Fr. Steven Allen's Comments Eight Years Ago and Yesterday's Massacre
- RECTOR'S MESSAGE FOR JANUARY 2005
What shall we offer Thee, O Christ, who for our sakes hast appeared on earth as man? Every creature made by Thee offers Thee thanks. The angels offer Thee a hymn; the heavens a star; the Magi, gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, its cave; the wilderness, the manger: and we offer Thee a Virgin Mother. O pre-eternal God, have mercy upon us.
from the Vespers of the Nativity of the Lord
Recently (17 December New Style) a student at our son’s high school committed suicide. The school’s principal promptly responded to this immeasurable tragedy by sending out a letter to the parents, warning us that our own children might show lack of appetite, depressed moods, and other signs of being affected by this. He promised “counseling” and “social work” services to the students as soon as they returned from the Christmas (oops, I mean the Winter) break. I doubt that many of the parents found this consoling.
What the principal did not say is why young people today are committing suicide, because if he stated the real reason why, he could lose his job. The real reason is that man has forgotten God, and therefore many young people see no purpose to their lives. If life has no purpose, if it is meaningless, why go on? If there is no personal God who loves and cares for each one of us, then to whom can a young person turn when it seems that there is no human being out there who understands him ? If there is no judgment after death, why fear committing the ultimate sin of suicide?
Another thing that the principal certainly could not say is that it is precisely many things that teachers are forced to teach in school that lead children to conclude that their lives are not worth very much. Face it: if you have been bombarded from the earliest grades with the idea that the universe “ just happened,” AND that you are just an evolved ape who just “happened” to come along after zillions and zillions of years, AND that, moreover, you are just a tiny, insignificant speck in an infinite universe that was not made for you, but just happens to be there and could not care less about y ou, AND that there are no objective and universal standards for human behavior, just the latest political trends and oppresive fear of whoever happens to have power at the moment, AND that your ancestors were nothing but a bunch of worthless woman abusers, racists, and polluters...life can start looking pretty grim. If that’s really the way things are, then where is a child supposed to get this “selfesteem” they are always talking about? From counseling techniques? From Soviet-style slogans like “Tolerance and Diversity (OR ELSE)!”....?
Of course,all of the above IS NOT REALITY. Reality is revealed in the Great Feast we are celebrating, the Nativity of Christ. The Infinite God, Who created all things in the wondrous Six Days of Creation, and on the Sixth Day created man according to His Image and Likeness, came to His creation as a real human child, born in a cave amid poor men and dumb beasts, to restore man, His Image, to the Likeness which we lost through sin. Our beginning is in Him, our end is in Him. Our purpose, our future, all our joy, is in Him. This is not just any old purpose, any old meaning, this is Ultimate Meaning. This is the quintessential Good News, the Best News that we could ever get. This means that the whole Creation was made by the Infinite God for me, and that this Infinite God would have become a finite man and died a terrible death on the Cross for me if I were the only person in the whole world, just so that I can live with Him in indescribable joy forever and ever.
I don’t know about you, but I find this hard to beat for Good News. And it is not “pie in the sky.” It makes sense here and now; it is sense, just as evolved apes and atheist education are non-sense. Let us pass on good helpings of this eminently sensible Good News to our children and their friends in the year ahead of us. We might become the best friends they ever had. We might even save someone’s life.
A joyous Nativity and grace-filled Theophany to all!
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