“After 20 centuries of miracles from Cana to Fatima, after 20 centuries of martyrs, after 20 centuries of sanctity in every walk of life, after centuries of intellectual brilliance (Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus), after all the truth that has been poured out by the Fathers, Doctors and ecclesiastical writers, by the 20 Ecumenical Councils of the Church, the infallible pronouncements of our Pontiff…after all this, the world is as pagan today as when Christ was born and had to flee. Perhaps more so... God, in his world today, is as hidden to most people as he was when in
Father M. Raymond, O.C.S.O. made these observations in a 1954 book entitled, “God, A Woman and the Way”. This gifted Cistercian priest warned us then that we Catholics were suffering from amnesia – that we had forgotten the purpose of our lives and much of what it means to be Catholic.
Sadly, the same comments can be made as I write this introduction more than fifty-seven years later. One might even argue that we Catholics are now comatose. We are not living as we should. We have forgotten that we were made in the image of God, that as a result of original sin we are prone to sin ourselves, and that without God’s grace we will never overcome our sinful propensities. We do not know basic fundamental truths of our Faith. We are not taught our Faith. We do not live our Faith.
Too many reject major teachings of the Church. Much of what we hear is only partially true and therefore evilly deceptive. There is no objective moral good or evil, some voices shout. One church is just as good as another goes the refrain. And frequently, the invisible devilish forces whisper in our ears: “You don’t need God!” We substitute lies for the Truth!
We no longer value marriage and procreation. Our children, we are told, do not need both a father and mother – any one will do. We see children as a punishment and an unwanted burden instead of a priceless treasure. We have a great sense of outrage over the abuse of animals or the intrusion upon their natural habitats – but little umbrage over the more than fifty million children in this nation who have been killed in their mothers’ wombs. Schools cannot give our children an aspirin without our written permission, but they can give contraceptive assistance and take them for an abortion without our knowledge.
Many do not know, accept or follow the Ten Commandments. We have banned them and prayer from our schools and our Courthouses. Where once cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births were a source of embarrassment, we now ridicule and scorn marriage and sexual abstinence. We confuse sexual deviancy with human freedom. We glorify sexual activity outside of marriage and between individuals of the same sex and deem such conduct a right. Cleavage and sexually provocative dress are in; chastity and purity are rarely esteemed. Some of our children cannot read or write but can recite verbatim the lyrics of songs so vile and offensive as to turn one’s face red. We have lost any sense of guilt, shame or sin.
Since we have been told that we can not “judge” anyone, we tolerate unspeakable conduct and behaviors lest we “offend” others. We no longer consider the immoral public conduct of our elected officials a valid measure of their integrity and trustworthiness.
Crime and lack of respect permeates every level of our society. We infrequently see random acts of kindness. Our society spends more money per capita to house inmates in our jails and prisons than we spend on the education of our children. Everyone succeeds; no one fails. Self-esteem is more important than learning and growing from our mistakes. Mediocrity rather than excellence is our goal.
We have little or no time or inclination to help the less fortunate, but limitless hours to spend on the computer, in front of the TV, on our cell-phone or listening to our MP3 players or I-Pods.
War and ghastly weapons of destruction proliferate, as millions of children die from malnutrition, lack of clean water, disease, and basic medical care.
Despite the clear and unambiguous teachings of our Lord and His Catholic Church, many who profess to be “Catholic” are as supportive of abortion, pre-marital sex, co-habitation, contraception, sterilization, in-vitro fertilization, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, the active homosexual life style, and homosexual marriage as their non-Catholic neighbors.
In the early days of the Church, Christians risked their lives just to attend Mass and to receive Holy Communion. Today, the majority does not attend Sunday Mass. Rarely do they or the thousands who only come on Christmas and/or Easter hear of the eternal consequences for skipping Mass. In some places, it is more important not to offend their “feelings” than to evidence zeal for the salvation of their souls.
Among those Catholics who do attend Sunday Mass, a majority no longer believes in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist they receive or in the Sacred hosts reserved in their Church’s tabernacles. The prayerful and reverent silence evidencing such a belief is often missing. Many ignore He Who is Love to engage in inane chatter on topics more appropriately discussed at social and sporting events. Some remove our Lord out of bowls as if He were a potato chip and not the Son of God. The actions and demeanor of these individuals are inconsistent with one who professes to believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present on the altar and in their hands.
Given this current state of confusion and the reluctance of many to invest any time in spiritual reading, I have sorted through my personal collection of timeless truths from Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as from the spiritual insight of Popes, Church Doctors, Saints, sinners, and regular folk. I have assembled all of this material by topic in Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct .
While recognizing how overly simplistic this approach is, one must begin somewhere. May this small effort help penetrate the amnesia and forgetfulness that Father Raymond wrote of so many years ago. It is my hope that something you read here will awaken a hunger in you to know, study and live more fully the Truths of the Catholic Faith.