Imagine a World with Passionate Catholics
The instances that follow of an imagined renaissance of Catholic action and influence in the public square may cause some to smile and murmur: “Nice wishful thinking – but hopelessly unrealistic”. Someone may say “How on earth can we possibly talk about a renaissance of Christian civilization? We’re now only a minority in society; barely tolerated in our views on marriage, the family and sexual morality; opposed by huge multi-million dollar foundations; watching the approach of massive de facto anti-Christian governments aiming for control of education; with the media juggernaut largely in enemy hands!”
Daunting certainly but not as fanciful as you might think. For we have done this before and we can do it again! But first of all we must cease to have short memories! Once upon a time our spiritual ancestors, the first Catholics, lived a catacomb-existence in ancient Rome; a mere handful of men and women who were still a minority in 321 A.D. when the emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan granting legal toleration; these ancestors of ours came blinking out of the darkness of their catacombs – and built an original civilization. With a culture that is extraordinary in its expressions of man’s aspirations and sentiments; encouraging the artistic figures of genius for two thousand years to put on canvas, sculpt in marble, set in musical notation and build in stone awesome works of art, sculpture, music and architecture. Certainly there were shortcomings in the opinions and behavior of individuals – wherever there is man there is human nature – but there were no shortcomings in the principles and aspirations of that civilization. Once upon a time we built a civilization inspired by Christian principles! What we did once, we can do again because we still have the same powerful source of endless creativity: the Catholic Faith and the life of sanctifying grace. Let us remember who we are!
Moreover it is not as if we lacked success stories in the 20th century. Up to the 1950s Hollywood – hard to believe! – was quite a center for producing pro-Christian movies as Jews, Catholics and other Christians worked together to keep a “Culture of Life” in cinema. Even in recent years some of the stellar successes have been Christian-inspired. Nor can we forget that extraordinary woman, Mother Angelica, whose name is already in the “Christian Hall of Fame”, who has shown us how a soul in love with God can found a Catholic TV station capable of reaching tens of millions of people – and she was a contemplative nun!
Let us then try to visualize what an active Catholic laity might achieve after their mobilization by the leadership ranks of the Church. Let us seek guidance by reading the signposts of Christian monuments from the past as we start building roads towards a Christian renaissance in the cultural, social and political life of the nations.
- Imagine sitting down to breakfast and picking up the daily newspaper that looks like The New York Times, The London Times, Le Figaro, Das Spiegel or Corriere della Sera: filled with current affairs, politics, sports, entertainment and yet…there’s something different about it. The tone is different, the vision is different, the images are different. It’s hard to put your finger on it but there is a tone of self-mastery about the journalism: statements are measured and nuanced; people are treated respectfully no matter their ethnic, religious or political background while ideas are dealt with somewhat fiercely with all the power of logic and clear-thinking. And of course there are some obvious sections and articles that do stand out: sections of the reigning Pope’s most recent speech, reviews of Christian conventions for youth and adults, reviews of Christian music. The owners and journalists don’t hide the fact but they don’t bluster about it either: this is a Catholic newspaper.
- The internet: Imagine surfing the web to find not only quantity but quality of Catholic websites, with thousands of excellent Catholic productions.
- Or in cinemas: Why can’t there be year after year several state-of-the-art Christian movies like The Passion of the Christ?
- Imagine walking into a bookstore at the airport and finding among the best-sellers quite a number with a Christian message.
- Why couldn’t there be several Catholics among the most acclaimed producers and directors receiving Oscars? What’s impossible about seeing on TV the popular names of Hollywood express pride in their Catholic Faith, backing up their words with actions dedicated to promoting the sanctity of life, marriage, family and evangelization?
- Why not expect the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting to go to a real Catholic journalist on staff at a major newspaper or magazine?
- Why not dream that rave reviews be published about the works of an artist who says that he owes all his inspiration to Catholicism?
- Or that the most famous orchestra conductor be a daily Mass goer who spends part of his free time giving introductory courses on Christianity and culture to non-Catholics?
- Or that a large number of Catholic politicians spearhead a campaign to introduce legislation making adoption a far easier alternative than abortion?
- Indeed why not think that one day there could be a talented young Catholic politician who ends up as President of the United States and whose position on every principle of morality is one hundred percent Catholic? (And let us not forget that this is not an unreasonable possibility in view of the increasing Catholic percentage of the population due to Hispanic immigration – provided of course we welcome and educate them with quality catechesis and apologetics).
- Imagine what politics could be like if…. Catholic politicians were really Catholic! If their hearts were aflame with love of God and their fellow-men and women (of all races and religions) vibrating with the energy of sanctifying grace and the truths of Christianity! They could –within the limits of fallen human nature – create a good society in which it is far easier for children to keep their innocence and married couples their marriages!
- What a difference it would make to each nation and to the world if the Catholic Church’s social doctrine with its principles of solidarity and subsidiarity were applied. What a difference it would make for the Third World: how much faster we would travel towards eliminating hunger, malnutrition and disease!
- Imagine what business and finance would be like if more Catholic financiers and businessmen were committed to undergirding the world’s financial system with the most sophisticated ethical doctrine in existence: that of the Catholic Church.
- What a different type of education would exist if educational programs were based on the Christian vision: a correct anthropology asserting the dignity of man created in the image and likeness of God, fallen but capable of renewal, with the capacity for truth and the call to build his life on the absolute moral standards of the Culture of Life.