“The presence of even one Christopher in any environment is a blessing, a channel of grace, a step in the right direction—like a tiny pinpoint of light that is greater than the encircling darkness.”
—Father James Keller, M.M. founder of The Christophers
Born in 1900, the young James Keller developed an interest in missionary work and the priesthood, joining the Maryknoll order as a young adult. During a trip through the Far East in 1928. he grew troubled at the ever-increasing destruction wrought by communism in China. Communists, he observed, instilled their followers with a sense of personal mission in shaping the world. It was a mission, however, contemptuous of God-given human dignity. Christians, on the other hand, were often indifferent about changing the world despite Christ’s command to share His love with everyone. From then on, Father Keller encouraged the concept of constructive action in all his talks.
Another pivotal moment for Father Keller came during a meeting at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House during which he entered the completely darkened auditorium and couldn’t see a thing. The person he was with lit a match and set off to find the light switch. Father Keller recalled, “The sight of that tiny flame made an indelible impression on me. Insignificant as it was, it was greater than the darkness. All that was needed to banish the darkness completely was to multiply that flicker of light.”
That’s exactly what Father Keller set out to do when he founded the Christopher movement in 1945. He chose the name “The Christophers” because it means “Christ-bearers” in Greek, and adopted as the movement’s motto the old Chinese proverb, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
Instead of complaining about problems, Father Keller took a positive approach, saying, “One of the best ways to cure a starving patient is to build him up with nourishing food; the best way to cure this disease in our society is to build up society itself with good ideas and ideals.” He spread that message using all forms of media—print, radio and television—and encouraged Christophers to choose careers in fields that could positively affect the most people.
Here, in Father Keller’s own words from his bestselling book You Can Change the World, are some of his suggestions for doing just that.
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