The wonder of signs and wonders.
The Confirmation class this editor is teaching is studying signs right now and it's amazing how they perceive what a "sign" is. We call it the "SSS class." No, we're not hissing nor is this some fascist movement, but rather it stands for "Signs, Symbols and Saints." Thank God the iconoclasts did not persevere or we'd be sorely lacking in images, symbols and signs today, and, we suspect, there'd be fewer saints. Consider what some of the signs are. First of all the Sacraments are outward signs instituted by Jesus Christ to give grace. That's a pretty powerful sign in itself. The outward symbols of the individual sacraments are the water for the Sacrament of Baptism, the purple stole for the Sacrament of Penance, the Host and Chalice for the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the dove or tongues of fire to represent the Holy Spirit for the Sacrament of Confirmation, two rings linked for the Sacrament of Matrimony, the tonsure or biretta or roman collar for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and the blessed oils for the Sacrament of Annointing of the sick and dying or, as it used to be called - Extreme Unction. These are the most powerful signs and symbols we have in the great deposit of faith.
Another sign we have is the Sign of the Cross, one we repeat constantly throughout the day no matter where we are for we too are signs. How we conduct ourselves in public is a sign of our conviction of faith. Should we be afraid to be living, walking, talking signs? No, we should never be ashamed to make the sign of the cross before each meal whether we're at home or in a restaurant. Another sign of our faith is how we react to others' abuses of the Commandments. We can't be a very strong sign for others if we're afraid to stand up to someone when they cuss or mouth a profanity or dirty joke. We have to have the conviction of our faith to speak out and say, "that's not appropriate." But too often we all are too intimidated by our peers to "rock the boat." This is especially true of our younger generation who place so much importance on acceptance of their friends that they disregard the advice of their parents and teachers. How then do we convey the values of our faith to them? That, folks, is the million dollar question. It's not easy and that's where we have to rely on the signs of the Sacraments to guide us. Just as we have road signs that keep us legally on the road and prevent collisions and confusion, so also the Church has road signs that prevent confusion and collisions of the soul. From the time of Moses until now we have a code of conduct to follow. Today the only enforcement of civil laws is through the police and court procedures. That's sad that so many thwart the system for by not complying we are stuck with the gridlock of more police, more laws, more lawyers, more legislation, more legalese and more loopholes. It has reached the point that we spend more time trying to get out of something than putting our nose to the grindstone and getting a job done fairly and squarely.
Kids today spend more time watching the clock than their mouths; they concentrate more on MTV than emptying the trash or making their beds; they have no concept of the future and few are willing to make sacrifices anymore. Sounds like this editor is getting senile with that kind of talk, but it is a very serious problem and we are to blame. Why? As we point out today in SIMPLY SHEEN the good Bishop Fulton J. Sheen coined the phrase, "There is no such thing as a juvenile delinquent; only delinquent parents." So that means we're all delinquent parents? Not really, but we could be delinquent in Purgatory for quite some time if we don't start emphasizing the signs of the Church to our little ones - whether they're one-year-olds or in their late teens. That translates to all of us living our faith and expressing it outwardly. That is a sign of love. There is a great musical by Steven Sondheim entitled "Into the Woods" which is a whimsical moral tale wrapped around favorite "Mother Goose" tales. One of the most inspiring songs is his rendition of "Children Listen." The lyrics relate, "Be careful what you say; children listen. Be careful what you do; children see." As we launch into this final year of the millennium, we are being bombarded ever more by the world, the flesh and the devil in every media outlet and children do listen; they do see. We might think it won't harm us, but be careful, that's satan's master plan. Think about it. Had we known ten, twenty, thirty years ago how the evil one would infiltrate our lives through the media and outside influences we would have guarded our homes and hearts like it were Fort Knox. And that analogy doesn't do justice to our hearts and families for anything created by God is priceless - worth more than all the gold in the world. Are we guarding it with our full arsenel of commitment and dedication or, like the sleeping guards, are we not taking our duties as parents seriously enough? We ought to realize by now how immune we have all become to violence and sex in the media. Where we would have been scandalized thirty years ago, we don't even give it a thought today. We just dismiss it, failing to realize how deep it penetrates the minds and souls of the children. Whether we believe it or not, 90% of what's broadcast today is unfit for our children - or for that matter ourselves as well. We have to realize it can hurt God's little ones - all of us, and that is why He has sent His Blessed Mother Mary to remind us in her loving, but firm maternal way. Two years ago Our Lady said in her August 25th Message, "Teach your children because if you are not an example to them, children depart into godlessness." That is the sad reality of our times and we have the august accountability to do right by them. That doesn't mean contracting with every program the Clintons propose because "it's for the sake of the children." That is merely a smokescreen and we have to realize the false agenda. Our Lord couldn't have expressed it more succinctly when he said in Matthew 18: 6, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his nec, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." If the Hand of God's Justice had not been held back, largely through the intercession and pleading of His dear Mother, Clinton would be twenty thousand leagues under the sea by now and who knows where we might be. Most of us might be pretty wet! But we still have a chance to stay dry because His Mercy is still available.
But before we start blaming others, we should all look in the mirror for subconsciously and by our inaction we are causing scandal to the little ones. God means business. He's not pulling any punches when He tells us to straighten up and drive right! But He realizes what the world offers and all the distractions, luring us onto the false highways paved by the seven deadly sins. That is why He has given us His Holy Church and that is why He has sent His very Own Mother in these times to remind us, to steer us back to the main road. We call these apparitions and messages from His Mother "Signs and Wonders" which we are looking for constantly, sometimes at the expense of our families and spiritual life. We have to be careful that we don't get too wrapped up in the signs and wonders and come away wondering what they say because we failed to heed them ourselves or didn't convey the correct meaning of God's signs to others. In this time of abundant signs and wonders, we can't afford not to heed the signs for that would cause all to wonder before they wander away. That's not what Our Lord and Our Lady meant by the wonder of signs and wonders!