“Now, venerable Brethren, you know the times in which we live; they are scarcely less deplorable for the Christian religion than the worst days, which in time past were most full of misery to the Church. We see faith, the root of all the Christian virtues, lessening in many souls; we see charity growing cold; the young generation daily growing in depravity of morals and views; the Church of Jesus Christ attacked on every side by open force or craft; a relentless war waged against the Sovereign pontiff; and the very foundation of religion undermined with a boldness which waxes daily in intensity. These things are indeed, so much a matter of notoriety that it is needless for us to expatiate on the depths to which society has sunk in these days, or on the designs which now agitate the minds of men.”
I discovered this quote while reading David Calvillo’s excellent resource on the rosary, Real Men Pray the Rosary : A Practical Guide to a Powerful Prayer. It struck me how those words, exactly as they are written, can easily apply to our society today.
“We see faith, the root of all the Christian virtues, lessening in many souls…”
As relativism has become the “new” norm, faith has taken a back seat. Faith has become irrelevant. As faith has become irrelevant, so has the Church. As a result, church attendance has steadily decreased. Dioceses across the United States have been forced to shutter the doors of multiple parishes because they are unable to sustain themselves financially. Since 1990 this figure is upwards of 1800-plus parishes. Bishops have been forced to make decisions based simply on attendance and not the faithfulness of their flock. It is a sad day when multiple parishes are forced to combine Masses to fill the pews. Faith is lessening in many Catholic souls.
Society today has lost its moral compass. When human life is devalued and new souls are equated to a “glob of cells” that can be disposed of, morals are lost. When the basic institution of marriage as between one man and one woman is destroyed, morals are lost. When the “I and me” society worries more about self-fulfillment and self-esteem and less about the good of their neighbor, morals are lost. Christian virtues are lessening in many Catholic souls.
“…the young generation daily growing in depravity of morals and views…”
The most disturbing evidence of society’s backward slide is evident in youth today and how we are failing them. When a society lacks a moral compass of its own, there will be nothing of value to pass to the next generation. We are a witness to the technology age, an age of “Strange Gods” to quote the title of Elizabeth Scalia’s latest book (Ave Maria Press, 2013).
Many people succumb to the false idols of technology, but it is particularly prevalent in those of my generation and after. Youth today live inside a shell where getting the most kills in the video game “Call of Duty” outweighs attending church services on any given Sunday. Texting outweighs conversation and Facebook outweighs relationship. There is a difference between the virtual world and the real world.
Another example is sexual promiscuity. Sex to this generation is not a gift to treasure but an act to achieve. A recent poll of 2000 teens showed that 40% of them had lost their virginity before the age of 16. Relativism has taken sex out of sex and replaced it a boring objectivism.
So who is the author of the quote at the beginning? It’s not some recent theologian or Church leader. The quote comes from the Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII titled Quamquam Pluries (“On Devotion to St. Joseph”) promulgated on August 15, 1889. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Should we worry or has it been that bad since 1889? Different ages suffer from different varieties of things. The Church is always under attack. Christ said that we are always under attack but, Christ will always win. We must hold onto this truth. We must all be faithful warriors!
Copyright © 2013, Pete Socks