The year 1931 was significant in US history for many reasons. It was nearing the midpoint of the Great Depression. It was the year before the Presidential election that would change America forever. It was also the year that Bishop Fulton Sheen published his book entitled, Öld Errors and New Labels, it was a year that truly changed how we think in America today.
Today we are in a constant state of crisis. All you have to do is turn on your TV and you will see in the scroll, one crisis after another. At some point, when does America get tired of it all? At some point would you not think that someone would have predicted this very thing would happen?
Well, they did at it was predicted by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in his 1931 book, Öld Errors and New Labels. In it he wrote:
“The repeated use of the word “crisis” in reference to morals is interesting, for it reveals a tendency on the part of many modern writers to blame the abstract when the concrete is really at fault. They speak, for example, of the problem of crime, rather than of the criminal; of the problem of poverty, rather than of the poor; and of the “crisis in morals,” when really the crisis is amongst men who are not living morally. The crisis is not in ethics but in the unethical. The failure is not in the law, but in the law-breakers.”
Are events dictating these crisis or is the concept of the crisis a creation of the modern journalists passion to get to not the truth but the sale of the material? We all know that the media is not the truth but rather a vision of what someone believes that should be the truth. In an odd sense the problem with our morals today is not that we do not have any, it is just the opposite, we should reject all morals and take up our freedom from them. This is liberal battle cry heard far and wide all across the land. To answer this we should turn to the sage 1931 advice of Bishop Sheen, The crisis is not in ethics but in the unethical. The failure is not in the law, but in the law-breakers.¨
When a society has a failure, it is a moral failure. When a society is the throws of death, it is not because we have adopted too much of our ethics or morals, it is because we have adopted too few or none of them.
Sheen continued, “Just as there are those who believe we should change morality to suit our amorality, so there are those who believe we should change God to suit our godlessness. Religious leaders have agreed not to disagree and those beliefs for which some of our ancestors would have died they have melted into a spineless Humanism.”
In a society where it is more popular to be liked and more popular to be admired in your Parish than it is to make people uncomfortable with your homilies, Bishop Sheen warned about this problem close to 90 years ago. “Many a modern preacher is far less concerned with preaching Christ and Him crucified than he is with his popularity with his congregation. A want of intellectual backbone makes him straddle the ox of truth and the ass of nonsense. Bending the knee to the mob rather than God would probably make them scruple at ever playing the role of John the Baptist before a modern Herod. The acids of modernity are eating away the fossils of orthodoxy.”
There are ultimately only two possible adjustments in life: one is to suit our lives to principles; the other is to suit principles to our lives. “If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live.”
Do the right thing. It is more than a title of the movie, it is the title of the goal that we should all have in the Book of Life. Problem is and has always been what is the right thing to do. Bishop Sheen explained it this way, “What the new morality resolves itself into is this: You are wrong if you do a thing you do not feel like doing; and you are right if you do a thing you feel like doing. Such a morality is based not only on “fastidiousness,” but on “facetiousness.” The standard of morality then becomes the individual feeling of what is beautiful, instead of the rational estimate of what is right.”
Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.