| Shepherds of Christ
February 19, 2009
February 20th Holy
The Novena Rosary
You can help put the Blue Book V
in the hands of 1,000 people
we need $1,100 postage for this
It is ready to go
You can help put Fr. Joe's homily
book in the hands of
1,000 priests -- it costs $1,100
This can help 1,000 parish priests
talk about Covenant for Lent
Please help us
It is ready to go
Call Kathleen 1-888-211-3041
We have this card telling priests about
Fr. Carter's books
Fr. Joe's homily books
Rita's Mass Book
This will help priests and bring in money --
$10.00 a book
4 states that is 11,700
priests for $1,700.00 postage
Response to God's Love Book
PLEASE HELP US
These are trying times
in 2004 the hurricanes ravaged
Florida - people lost their homes
5 Years LATER
now look at the housing market
people losing homes
LISTEN TO JESUS
who is speaking
Fr. Carter had a dream.
July 31, 1994
Words of Jesus to Members of
Shepherds of Christ Associates:
"My beloved priest-companion, I intend to use the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, and the movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates, in a powerful way for the renewal of My Church and the world.
"I will use the newsletter and the chapters of Shepherds of Christ Associates as a powerful instrument for spreading devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart.
"I am calling many to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. To all of them I will give great blessings. I will use them as instruments to help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. I will give great graces to the members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. I will call them to be deeply united to My Heart and to Mary's Heart as I lead them ever closer to My Father in the Holy Spirit."
- Message from Jesus to Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Founder, as given on July 31, 1994,
feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)
October 13, 1994
The Birth of the Full Ministries
of the Shepherds of Christ
"I wish to share with you part of a message which Jesus gave us on October 13, 1994. The message tells us about the expansion of the Shepherds of Christ movement:
'My beloved priest-companion, today I come to you with another mission. I am asking you to establish Shepherds of Christ Ministries. At My request you have already begun the priestly newsletter, "Shepherds of Christ", and the prayer chapters, Shepherds of Christ Associates...
'I am giving you this message on this day, the 77th Anniversary of the Great Apparition at Fatima, because of the close connection between the Shepherds of Christ movement and the Fatima message. The Fatima message is centered in devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart, especially in consecration to Our Hearts. Shepherds of Christ Ministries is also centered in devotion to Our Hearts. I will use Shepherds of Christ Ministries as a great instrument in helping to bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. When this occurs, My Church and the world will be experiencing the great era of peace promised by My Mother at Fatima.
'Today, then, October 13, 1994, the 77th Anniversary of the Great Apparition at Fatima, marks the birth of Shepherds of Christ Ministries. I pour forth the great love of My Sacred Heart to all. I am Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the flock.'
"Jesus has told us that Shepherds of Christ Ministries includes: the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, Shepherds of Christ Associates prayer chapters, various publications, including books, whatever else Our Lord directs us to undertake.
"As members of Shepherds of Christ Associates, you are an extremely important part of Shepherds of Christ Ministries. You have given great joy to the Heart of Jesus by responding to His invitation to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. As He draws you closer to His Heart and to His Mother's Heart as Associates members, He will fill you with an ever-increasing experience of His love, peace, and joy."
- From In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Newsletter of Shepherds of Christ Associates
by Fr. Edward J. Carter S.J., Volume 1, No. 1, 1995. p. 2.
Given February 18, 2009
Writing by Rita Ring
Bearing witness means others see
something we are witnessing to.
Love is the essence of the Spiritual
life. We are commanded to love God and
to love others as ourselves.
Colossians 3: 14
Over all these clothes, put on love, the perfect bond.
In seeing through the eyes of God
we must be loving — God is love —
if we are to see through God's eyes
we see with eyes of love.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
Though I command languages both human and angelic—if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains—if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned—if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.
Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.
As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.
The Blue Books were letters of Jesus'
love given to us. Jesus loved us so much
He died on the cross. The word Jesus
said for 6 weeks constantly is hungry —
hungry for the love of God — Jesus gave us
the letters of His love in the Blue
Books to feed the hungry souls.
