There is taking place at the present time a silent exodus from the Church. The inner consensus of belief seems, somehow, to have lost the power to control it that it would perhaps have had a generation ago....
One problem here is that the Church can present to us only what she has and what she is. But we cannot begin with the way she presents herself, we must go to the roots. If there do not exist in the Church strengths that have something to offer us today, then her presentation of herself will be of little value to us. These strengths undoubtedly do exist in the Church, for the Gospel has not become void and Christ has not departed from us.
We do not place our hope in strategies; on the contrary, Christ is our hope. We must proceed to and from his presence. What is central must remain central. The Church erred when she yielded to a perhaps half-hearted desire to prove that even without the good news of God and his Christ she was still a good and useful philanthropic organization. Granted, the philanthropic contribution of the Church is of enormous importance--a task imposed on her by the Lord. But we must realize that she is not just one welfare organization among others that wants to assure her place in the social scene, but that her activity springs from the deeper power of a love that wants only to communicate itself that she is active, not because she wants to be in the limelight but because "the love of Christ urges us on'.
It must be evident that God is something of which humanity stands in need. The Church must proclaim her belief courageously and without embarrassment, must confess what she knows is salvific: that she has to do with God and God had to do with us; that she can therefore bring humanity into contact with him.
It would be a great error, however, to think we are reflecting the views of Pope John XXIII and the Council merely because we follow every fashion that is considered modern. To be courageous can also mean to be nonconformist to oppose something that everyone else accepts and so in a moment's time to find oneself suddenly in the minority.
In the last analysis, the world is ultimately governed by courageous minorities that really have something to offer, not by some superficial mass phenomenon.
In today's second reading, St. Paul encourages us not to grow weary or lose heart but to persevere in following Jesus. Our willingness to give of ourselves, even in the face of conflict and division, is one way to measure our discipleship.
"I have come to set the earth on fire" -- a veritable call to arms.
Preaching Christ and even at times just following Christ may bring down a firestorm of opposition and disaffection. In the face of this, the disciple of Christ will be expected to "tough it out."
"Christian action should be defined as an action of God mediated through a person."
Let's be clear on this: Catholics do indeed oppose medical research that requires the destruction of human embryos.
Millions of other Americans, religious and otherwise, share this moral conviction. We emphatically support science and medical advances - but we oppose the use of immoral means to achieve seemingly good goals, even when they include possible medical cures.
Why? Because if the bloody legacy of the last century has taught us anything, it is that the end never justifies the means.