The times in which we live are often described as “secular.” This word comes from the Latin “saecula” meaning “world.” Hence in saying our age is secular is another way of saying our times are worldly.
We may think it has always been so but such is not the case.
To be sure, it IS the human condition to be a little preoccupied with the world. But previous times have featured a much more religious focus than our own. The Middle Ages were especially known for way in which faith permeated the culture and daily experience. The Rose window to the right presents a typically Medieval Notion: Christ (the Lamb of God) at the center and everything surrounding Him.
In those days the holidays were the HOLY days and one’s understanding of the calendar and the time of year centered around the Church’s calendar of saints and feasts. It wasn’t Winter it was advent, and then Christmastide. Even the word Christmas was ChristMASS. Halloween was the “Een (evening before) all Hallows (All Saints Day). Three times every day the Church bells rang the “Angelus” calling Catholics to a moment of prayer in honor of the incarnation. The Bells also rang summoning Catholics to Mass and vespers. In a previous article in this blog (By Their Buildings You Will Know Them) it was noted that even the architecture of the Middle Ages placed a large church at the center of every town.
Those days were not perfect days but they were more spiritual and the Christians everywhere were constantly reminded of the presence of God by the culture in which they lived. Seldom so today. Many people today almost never hear of God on a day-to-day basis.
But the truth is, God is everywhere. He indwells his creation and sustains every aspect of it. The Scriptures say that Jesus holds all creation together in himself (Col 1:17). Most people think of creation as a sort of machine or closed system in which we live. But that is not the case. Creation is a revelation of and experience of God’s love and providence. Not one leaf falls to the ground without God leading it there. Not one hair of our head is unknown and provided for by God. We are enveloped by God, caught up into his presence.
It is especially sad for young people today. Some of us who are a bit older remember a time when God was more recognized. I remember that we prayed every day in my PUBLIC school until I was in 6th grade.
I remember my 4th grade teacher often reminding me when I got out of line: “God is Watching!” She also kept a copy of the King James Bible on her desk and the worst thing a student could do was to put anything on top of the Bible. Within seconds Mrs Hicks would scold: “Don’t ever put on top of God’s Word….!” To this day I have a deep instinct never to place anything on top of a Bible. In that same public school we began each day as our Principal, Mr. Bulware read from the Bible, usually the New Testament, and then we prayed the Lord’s Prayer, then followed the Pledge of Allegiance….One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I remember when Christmas (not “winter holidays”) in School was actually celebrated and that we sang religious songs even in public school well into my High School years. I remember our public high school choir singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and many songs with religious subjects. Can you imagine a public school choir singing today “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord” ? Gone are the days.
But we need to teach and help our young people get in touch with God’s presence. Families out to pray grace at meals with their children and have numerous religious images. There ought to be family prayer and observances of the various feasts and seasons of our Church.
Question For Readers: What are some of the websites you might know that are helpful in families staying focused on God? Perhaps there are some devoted to helping Children and Teenagers experience the faith and the cycle of the Church’s year? Perhaps a few of you can also recommend sites that are helpful in this regard.
But the point is that we have to be intentional about placing reminders of God’s presence in our lives and those of our children.