Being a Christian in a secularized society

Enrico Finotti

Christmas lights and markets: what a contrast to a liturgical Advent! What we say in catechesis loses all meaning in the streets decorated for ‘feasts’. Should we resign ourselves or rejoice, adapt or resist?

A Catechist

The profane environment seems to do everything to disturb the liturgical journey of the Church, especially in times of greater spiritual density. For example, the sobriety required by the word of God and the discreet growth of an ever more intense light towards Christmas (from the beginning of Advent to Sunday Gaudete and from the Immaculate Conception to the joy of the pre-Christmas holidays) corresponds to a great profane noise, an insistent distraction and almost an extraordinary light ‘pollution’. How to walk fruitfully, according to the liturgy, if in the streets everything is overwhelming and glittering like the ephemeral that stuns? 

A courageous choice has to be made: in church and in the Christian home, it does not have to be like this. The parish priest should watch over a sober decoration, which conforms to Advent.  He ought not to anticipate the display of the crib as does the folkloric and commercial world, but should educate the people who are waiting with respect for the signs provided by the liturgy. While the world remains confounded, the Christian would enter the Church to celebrate the liturgy and would wholeheartedly participate in all the rites that are celebrated at Christmastide, finding joy and refreshment apart from the fatuous life outside: he will meet with the mystery even if the whole world seems deaf. 

The zeal of a priest, capable and determined, with the support of valid collaborators, will be enough to create a new world and offer that peace which, even in the context of a ‘hostile’ environment, can truly arise as an oasis in the church, that is faithful to his identity. Of course, we must stand strong and be led by Christ and his Church rather than the world and its appearances. Crossing the threshold of the temple, the Christian must submit to the school of Jesus Christ and thus he will taste that peace that the world cannot give. But this peace is linked to the holy signs of the Invisible. If these are not respected, nor celebrated in an appropriate way, or occupied by worldly interests, the church loses its flavor, and entering it will be like being in the square. But then the churches will be more and more empty and Christians more and more indifferent.

(From La spada e la Parola. Il liturgista risponde, 2018©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)