A Trump victory, if anything, only slowed down the speeding train of our secular culture. Lord willing, Catholics and other like-minded people will be given a reprieve after the last 8 years of open attacks and vilification by the Obama Administration and his fellow ideologues. Christian businesses have been destroyed, sisters working to help the poor elderly in our nation have been demonized and persecuted, and the rhetoric based on emotion and labels such as “bigot” and “hate-filled” have reached an all time high. Reality matters little to these people blinded by their own ideology.
It is clear that the blindness runs on both sides of the political spectrum and I have been critical of liberal and conservative alike in approach, mentality, and ideology. Many view Trump’s victory as a reprieve granted through our prayers. I am not ready to jump on that wagon since Trump is soft on his pro-life and marriage stances. While open persecution of the Church may soften during his tenure, there are plenty waiting in the wings to take up his place should he not be re-elected in four years. Quite frankly, we have no idea what to expect from the man.
The mission for Catholics has always been the same: holiness. It is fine to view Trump’s win as a victory, but it is unacceptable to continue with the status quo. The status quo–nominal Catholic living–led us to a Clinton-Trump election. Far too many Catholics have succumbed to the secular division of Church and state, and while the Church does not support a state religion, she is certainly opposed to a separation of public and private life. We are not Catholic on Sunday and secular during the week.
The appeal often made to «the rightful autonomy of the participation of lay Catholics» in politics needs to be clarified. Promoting the common good of society, according to one’s conscience, has nothing to do with «confessionalism» or religious intolerance. For Catholic moral doctrine, the rightful autonomy of the political or civil sphere from that of religion and the Church – but not from that of morality – is a value that has been attained and recognized by the Catholic Church and belongs to inheritance of contemporary civilization. John Paul II has warned many times of the dangers which follow from confusion between the religious and political spheres. «Extremely sensitive situations arise when a specifically religious norm becomes or tends to become the law of a state without due consideration for the distinction between the domains proper to religion and to political society. In practice, the identification of religious law with civil law can stifle religious freedom, even going so far as to restrict or deny other inalienable human rights». All the faithful are well aware that specifically religious activities (such as the profession of faith, worship, administration of sacraments, theological doctrines, interchange between religious authorities and the members of religions) are outside the state’s responsibility. The state must not interfere, nor in any way require or prohibit these activities, except when it is a question of public order. The recognition of civil and political rights, as well as the allocation of public services may not be made dependent upon citizens’ religious convictions or activities.
The right and duty of Catholics and all citizens to seek the truth with sincerity and to promote and defend, by legitimate means, moral truths concerning society, justice, freedom, respect for human life and the other rights of the person, is something quite different. The fact that some of these truths may also be taught by the Church does not lessen the political legitimacy or the rightful «autonomy» of the contribution of those citizens who are committed to them, irrespective of the role that reasoned inquiry or confirmation by the Christian faith may have played in recognizing such truths. Such «autonomy» refers first of all to the attitude of the person who respects the truths that derive from natural knowledge regarding man’s life in society, even if such truths may also be taught by a specific religion, because truth is one. It would be a mistake to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the moral and social teaching of the Church.
Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, November 21, 2002
A separation of faith and public life has aided in or descent into the current cultural madness. If we are not careful, it will be this type of thinking that will allow the powerful progressive agendas to sweep us into a dark period of intense persecution in coming years. Lest you think I am engaging in conspiracy theories, take some time to read the comment sections on various articles or even in your own Facebook feed. The real agenda is out in the open in all of its fury. We are an avowed enemy of this ideology. If you want to understand our culture then you need to study nihilism, relativism, and utilitarianism. These are the predominant philosophies within our culture at present. Attacks are nothing new for the Christian Church, which has been persecuted since Jesus Christ was crucified on the Cross. Our own Savior was killed, why should we expect anything different?
Since we know we will be “hated” or “vilified” on account of our faith in Jesus Christ, we need to turn our gaze back to Him. No purely political or human response is ever going to solve the world’s ills. Humanism will never eradicate the problem of sin and evil. The only answer to sin, evil, and death is salvation. Since we know this truth as Catholics, we cannot operate in a manner that betrays a lack of hope in the Paschal Mystery and an over-dependence on the temporal order. We live and work in the temporal affairs of this life, but we do not live as if the material is the only reality in existence. We live knowing Christ is the true hope and savior of all.
Modern man is on the road to a more thorough development of his own personality, and to a growing discovery and vindication of his own rights. Since it has been entrusted to the Church to reveal the mystery of God, Who is the ultimate goal of man, she opens up to man at the same time the meaning of his own existence, that is, the innermost truth about himself. The Church truly knows that only God, Whom she serves, meets the deepest longings of the human heart, which is never fully satisfied by what this world has to offer.
Gaudium et Spes 41
There should be little doubt that our world is hurting. There is a great deal of suffering and the conversion of souls is an ever new problem, this has been complicated by a relativism inside of the Church that claims all religions are equal, thus nullifying our need to evangelize. This is heresy. The Catholic Church contains the fullness of truth, and while partial truths abound in God’s creation, our desire should be for all peoples to come united in order to participate in the Eucharistic feast.
