Times hard for those involved in Catholicism

It’s tough being a Catholic these days.

Some are conflicted by a desire to remain within the church, yet are put off by some of its teachings and the behavior of a minority of the clergy.

Others yearn for yesteryear, when everything seemed simple.

Life has never been easy or simple for a Catholic.

From its earliest days, strife and division have characterized church history, portions of which have been, shall we say, less than edifying.

Today, the church confronts a crisis in Western society, perhaps one of the most insidious and dangerous.

Rather than outright persecution, the challenge is secularism, the belief that one’s personal religious beliefs have no place in the public sphere and should remain private.

On its face, secularism seems to be so American, a tolerant “live and let live” approach to life. Who could object?

The problem is subtle yet profound.

Secularism banishes God from creation.

The church has long warned against secularism, because it tends to reduce an individual to a minor element of a large society, with rights granted or tolerated by the majority.

And the tyranny of the majority is as dangerous as the tyranny of the minority.

A belief in the connection of God to creation is essential in opposing secularism, because, as Jefferson reminds us, our rights don’t originate from government, but from “the Creator.”

Humans need to place their trust in something or someone.

When they cease believing in God, the result is not that they believe in nothing, but that they place their trust in anything— the state, the media, etc.

And when that confidence and hope is dashed, they resort to entertainment or diversions in an effort to fill the vacuum.

Additionally, secularism ignores two fundamental realities: each individual is entitled to full dignity and respect, and society exists to support the individual, not vice versa.

Nowhere is this conflict between the church and secularism more evident than in the so-called “culture wars.”

The minefields of abortion, reproductive choice, marriage arrangements and sexual “freedom” are and will be a challenge to the church’s mission to re-evangelize the world.

True, the Pope enjoys tremendous popularity.

Some, formerly indifferent to Catholicism, are at least inclined to take another look at the church due to his warmth and humility.

But he knows full well that fame can disappear with the next news cycle. At times, the church must be counter-cultural to be faithful to its mission.

Example is the most powerful teacher. The saint from whom the present pope took his name once said, “Preach the Gospel always. Occasionally use words.”

Catholics understand who their church’s founder is, and know that it will last through the ages, regardless of its organizational chart.

They should not be discouraged with the present situation, but take heart in the words of Mother Theresa of Calcutta: “God doesn’t ask us to be successful; only faithful.”

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