Walls Come Tumbling Down
by: Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D., Catholic Author and Speaker
A few years ago, I toured the far north of England. There, stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a massive wall. Constructed of stone, it was built to last, since it marked the northernmost boundary of the greatest empire the world had ever known. Soldiers from every corner of the world were garrisoned there, and excavations tell the fascinating story of their lives and deaths.
Roman civilization was nearly 1,000 years old by the time the wall was built, and it must have seemed that Rome would indeed last forever.
Soldiers manned the wall continuously for 200 years after its construction. But the empire did not last forever. It collapsed, and Hadrian’s wall became a quarry used by the local people scavenging for building materials.
Historians spill lots of ink debating why Roman civilization fell to roving bands of barbarians. But when you get right down to it, the answer is in the Bible (see this Sunday’s readings--Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21:33-43). Rome fell for the same reason that the Kingdom of Israel fell in 722BC and Judah was exiled to Bablyon in 587BC. Divine Providence had blessed all three societies. But he had also called them all to account, and found them wanting. He had planted them as choice vines, but these civilizations had yielded sour grapes. Idolatry, adultery, and social injustice were some of the fruits the produced before their collapse. And how about the people of Jericho? Why did their walls come tumbling down? Could it have anything to do with the fact that they practiced child sacrifice and ritual prostitution?
That was then. How about now? America was founded in large part by those seeking to make it “a city on a hill.” Its motto was “in God we trust.” Now judges rule that we can retain this motto without infringing on anyone’s rights precisely because we really don’t mean it. America once exported democracy. Now it exports “The Jersey Shore” and “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” When I travel around the world and tell people that I’m from Dallas, their faces light up. Even if they can’t speak English, they manage to smile and exclaim “J.R.!”
Many assume America will last forever. But there were soldiers manning Hadrian’s wall for more years than a US president has occupied the White House. We are not invulnerable, as September 11 and Katrina have reminded us. If we continue to yield sour grapes, our walls too will come tumbling down.
So what are we to do? Perhaps instead of killing the prophets, we ought to listen to them. Maybe we can begin honoring God rather than exiling him, respecting marital fidelity rather than ridiculing it, protecting the unborn rather than protecting their “terminatators,” and caring for the poor rather than abandoning them.
And maybe we can follow the advice of St. Paul (Phil 4:6-9) and renounce the anxiety that makes us miserable and causes us to conclude that we must “take care of ourselves” rather than do things God’s way. Perhaps if we thank God for blessings and even trials, presenting our needs to Him in faith, we’ll see a change in our mood and even a change in our world. And maybe if we fill our minds with the splendor of truth rather than with the trash of “The Jersey Shore” we might just notice more joy and serenity in our lives.
Have you ever seen a more frantic society than ours? We eat, drink, and breathe tension.
Yet St. Paul speaks of a “peace that passes all understanding.” It’s a peace that does not go away even when planes strike towers and hurricanes swamp cities. It starts in the inside but has impact on the outside. Without it, Mother Teresa could have never lasted in the chaos of Calcutta and John Paul the Great could have never made his way through Nazi tanks and Communist oppression to occupy the chair of Peter.
This peace indeed defies comprehension. But it’s ours for the asking.
Follow Us -
Join us on Facebook
Join us on Twitter
Click here to download, print and share Walls Come Tumbling Down!
For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.
T3 Teen Bible Study 8 Part Series - DVD
Presented by Mark Hart, a dynamic speaker who has his finger on the pulse of today’s Catholic teens, T3 is the foundational teen Bible study based on the popular Great Adventure Bible Timeline seminar created by Jeff Cavins. T3 unpacks God’s Word in a manner teens can relate to by showing them the “big picture” of salvation history, and it gives them an overview of Scripture—and then leads them deeper into its riches.
The Fathers of the Church - Who They Are and Why They Matter
In a single, upbeat talk, full of examples and stories about some of the Church's most intriguing personalities, Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains who people are talking about when they refer to the "Fathers of the Church" or "Early Church Fathers. Though the ranks of the fathers include a tremendous variety of cultures, locales, and personalities, there is surprising consensus that emerges from them on a variety of the most important questions of our day. In this talk, Marcellino makes clear just how much these figures have to teach us today.
God's Seven Gifts: The Sacraments of the Catholic Church
In the Gospels, Christ made it clear just how important the sacraments are for our lives. Yet today, many Catholics take them for granted. With little understanding of the importance and power of the sacraments, these Catholics are simply going through the motions.
But as Marcellino D’Ambrosio explains in God’s Seven Gifts, God gave us the sacraments as a gift to help us in our walk with him.
YOUCAT is short for Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was launched on World Youth Day, 2011. Developed with the help of young Catholics and written for high-school age people and young adults, YOUCAT is an accessible, contemporary expression of the Catholic Faith. The appealing graphic format includes Questions-and-Answers, highly-readable commentary, summary definitions of key terms, Bible citations and inspiring and thought-provoking quotes from Saints and others in the margins. What's more, YOUCAT is keyed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so people can go deeper.
Ablaze - Stories of Daring Teen Saints
In Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints, Colleen Swaim looks at eight young souls who were set afire with the spirit and set free to live lives of extraordinary virtue. All became saints for the against-the-current, selfless heroism of their teen years.