Warning: The Spiritual Warfare of Secular Catholicism

Secular Catholics are Casual About Many Things

by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt: The CatholicSpirit.com –   The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that you and I must confront a kind of spiritual death that is embracing our church and our society.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

For some time now, there has been a secular Catholicism which has been slowly replacing the passionate, strong and enduring faith that many of us received from our parents. Secular Catholicism is more a social religion than a religion that comes from a deeply seated faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It invites people to have a causal relationship with the Catholic Church . . . a church Jesus founded for us as a gift for all ages.

Secular Catholics are casual about many things. They are casual about church attendance, casual about the importance of a prayer life, casual about the commandments, casual about authentic church teaching and casual in the ways they pass faith on to their children.

It doesn’t seem to be so bad when we hear the word casual. Yet, it is bad because when one generation falls into that trap, the generations that follow have even less faith or no faith at all . . . and the church is diminished. So why is this important enough to take time and space in my Easter homily?

The answer is simple. There is spiritual warfare going on in our church and in our society and, as faithful Catholics, you ought to know about it.

This year I re-read parts of Dinesh D’Souza’s book “What’s So Great About Christianity?” In that book he warns about a new atheism that is infecting our society as a whole, but, more importantly, it is affecting many of our young people in colleges and universities.

In his chapter “Mis-Educating the Young: Saving Children From Their Parents” he says, “The atheist strategy can be described in this way. Let the religious people breed them, and we will educate them to despise their parents’ beliefs.”

When I was growing up, there was only one prominent atheist, Madelyn Murray O’Hair. Back then, every Catholic, indeed every Christian, ignored her as an oddity. Today’s atheists are legion. They have an agenda and their names are familiar.

Christopher Hitchens . . . God called him to Judgment last year.

Carl Sagan.

Daniel Dennett.

Richard Dawkins.

Sam Harris . . . and many, many more.

They are on my list because they are all highly acclaimed authors whose works are commonly read in realms of higher learning.

In his book, D’Souza says “Atheistic educators are now raising the question of whether parents should have control of what their children learn.” And you and I know that in public schools parents are losing more and more control each and every year.

Richard Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion” asks “How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? It is one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like.

But should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? Isn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessions of beliefs that they are too young to have thought out?”

Daniel Dennett goes further. “Parents don’t own their children the way slave owners once owned slaves, but are, rather, their stewards and guardians and ought to be held accountable by outsiders for their guardianship.”

What he is saying essentially is that outsiders do have a right to interfere.

We must take our Faith more seriously

My friends, you and I are living in a new kind of world and if we want to overcome that kind of thinking, we have to take our faith in Jesus Christ and in his church much more seriously. This celebration tells us that we do have the power to make a difference. We have within this church the transformative power of Jesus Christ.

To understand that power we have to first understand that Easter really did happen. We believe that because the Scriptures of the New Testament are filled with eyewitness accounts. Those accounts tell us over and over again that Jesus did die on the cross . . . that he was buried . . . that on the third day he did rise from the dead . . . and, finally, that he is Lord and Savior and the Son of the Living God.

During this Easter celebration we ask only one question. Are the witnesses reliable? Their later actions say that they are. Almost every one of them suffered a martyr’s death rather than deny what they had seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. If you and I believe that they are reliable, then all of us must pay much more attention to our faith in Jesus Christ and in his church.

St. Augustine tells us that faith is given to us as a sacred trust. It must be protected. It must be developed. It must be allowed to grow.

In his book “The City Of God,” he says: “There is a sanctuary of conscience inside every person that is protected from political control, and that kings and emperors, however grand, cannot usurp authority that rightly belongs to God.” In our society, that statement is equally true when applied to congressmen, senators and presidents.

Today we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. We are called to think about our own sinfulness and, as we do that, to remember especially that Christ died for us while we were still in our sin. He went to the cross for each of us to reconcile us to God and to each other.

I pray today that through the cross of Jesus Christ, God will give us the Easter power to be inflamed by his love and to share that love in every possible way with everyone within our reach.