This day-in-age far too many people have fallen into error and now worship at the high altar of self. This poses great challenges to us in the New Evangelization. The role of the laity in the Church is to evangelize the culture in order to bring it into conformity with the Most Holy Trinity.
Secular duties and activities belong properly although not exclusively to laymen. Therefore acting as citizens in the world, whether individually or socially, they will keep the laws proper to each discipline, and labor to equip themselves with a genuine expertise in their various fields. They will gladly work with men seeking the same goals. Acknowledging the demands of faith and endowed with its force, they will unhesitatingly devise new enterprises, where they are appropriate, and put them into action. Laymen should also know that it is generally the function of their well-formed Christian conscience to see that the divine law is inscribed in the life of the earthly city; from priests they may look for spiritual light and nourishment…Since they have an active role to play in the whole life of the Church, laymen are not only bound to penetrate the world with a Christian spirit, but are also called to be witnesses to Christ in all things in the midst of human society.
Gaudium et Spes 43
‘We are called to witness to Christ in all things.’ This is a tall order, but in full conformity with our Baptismal promises. Being Catholic does not mean attending Mass on Sunday and then living as everyone else in the culture lives. We are to testify and witness by our lives. This means praying for the courage to step onto the long arduous path of holiness. The meaning of our lives is to become a saint. Sainthood is not reserved for the select few who are canonized by the Church. Sainthood is the call for every single one of us.
This is a lengthy topic and I cannot cover it in one single post, but here are some things to consider in your own life, as I consider them in my own life. I will write frequently on these topics.
- Do you practice what you preach in social media or to the people you know?
- How is your prayer life?
- Do you truly grasp the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and its implications?
- Do you pray as a family on a regular basis?
- Do you study and pray with Scripture daily?
- Do you own a Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
- Do you really know what the Church teaches or only base it on conjecture, hearsay, or what you want to believe?
- Do you truly know and love Jesus Christ and desire communion with the Most Holy Trinity?
- Are you addicted to good feelings or has your faith matured beyond good feelings? Sainthood will never happen if we are addicted to good feelings. We must be refined in the Divine furnace and that requires suffering.
- Do you frequent the Sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Eucharist?
- Do you monitor the media you and your family ingest?
- Is your day structured around prayer and right praise of God or is prayer an after-thought?
- Do you celebrate holidays in a purely secular fashion or is your Catholic faith a part of the celebration?
- Do you openly share your faith with others?
- Do you serve in your community and parish in bringing the world to Christ?
- Do you attempt spiritual study whether through books, movies, or audio options?
- Are you leading your family to Heaven?
- Do you understand that your goods and money are gifts from God meant for the common good and the Church?
- What are your false idols?
- Can your co-workers and friends tell you are Catholic by the way you live, speak, and act?
All of these questions and countless more are things we need to be considering in our daily lives. I fail at so many of them, but the point is to seek God’s guidance in doing better. We must “will to be saints” per St. Thomas Aquinas. If our will is not involved then we cannot be sanctified. God comes to us in love and love is never coerced through force. Holiness is not a passive activity, it is the most active activity we will ever be called to engage in.
Today’s First Reading from the Book of Revelation paints a dire picture of what it means to be a lukewarm Christian.
I, John, heard the Lord saying to me:
“To the angel of the Church in Sardis, write this:
“‘The one who has the seven spirits of God
and the seven stars says this: “I know your works,
that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die,
for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent.
If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief,
and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you.
However, you have a few people in Sardis
who have not soiled their garments;
they will walk with me dressed in white,
because they are worthy.
“‘The victor will thus be dressed in white,
and I will never erase his name from the book of life
but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father
and of his angels.
“‘Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
“To the angel of the Church in Laodicea, write this:
“‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness,
the source of God’s creation, says this:
“I know your works;
I know that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either cold or hot.
So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of my mouth.
For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’
and yet do not realize that you are wretched,
pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich,
and white garments to put on
so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed,
and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.
Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.
Be earnest, therefore, and repent.
“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
then I will enter his house and dine with him,
and he with me.
I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne,
as I myself first won the victory
and sit with my Father on his throne.
“‘Whoever has ears ought to hear
what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Rev. 3:1-6, 14-22
Have we taken this reading to heart? Do we understand the dangerous implications in our half-hearted–which really amount to no attempt–at following Christ and becoming a saint? Yelling or correcting someone in social media or in the parish community does not amount to sanctity. We need to look deep within ourselves and allow God to penetrate our own darkness. If we have the courage and walk with Christ, we will begin to see our own ugliness and the desperate need for the blood of the Cross to wash us clean.
The first step in changing the world is to become saints. We must allow God to prune us and help us to overcome sin. We must be striving in virtuous living and establishing good habits such as regular prayer, the Sacraments, prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice always bound up in the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Only then will we begin to see tangible results. Those results will seem small, but in reality they have eternal implications. Pax Christi.