By Judie Brown
Fr. Peter Stravinskas recently noted that “70 percent of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence.” Some may find this shocking, but for anyone who has observed Catholic posturing on contraception and abortion over the past 50 years, this comes as no surprise. It is the core of the American Catholic crisis, but it is also an expected development if we are honest about the way our Catholic hierarchy has responded to Catholic teaching related to contraception and abortion.
A loss of faith begins with the dissent from infallible teaching. When that dissent is met with lackadaisical catechesis, what follows is deterioration and eventual doubt.
We see the tragedy that occurs when we deviate from God’s plan. . . . Many people speak of “making love,” without realizing we cannot make love: God Himself is love, we can only love in His love in accord with His design (I John 4:16). Yes, the eyes of many people today reveal an internal emptiness which comes from spending oneself on a fleeting pleasure rather than on building upon a marriage and a family.
In response, the Church calls people to live the virtue of chastity. Chastity respects the dignity of our human sexuality and the sacredness of marital love. In chastity, a person strives for mastery over feelings and passions, respects the sacredness of marital love, and takes responsibility for his actions. This virtue, moreover, gives great freedom: freedom from slavery to passions; freedom from any sexually transmitted disease, so easily contracted in this age because of promiscuity; freedom from loss of a good reputation and being known as “easy,” “a slut” or “a womanizer;” freedom from painful memories or regrets of past relationships; freedom from mortal sin and eternal punishment. St. Paul challenges us to live in the freedom of God’s children. Granted, the temptations of this world are great. By the grace of God, we can live in such freedom, respecting the sacredness of marital love.
Yes, chastity is hard; it is a challenge. But into this mix of worldly temptation and the reality of Christ’s love for us comes the human ability to accept truth, unselfish love, and joy. And that is where the emphasis needs to be these days. Whether or not the average Catholic listens and lets that truth set into one’s thought process is up to each person who hears the truth. But what if that truth is never uttered from the pulpit in the first place?
How is the uneducated Catholic supposed to live, act, and even pray if he or she never sees faith in action among those he perceives to be his leaders? If a priest cannot preach about sexual sins, his flock will wander in a field of temptation with no sustenance, no hope, and little to no conviction.
Crisis, according to Webster, is an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending. Today that decisive change looks a lot like hell on earth, followed by hell after death.
This is the problem that poured the foundation that is today’s American Catholic crisis. Where there is no sexual truth, the world fills the vacuum with her siren songs, and we know where that leads.
I am inclined to provide this solution from 2 Timothy (Chapter 4: 2-5) as a remedy for the real American Catholic crisis:
Proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement—but do all with patience and with care to instruct.
The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then they will shut their ears to the truth and will turn to myths.
But you must keep steady all the time; put up with suffering; do the work of preaching the gospel; fulfill the service asked of you.
By teaching this truth, we can help our fellow Catholics climb out of the morass and arrive at the true light of faith to which each of us is called. That would resolve the real American Catholic crisis.