocities. What is being done? Day after day we hear the same reports. As Catholic Christians, we are chosen to rise above standard semantics in the secular media and live of life that exemplifies joy. How?
Comes a time…..for us to release the sacramental treasures we possess, even in our families or workplace.
One of my favorite saints, St. Frances de Sales, once advised St. Jane de Chantal to, “Do what is front of you and do it perfectly well.” We are a people who toil over regret of what we have done or said, the acts of commission; but what about regret we may eventually have for what we have not done or said, the acts of omission? We can avoid ruing over acts of omission when we spread Truth and Love. “Comes a time when the blind man takes your hand and says, ‘Don’t’ you see’…..” This is a time to combat cultural apathy with generous grace. Our Catholic faith offers a plethora of resources for us to be well equipped for the mission at hand – cultural conversion and salvation of souls.
Galatians 5 states: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions……in contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
This reading spells out how to embrace a freedom to serve. I ask each of you to take courage everyday and say what needs to be said with love; to do what needs to be done with gentleness; to correct the smallest to the largest errors in front of you. We cannot simply accept the headlines of our secular media and act like there is any level of human dignity to ground us
Comes a time…..to spread grace…to change our cultural paradigm. None of us are excused from this task.