Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Part Two: No Decaf Allowed. Ephesians 6:10-17; The Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost. A Postfestive Day of the Entrance. The Holy Great Martyr Catherine. The Holy Great Martyr Mercury. Return to ByzantineCatholicPriest.com.
The Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.
A Postfestive Day of the Entrance.
The Holy Great Martyr Catherine.
The Holy Great Martyr Mercury.
Return to ByzantineCatholicPriest.com.
3:05 AM 11/25/2013 — Today's Apostolic reading doesn't exactly pick up where last week's left off. We had heard the first half of Chapter Five of Ephesians, in which the Blessed Apostle Paul quotes to the Christians in that cosmopolitan town what we believe may have been a hymn they were singing at baptisms about arising from sleep to be enlightened by Christ; but, he gives it a second meaning for them, reminding them that all is not sweetness and light for the Church of Christ; that they must “wake up and smell the coffee,” as we paraphrased. Thankfully, the Typikon skips the first half of Chapter Six altogether, so we don't have to wrestle with why wives must obey their husbands; instead, it deposits us right in the middle of the chapter, where the Apostle begins to wrap up his letter and summarize it all for them.
He could be Charlemagne giving a pep-talk to his troops before battle, except that he's not. He's an Apostle of Christ, trying to get his spiritual children to realize that they are at war in a very real sense, even though it's not against an enemy of flesh and blood: “It is not against flesh and blood that we enter the lists; we have to do with princedoms and powers, with those who have mastery of the world in these dark days, with malign influences in an order higher than ours” (6:12). Who's he talking about? Remember two week's ago when we focused on the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Heavenly Powers, and made reference to the Revelation of St. John: the Devil is driven out of heaven with his followers and sent to hell, from where they continue to make war against God by proxy, by making war against us, trying with all their might to turn us away from salvation. And Paul is telling his “troops,” if you will, that they have the better weaponry. All the Devil has in his arsenal are the vices: greed, avarice, lust, self-promotion, all of which designed to target the natural appetites that infect our human condition; but the Christian's weapons are made for him by God: the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of God's Word: “Stand fast, your loins girt with truth, the breastplate of justice fitted on, and your feet shod in readiness to publish the gospel....” (6:14).
That survey only focused on one issue; but, as you can guess, the figures are very similar with regard to other issues such as abortion, artificial contraception and gay marriage. And the media love to trumpet these surveys from the roof tops because they prove that Christianity is a spent force in society; that Catholics in particular, no matter how often they go to church, no matter how they make a point of saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” no matter how many of them have Rosary beads or prayer ropes dangling from their rear-view mirrors, are really no different than anyone else. Their religion is just a matter of style, and their churches are nothing more than clubs or social service organizations. And that's why they're dying out: not that the Catholic Church would ever cease to exist, but that it would simply cease to be the Church; it would become very much like what the Episcopalian Church is already: all the trappings of high religion, with vestments and incense and beautiful music, but it doesn't believe in anything.