A reflection on Amos 8

The deconstruction of the world’s markets suggests that very difficult times are ahead. 

The speed of the dissolution suggests that these difficulties cannot now be avoided.

In his Message for the World Day for Peace, the Holy Father wrote:

This perspective requires an understanding of poverty that is wide-ranging and well articulated. If it were a question of material poverty alone, then the social sciences, which enable us to measure phenomena on the basis of mainly quantitative data, would be sufficient to illustrate its principal characteristics. Yet we know that other, non-material forms of poverty exist which are not the direct and automatic consequence of material deprivation. For example, in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty, seen in people whose interior lives are disoriented and who experience various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity. On the one hand, I have in mind what is known as “moral underdevelopment”, and on the other hand the negative consequences of “superdevelopment”. Nor can I forget that, in so-called “poor” societies, economic growth is often hampered by cultural impediments which lead to inefficient use of available resources. It remains true, however, that every form of externally imposed poverty has at its root a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person. When man is not considered within the total context of his vocation, and when the demands of a true “human ecology” are not respected, the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed, as is evident in certain specific areas that I shall now consider briefly one by one.

The Holy Father writes also about many other themes.

This is what Popes do these days.  They write a lot about everything.

I want to come back to a theme I have pushed on WDTPRS for a while now.

One of my favorite radio talkers and writers, Bill Bennett, often makes the point that culture trumps … many other spheres, such as politics or economics.

This certain strikes a chord with me.  This chord is readily heard by most people who pause to observe and ponder our society.

I am compelled to indicate deeper rumbling, something the depths of which you must register by feel more than the mere sense of hearing.

At the same time the way we worship, that is, the way we engage in the sacred action of the liturgy, affects the world. 

Every act of faithful worship, to my mind, has a deep affect upon the course of human affairs. 

By all means let us write on globalization and be busy about many things.

I propose that no matter what else we do, the helm of this wreck will be steered around only by how we pray as a Church. 

It is strongly possible that in our lifetimes "various nations will be annihilated", but this dire sequence can be affected by our actions.

Get serious with your worship and the sphere of the world you shape.

It is now probably up to us to save the world.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I would be careful about equating economic problems with the end of the world type attitude. Our ways are not the Lord’s ways.

  2. Ohio Annie says:

    And this economic type problem fueled by bank failures and credit problems has happened before several times, 1896, 1906, etc. The world always goes in cycles. up down up down swirling like a washing machine. See you at the rapids!

    Everybody should just pray always!

  3. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I don’t think Father Z is merely thinking about the economy, but is using it as a starting point. Read again the quote from the Holy Father; there are different kinds of poverty. We are a spiritually poor, morally bankrupt nation in many respects. We are far more fragile internally today than during the Great Depression, because we rely on other nations for energy and goods. We are far more fragile because so few, relatively, believe in God or in self-reliance. The “Me” Generation has no inner resources to tap when the going gets tough.

  4. luddite says:

    We’re only three meals away from the end of civilization as we know it.

    For some people, maybe less.

  5. Sam says:

    What do the poor and the rich all have in common? Unless they repent and believe the gospel they will all perish! Christ was crucified for the forgivness of sins! God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life!

  6. Francisco says:

    As my spiritual director here in Argentina says: “The election of Obama confirms we are in the last times. If someone does not see it, it is because he doesn´t want to.”

    Best regards,


  7. Hugo says:


    Please elaborate

  8. MJS says:

    And this whole mess has occurred under whose watch? Not Obama’s. Rather, that of the greed meisters who value nothing more than the immediate buck dangling before their materialistic eyes.

  9. Ed says:

    Not clear on the rhetorical intention of this one:

    “This is what Popes do these days. They write a lot about everything.”

    Pope Benedict XVI, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, does so much more than just write about everything. But, taken alone, what he writes is so much more than rhetorical. His profound charisms speak volumes beyond the various texts, he moves the hearts of people, including many who may have started out antagonistic towards Catholicism and Popes. He loves. People respond.

    By all means do read the “a lot” he writes. It will help pass the time while we’re busy not knowing the day or hour when the Master will return. While we’re so involved in loving our neighbor that we hardly notice the time passing.

  10. Matt says:

    “various nations will be annihilated”, Fr.I too agree that the message of Fatima has not fully played out.

