The Second Vatican Council was a momentous event in the Church’s history. The guidance it gave to the earthly body of Christ was influenced by the recognition that human society was beginning to come of age spiritually. The Church’s faithful had entered a transition similar to that of a blossoming adolescent passing from the grade school era of receiving instruction in a one-way fashion to the stage where questions can be asked more maturely and some decisions made more independently. The bishops acknowledged that we had advanced from the Dark Ages of history where subsistence occupied nearly 100% of efforts to a lifestyle which provided the education and also the time to contemplate the “whys” of our faith.
Thus, we are in the teen years of our societal development. We continue to need the direction of the Church, even though we understand our faith more fully and are becoming more competent in making decisions about the practice of our faith. However, as with teenagers who lack the experience to see “the big picture” on occasion, we continue to need the gentle guidance of the Magisterium.
Case in point: when the scientific community developed chemicals for contraception in the 1960’s, it did so with advances in scientific knowledge, but without wisdom. Fulfilling its responsibility to Christ’s children, Mother Church spoke to us immediately. Pope Paul VI could see beyond the fascination of a new “toy” and warned of the inevitable consequences that would come with separating the joys of sex from the responsibilities of marriage. He accurately predicted that “free love” would lead to the slavery of desire. And true to form, many “teenagers” rebelled without serious meditation and chose to follow the Deceptive One instead. While they protested outwardly, the message did penetrate society’s young adult soul. Many pretended to ignore the validity of the pope’s advice and instead vowed to lie and wait in the bushes. “I’m not going to obey because the secular world says I can decide for myself. The Church can’t tell me what to do. Besides, they’re not so holy themselves. Just wait and when THEY trip and fall, I’ll try to push my shame onto them, thus discrediting them and their messages. Then, I will have justified my rebellion!”
So, for nearly fifty years, these unwitting disciples of Satan have waited and taken advantage of every fall of those attempting to guide us toward righteous living. They have trumpeted the sexual sins and other moral failures of prominent Church leaders while condoning intrinsic evils (abortion became a “choice”) and glorifying their own sins (e.g. Hollywood calls a child born out-of-wedlock as a “love child”—— which begs the question: What do we call the children of married and spiritually healthy parents?). The dissenters forget that, although spiritual perfection can never be attained in this life, we are nevertheless bound to strive ceaselessly.
The effects of sin branch out like crabgrass. Not only does it encourage others to do likewise (“don’t be old-fashioned,” or “everybody does it”); it can distressingly cause us to turn on each other instead of against the evil. Some of us begin to lose faith in our Church leaders. We become disconsolate (another wish of Satan) and are tempted to abandon the good we were doing because we forget Christ’s encouragement that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church.
The Catholic Church is experiencing a barrage of attacks just as the British experienced in the early part of World War II. The governments of Europe were falling with the same alarming speed that we see happening with today’s moral standards (forced abortions and sterilizations in China, Moral Relativism running rampant, disregard for the dignity of human life, individuals and countries are afraid to speak out against the evil of terrorism, the worship of the gods of Efficiency and Profit, permissiveness being relabeled as “tolerance,” etc.). Internal attacks are also coming from so-called Catholic legislative leaders who misrepresent the faith to a president who has publicly shown no respect for the inalienable rights to life and of the free practice of religion, and the sanctity of marriage.
World War II Britain had Churchill to lead them to their “finest hour” in the face of great odds with help from Generals Eisenhower, Montgomery and others. We have Pope Benedict XVI assisted by Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Lori, Al Kresta and others. Let’s rally behind them!