If many are called to that life, few of course respond, and it has been ever so. But is the ideal set before us as clearly and as frequently as it once was? When Edith Stein went into a Catholic church some years before her conversion, she was struck by the number of people stopping to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. When the Maritains conducted their Cercle d' études thomistes in the period between the two world wars at their home in Meudon, near Paris, they recommended that the Catholic artists and writers and philosophers and poets who belonged to the circle spend at least an hour in prayer each day. Time spent at daily Mass didn't count.

With the Second Vatican Council, the church came to be seen by both Catholics and non-Catholics as a battleground for liberals and conservatives. Journalists viewed the council documents as a victory of one side over the other rather than the teaching of the universal church. This political polarization has invaded our sense of ourselves as Catholics. So much of our time is spent--I do not say unnecessarily--in intramural disputes and efforts to enlist the secular media to amplify one beef or another. Have we come to regard our Catholicism as a matter of winning an argument, vanquishing an opponent, gaining a constituency with which to pressure bishop and pope? In the process, we may have lost sight of the enemy within.

Within ourselves. Faith without works is dead, no doubt, but the first and indispensable work is bringing our mind and heart into harmony with the God we profess to love. This is done above all in prayer. Silent prayer. Ideally, before the Blessed Sacrament. The young seem to realize this without our example. On my Catholic campus, as on many others, Eucharistic adoration has become a staple of the life of many students. It bodes well to be edified by the young when one belongs to a generation of Catholics that has been too busy and too noisy about too many things.

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