What a stormy ride it has been after awakening so many years ago to the grace of my baptism when but (thanks, Mom and Dad) a wee infant. But, having looked and reflected on it all the best I can for so many years, and every which way from Sunday so far as I can tell, I wouldn't exchange it for the world. Not for one minute.
The Church alone, despite the defects of some of her members (which certainly includes me), and despite not a few of our self-imposed wounds through the centuries, stands consistently and coherently for reason and justice and goodness in a society that is schizoid, utilitarian, racing towards nihilism. Compassion, she teaches, is rooted in the eternal law, else it is subject to the whims and greed of myopic men and women.
Some like to describe us Catholics as intransigent, but the truth is, in Christ, it is every human being we Catholics are concerned for, especially the weakest, especially the most vulnerable.
In ages past, if we made some awful few mistakes in dealing with errors---and we did---it's only because we saw where they would lead, straightway to our nihilism; and what that would mean for real flesh-and-blood human beings. And here we are in the deep of it, just as the scriptures and our fathers warned.
The Good (but sometimes hard) News, however, is that if our intelligence does not teach us, our sins will. Even our straying teaches us. The Good News about falling flat on our faces is that, if we survive it, we can get up again. He calls us back. The Good News is that falling enables us (persons and civilizations) to reflect on how we ever landed there, in such tumult, confusion and chaos.
We are taught that we must admit our mistakes if we are to repair them. Everyone of us must choose his or her leaders, our ultimate and final authorities. But I have never been impressed with all those dry bones---all the Voltaire's and Nietzsche's and Steven Hawkings' of this world. It's a horrifying squirmy mess under their rocks, which we must shudder to look at.
Life itself has taught me that when I listen to and heed the Lord, Jesus Christ, I become whole, or, more exactly, at least on route to that wholeness. Coherence in thought and deed is no small gift. And when I falter through my own fault, through my own stupidity, I promptly begin to disassemble, not only in the usual ways but also metaphysically. And what then? Transfer all authority and obedience to the likes of Barack Obama, Cass Sunstein, Jack Kervorkian, Peter Singer? No thanks.
Jesus Christ alone is the Word. God has come and spoken everything in Him. Why should that surprise contingent creatures who did not create themselves, and who have not the reason for their existence within themselves?
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last times he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.---Heb 1:1-3
No, you can keep Bertrand Russell, Bernard Shaw and all the Dawkinses of this world, poor souls all (though Dawkins is still breathing, so hope remains). When the day arrives I'd like someone in my family to place the following words on my flat gravestone, after at least trying to reflect on the Whole, especially after reflecting on so many of those who oppose us:
I don't want those wonderful words set in arrogance (for, as St. Paul said, what do we have that has not been given us?) but in hope for all those who are likewise searching; knowing that if one searches long enough, to the very end (every search has a terminus, no?), he or she will, with the rest of us, be forced to (in the words of that lay father of the Faith so close to our own time and heart, G. K. Chesterton again) "rethink our way back to thought".
And, again, that goes for civilizations as well as persons. It's never too late---until it's too late.