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10-crucifix

Stay true to the values of Christ, not the shifting sands of modernity

It can be hard to resist temptations during Lent, but Catholics must uphold the teachings of the Church, writes Fr Michael Kane.

Last week I had the joy of celebrating First Confession with our Primary Three children.

It’s heart warming to see these young children excited and eager to meet the forgiving Lord in the Sacrament. This is something we lose too easily as we grow older and apparently wiser.

The trust and enthusiasm of these children is, for me, a great tonic for the cynicism which can take root in us as we grow older.

The weeks of preparation for the Sacrament are equally rewarding for a priest, visiting the children in school and speaking with them about the importance of saying sorry to God and others.

I like to remind them that delivering the words perfectly is of secondary importance to opening our hearts to God’s mercy and forgiveness.

These little ones have no fear about saying their sins to God; they are only nervous that they might forget the words of the Act of Sorrow.

During these catechesis classes a few of the children were happy to share with their classmates that they had ‘accidentally’ broken their Lenten promise.

Some had given-in to temptation and fallen at the first sight of cakes, sweets or Haribo! One boy told me he was giving up chocolate for Lent.

I felt it opportune to counsel him to wipe the Nutella which was covering his mouth and chin!

It seems the temptations of Lent had already claimed more than a few causalities in Primary Three!

As Catholics, we all face many temptations. There are small temptations, like our Lenten promise, but also more serious examples.

Perhaps the greatest temptation of all today is to adapt and conform to the ways of the world, to adopt contemporary values, rather than the sounds Christian values that have been handed down to us for two millennia.

That is a real temptation for all Christians today, in families, in the workplace and among our friends.

It is especially so for young people who are not so phased by the fast pace of societal change, and who struggle to marry unchanging Gospel values with a modern world which is continually in flux.

It seems that we are constantly bombarded by a message that says: Christian beliefs are out-of-date, judgemental, nasty, irrational, that they belong in the dark ages. ‘Move with the times,’ is the adage of many people today.

This is the common experience of many people I meet. Catholics continually come up against those who are perplexed when we say we live by the teachings of our Faith.

Some are bemused that practicing Catholic parents take their kids to Mass on Sunday rather than football, or when we prioritise the practice of religion over everything else.

We are an anomaly, a contradiction to contemporary culture.

Painfully, many Christians today have given-in to the temptation to bend their values, to make them more palatable, less offensive to others.

How many have turned their backs on God’s commandments, to favour the new commandments of the world?

‘As long as you’re happy,’ some say. You can accept anything, any kind of lifestyle or choice or behaviour or sin ‘as long as you’re happy.’

But rarely is the deeper question asked: is God happy with the way I’m living? Surely this is the first and essential question for believers.

Lent is a season of conversion, a time to fight against these sorts of temptations. It’s a time to turn our hearts back to God and to trust in his ways.

To live according to God’s standards is never easy. It means riding against the tide, it means inviting ridicule even. But God does ask us to be faithful. We either accept the truths of our Faith, or we don’t.

In the end it’s a question of faithfulness or unfaithfulness. It’s a case of listening to the voice of God or the voice of the world.

The Church needs faithful Catholics, true Catholics who hear the ideals of God and strive to live by them—even when it’s difficult and unpopular.

This is not an easy life, or a quiet life, but it is part of the Christian journey. We are called to be resolute in living by God’s unchanging ways and not the shifting sands of man’s ways.

 

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