Convenient, Comfortable, Cultural Catholicism is dead in America. The body may still be warm, perhaps even a post mortem twitch or two. But it’s dead. Soon enough, and perhaps sooner that you think- you’ll agree. Why do I assert such a thing? Simply put, there is no longer a place for it in the culture. Soon, “Catholic “will be incompatible with comfortable or convenient. You need only follow my premise to its logical outcome to understand why.
First, the New Evangelization is under way in earnest in this country. The Church’s leadership, and numerous apostolates, anchored in the person of Jesus Christ in fidelity to His bride, the Church, abound. Jesus is remaking His Church, transforming the faith-life of countless Catholics. The New Evangelization is breeding Catholics who love Jesus, are bold in their faith, and courageous in their convictions. The call in the New Evangelization is serious and not for the faint of heart. And if I’m right, we will need every bit of that mettle.
Secondly, our own government has become hostile to all who subscribe to differing beliefs. The HHS mandate has effectively pushed the matter of faith out of the public square and into the confines of “private life”. Religious liberty has been deeply damaged. The IRS scandal has demonstrated that the government will use its legal muscle to pursue political ends. The fact that any specific demographic would be targeted is unconscionable. And then, there is the rest. Homeland Security is running terrorist drills with Christians and homeschoolers as the terrorists. The FBI, who was apparently too undermanned to keep an eye on the known radical Muslim brothers in Boston, did find the time to visit some of the same people harassed by the IRS.
A Texas business woman, who applied for tax exempt status for two political organizations, not only found herself under scrutiny for those, but subsequently the target of IRS audits of her personal and business returns. Then, the FBI paid her several visits regarding her “political” activities. In the end, she also found herself visited by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, since her company holds a license to manufacture firearms, even though it doesn’t.
Our own government has clearly crossed the threshold of a willingness to intimidate its own citizenry in order to achieve its purposes. The Church’s voice will speak for the rights of individuals, for the common good, and against injustice and evil. The trajectories of our culture and (apparently) our government are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The government has already put pressure on the Church. The Church (and Christianity in general) is already viewed as an obstacle to be overcome. Catholicism will soon cease to be a prop, and then, the convenient, cultural, comfortable Catholic will find it too inconvenient, too dangerous, and too uncomfortable.
A smaller and more vibrant Church is being birthed in our midst. And She will be the light in darkness. She will share in the trials and persecutions of which Paul spoke. She will shake off her slumber, and will run and not grow weary. These are exciting times for the Church, but it will look different than we expect, perhaps quite different.