I entered the Catholic Church in 2010, but my wife and I turned slowly away from the popular ideological goals and dreams of this world a few years before that. She has leapt ahead of me now in this progress towards eternity, which is fitting as she also lead me in life by her understanding of the importance of comprehending that something came next for us both. Her life, in comparison, was harder than mine. She was more easily influenced by worldly others close to her. She retained, but suppressed, an innate understanding of God.
In her later years, that understanding surfaced to help me seek the truth that I had left behind as a young man. She was by then free of close evil influences, free to pursue life with the purposeful restraints she somehow knew we had to accept.
The choice of the Catholic Church was an easy one. Who could logically reject what Jesus had considered necessary? “…I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). His Apostles, then full of the Holy Spirit, traveled throughout the world spreading the Gospel. Their heirs doing the same while deflecting heresy.
What I did not know, as interest gave way to action and learning through R.C.I.A., reading, current news, EWTN, Catholic radio, and lectures, was how deeply the Church had been despised throughout history and how much it was despised in America today. A new political leadership in Washington “progressively” provided the power of law to try and subdue Christianity. Deception and incrementalism were used to keep secret the desire to introduce a bewildering variety of man-made contradictions to natural law and common sense, while slowly revealing them through political edict to a population accustomed to Christian values that built our great country.
“I have evolved” became the new mantra. This deceptive phrase, along with others, elevated long held harmful desires to noble status. Deceptive, because the revelation came only because the time was right to announce it. It promoted violence and blind opposition to rightful action. Political elites successfully turned those who never experienced horrible historical wrongful acts into valuable voters who bonded with long dead persons because they were of the same physical appearance. Valuable voters as opposed to the “deplorable” class who rejected this new impressed order of society. They convinced new and old voters that guilt was a virtue and progress meant more political power and not a distance from old wrongs. In politics and government, social “fundamental change” meant a unified secular Governing body for the whole world. This done through legal incrementalism and social harassment impressed upon a population. Disruption became a synonym for the word progressive.
What Did I Get Into?
On into my time as a new Catholic, I became more aware, as a few pastors with a keen sense of the past paraphrased in their sermons what Jesus has told us:
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-14)
I thought that I would have a better life understanding the faith more deeply. After all, I had been aware of the history of our country that it prospered under Christian, if not entirely Catholic, values. Even as a young citizen disinterested in the institutions of religions, I did at least understand that Christianity presented the world with the only value system that saw the person as primary. I saw the Christian churches as valuable institutions because they carried forward this understanding of life. Much more valuable to life than government or any of the new and old ideologies that were gaining support when I was gaining maturity.
Life Changed Around Me
As a young man in my twenties, I saw the hippie generation turn away from the life they had known, largely because it was not considered perfect. The glaring imperfections of our ancestors and parents, like racial domination, even though that was changing, gave justification for total rejection of all old values, and to live a more self-centered life. A contradiction in that this attitude presented the choice of rejecting something proven mostly good for something only perceived as good.
This rejection of a vertical and horizontal view of life was replaced by an inward view. They looked East to learn about inward searching. Meditation and Indian mystics became popular. Spirituality had not yet been abandoned. It became anything that a person wanted it to be. This change in world view was not spontaneous but progressive. It grew slowly in the minds of the academically inclined from decades of reading philosophers like Emanuel Kant and novelist existentialists like Albert Camus. This kind of searching, however, needed help to make sense, so gurus and drugs were added to the already homogeneous mix of thoughts. Homogeneous in that the central theme was the self.
This social revolution brought about the growing rejection of religion we experience today in the Western World. Replaced not by a loss of spirituality, but by a restriction that faith must concur with inner desires. Faith in science, faith in a leader, faith in an ideology, faith that my desires will be accepted as okay because they are mine.
A Bigger Revelation
The rejection of the Church by non-believers was to be expected. The rejection of some of Her teachings by the laity can also be understood, if not condoned, because of my own attitude as a teen. But, the rejection of Her teachings by professed members, those who promised to follow Christ, really makes very clear the fallen state of man. Perhaps the once largely invisible Smoke of Satan has become a brazen odor.
I was not put off by the priest sex abuse scandal. The comprehensive report by John Jay College of Criminal Justice was followed up by a supplemental report in 2006 that showed that the incidence of abuse peaked about 1980 (figure 1.2) then dropped sharply after that. The media’s anti-Catholicism that surfaced because of the deluge of reporting of these incidents in later years, ignored other American institutions and the glorification of selfish desires by American secular society. These priests were the new self-indulgent Americans first and followers of Christ second.
What We Have Now
The Church’s response to this crisis was quick and thorough, but the smoke continued to infiltrate. This year of 2017, we have come to another crisis in the Church. The very successors of the Apostles, many of our bishops, have expressed their different instructions regarding the Pope’s exhortation Amoris Latitia. Other bishops have attacked those asking for clarification of this seemingly important departure from pastoral care, at best. An actual departure from doctrine at worst. All of this turmoil fueled by nonsensical academic explanations instead of answers.
Cryptic explanations without concrete conclusions – communion for these people yes or no?
“What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of all particular cases.” This from Card Schonborn the Popes “official” Amoris Latitia interpreter.
Any generalized circumstances described in Amoris Latitia paragraph 298 would certainly qualify as worthy of compassion. But in the aftermath of this exhortation, we are only told that priests must discern, which is a process, while leaving the possible results of this discernment unanswered. We get sympathetic descriptions of hypothetical circumstances. Not to say that real people have not experienced these same situations, but then tell us what you would tell them – go ahead and take communion or no. It is a binary decision, not a complicated matter of endless discernment that produces no answer to those asking for an answer.
All of this turmoil in the Church remains, as are major political differences in the secular world, unresolved. Ordained Church leaders who seemingly don’t fear judgment (either final or temporal) have put themselves at odds with each other. These are largely men of equal responsibility who, besides some being Cardinals, are responsible for the souls of members the Church.
Quarreling among peers is not new. We may be experiencing what may not have been seen for many centuries. A chosen top leader ultimately not able, through weakness or desire, to fan away the smoke and restore order and truth to where it belongs.