I'm not a great fan of popular music, less so that modern type of Christian music of the last four decades. I have heard recently that song "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." I find the tune rather annoying and it's become a bit of an earworm, but it is one of those rare modern songs that actually has a meaningful content. Christians should let shine the light of God given to them. The light isn't mine, but I am called to bear it as my part in Holy Church's Royal Priesthood.
Fr Anthony reflects on the darkness in Europe: it is a theme that I have been thinking on, myself, as I prepare myself for spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness. That sounds dramatic, and perhaps it is, but I am increasingly sick and tired of the sheer negativity that is infecting the lives of so many people - all of whom are God's children. We do need to take this seriously in my view.
In the U.K. we are not disposed to the gun culture of the U.S. We're not convinced that gun ownership should be as open as it is across the Pond, but then such we don't have a codified constitution. However, this should not mean that we roll over and accept that which is repugnant to civilised Society. It is my view that what is truly repugnant is not as easy to put one's finger on as one might think. There are a lot of things done with the best of intentions, and I don't actually believe that he pathway to Hell is paved with good intentions, after all Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts. This is why the true intentions need to be rooted out in the light of Christ.
We cannot afford to allow ourselves to be fobbed off with apportioning the blame for the Darkness of our world simplistically. The cause of the ills in our present society is not the Liberals, the Conservatives, the Muslims, the Atheists, the CofE, or Rome, or Obama, though their actions are as clouded by the Darkness as much as anyone's, including my own. The Darkness goes much deeper than that.
Increasingly, I am being made aware of how much the Darkness plays in my life. I went to a CofE service recently and tried very hard to engage, though obviously I did not go up for communion. I loathed it, partly because of the bad memories it threw up, partly because it was so distracted away from God. The words were certainly trying to be Christian, but they lacked objectivity. There was, in my view, no practice of the presence of God. It felt like a group of people talking about someone in the room without really addressing them directly, though the words did try to do that. It seemed like visiting an extremely old relative in a nursing home. Perhaps I missed something as I wandered in the darkness, but then, if I trust the Light that I bear at all, I do believe that there was something gravely deficient in that service.
Yet, it was very clear to me also that at least there was a community willing to do something to honour God. That has to be taken into great consideration. Too often I hear shrill and unpleasant indictments of other Churches by those who really ought to know better. These are they who actually want their own way believing it to be God's way. They are the same people who make bitchy comments about any little deviation from their own.
Others believe that to let the Light shine means hooking it up to the neon signs of branding and soundbite, selling their integrity to get their image into the public psyche. They seek to make themselves look good even when there is little to look good. This isn't just true of the flashy megachurches: even some of the Traditional Catholic jurisdictions fall under the spell of believing that performance will draw crowds and that popularity will be evidence of shining the light.
No. To shine the light of Christ means first to seek purity of one's faith both in the individual and also in the Church. We must remember that it cannot be our own light that we shine. We have to be like clear light-bulb glass allowing the radiance of Christ in our hearts to sine through. Forget publicity, forget the brand, and start living humbly in the Catholic Faith of Christ. The battlefield is not the internet: the battle is not swapping bitchy comments.
We Christians are called to fight and fight actively against Sin, the World, and the Devil. This is the great and last battle and it is waged first within ourselves. We cannot afford to keep comparing ourselves with other Churches or jurisdictions, especially as there are likely to be Christians within. God is prepared to spare even Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten righteous men. All that we can do is measure ourselves against ourselves, perform the works of mercy, pray earnestly for the world's transformation and our own, and bear witness to the great transformation of the Mass living its reality day in, day out.
As Abba Joseph says, why not become all flame?