Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Monday, January 02, 2006

What now? by Msgr. Gregory Smith

One of the talks that I found particularly interesting, motivating, and challenging at the recent conference I attended was a talk given by Msgr. Gregory Smith on relativism in our society and also challenging us to rebel against the culture of relativism and respond to God's call on our life now, not tomorrow, but now. This talk was followed by Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Msgr. Smith is currently studying at the Gregorian in Rome and was in Rome at the time of Pope John Paul II's death and the conclave and had many moving stories to tell of that. He spoke of the lines of people wrapping through his neighbourhood waiting to pass by the Holy Fathers body and say a quick prayer and pay their respects. He said the morning that St. Peter's was opened for people to come see the late Holy Father's body he told the others that were living with him that the line up was three hours long and maybe they should wait until things died down. According to Msgr. Smith he will never live that down (things never did die down and the line-ups ended up being twelve hours long). He said that the line of pilgrims in Rome when Pope John Paul II died was an image that has been indellibly marked in his mind. The outpouring of respect was honouring the message Pope John Paul II carried, truly the message of the Gospel, as much as the pope himself. In all his words and actions, Pope John Paul II's invitation "follow me" was an invitation to follow Christ. According to Msgr. Smith we need to move merely admiring the lives of great people (likely saints) such as Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa and imitate them; we must move from admiration to imitation.

Msgr. Smith then went on to speak of the culture or relativism that has been frequently mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI and was a common subject for Pope John Paul II as well. At the opening of the conclave, then Cardinal Ratzinger, declared that our world is building a dictatorship of relativism who's ultimate goal exists solely of one's own desires and egoisms. According to Pope Benedict (from Dec.8th,2005) relativism causes us to think that someone who does not sin must really be basically boring and that something must be missing from his or her life. In other words, the culture of relativism essentially makes us think that evil is basically a good, that perhaps we need to keep a little evil at least to have our "freedom" from God. Modern man seems to think that something might be missing from the life of a person who does not sin. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that this is a lie, that evil is always poisonous, that it does not uplift but degrades human beings; it harms and belittles them. The person who abandons himself totally in God's hands does not become God's pupet, a boring yes man. He does not loose his freedom, only the person who entrusts himself totally to God has freedom. Abandoing oneself to God is the only way to experience true freedom. To believe in God is to live for God.

After this exhortation, Msgr. Smith led us into Eucharistic Adoration by challenging us to have the courage to ask the question "what now?" What is God calling to you at this very moment? What do I actually need to decide and do in order to respond to the vocation God calls me to? What now, what is it that Christ is asking of me? To all, Christ responds "follow me, follow me all the way, even to the cross." This may sound difficult, but in the words of Christ, and frequently repeated by the late Pope John Paul II, be not afraid.