There are many causes for our cultural meltdown, but given our directive to be Christ’s light to the world, we must admit that to some degree we are answerable for the current state of affairs. The cauldron in Europe resulted in two World Wars largely fought in “Christian” Europe. Further, the widespread abandonment of the Faith in Europe does not bode well for anyone. We in the West often point to cite disarray and corruption in places like Africa, but Europe has been the site of bloodbaths for thousands of years, the last two thousand of which happened in a supposedly Christian Europe. In the past several decades we have seen an utter moral rebellion in the wake of a century of European war. Yes, we who would preach Christ cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility for the condition the world.
When I saw the commercial below, I felt 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,
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. 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, focused on his own little world.
Is this what we’re doing? Are we the superhero slouching on the couch as 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 with perhaps more than 100 million people put to death in war and for ideological reasons, and moral anarchy swept in by the four horsemen of the apocalypse—relativism, secularism, individualism, and the sexual revolution.
While the wicked have been marching with passionate intensity, the good have largely been asleep, lacking the zeal for battle. All around us are divorce, abortion, teenage pregnancy, rampant sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, increasing lack of self-control and discipline, declining school test scores and graduation rates, the inability to live within our means, rising poverty rates for children, drug and alcohol addiction, plummeting Church attendance—the list could go on and on.
Where have we been as a Church—as Christians—in a world gone mad? Where, for example, was the Church in 1969, when “no-fault divorce” laws began to be passed? It would seem that we were inwardly focused: moving furniture around in our sanctuaries; tuning our guitars; and having endless debates about liturgy, Church authority, and why women can’t be ordained. These are not unimportant issues, but while we were so focused on them, we lost the culture.
Yes, it happened on our watch. I am old enough that I can no longer heap all the blame on 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. 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 trying to fit in and be liked. It is long past midnight for our culture, our families, and our children.
There is something very wrong with the scenario in the commercial: the superhero ignores the cries for help. 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 preaching (false) tolerance and spouting other pleasantries have badly misled people and spread error, calling “good” what is sinful and misrepresenting 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 for us to get off the couch, pick up the phone, re-engage, and get to work.
Don’t just watch culture; direct it.
Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: It Happened on Our Watch, as Seen in a Commercial