Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Catholics Can Save Civilization

CERC - How Catholics Can Save Civilization by ARCHBISHOP CHARLES J. CHAPUT, O.F.M. CAP.
We need to understand that the more secular we become, the more our sense of community erodes, and the more we feed four problems that cripple us as a society.

"Here's the first problem: More and more often, we're unable to think clearly...

Here's the second problem: More and more often, we're unable to remember...

Here's problem three: More and more often, we're unable to imagine and hope...

Here's problem four: More and more often, we're unable to recognize and live real freedom...

...The America we have today is a culture built on marketing — and marketing works in exactly the opposite way. Marketing appeals to desire and emotion. It depends on the suppression of critical thought, because thinking can get in the way of buying the product or believing the message. And that explains why marketing is tied so tightly to images. Images operate below the radar of critical thought. This is why car dealers put an attractive female model next to their latest sports car, instead of a stack of performance statistics...

Jeremy Rifkin, the author and social critic, once described modern culture — in the United States and elsewhere in the developed world — as a "paid-for experience" based on the commodification of passion, ideals, relationships and even time. [2] That's a hard judgment, but too often it seems to be true. If we want freedom, we try to buy it by purchasing this car or that smartphone. If we want romance, we try to buy it by purchasing this vacation cruise or that hotel package...

My point is this: The more our economy misuses the language of our desires, dreams and ideals to sell products, to create new hungers and to commodify life … then the darker our appetites grow, and the more mixed up our dreams and ideals become. We feed our spiritual longings with material things, and we end up starving morally. We confuse ourselves to a point where we no longer know what real love, real intimacy, honest work, personal maturity, freedom, virtue, duty, family — and even a meaningful life itself — look like. We're left with a chronic aching for more; more of everything and anything, except the one thing that matters: God. We end up cocooned in unreality; a Fantasyland of our own making... 

...In the second book of The Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano we read this description of the 13th century man who sought to live the Gospel without gloss or compromise, and who inspires our current Holy Father so powerfully:
"In these last times, a new evangelist, like one of the rivers of paradise, has poured out the streams of the Gospel in a holy flood over the whole world. [St. Francis] preached the way of the Son of God and the teaching of truth in his deeds. In him and through him an unexpected joy and a holy newness came into the world. A shoot of the ancient religion suddenly renewed the old and decrepit. A new spirit was placed in the hearts of the elect, and a holy anointing has been poured out in their midst" (89).
Elsewhere Thomas of Celano writes:
"The brothers who lived with [St. Francis] knew that daily, constantly, talk of Jesus was always on his lips. He was always with Jesus: Jesus in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands. He bore Jesus always in his whole body . . . Often as he walked along a road, thinking and singing of Jesus, he would forget his destination and start inviting all the elements to praise Jesus" (115).
The heart of every new work of evangelization is this kind of ardor; a simple, passionate faith that can only come from seeking out and giving ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ, no matter what the cost. It's fitting that Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Colorado, and that our new Holy Father took the name of Francis. Just as St. Francis was raised up in his time to preach the Gospel with new passion in new kinds of ways, so God asks all of us here today to follow the same path, with the same unshakeable faith, to preach Jesus Christ by word and deed in our families, our friendships, our business dealings and in every corner of daily life."  CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.
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