Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Myth of the "Good Enough" Catholic

There's no doubt that many of us have wondered how the Catholic Church today has been reduced to a pathetic shadow of what she was a mere hundred years ago - or even fifty.  I've spent some time reading about the matter to try to understand the myriad influences, both internal and external, that have contributed to the Church's obvious decline (and western civilization's too, for that matter).  On the website, I've listed some books to read and now repeat those recommendations.  In addition, please examine the Land O'Lakes Statement that has provided the game plan for undermining Catholic higher education and the various versions of the Humanist Manifesto (the first one was signed by John Dewey, reputed "father of American public education").  I also recommend the book "Behind the Lodge Door" by Paul A. Fisher.  Google the title and many sites (including Amazon) appear, from where you can order the book.  In that book is discussed the many ways that Freemasonry has had detrimental impacts on American culture.  I'd also recommend the dvd movie "Maafa 21" that details the rise of the pro-death movement in America.  Hint: watch the movie and read Fisher's book together; there are common linkages!

So now that I've described some detrimental and even demonic influences upon American and Catholic culture, did all that mean we were doomed sitting ducks?  I think not, but that means more questions must be answered.  Consider the generation that fought in World War II, the so-called "Greatest Generation."  Now let me be clear; they did indeed, at great sacrifice, fend off and defeat some of the worst totalitarians ever to walk the earth.  Because of them, civilization was saved - for the time being.  Yet we must admit that much mischief happened just a few years later, when this Greatest Generation had laid aside its military uniforms and weapons and took their places in political offices.  Under their watch, Lyndon Johnson foisted the so-called "Great Society" with its destructive welfare system on us.  Crime skyrocketed.  To top things off, the Roe v Wade decision came down, courtesy of justices appointed by presidents who were WWII veterans.  We can only conclude that they were indeed asleep at the switch.  It seems that many (not all!) forgot that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance" - with emphasis on the word "eternal".

While I think that much can be explained by Carlin's book (again, check the website book list), something more fundamental went awry.  In the December issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review is an article written by John Young entitled "From Order to Chaos in Ten Years".  (It's not online yet, but when it is, I'll post the link.)  He points out that the current problems in the Church didn't just magically appear during the turbulent 1960s.  He mentions that Pope St Pius X understood the problem of modernism and issued Pascendi Dominici Gregis.  His encyclical was followed by Pope Pius XII's encyclical Hamani Generis. (Go to the side bar to see encyclicals from Leo XIII onward).

He then talks of his experience of Catholicism in his life and his fellow Catholics.  I was a child during that time, but a fairly observant one.  I can corroborate what Young says based on my own observations.  He points out that while the "rank and file" Catholic during the 1950s generally didn't question what they were taught, they really didn't have a deep grasp of the truths of their faith.  They (like I) could recite the Baltimore Catechism, but couldn't give answers that represented intellectual depth and integration of the truths into their personal lives. They didn't take it seriously.  They did not strive for the highest level of sanctity that they could achieve.  In a word, they didn't make the Faith to heart and make it their own.  In fact, while they may have accepted the directives of the Magisterium in matters of faith and morals, many of them chafed under what they thought were joy-robbing restrictions.  This was particularly true in matters pertaining to sexuality.

At that time, the 1930 Lambeth Conference had already occurred - that conference in which the Anglicans shamed themselves by admitting the usage of contraception.  After the Vatican II conference (and the various misinterpretations regarding it), many matters of discipline were relaxed (fasting before Communion, etc).  There was talk of the Church admitting the usage of contraception.  Of course, that didn't happen - Humanae Vitae happened instead.

I write all this to explain what I believe are the reasons for the faith of Catholics melting like snow in hell during the 1960s: how fairly loyal Catholics could just fall like dominoes into rebellion against the True Church and ultimately against Our Lord Himself.  They did not make heaven their ultimate aim in life.  They did not make holiness a prime personal goal.  I think Mr. Young's lessons are worth the read.

Advent started today, as did a new liturgical year.  This would be an excellent time to take stock, to make the Kingdom of God our ultimate aim.  There is no such thing as a "good enough" Catholic.  The minute anyone thinks he or she is "good enough", that may well be a warning sign of complacency or worse.


  1. The excerpt

    They (like I) could recite the Baltimore Catechism, but couldn't give answers that represented intellectual depth and integration of the truths into their personal lives. They didn't take it seriously. They did not strive for the highest level of sanctity that they could achieve. In a word, they didn't make the Faith to heart and make it their own.

    reminds me of what my Spiritual Director said to me a while back: that you're not supposed to go to Heaven with a scorched backside (by having done only the minimum), which the Catholics in this post have been doing. He also tells me regularly that the only way to go is by striving for perfection: i.e., holiness -- which is the state of doing God's will each moment.

  2. Re the recommended books mentioned in the link in this post, may I recommend one that is thoroughly Catholic in its outlook and even theology, was written by a devout Catholic, and which resonates re these times of dark confusion with those of us who internalize the essence of things and the meaning of history in a literary more than intellectual way? It is J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," a work which is very apropos our early 21st century age. (The movies are only OK, and omit much of the wisdom that is found in the book.)


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