July 20, 2015

How are we still surprised and what will happen next?

The news does not surprise me any more, nor does the state of our culture.

I believe, for me, the turning point was when ISIS beheaded those twenty-one Coptic Christians on a lake's shore, filmed it, put it online, and only some people gave a damn.

I cried for days about that. I cried because of the barbarism, the terror of it, the faith of those men who called out "Ya Rabbi Yasou," and the feeling that the terrorists really weren't that far away any more.

When most people don't care about twenty-one people being beheaded because of of their beliefs in 2015, how can we still be surprised by anything else?

The Little Sisters of the Poor are being forced by the government to buy people's contraception despite the fact that contraception goes against their core beliefs. Disappointing, but not surprising.

The Supreme Court decided that all fifty states must have gay marriage. I would have been surprised had the ruling gone the other way - in favor of states' rights or at least with built-in protection for religious groups.

Planned Parenthood performs abortions so they can then sell fetal body parts and its legal. I didn't see it coming, but I'm not shocked at all.

None of it surprises me any more. Am I saddened? Yes. Am I jaded? I don't really think so. Am I worried? Yes, worried about possible coming persecutions, government regulations, and what that will mean for my children.

As an orthodox Catholic my definition of the basic rights our country was founded on are very, very different than most of the American culture's. To many of my peers, politicians, and the media, Life is a right only if the mother or caretakers believes the person is convenient and not a burden. Liberty is being able to do whatever I want to do and no one can judge me. The Pursuit of Happiness is the doing of whatever I want  - whatever will make me happy right. now. 

As a Catholic, Life is a precious gift and lasts from the moment of conception to death. Liberty is not the license to do whatever one wants but the freedom to do what we ought. And the Pursuit of Happiness is all about living a joyful life filled with meaning that is focused on God and looks forward to Eternity. 

I know Jenny wishes we would rise up and fight though she feels the same as I do, but I wonder if that time has passed. Maybe now is the time, not for revolutions, but for churches to only perform religious ceremonies and courthouses to perform legal ones, for families and parishes to huddle together to build up and preserve the Faith, and if it comes to it, a time for civil disobedience.

In this culture where lewd behavior is celebrated and trending right now on social media, where people misuse words to the point of redefining them (words like "love," "bigot," and "tolerance"), where many of my fellow parishioners support abortion, divorce, contraception, women priests and scoff at the idea of mortal sin and the True Presence - well I'm wondering if the current is just too strong.

We cannot fight this culture any more. We need to stop pretending that America is a Christian country and we need to stop pretending that Christians are united in our teachings on morality. It is not and we are not.

We are supposed to be loving, serving, and passing on the faith. What that may look like in the coming years, I do not know. Will the Church go underground? Will there be a schismatic American Catholic Church? Will there be persecution for faithful Catholics? Maybe. Maybe not.

What I hope happens is that this is the beginning of a renaissance.

May the Lord be with us all. +

This isn't the first time I've written about some of these things. Here's some related posts:


  1. Your words about how we no longer live in a Christian culture really caught my eye. I've always said but I think deep down I know the times are changing. Like you, I love my faith but I really wonder what the next twenty years will look like for us...

  2. I feel you, my friend, I feel you.

  3. I feel the same as you...I just keep turning back to my family and my Faith and trying to strengthen both. I don't know what else to do??

  4. "where many of my fellow parishioners support abortion, divorce, contraception, women priests and scoff at the idea of mortal sin and the True Presence - well I'm wondering if the current is just too strong" <<---- That is how Ive been feeling exactly for so long. So many in our own parishes that outright deny Church teaching and doctrine. It is weakening our parishes from the inside and makes me worry so for our future. I worry about how to parent my children as their generation grows up in the thick of this. Even at their Catholic school it is questionable.