  11. Sid says:

    If we Catholics date ourselves back to Father Abraham, we have a track record of overcoming, or at least surviving, our enemies: Consider these challenges:

    – The Ancient Egyptians
    – The Philistines and assorted worshipers of Baal, Astarte, temple prostitution, and killing children for Moloch
    – The Assyrians
    – The Babylonians and the profanation of the sacred vessels from the temple
    – The Persians
    – The Greek Seleucid Empire and that whacko Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who profaned the sacred liturgy
    – The Roman persecutions by Nero, Domitian, Maximinus et al. when Christian were required to pour out a libation (a form of pagan worship) to the Emperor’s deity, or die.
    – The fall of the Western Empire to worshipers of Wotan, starting with Alaric, prompting The City of God.
    – The Islamic invasions of Spain, Sicily, Southern Italy and Latium c. a.D. 9th C by the Saracen
    – The failure of the assorted Crusades and the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
    – The Fall of the Eastern Empire to Islam
    – The Jacobin anti-Christian program, with its liturgy for the Supreme Being, followed by Buonaparte
    – 19th C nationalism and the loss of the Papal States, a.d. 1870
    – 20th C Communism
    – the reigns of Adolf the Awful and Benito the Bad

    And that doesn’t even consider the corruption within! – starting with the first liturgical abuse: The Golden Calf.

    I don’t want to be complaisant or over-optimistic. For we overcame with great suffering. We survived by working with Grace to put the Holy House in order, and by a deep spirituality that has its source in prayer and communal liturgy, well done.

    Save the Liturgy, Save our rear ends

  12. Tara says:

    The other day a young man brought his father into the Emergency Room, with a collapsed lung–due to lung disease. The young man had the idea the those in the hospital would “hypnotize” his father, and when the nurse left the room, he threw the drugs into the garbage. His reasoning: He wanted his dad “fixed” but he didn’t want the doctors to “hypnotize or kill his dad. The question to him was, “If you thought we would do harm to your father–why did you bring him into the hospital–he didn’t get it!
    Very bizzare thinking–he was very intellectually impaired.

    At reading the quote from our Holy Father, it made me think of this man–how is it that we in America have such super prosperity, but at the same time have such a prevalence of intellectual and “moral underdevelopment.” Very bizzare thinking allows the killing of innocent Children in their own mother’s womb–and the murders can’t see it as a baby? Wow, do we ever need to pray–and pray hard!

  13. Padre Steve says:

    The culture war has been going on for some time, but it seems to have been taken to a new level of late. Peter Kreeft wrote a wonderful article on this topic: http://salesianity.blogspot.com/2008/11/peter-kreeft-how-to-win-culture-war.html
    Sanctity is the only thing that makes sense today. We have to win the war with saints!

  14. David Andrew says:

    I find it laughable, and tragically so, that the liberal theologians and progressivist liturgistas many of us deal with think that we need to impoverish the liturgy with Draconian cut-backs in “liturgy and worship budgets” so that the realities of our parish life reflects the realities of our members’ home lives. “How can we have rich, elaborate liturgies when folks are having to make cut-backs in the lavishness of their lifestyle at home?” they say. Right. As if our worship and entry into the transcendent encounters with the Paschal Mystery lived out in the liturgy in any way should be patterned off of our secular, white bread, pop-tarts, loose credit, wash ‘n’ wear, pre-fab, microwaved, instant gratification lifestyle.

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World . . . indeed!

    What I fear is that thanks to their self-congratulatory success in watering down the teachings of the True Faith, the progressivists among us have ensured the complete spiritual and disciplinary poverty of the majority of the typical suburbanite Catholics in this country. So much so that not only will they (with a “clear conscience” no less) vote for political leaders who will tax, spend and slaughter our country’s way to perdition, but will be entirely ill-equipped to save their own souls or recognize the sincere help of those around them who want to lead them to heaven, teach them the benefits of deep prayer and devotion to the Eucharist, praying the Rosary and praying for the intercession of Our Lady.

    The irony in this is that those who have been turning toward the orthodoxy of the Church in her liturgy, devotions and disciplinary practices, those who have been the butt of jokes and head-wagging for being “odd balls, religious whack-jobs, fanatics”, people who are shunned and scorned for being “traditionalists”, will the the ones most spiritually stable to endure and help others to endure as well.

    In short, we must keep the faith and never turn away from helping those who have through no fault of their own mocked us for the strength of that faith.

    (Sorry for the rant. It’s been a loooooong week.)

  15. Since economics has become the main idol of this time, God will take it away. Read any forecast for 2009 and it is obvious. Look at the signs. Yes, it *is* the end of this economic age. Once this materialism is greatly reduced, then you can bet that many will be forced to turn back to God. One of the main reasons Obama won the election is that people voted the pocketbook, along with the moral bankruptcy that he promotes, rather than voting for life. God gives the unfaithful nation the unfaithful leaders they ask for. Ask Samuel the prophet :-)

  16. Andreas says:

    In this message the Holy Father spoke also about finances. Here is an excerpt:

    “The recent crisis demonstrates how financial activity can at times be completely turned in on itself, lacking any long-term consideration of the common good. This lowering of the objectives of global finance to the very short term reduces its capacity to function as a bridge between the present and the future, and as a stimulus to the creation of new opportunities for production and for work in the long term. Finance limited in this way to the short and very short term becomes dangerous for everyone, even for those who benefit when the markets perform well.”

