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Friday, March 08, 2013



The world that James Kalb describes, the ultimate secular society, is not a plateau of achievement, no more than any era of human history.

The secular humanist dream is an illusion, for the very reason that James Kalb points to, the nature of humanity. That includes the good and the bad.

If the good in humanity does not prevail against the secular humanist ideal, then rest assured that the bad will.

It certainly seems hopeless at this moment, and I for one have been tilting toward the pre-emptive disengagement from the mainstream of the culture, if for no other reason than the sake of the next generation. It does not appear that the good will prevail, that reason will return to human discourse.

But consider the alternative. It is not a secular humanist utopia. Some Christians, Catholics and non Catholics have swallowed sufficient of the poison of secular humanist fantasy to feel they could be comfortable in that utopian world, the one that James Kalb describes, but they do not realize that it will never come to pass. The seeds of its demise are already planted, watered and the young shoots are sprouting.

The alternative to the good, the rational, is the evil of totalitarianism. The process of creating utopia always requires coercion. Left to his own devices, without the influence of God and reason, and even by times with it, mankind will exercise power in first tyrannical ways justified by the "greater good" and will eventually be addicted to that power and apply it for its own sake. Utopia will not only become a prison camp but it will be seen to be so by the prisoners.

Revolution, then, becomes the only way out for the prisoners. Perhaps the world they create is a better one, perhaps it is worst than they rose up against. In the end, the reason and the good in mankind sometimes creates an era of peace, an era justice, but it too will pass. We are seeing that.

If we want to see the cycles of humanity, all we need to do is read the Old Testament. Everything we need to know about the future of secular human utopia is contained there and we can predict it with great accuracy.

For the philosopher, where is there hope? As the title of James Kalb's article asks, what are Catholics to do?

There is only one outside force in this entire equation of the cycles of humanity. That force is the Holy Spirit. With God, all things are possible. That is the reason for our hope, for our own salvation and for the course of human events around us.

This course against reason, against faith, against freedom can be checked and reversed. The Holy Spirit has the power to do so. But it happens one person at a time, in each human heart, beginning with us, as Catholics, and then out into the rest of the world. How can we even begin to live holy lives, apart or engaged with the culture without the power of our own conversion of hearts? How can we live the high standard of morality that our Lord commands without the power of the Holy Spirit in our converted hearts?

How will we see this happen if we don't get down on our knees and beg the Lord God to send his Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of Catholics? How can we receive if we do not ask? How can we hear the clear ringing tones of the gospel of Jesus Christ, of repentance and forgiveness, if we do not ask the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of the ministers of the gospel, our Bishops, priests and deacons and convict them of that urgent need? And how will they have the boldness to preach the gospel if we do not ask the Holy Spirit to give it to them?

There is another entire line of possibility here. It is not hopeless. We could see what John Paul II envisioned, a new springtime, and widespread renewal across the world. But we have to ask. We have to get down on our knees every day and beg God to give it to us.

And we have an abundance of help in this prayer. If all of heaven rejoices over the one who was lost that has been found, how much more rejoicing would there be in heaven over the hundreds, the thousands, perhaps the millions of the baptized who are reconciled with Christ? Would not St. Jude who willingly prays for the loss of our car keys, be overjoyed to pray with us for the salvation, the reconciliation of our brothers and sisters? Would not St. Peter, who preached the Pentecost sermon and saw three thousand come to repentance, be overjoyed to intercede before the throne of Almighty God to see the conversion of hearts of cold-hearted and unfaithful Catholics?

In fact, would not all the saints and angels in heaven be more than willing to pray with us and ask God to send his Holy Spirit to speak to, to agitate, to convince and convict the hearts of the people all around us? Anywhere, anytime, we can have a tremendous prayer meeting of all of God's friends, all begging for the same thing. There is enough power in that prayer to shake the foundations of the earth. But we have to get on our knees and ask.

Are we satisfied to watch the world go by, seeing souls bent on destruction go on their merry way, hoping that we can pull the odd one here and there from the flames? Are we satisfied to put our heads down and wait for the persecution? History alone tells us what is coming. And what comes after that? A great renewal and revival. So why can we not learn the lesson of the past and go directly to the renewal now? Are we so insular that we look forward to the persecution which may purify our own souls but in the process we let millions of souls go to destruction because we would not intercede, let alone preach the gospel?

Perhaps Pharoah will once more harden his heart. But we will not know until we care enough for the souls of everyone around us to call upon the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts. That is what we Catholics can do.

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