The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, August 30, 2013

We Are Doomed...

Yes, I'm afraid we are surely doomed. Now don't get me wrong. We're certainly not doomed in the eternal sense. Thankfully each of us still has some slight influence over his salvation. We can accept God's gift of faith and lead the lives He wants for us. We can "repent and believe in the Gospel" [Mk 1:15]. After that it's up to God and His mercy. And thank God for that! Without His mercy the hope of eternal life would be small indeed and this very finite life on earth would be a short but constant misery. Without that hope I could believe myself to be nothing but an infinitesimally tiny accident standing on my two aging legs, staring into the vast unverse, and uttering, "Why bother?" But buoyed by that hope I can instead believe God has loved me into existence. And my Creator honors me so highly that I am allowed to choose my response to His love. Created in His image and likeness, I have been blessed with both intellect and will: an intellect to know, if only partially, and a will to love, if only imperfectly. You and I are certainly not eternally doomed...unless we choose to be.

No, the doom of which I speak is nothing so great, nothing so eternal. I speak of nothing more than the end of Western Civilization. One doesn't have to be a historian to recognize that all civilizations, all cultures, eventually come to an end. Some end quietly and seem just to wither away, slowly decaying over time. The example of the Roman Empire immediately comes to mind. And others disappear almost overnight, as happened to the kingdoms of the ancient Hebrews, Israel and Judah, although each certainly planted and nourished the seeds of its own destruction.

In the case of our own civilization, the forces of decay have been working for quite some time. Some trace their origin to Marxism, some to the Enlightenment, some to the Reformation, and some, inexplicably, blame the Catholic Church. Indeed, a few months ago, during a conversation with a local minister (I will not reveal his denomination) I was told that the authoritarian, undemocratic ways of the Catholic Church were the cause of much of the misery that afflicts the West. I thought this conclusion of his especially remarkable since, only moments before, he had referred to "the irrelevance of Catholicism" in today's world. He made these comments as we chatted over a glass of punch at a social gathering celebrating the ecumenical nature of a local charity. I was proud of my restrained response -- unjustifiably so since I was seething with internal resentment. 

The cause of our decay, it seems to me, is simple: as a culture we have lost our faith. We are, indeed, a culture absent the cult that gives it life. And so, as a culture lacking its animating spirit, we seem to be well along the path to cultural doom. Our Christian faith, especially as it was lived within the Catholic Church, gave rise to so many of the institutions and values that made our culture as great as it was. The loss of this faith is, therefore, reflected in those institutions which we see degenerating all around us today. Lacking faith, their guiding principle becomes one of mere expedience and their foundations begin to crumble. It's evident throughout the culture. As a society we no longer love God and neighbor; rather we simply love ourselves. 

A medical profession that once promised to do no harm now willingly destroys those who have become socially inconvenient. And this same profession can, without embarrassment, declare perversion as just another form of normalcy.

No longer do the majority of the people accept their own sovereignty. No longer do they believe it is they who govern, that our government is a "government of the people, by the people, for the people." And so for the sake of their personal and economic security they have ceded the very core of their freedoms to others. They demand ever more from a government increasingly isolated from the people it claims to represent and serve. We see the ramifications of this in the stratospheric levels of debt piled up on the backs of our children, grandchildren and those yet unborn. It will get only worse.

Socialism, communism, fascism...all the failed authoritarian isms of the past have one thing in common: they despise Christianity and have tried mightily to destroy it. Although their failure in this is inevitable, they continue to attract those who prefer power over the good of others. Rejecting the idea of violent revolution, since one never knows where that might lead, government leaders in the West prefer to expand their power more subtly and move toward authoritarian rule under the guise of enhancing security and equality, all abetted by a people who no longer nurture the roots of their freedoms.

The family is disappearing as marriage has become either an option or a perversion. Couples who marry do so later and limit the size of their families. And as our population ages we create a potential demographic conflict in which a declining population of young, working people will eventually rebel and refuse to accept the burden of taking care of the aged.

I see no human exit strategy from this downward spiral. Fortunately with God all things are possible. After all, as Abraham discovered, just ten good men will lead God to spare an unjust society. We must all become Abrahams and plead with our just and merciful God for the future of Western Civilization. We've certainly messed it up. Let's ask Him to fix it.

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