Sunday, August 19, 2012

Has America become a nation of Heretics? No!

Has America become a nation of Heretics? No!

The August 5th issue of Our Sunday Visitor has an article about a book by Ross Douthat’s new book entitled “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.” It reports that the book is quite a pessimistic. Now,

Mr. Douthat works for The New York Times. Knowing the bent of that newspaper, I wouldn’t expect anything else but pessimism from Mr. Douthat.

So it inspired me to write these thoughts. Yes, the Church is and has been in decline for some time. It is even understandable given the secularization of our society, the turn to materialism, hedonism, “me first”, just do it,” the loss of respect for authority, the sexual revolution, even the palpable agenda of our government to squash religion. I could go on and on listing the reasons. The “downsizing” of the church is not only realized here but globally.

I doubt if I will buy or read Mr. Douthat’s book. Perhaps he is doing nothing more than calling our attention to a known fact. Everything, including the church is subject to change. Everything has its ebbs and flows. The one thing to remember is God is in control.

The domestic church, the family has changed. We no longer eat together, during the week we seldom see each other with both parents working, kids going to this or that function. We have a myriad of distractions and a host of things that refocus our attention. Not to mention the kids and even many of us “adults” addicted to computer games. Dad/Mom come home from work, a quick easy to make dinner and we plop in front of the boob tube in hopes of some escapism to get our minds out of reality and the exertions of work, to be entertained. Then during this most vulnerable time be are met with the propaganda of TV commercials – you got to have this, you got to have that, you got to be thin, sexy, beautiful, etc. Are we susceptible? You bet we are. Like the ancient Israelites, we all have our Ba’als. Not gods mind you, but we do worship them, our addictions; drugs, alcohol, power, money, the need to put others down to make us feel better about ourselves, even violence – I can go on.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore” – we’re no longer in quiet and comfortable surroundings. Gone are the days, before TV, before high-tech, when a family would gather together and perhaps one would read the Bible, or they would pray together. We’re even afraid, yes, afraid, to talk to our children about faith. Where has the responsibility to get each other to heaven gone?

Then we experienced Vatican II - a very traumatic event for the Church. Yes, it was needed, very much so - just like an operation is needed at times -but still traumatic. The liberals ran away with it; change, change, and more change. We lost our sound footing. The strong foundation we knew we could always go to was in flux.

Now let me turn on this pessimism to optimism. First, again, God is in control. There is a strong core of faithful Catholics that will bring us through this. I have seen them. I experience them, I am part of them. We love God, deeply, we acknowledge we are all sinners and go to Him for forgiveness. We know it is our responsibility to love our neighbor, whether they are fallen away Catholics or some other religion, or none at all. We know that we are called to serve our Church and each other. We find time for Mass, prayer and service. Many of us find the rewards of joining in the prayer of the Church by praying the Liturgy of the Hours. We understand that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Magisterium and therefore we listen to it, we obey it. We have put aside our televisions and our mind numbing toys

There is hope for God is in control. Do you not see it? Look at the rise in our youth craving for structure, for something to hold on to, to believe in. They find it in Church. Where is there growth? Just look at conservative churches. Growth is there. If your church is moderate there will be no growth. If your church is liberal, it will decline. The liberals of the past couple of decades are growing old and dying off, replaced by true Catholics. When you dismiss the authority of the church you are in the tide of a flowing river. Change for the sake of change has a fracturing element to it, unity diminishes. Just look at our Protestant brothers and sisters and their many denominations. Their root cause is a lack of central authority – each one goes their own way.

Why is it that the very things that inspires Catholics are not in our churches, or hard to find: Adoration, Holy Hours, litanies, devotions, Gregorian chant, etc. If your church does not offer these go to one that does. Associate with these people and you will be filled and satisfied.

There is reason to be hopeful. God is in control.


A Secular Franciscan said...

I agree - God is in charge. But we do see a decrease in weekly church attendance - Catholics are down to about 33 percent - and a recent study revealed that about 5 percent of the population now identify themselves as atheists (though some of them might just be trying to be trendy). All three of my daughters stopped going to church as soon as they left home; I pray they will return.

So ... I'm not as pessimistic as some, but I do think we really need to trust in God, and we each need to live the best Catholic/Christian lives that we can.

Tom, S.F.O. said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, it is difficult seeing your children going a different path. But don't stop praying - think of St. Monica. As I tried to point out, there are so many distractions and they think it is not cool. But there is hope. I know there are many religious blogs by young people, and it picks me up when I see young people at Mass even without their parents.