The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Mission

“By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles which enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony. Unity is the essence of the Church; it is a gift we must recognize and cherish.”
Pope Benedict XVI - World Youth Day

Does one take one's values from the contemporary culture, or does one apply one's values to the contemporary culture?

Most children at some point will hear a parent advise them not to go along with the crowd just because. "If you're friends jumped off a cliff would you jump off a cliff too?" or some variation of that no doubt at one one time or another was the imparted wisdom of mom and dad. It was good advice, but like so many of the smart things parents try to teach, often children simply do not listen. In the child's mind he can't imagine his friend wanting to jump off a cliff, but they do want to try beer which seems, comparatively, way safer.

As one enters adulthood and discovers that one is now on his own to decide what is right and wrong, how easy it becomes to just go along with the crowd. If everyone is doing it then it must be a good thing since no one wants to be unhappy. Television shows like Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex in the City have become the new synoptic gospels for the American culture. How many people does one know who could quote a favorite one liner from one of those programs but would struggle to come up with a favorite verse from sacred scripture?

Does one take one's values from the contemporary culture, or does one apply one's values to the contemporary culture?

Two men are on a mission right now. Barack Hussein Obama is on a globe trotting campaign trip to try to enhance his worldly credibility with the electorate. In Mr. Obama, the world can see first hand the incarnation of contemporary American culture. This junior senator from Illinois has positioned himself as the one who best represents what the people of these United States really stand for. And he may very well be right. Popularity seems to be the core value these days and not much else. The war in Iraq is tragic; the right to kill the unborn is paramount; God is optional; and George Bush is an idiot. If one can speak those populous messages with eloquence, many Americans have decided one need no further qualifications to lead.

The other man on a mission is Pope Benedict XVI who has traveled to Australia to bring the Gospel to Generation Hope who have gathered down under for World Youth Day in Sydney. The Pope has his own message of change for the world's young people that runs counter to the contemporary culture. This Holy Father really does know best as he calls on all not to follow the path of secular relativism but rather to simply seek the truth. He gives himself totally, faithfully, freely and fruitfully, not for his own advancement or benefit, but rather for the eternal salvation of the children, over one billion of them and growing, that Christ entrusted into his care.

Does one take one's values from the contemporary culture, or does one apply one's values to the contemporary culture?

Obama embodies the first part of the question, Pope Benedict espouses the second. It is Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who offers the change one can believe in.

Whether a Catholic should vote for Barack Obama or John McCain is not the point of this article. History has proven that the cultural Catholic vote follows very closely with the popular vote, and Catholics who actually practice their faith make up only about ten percent of the electorate. As one weighs who to vote for an examination of conscience must take place and part of that exercise should include an honest inventory of where one has derived one's values.

If one discovers areas of belief that have been shaped by the contemporary culture, then one should take a step back and examine if such beliefs are in line with Christ. If they are not, then who greater than Him has taken His place in the formation of one's core set of values? If the answer is Barack Obama, John McCain, or one's coworkers at the office water cooler, then perhaps one needs to embark on one's own mission. Not a quest for change, but rather a mission for conversion.


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