Today, while my hubby cleared spaces of dried brush and old wood, our 6-year-old ran around enjoying the sun and the chill air; I planted seeds. “As soon as the ground can be worked”, said most of the packets. This was as good a time as any to get started. I’ve had one heck of a Lent, how about you?
Lent means withdrawing into silence, to spend time in communion with our Lord, to listen most of all. And yet this year, out of that silence, many of us were drawn and challenged to speak, almost against our will, like Simon of Cyrene.
The past weeks, we have been hit with news and issues ranging from pizza to cake to the RFRA to Obergefell vs. Hodges, Patricia Jannuzzi, the PCUSA, Archbishop Cordileone, to Dolce and Gabbana, to Ryan Anderson, to divorce. And as we fight here for religious liberty, elsewhere fight for their very existence.
Stepping back and surveying the landscape, these questions appear at the base of the chaos. What is marriage? What is family? What is love? The world asks us to define these things, but no longer is the Christian answer taken at face value, for we have failed. Confronted with horrible examples of this once-respected institution, too many people now look askance at our definition of marriage and family, because it lies in stark contrast to what they live with and see around them daily. It has become more difficult to speak in truth and with charity, because even our truth and charity are suspect. We may speak the same language, but the words come off as gibberish. Our words ring empty and we can’t seem to reach each other’s hearts.
In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI said,
It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.
Whether we can arrive at one answer that works for all remains to be seen. Sometimes cake is just cake; sometimes the cake becomes the cross. As when the Pevensie children got pulled into Narnia without warning, it feels like we are hurtling into something dark and unknown. We want more time to plan out our responses, put together a plan of action, but the time is denied us, because tolerance is over. And yet despite feeling powerless, we crouch down on the ground, kneeling, planting seeds, praying that we’re still making a difference somehow. Let it not be said that we didn’t do or say anything, especially for the voiceless and the persecuted.
As a Catholic homeschooling mom, I look for teachable moments. And this Lent, we have had a hundred thousand of them. But not every moment is a teachable moment. As the seed packet reminded me today, the seeds need to be planted “as soon as the ground can be worked”. Much of the ground we have to work with these days is either yet untilled, or lie frozen under the snow. Some of it will warm up naturally with the sun, others will require more gentle, maybe even rough, digging.
This pithy comment struck me, from King Prawn, over at Ricochet:
The natural question will be: what are we to do now that the ship has sailed? I agree entirely that marriage as understood as a permanent, exclusive, and complementary relationship between a man and a woman fulfilled by the bearing and rearing of children could never have been attacked by gays if it had not already been dismantled almost entirely by straights. Now that we have done this to the institution it sometimes seems a lot hypocritical to man the barricades against assault by those who simply want to share in the despoiled social convention we are only now so protective of.
The world is hurting, begging to know what love is, and all they can see are fragments of truth here and there, with no cohesion or integrity. The message of the Cross seems blurry as of late. Like some I beg for more time, or at least more wisdom. But as Archbishop Chaput reminds us, now’s the time. We hurriedly plant these seeds and point to Christ’s cross, its shadow cast on the ground, in the magnificent light of His Resurrection. Perhaps right now, that’s all we’re called to do. The seeds will grow in His most perfect time.