For the people I walked with the night before the canonization Mass, Jesus Christ is a guiding light in the world, their joy and hope. They lined the Via della Conciliazione, where they would stay until morning, in the hopes of making it into the square to pray with the pope. Theirs is a world of sure faith, profound witness and unfailing service.
“Every time he speaks,” Austen Ivereigh, who is writing a book on Pope Francis, said during the same conference at which Navarro-Valls spoke, “the Pope is making a connection with a body of people, hidden from the media, unnoticed by politics, who preserve the faithful culture.”
People like these are needed now more than ever, and their example should be a light in a time of abuse scandals, increasing attacks on religious liberties and the spread of a crass, sterile culture that denigrates the dignity of life.
“We see evil is trying to find his way among us, but it can’t turn us blind before the goodness, and we need to fight to keep this flame in our hearts,” Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit missionary, wrote just before he was murdered last month in Syria. “We feel like we are in the valley of the shadows, but we can see that light far away, leading us to life again.”
Here in the West, most of us only ever have to show up in church now and again and pray — not even on cobblestones — or vote with the common good and our conscience in mind. And we don’t always. At the moment, prayer is just for Sunday, emergencies or special occasions, even as secular culture militates more and more against religious virtue. This has been our course over recent decades. But it’s not enough.