Satan has an enemy and that is Jesus Christ and His Church. Ultimately of course, Satan loses. Until then he wishes to gather as many souls as possible to accompany him to his eternal defeat. The success of that mission is directly at odds with the Church and so the Church must be dealt with.
How to do that is the question? The Church is formidable, contains the fullness of truth and is protected by the Holy Spirit. It will never be defeated. The key for Satan is to peel people away from the Church. Ideally to coax them – and very importantly their future generations – to abandon the Church altogether, separating them from truth, sacraments and ultimately God.
Satan’s challenge is this can not be done in 1 step. It must be done slowly, taking orthodox believers step by step off of the narrow path of salvation to the wide path of destruction. During this process, the Church might be viewed as “two Churches.” There is the faithful, orthodox one – consistent from the time of Jesus – and there is the other church-inside-the-church community. The latter consists of those who, often unbeknownst to themselves, are slowly separating from the Church.
This phenomenon is described well by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski in his recent piece for Corpus Christi Watershed:
IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, we see a broad trend: at first, believers are focused on God, who alone is their hope and salvation; then, on themselves as rational beings who can know the truth; thereafter, on themselves as free agents who can choose their way in life; lastly, on themselves as emotional narcomaniacs. God, reason, will, passion. When each new stage arrives, the former one is jettisoned. It is a descent from the apex mentis, the still point of the soul touching eternity and infinity, to lower and lower levels of the soul — discursive reasoning, freedom of choice, concupiscence.
In keeping with this trend, it is possible to discern the lineaments of the two churches — the true Church of Christ, having its concrete existence in the Catholic Church, and an anti-Church, which represents and does the gruntwork for the anti-Christ, the anti-Word (to use the language of Karol Wojtyla). The profound difference between these two can be gleaned by considering a list of things that are found to be regularly associated with each:
THE CHURCH: a serious view of the sacraments as efficacious actions of Christ; recourse to acts of penance and the sacrament of penance; worship of the most holy Eucharist; emphasis on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; obedience to the Pope; an attitude of adoration, quietude, and humility in prayer; monasticism; support of celibacy and the male clergy; large families; natural and teleological view of sexuality and its place in human life, with traditional roles for the sexes; high and rich cultural history (e.g., in music and architecture); liturgical majesty and reverence; vehement hatred of heresy and schism; perception of the deep differences between Catholics and all others who call themselves Christians; willingness to fight for and even die in defense of the truths of the faith (like the peasants of the Vendée); knowledge and support of the whole system of papal bulls, decrees, encyclicals, and Church councils with their clear statements of doctrine to be embraced by every Christian throughout the world; the assumptions behind missionary work and the ultimate fruit sought from this work, viz., the expansion of the one true Church from east to west; the very idea of the necessity of converting to the Catholic faith for salvation; the belief that outside of the Church there is no salvation (extra ecclesiam nulla salus); a holistic understanding of the union of man’s soul and body. Most telling, of course, will be the devout worship of the Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass worthily offered.
THE ANTI-CHURCH: here, the community worships the community; penance is downplayed or forgotten; the Eucharist is a “love-feast” that affords an occasion for people to be friendly with one another; sermons are typically on “love and forgiveness,” without any reference to faith or morals; there is widespread ignorance of Church teaching, contempt for or indifference to papal decrees, agitation for radical changes in doctrine and practice; one finds various mutations of feminism, and a tacit approval or vociferous defense of contraception, abortion, and homosexuality; there is the mushy nouveau muzak, a complete severance of present liturgical art from the past, distrust of and even attacks against traditional forms of piety and devotion; the liturgies are “spontaneous” and informal feel-good gatherings; an accommodating attitude is extended towards “separated brethren,” downplaying or even denying the importance of any differences in doctrine or practice between Catholics and other Christians (after all, everyone is trying to do their best, and that’s basically good and pleasing to God); heresy and schism are cruel or intolerant ideas, martyrdom is an emotional aberration or the result of unfortunate nervous excitement (for there could be no reason not to compromise a little bit when the government tells you to do so); religious life and monasticism are irrelevant carryovers from a dark age; premarital sex is not only normal and unobjectionable but de rigeur; the serious purpose of life is not working out our salvation in fear and trembling by penance and recourse to the sacraments and constant prayer, but rather, enjoying all the good things of this world with a clean conscience according to our technologically bolstered appetites. And one could throw an uncritical acceptance of the historical-critical method and its application to the infallible and inerrant Word of God into the mix.
Read Peter’s whole piece: The Two Churches: Which One Do You Belong To?.
IMHO, a big part of the problem is catechesis and internal evangelism. The collapse of quality instruction in the faith after Vatican II is legion and the fruits of that are now apparent. Fortunately, that is beginning to turn around. Internal evangelism is the other big piece. Catholic in name only does not apply only to those seen once or twice per year but to many more. To one degree or another, to all of us. Leading the internal evangelism charge must come from the pulpit.