The first talk today is by George Weigel.
Weigel is explaining that the three footings of Western Civilization, termed “Jerusalem (Biblical truths and revelation), Athens (rationality – we can know truths) and Rome (the rule of law is better than force)” are under assault.
If you teach that there are Biblical, revealed, truths, you are either irrational or a bigot.
If you say that there is “truth”, you are shouted down with the claim that there are no truths and your truth doesn’t have to me my truth.
If you determine to act on the basis of truth that can be known, the state will impose by force a relativisitic notion of some passing “truth”.
One result is that no one is safe. Society is being coarsened and cold.
We have great challenges – to defend life, to defend religious liberty, defense of marriage.
Defense of marriage is not simply a question of the laws of states, reflecting reality or not, this is a cultural struggle. The culture of marriage is breaking down.
One of the factors in how people voted for President is whether they were married or not. “Unmarried women will marry the state.” The fact that there are so many, and that men and women have such a difficulty finding each other, shows that there is a serious problem in the culture of marriage. We have to defend not just reality, but must set limits on the state. The state can recognize marriage, but it cannot define marriage. Once the state can define marriage, it can define every other kind of relationship to produce a “soft totalitarianism”.
Another great challenge we have is the building of a responsibility society on the basis of subsidiarity. In Centesimus annus John Paul II described social organizations as “schools of freedom”. How do we produce, develop, grow civilized members of society? To build a “responsibility society” not defined by dependence on the state, we must foster civilized socialized members.
We are living at the threshold of a new era for the Church.
John Paul II talked about “new evangelization”. Benedict XVI has picked up on that. Weigel calls this “evangelical Catholicism”, which he claims is actually an old way of being Catholic. It goes back to the “great commission”, the fundamental vocation. When we “put out into the deep”, we are going into the roiling waters of the culture that is being undermined on the level of “Jerusalem, Athens and Rome”.
This means we have to take our baptism seriously. Start celebrating your baptismal anniversary day. In a sense, we can do what evangelicals do when they introduce themselves and add “I was born again on 8 Feb 2013).
We were baptized into a missionary vocation. Leaving a megachurch parking lot, he saw a sign – again, leaving the parking lot – “You are entering mission territory.” We should do this. At the renewal of baptismal promises, we might reflect on how many people we have helped to come to know Christ.
Evangelical Catholicism will be attractive by example, by modeling a decent way of life. We are in a cold culture. We have to build communities of warmth and life.
I have to add that, while, I think Weigel has a good point, I do not believe that we can get anywhere with his project without a revitalization of our liturgical worship.
Archbishop Lori is speaking.
He has started with the evolution of the Church in these USA as a force even during a period of anti-Catholicism. Card. Gibbons and his confreres saw the hand of God in the foundation of these USA. He didn’t say that the system was the best, but that the founders built “better than they knew”.
Catholics were then assimilated into culture and the Church grew. But this is a different time from that of Gibbons and McQuaid. Fewer people practice their faith. Catholics are falling away. 27% attend church and marriages are declining.
There are challenges to religious freedom. Were people being catechized, religious freedom would not be so easy to attack. Churches are being forced to conform or to be reigned in.
The HHS rules limit full religious freedom.
The Church in American is in a challenging situation now, larger than any one issue or sum of issues.
Matthew Kelly is speaking about game changers, not becoming hypnotized by complexity.
Evening Mass with Archbp Lori.
Speaking about John the Baptist, who died in defense of marriage, we, too, must be ready to bear witness in defense of truth, but with joy and serenity.
Offertory Sicut cervus by Palestrina. Well sung in poor acoustics!
Tonight I had a nice chat with Jeb Bush. He showed us photos of his grandchild!
Georgia Helena Walker Bush! 18 months.
Now we have a Mardi Gras supper with Chef John Folse.