Most of us have grown-up in homes and neighborhoods where the notion of this being a “Christian country” was assumed, even by non-Christians. In God we trust, one nation under God. Expressing Christian beliefs was nothing out of the ordinary, just a check with truth.
Those happier times are long gone. Far fewer people identify with Christianity and many of those who do are nominal, genuinely understanding little and practicing even less. Christianity for many has been replaced by being a “good person,” general “spirituality” and faith in political ideology. Even within that political focus people seem to more and more prioritize “what’s in it for me.” These changes have literally led us away from happier times.
Secularism has in many ways become the state religion and the state has become a theocracy in its enforcement. It is a jealous god, tolerating no other viewpoints. Expressing Christian beliefs now seems threatening to the emperor and those hateful, intolerant, bigots from the unenlightened middle ages must increasingly be dealt with by force. Complacency is no longer a luxury for faithful Catholics and other Christians.
Fr. Martin Tripole, SJ has written a thoughtful piece on exactly this point for the exceptional Catholic World Report:
It would come as a bit of a shock, I think, to many Catholics comfortable with current developments in our society, to hear the Pope speak of a clash between current values and Jesus’ teaching. It would come as an even greater shock for them to hear the remarks of Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton University, when he addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, on May 13, 2014:
The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship – heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.
According to George, if one wants to be a good Catholic today, one must be “prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel” regarding “Biblical and natural law beliefs”: about “the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions,” about the “core social function of marriage” to “unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union.” To be sure, it is still possible to be “a comfortable Catholic” and “socially acceptable”; but to be a Catholic who professes openly fidelity to the teachings of the Gospel and Christ’s Church, one must be prepared “to take risks and make sacrifices,” “to make oneself a marked man or woman.” The “costs of discipleship” are high:
It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach… to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship – heavy costs.
Read the entire piece: The Time for Complacent Catholicism is Over.