Catholic Exchange: Why So Many Are Leaving the Church: The Faith and Reason Problem

Yet another study confirms the hemorrhaging taking place inside the Church in the West. People are leaving the Faith in droves. A good many are leaving for agnosticism, atheism, or the often used, nones category. Much of what drives these individuals to leave en masse is our failure to explain coherently and concisely the relationship between faith and reason in the face of widespread criticism in the culture.

The Western world is dominated by secular education where children are taught principles, ideas, and a worldview that is often hostile to the Catholic Faith. The West has been engaged in a battle between faith and reason for the last 500 years. First, far too many splitting from the Catholic Church abandoned reason altogether believing it to be a broken ability in Fallen men. Second, this led to the inevitable split on the side of reason as philosophy and science embarked on the path of proving that a rationalist-materialist worldview is the only one worth having. Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI devoted great volumes of work to bridging the chasm created between faith and reason. The problem now: We are ignoring the Church’s resources at our own peril.

It is very difficult for a child to parse the nuances of their faith from what they are taught in the classroom, especially at times of tremendous peer pressure and intellectual confusion. Since public education is the primary source of education for those families who cannot afford Catholic education or who cannot, or choose not, to homeschool, there must be a way to reach children from an early age in order to teach them that faith and reason work harmoniously together. They are not in opposition, they are complementary. Each works for the other, but since faith is supernatural, it elevates and heightens reason to unachievable heights it could never reach without grace.

Parents, teens, college students, and all members of the laity really need to examine the relationship between faith and reason closely in order to understand the battles being waged in our culture. We are often marginalized and dismissed precisely because the culture does not understand the authentic natures of faith and reason, either individually or as they work together, and we do not provide clear responses.

Saint John Paul II sought to clarify and elucidate on the Church’s brilliant teaching on faith and reason in his incredible encyclical Fides et Ratio. It is truly a gift for our times. The understanding of faith was furthered in Pope Emeritus Benedict’s undertaking of his last encyclical, which was finished by Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei. We have resources. We have answers to the questions or attacks made against our Faith, we only have to use them and share them with our children. If we do not, then they will fall for the errors of our times and leave the Faith all together. Children are not coming back in later years as was the case in previous times. Secular college campuses seem to be a place where the faith of many goes to die. Much of this is because that faith was not nurtured or aided by the gift of reason, properly ordered.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

The Annunciation: Antithesis to Terrorism and Nihilism

It should be apparent to the world that Islamists like those in ISIS are at war with everyone who does not submit to their prescribed religious tenants. Terrorists are not nihilists. There was an article published about a year ago on how terrorists are nihilists. This is false. The only thing nihilists and terrorists have in common is the use of violence and power to achieve an end. Nihilists believe in nothing. They believe there is no objective truth and that the strong must prevail over the weak. Islamists believe that the world must be brought to Allah through violence and war and that Islam is predicated upon violent domination. There is a great chasm of difference between these two ideologies, but the author is correct in seeing commonalities in violence.

As Catholics we are doing battle with both nihilism and Islamism at the same time because they are both opposed to the Living God. While force is necessary in certain circumstances in response to great evils in the world, we must also remember the spiritual weapons at our disposal. We must remember to turn to Our Heavenly Mother and to show the world God’s love. We must pray, fast, and give alms to those in need.

Mary is the antithesis of both nihilism and Islamism. Both use force, coercion, and violence in order to achieve their goals. The Triune God does not force us to come to Him. This is clearly demonstrated through the power, beauty, and love of the Annunciation.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

Holy Thursday: Ending the Cycle of Violence

As another nation, this time Belgium, faces the aftermath of terrorism and its clarion call of hatred, the message of Holy Thursday and the need for Christ becomes ever more apparent. After Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist to be food for the Church, He went out to pray and submitted to the will of the Father. It was then in the darkness of night that Our Lord was betrayed and arrested:

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people. His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.” Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him. Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.  And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?”  At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me. But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

(Matthew 26:47-56)

This passage is filled with the sinful inclinations of human beings. Judas demonstrates greed and how easily people can cast aside one another for material gain. Of course, we know this does not end well for Judas. He does not find fulfillment in the money he desired for his betrayal and he hangs himself in despair.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

Comments: Be Pillars of Light

One of the many problems with the Internet, and no I am not anti-Internet, is the anger that it seems to bring out of people. Sitting at a computer screen in our home, makes people seem far away. They are “the other” and I am not “them”. It is something we all do at one point or another if we have beliefs that are dear to us, whether it be religious, political, or even our favorite sports team. The Internet is fast becoming a place of ranting, and little dialgoue. Rather than learn from someone else, or Heaven forbid, listen to another’s point of view, we run over the top of people with our written word. I am guilty of this at times, sometimes a lot. We feel comfortable sharing our prejudices or down-right bigotry with the world. Rather than be pillars of Light, we end up becoming clamoring gongs that point to darkness.

