Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday in a "godless, secularized" West

We have drifted into a desert of godlessness (and a happy Easter to all): The leader of the English Catholics rebukes Blair by Simon Caldwell. The following are excerpts from an article by Simon Caldwell: [my remarks] "Good Friday address: Pope Benedict warned that religious sentiments are increasingly being held up to ridicule in the West... 'Jesus is humiliated in new ways even today – when things that are most holy and profound in the faith are being trivialised, the sense of the sacred is allowed to erode,' he said. 'Everything in public life risks being desacralised – persons, places, pledges, prayers, practices, words, sacred writings, religious formulae, symbols, ceremonies. Our life together is being increasingly secularised. [and we are being dehumanized, our lives are becoming less valuable] 'Religious life grows diffident. Thus we see the most momentous matters placed among trifles, and trivialities glorified. 'Values and norms that held societies together and drew people to higher ideals are laughed at and thrown overboard. Jesus continues to be ridiculed.' The Pope, who turns 82 later this month, prayed that Christians would respond to the problem by growing in faith. 'May we never question or mock serious things in life like a cynic,' he said. 'Allow us not to drift into the desert of godlessness. Enable us to perceive you in the gentle breeze, see you in street corners, love you in the unborn child.' On the station that marks the passage in the Gospel where Jesus met the women of Jerusalemon the way to be crucified, the Pope also condemned the oppression of women, saying there were 'many societies in the world where women fail to receive a fair deal'. 'Christ must be weeping for them,' the Pope will claim. He added: 'There are societies too that are thoughtless about their future. Christ must be weeping for their children. 'Wherever there is unconcern for the future, through the overuse of resources, the degradation of the environment, the oppression of women, the neglect of family values, the ignoring of ethical norms, the abandonment of religious traditions, Jesus must be telling people: "Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves".' The Stations of the Cross are traditionally performed by the Pope at the amphitheatre where thousands of early Christians died as martyrs during persecutions ordered by the Roman emperors. During the ceremony, the Pope stopped at each of the 14 stations – which represent the sequence of events between Jesus’s 'agony' in the Gardenof Gethsemane to his crucifixion and burial – where he read out a meditation. The Good Friday meditations generally reflect on the evil in the world on the day that the Church commemorates the suffering and death of Christ. On Easter Sunday, the Pope’s Urbi et Orbi (to the City and to the World) message is of a completely different tone, reflecting his hope and joy in the risen and triumphant saviour. The Good Friday meditations for this year were written for Pope Benedict by Thomas Menamparampil, the Archbishop of Guwahati, India. Many reflect on the problems faced by the Church in the Middle East and Asia, where persecution in Iraq, for instance, has forced half of the Christian population to flee the country, and in India where anti-Christian riots in the state of Orissa last autumn led to thousands of families seeking sanctuary in refugee camps. The comments on secularism refer pointedly, however, to the rise of an intolerant form of secularism in the West, which seeks to purge traditionally Christian societies of their religious character. In Britain this has led to legal battles between employers and Christians suspended or sacked for expressing their religious convictions or simply wearing religious jewellery such as crucifixes. Publicly-funded church schools, adoption agencies and even hospital chaplains have come under attack while the Government has given taxpayers’ money to groups that promote atheism." ~~~~~ I point you to the last three paragraphs especially. And then I point you to the movie, Breach, which is about Robert Hanssen who was considered the worst spy in America's history. He was arrested in February 2001. In the movie, he is speaking to his young clerk and he says, he was our FBI's Russian specialist, "Do you know why the Russians failed? They were much smarter than we were...." There are a few moments of silence, that pregnant pause. Then he spoke, "Godlessness... That's why they failed, Godlessness...." As Joel Osteen says, get into a Bible-based church and build your family on strong values. It is only because of the tolerance of our Judeo-Christian society that we have "freedom of religion". And it is that very "tolerance" turned against us that is being used to weaken us. As I have borrowed a quotation at the top of this blog, "Our constitution is not a suicide pact"; well, neither is our tolerance.


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