Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Depriving Beauty

Depriving Beauty


When you look across the landscape of all the polls and surveys, you see about three quarters of Catholics have very little to do with the Faith anymore. There's a wide spectrum, of course, but at bottom, most do not participate in the sacramental life of the Church. They are indifferent to the saving power of the Church, and the consequent need for frequent confession and reception of Holy Communion.

Considering these are the ordinary means of salvation, what we have is a near-complete collapse of the Church in the West. And these 75–25 percent numbers are for America. In other places in the Western world it's even more dreadful, where less than 5–10 percent of Catholics avail themselves of the mercy of God through the sacraments.

How has this happened? How have we arrived at such a point where people can be so indifferent to their own eternal destiny? And that is what's at work here; let's be direct about it. Our Blessed Lord did not establish a Church and breathe His own divine power into it so that souls could be indifferent to it. He said flatly, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life within you" (John 6:53). Those words mean something very plainly.

Saint Paul tells us not to receive the Body and Blood unworthily else we eat and drink our own damnation. These words too have meaning. Both instructions underline the need for confession and Holy Communion — the need, not just the desire or niceness or anything of the kind. In fact, this is precisely what lies at the heart of the Good News.

So why, as the only religion on earth that preaches this (the Orthodox aside), do so few of Her followers believe it or care about it? One simple reason: the abandonment of the preaching about the gravity of sin, its consequences and the devil.

The reason the ordinary means of salvation are treated so lightly is because what they are curing is treated so lightly. They are the remedy for sin, and it needs to be said very plainly, God hates sin. He desires that all be saved from it. He loves the sinner, but He abhors the sin; He cannot countenance it; He cannot brook it. He can have nothing to do with it. It is an offense against His Supreme Beauty.

As long as Catholics continue to be given spiritual gruel about the enormity and ugliness of sin, they will never be able to comprehend the glory of the sacraments. That huge numbers of Catholics simply think everyone who dies goes to Heaven, or practically everyone, they see no need to examine themselves and their own spiritual conditions because they've been told, or they've plucked from the air, that sin isn't that big of a deal.

They've been told wrong. They've been deprived of the beauty of God.  

How can the average Catholic who is indifferent to the Church, to God and to sin, and who expects to die and just go to Heaven, ever truly comprehend the most beautiful aspects of the Faith: the mercy of God, His actions on Golgotha, His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament?

Answer: He can't. This is why the approach to try and reinvigorate the dead faith in so many Catholics by appealing to their emotions is a non-starter. Too few people who are baptized Catholics have ever heard about the ugliness of sin, about the great danger of Hell. That Jesus came primarily as Savior is not grasped to the degree it needs to be. There is simply the presumption that all is well, and when I die I go to Heaven.

All is not well. That is exactly how the diabolical wants people thinking; he wants them to believe that, so he introduces thoughts to their imagination, like God wouldn't throw someone into Hell for all eternity. But the Church and Her spiritual giants like St. Alphonsus Ligouri say, "Never forget at this very moment, there are souls in Hell who at one point in their lives are holier than you are now. Judas raised people from the dead."

The greatest spiritual deception of the last 50 years — and unfortunately still counting — is that sin is not all that bad, God understands, and we have a reasonable hope therefore that all men are saved.That mindset denies the soul mired and trapped in sin the motivation to ever leave his darkness, because he does not properly see it as darkness, just the result of some bad choices that God excuses at death.

As Our Lord says, "If the light in you is darkness, how deep will the darkness be" (Matthew 6:23).

The Catholic faith lives on the extremes — the extreme of having horrible sin forgiven, and then the resultant joy of realizing just exactly whata you have been saved from and saved for. Saint Catherine of Siena said she would die 10,000 times before she would even commit a venial sin — and she said that because she rightly understood the enormity of sin. Consequently, she understood the overwhelming magnificent beauty of God, so much so that God the Father regularly spoke with her.

Reject all watered-down, phony Catholicism as you would reject any cheap knock-off. Our sins are too great and God's forgiveness too unimaginable to be confined to a boring little world of no beauty.