The global economic trend downward and recent events are going to create change, uncertainty and hardship, perhaps much suffering, for a lot of people. I imagine that some of you readers are already being affected. You are not alone.
Our friends over at Rorate (check out their Purgatorial Society, by the way) has a great extended quote from the 1931 “social” encyclical Quadragesimo anno of Pope Pius XI. Here is the final part, but do visit Rorate:
“Wherefore,” to use the words of Our Predecessor, “if human society is to be healed, only a return to Christian life and institutions will heal it.” For this alone can provide effective remedy for that excessive care for passing things that is the origin of all vices; and this alone can draw away men’s eyes, fascinated by and wholly fixed on the changing things of the world, and raise them toward Heaven. Who would deny that human society is in most urgent need of this cure now?
Minds of all, it is true, are affected almost solely by temporal upheavals, disasters, and calamities. But if we examine things critically with Christian eyes, as we should, what are all these compared with the loss of souls? Yet it is not rash by any means to say that the whole scheme of social and economic life is now such as to put in the way of vast numbers of mankind most serious obstacles which prevent them from caring for the one thing necessary; namely, their eternal salvation.
Catholics have an obligation to shape the world around them. For Catholics to do that, they have to have a strong Catholic identity. We have to know our Faith, identity ourselves with it, and then live it not just in the privacy of our homes, but in the public square.
Pope Benedict has, I believe, a vision for his pontificate. He is trying to revitalize our Catholic identity precisely for the salvation of souls and also to affect a change to various vectors of our society, especially that of the West, which is rapidly crumbling under the dictatorship of relativism and also the rising threat of radical islamists.
For the sake of some new readers here, after World War II the USA helped to rebuild a shattered Europe through the Marshall Plan. The objective of that plan was to create strong partners for trade and create a bulwark against atheistic Communism threatening from the East. Today, the fundamental character of the West and Europe first of all is threatened by relativism and by Islam. The whole of the West is on shaky ground in many respects. Catholics have a role to play in the face of the problems that press on us. But we cannot have an influence of we don’t have a secure idea about what we believe and then we don’t live it. However, a revitalization of our Catholic identity cannot taken place without a revitalization of our public liturgical worship of God.
Above all, however, we have to revitalize our liturgical worship of God for the sake of the salvation of our souls. Worship of God is central to living our Catholic faith. Saving our souls is the overriding concern for every person and every group, large or small. When we take steps toward the salvation of our souls, which includes love of God and neighbor, there will necessarily be an effect on the larger world.