Catholicism in the Car

Friday, July 24, 2020

Thoughts on the State of the Church Today

I am a Catholic, and I am proud of it. But, I am frustrated with the leaders (and other laypersons) in the church. We do not seem to understand that we are being played by a culture that does not have our good in mind. In fact, it wishes to destroy us. We seem to think that, "if we just play nice, and be agreeable, that they will treat us nice in return." That, if we just roll over, that our bellies will be scratched; when, in fact, we will be held hostage and slowly starved. The attack is not just from afar, but also within the walls of the Body of Christ. We seem to think that beauty does not matter in our churches and in our liturgies. We seem to think that the worst thing we could ever do is offend those in the pews--lest they write nasty letters about why things are changing; why father said this or that; or why the music is no longer to our liking.

We live in a Church where those who stick up against moral ills such as abortion, contraception, and euthanasia are hailed as heroes, but often times those who stick up against homosexuality, transgender-ism, and relativism are "radicals" or "niche." We live in a Church where priests who promote the LGBTQ ideology are rarely reprimanded, whereas priests who stand for more traditional liturgy, music, and art are quickly transferred or taken out of public ministry.

We live in a Church where homilies are placid and lifeless, because pastors are afraid of "offending the flock." This castrates their ability to be fathers and teach the truth to their flocks so that they, in turn, can teach that truth to the world. It has gotten to the point where I am tired of hearing, "God loves you" and quotes like, "preach the Gospel at all times, but when necessary, use words."-- which, by the way, was never said by St. Francis, and contradicts the very life he lived and the Gospel. I am tired of hearing these phrases, not because they are unimportant, but because they are emphasized to excess.

We have preached the truth of God's mercy and love so much that people have begun to take it for granted, and use it as license to sin. The flock, however, does not know (or refuses to accept) that God's love can only reach them if they are in a state of grace. Sin cuts us off from the grace (love) of God. Not because He stops loving us, but because we have stopped loving Him by our sinful behaviors. Sin closes the door on God's love. We close the door on Him, not the other way around. This includes sins such as abortion, masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, transgender-ism, co-habitation, the use of contraceptives, pride, slander, jealousy, greed, lack of caring for the poor and vulnerable, and the most egregious and scandalous sin of our time: ambiguous speech. 

Ambiguous speech? Really? Yes. We, meaning the Church and the world, are in desperate need to hear the truth preached clearly, decisively, and fully. We need our leaders (and one another) to speak the truth in charity, but with an emphasis on the truth. Our Church, and christian society in general, has focused so much on mercy, that we have forgotten about justice. Certainly, we do not want to fall into the trap of excessive justice (speaking the truth without charity) but we also cannot fall into the raging cultural trend of preaching too much mercy. In fact, "too much mercy" ceases to be mercy--just as "too much justice" ceases to be justice. Too much mercy becomes moral placidity. It is weakness that will be trampled upon by the abusive. Too much justice becomes rash condemnation, which will be (justly) crushed by a victim-culture.

Is it too much to ask, to walk this tightrope of virtue? I know for a fact that I do not practice virtue well, and I know that I will fail many times in striving towards moral sanctity--but I will not allow that failure, or the condemnation of others, to keep me from attempting to do and preach what is right. It is true, yes, that we need to practice what we preach, but this does not mean that we need to be perfect to preach truth.
 
There is an air of fear among many Christians, regarding the rise in social and political persecution in the western world. Much of this is based on real worries about the moral decay we witness all around us. That said, however, fear is no excuse for the lack the courage I often witness in Christians generally, and Clergy in particular. Yes, we are being attacked on multiple fronts: politics, philosophy, academia, mobs in the streets, the justice system, etc. The list goes on and on. These are unprecedented times--but unprecedented times do call for unprecedented measures. We need our clergy (especially our bishops, cardinals, and pope) to speak up against the lies that are being fed to us by the culture of death, both inside and outside the Body of Christ. We need courageous laypeople who will be shining beacons of truth, justice, and mercy; who will not be afraid to call our clergy to greater sanctity and boldness in addressing their flocks. 

We need to courageously defend our Catholic Identity through liturgy, art, and music, even if we lose members in the pews. It is better to diminish our numbers than to lose who we are. Our Catholic Identity, both collectively and individually, can only be known and expressed through deep and abiding relationship with God. This relationship is prayer, which is collectively expressed in our liturgy, art, and music--all of which need to be thoroughly and authentically Catholic. We have our own traditions that have, by the grace of God, developed over the past two millennia, and we should not shirk them off now in order to stay popular within the greater society. Popularity will only lead to our demise. We are meant to be like both Jesus and John the baptist, "a light shining in the darkness." Jesus and John were popular among the masses at the beginnings of their ministries, but almost all walked away when the culture turned against them and killed their Prophets. This has happened in the life of our Church. Christendom is over. It is gone. The time of Christian popularity in the western world has reached its end. Most of the disciples have left when we proclaimed that they must eat the Body and Blood of Christ (see John 6). And we must let them go of their own accord. We preach the truth, the masses will do what they will with it, and many will leave. But praised be God. 

We cannot compromise reality in order to keep people coming to Church. We need to just accept that the culture has, largely, moved on. We are passé. And that is okay. What is not okay is losing who we are and what we teach. Yes, we need to go after the one lost sheep and leave the 99, but right now, the 99 are leaving, and we cannot round them all up. It is an impossible and futile task. We need to call for them to return, but we also need to stay with the one sheep that did not yet leave, lest it follows the others into the wilderness.  



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