  5. We can always fight. Not that there aren't times for regrouping, but the fight is always there. The current has always been against Christ. In recent years, it just lightened up, and instead of taking advantage of that I feel that our society forgot the fight. Instead of battle ready, we are weak in spirit. We allowed a decay of our own sacred institution. Now we have a double task: strengthen the body of Christ and rebuild our society's morality.

    1. I feel like most of the "fighting" done is actually reactions to the culture, and usually telling the rest of the world why they're wrong. We're going to lose that fight because the growing majority doesn't want to hear our defenses while they are too busy enjoying themselves and celebrating "freedom."

      So maybe you and I are talking about two different types of fighting. I'm interested in what you see the fight looking like; I do like what you're saying but I'm having a hard time picturing how it will work.

      I think one of the best "fights" is the March for Life which is beautiful, joyful, vibrant, and really shows the Church at Her best. Of course many people don't pay attention to it a bit, but I love that it's not just a reaction to the latest trending topic or scandal but an ongoing show of real love. And real love, and really living out our faith in a joyful, faithful, reverent way - I think - is the only chance we've got.

    2. There was an article in the nal. catholic register dealing with this (the franciscan vs the benedictine way), if you haven't read it I think you'll like it

    3. I will have to read the piece, Laura.

      Bonnie, I see it more as protecting our "brand". Excuse the way too watered down terming, but I think it is a good way to relay my concept to the current people. Reactions are necessary. Stands have to made when unacceptable actions happen. I think both playing the defensive overall hurts our Catholic brand in this culture. We tolerate disobedience for the sake of comfort or harmony. The more people that are making educated rational and consistent reactions influence and earn respect from those you really want to stop the vapid lifestyle. I don't think you are wrong! I loved your words. I think certain people have distinct roles to play. Not everyone is a reactionary, but we do need those people as well.

    4. One more thought that maybe clarifies what I'm thinking (because I'm probably just over thinking this all and I love this conceptual talking points). I just don't want to let myself be confined in the upper room out of fear. I want to go out if the face of hostility and survive and show the outside culture that yes its possible to transcend the fear of being on Christ's path. Maybe it's because my inclination was too libertarian for too long. I don't know. I just don't want to be let fear of confrontation or harsh times keep me from being an active citizen.

    5. I love your point about being confined to the upper room out of fear. The Church, and all the faithful with Her, should never go underground out of choice, but I do believe that if the culture continues to stay its course the Catholic Church in America may see itself going underground out of necessity, like the faithful in Mexico and England in the past and modern day China.

      Maybe my use of the word "huddle" seems like I don't want myself or others to engage the culture any more... I feel like most people don't understand what the Church teaches and instead of yelling, "Planned Parenthood murders babies!!!" on Facebook what I would much rather see is parishes becoming communities where Church teaching is explained with charity, clarity, and joy and is then lived out with passion, love, and joy. I don't see that happening in so many places and I wish it would. I wish parishes were engaged and the True Faith was being passed on and lived out.

      I guess we are both looking to "protect our brand" but I want to do it from the inside, but you're right that this is a both/and situation.

  6. I spent my entire life in the Catholic culture and didn't "get it". 12 years Catholic education, family never missed mass, etc, etc. How is it possible that can happen? I was blessed to have experienced a conversion (in the non denominational church and found my way back to the Catholic church). That is a good starting point. Millions of kiddos slipping through the cracks, don't know the love and mercy of Jesus. I get it when people say, "the religious education of your kids is up to the parents". I have vowed to do my best (always feel like I'm not "catholic enough" with faithful or "too catholic" for 90% of our school/parish or failing at it, but I do try), but what is the point of our schools and churches if they are not converting hearts and minds and preaching the truth? My point is, if we want to fight, that is a good place to start, in our churches and schools who are no more Catholic than the name on the building and even worse, secular. Just a few of my thoughts.

