Deacon Jim Miles, CFM in Ann Arbor, MI, writes:
There have been several books published recently lamenting the erosion of social values in the United States, and suggesting strategies for dealing with the challenges facing Christians in what is now called a post-Christian era. This designation is applied primarily to the developed western countries (US, Europe, and the UK), however, given that much of the support given to evangelization in the developing countries is coming from these more prosperous historical bastions of Christianity, and the aggressive efforts of various Muslim sects, Africa and Asia may soon feel the tide turning as well.
One of these books is The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher. Rod, according to what I have learned, started out Methodist, converted to Roman Catholicism, and then moved to one of the Eastern Rite Churches. He is a “Conservative” and based upon what I have read of his book an idealist who feels that our society is on a path he likens to the fall of the Roman Empire. He proposes a solution in his book loosely based on the Rule of St. Benedict.
When we get past all of the rhetoric that paints his bleak picture of our society and political system, a picture I don’t necessarily disagree with, his advice to Christians is to become somewhat isolationistic. Pull back behind virtual monastic walls, forming like-minded small communities that provide mutual support and mutual accountability, insuring that classic Christian values are not eroded within those walls.
What Rod Dreher describes is really just the age-old Christian paradox which says we must stay apart from the world but reach out to it, bringing the Good News to those who need it. There are many ways to live out this paradoxical instruction and Rod Dreher has landed upon the monastic option and tried to apply it to modern living. I believe the process he recommends reflects his own spiritual journey, from protestant to pre-reformation, to pre-Constantine schism. He may eventually arrive at the early Christian communal model.
The Christian Family Movement (CFM) has developed its own response to the eroding secular value system.Read more
At Home with Our Faith
Pentecost Sunday – John 20:19-23
The Risen Jesus announces himself with the same message that angels proclaimed to the shepherds at the beginning of his life, “Do not be afraid!” The essence of the Gospel message can be condensed to that phrase. Jesus brings with him Peace. Jesus comes into the world to dispel fear and death by his very presence among us. Because he lives, we are freed from death. Considering the daily news, we dearly need to recognize the living Lord. He calls the disciples, and us today in our families and at work, to live like we know this is true.Read more
At Home With Our Faith
Reflections on the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday of Easter - John 17:1-11
Before ascending to the Father, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed for the infant Church. The first leaders of our Church were just simple people who might have preferred to remain hiding in the upper room. They were afraid of getting involved. However, Jesus had every confidence in them. He could say of them, "I am glorified in them." Instead of focusing on their weaknesses, Jesus saw their possibilities and enkindled the fire of God's love in their hearts. He will do the same for us, if we are willing.Read more
At Home With Our Faith
Reflections on the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter - John 14: 15-21
In those last precious days the spent with Jesus on earth, the disciples realized how much he meant to them, how much they needed his strength. Jesus promised them a Counselor, the Holy Spirit, who would keep him alive in their hearts and guide them day by day. Jesus continues to show himself to us in those we love and who love us. For you, this person may have been your mom or dad or a grandparent.Read more
Reflections on the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter - John 14:1-12
Jesus makes a promise to his disciples during his final days before the Ascension: ""Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places." He promises that we will always have a home. In your town, some people are struggling day by day; some have no stable home. The Good News of Jesus is for them, too.Read more
At Home in Our Faith -
Reflections on the Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Easter, John 10:1-10
The Christian community could not have endured without some people coming forward to be leaders. The apostles received the great commission from the Lord to be the first shepherds of the flock. They took this call seriously, eventually giving their lives for the Good News. As infant church, really "Jesus communities" within Judaism, grew, more leaders were needed to care for and teach the people to follow him. It was essential that some people answered the call to organize the community and call forth the gifts within it.Read more
At Home in Our Faith - Third Sunday of Easter, Luke 24:13-35
After the trauma of losing Jesus, witnessing his death, and then hearing that he is alive, his disciples were full of confusion and anxiety. What now? Can they believe the testimony of the women who claimed to see him? We relive those troubling emotions again this weekend when we hear the story of two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. They are so cast down that when Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, they don’t recognize him: “but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” The disciples had simply stopped looking for him. Being able to observe reality seems to require some measure of expectant faith. We need to see with the eyes of our hearts.Read more
Second Sunday of Easter - John 20:19-31
Thomas was the hard case. He wasn't satisfied to accept Jesus' resurrection second hand. He wanted evidence. Jesus obliged him.
All of us have people like Thomas in our lives, people we love who are skeptics. They may not have had the benefit of a childhood faith. The joy we have found in following Christ is a mystery to them, or even an annoyance. If God is a loving Father and Christ is alive, you couldn't prove it to them. Their experiences in life have done more to prove the opposite. What will open their eyes?
Fourth Sunday of Lent -- John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
The man born blind cries, "I see!" and yet it will take time before he can really see who Jesus is. His neighbors, used to seeing him as a helpless and hopeless beggar, cant be sure it's the same man when they "see" him healed and full of hope. The so-called wise authorities prefer not to see that a miracle has taken place. They close their eyes to the Light that Jesus is bringing into the world. Closed hearts can be more blind than sightless eyes.
Being members of the Christian Family Movement teaches us to see the world in a deeper, more insightful way that prompts us to take action--we call it Observe, Judge, Act. Our eyes become trained to see beneath the surface, beyond appearances. For Lent, let us ask for new eyes.Read more
Can I get a witness?
Easter - April 16, 2017
Hidden in the upper room, the disciples may have tried to console themselves that Jesus' great moral teaching would live on after him. The poor would surely take heart from his holy memory. Maybe they even started a five-year plan to spread Jesus' teachings to other cities. Or maybe they were wondering how to get their fishing boats back. Just when all seemed lost, Mary burst in with astonishing news: "I have met the Lord!"Read more