Friday, March 30, 2012
Feast of Saint John Climacus
Good morning. I was reminded today of the importance and sanctity of a truly loyal friendship. This gift is just so incredibly precious, so precious that if one truly possesses a real friend, one who is committed through thick and thin it is beyond measure in its worth. I happened upon a friend’s Facebook Status which quoted a line from the E.B. White classic Charlotte's Web . "You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing.” This delightful reminder of the value of a loving and dedicated relationship along with the passage from today’s Gospel was cause for me to consider the importance of loyalty and commitment, a commodity which is often hard to find in today’s world of feel-good relativism.
It seems such things as commitment, loyalty, and fidelity are rare indeed in a culture which increasingly places more faith in the values of society than they do in the teachings of the Church or the Gospel. This struggle with commitment and loyalty is so clearly witnessed amongst the institution of marriage these days. There exists such fuzziness among couples these days involving their sense of direction and understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage; there is so often a lacking unity of purpose in their relationships, and more importantly there appears to be a lacking sense of their relationship transcending beyond themselves as a covenantal relationship with God. There frequently exists a lacking appreciation for the availability of sacramental graces toward working through whatever challenges couples might encounter, instead they resign themselves to a posture of futility. “He’ll never change!” And off they go to an ever eager awaiting divorce lawyer and a just as eagerly awaiting secular world to count their losses.
Recent discussion over the discouraging outcomes with marriage amongst others who likewise encounter the dismal success record of the Church to counter the ravages of a feel-good secular culture seems to point to poor catechesis and inconsistent preparation amongst young couples currently approaching the altar as a major contributing cause for the high number of divorces. There is likewise an embarrassing inconsistency within the Church between her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the record number of annulments routinely granted. How to re-instill a sense of commitment, loyalty, and fidelity is uncertain, but it likely needs to start where most things begin—at home—with consistent participation in our faith and through providing opportunities to witness and experience these virtues in our own lives. Research suggests that families who attend Mass every week are six times as likely as those who rarely or never attend to report that their view of marriage has been 'very' informed by their Catholic faith.
So, how do we raise children who can embrace such virtues in a culture where commitment means maybe and fidelity is contingent upon what feels right in the moment? There is no question about it; it is difficult, but not impossible. Certainly one place to begin is focusing on maintaining a solid prayer life. Our saint for today, Saint John Climacus suggests prayer to be the key to happiness: “My God, I pretend to nothing upon this earth, except to be so firmly united to you by prayer that to be separated from you may be impossible; let others desire riches and glory; for my part, I desire but one thing, and that is, to be inseparably united to you, and to place in you alone all my hopes of happiness and repose.” We begin by examining our own lives; do our lives as parents reflect a sense of commitment, of loyalty and fidelity? There’s no place like home for teaching the values and skills our children will need for successfully navigating their way through life. Yes, there’s no place like home. Make a great day!
Today we recall the good life, gifts, and work of Saint John Climacus. 7th century monk and author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent
Posted by Donald Gatwood at 9:16 AM