The Demise of the Church of Nice
A Return to the Church of Light and Truth is long overdue
I have this friend of a Friend who led a super interesting life. He passed away a while back, but lots of people still remember him. He was really something else. Like many of us, he showed great potential as a young person but went down some bad paths in early adulthood. Eventually he even witnessed a murder perpetrated by some of his friends, doing nothing to stop it. It was just after that when he met my Friend and had an awakening. Many still remember that day because it changed him forever.
Once he saw the light, he went to his basement put on his mask and hid for months. Oh no, he didn’t do that, but an awful lot of people around us these days are. This man changed his ways and learned from a wise mentor. He went off to get some time alone and to collect his thoughts. Once they were together, he went around town and was very nice to people, so they all went about their regular business and changed nothing…
Oops, sorry, off track again, that's not his story either. In reality, he powerfully and forcefully told the story of our mutual Friend to people all around the Mediterranean basin. He was tireless in holding the communities he visited accountable for the promises they made and admonished them personally and in letters when they got off track. Their feelings were hurt by his directness, in calling them out, so they stopped listening to him and went home…
Yikes, off track again, in fact you can still hear pieces of his ~2000 year old letters almost every Sunday in churches around the globe. He suffered greatly for the sake of this message, was in peril often, spent a significant amount of time in jail, and in the end was beheaded by the powers that be. As I write this, the Church is celebrating the feast of his conversion. I am of course talking about Saint Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Have you been to church in the last few decades? Does it resemble the Church of St. Paul’s time in any substantive way, or has it followed the downward spiral of narcissistic obsession with our own feelings that the rest of society has fallen into? The easy way to make this determination is to ask yourself if the preaching you hear calls you to repentance and challenges you to grow in faith, or if it is designed to hurt as few feelings as possible.
Of course, we all know that the Church of Nice (no hurt feelings) and the hope (really the expectation) that all are saved without repentance, is growing by leaps and bounds, and the Church of St. Paul’s time was collapsing. Or do I maybe have that backwards?
The Church is almost always at her best when she is a Light projecting the message of Jesus Christ in stark contrast to the darkness of the surrounding world, and at her worst when she capitulates to those dark forces and goes along to get along. Maybe I am crazy, but it seems that there is much more of the latter going on these days than the former.
Preaching is not easy, particularly when children are present, and nobody wants to be slammed over the head with a hammer every Sunday. On the other hand, if we the faithful are not challenged and called to more, we will not grow. Our Church of no hurt feelings has put us at great risk of being a bunch of Nice people on a roller coaster ride to eternal damnation. Please take the time to thank any preacher that makes you uncomfortable in a way that stimulates growth. They need to hear it.
If you take a look around you, isn’t it obvious that our world has gone mad? Our moral foundation has collapsed, reason and critical thinking are dead, replaced by the false science of out-of-control experts paid to say what their overlords demand. We don’t have to go mad with it, but as St. Anthony of the Desert so aptly put it, we will be called mad, because "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us'."
Call me crazy all you want, but I will not ride that roller coaster, and I am begging you to risk being called crazy and get off as well. Clerics, religious, and laypeople, isn’t it time to take responsibility for our own faith journey and, like St. Paul, call out those around us including Church leaders to do the same?
Maybe men can stand up and be the heads of your families as you are called to be, throwing aside whatever electronic thing has captured your life and investing that time instead in leading your families toward heaven.
Maybe women can withhold sex from selfish men until marriage and then love and nurture your families as only you can do.
Maybe preachers can take a lesson from St. Paul and boldly preach the Truth of God. Possibly counting it a failure if someone isn’t offended on a regular basis, and then watching the pews fill with lost sheep longing to hear Truth and trying to find a purpose in this upside down and rapidly deteriorating culture.
Maybe Church leaders can stand up to the powerful and wealthy, calling out their blatant manipulation of the facts and information they feed the masses, before they are handed the keys to the kingdom, rather than after when their power has become insurmountable.
Love is not being Nice to the other, it is investing the time to do the very best thing we can for the other even if feelings might get hurt. Isn’t it time for us all to Love again?
Next up in this series – Get off the Plantation
This recently begun series of articles can be found at https://candidcatholic.substack.com/. Please like and/or comment on these posts, and if you enjoy them please feel free to share them with others and ask them to subscribe to the email list. Thanks so much!