We see with tainted vision because
of the fall of Adam and Eve. We see God
with tainted vision, we see others with
tainted vision, we see ourselves with
In the Blue Books, Jesus tells us
not only the great love of His Sacred
Heart — He tells us of the vision of
God — He gives us vision for our brothers
looking through God's loving and just
eyes. God tells us about His love for
us, our talents —
Where imperfect others told us many
untrue things about ourselves and
then we can tell ourselves for 40 or 50
years untrue things about ourselves
seen through tainted eyes of others —
God tells us about our talents, how
special we are to Him in His letters
of love in the Blue Books.
In the Blue Books, Jesus, tells us
about how satan focuses on ourselves —
satan does not want us to be selfless —
self-assured, loving God — So Jesus
unveils the workings of satan in
these writings as He tells us about
the depth of His love in the
Divine Mysteries — unveiling more
and more these truths and showing the
love of His most Sacred Heart.
I see more and more how God wants
to lead us to this era of peace — I
see more and more how God wants
individuals to love Him and be united
to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
We are to witness to others with
our lives — to bring the love of Jesus
to others with a holy, humble heart —
docile, loving, united — working with
others in love and unity — settling conflicts
to do God's work in love.
One put in charge who shrinks
from problems and then does a fast decision
by himself is not seeing the Plan of God —
working in union and obeying those
over them — being grateful for God's
direction and love and reporting upward,
catching the vision of God and
living as He intends under the guidance
of the Holy Spirit.
We should live in our homes,
communities, mastering the power
of love, unity, prayer united in the
Hearts of Jesus and Mary and together
at the retreats united to the Mass.
I see the world as one.
I see this era of peace Mary
promised at Fatima — I dream
for a commitment of love and holiness —
witnessing to the Gospel, following in
Jesus' footsteps who forgives us our
sins and failings, but we must
be truthful in all we do — witnessing
to how we live united in the Hearts of Jesus and
Mary and united with each other in mind
and heart — doing the will of God in
The commitment of each should be
given as Christ who went to the cross —
with vigor and love for His souls and likewise
we witness to the Gospel — loving first
our God and loving others as ourselves —
This is not a business — it is
to spread the love of the 2 Hearts to
the world — to pray for the priests,
the Church and the world —
There should be excitement to be married
to Jesus, to serve in this Movement called
by Jesus — a willing spirit inside filled
with vibrancy and love —
Living life — living a virtuous
life — it should be full of vigor
and love and obedience — recognizing
how God has called us — not as
spectators, but to witness — to be
active — not sit back and wait and
do nothing expecting others to wait
Jesus asks for specific things —
Give Him what He asks for in love —
If for 3 months of every year we are
inactive we are doing our own will
25% of the time — the rest
of the time our inactive energy —
teaches others our slothful attitude —
we witness - not to what God wants,
but in fact — DRIVE people
away who come excited — led by
Jesus, reading Blue Books, daily
messages, getting prayers and
knowing of the image of Mary appearing
7 1/2 years on the building and
We with passive-aggressiveness
can send them away by
our awful witness that
this is nothing and we aren't
getting nothing —
Is that fair when Jesus called us all —
when Fr. Carter gave his life
when Jesus has given messages for
18 years —
And Jesus wants the hungry souls
to read His letters of love and
He called you to SERVE
HIM and spread this —
Why not give Jesus what He wants —
Pope John Paul II said to
do it because Jesus
wants it —
"JOY of PROFESSION"
"JOY of Vocation
Proclaiming our love to Jesus and
others as God commands in
the greatest commandment
Matthew 22: 36-40
'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?' Jesus said to him, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.'
Do you see the screaming at the
Jesus called me to know His emotion —
Sing His songs
Be His leader and prophet
He called you too — how can you
not recognize how strong is the
commission in baptism
I have told you from a heart full
of love for you and Jesus — read the
letters of His love — read the daily
CALL <——————> RESPONSE
Respond in love
You can create the new era of
love God wants —
The Era of Peace
Jesus has called you to help me
to spread this — to help to bring to
completion the mission Mary began
This great era built on faith and
with our prayer to help bring about
this era of peace and love.
