|The Tribute Money by Titian (photo in Public Domain)
The word “remnant“ has been coming to my mind a lot lately and I have been trying to write a reflection on it for days, but I could not pull it together (admittedly this is a frequent problem for me). I keep brushing the word aside thinking that the word remnant seems a tad over-dramatic. Is our culture dying so quickly that those who are still faithful to the Church’s positions on the issues of marriage, contraception and abortion in our Catholic churches are already a mere remnant (even if the pews seem full)? Surely that is overstating the case!
Then the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down DOMA and dismissing Prop 8 came down, not unexpected, but still quite ominous, and after reading Elizabeth Scalia’s excellent article titled “The ‘Party’ is victor; Time to save souls and churches”, I realized I was not being dramatic at all. It was the Spirit that place that word in my heart. Not to cause despair, but to show me that the seeds of renewal are even now being sown.
“So too at this present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5).
The word remnant first popped into my head during the June 7th rehearsal dinner for my son Matthew and his then bride–to-be Grace. They were married on June 8th (Yes! It was the feast of the Immaculate Heart-- isn't that awesome!) after a real courtship that was based on discernment of God’s will for them.
These two have a profound respect, for each other and their deepening love, for parental authority and a commitment to Christ through their Catholic faith. In fact, it was their Catholic faith that came shining through all the wonderful parties and joy-filled celebrations. Especially in the beautiful Nuptial Mass, where the Gospel was chanted by a newly ordained transitional deacon and Panis Angelicus, Ave Verum Corpus and Gounod's Ave Maria were beautifully sung. The Mass and all of the celebrations that surrounded it were directly and indirectly proclaiming what marriage truly is: A covenant that is “ordered to the good of the couple, as well as the generation and education of children.” (CCC 1660) Marriage was not just about the two of them, it was a bridging of the past generations to the future ones. It was about the obligations of these two to build up a Culture of Life through their vows to each other and to God.
Both Grace’s mother and I heard from guests who felt renewed and filled with hope after the wedding. It was so joyfully Catholic! Three generations of the priesthood participated in celebrating it and at least one other young man was undertaking serious discernment for a religious vocation. And it was at the rehearsal dinner that I looked around the room and felt the hope and promise of renewal that God is always offering us! I thought here ,in this room, are some of the remnant, the faithful remnant in an increasingly post-Christian world. God always leaves a remnant. And what a joyful remnant it was! I wish I had words for my gratitude.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Continue reading Heidi's reflection at Journey to Wisdom.