So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, August 1, 2016

Flee the world of indifference.

Fuga mundi! Flee the world of indifference.

The desert fathers knew well the tragedy of embracing too closely the agendas of men of worldly ambition, the lure of the day-to-day grind people quite literally buy into convinced they can master the quest for security. For all the mental and material gymnastics people perform to trick themselves into believing they are safe behind their well constructed financial walls and pleasant emotional securities, they nevertheless remain one paycheque or two away from joining doorway dwellers and others who live on the street.

The person crouching in a vacant shop's doorway could very well be a voice in the wilderness crying out to the neatly fashioned corporate suits and the manicured lawns of suburban parents of 2.1 children. "Wake up!", they might say. "Enjoy what you have while you can!"

Unable to bear the pressures even a simple straight job might incur, more than a few street people are far from lazy but are, for various reasons, simply unable to cope with the rat race that traps so many of their "well-off" fellow citizens. They "put themselves to work" by begging. There are lazy people on the street, to be sure, just as there may very well be a lazy person in the office cubicle next to yours. Sloth, however, is rarely the reason people end up on the street.

One fellow, let's call him Dan, acquires a steady supplementary income from his location on a well travelled street corner in the downtown core. The owner of the business adjacent to where he stands knows him to be a gentle soul who needs the opportunity to make some money. Contrary to what one might imagine, Dan attracts business to the management company. Dan is positive, upbeat, and engaging. He listens to the aches and pains of neatly dressed businessmen and lawyers who stop to chat. Dan always has a word of encouragement ready for seemingly happy strangers who briefly interrupt their texting madness to breathe a little.

Dan supplements his meager pension cheque with the money he receives from selling to passersby his neatly organized pencils and pens, curios and various objets d'art he has been given by benefactors for the purpose of helping him earn a living. He has no interest in merely begging for money, though he accepts cash donations from people who do not necessarily want to purchase the bric a brac he sells.

Dan's life took a severe left turn when a drunk driver killed his only son. In his grief, he himself turned to alcohol. He lost his job and ruined his relationship with the rest of his family.

In the midst of his profound grief, Dan experienced a profound realization of God's love for him one day while praying before the Tabernacle.

In the depths of desperation or destitution, Dan allowed Christ to find him and lift him up, and he now stands facing toward the Tabernacle in the same Catholic church kitty-corner to his "beggar's corner", keeping his mind trained on the One Who rescued him. His relationships with family members are being healed.

Dan still bears the pain of loss, as any normal person would, but the weight of the loss is, by the grace of God, no longer crushing. He is grateful for being rescued by God from despair. Dan is sober and hasn't touched a drink in years. He volunteers at various shelters and, even though he has little money in his pocket, is very generous to those in the street community who need a hand up.

And what of the "successful"?

The world has nothing to offer the sin-sick soul, a soul marred by the tragedy or self inflicted misery of material wealth worshipped in isolation. Salvation reaches such people when they exhaust their search for meaning in the midst of a free-fall from the destitution of "success". They think themselves happy even while unaware they are growing distant from perplexed spouses unable to be heard above the din of distractions. They work harder to acquire more resources in which they place a false hope, a hope that the distraction of all the things they are building—e.g., an elaborate garden water feature—will provide relief from the hole their lives have become because they haven't watered their souls with the sacraments God gives to sustain us in hope, joy and love.

Without grace, work becomes a pair of cement shoes. In such times of vulnerability, God whispers to the soul to come home. Such lost souls need the abrupt witness of Catholics who are willing to open their eyes and hands to the need of a brother or sister who has been made resistant to any invitation to wholeness in these times overrun by charlatans promising fulfillment if only you buy their get rich (happy, successful, beautiful, sexy, etc.) quick schemes.

The lost need brothers and sisters who are willing to risk inviting someone to come to Mass, or who are willing to simply offer to pray for that person in need. I have yet to meet anyone who has voiced outrage at the gentle offer to pray for him or her. They may appear puzzled or startled at first, even unsettled by an offer to pray for him/her, but no one has said it would be a waste of time or rejected a sincere and humble offer of prayer.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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