Apologies for a slightly longer bulletin than usual but I think current events warrant it. The saying above becomes all the more striking daily, if not hourly, with all the various and frequently disheartening and all too often depressing headlines about radical societal shifts in sexual morality. It can feel like time is running out to do something, anything counter-culturally sound and edifying to lift peoples spirits and inspire them to “aim for the higher things” as St. Paul teaches. Despite the Irish plebiscite voting in so called “gay marriage” swiftly followed by Greenland, and now politicking on the same rapidly unfolding in Australia, we must never be people of despondency or despair but always disciples of Hope. That’s not a carte blanche to be like Pollyannas denying or shying away from the brutal reality of things (God knows there’s enough of those in the Church!) No! We must always recall that we serve, bless and worship the “Christ who is the centre of the universe and of history” (Redemptor Hominis n1). In other words, He is Master of all time and all space. St. John Paul II, when visiting the USA in 1976 as Cardinal Karol Wojtila, put it well in a speech that the current Nuncio there reminded the US hierarchy of in an address to them on 11th November 2013.
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…”
Did you see that? Whatever we feel alarmed, disturbed and fearful of, especially for our families, our loved ones, the Church, our nations; it’s all ‘within the plans of Divine Providence.’ Does that mean God Himself wills all this evil to happen? No. Absolutely not. God is Love and can only will pure love, goodness and truth. But it does mean, because He respects the gift of humanity to act on free will, that He allows us free rein in order that by His Divine Mercy, He will reign supreme and bring forth something even greater and more permanent and lasting for our personal and global well-being. Parents, after all, will often allow their children and especially rebellious adolescent daughters and sons to have their way, watch them make their mistakes, then hopefully learn from those errors, thus experiencing a biblical sense of shame, in order to lovingly guide and put them back on the way they really shouldn’t have drifted from in the first place. The important thing to keep in focus, with our gaze firmly fixed on the Lord because he is staring at us with love, is that our time, our moment in history is NOW! Now is the time we’re in, with all its shabby manifestations of selfishness, greed and lust, so the inner cry is “cape diem” – seize the day – not to bury our heads and live our own pursuits, battening down the hatches amidst the storm, but to embrace anything and everything that, on due discernment, we can know and trust, especially as parents, is good, wholesome, life-giving and redemptive. Here’s just one example. You’ve probably read or seen the shocking statistics of increasing numbers of adolescent girls (NB I refuse to employ the false constructed word ‘teenager’) who are self-harming because of poor self image to say nothing of the girls from even well off, seemingly stable homes, being treated by GPs for unspeakable sexual practices, which their young bodies cannot take, forced upon them by their so-called boyfriends addicted to porn.
So, if necessity is the mother of invention and it is a universally acknowledged truth that girls in their teens don’t relish being told what to wear, then how about this for a bright, innovative and truly creative response to that tension which can clearly have a direct impact on the kind of devastating issues I’ve just cited above.
TREnDS (which stands for “Teens Reacting Effectively and Discovering Style”) held their inaugural Fashion Forum event to celebrate 10 years of monthly and annual activities – which have reached thousands of women with the aim of educating them in the areas of style and beauty.
Founded by four adolescent girls in 2004 in Toronto, with a clever strap-line “fashion from the inside, out” TREnDS seeks to inspire each young woman to walk away with the confidence that comes from knowing herself better, ready to share the message that fashion should serve women as persons, not as objects, that girls really do have a choice, and that they are beautiful because each has a unique and intrinsic value. I’m not saying that such an initiative is a panacea for the type of crude and harmful things we see happening to young people, especially girls, but it sure is lighting a candle in the darkness. And, as I have said in a previous Friday Fast, “A worthwhile mission properly articulated galvanises ordinary people with extraordinary even explosive results.” So I applaud and honour these young ladies, especially as Canadians where the libertine, atheistic onslaught of social engineering against the family really took off faster than anywhere else, fathered by that spiteful, anti-parent, anti-child liberal Canadian, Brock Chisholm, who as the first Director of the World Health Organisation, shamelessly declared as far back as 1946; “The concept of right and wrong is a barrier to developing a civilised way of life. This concept of right and wrong should be eradicated. Children have to be freed from … prejudices forced upon them by religious authorities … parents are dictators and suppressors of the child’s best nature. Sex education should be introduced … eliminating the ways of the elders, by force if necessary.” (I will address the much neglected issue of “sex education” – an oxymoron if ever there was – in a future Fast).So bravo to these young Canadian women and their parents who no doubt support them for ‘going against the tide’ as Pope Francis puts it and likewise the brave Ontario parents tirelessly fighting the aggressive sex education curriculum (see Parents As First Educators). What these good people are doing is personifying and embodying the new evangelisation.
Many of you have contacted me deeply disturbed and disheartened by the recent Irish referendum. By way of encouragement, I share this speech of Dr Jennifer Roeback Morse, Founder of the Ruth Institute given in January 2013 to the Rhode Island State Judiciary committee on the legalisation of same sex marriage. At just over 5 minutes it is worth watching again for her stark and accurate predictions of what will ensue everywhere from “gay marriage”– not least the fact that at 1 min 37 sec she states: “I predict you will become more aggressive in attacking the natural bonds between parents and children…” We are in a mortal combat – a war between the truth of Jesus Christ and the Father of Lies. So her warrior-like finale paraphrasing Churchill is not out of place nor empty hyperbole:
“We shall not flag nor fail, we shall go on to the end, we shall fight with growing strength and growing confidence on the airwaves, we shall defend our beliefs whatever the cost may be, we shall fight in the churches, we shall fight in the ballot box, we shall fight in the schools and courts, we shall fight on the web, we shall never surrender!”
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster