Western culture is no longer the relativist. The new cultural moral code is absolute, but certainly not based in natural law. The Atlantic published a fascinating article on this phenomenon called “The Death of Moral Relativism.” The author pointed out, “This new code has created a paradoxical moment in which all is tolerated except the intolerant and all included except the exclusive.”
You are baptized, you are sons and daughters of God and so you can do the same when you face the enormous dragon that has planted itself on the narrow way that leads to eternal life! Do not shrink from the great journey, do not shrink from the Christian life, it is the only life worthy of your dignity! Nothing else will make you happy, not a $100 million condo overlooking Manhattan, nor any amount of fame or power or pleasure. Only friendship with the risen Christ can satisfy our hearts, so face that dragon and become the saint you are called to be.
So many of our lives are defined, marked indelibly by the death of those we love. No matter when, whether it was your wonderful grandma who died when she was 90 or whether you lost a child or friend in their teenage years, we see so clearly the evil of death and we do not understand it.
Jesus is the only worthwhile answer to the question of evil. The only other alternative is to deny the existence of God, and in doing to declare that all suffering and evil is, in fact, meaningless. For without God there is no meaning at all. That is no answer.
It’s lent, the perfect season to seek out the Lord in new ways. Do something crazy and foolish for him. When I was at Carroll, my friends and I tried to fast in impossible ways, we did middle of the night prayer vigils at the grotto or up on Mount Helena, tried to pull all nighters during holy week. In almost all this we failed, but we did it because we loved Jesus and wanted to know him, and it was a blast. If you want to get in over your head on a great adventure, there is no better friend to do that with than Jesus Christ.
This, the final part of my four-part formation for the CYC board in the Diocese of Helena, addresses the moral life. The main question is: Does God want us to be happy? We need to ask this because what the Church demands often seems to go against our interests, against our happiness.
But is it worth it? If I'm gay or transgender, can I be happy in the Catholic Church? Listen in!
When we come to an impasse, when life presses in on us and we face some impossible trial or suffering that will surely overwhelm us, we frantically look around, and seeing nothing that will heal us or satisfy us, we begin to reach for things that can never satisfy. Our desperate imagination tells us this artificial thing can bring satisfaction, that some shadow is, in fact, real sustenance.
The beam here is sin, the only one who can remove it is Christ. So, before we judge our brothers and sisters, we turn to Christ and recognize our sins, our shortfalls, our total incapacity to live the charity he calls us to. When we do, we are forgiven, we are healed, and our sight is restored.
It is then that we begin to judge rightly and confidently because we judge with the judgment by which we are judged; we judge with forgiving hearts. As Christians we do not name the evil of the world for what it is out of superiority but to warn those around us it will never bring joy. We don’t judge the actions of others in condescension, but in hopes they will turn to to God for the same joyful forgiveness we have received.
Today western culture seems to have settled on an odd and contradictory mixture of ideas simultaneously. Our culture has embraced the sexual revolution of the 60’s which basically says- do what you want with your body, it’s yours and it’s just a body. While believing this, we also totally reject the body as a means of communicating any truth about our identity. So it seems our culture is saying that our body and its desires are the best guide to happiness while also saying it means nothing, it tells you nothing about who you are, feel free to reject it for another identity of your own choosing.
The beatitudes aren’t even commands. Look at the commandments, you will notice eight “shall not” commands and two positive commands. The Beatitudes, in contrast, are statements of fact: “Blessed are those.” They are not commands forbidding sinful activity, but invitations into deification, invitations to “become partakers in the divine nature.”
So as our culture slowly rejects Christian morality- as we see in the supreme court’s redefinition of marriage or the recent New York Abortion Laws, or in the growing indifference to the gospel and the Church amongst the general population- we cannot be surprised.
Because we are to blame. It’s our fault.
What is Jesus’ prayer more than any other? “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”
We are called to be one and we are divided. How can we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel which at its very core calls us to unite ourselves to God so intimately that we become partakers in trinitarian life if we are divided amongst ourselves. It’s a scandal to the world and it shackles us in preaching the gospel.