As Catholics, we are so lucky to be living right now. Just think about everything that’s going on with our Church these days: people are leaving the faith in droves; there are endless Church scandals; we have a severe priest shortage; many parishes are on the verge of financial collapse; and the Catholic Church is now mocked and scorned by the elites who shape our American culture. Yes, this is a great time to be Catholic!
Hey, I heard what you just said. I am not in fact losing my mind. Let me explain:
Back in the so-called “good ol’ days,” for example, during the 1950s, the Catholic Church in America was well-respected.The Church was an influential part of society. The vast majority of Catholics went to Mass each Sunday, and millions of kids attended Catholic schools. The seminaries were overflowing, and every parish had at least two or three priests living in the rectory.
So the Church back in those days was big and powerful and, well, kind of comfortable. Being Catholic was fairly easy. It was mainstream and respectable.
Nowadays, being Catholic is counter-cultural. If you want to be Catholic today, you have to make a conscious decision to defy the popular sentiments of our society. You know there’s a good chance you’ll be labeled as a superstitious simpleton, at best, or as a hateful bigot, at worst.
As a self-professing Catholic, you’ll have to defend the sanctity of life and the traditional definition of marriage. You’ll have to oppose the death penalty, the mindless stockpiling of weapons of war, and the inhumane treatment of immigrants, whether they have legal status or not. You’ll have to bow out of the consumerist rat race and NOT base a person’s worth on how much money they have. You’ll have to believe that humility and modesty and sacrifice are good character traits, rather than arrogance and self-promotion and greed. As a result, you are sure to be attacked by both sides of the political spectrum and laughed at by the folks in the news media and entertainment industry.
To put it in modern terms, the Church is no longer a “player” in our culture. And you know what? Throughout history, these have been the exact circumstances in which the Church thrives. During times when the Church was wealthy and influential, it became fat and lazy and ineffective. It focused so much on amassing assets and prestige, it stopped preaching the Gospel and saving souls. On the other hand, during times when the Church was driven underground and labeled by authorities as a subversive organization, it became a powerful witness to the Gospel message — often with the blood of many martyrs being spilled.
So, we are living in the perfect moment in history to be Catholic. We don’t have to waste time currying favor and sucking up to the powerful people in our culture, since they won’t give us the time of day, anyway. Instead, we can focus on preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and bringing comfort to a hurting world.
Another thing to consider are war stories in Heaven. Just imagine the poor fellows who lived during fat, dumb, and happy Catholic times, such as the 1950s in the U.S. What kind of war stories are they able to share with the other saints in Heaven? Maybe something like, “Well, it was pretty rough being Catholic in my day. We had to eat fishsticks every Friday.” After a long awkward pause, St. Maximilian Kolbe, who was listening in on the conversation, quietly says, “Um, it was a little different in my country.”
Think of all the war stories Catholics of the present generation will be able to share in Heaven. If we make sure we’re not seduced by the secular zeitgeist, but instead stand strong for the Gospel, we surely will find ourselves in a spiritual battle. It may get rather rough, but at least when the time comes, our reminiscing won’t be limited to fishsticks.
The main reason this is a great time to be Catholic is because we have the Truth on our side. That’s Truth with a capital “T,” in the person of Jesus Christ. So, even if it seems like the Church is being squashed by the dominant culture, fear not. We are on the verge of something great. Now, be of good cheer and go forth and accumulate some war stories!