I’ll be the first to say that I almost always have something to say. Whether it’s my personal thoughts on something, a meme to share, or a tweet to send, I very rarely have “no comment.” Partly because we live in an exceedingly connected world that allows us to consume the latest news at any moment and it seems like every person is always talking about something. As consumers of media, we get a front-row seat to the rise (and the inevitable fall) of all the trends, stories, and a lot of gossip. We possess the ability to receive information instantly which allows each one of us to stay informed and opinionated about the current times. Even more, social media has given each of us a substantial platform for our unique opinions and hot takes. And in short, what this has led to is a culture where being woke — or culturally aware — is awarded, and failing to be woke according to the culture’s standards has been deemed morally evil (by the culture).
As Christians, the desire to speak into our culture, especially regarding causes and subjects that we are passionate about, is inherently good and virtuous as we are called to speak justice and truth within our lives (CCC 1807). However, it’s tempting to turn this call into an excuse to use our platforms online to express opinions that may or may not be rooted in truth but have the potential to launch us into relevancy. However, when we place our desire to be relevant to culture over our desire to be holy, we are going to fall short in our pursuit of this call and, ultimately, our pursuit of holiness.
His Woke is (not always) Easy
The truth is, God has equipped each one of us with a unique perspective of the world and He pairs that with a foundation of truth given to us through Scripture and the teachings of the Church. In fact, I would argue that we have more than just a desire to be informed; we have a responsibility. We have a duty to always seek the truth and point others in the same direction. That is why it is so important to speak into our culture and current events with prudence and maintain the desire to show people the ultimate Truth.
When we look to the saints, we don’t see a group of people who remained submissive to the injustices of their time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. St. Maximilian Kolbe spoke up and took the place of Franciszek Gajowniczek, a fellow prisoner in Auschwitz, in an act of extreme, sacrificial love. He witnessed to the love of Christ in a profound way, even when it cost him his life. Years later, Franciszek was present in St. Peter’s Square as Pope John Paul II declared Maximilian a Saint and martyr in the Church.
Another example is St. Catherine of Siena, who was instrumental in the end of the Avignon Papacy. Catherine wrote tirelessly to Pope Gregory XI and encouraged him to return to Rome and the seat of St. Peter. She told him, “for you as Vicar of Christ should rest in your own place. Come, then, come and delay no more; and comfort you, and fear not for anything that might happen, since God will be with you.” Although this was an extremely unpopular opinion, Pope Gregory XI returned the papacy to Rome, largely attributed to Catherine’s influence.
St. José Sánchez del Río was a teenager when he was brutally tortured and eventually killed for refusing to renounce his faith. Before he was killed, the soldiers who were holding him prisoner told him, “If you shout, ‘Death to Christ the King,’ we will spare your life.” However, his faith did not falter and he responded with: “Long live Christ the King! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!”
Witness, not Wokeness
Just as these saints and so many others have witnessed to us, our universal call as Christians challenges us to live in the world but not of the world, but this does not mean we are called to live in isolation from the current times. In fact, the Gospel has equipped us with the power to speak light and life into our world, just as Jesus did. On the other hand, this call also demands that we practice the virtue of prudence, ensuring that what we express reflects the truth we are called to share. This truth goes behind what is relevant and brings us to what is holy.
If we are following the call, our actions, words, arguments, and even our hot-takes will always point towards the One who can fulfill the longings of our hearts; because our arguments and causes never will. The witness of a Christian may never align with the wokeness that the world demands, but it will always be rooted in a Love that endures all things & never fails. The truth is always a worthy pursuit.