May God give us the grace.

God bless you!

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5 comments to Warning: The Spiritual Warfare of Secular Catholicism

  • More and more as I see what our young people view on TV, movies and videos, and listen to what they mainline to their brains through their earbuds, I am profoundly aware that this is not just the problem of the increasing atheist influence, or the failure of bishops and priests to promulgate the gospel, but a failure of parental courage in several generations.

    This was on our watch! We let TV raise our kids; we bought into the idea that freedom of expression was paramount, and permitted greedy atheistic movie and music makers to exploit and shape the hearts minds and souls of our children. When will we stand up and say, “No more! You cannot have our children so you can line your abindant deep pockets with riches gained from power-mongering media exploitation. Enough! We are taking our children back.”

    Then we need to embrace a new word in the parental lexicon: “No!” No, my child, you cannot watch/listen to that which corrupts your soul and contradicts the beautiful natural law within you. Please, God, that we parents find this necessary courage.

  • Bill Sr.

    A Prayer for Divine Love within the Body of Christ on earth
    Dear Father in Heaven,
    We know it is true that your love of those for whom you gave your Son as a sacrifice for their salvation and redemption and in general for the world is never ending. It is a divine love that we poor mortals can only begin to imagine. We long for the joy of being one with you in your presence that we too can love as we are loved. We long for the beatific vision which sees clearly through the prism of your Son’s Passion and sheds the eternal light of your love upon your people and all mankind, a vision without our petty self interests but in love with loving your Creation.
    At this time your Church is in great need of shepherds who seek a measure of your divine love for their flocks. We pray that you will grant to those brave and courageous bishops and pastors humbly seeking your assistance in guiding their sheep safely home to you a portion of this nature of yours which only you through the Holy Spirit have the power to give. You have told us the gates of hell will not prevail against your church and we trust in your word. As America and the world are now being besieged by the forces of evil like never before, we implore you to see that our spiritual leaders are able to act and make decision with the a kind of heavenly love as yours which comes from legitimate feelings and emotions but includes the wisdom and knowledge found only in your eternal truth.
    Grant them dear Father a renewed and enlightened determination to see that your Heavenly Will, fortified with your divine love, is with reverence sincerely injected into every debated issue which may affect the lives of our people and their cherished faith in Holy Mother Church.
    A just chastisement is not without merit for us at this time for many have in folly turned away from you. Yet through and in the name of Christ our Lord and Savior we call upon your Divine Mercy to give us this measure of your love that as many of us as your abundant grace desires can be lead by truth to find a path back into your arms that we may in turn praise now and for all eternity your…… Divine Love.

  • Fr. Steve Gallagher

    WARNING!! What a true and in-your-face title for this article – and spot on it is!

    We are currently in the late stages of a war against our souls and the days of a non-committed, lukewarm, casual observance of our Faith are over – either we – “Catholic-up” – or we will be sloshed around like a small boat on a dark and stormy sea – and eventually sunk!

    And why? Because the secular-world has been very successful in “evangelizing” the Church.

    Sadly, we are reaping the consequences of our spiritual laxity and moral idiocy. When this moral exhaustion and lax spirit begins to seem normal, when it starts to wear off, when we can’t make sense of our daily lives, when we realize that we are living in a spiritual wilderness which we helped to create, when we realize we are “driven” versus living as Jesus showed us how to live, when the things of man begin to collapse, then a deep and dark despair will set in and maybe, just maybe, we will begin to renew ourselves and realize that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and we will actually listen with the ears of our hearts as He says: “Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.”

  • TG

    This article is so true. Thank you Archbishop. I used to be one of those that had blinders and I thank the Lord they have been removed. Until a person is ready to totally commit themselves to God and make him first in their life, they will have spiritual blinders. We need more priests and bishops to tell us the Truth and not sugar coat the Gosptel and a lot of prayer.

  • lisag

    Until Americans go back to depending on God and not the government Catholic parishioners will be lukewarm in their faith.

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