I was going to limit my inauguration day postings to the allegorical one immediately below. But this piece at Catholic Exchange is quite good, and deserves a full read. I am only going to excerpt it here. In the middle, (and this is not the main point, but I found it telling) the author makes the statement, “I used to define myself as an American Catholic, but now I realize I am a Catholic in America.” I think this is a problem for many otherwise earnest Catholics in this country. This should never have been our primary identifier.
I have read and heard many takes by many Catholics about the power shift taking place today. And I think it is good to remember that 1) realistic concerns do not equal pessimism, as though our Faith were a matter of emotional chance-weighing; 2) the time for namby-pamby Catholicism is past; and, 3) Christ promised us eternal life, yes, but also persecution and the Cross– and they come first. Are we faithful enough to embrace the whole package, or will we, like so many others, carve our own road that must in the end yield to pride, despair or fatal compromise?
There is still work to be done, and the hard road of salvation to be trod. Enter by the narrow gate.
Anyway, some excerpts from the Catholic Exchange piece:
I am a middle aged, middle income, traditional Catholic female and I don’t belong here anymore.
The nation I have loved all my life has rebelled, like some arrogant teenager who smugly tells his mother and father that he knows more than they do. It’s been coming on for some time, but I’ve always comforted myself with the thought that I stood with a silent majority that was just too busy working and striving and living and dying to voice their concerns about where the culture of our nation was headed.
Forty years or so after the cultural and sexual revolution began, the “teenagers” have won, the silent majority is a minority, and this nation — on an executive level — has become alien ground to me and many others.
This is not just inaugural griping, this is the realization that our nation has finally, officially embraced the post-modern world; that, in addition to media elitists and collegiate intellectuals spreading nihilism, we finally have a U.S. president who embodies such a culture. Propelled into office by voter greed, Barack Obama will now lead the nation that leads the world, using his successful blend of atheistic humanism and political manipulation that make for easy-to-digest sound bytes. The immoralists are no longer only in the ivory towers, they are in the White House, not to mention the courts, the educational systems and the financial industries. And most Americans don’t mind at all or are too busy or distracted to notice.
The U.S. has unequivocally, unabashedly and electorally embraced a subjective reality where truth is changeable, depending upon how it can serve our pocketbooks and our uninformed consciences.
“Every generation feels the same way, and yet the nation survives,” you may say. But I say our nation is dying and it’s closer to its death throes now than ever before in its history. The United States is 233 years old and it is creaking under the weight of its own arrogance.
“In the end Christ will triumph and the His truth will be vindicated,” you may also say, and I concur with a grateful heart. I thank God for His promises, which I know He will keep. But between now and His triumph could be the end of the great American experiment. Christ never promised the U.S.A. would be around to welcome His victory, and it’s not alarmist to say that our beloved nation may well fall before that glorious day arrives.
The universal struggle between good and evil, between Christ and His enemies has now taken center stage in this nation. For decades most American Catholics have lived relatively comfortably by accepting shades of gray. Little by little the grays became darker as more of the Church’s moral teachings were questioned, ignored and rejected. Now, the gray areas have turned to blackness. It is no longer possible for lukewarm Catholics to remain faithful. The gray areas are gone. American Catholics will either embrace the white light of Truth or accept the darkness.
So where does this leave aliens like me? Totally reliant upon God, and for many of us it will be the first time in our lives. I used to define myself as an American Catholic, but now I realize I am a Catholic in America. The nation I used to depend upon to accept my spiritual composition is gone. No longer does our citizenship agree that our laws are, and should be, based on Judeo-Christian concepts. No longer can a Christian assume his moral beliefs will be given fair representation or even toleration in the public forum.
As aliens, we have an important role to play as keepers of the faith on hostile soil. Here’s our opportunity to get off the fence on every controversial issue that offends God and start pulling our weight as Catholics in America. Many Catholics already are very publicly defending Christ and His Gospel truths. Most aren’t. Are you defending Christ in America? Am I?
This era, just beginning, represents our time in the long history of the Catholic Church to accept suffering, offer prayers and penance, and do battle in the public forum so that the voice of Christ can be heard. It is our turn to live as Catholics who look only to the magisterium of the Church for instruction on true human dignity and authentic social justice.
Are you up to this challenge? As Americans, we’ve grown undisciplined, flabby and unused to suffering. We can’t bear the pain of unpopularity; how will we bear persecution? And it is coming. With this new administration we have the makings of unprecedented Christian persecutions in our nation that will make martyrs and saints of many who stand up for Truth.
You won’t have to be a political activist to have it thrust upon you: parents, clergy, health care providers, teachers, workers of all kinds will find themselves facing moral issues that assault the foundations of the Catholic faith. Which issue will be the one that forces Catholics like you and me to confront how shallow our relationship with Christ has been? Which issue will finally inspire us to make the commitment to “put out into the deep,” whatever the cost?
The history of the Church is one of suffering and triumph. From that perspective, the Obama presidency could be the beginning of a great renewal of Christianity in America, if each of us lives the faith the way Christ calls us to. So in an important way, this article is not about losing a nation, so much as gaining a deeper relationship with Jesus, the King of all nations. We, who have always assumed that our nation would validate our faith, now find it must be validated only by God.
Doreen M. Truesdell, a former newspaper journalist, is a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband, Stephen, live in upstate New York with their four homeschooled children, aged 4 to 13.