The world is hungry for this love —
Jesus gave us this Movement to
spread love — to give — to serve — to
help others —
to give them the Mighty Medicine
Why do you think Mary appeared on
the building in Clearwater —
We are called to prayer — God lifts
us to such heights — He loves us
so much He gave me letters of His
love. Out of love — God remains
with us truly present in the Eucharist
in China, Indiana exposed —
Love is our vocation
God is love
God gave us these songs —
Read the words
God told us to sing this song to Him
These are Jesus' love songs
God has called us to build the
Kingdom of God
We are to bring the Good News of the
Gospel and witness —
Please help me to circulate
Fr. Joe's book
This is spreading the Gospel
These Gospel values show the experience
of life — we witness and show
others how we live a holy life
how we are growing in the
spiritual life —
how we are more and more like
we show the way of love of
Jesus in our lives —
In the Shepherds of Christ as a leader and
members we are to have a prayer life in which
we are united deeply and we witness to
Jesus and promote the Gospel —
we proclaim what our Catholic faith
means to us —
We are actors —
Not like the guy getting one talent
and hiding it under a bush —
We are to live a virtuous life
and show people how we walk
in Jesus' footsteps — loving and
living the Gospel values, obeying
We should be teaching the teachings
of Jesus by how we live, how we
act, how we love —
That people know about Jesus
because we are Christians who
love and He lives in us.
Fr. Carter had a dream.
Help us publish this and send to the
end of chapter 8
Excerpt from Response to God's Love by Fr. Edward J. Carter, S.J.
The Christian Encounters Others and the World
In various ways, we have already discussed the Christian's encounter with others and the world (see chapter 3, for example). We now wish to continue this theme of encounter with greater specificity and extensiveness.
The true Christian is imbued with consciousness of others. That is to say, the true Christian is keenly aware that, to a great degree, God intends each of us to press on toward maturity in the spiritual life through a proper encounter with others. Indeed, the Christian imperative reminds us that we are to walk life's path, not in isolation, but hand in hand with our fellow human beings.
To authentically encounter others we must be properly aware of who they really are; we must, in short, be able to penetrate beyond surface appearances, which may or may not be appealing to us, and contact others in their core existence. When we are truly in touch with others at the core of their beings, we are simultaneously aware of their awesome dignity. We are conscious that these persons are created and redeemed by God in his love. Fortified with this proper awareness, we are thus in a position to relate to them as we should.
In order to be in touch with the inner self of others, we must be aware of or in touch with our own inner or true self. This awareness, in turn, is an awareness that our self is likewise made in the image of God, that it has been divinized in Christ and is to be oriented toward God and neighbor. Here, then, we see the profound interaction between the three awarenesses and loves—awareness and love of God, self, and neighbor. As Christians, consequently, we should have a maturing sense of how our existence is, in varied ways, profoundly interlinked with the existence of others. This feeling of union with others is not limited to those we directly encounter, but, in some sense, is directed to all members of the human family.
Let us now consider some of the main attitudes that the Christian should maintain and develop in his or her dealings with others. We will build upon the very basic attitude we have already mentioned—that we must always try to be aware of the true self of others, the self that has been created and redeemed by God's love. This awareness, in turn, calls forth our own love for them.
In dealing with others, we must strive to maintain the balance, so delicate at times, between independence from others and dependence on them. We must, on the one hand, humbly realize that in so many varied ways we consistently depend on others. Have you ever tried to analyze the many, many people you depend on to make it through a very ordinary day? Have you ever tried to enumerate all the people involved—most of whom you don't even know—in putting a simple meal before you?
The consciousness of our dependence on others narrows into much sharper focus, of course, regarding those we encounter daily in a more direct fashion. The members of our families, our friends, our coworkers—these are some of the people we immediately think of as we reflect upon the mutual interdependence that exists among fellow human beings. We depend on such people in a special way for the growth opportunities of loving and being loved, of serving and being ministered to, of affirming and being affirmed—in short, for all the opportunities of variously giving and receiving.
