Thoughts from a New Walker
I have only been with Crossroads for one week, one tiring, sweaty, exhilarating week. Before setting out on this endeavor, I carried with me expectations of meeting people whom I would classify as pro-life or pro-choice; the pro-life ones I would encourage and inspire, and the pro-choice ones I would engage and hopefully transform. But I found a different distinction at the crossroads of our nation that I did not expect.
At breakfast yesterday, our host asked Father Dan, “Father, what is something you have rediscovered on this walk across America?” Our walking companion did not need any time to think about his answer. “I have been reminded again and again,” he said, “that Christ did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.”
This is the great distinction I have seen on the highways and byways of our country. We cannot merely talk about pro-life people and pro-choice people, or even about the culture of life and the culture of death. There are the living and the dead. There are those who have accepted the life which Christ gave to them, those who live it to the fullest, and there are also those who reject him, his life, and his love.
Often Catholics and non-Catholics alike will accuse the Church of being outdated, or of having too many rules that have become antiquated in the modern era, especially when it comes to abortion, birth control, and sexuality. They say that having a life means living independent from any law or rule or community that would try to fix their morality. But Catholicism does not attempt to improve the behavior of humanity but rather guide humanity in understanding the fullness of perfection to which our behavior can ascend. Although it may seem at times that rules and requirements make up the large part of the Catholic tradition, what the Catechism expresses are not merely rules but glimpses into what our relationship with God might be like and how we can best attain it. There is life to be lived that comes to us from God, and he himself has revealed the path that will allow us to live that life to the fullest. With our fallen natures we cannot find the road to life alone in darkness, a darkness perpetuated by a society that would tell us to kill our children and sterilize our relationships. Our Catholic tradition is the light that breaks into this darkness. It is the fire that purifies the imperfections of our volition and melts the hardness of our hearts. It ignites life in us such as we have never known before, life that the Father made us for, life that the Son died to give us.
This is the life that I have rejoiced to see the fullness of in some and lamented to see the lack of in many. Christ came to make dead men live, and if I am to be his hands and feet on this walk, I must go forward intending to bring life to those who are dead.
Southern Walk 2012