To Individuals and to Society, in this Life as well as for Ever and Ever
Through union with Christ by living integrally the Catholic Faith one finds the fullness of life’s meaning, eternal love, the beauty of creation, and inextinguishable hope.
This is the priest’s mission. And by dedicating his entire existence up to his last heartbeat to seek the eternal salvation of souls the consequences not only for Eternity but for Earth are dramatic. For by renewing souls in the image of Christ the priest is also renewing the ultimate foundations of society. Just as sin alienates man from God it also alienates man from his fellow men, so likewise the conversion to Christ of the soul is the beginning of a transformation of society into a Christlike society and therefore an authentically human society.
Christ and His Mystical Body or a Civilization of Death
Society in rejection of God through sin is described by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Cardinal Ratzinger, commenting on this description, states:
“For Paul, the moral decadence of society is nothing more than the logical consequence and the faithful reflection of this radical perversion. When man prefers his own egoism, his pride, and his convenience to the demands made on him by the truth, the only possible outcome is an upside-down existence. Adoration is due to God alone, but what is adored is no longer God; images, outward appearances, and current opinion have dominion over man.
“This general alteration extends to every sphere of life. That which is against nature becomes the norm; the man who lives against he truth also lives against nature. His creativity is no longer at the service of the good: he devotes his genius to ever more refined forms of evil. The bonds between man and woman, and between parents and children, are dissolved, so that the very sources from which life springs are blocked up. It is no longer life that reigns, but death.
“A civilization of death is formed (Rom 1:21-32). The description of decadence that Paul sketches here astonishes us modern readers by its contemporary relevance.” (J. Ratzinger, Christianity and the Crisis of Culture, 2006, pp. 94-95)
The Towering Difference the Catholic Faith Makes in This Life
A non-Catholic historian, Arnold J.Toynbee, although often in error, inexact, or ambiguous about Catholic doctrines, had an unusual clarity of insight with regard to at least the difference that being a Christian makes even in this life:
“But, if men on Earth have not had to wait for the advent of the higher religions, culminating in Christianity, in order to qualify, in their life on Earth, for eventually attaining, after death, the state of eternal felicity in the other world, then what difference has the advent on Earth of the higher religions, and of Christianity itself, really made?
“The difference, I should say, is this, that, under the Christian dispensation, a soul which does make the best of its spiritual opportunities will, in qualifying for salvation, be advancing farther towards communion with God and towards likeness to God under the conditions of life on Earth, before death, than has been possible for souls that have not been illuminated, during their pilgrimage on Earth, by the light of the higher religions…a soul which has been offered, and has opened itself to, the illumination and the grace that Christianity conveys, will, while still in this world, be more brightly irradiated with the light of the other world…The Christian soul can attain, while still on Earth, a greater measure of man’s greatest good than can be attained by any pagan soul in this earthly stage of its existence.” (ARNOLD TOYNBEE, Civilization on Trial, Oxford University Press, 1948, p.250-251.)