If, however, we must, on the one hand, strive to maintain a sense of proper need for others, we must, on the other hand, couple this with a thrust toward independence. To have an attitude of healthy dependence on others is a main ingredient for true personality growth; to maintain a morbid need for others, however, is a serious obstacle in becoming the persons we are destined to be. We should never become slavishly dependent on the company of others, their love, the attention they give us, the approval they give to us, our ideas, or our work. It is, of course, always very pleasant to receive love, attention, and approval; all this, however, must occur within the framework of God's will for us. We must constantly strive to lovingly do his will at all times and in all circumstances. This is the all-embracing and all-necessary imperative that permeates every facet of our being. When we live according to this imperative, we gladly and gratefully receive love, attention, and affirmation from others when it is forthcoming; what is more, we realize that to be offered this is a part of God's plan for us. If, however, it is not forthcoming at any one time, we courageously continue to live as we think God intends, aware that, in his loving faithfulness, God will compensate for what currently appears to be a lack of human support.
Early in our discussion of the Christian's encounter with others, we should obviously say a few direct things concerning the core attitude of love, a trait that should permeate all other attitudes. It is well to begin by observing a phenomenon of our culture concerning love: Many persons who choose marriage say they do so out of a desire to be loved. Notice, they say that they marry out of a desire to be loved, not to love. In fairness to these persons, perhaps we should presume that they realize they in turn must also offer love. Yet, is it not revealing that they explicitly mention as the reason for marrying a desire to be loved? Could there be a close correlation between this phenomenon and the extraordinarily high divorce rate that prevails in our culture? If it is common that both partners enter marriage more from a need to receive love than from a desire to give it, do we have to look further for the reason to explain why so many marriages are plagued with various degrees of unhappiness?
We should realize that all of us are in danger of falling into the above temptation. Whether we are married people, celibates in the priestly and religious life, or single persons in the world, all of us have to be aware lest we be more concerned with receiving love than in giving it. God wants us to receive love, and we have a need to receive love; however, we must not allow this legitimate desire to degenerate into a morbid preoccupation whereby we always enumerate all the different ways that others should be manifesting love toward us while, at the same time, we ourselves might be guilty of neglecting numerous opportunities for loving them. If our main concern is to love others rather than to be loved by them, I think we will more often than not be surprised at the love others show us over a lifetime. Nonetheless, even in the event that we might feel slighted in this regard, our vocation as Christians is eminently clear: we ourselves must continue to love even when it is extremely difficult to do so, thus following the example of Jesus who loved even those who nailed him to the cross.
As maturing Christians we should be assimilative individuals. In various ways, we must be able to absorb from others, not in an artificial way that does violence to our uniqueness, but in a manner that actually enhances our uniqueness. Our wonderful privilege is to assimilate ever more and more the truth, the goodness, the beauty of God himself by, among other ways, realizing that God is variously reflected through all the human persons he has created. Just as we are created in God's image—and thereby are reflective of his perfections—so also are all others. When all humans are true to God's designs, all do indeed provide various opportunities to one another for personality growth. All of us, I am sure, can recall more than one instance in which we felt especially inspired to become better persons because we have encountered certain individuals.
The preceding discussion easily leads us to another trait that should characterize our dealings with others—namely, we should be evocative persons. By what we are and say and do, we should evoke, or call forth for further development, the truth, the goodness, and the beauty that is inherent in each human person. When we encounter others, we should want to aid, not hinder, them in their quest for personal growth. We are evocative persons in various ways: by offering appropriately affirming words of encouragement and commendation; by simply being kind to others; by wanting sincerely to share others' joys and sorrows; and by helping others realize that they are unique individuals with a unique mission to fulfill. These and other ways—which, again, should all be infused with appropriate love—are constantly available to us; collectively, these ways are a constant reminder to us that we can be evocative personalities not only on rather rare and so-called special occasions, but also on the special occasion of every day, for, indeed, each day is a precious gift from God.
In encountering others, we must, of course, be aware that we should not strive to make others into replicas of ourselves. In being both sources of assimilation for others and evocative factors in their lives, we must constantly shun the temptation to try to make them like us. Although we hope that others will benefit from encountering our positive characteristics, the process of growth—whether we ourselves or others are a source of it—must be accomplished according to each one's uniqueness. As a matter of fact, the more we aid others in growing, the more their uniqueness will become manifest. This principle is particularly applicable in close personal encounters such as deep friendship and marriage. In such instances, we must all the more resist the temptation to make the other more and more like us.
