The End of Christendom?
Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
The Gospel for this weekend sheds light on the value of persistence, especially as it pertains to persistence in our conversation with God. Persistence in sharing our faith is also a virtue that Christians have been called to throughout the history of the Church. Yet, all that persistence does not seem to be bearing fruit today as most of us would like. It begs the questions, How can we best adhere to Jesus’ command to evangelize?
From about the year 400AD until about 75 years ago, we in the western world have lived under the influence of “Christendom”. What I mean by Christendom is that everything in the culture: its underlying self-understanding, behaviors of individuals, societal norms and even legal systems have been influenced by the truths of the Gospel and by the teaching of Christ’s Church. Even for those who did not believe or go to church, the environment in which they lived was “colored” by the truths revealed by Jesus.
However, that is not the reality we live in anymore. In 1974, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the great American evangelizer, made a shocking statement; he said, “we are at the end of Christendom.” He did not mean that Christianity is dead, but he meant that the culture that is founded on Christian principles is quickly dying. We live in a post-Christian era. Even for those who call themselves Christian, they often live a “luke-warm” Christian life, embracing the values and practices of the secular culture more than the radical life of faith to which Christianity calls believers.
What do you value the most? Is it the truths revealed by Jesus or is it something else? If we want to share the Gospel, we first must value the Gospel. Do you? Do you treasure the truth, that despite your sinfulness, God so loves you that he sent his only begotten Son to die for your salvation, so that you might have the chance to share in the very life of God for eternity? Most of us do not take time to share what we do not value.
We are no longer in “Christendom,” but in a new “apostolic age,” a time that demands a radical commitment to the truths revealed by Jesus and living in a manner that gives witness to the joy and beauty of the Gospel.
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,