    I think this is a most timely observation. Finance should be of service to man, and not the other way around. And only through justice and charity can it be fruitful and productive. Presently, we are in a state of hysteria, a product of greed. The media fuel this by reporting financial data on a daily and even hourly basis. It is completely irrelevant how much the market rises or drops in one day: but it is presented as big news and a cause of concern. The anti-dote for this hysteria is faith and trust in divine providence and personal responsibility. I often take the words of the Gospel as addressed to myself: “do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” This is profound, but it is not easy to live by such faith. It seems to me that one has to renew the effort daily. I think the Pope’s message is less about pointing fingers and much more about lifting our spirits and challengins us to make a connection between spiritual and material well being.

  17. Francisco says:

    Elaboration for my friend:
    Obama stands for abortion, muslisms or some kind of nothingness in religion (as Hillary Clinton always says:”we must search for the meaning of …”; tradition is questioned and attacked), etc.
    He is a great antagonist of what is called a cristian and of catholic tradition in general.
    Please see other posts to complete the point of view.
    I am not saying it is the cause but one of the consequences that confirm we are on the final times. Lets pray he does not become a cause of any disaster.

    Merry Christmas

  18. Larry says:

    Father Z on a few occasions has upset me with a rather one issue program. of Course that is to be expected because this blog is after all about Liturgy and Latin Liturgy at that. But today I cannot help feeling he has hit the nail squrarely. We are living in very dangerous times that are not precisely of our own making. To be certain the ecconomy has captured our imagination and our fears awake and asleep. But the econnomy is but one symptom of the illness that grips the world. The seven captial sins are everywhere and a lack of true worship only copounds the issues. I am not suggesting that tthis is a battle between the NO vs the TLM. No indeed. Both forms, properly performed are valid worship. But it is the heart of each person that must be raised to GOD in any prayer or act of Worship. It is no longer sufficient as if it ever was to merely be present at a valid Sacrifice. Our heart, soul and mind must be lifted up to the LORD. If the issue were merely dollars and cents so be it. But the root cause is a complete breakdown of our moral and ethical conscience exemplified not simply by abortion or contraception, but by pornography, adultry, fornication, greed, lying,perjury, theft, cheating,greed, corruption, bribary and the list goes on and on. If the world is to be delivered from judgement then it is only by prayer that it will happen. If we fail the first world will simply degenerate into a third world status and that is if GOD does not decide that all this is enough and decides to sound the Trumpet and start over somewhere else in HIS universe(s). If the world is to be saved it only by prayer and catechisis that it will happen. The hour is late and there is no apology for the rant. May GOD save us!

  19. A Random Friar says:

    Re: annihilation of nations: I remember reading that someone had looked up a circa-1900 Encyclopedia Britannica and was fascinated by the list of countries. Of something like 112 countries, six, count ’em, SIX, had not suffered conquest or occupation by another power, total revolution or coup, or annexation.

    Can you imagine what we could do this century with all the new weapons we’ve garnered and how much more tied together we all are?

  20. Sal says:

    “This is what Popes do these days.
    They write a lot about everything.”

    Fr. Z, are you afraid the Pope is not going to
    endorse American capitalism as the be-all and
    end-all of economic wisdom?

    Or do you think the Pope doesn’t “know” enough
    about economic issues and should leave that to
    the experts? You know, the ones who have practically
    bankrupted the country and defrauded people of
    their life savings?

    Seems to me we could use some of Benedict’s wisdom
    on economic issues. [Nice tangent. I am not sure you read my post, however.]

  21. Sal says:

    By the way, Fr. Z, your pal Bill Bennett is
    the one who lost 8 million dollars at casinos.
    How does that make him a “cultural” commentator?
    He lost his religious and cultural moorings a
    long time ago. [And you must believe that people who have sinned are damned forever without the possibility of conversion or redemption. How sad.]

  22. Liz F. says:

    I didn’t know about Bill Bennett’s gambling problem. Now that I do I’m positively shocked. A human being with human frailties? Simply appauling.

    Seriously, Sal. Can only perfect people comment on our culture?

  23. luddite says:

    Check out Congressman Ron Paul’s writings about the economy.

    Also, the Ludwig von Mises Institute has a great website about Austrian Economics, which is a much sounder economic program than the Kenysian nonsense plaguing America today.

    Sadly, few ever heard of Chesterton’s and Belloc’s ideas on “Distributivism.” Even sadder, when people hear the word, they think it’s about socialism. The fools.