Communication is obviously a very important element as people deal with one another. A dominant problem plaguing numerous marriages and families is a lack of communication between the spouses themselves, between the parents and children, and among the children themselves. Obviously, a lack of communication also causes problems between friend and friend, between employer and employee, between teacher and student. There is no need to continue the list—your own experience can add example after example.
Authentic communication requires a willingness on the part of the parties involved to appropriately share ideas, problems, ideals, joys, and sorrows. Words are obviously involved, but not all words are helpful. We must therefore strive to discern which words are helpful and which words are not—a task that is not always easy. Further, the increasing quantity of words is not always the measure of progressive communication; sometimes the more the words are increased, the more the communication suffers. What matters most is the quality of the words that are spoken, the motivation that prompts them. Also, not all those who are involved have to speak and listen equally. If we attentively try to evaluate all the circumstances—including the different personalities involved—we will tend to contribute our appropriate share of listening and speaking. Furthermore, we must always remember that communication occurs in ways that are over and above the spoken word. Finally, we should realize that authentic communication must be rooted in the mutual respect and love that should guide all our dealings with each other.
Our ability to contribute to the process of communication is, in turn, enhanced by our emphatic attitude—that is, our ability to enter into the feelings, the ideas, and the experiences of others. An empathic attitude is another trait of the true Christian. We can grow in this spirit of empathy by realizing that many of our own experiences are also the experiences of others. If we experience the desire for love and acceptance, so do others; if we feel the pangs of loneliness, so do others; if we have to fight lethargy and boredom, so do others; if we have to struggle with despondency, so do others; if we desire words of encouragement, so do others. If we continue to grow in the spirit of empathy through a consistent realization that, in so many ways, we all share a common lot, then all the types of personal encounters we experience will correspondingly be enhanced.
The true Christian also realizes that special love and concern for a few should proportionately and appropriately deepen love and concern for all others. This, then, is a very good criterion to apply to special relationships—for example, friendship and marriage—to determine whether they are all that they can and should be. Do these relationships expand my horizons, my concern, my love? Do they help me be more sensitive to the fact that God has created all of us brothers and sisters to one another—whether we are black, white, brown, or whatever? Or, on the other hand, do these relationships narrow my love and attention almost exclusively to the special few involved? If the former description characterizes us, we have cause for rejoicing; if the latter description characterizes us, then we should be concerned and attempt to correct the failing.
At this stage of our discussion concerning the Christian as he or she encounters others, it has become evident that many different attitudes, factors, and circumstances are involved. We realize, therefore, that we constantly need a sense of perspective in the whole matter. Sometimes we have to strive mightily to preserve perspective in our various and diversified dealings with others because all sorts of feelings are involved. Moreover, in very close relationships, we must adopt special means for preserving perspective because these types of relationships demand special involvement and, thus, include more and deeper feelings. Special relationships, therefore, obviously test our sense of perspective more often and more diversely than other, less intimate types of personal encounter.
Having already alluded to friendship, it seems opportune to make a few observations concerning this very special kind of relationship. Friendship is one of God's greatest gifts. It is a type of personal encounter that befits any age and any vocation or state of life. One of the beauties of friendship is the special type of love that is involved. Two people become friends and remain friends because they mutually want to do so. In friendship, there are no juridical bonds as there are in marriage and family life. In real friendship, this special freedom that both parties possess regarding the initiation and maintenance of the relationship does not instigate insecure feelings, but rather enhances the encounter with a special kind of splendor.
One of the other beauties of friendship is the obvious fact that a person may have more than one friend. For various reasons, however, it seems that, for most people, deep friendship is possible only with a relatively few. Whatever the case might be, a person should not view his or her multiple friendships as being in conflict with one another. A person's various authentic friendships, all providing their own opportunities for growth, clothe the person with a maturing richness of personality that increasingly contributes to the health and vitality of each of the friendships in particular.