    1. I think that is a concept worth visiting in parishes, Meghan.

    2. That's a great point, Meghan. I have seen at some parishes / schools where the movers and shakers are NOT orthodox but the faithful are not getting involved, feel they have been bullied out of involvement, or are opting out through homeschooling. I have also seen those same parishes shaken up when the right priest or principal or volunteer comes in and starts making changes towards a real Catholic culture.

      I think a great starting point is finding the movers and shakers in your parish who are also faithful. Let them know how you feel and ask what you can do to help. But I'm also trying to figure this one out, too. Good luck to us both!

  7. This is a really good conversation point.

    As an orthodox, young, single, Catholic woman who is on fire for her faith, I don't think there's any way we'll "win" if everyone retreats into hiding. Nobody wins on defense.

    You said in a comment that the fighting seems to be more of a reaction. And it is SO spot on to say we need a different type of fight. It's frustrating when people only know us by what we're against. We need to be the ones asking the questions and challenging the culture. I do still react to what's out there, but defense doesn't win. Us taking proactive steps to create a culture of life does.

    I think it's a consoling reality to recognize that not everyone is a front-line soldier in battles. We need strong and wonderful moms like all of you to raise up kids who know what they're talking about! That is important, and it's not giving up the battle. It's not over. You're playing a very specific and needed role. And it's one that I don't think we can even realize the importance of. You are so, so important to us changing hearts and minds when you raise kids who are capable of sharing the truth with their friends. Who knows how many people could be impacted because of you.

    My heart has been so heavy with this all lately, but like you said, we focus on what we're against a lot. What brings me so much hope is to realize that there still is SO MUCH goodness in the world. There's a revolution going on with Theology of the Body. Hundreds (thousands?) of kids will be at Steubenville conferences this summer. Check out Life Teen and the Culture Project and FOCUS and Generation Life and Students for Life and Made in His Image and oh my goodness. So much more.

    There are thousands of young Catholic people on fire for the nitty gritty challenge of being Catholic, and we are ready and willing to do the hard work. We're being trained in apologetics and theology and philosophy - and we're learning principles of the new evangelization so we know how to bring this truth to the world we live in. We've encountered a lot in a short amount of time, and we've been exposed to so many attacks on our faith. But with the revival going on in the young people of our church, having personal encounters with the person of Jesus has given us a conviction to carry on - no matter what.

    Of course we don't have as much life experience as any of the lovely moms around here. But we have fallen head over heels in love with the (real) Jesus, and we're going to be around for a while. I truly think it's young people (gleaning wisdom of older generations) who are going to bring back orthodoxy. I'm already seeing it happen. It's begun. You don't see it everywhere, but when you do....man. The power of Jesus knows no bounds in the hands of people doing his work. The devil better be shaking in his boots. With people like the parents on these blogs and others able to do the leg work, the church is standing on the horizon of a time I am so grateful we've all been created for.

    Thanks for this conversation, Bonnie. I come from a very different walk of life than most people on here, but I just wanted to pop in to speak to the reason to keep the hope alive :-)

  8. Regarding the Coptic Christians who were martyred...

    A friend of mine is a Coptic priest's wife (a "tasoni") and this was her response: http://copticdadandmom.blogspot.com/2015/02/my-response-to-recent-beheadings-of-21.html

    My response is here: http://grace-filled.net/?p=6817

    1. I'm also reminded of the Protestant hymn, "This is My Father's World".

      "This is my Father's world.
      O let me ne'er forget
      that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
      God is the ruler yet.
      This is my Father's world:
      why should my heart be sad?
      The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
      God reigns; let the earth be glad!"

      (The other words are at http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh144.sht.)

  9. SOLIDARITY. I like to say, out loud to myself (and anyone who will listen), "We may lose the battle, but Jesus has already won the war."

  10. You are so not alone in thinking this way. I just don't know what to do anymore, with a culture that's gone mad...

  11. You are so not alone in thinking this way. I just don't know what to do anymore, with a culture that's gone mad...

  12. You are so not alone in thinking this way. I just don't know what to do anymore, with a culture that's gone mad...