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You are very brave to sit down to read a piece by a philosopher on the theme of festivity. We philosophers do not exactly have a reputation for spreading joy and the festive spirit. We can, in fact, be rather dull at parties, especially when we start quoting our favorite German philosophers.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein”, sings the psalmist in Psalm 24:1. In making the incisions on the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil initial ceremony, the celebrant solemnly proclaims: “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages. To him be glory and power through every age and forever. Amen” (Roman Missal: Easter Vigil).
“What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23). The words spoken by the apostle at the Areopagus are addressed to a specific audience. But at the same time, these words have a wide range of action and a far-reaching resonance. Paul of Tarsus proclaims a God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ. Christ is the eternal Word of God, the Son consubstantial with the Father, the witness of the Trinitarian mystery.
Back in 2013, at the height of the so-called “New Atheism,” I realized that many young people were being drawn into this movement, swayed by poor arguments and heated rhetoric, in particular through the internet. That group included a lot of young Catholics who were never taught rational reasons to believe in God and had thus come to believe that religious belief was little more than superstition.
History viewed through the lens of the Incarnation reveals God’s Providence at work in the world. The Incarnation offers a vision of history in tune with reality and through which different civilizations, cultures, and all human actions down through the centuries can best be understood.
Allow me to share three decisions with you that I make every single day; products of my experience of Catholic education, as a student, also as a professor, and as a university president. They are in stark contrast to the world. They are the light of Christ, in my view. But because of the strength of the popular culture, I have to remind myself of them every single morning when I get up.