  24. Not Getting Creaky Just Yet says:

    Bennet is a rabbit hole. But in the spirit of the general wandering-astray, I remember that kerfluffle, and Mr. Bennet never failed to meet his other responsibilities due to his partaking in gambling. He merely engaged in (ridiculously expensive) entertainment. Having no personal knowledge about the state of his soul or religious commitment, I do not comment thereon. But–but!! As Catholics we don’t have a religious prohibition of gambling. Only, as with drinking, the requirement that the entertainment not become an idol.
    Returning to economics, and speaking of gambling, can anyone explain the difference between buying an exchange future (like a SPIDR) and betting on hi-low poker? Because I see none at all. And many of the silly activities that pretend to be investing are likewise just gambling.
    I read the signs of the times to say that if we aren’t gardening we should maybe start. Getting in touch with actual food production will, I think, be an exercise in practical faith as well as helping us to appreciate God’s perspective a bit better. Gardening isn’t like putting a pretty stack of objects on a table, poof! and you’re done, it requires patience and working with the inbuilt tendencies of the plants, soil, and weather. Think of our esteemed host, supervising his bees making honey. Like God prefers to work with His creation, not trashing His carefully-made natural laws but working through them for the most part.
    (Ha! All connected. Did somebody say “et…et”? ;-) )

  25. Sal says:

    You really are a koolaid drinker, Liz. Doesn’t 8 million dollars even make you raise your eyebrows? Bennett could have used that amount for charity, instead of indulging himself. Just because he’s a pontificator doesn’t mean you have to sit back and excuse everything. No one’s asking for perfection, but people who want to tell the rest of us how to live should come a little closer than that.

  26. Jake says:

    Sal, maybe you’re missing the point. $8, $80, $800…the amount is irrelevant. Sure, he squandered it on himself, but what does that have to do with anything. God did give us that little thing called “free will”, and if Mr. Bennett decided to squander and sin, that’s his decision, and he will have to atone accordingly (maybe not physically, but there may still be some temporal punishment awaiting him, that is not for anyone here to say).

    I think Fr.’s point is that there is something more afoot here, and used Mr. Bennett’s comment to put that point into context. There is dread and discontent all around, if you’ve been paying attention. Something IS definitely amiss, and I fear that has been something that not a whole lot of people are either willing to acknowledge or accept.

  27. Margaret says:

    the demands of a true “human ecology”

    Very thought-provoking phrase. Now I’ll need to go read the whole thing, I guess…

  28. Subvet says:

    Hey Sal, eight million bucks keeps a lot of casino workers employed and not in need of charity. Since Bennett could afford that (lucky him!) what gripe do you have against it? I mean other than envy.

  29. Francis Brennan says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I agree with your gloomy analysis: “The deconstruction of the world’s markets suggests that very difficult times are ahead. The speed of the dissolution suggests that these difficulties cannot now be avoided.”

    The current economic chaos is creating very fertile ground for the rise of a new tyranny based on secular humanism and the culture of death.

    In the 1930’s, impoverished and jobless Germans voted in their millions for a leader and a party promising rescue from economic hardship, job security, social support and a better future, but at a very high price: Nazism.

    In our times, people who have lost their jobs or are in danger of being fired, those whose investments have crumbled, those whose homes have been foreclosed — most of these people will vote for whoever is offering the most welfare, the most job security, and the biggest financial support.

    Unfortunately, the politicians with the best offerings of all of these things are also the most militantly secularist and anti-life.

    Just as the Germans were bribed and seduced in the 1930’s, we are in danger of burying our consciences and our religious principles out of fear for our material well-being.

  30. Malta says:

    all this doomsaying depresses me–I have four chicks to tend and raise up in the world. On the otherhand, Our Lady of Akita–a Church-approved apparition and the continuation of Fatima–direly warned us. I take it seriosly and I agree with Fr Z: we need to pray heartily the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; with our hearts, not just our tongues, or even minds, as it’s in caritas–love–that the world revolves, as Dante said, and only Christ’s love can bring peace.

  31. SC says:

    On this Gaudete Sunday, we should rejoice precisely because the second coming of Lord is near. Be not afraid! Would a God who came to us as a vulnerable infant abandon us? This simple video may be a fitting way to round out the points made on this post. In the meantime,we might offer up a prayer those in Rome who are a bit soggy today. Take another look at that giant rat in Fr. Z’ pictures of the flood! Now that is scary! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdlKvTP3W5A&eurl=http://catholicfire.blogspot.com/&feature=player_embedded

  32. michigancatholic says:

    I agree with you, Francis Brennan. These are scary times. They make me think of paragraphs 675-6 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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