So, as so many other writers on the Internet have to do, I am asking that people who choose to comment on my blog, be pillars of Light. I don’t care if you don’t agree with me. I don’t care if you aren’t Catholic. But, I will not tolerate hateful, bigoted speech. There is a lot of ignorance in the world. In fact, every single one of us is ignorant about many things. If you want to learn, I am happy to engage in dialogue with you. I greatly enjoy learning from others. If all you want to do is rant, rave, and yell asinine things then I am going to delete your comments and block you from the discussion. That includes telling me that I am not “saved” because I am Catholic. I am not interested in your self-righteous condemnations and neither is any other reader of this blog. I don’t want my blog to be a place of darkness, nor do I want it to be a near occasion of sin for me or anybody else. Sinful anger is very tempting on the Internet. I am a wife, mom, Lay Dominican, and graduate student. I just don’t have time to confront other people’s neurosis. So feel free to discuss, provide input, and insight. I look forward to your comments, but make sure to do it in love and charity. Pax Christi!
 

 

 

 

Wake Up America: A Call to Prayer and Fasting for Our Persecuted Brethren

I have been watching with horror as Christians are being systematically murdered, exiled, or placed in dhimmi status in Syria and Iraq. Over the past few years, Christians have endured public executions to include crucifixions, the loss of their homes and property, rape, torture, and the total loss of their homeland. Nary a word has come from our President. A President who is either so inept at foreign policy that he does not know what to do, too arrogant to mind, or worse, supports the persecution of Christians. I don’t know what the answer is, quite honestly. His actions tell me that he has very little regard for the dignity of any human person, but himself. But, no matter what, it should be deeply distressing to Christians here. I have no control over our current President who I believe is totally morally corrupt. But, I do have power to pray and work to bring awareness and funds to those who need it.

As Americans, we live in an insular bubble. Most of us have a roof over our heads, too much food, water, and a plethora of possessions. We go throughout our day oblivious of what is going on throughout the world. It does not matter that a good portion of the world is in flames, and that Russia has decided to make a power grab reminiscent of the days following World War II. It cannot last. I repeat, our oblivion cannot last. Human nature has always been at war. That is why Christ came. Peace is a wonderful blessing, but one that never lasts. We need to wake up and pay attention. We need to fall on our knees and pray for those countless slaughtered and for the conversion of souls throughout the world. My weapons of choice: the Rosary and the Holy Eucharist. Only Christ himself can save us. We are soldiers. Our weapons are spiritual and we are waging a battle against the forces of evil: Satan himself. It is time to wake up from our stupor and get to the business of working and serving Christ.

What can we do? First, since our mainstream media refuses to give air time to the murder of Christians, share news stories that detail the horrors of what our brethren are enduring in Syria and Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, China, etc. Second, show the world that we stand in solidarity with all Christians. As the Cross was turned into a symbol of hope, we shall turn any symbol (see the picture below) used to murder Christians or take away their history or livelihood and turn it into a symbol of power: The power of Jesus Christ. Third, find reliable charities who provide resources to persecuted Christians and donate. It does not need to be a large donation, whatever you can spare. Give up a couple of lattes or a trip to McDonald’s, then use the money for charity. Fourth, pray, go to Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, however you pray, do it. Pray for the persecuted, the dead, the persecutors, and for our leadership and leaders around the world. Fifth, fast. I mean serious fasting. Take a day a month or a week and live on bread and water. Offer it up in solidarity with the victims and the poor. It is good for you and fasting can save souls. Did I mention, PRAY?!

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This makes a great social media profile picture.  It is no longer a symbol of fear, it is a sign of strength, solidarity, and the power of the Living God, Jesus Christ.
This makes a great social media profile picture. It is no longer a symbol of fear, it is a sign of strength, solidarity, and the power of the Living God, Jesus Christ.

We all must wake up from the slumber that peace, wealth, and prosperity has put us in. We have it all, so why does the rest of the world matter? First, because we are all members of the Mystical Body of Christ and when one portion is hurt, the whole body hurts. Second, because this mess is not always going to be “over there”. History tells us that war and violence is common, not peace. Prayers can prevent wars and bring peace. So let’s get on our knees and pray now before the cancers of secularism and radical Islam spread even more. May God bless you always. Onward Christian Soldiers!!!

Do you have any suggestions to add?