In this day and age, it seems like all conventional wisdom and traditional values are being questioned and dismissed for the sake of progress. There is no longer any perennial treasures or need for them because progressive ideas and methodologies are said to be much better and will replace everything that we had come to know. There is an underlying motive to dismiss everything that we have come to know from the past as evil, outdated, and unnecessary because those matters do not comply with our post-modern way of life and understanding. It seems like to hold on to what is old or outdated defeats the purpose of progress, therefore, all efforts are put into destroying and dismissing vestiges of the past. Nevertheless, this is the biggest downfall of progressivism itself: destroying what is treasured, important, and perennial for its own self-created version of sophistry and nicely-packaged of what seems to be true on the outside or meets the eye. Progressivism without tradition is like quickly building a big house or edifice on sand without sound foundations.
Technological and social advances have made us more connected and understanding, which is good; but also at the same time, they have also made us sensitive — even scared at times — to have a real conversation. We have lost the art of having proper civil discourse without arguing, judging, pontificating, condemning, feeling condemned, being judged, or worrying about what other people think of us. In the world of instantaneous satisfaction and pleasure, we have lost depth and become more shallow in our everyday interactions with one another. It is getting harder to talk about anything without worrying about sensitivity as if the other side is feeling like we are judging us. We have lost the ability to have a heart to heart conversation. We are leery of entering into a disagreement because it seems like we can only tell one another whether we are supportive of them in all things (at all costs) or sound like we are hating them because we do not share their same ideology. We have made many things divisive so that it has become better to avoid disagreements or differences in politeness.
This also affected our conversation about faith because we look at it as if another sensitive topic to be avoided when we wish to be polite. A “conversation” has become something that should be done behind a computer screen or technological outlet where the real identity and conversation can be masked, hidden, or removed so that the awkward human contact is avoided. As with anything, we are scared of being challenged, offended or offending others. We are so scared of other people telling us that our faith is a sham, a money-making scheme by religious fanatics, that we are unscientific, uneducated people or ignorant sheep being controlled by a projection of human fears and unrealistic hope for the afterlife. We have been told by society that the Catholic Church is a Ponzi scheme selling false understanding of salvation and grace, so outdated and corrupted and doomed that believers got to be so stupid or ignorant to believe with what is being said. We are told that we are being manipulated by church leaders for their own self-serving needs and money-making schemes that it is much better to stick to our own personal spiritual beliefs of the world and God than to be part of the religious sphere of corrupted institutions. We have been told that our beliefs are filled with hypocrisy because we are hateful toward homosexuals, demeaning toward women, and every priest is a pervert. Often times, we have allowed the social ethos of skepticism to define us, even to the point of making us skeptical and doubting our own faith and relationship with God.
Nevertheless, there is nothing really substantial and systematic from the casual doubters and self-justifying people. People who choose to not belief often find the need to justify themselves and their own ideologies by bashing others, putting down the institution in order to elevate their personal standards to be more superior. Yet, this is the beginning of hypocrisy itself! It is easy to find the faults of the other in order to justify one’s self. It is easier to cast doubts and demonize in order to feel more superior, yet it begs the questions, “To what ends?” What is the real motive, underlying message, or viable option? If there is a subjective conclusion that the Catholic faith is wrong, corrupted, or irrelevant, what are the real, universal, formal, and objective alternative and applicable option beyond the idle, demeaning, and skeptical thoughts? All these criticism are just a melange of disconnected thoughts, stabs, or jabs at apparent human errors, a misunderstanding or misconception of what the Church really teaches in truth.
Even though attacks seem somewhat reasonable and appealing, they are only planting doubts without viable and real solutions. They attack what the Church believes and hands-on as truths received through Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition. They only try to negate things but really offer nothing. They are finger-pointing criticisms that have no long-term, tested and proven, or foundational values. They are hopeless and unrealistic because there is no organic understanding and comprehension at the total picture and what it takes to believe and live out the Christian identity and mission. Many times, criticisms are only vocal outbursts of frustrated thoughts but have not really been reflected, thoughted, and discerned with time, virtues, and wisdom. These matters only lead to a deeper distrust and despair of everything around us because the options, complains, criticisms lack real personal and committed efforts to make things better. It is easy to point out the problems and expect others to solve them than to be personally committed to sacrifice and make hard choices to be part of the change!
We often get so worked up by little things that frustrated us and ended up missing the real mark, losing sight on the total picture, final goal, and ultimate purpose behind the small-minded criticisms of what is wrong. Hence, we end up talking about much, as if we can be the change and do everything right, yet somehow end up just talking and complaining, criticizing and pointing fingers without much substantial change and committed efforts in the long run. What seems to be so reasonable and critical often become self-serving as we become more self-righteous, feeling superior and better than the rest because we know better, yet falsely putting ourselves on a pedestal at the costs of demeaning others in the process. There are too many armchair philosophers who talk a lot, critical of others (especially the institution of the Church), seem to offer many solutions, yet only end up as casual critics and frustrated bystanders who are vocal about many things but are detached from what really matters. It is often a waste of time to listen to a whole bunch of “what is wrong and should be done better” until we see enough people who are willing to make a difference, choosing the sacrificial path for the greater good of all, walking the road less traveled of service, bravely endure all things for the truth, especially will to humbly serve and be the change without recognition of others.
Doubts lead to despair. They are feeble and can be catastrophic because they destroy what is good with petty attacks without real solutions. Doubts do not build anything. The skeptical thinkers only pretend to be caring or impartial, but no one is really impartial. The people who plant doubts and attack the Church, especially our true values and the humble works being done around the world without the media worshipping and highlighting, want nothing but to set up and portray themselves as the superiors, saviors, and redeemers (of their own ideologies). It is easy to be against a venerable institution, to be seen as avant-garde in paving one’s way and providing answers through important progress. However, the attackers and critical skeptics become judges of their own rights for they are taking a side, oftentimes pontificating their own solutions for the sake of their righteousness.
I am not saying that all of us are perfect and there is no need for improvements. There had been people who walked away due to scandals in the Church. I have heard their pain and disappointment, as well as their stories why, and I am not dismissing their hurts and sadness. There were saints who could had walked away from the faith when there were trying times in the Church, yet they chose to stay and reform the Church from within. If a scandal causes us to doubt our faith, we have to really ask, what was our faith? Doubt does not prove anything; nevertheless, the test of faith, its fidelity, perseverance, and commitment, shows us that we can be faithful and overcome our doubts in time of great trials.
While it is easy to walk away and hard to stay at times, those moments are our opportunities to mature and grow. While it is easy to fall because of doubt and despair, it is hard, courageous, and worthwhile to stand by the everlasting, eternal truth and the perennial wisdom that it provides in the midst of human failures. Even though it seems courageous to attack the Catholic values and institution, it takes true courage to understand and defends them. While it does not take courage to criticize and sow doubts, it does take courage to believe and seek true reformation that begins with service and humility of heart. This is what we are called to be, as with the saints, to have our hearts united with the heart of the Church to transform and sanctify one another in the midst of many complacencies, doubts, and its seeds of despair. Christ is with us and will not abandon us, for we are members of the Church and she is His Bride. Nevertheless, we can all lovingly, with patience, prudence, wisdom, humility, and virtues, seek and work for the renewal, transformation, and springtime among ourselves who are members of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, brothers and sisters in Christ, and instruments of the Holy Spirit.