Last year, in response to a Pew Research poll showing the American Catholic Church in decline, Elizabeth Scalia (now at the editorial helm of Aleteia) posted this challenge on her Patheos blog The Anchoress:
If you’re Catholic and have access to a web-page, a radio program, a Facebook page, whatever, take a few minutes, and tell the world why you are remaining a Catholic in an era where doing so seems not only counter-cultural, but also counter-intuitive and even, perhaps, a bit risky?
Thoughtful and moving responses rolled in from all across the Internet, and continue to to do so today.
For my entry, I’m phrasing the question this way:
Why would I stay Catholic even if the whole world turned against the Church and labeled me a fool for remaining a believer?
The short answer: Because the whole world is wrong.
But it’s a question that deserves a long answer, so here goes ….
First, I should define my terms. By “the world” I really mean the much narrower “worldly” subset of modern American and European Western Culture. By “wrong” I mean, well… WRONG. Dangerously wrong. Spinning out of control wrong. In the process of destroying itself wrong.
If the title of this article enticed you to click the link, chances are you already have a strong opinion about the Catholic faith. You either love it or you hate it. Either way, you are likely already aware of the “hot button” social issues on which the world and the Church disagree – abortion, contraception, so-called “gay marriage,” euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, the “New Atheism,” etc., etc., etc. And on every single one of those fronts, and many more besides (the “hot button” issues barely scratch the surface), wherever the world calls something “good” that the Church defines as “evil,” I really do believe that the world is 100% wrong and the Church is 100% right.
I say this with confidence because those obvious “hot button” worldly issues are only visible symptoms of a deeper and more dangerous disease infecting the modern (and “post-modern”) western psyche.
Western Culture has lost its mind.
In his book Theology and Sanity, the great Catholic apologist Frank Sheed put it this way:
… if we see things in existence and do not in the same act see that they are held in existence by God, then equally we are living in a fantastic world, not the real world. Seeing God everywhere and all things upheld by him is not a matter of sanctity, but of plain sanity, because God IS everywhere and all things ARE upheld by Him. What we do about it may be sanctity; but merely seeing it is sanity. To overlook God’s presence is not simply to be irreligious; it is a kind of insanity, like overlooking anything else that is actually there…
We murder babies in the womb and play Frankenstein with their cells not because we are evil, but because we are mad. We treat sex like a toy and each other’s bodies like objects not because we are devils, but because we have lost all self control. Men marry men and women marry women (or have their genders surgically “reassigned”) not because we are wicked, but because we have lost all sense of what it means to be either a man or a woman. Blind to the reality of God everywhere and holding up all things, we fall prey to false gods, first and foremost our own vain and bloated egos. We become our own gods and spin ever further from any kind of moral center, any semblance of a solid ground of reality beneath our feet.
This madness afflicting Western Culture is by no means “modern.” It entered the world with the Fall of Adam and Eve. It is the madness of original sin.
And for the sake of our cure from this ancient affliction, the very real God atheists tell us does not exist, the one who created man and woman and the sacrament of marriage, who knits every baby in the womb and counts all the hairs on the heads of old men, who is everywhere and upholds all things, became one of us in a real physical body, in the real person of Jesus Christ, at a real, measurable time in recorded history. He really established one Church (the Catholic Church, from which all other Christian denominations schismed over time), was really crucified, really died, and really rose from the dead to make it possible for you and me and everyone everywhere to defeat sin and death and regain our sanity.
That’s reality. And only the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth regarding it.
Whatever in the world disagrees with that truth or contradicts it is delusion, plain and simple.
So, the real question is not, Will I remain Catholic or embrace worldly values?
The real question is, Will I remain sane or embrace madness?
I choose sanity. I choose the Catholic Church. Forever.
In response to my choice, the world is welcome to call me a fool. I don’t mind. I don’t expect rational behavior from madmen. Now that really would be foolish!
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