My recent posts about attitude/ascesis also bring to mind the presence of the secular ascetic within the Christian person, and in coming to a greater awareness of it, to seek to undo it so that we might be more disposed to Christ - so that we might be more converted. I think, for instance, how the secular agenda of the mass media is so formative of our approach to life and to particular human affairs. A recent example of this has been a news item about the 'right to die'. The media's focus on this issue is so manufactured that this 'right' is made to appear so genuine, and that the real duty to care, to support and to love, on the part of individuals and society, is not only forgotten but, in some way, eradicated by the media's presentation.
An increased awareness of the presence of secular ascetic in our culture also enables us to respond to it in a more self-giving way. In other words, the presence of the secular ascetic calls us to a greater compassion and a greater gift of ourselves to the mission of Christ in the world; not condemning secular people, but offering them Christ, and offering them to Christ - seeking that they might likewise be overwhelmed by grace and be free in Christ.
Thirdly, in writing these posts I have, to some extent, been challenged about what words to use. We need a new vocabulary - one which witnesses to the presence of grace in the new secularising culture in which we live. Christians obviously share the same vocabulary as secular people, but meanings change and nuances arise; Christians need to claim a vocabulary which is genuinely expressive of truth and the mystery of faith in today's context, and which exposes the emptiness of the secular use of language. For instance, 'caring for one another' contrasts directly with 'right to die', 'solidarity' contrasts with 'independence'.
I'll look next at the formation of the Christian attitude.