IN THE MIDST OF THE WORLD,
WITHOUT BEING WORLDLY.
Guarding of the sight leads to a clean heart.
The Christian has to use the necessary means to protect himself from the huge wave of sensuality and consumerism that seems in our day to be inundating everyone and everything in its path. We are not afraid of the world, for it was in it we received our initial calling to holiness. We cannot run away, because God wants us to be a source of ferment and to have the effect of leaven on our contemporaries. We Christians are an intravenous injection into the bloodstream of society (J. Escrivá, Letter, 19 March 1934). To be in the midst of the world is not, however, to be frivolous and worldly. I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, Jesus said to the Father, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one (John 17:15). We have to be on guard, with a real life of prayer. We should remember that small mortifications – and big ones when they come along or God asks for them – will keep us always alert, just as the soldier takes care not to be overcome by sleep because so much depends on his watchfulness.
The Apostles warned the converts to the Faith to live the doctrine and moral teaching of Christ in a pagan atmosphere rather similar to that of our own times (cf Rom 13:12-14). If anyone were to fail to struggle with determination, he would be swept away by our environment’s climate of materialism and permissiveness. The widespread toleration of modern lifestyles and a popular approval of standards clearly opposed to the moral demands of the Christian Faith and of the Natural Law are now commonplace, even in countries with a long and deep-seated Christian tradition.
The propagators of the new paganism have found an effective ally in the entertainments industry. The influence wielded by the mass media on the opinions of the millions they reach is a vast one. In recent years there has been an ever-increasing proliferation of media productions which for all sorts of different reasons – or for no apparent reason at all – encourage a debasement of taste and an escalating concupiscence that leads to many internal and external sins against chastity. A soul living in that kind of sensual atmosphere would find it not only difficult, but impossible to follow Christ closely… and perhaps even from afar. The indecency and impurity underlying such productions is often accompanied by an attempt to ridicule religion and the holy truths of Christianity. […].
In their preaching the Fathers of the Church used hard words to deter the first Christians from attending immoral entertainments and shows (cf St John Chrysostom, Homilies on St Matthew’s Gospel). Those faithful Christians knew how to do without means of recreation that sat ill with their zeal for holiness or could lead their souls into danger. They avoided such things with ease since it was obviously what the new ideals they had found required of them when they met Christ. Not infrequently, as a result, the pagans would become aware of the conversion of a friend, a relative or a neighbour because he had stopped attending those shows that did not conform or were openly opposed to the discriminating conscience of a person who has found his life in Christ (cf Tertullian, On Entertainment, 24).
Does anything similar happen to us? Do we give up entertainments or going into atmospheres that are unbecoming to a Christian? Do we protect the faith and holy purity of our children or younger brothers and sisters when, for example, there is an unsuitable television programme? Let us ask God for a really Christian sensitivity of conscience that will enable us to turn away firmly, unhesitatingly, from anything that would separate us from him, or diminish our zeal to follow him.
EXCERPT FROM F. FERNANDEZ-CARVAJAL, IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD, VOL. 3, AVAILABLE AT SCEPTER PUBLISHERS.ORG
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