Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Christ is the Center

     Some may wonder at the picture at the top of my page: Where is it from, and what does it represent? 

     Like the name of the blog itself it came about accidently, or maybe I should say fortuitously. Since the name of the blog, Principium et Finis, refers to Christ I thought a picture of Jesus would be appropriate; better yet, a crucifix, since “I decided to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). As it turns out, I have a nice little wayside crucifix next to my driveway, and my yard looks good  in a Maine-woodsy sort of way, and since it was January there was snow and . . . well, it all came together, and somehow fit.

      How? My sub-heading is: “A Catholic husband and father trying to live the faith in a post-Christian world.” So what does a post-Christian world look like? It’s a world where Christ used to be accepted by everyone as the center of all things (even if not everyone acted like it), but is now pushed to the side, as the crucifix is at the side of the picture. The culture around him has grown cold to his message (snow), and the statue of his First Disciple, the Blessed Mother, knee deep in snow and far from the foot of his cross, is like his followers who feel isolated in an increasingly hostile environment. This is the post-Christian world.

      The unhappy fact that we are truly living in such a world is the theme of many of my posts here, whether I’m looking at poetry that depicts reality as random and pointless (here), or a movie director who seems incapable of understanding the world-view of Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien (here), or moral relativists who try to draft St. Thomas Aquinas into their crusade to abolish the moral law (here).  My purpose is not to wallow in negativity, but understand the dimensions of the battle that confronts us, which after all is “not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). Most of us in the U.S. or Western Europe have never lived in a society run by people whose vision of the universe has been nurtured in a Godless culture. In an essay I wrote for Catholic Exchange a few years ago (here) I pointed out that even militant atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens were raised and formed in a society that was still largely Christian, and use Christian moral arguments against Christianity itself; they still operate within mostly Christian moral boundaries. What will we see from a generation that has known nothing but a world that is random and meaningless? We’ll find out soon enough.
      Of course, even if that’s where we are right now, we know as Christians that better lies ahead, because we have the consolation of Hope (in the theological, not the colloquial sense), and we know that we don’t fight alone: after warning us of the “Powers and Principalities", St. Paul goes on to say: "Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph 6:13). One way to put on the “armor of God” is to put Christ back at the center, at least in our own lives and families, support others trying to do the same, and spread the Good News where and how we can. I offer Christ-centered alternatives in many of the posts I mention above, and I try to focus on Christ in many of my other posts, such as scripture reflections (here, here), and music clips (here, here) – although sometimes the music is there just because it makes me smile (here).

      So, for now, I start with a picture of the post-Christian world, and we know that individual people, and entire Christian societies, can fall (as have many historic churches in the middle east and North Africa). On the other hand, we are assured by Christian Hope that  Christ will prevail in the end and that we shall see him where he truly is, at the center of all things.