More than 80
percent of Americans describe themselves as Christians, and in a
time of war, it's easy to understand why we hear so much about God
and prayer in the news media. War clears away the distractions of
daily life. It focuses us on what we believe, the people we love
and who we are as a nation.
we believe? America rests on the idea that each human being is fundamentally
equal in the eyes of God, and each human life has infinite value.
And whether we acknowledge it or not, why we believe these things
is rooted in the events we celebrate this week.
Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year. These are the days
that define us. They also set us apart. Anybody can enjoy the spirit
of Christmas. Anybody can respect Jesus of Nazareth as an important
religious thinker, or Christianity as a good system of ethics. But
Holy Week is about the raw facts in our faith that make the world
Here are the
facts: God became man. He preached the good news of salvation. We
listened to Him. We rejected Him. We murdered Him. And then He overcame
death, rose from His grave and returned to give us the gift of new
life. And He did all this because He loves us, despite our sins
each one of us.
There is nothing
metaphorical about the cross or symbolic about the Resurrection.
They happened. They're real. Jesus Christ is a teacher, but vastly
more than a teacher He is Lord, Redeemer and the Son of God.
No one, anywhere, ever, is saved except through Him. No
one, anywhere, ever, can come to the Father except through Him.
This is what
Catholics believe and preach. That's what we celebrate this week
and throughout the Easter season. And that's why American Christians,
and Christians around the world, can claim that each life has infinite
value: because God Himself so deeply loved us that He lived, died
and rose again to ransom each of us.
May God grant
each of us the gifts of gratitude and joy this Eastertide, and make
us instruments of His peace!
* * *
instruments of Christ's peace when we carry His Gospel into our
families, our professions, our personal choices and our public actions.
Faith and public service are not separate planets. Our economic
and political choices should always draw direction from our religious
beliefs. If we believe something, we act on it. And what we don't
act on, we don't really believe.
One of the
toughest problems in American public life today is the rupture between
personal conviction and public life. Too many elected officials
and voters have forgotten that a nation's moral character depends
on individuals who act according to their beliefs. "I'm personally
opposed to (fill in the issue), but ... " is always an alibi
for a lack of courage, and it's killing us as a country.
April 23, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas a committed Christian
for many years and a recent convert to the Catholic faith
will be giving the first annual Robert Casey Lecture on Faith and
Public Life at the John Paul II Center. This is an ideal time to
gather and talk about rebuilding the linkage between faith and the
American public square. If we take our Catholic faith seriously,
this is an excellent way to spend an Eastertide evening. I'll be
there, and I sincerely hope you'll join me.
Brownback will speak April 23, 7:15 p.m., in the refectory at the
John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver. Refreshments will
be served. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating