Continuing with the theme of yesterday’s post, “Some Options,” let me reiterate that I do not begrudge a single soul for trying, with the best resources they have available, to produce a response to the present state of affairs in order to ensure both the survival and transmission of what I will broadly call the Christian inheritance while also remaining cognizant of the Great Commission: “Go forth and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
At this point some might assume that I have an option or two of my own to propose, which is not exactly true—at least not yet. Instead of ascending the heights of grand programmatic claims, indulge me a moment to suggest some “options” with a lowercase “o” which are largely available to anyone. Some of these options may seem quite obvious, but they bear repeating, especially at this juncture in history. And while some of these approaches may be attractive to Protestants and Orthodox, I won’t apologize for writing from a firmly Catholic perspective.
First, there is no point in protecting our Catholic patrimony until we have fully recovered it first. Living as we do in a time of rupture and upheaval, it remains incumbent upon all orthodox Catholics to look past the last 50 years, or even artful reconstructions of the past, to bring back to light just how much the Church has lost—theologically, spiritually, and liturgically—over the past several decades. Some saw promise in the “Reform of the Reform” when it came to liturgy, but I believe we can all say, with honest nods of regret, that it wasn’t enough and, indeed, could not be enough if the project remained predicated on a single papacy. A new wind is whipping through Rome, and future weather patterns are difficult to predict. The project of restoring the sacred heritage of the Church has to be carried out consistently and without incessant backward glances to make sure so-and-so in such-and-such office “approves.”
Second, Catholics need to remind themselves what the Church is for. As Codex Iuris Canonici 1752 reminds us: Salus animarum lex suprema est. And what exactly is it that the Church of Jesus Christ works to saves souls from? Hell. Yes, hell—that vastly populated destiny of all who die outside of God’s grace and friendship. If Catholics do not keep this dire truth before their own eyes, how can we expect the wider culture to do so? Forget now the apologetic excuse that speaking of hell, damnation, and sin are “alienating” or “needlessly frightening.” I dare say that such topics are needfully frightening, for what is at stake is not whether or not someone embraces some fleeting existential comfort or desires to bask in the glow of fellowship. Rather, the stakes are eternal, and nothing in this life compares.
Third, no matter how secular the surrounding culture, all of us can and must live out our daily lives under the reign of Christ the King. Not a single act, whether in the home or the office, should be conducted without our minds fixed on God and His precepts. If we wish to combat secularism, then we must demonstrate that secularism has no grip on us. We must live in a consciously non-secular manner in all things, little and large. And so yes, this means praying with your family in a public restaurant just as much as it means refraining from social activities and commercially driven cultural customs which are antithetical to Christian living.
And the last small-o suggestion that I have is to find any and all means available for you to participate in public life and then do so. This can start small and work outwards. To lift some suggestions proposed a few years ago by Fr. Arnaud Rostand: use the editorial/opinion page of your local newspaper; find opportunities to run for local offices if you have that type of talent and inclination; form associations of Catholic workers and businessmen; and lend your assistance to genuinely Catholic projects, whether they be magazines, websites, soup kitchens, or protest rallies such as March For Life. God has vested all of us with different talents and resources; find a way to apply yours for the good of the Church and the restoration—no matter how modest—of all things in Christ Jesus our Lord.
With any luck I will conclude this “miniseries” of posts by week’s end. As always, your thoughts, critical or kind, are welcome.