Monday, November 1, 2010
HYPER-SECULARIZED CULTURE, CHURCH COUNTER CULTURAL?
Every year for that last few years, we have reached out to Catholics who no longer attend Mass or practice their faith with our “Awakening Faith” program; our efforts have touched quite a few and brought them back to the fold. Statistical reports tell us that nearly 70% of Catholics nationwide no longer attend Mass on any given Sunday. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the opposite was true, more that 80% of Catholics in this country did attend Mass every Sunday!
There are many reasons for this startling and drastic decline. Personally, I don’t blame the laity and maybe playing the blame game isn’t the healthiest exercise in reaching out to those who are alienated, lukewarm or skeptical about the Church. But I believe that the wrong people in both the clergy and some in religious life (sisters and brothers teaching in our Catholic schools and parishes) of the era right after Vatican II, took the leadership in implementing their corrupted version of Vatican II, what many people call the “spirit of Vatican II” which has little resemblance to Vatican II’s actual documents, as well as official post Vatican II teachings.
With the more controversial teachings on birth control and human sexuality, these very same individuals, perhaps best symbolized by Fr. Charles Curran of Catholic University of the 1960's, sought to inflame passions of rebellion and anti-authority within the clergy and laity rather than help the laity to mature in their moral decision making and their responsibility before God and the Church.
This "spirit of Vatican II" and rebellious "know better than the bishops and pope attitude" led to a corrupt model of implementing the directives of how the Mass should be celebrated in the vernacular and confusion concerning what is appropriate music for the Catholic Mass. Today’s celebration of the Mass is not as wild as it once was in the 1970’s but the consistency in quality, expectation and implementation varies widely from parish to parish. As the bishops said in other documents and I paraphrase, reverent celebrations of the Mass increase Catholic faith, whereas irreverent or poor celebrations of the Mass can weaken or destroy one’s Catholic faith.
Coupled with the confusion on how to appropriately implement the reforms of the Mass, we also lost our way in teaching the Catholic faith to our children of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s with a solid catechism. That’s about three generations of children who received minimal or even corrupted forms of Catholic doctrine. Today, unfortunately, for many Catholics their primary form of indoctrination is secularism that comes from the liberal media, its news programs and television shows and other forms of entertainment. Is it any wonder that so many are so lukewarm about their Catholic faith and means to salvation especially parents of new generations of Catholic Children who do not even bother to bring their children to Mass?
Today with our hyper-secularized culture, new pressures are placed upon Catholics in the areas of human sexuality, same sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion, birth control and other hot button political issues that place traditional Catholic teaching on an extreme outside of mainline thinking. If we hold publicly to what we believe we will be marginalized, ostracized or condemned as bigots and anti-women, anti-gay and anti-human rights and anti-intellectual. Wow! Who wants to be Catholic with those descriptions hurled at us if these are true? But of course, these slanders and libels are not true.
The antidote to this hyper-secularizing influence upon Catholics is the truth of Jesus Christ taught in the Bible and Catechism, Sunday Mass, daily prayer and devotions, frequent confession and a strong sacramental life. In these experiences of Church, we encounter Jesus Christ who alone will save us from sin and hell. God bless you.
We need saints of God to stand up for Christ and His Church even if it means swimming against the tide of secularism and anti-Catholicism. Saints and Martyrs did in the past, there is no reason to think that we can't do it today with the grace of God. Have a blessed All Saints Day!