Today in Crisis Magazine appeared an article entitled "Can The Church Recover Its Fighting Spirit?" by William Kilpatrick. In his piece, the author focuses on how Catholic leadership, beginning with the pope, are surrendering themselves and the Church to Islam. He rightly points out that in past generations, Catholics fought against Islamic encroachment and prevailed. The Catholic in the pew indeed is receiving little guidance from his/her leaders. In fact, if such a Catholic displays any wariness regarding Muslims, his/her bishop will chide him/her for being "rigid" and "xenophobic" or other such slurs.
While I think everything that Kilpatrick says is true, I don't think he quite gets to the root of the problem. Many Catholics don't know who they are, as the bride of Christ. They don't know their faith, they don't know their doctrine, they don't know their God. Without these, there can be no "fighting spirit".
Below is a video by Michael Matt of the Remnant. He touches upon cultural issues. He too understands that as late as 80 years ago, Catholics were firm in their faith. Consequently they had the respect of the culture at large, even if that respect was given grudgingly.
Matt discusses the fact that this culture has infected all of us to varying degrees; none are unscathed although we may not be aware of the damage wrought upon us. I certainly don't consider myself exempted. I saw a rather telling example of that last week, particularly in reaction to this video that was posted to my facebook wall. A number of us took exception to the mother's behavior (not the baby's) in: 1) not restraining her child from distracting others about to receive Holy Communion and 2) proceeding to post it and (it appears) license it out for some sort of gain. We were taken aback by the commenters on the video and my post who excoriated us for being "heartless". In a word, they were letting their feelings trump intellect and will.
Now why do I bring this up, one might ask. "It's just a small aberration, quite harmless", they say. Dear readers, it is precisely in these "small matters" that our awareness of God and our Catholic culture is whittled away, minuscule piece by minuscule piece. Each time we capitulate in these little matters (and we've all done it) we make it easier to capitulate in more little - and no so little - matters. This is one way we weaken our faith and the fighting spirit of which Kilpatrick writes. Lex orandi, lex credendi lex vivendi.