It Happened on Our Watch – As Seen on TV

072514Recent news has brought to the forefront the great cost of war. During the very time I was in the air flying to the West Coast, another airliner was shot down over Ukraine. Perhaps it was a foolish accident, perhaps not. Regardless, 300 people who had no real involvement in the military conflicts between Ukraine and Russia were killed.

Some say that this is what happens when the USA sleeps. Like it or not, we are the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and if we don’t take an active role in world conflict this is what happens.

Other voices counsel that we should stay out of other nations’ affairs and regional conflicts that date back centuries. I leave it to you to decide where you think our mission lies.  At Walter Reed, I have seen men with missing limbs, with brain injuries, men who went to save the Iraqis from themselves. Now it seems that little was accomplished.

This is not a political blog or a military one. However, it seems clear to me that every course of action or lack thereof has its consequences; the devil will extract his pound of flesh either way.

But spiritually we are more answerable for the current state of affairs. The cauldron of Europe that exploded in two World Wars and a long cold war that is lately being reinvigorated happened in “Christian” Europe. Further, the widespread abandonment of the Faith in Europe does not bode well for anyone. We in the West love to cite the disarray and corruption in places like Africa. But Europe has been the site of bloodbaths for thousands of years. And at least the last two thousand years of bloodshed have happened on our watch—in a theoretically Christian Europe. In the past several decades we have seen an utter moral rebellion in the wake of a century of European war, both hot and cold. Yes, we who would preach Christ cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility for the condition the world.

When I saw the commercial below I was struck by a twinge of guilt. The words of a poem by William Butler Yeats came to mind:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,
and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Yes, something struck me. In the commercial anarchy, destruction, injustice, violence, and pure chaos are shown. And yet all the while our superhero, with his “Bat Phone” screeching in the background signaling a call for help, is wholly distracted, mindlessly flipping through the channels unaware that the world around him is descending right into Hell. He is turned inward, wholly focused on his own little world.

Is this what we are like? Are we the superhero slouching on the couch while the world and Western culture descend into a maelstrom? We see the things of which Yeats wrote: lost innocence, the blood-dimmed tide of the 20th Century, perhaps more than a hundred million people put to death in war and for ideological reasons, and moral anarchy swept in on the four horsemen of the apocalypse—relativism, secularism, individualism, and the sexual revolution.

And while the wicked were marching with passionate intensity, the good were largely asleep, lacking the intensity for battle. All around us are divorce, abortion, teenage pregnancy, skyrocketing numbers of sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, increasing lack of self-control and discipline, declining school test scores and graduation rates, inability to live within our means, rising poverty rates for children, increasing drug and alcohol addiction, plummeting Church attendance—the list could go on and on.

And where have we been as a Church, as Christians in a world gone mad? Where, for example, was the Church in 1969, when the “no-fault divorce” laws began to be passed? It would seem we were inwardly focused: moving furniture around in our sanctuaries, tuning our guitars, and having endless debates about liturgy, Church authority, why women can’t be ordained, etc. These are not unimportant issues, but while we were being rather wholly focused on them we lost the culture.

Yes, it happened on our watch. I am now past the age of fifty and I cannot say that it is all the fault of the previous generation. Even during my relatively short lifetime, I have seen the world as I knew it largely swept away, especially in terms of family life. And now it is up to me to try to make a difference.

How about you? It will take courage and an increasing conviction to live the Catholic faith openly. No more of this “undercover Catholic” stuff; no more of the desire to fit in and be liked. It is long past midnight for our culture, our families, and our children.

In the commercial there is something very wrong with the scene: a superhero ignores the cries for help as the phone screeches its warning. It’s time for our superhero to get off the couch, pick up the phone, re-engage, and get to work. It is interesting to note that the movie he is watching shows a wolf being set loose. Jesus says, Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves (Matt 7:15). Indeed many wolves speaking of (false) tolerance and other pleasantries have badly misled and spread error: calling “good” what is sinful and misrepresenting the biblical tradition.

Well, fellow superheroes, the last time I checked, we are supposed to be salt and light for the world. It’s time—long past time—to bring Christ’s power back to this world. It’s time to get off the couch, pick up the phone, re-engage, and get to work.

Don’t just watch culture; direct it.

5 Replies to “It Happened on Our Watch – As Seen on TV”

  1. If you want the Church to stop being hidden, then some good first steps might be going back to some old, proven practices that clearly identified us as Catholics: traditional Catholic liturgy and not protestantised worship, no meat on Fridays, stop moving feast days to Sunday, outdoor processions, and a clear Catholic identity for our schools, charities, art, buildings, etc. The worst part about this loss of identity is the beauty and reverence of these things are what so often draw the initial curiosity of outsiders and makes them at least think about Christ.

    These are not difficult things to do. But if we aren’t willing to do the simple things that we ourselves control, then how can we expect to persuade the larger world to change? Instead, after the Council, the Church chose to adapt to the world and has done a fine job of doing just that.

  2. Even though not in the same vein, was bothered by the seeming excitement ! with which a good Catholic man

    was talking about the 150 million worth HIndu temple being bulit , in New Jersey .

    Then the light came in – that in the eyes of The Lord , how much more precious and ever lasting is one soul !

    And what tremendous promises He gives us , by inviting us , to ‘ bring ..bring all ..’ to His mercy ..

    Someone else might be the prince of this world ..but , the King of Kings , of the House of David rules and His throne is everlasting ..

    Thank God , He has already shows us what the heavenly temple is like ….

    May there be none who are to belong to The Ark of The Covenant , the House of Gold, The Tower of David , be tempted or awayed away by the false gold and may the Army set in Battle array be there with the holy angels to protect and help many to be woken up , to be there for The Lord and His truth !

  3. The Catholic Church has not been Catholic Church since the 1970sé.
    The gay agenda, women’s rights, watered-down homilies, and lack of true Catholic teaching have emasculated the Catholic Church In the USA and Canada.
    The clergy are so afraid of offending someone if they preach the Truth, or it may hurt the collection, it is mostly pap they dish out.
    Many Bishops, Priests and Cardinals will have a long time in Hell because of the junk they spill out.

    1. Ok, but how is “1 abandoned sheep” doing?” It is easy to throw rocks. But I wonder who have you reached by this angry stance of yours? Frankly I think you speak too broadly here, there are “brave clergy ” and laity alike. There are also the sellouts you describe. The Church is still the Church, otherwise Jesus lied in Matt 16.

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