Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We have to Change First

"Our modern culture is an obstacle to the religious life but it is the reality we have to face." This was the headline on the write-up on one of the participants to a symposium sponsored by the research center of the bishops on religious education in our present environment. The Catholic Times reported on the results of the symposium.

A predominantly secular culture, the sole reliance on science to uncover the truths of life, and capitalism were among the major challenges to the new evangelization discussed by participants to the symposium. The article considered secularism and the scientific world view  the result of a capitalistic way of life. This gave birth to problems, he said, like despondency and suicide, and the resulting emphasis on the need for a healing culture, separate from that provided by religion.

The first talk by a seminary professor explored the problems that come from a secularism devoid of the religious, the ascendency of atheism, the functionality of religion, and the scientific mind cast that evangelization has to face. The professor suggested that nothing is gained from continuing to see the culture we live in as the enemy, and to be satisfied in merely criticizing that culture.

Paradoxically, this culture enables many, he said, to see the value of the material creation and its sacredness, the importance of living fully here and now, and seeing all of nature and the universe with different eyes, eyes with more self-awareness.

Modern culture is not to be seen as the enemy of the Christian culture but to see Christianity as existing within this modern culture. We need to avoid, he added, the objectification of culture, calling it secularism and then criticizing it. He wonders if within the Church itself secularism is not the bigger problem. He wants to know how do we profess our Christianity within this secularist culture and make it vital. If we don't analyze and reflect to discover ways to live within this culture, our criticism will be either empty or hypocritical, he said.

In conclusion, the professor wants us to work with the methods Jesus used, as we search for new programs to implement the new evangelization. Criticism alone is not enough, he said. The Church has to change itself before we can change the world. Church renewal has to come first.

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