Faithful Catholics are Rebels of Love: The Catholic Church is the True Counterculture
Our path is increasingly paved with the insults, accusations and calumny of our fellow citizens.
The declining western culture grows increasingly hostile to the Catholic Church. There is a clash of worldviews, personal and corporate, and competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing underway. Catholics now face the hostility of a relativism which claims there are no truths. That is what makes us countercultural. We insist that there is Truth, it can be known - and it must govern our lives. This is why we face persecution.
The early Christians faced hostility
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In The Furrow, St Josemaria Escriva used a phrase that keeps coming to my mind over these historic days as I join with millions in praying for the Catholic Church I love during an historic and prophetic transition; Rebels of Love. He wrote: "Nowadays it is not enough for men and women to be good. Moreover, it is not good enough to be satisfied with being nearly. good. It is necessary to be 'revolutionary'. Faced by hedonism, faced by the pagan and materialistic wares that we are being offered, Christ wants objectors! Rebels of Love!"
My return to the Catholic Church as a young man was propelled by my search for truth and a desire to build a counter culture which embraced values different than the inhuman materialism, nihilism, lack of solidarity, violence and idolatry I saw all around me. However, I soon began to see that the alternative offered by the movement which called itself the counter culture back then was a fraud. It would replace the social order it decried with something much worse. Many of those who participated in that movement have done just that.
I came to comprehend that what I rejected in the culture around me was also present within me. I was held captive by my wrong choices and being led astray by disordered appetites and passions. I accepted the fact that I was a sinner. I embraced the Christian claim that I needed a Savior. I found Him in His fullness in the Catholic Church which He founded. I was led to the Cross on Calvary's Hill where the New Man, Jesus Christ, stretched out His arms to embrace the world in redemptive love and begin a New Creation. On that Cross, the Living Word, through whom the Universe was created, re-created it anew.
I also began to discover the utter beauty - and spiritual depth - of early Christian writings on the meaning of the Christian faith. Theodore the Studite, an eighth century Abbot, once wrote of the Cross: "How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return."
"This was the tree on which Christ, like a King on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature.A tree once caused our death but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality- that shame should become glory!"
A fourth century Deacon named Ephrem proclaimed: "He who was also the carpenters glorious son set up his cross above deaths' all consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist. We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death, like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living.
"We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead. Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all embracing sacrifice of our love and our lives"
As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. I studied the Catholic faith and came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I reconsidered her teachings - and her form of worship - and found that they reflected the teaching of the earliest century Christians. I discovered that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I came to believe that she was the real counterculture.
As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council reminded us: "The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take ...
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