Stewardship and the Y2K Thing — The Wise Virgins
by Catherine Fournier
There has been a great deal of discussion in the last few months about the coming of the Millenium. It is hailed by John Paul II as an opportunity for a new revival of faith, and the dawning of a new era for the church and mankind. The past three years we have celebrated the Year of the Holy Spirit, the Year of the Son and now the year of the Father, as a time of preparation for the Great Jubilee.
Others see it as the date for the beginning of an age of possible social collapse and chaos. Our entire society has become interdependent on computers, which may or may not (no-one seems to know for sure) crash when confronted with a date that begins with '20' rather than '19.' Predictions range from minor problems with unessential appliances to a total breakdown of the entire infrastructure of our society, plunging us back to the lifestyle of the early settlers.
How should we, as stewards of our families and homes, and as followers of the Gospel respond to these predictions? Ignore them, because nothing's going to happen as some propose? 'Head for the hills' and focus exclusively on supplying and protecting our own immediate family? Or preparing as a community to face the crisis together, sharing knowledge, skills and materials? Or, lastly, preparing and expecting to open our homes to all who need shelter? Two quotes are revealing and relevant. First from the Gospels and second from the prayers used in a Catholic wedding:
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry, "Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!" Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise ones replied, "No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves."
While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, "Lord, Lord, open the door for us!" But he said in reply, "Amen, I say to you, I do not know you." Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." ( 1 - 13)
This parable is talking about spiritual preparation, of course. But the example of lamp oil, and the 'talents' of the following parable implies that preparation should be practical as well. We should prepare for whatever may come, at all times. Certainly we should prepare for a Y2K situation. But, to what extent should we prepare?
"Father, to reveal the plan of your love, you make the union of husband
and wife an image of the covenant between you and your people.
In the fulfillment of this sacrament, the marriage of the Christian man and woman is a sign of the marriage between Christ and the church."
The covenant between God and his people promises eternal life to all. It promises aid in times of need, help and encouragement, and reward beyond compare to the faithful. This covenant is at the heart of our faith and our lives as God's people. A marriage is also a covenant, called to be all those things. In addition, since a marriage is the sign of the covenant between Christ and the church, it too is at the heart of the faith and life of the Church. The family is the 'first and vital cell of society' and the 'cradle and setting' of the Church. As husband and wife, our first and primary responsibility is to our vocation, to our family. Our support to the community and parish flows out of that work, it does not replace or supplant it.
The 'head for the hills and shoot the intruder' attitude flies in the face of this Christian teaching. But so does becoming a shelter and food bank to all those who chose not to plan ahead, when doing so will jeopardize the health and safety of the family. The Christian steward prepares to take care of his own family, does what he can to help the community prepare, shares skills, talents and material as needed, and gives aid to those who are unable to help themselves. This applies to all time and all situations, not just to a (still) hypothetical Y2K crisis. An interesting site that discusses this in more detail is at the Saint Antonius Institute site.
In the coming year, Stewardship will examine different aspects of planning for a major emergency situation. There already is a vast amount of information already available on the Internet, on sites dedicated to that topic alone. (Unlike this one, where we are briefly discussing the problem within the context of building and maintaining a domestic church.) Each issue will therefore carry a short discussion of the subject and a short list of links to more complete and detailed information. A short list of links to 'central' sites with many links of their own is more useable than a longer list.
The Basic Triangle:
This issue will look at Food, because regardless of how many people are in your family, stocking up sufficient quantities of food is going to be the biggest part of any preparations you make.
After food and water, Shelter is the next priority. You need to ensure your home would be safe in the event of a disaster, or that alternate secure shelter is available to you. (Note: we have passed the first 'danger zone' of 1999. April 9th, the 99th day of 1999 was one of the possible shut-down dates embedded in computer chips.)
This topic will be covered in the Saint Joseph issue which begins May 1st.
The Extra Essentials:
This topic will be covered in the Assumption and Queenship of Mary issue, which begins on July 1st. By this time, we may have a better idea of the size of the possible emergency we're preparing for.
This topic will be covered in the Angels and Archangels issue, which begins on September 1st. At this point, we'll be into the 'home stretch.'
This topic will be covered in the Advent and Christmas issue, which begins on November 1st. Time for all the last-minute details for both Christmas and the year 2000.
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