A Crisis of Faith

The last 100 years have been marked by great advances in the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering and technology.  This has resulted in significant improvements in medicine, agriculture, communications, transportation, and virtually every aspect of the man-made world that impacts our lives.  Yet, each advance seems to turn possibilities into necessities, bringing forth new desires, new wants and new needs, creating demand for more goods and further advances.  The dark side of each advance is an increase in consumer greed, a heightened selfishness, genocidal acts like abortion posing as rights, and a focus on man as the central determinant of life rather than God.

Instead of a period of increasing satisfaction, tranquility and happiness, the previous century has been the most inhumane in history.  Millions of people have been starved, gassed, shot, and incinerated, either in wars or by their own tyrannical rulers.  Even greater numbers of children in the presumed safety of their mothers’ wombs have been chemically expelled, lethally injected, stabbed, or torn apart.  In the United States alone, since 1973, when abortion was legalized, some 53 million children – a number equivalent to the combined population of California and New York – have been killed.

How could this wanton, willful destruction of human life have occurred?  Seventy million people in America identify themselves as Catholics.  They occupy the highest positions in politics, business, the professions, the media and other areas of influence and power.  Can they not put an end to abortion, euthanasia, stem cell destruction and other intrinsic evils against human life that our Church says can never be condoned, and which put the souls of those who engage in these practices in danger of going to hell?

They could if they truly believed in the teachings of the Church, if those teachings guided their actions in the secular world, if they had a fear of the Lord.  Vast numbers of Catholics, however, are indifferent to the faith.  They want to fit into society, and revel in the material pleasures it has to offer.  Today, over 60 percent of those who assert to be Catholics do not attend Mass weekly; only one in four of those who do attend go to Confession regularly.  The secularity of the world has so diluted their faith and obscured their moral consciences that they lead their lives as practical atheists.

For too many Catholics, God is virtually absent from their lives.  For those who were born into the faith, it is perhaps easier to continue to identify themselves as Catholics, rather than make a conscious decision to reject the label.  Faith, for them, is merely a cultural trapping, religion nothing more than a warm, vacuous feeling, rather than a deep commitment to God.

Without a true faith, an abiding faith, people can hardly be expected to have a fear of the Lord.  And it is fear of the Lord that impels us to do good and avoid evil.  Scripture speaks of two types of fear of the Lord.  The first is an abject dread of an unrepentant sinner, who, as the Book of Revelation says, will hide on the day of judgment in terror of God’s justice.  The fear here is a loss of heaven and a condemnation to an eternity in hell.

Those who received the Sacrament of Penance before Vatican II recall the words of the Act of Contrition: “I detest all my sins because of the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offended Thee, my God, who art all-good and deserving of all my love.”  This brief statement expressed two types of Godly fear – one because of punishment, the other because of love.  The latter is a result of our relationship to an Almighty, All Powerful, All Knowing, All Just, and All Holy God.  We are His creatures.  In the presence of this Majestic figure, we should possess a sense of awe, reverence, adoration, honor, and worship.

This reverential fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin.  We then obey God’s Commandments and the teachings of His Church from sentiments of reverence and filial love for our heavenly Father.

If all Catholics had this reverential fear of the Lord, their every action would be in accord with God’s teachings, rather than their own desires.  There would be no legalized abortion in America.  Euthanasia would never be considered.  There would be respect for human life from conception to natural death.

Archbishop Charles Chaput described the situation as follows: “The primary crisis of our time…is a crisis of faith.  Do we believe in God or not?  Are we on fire with a love for Jesus Christ, or not?  Because if we are not, nothing else matters.  If we are, then everything we need in order to do God’s work will follow, because he never abandons his people.”

The immediate need is to evangelize Catholics to once again believe in the Lord, to hold Him in reverence, to lead our daily lives in accord with His teachings and those of His Church.  As Knights of Columbus, we can work to strengthen our own faith, to make God the center of our lives, to begin the evangelization within our own Order, our councils, our parishes.

Vivat Jesus!

Lawrence P. Grayson

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