People do not like to hear doom and gloom all of the time. To be quite frank, it gets rather depressing. I know I tend to avoid people who are continually negative and critical. I prefer to associate with those who are upbeat, positive and optimistic.
Then I ask myself this question: Where does one draw the line between being negative and critical and being realistic and honest? I think that I especially struggle with this dilemma when trying to analyze our contemporary society in the context of Gospel values, Christ’s teaching and long-standing Catholic tradition. I keep seeing just how far we have allowed ourselves to deviate from Christ as a society and even within the Church itself.
For instance, consider the contemporary attitudes towards divorce and remarriage, birth control (artificial contraception), homosexual unions (“gay” marriage), gender identity, abortion / infanticide, IVF (in-vitro fertilization), assisted suicide, pornography, cohabitation before and outside of marriage, sex outside of marriage (fornication, adultery, masturbation, homosexual acts, etc.) and various other matters. The list of what has become, at a minimum, tolerated if not outright advocated seems endless. I genuinely cannot wrap my head around it all.
Then I look within the Catholic Church and see the lack of belief / reverence for the Holy Eucharist, only one-fifth of registered Catholics going to Mass each week (pre-pandemic), a decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the merging and closing of parishes and churches, scandals in the clergy and the hierarchy, an attitude of indifferentism (one religion is as good as another), progressive liturgies, etc., and my head is ready to explode. Where is it all going?
There are those who contend that we live in a time of great apostasy—an abandonment of the faith, a rejection of Christ. Maybe most people do not outright reject Christ or Catholicism—although an alarming amount do—but far too many live in such a way that the Church and her traditional teaching have little or no influence on the way a person lives his or her life. Moral teaching becomes relative and subjective. Truth is fluid. Confusion is rampant. I can see it happening among family members and friends. I can see it in parish life. I can see it in society and even in the worldwide Church.
"Lord, will only a few people be saved?" [Jesus] answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” (Lk. 13: 24)
The words of Jesus in the Gospel (Lk. 13: 22-30) speak of the narrow gate. I see it as a warning not to follow the status quo but to be counter-cultural. Many today think that God will not or could not condemn vast numbers of people to eternal punishment. How could so many people be wrong? Maybe the Church and her teaching need to change!
Rather, I think WE need to change and turn to the Lord with repentant hearts before it is too late!
Eternity is forever. The stakes are much too high to gamble with salvation.
Fr. Ed Namiotka