“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”
-John Quincy Adams
Summer is not usually a time of year filled with lots of activity in the public square. It’s a time for families to take vacations, for kids (and teachers!) to enjoy being out of school, generally it’s a time to slow down and enjoy a little rest and relaxation. While many of us have certainly enjoyed some downtime this summer it has been in the midst of a storm of activity in the pubic square. Starting in June the Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage for the entire country, Colorado’s own Supreme Court refused to uphold the Douglas County school choice program based on anti-Catholic Blaine amendments and Pope Francis released an encyclical focusing on the environment.
By comparison one would think the rest of the summer would be somewhat quiet but July was perhaps the most explosive month of the summer with the release of the horrific undercover videos, from the Center for Medical Progress, detailing the disgusting actions of Planned Parenthood as they sought to negotiate prices for the body parts of aborted babies. July also saw a decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals saying that the government can force the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their faith or pay massive IRS penalties for refusing to provide contraceptives in their health plan.
We are only halfway through the month of August and already we have seen the James Holmes murder trial end with a life in prison sentence for Mr. Holmes, the release of more Planned Parenthood videos, and the kick-off to the 2016 election season with the first Republican debate. Activity in the public square obviously did not get the memo about taking a little downtime this summer!
If you are like me, then you might be reading this list of activity and be completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at the sheer magnitude of the impact these decisions and actions will have on our culture, our faith, our families and our Church. You would be justified in this reaction, but we cannot allow our feelings of being overwhelmed, angry or sad to overshadow the important task that we have in front of us, namely to evangelize the culture. Each one of us is called to bring the power of Christ to bear on the areas of education, the law, media, entertainment and politics.
As Pope St. John Paul II once remarked “It is no use complaining of the wickedness of the times. As St. Paul wrote, we must overcome evil by doing good (Rom. 12:21)….To seek, love and bear witness to Jesus! This is your commitment; these are the instructions I leave you! By doing so, not only will you keep real joy in your lives, but also you will benefit the whole of society, which needs, above all, consistency with the evangelical message.”
St. John Paul’s words are as relevant today as they were when he spoke them in 1978. If we want to change our culture and our communities then we must begin by living our own faith honestly and with conviction; if we don’t then we cannot expect to change the public square. Archbishop Chaput once said that “The worst enemies…aren’t ‘out there’ among the legion of critics who hate Christ or the Gospel or the Church or all three. The worst enemies are in here, with us, all of us, clergy, religious and lay, when we live our faith with tepidness, routine and hypocrisy.”
In the face of all that is happening in our society let us be courageous people of faith and bear witness to the love of Christ in our families, our churches and the public square. The Bishops of Colorado have called for a day of prayer and penance on August 28th in order for all people of good will to pray that those involved in research and medicine will fix their sights on recognizing the sacredness of life and refrain from putting human life at the service of science. I hope that each one of us will take time out of our day on the 28th to offer prayer and penance for these horrific actions.