Three Views of the Future: The Church in A.D. 2109

The following “documents” present scenarios for the Church as it might become a hundred years from now. The author wishes to point out to the reader that, given the complexity of factors in the present world, many other situations could develop. But the following suggest three which are not beyond the realm of possibility.

The first: The Church is undergoing a world-wide persecution, during which the strengths of the Body of Christ are in full flower under conditions of extreme suffering.

The second: A worst-case scenario, in which the Church, especially in North America and Europe, has been largely compromised, has grown lukewarm and made a false peace with the spiritus mundi.

The third: After a delay of a century, a grace period brought about by the “New Evangelization” of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the Church has succeeded in bringing the Gospel to the entire world.

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The Blood of the Lamb

Vast numbers of modern men have come to believe the lie that God is dead and that death is triumphing. As a result of the disintegration of their world, they move about creation hardly knowing how to live. Rootless, wounded and terribly lonely. Despairing, they turn to the drug of materialism and pleasure, or the stimulant of violence, in a desperate flight from an intolerable vision of life. So many people no longer believe in a good God, and have amassed an enormous indictment against him, a case compounded by the crimes of the this past century.


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Wisdom of Nazareth—introduction

 

In this anthology you will find many such stories, written by men and women who have sought to live the fullness of our Catholic faith, often against great odds, with courage and with love. There is a self-honesty here, a constant humility heard between the lines, which points to the widespread awareness that we have been to some extent deprived of our sacramental “birthright”, if you will, and that nothing less than Truth can heal and restore us. “The Truth spoken in Love” was the constant guidepost for our writers and editorial choices. Thus, the authors you will meet through these pages are people who, like you, know that much is at stake, primarily the spiritual health of our children and the strengthening of our marriages. Moreover, that we live in what John Paul II called a “culture of death” has escaped no one’s notice, for anyone who strives for openness to life, to live according to Natural Law and illumined by sanctifying grace, cannot fail to enter a world of struggle. It is also, it should be noted, a world of great and unexpected joys—joys that are united to the path of sacrifice and trust exemplified by the Holy Family of Nazareth. In short, the “ordinary” life of faithful Catholic marriage and family is one that leads to the Cross—and thus, it is also one of Resurrection.

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The New Totalitarianism, “hate crime,” and same-sex “marriage”

A new totalitarianism? In Canada, the recent passage of a new “hate crime law” is a case in point, and the looming “same-sex marriage” bill now before Parliament is another. A number of aspects of the hate crimes law are especially disturbing. For one thing, previous to the passage of this law there already existed in Canadian law abundant protection of human rights, including protection against discrimination on grounds of “sexual orientation.” What is distinctive about the new law is its criminalization of negative criticism of homosexuality as such. While the bill was in formation in Parliament two crucial amendments proposed by the conservative opposition party were defeated. The first was to ensure that religious pastors and teachers would retain full freedom to teach traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs on these matters. The second was an attempt to make a distinction in law between homosexual persons and homosexual activities.

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Modesty in the Culture of Shamelessness

 

I’ve been pondering recently, as I have so many times over the years,what Our Lady meant precisely in the messages of Fatima when she spokeabout the offences through the clothing fashions that would develop inthe years following the apparitions. Appearing to Blessed Jacinta Martobetween December, 1919 and February, 1920, she said,  “Certain fashionswill be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.” And “Woe towomen lacking in modesty.”

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A Little Splinter in the Soul

 

You know the kind of splinter I mean. You are hammering together a home-made bunk-bed or carrying firewood, and it somehow drives itself deep beneath the surface of the skin. It’s a tiny black dot. By contrast, big splinters look like splinters, mean and ugly, but tweezers usually make short work of them. Not so with these little invaders. They are too small to extract, and too subtle to stop a project in mid-stride. “Later,” you think, “I’ll get it out later.”

But they have a curious way of being forgotten until you wake in the middle of the night with a throbbing, swollen finger, infected and useless. Just a tiny thing, but it can ruin a whole night and the following day into the bargain.

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Our Lady and a Little Beggar


I live in Canada, which for half of the year is a cold country. For most of our thirty years of marriage my wife and I have had a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a central place in our home, and her face has been a constant source of warmth and consolation to us. It is a mystery to me how her face seems to change from day to day. Some days she is smiling, on other days there is a gentle grief in her eyes, on still others we feel a wave of quiet, steady love coming from her. Nothing dramatic, but always there. We see her as the Mother of our family. We know she is also the Mother of the Americas. She is also the mother of all peoples, the mother of all mankind, and at Guadalupe she is revealed as the Woman of Revelation, the one who will crush the serpent with her heel.

When she appeared in the very epicenter of the Aztec cult of death, the new world’s heart of darkness, she identified herself in these words: “I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God, through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things, who is master of heaven and earth. . . . I am your merciful Mother, the mother of all who live united in this land, of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me.”

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Our Lady and Smallness

Lately I have been pondering that mysterious quality our Lord called “poverty of spirit.” Perhaps it has been coming to mind more and more because I live in a community where the typical Catholic family has many children and survives on a single income. Ours is an economically depressed region of the woodlands of northern Ontario, where work is hard to find and not always steady when it is found. Among our people are genuine heroes who live the Gospels daily at great cost. Because they have chosen to build a culture of life in the midst of a society that is earnestly spreading the culture of death, the beatitudes are not abstractions for them. Day by day they struggle to do good, avoid evil, grow in virtue, overcome their personal faults and sins, and to fulfill the duty of the moment, which is to raise their families in a humble and happy manner. Though family life is generally considered “ordinary,” in fact it has never been more extraordinary than it is now; it is challenging and complex, considering the times we live in and the variety of human personalities that one finds in any given family. Add to this the confusion in the particular churches, government hostility to traditional families, the scattering of the extended family, and we have a recipe for suffering.

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There Are Many Voices

“What is Truth?” Pontius Pilate

I may be exceptionally naïve, but I began to understand the unreliability of the communications media only when I reached my late twenties. One day, my wife and I and our first-born son were on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, among a crowd of 12,000 pro-life demonstrators, listening to a speech by the British journalist and convert, Malcolm Muggeridge. His words were nothing short of brilliant and prophetic. At the far edge of the crowd a group of about twenty pro-abortion protesters campaigned for attention, chanting slogans and marching in a circle. That night I was astounded to see the event grossly distorted on the television news networks. There was not a single excerpt from the pro-life speeches, no view of the crowd, no mention of its size, only brief close-up snippets of individual pro-life demonstrators-and the networks seemed to have an eye only for tongue-tied people in funny looking hats.

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Millennial Fever or Millennial Denial: Are these our only options?

Ours is the second generation in the history of the Church to experience the turn of a millennium, and it is to be expected that the uniqueness of the event will have its effect on our perceptions of what is occurring and will soon occur in our midst. It would be high drama in any historical context, yet the unprecedented crises and crimes of this century have injected into the situation a tension that in many people approaches the level of cosmic dread.

Natural disasters are increasing exponentially; the economy is tottering on the brink of disaster; the y2k problem threatens the vulnerable infrastructure of the computerized developed nations, raising the specter of widespread social collapse in the immediate future, with ensuing famine and lawlessness; wars are increasing in number and ferocity; world-class magazines give plenty of attention to the outbreak of pandemic plagues and the possibility of comets and asteroids smashing into our once secure little planet, thus ending civilization with whimpers and bangs.

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