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Editorial: Want to bring Christ to the world? Look to his mother
The only thing surprising about Hallmark’s decision to approve the airing of four ads on its network featuring same-sex weddings was that it took them so long to do it. We’re not referring to the quick back-and-forth that the network did as it pulled the ads and then, in a matter of hours, reinstated them. Rather, that Hallmark was one of the hangers-on — a last bastion of traditional family values amid increasingly secularized media.
No more. Not only did the network announce that it would run the ads, it released a statement saying it would be “working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands.”
And why not? We are in a culture in which even the cartoon “Arthur” has prominently featured a same-sex wedding, in which reality TV shows proudly serve up contestants from all along the “gender spectrum,” and in which the mainstream streaming platform Netflix brazenly put forth a “gay Jesus.”
The values that once, not all that long ago, were commonly espoused by society now are shunned as antiquated and bigoted. This isn’t anything new. But, as the Hallmark kerfuffle reminds us, it’s not going to get any better with time. As we enter a new year and a new decade, those who remain committed to those values know we have a rough road ahead.
What are Catholics to do, then, when faced with a culture that is so divorced from the moral principles outlined by our faith, and that has, as St. Louis de Montfort puts it, so completely embraced the “spirit of the world”? A common response is to boycott: no more Netflix, no more Starbucks, no more Hallmark, no more “fill in the blank.” This is a perfectly reasonable response, for it is money that talks, and we are responsible for how we spend what we have earned. But in today’s culture, boycotting likely isn’t a realistic long-term solution, nor does it really get to the heart of the problem: that we are a culture devoid of Christ.
At issue, then, is how to bring Christ back to the world — a point of reflection apropos for the Christmas season. For it is at Christmas that we recall how Jesus was born into the world in the most humble of circumstances by the most humble of women: the handmaid of the Lord who sought only to do the will of God. For this acquiescence, we now venerate Jesus’ mother — our mother — as queen of heaven and earth. And we are reminded that it is she, the one who brought Christ to the world 2,000 years ago, who is waiting day in and day out to bring the world back to Christ.
In September 1953, on the occasion of the centenary of the definition of the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius XII wrote the encyclical Fulgens Corona, in which he reflected on how the proclamation of the dogma had “stirred up and increased” devotion to Mary, which “naturally led to a great improvement in Christian morality” (No. 2). Hoping for similar results, Pius XII proclaimed a Marian Year from December 1953 to December 1954, during which he implored all people of faith to seek the Blessed Mother’s intercession so that the way of life of each person “may be daily made more conformable to the Christian Commandments” (No. 35).
Thirty-three years later, in January 1987, Pope St. John Paul II proclaimed another year dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a way of preparing for a third millennium of Christianity. Shortly thereafter, he published the encyclical Redemptoris Mater, in which he reflected on Mary’s role at the center of the pilgrim Church. “The Virgin Mother is constantly present on this journey of faith of the People of God towards the light,” Pope John Paul II wrote.
Thirty-three years later, we find ourselves well into the third millennium and at the start of a new decade. The faithful are drowning in a culture hostile to Christian values and beliefs. The Church has been ripped apart through scandal and division. Our world has lost Christ and lost its way. What if the Church, once again, fled to Mary’s protection, implored her help and sought her intercession? What if Pope Francis, devoted to the Blessed Mother as he is, were to declare another Marian year for the good of our Church, our nation and our world?
Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young