Celebrating truth and goodness can feel lonely in a world of sin and vice
by Colleen Roy
Photo Caption: Shopping is not what it used to be as stores often mirror the moral standards of society, Colleen Roy writes. A dollar store she recently visited with her children featured demons, risqué gifts, and raunchy trinkets. “I can empathize with the early Christians, living as a minority in a land that celebrates sin and vice,” she writes. (designpics.com)
I have to do a few errands, so I take my opportunity and run out the door. But two sneaky children outwit me with their sappy, sad eyes and convince me to take them along.
I drop Andrew off at London Drugs. He needs to find a Heavy Metal Batman Lego mini-figure to give to his uncle. Madalen and I head to the dollar store for a couple of crafts … because even when I sneak out of the house it’s to buy kids’ crafts.
Madalen heads to the toys and I walk up the gifty-stuff aisle. I see a row of little dinner bells, and the first one I see says, “Ring for Sex.” I have a kind of inward “grunch” feeling, shake my head and move on. I see a few more uncouth gift items and quickly switch aisles before my daughter finds me.
Andrew joins me in front of a row of statues, each one a demon holding a sign happily proclaiming a different mortal sin: envy, lust, greed, etc.
I see a store manager walk by so I call out to her, “Excuse me, I really don’t want to be a grouch, but I do feel like I should say that I’m disappointed in a lot of the trashy and tacky stuff you’re suddenly selling. I don’t even want my kids to wander around.”
When the lady asks me for an example, I mention the mortal sin demons. She smirks and says, “Those are from a TV show and they’re actually really popular.”
“I have no doubt,” I reply, “but that kind-of has nothing to do with what I said.”
Pause ... as she looks at me like I’m a moron and we make our way to the door.
A few minutes later we’re in a bookstore, and when we bring our purchase to the counter I see a little devil toy, like those melting snowmen for sale at Christmas. “Well, wow,” I say, “It’s Satan again. Weird.”
“Aren’t they fun?” the saleslady asks.
On the way home, we discuss the problem with thinking that because something is popular it must be good. A car passes me. There’s a “Baby on Board” sign in the back window, but instead of the usual slogan, it uses vulgarity and cuss words to let everyone know they have twins.
I blink in shock and suddenly feel isolation, the three of us foreigners in a land of pagans.
I can empathize with the early Christians, living as a minority in a land that celebrates sin and vice.
A bit overwhelmed, I know no sound logic or reason could convince these people what they are celebrating are things of darkness. I know they would only look at me like I was from another planet. We are alone in a faith that celebrates truth, goodness, and beauty.
When my family prays the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, I often find myself drawn into the agony in the garden. In some small way, I understand Jesus in his loneliness, surrounded by the temptations of Satan. His followers, like those of us in the Church who find ourselves too comfortable in the world, were found sleeping.
The world resisted the reason and logic of Christ’s words. It rejected his invitation to beauty and looked at him in confusion and resentment. Why wouldn’t it smirk when I question its morality?
The feelings I experienced while out running my errands reminded me of a truth. Our hope is found beyond what is seen here. If a Christian feels at home and comfortable with the earthly realm, it’s a sure sign something is wrong.
We are meant to feel a sense of loneliness in this world of dust and ash. Yes, we are a family of believers, but the solitude we feel as we work out our salvation serves to unite us to Christ, our one hope and salvation.
The invitation he offered then is the same he offers now. The question is whether we will meet Christ in the beauty and inner stillness of his loneliness.
Lent is the time of the desert. May we join Christ there.