Busy day today… We drove in for the first time (took the train the other days) and were able to check into our hotel in the morning. We are at 17th and Chestnut St. – near the epicenter of all that will be happening this weekend. The busyness in downtown Philadelphia is increasing by the moment as the City prepares for Pope Francis. Add to that the excitement the Pope already being in D.C. and now New York and the anticipation has only further increased. People are flocking into the City in droves now, from every direction. Vendors on the streets selling souvenirs, the faithful seeing the sites, it is truly a great scene.
But with all the excitement and anticipation – the reason the Pope is coming here, the reason he has come to this country, in light of what others may say, is because of this World Meeting of Families.
He is coming here because we are here. The D.C. and New York visits, while many lay people got to see him, I think was largely for the politicians. It was largely an appeal to our government and the United Nations. And that is great! Politics has it’s place, and it is necessary. Thats where decisions are made. Any many got to see him. But his visit to Philly is for the families, his people, and for his flock. Here – he will be a pastor, which I think is where he feels most natural. And 2 million of his flock will be here on Sunday. Here, I expect to see an energy and excitement from him that we may not have seen yet on this visit to the U.S. His faithful are here, from the U.S. and around the world. His family is here, and I for one, cannot wait to experience it! Here, in Philadelphia, I expect to experience the New Evangelization, as Scott Hahn said today, “in High Definition!”
My wife and I got to hear Dr. Scott Hahn today speak on the covenant of marriage and the New Evangelization. I must say, his hour long talk was worth the trip in and of itself. I have loved this man’s story, I have loved his books, and he is such an energetic and engaging speaker – we were truly inspired and moved. He talked about how the bible shows us over the ages what the covenant of marriage truly is. That, it is something that is bound through God, and it cannot be broken. A covenant is a binding law. We can choose to accept it or not, but it is God’s law and it cannot be changed, and we cannot undo something that God has done.
An example is with gravity. Gravity is a binding law of science. Paraphrasing what Scott Hahn said, sure, we could pass laws that gravity does not exist, or that we are going to repeal gravity, or change gravity, but sure enough, if someone walks off a building, they will find out that the laws of gravity still exist. Gravity is binding and unbreakable. The same is true for those who have received the Sacrament of Marriage. Marriage, when conducted in the Catholic Church is binding. It is unbreakable. We fail to see the power and grace of God in our marriages, and this is why we fail. This is why we sin. And as Dr. Hahn said, “God hates sin so much, not only because it violates His covenant, but more so because He loves the sinner, He loves us! And He hates what sin does to us!” What an absolutely beautiful way to look at that…
So what can we do to combat this sin? We love our spouses. We love our families. Dr. Hahn goes on to say, Christ made the marriage covenant a Sacrament – which gives us the grace to actually live up to that covenant we make with God and as I wrote yesterday, become who we are.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is failing at this. So many Catholics have become cultural Catholics, or ex-Catholics. As we all have said and read over and over, we each create the Catholic Church that best fits our lives. It is up to us, the faithful, to be the New Evangelists and this New Evangelization is geared towards those “post-Christians, those ex-Catholics” who have strayed away. It’s about restoring the family. Scott Hahn continued, “Pope Francis has continued this New Evangelization in HD!” This is so true. No longer is it up to Bishops or priests or expert theologians to tell us what to do. It is about us – the families – and we know what to do. We just need to do it. We need to build relationships with our families, and not use other things to distract and babysit them while we work on our ambitions. Our ambition needs to be the family, and each other. Pope Francis knows this and he tells us this. He shows us this and he’s taken this to the next level – he’s taken this evangelization to the next level – in High Definition!
We need to follow his lead. If we are to change the world. If we are to change society, it begins right here at home. In each of our homes. And I’ll leave you with a final quote and thought tonight… Dr. Hahn quoted another source (and I apologize, I did not write down their name), but he said – “If Catholics simply lived out the Sacrament of Marriage, in 40 years we would have a Christian society.” And we’re not talking about those people who say they are pro-life, but then cuss out the family of 8 who is being loud in the grocery store. But those who are truly pro-life – caring for the well being of all. We would truly be a society that operates and lives by Christian morals. You don’t have to be Catholic, and you don’t have to be Christian to appreciate Christian morals. They are basic morals for the common good.
Think about that. And think about that in High Definition. We might see things more clearly. And we need to live it out.