The Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming (covering the whole state), His Excellency Most Reverend Paul Etienne, has a blog. I have posted about his hunting with the Mystic Monk Coffee Carmelites in northern Wyoming. Also in the Diocese of Cheyenne is Wyoming Catholic College. I like bishops who blog intelligently. I like bishops who have guns, too. Put the two together and… well… I’m writing about Bp. Etienne, aren’t I?
A kind reader here alerted me to Bishop Etienne’s post about his sermon for the 1st Sunday of Advent. The second part of the sermon caught my attention.
This past week I had the opportunity to hike and hunt up on the South Fork of the Shoshoni. By midweek, the temperatures approached the mid 50’s, warm enough to bring the bears out of hibernation. Sure enough, as we walked along, we saw fresh grizzly tracks in the snow. I need not tell you, a grizzly is a frightening and fierce creature to encounter in any circumstance, and is always an imminent threat to life and limb, whether one is carrying a high powered rifle and wearing a side-arm or not! Thankfully, no such encounter ensued, but it put me on high alert!
It is precisely to such an “alert way of life” Christ is calling us this Advent season. We hear much in our day about “secularism” and the “New Evangelization.” But what exactly do these mean? First of all, secularism is a philosophy of life which rejects God, and rejects any attempts on the part of believers to insert their faith and morals into public discourse, politics or legislation. Webster’s Dictionary defines secularism thus: “a view of life or of any particular matter based on the premise that religion and religious considerations should be ignored or purposely excluded : a system of social ethics based upon a doctrine that ethical standards and conduct should be determined exclusively with reference to the present life and social well-being without reference to religion.”
My dear friends, secularism is the moral grizzly bear of our day! The New Evangelization is our response. The New Evangelization is our opportunity, our mandate, to re-proclaim Christ to a culture and world that formerly considered itself Christian. The New Evangelization is our effort to “Go out to all the world and proclaim the Good News,” to bring Christ to our people, and to bring our people to Christ. This is the “good work” the Opening Prayer of Mass exhorts of us: Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming.
We must pray for the Wisdom of Solomon, and the patience of an oyster, as we face this present culture, and address its many, subtle efforts to lower our moral standards and discredit any belief in the Divine Revelation that is ours in Sacred Scripture. Advent calls us to be honest about the values and beliefs that we hold because of cultural convenience, rather than the values and beliefs dear to our faith. We must be alert to the many cultural messages that reinforce a relative view of Truth. Let me be very clear: We as Catholic Christians believe in an absolute Truth, and that Absolute Truth is found in and preached by Jesus Christ. It is this Truth that underlies our Christian values and beliefs. This is the Truth we are called to live and bring to the public forum. The death many people face today is a moral death, and the only remedy is Christ and the life which only He brings.
Secularism is real, and recent surveys tell us it is having more of an effect on the values and morals of our people today than is our faith. Advent is our claxon call to “Wake up!” It is time to not only draw a line in the sand, but to reclaim lost ground in the culture war for moral values and Truth. We belong to Christ. He has claimed us for Himself and His Kingdom through his life, death and resurrection. He and His Kingdom are all that really matter. He and His Church, His Catholic Church, are to be our passion and our life.
My dear people, Advent calls us to be alert for the presence of Christ in our daily lives. Advent calls us to renew again our commitment to acknowledge Christ as the source of our life and to make Him once again our center. He is our origin and our destiny. This admonition is captured well in our closing prayer for Mass:
…even now, as we walk amid passing things, you teach us by them, O Lord, to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what endures, Through Christ our Lord.
My dear friends, let us live accordingly! Let us live according to Christ our Lord!
Well done. WDTPRS kudos to Bp. Etienne.
I must, however, make an observation about his use of the Post communion prayer.
I think the “them” in the phrase “as we walk amid passing things, you teach us by them, O Lord, to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what endures”, refers back to “mysteries” in the first part of the Collect, which he did not quote.
POST COMMUNIONEM (2002MR):
Prosint nobis, quaesumus, Domine, frequentata mysteria,
quibus nos, inter praetereuntia ambulantes,
iam nunc instituis amare caelestia et inhaerere mansuris.
NEW CORRECTED ICEL (2011):
May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated,
profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what endures.
In any event, I like the use of the grizzly. I am reminded of the roving lion of 1 Peter 5:8.