Close friends stand side by side and together walk the path of life. Secure in the other's acceptance and love, each feels a sense of relief that he or she does not need to maintain any kind of facade. Each is encouraged to be and to become according to the real, the true self. Far from hampering the proper unfolding and developing of each one's personality, the friendship offers many diverse opportunities for the maturing of each other's uniqueness. Indeed, each person feels that without the other he or she may not have grown so well in certain facets of self-knowledge; each person feels that without the other he or she may not have grown or become in certain ways at all.
Close friends share many things. They share life's ideals and goals, for example, and in this sharing feel encouraged to achieve a greater realization of their ideals and goals. Close friends share each other's sorrows, and in this sharing the sorrows become much more bearable. Close friends share each other's joys, and in this sharing the joys become greatly increased. Close friends share each other's failures, and in this sharing they gain the strength to rise and try again. Close friends also share each other's successes, and in this sharing are encouraged to fulfill more and more their mission, their work in life.
Each one of us, then, has many reasons to thank God for the wonderful gift of friendship, for, indeed, friendship has in so many diverse ways helped us to be and to become. In so many diverse ways, the gift of friendship has helped us live the paschal mystery of death and resurrection. Truly, it has helped us bear the dark, the difficult, the worrisome aspect of life with greater equanimity and courage; likewise, it has helped us experience the bright, the pleasant, the exuberant side of life with greater joy.
Our dealings with others take place within the overall context of the world order of things. We and they are members of the secular city, the temporal order. If we love others, we must be concerned about the type of world they live in. We arrive, consequently, at another dimension of our discussion about our encounter with others—each of us has a responsibility toward the world order.
The following Scripture passage strikingly tells us how much God loves his creation:
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have
for what you hated, you would not
And how could a thing remain, unless
you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been
called forth by you?
God calls us to share in his love for his creation. The Christian should have a deeper love for the world than the nonbeliever. All that is good and true and beautiful, all that we humans reach out for in authentic hope, all the possibilities for our earthly progress, all the worthwhile and enthusiastic dreams of the human heart for a better world—yes, the Christian should yearn more deeply for all this than the nonbeliever. Why? Because the Christian knows that mankind and this world belong to Christ. The Christian knows that mankind's pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful is ultimately a pursuit of Christ. The Christian knows that any authentic step forward that mankind takes marks a deepening of the Christic evolutionary process whereby mankind and this world are more fully united to the center and crown of the universe—Christ himself.
Because the world belongs to Christ, the Christian should feel at home in his or her secular involvement. Obviously, there is a sinful dimension to the world—there are murders, rapes, and thievery; there are hatreds, gross injustices, lies and calumnies, blatant sexual promiscuity, and selfish lust for power; there is serious neglect of duty, and a hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. The sinful element of the world, however, should not make us blind regarding its basic goodness and beauty.
Obviously, we do not love and embrace the world's sinful dimension. A "holy sadness" should touch us when we reflect upon the moral depravity that defiles the world's Christic image. We do not refuse secular involvement, however, because the world's sinfulness makes life unpleasant at times. We must often behave in a way that is different from the way much of the world thinks and acts, yet we must be different in a way that does not make us shirk our responsibility toward the secular.
The contribution that the Christian makes toward the Christic development of the secular city is important in any age. Because of the special times in which we live, however, the importance of the contemporary Christian's efforts is heightened. We live in an age of great and numerous and complex problems, but an age that is also great in many kinds of achievements, an age that is on the threshold of even greater accomplishments.
We live in a world of many contradictions. We are currently witnessing material growth at a rate that past ages would have thought completely impossible. Modern human beings have given evidence of their control over their material environment in countless ways. Humans have landed on the moon and will also land on other planets. Modern science and technology have afforded contemporary humans numerous comforts, conveniences, and opportunities for progress in various dimensions of their existence. Despite all this material progress, however, despite all the great scientific and technological advances, there are still millions of men, women, and children the world over who are plagued by hunger, poverty, and disease.
Modern humans are achieving an ever greater control over life, marvelously increasing life expectancy, but they are also developing weapons that can quickly destroy the entire human race.
Moreover, as a result of recent technological advances, modern humans can have many of their desires fulfilled. In the depths of the human heart, however, there is often a restless stirring, a restless desire, a desire that cannot always be articulated, but of which contemporary men and women are aware.
People of today live in an age that affords wonderful opportunities for deepening the bonds of world brotherhood, of world community. International systems of communication, travel, and commerce are promoting a growing sense of mutual interdependence among nations. At the same time, however, there are signs of division—there are wars between nations and internal forces of division within the same nation, that is, division between the rich and the poor, the young and the old, and division between the races.
There is a cry for personal freedom the world over—a cry the likes of which has never been heard before—and this is good. Often, however, freedom is being misused, and this abuse of freedom by some has resulted in the violation of the freedom of others.
There are many indications of the love of mankind for fellow humans. Our present times are replete with examples of persons extending themselves in aiding others. There are, however, numerous examples of how contemporary men and women have hardened their hearts regarding the needs of their fellow humans.
This brief glance at modern men and women and their world allows us to quickly view the complexities of our contemporary society. We see bright rays of brilliant accomplishments accompanied by unmistakeable signs of serious failure. We see that there are wonderful possibilities for growth and progress, possibilities that modern men and women can transform into actual accomplishments. We also see, however, the very real and stark possibility that all this could end in a cosmic heap of ashes—if there should occur that deadly combination of the following: lust for power and domination, hatred, misuse of freedom, irresponsibility, and disregard for human life and dignity.
This is the world in which we contemporary Christians live—a world that is an amazing mixture of that which is good and beautiful and brilliant, and that which is sinful and ugly and dreadful. We have the privilege and responsibility of shaping this contemporary world according to its Christological imprint. Jesus put this image of himself upon the cosmic order by the way he lived his life among us. We have to aid in directing our fellow humans and their values along the path that has been made by the footprints of Jesus of Nazareth—a task that is not always easy. There are so many forces in today's world that work against Christ, his message, and the order he came to establish. But are we going to shirk the challenge? Are we going to allow present possibilities for a further pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful to be thwarted by the forces of evil, diverted along paths that are not worthy of men and women?
As we labor with Christ in helping him bring the work of creation and redemption to completion, we should not become discouraged by the fact that mankind and the temporal order seem to be less Christian than they were previously. We should not be disheartened at the signs that Christianity seems increasingly to be a diaspora religion. We should not become fainthearted in our efforts for Christ because of the possibility that official Christianity might become less influential in today's world.
Although we see these and other signs that seem to portend difficult times for Christianity, let us not become discouraged. We must realize that there is an external and obvious manifestation of Christianity in the world, and there is a hidden or anonymous dimension. Men and women who are not publicly professed Christians can be coming closer to Christ without actually realizing it. In fact, the entire temporal order can mature in its Christianization process in a very quiet and hidden way—so quiet and so hidden that even we Christians can hardly recognize what is actually happening. There is, then, what can be called an anonymous Christianity.
There is only one world order, and it has been established in Christ. Every person is offered salvation, but this is Christic grace, Christic salvation. The temporal order of mankind also comes under this Christic influence. If there is to be the authentic progress of this order, it must be a progress in Christ. The Christic influence, then, reaches out and touches every human person, every authentic human value. Regardless of how many persons realize what is happening in Christ to themselves and to the entire world order, it is definitely happening. Consequently, our Christ-oriented efforts for mankind and this world are really effective, even though they are so hidden and mysterious at times.
We each contribute to the shaping of a better world according to a variety of circumstances: the young, for example, contribute their enthusiasm; the elderly contribute their mellowed wisdom; the conservative contribute their concern for timeless values; and the progressive contribute their penchant for change and adaptation to contemporary exigencies. Some work within the confines of a clean and quiet office; others work amid circumstances charged with potential explosiveness. Some perform, claiming the attention of the public eye; others labor in hidden ordinariness. Some must fight the boredom that routine work tends to generate; others must maintain high-level awareness amid the dangers of high-risk occupations. Whatever the task and its circumstances in the secular city might be, however, the imperative is the same for all of us—namely, to be where God wants us. Only in this way will our encounter with others and the world truly produce growth for all concerned.