In today’s world a bowl of pottage might be more likened to an Obama-phone, Obama-care, free contraceptives and welfare checks. However, one’s soul is ethereal and you cannot hold it in your hand or deposit it in the bank. So it seems a profitable trade for our 21st century neighbors as Esau’s dreadful decision did to him. I guess it’s the old bird in the hand vs. the two in the bush syndrome.
However, the world is a Godless place and I suppose to some extent it always was and always will be. The Church has had its ups and downs as well, being filled with zealous believers in one age and being bereft of any semblance of a vital and life-giving faith in another. Somehow, a remnant is always left to revitalize the faith in a future age and the Barque of Peter lumbers on, laden with the heavy burdens and baggage of many who have walked Her corridors; leaving their baggage of unrepentant sins and lost lives within Her holds – lives lived in complete disobedience of the faith but confident that they would be saved by their claim of having been physically onboard.
It doesn’t take much intellect to reason out the type of age we live in at present. The world is always in shambles but the Church too has had far better days and it will again in the future. It is the ancient cycle of sin, sorrow, despair, renewed faith, God’s Mercy, and redemption. Of course, followed by another fall and once more the cycle begins again. It has been going on for countless ages and the Old Testament is full of this ever repeating history of mankind.
I totally agree with Cardinal Ratzinger’s response which he made before becoming Pope. When asked about the health of the Church, he responded that it was just fine but that the number of people in the Church is much smaller than people think. It seems that we always have a “remnant” Church but in some times we have a larger remnant than in others. So in times like these we find far more individuals who would trade their souls for a bowl of pottage than at other more happy times.
What are some of the signs (in no particular order) that we might see in a Church that is more in tune to the world than to Her supernatural end?
This past Sunday I was treated to a honky-tonk piano medley as I approached the altar to receive the Bread of Life: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. If you can imagine the scene in an old western with a gent, usually sporting a pork pie hat and a pair of dealer sleeve bands, seen playing dance hall music, you have come very close to envisioning what we had to endure at Mass. It was like sashaying up to the bar in an old time saloon to get a shot of rye and a pickled pig’s foot. There was nothing spiritual about the experience but it doesn’t seem to bother those in attendance at all. That might be a sign.
Before the final blessing we were also treated by a bevy of parishioners who wanted to tell everyone present about their birthdays, their anniversaries and achievements to a resounding applause from all who were present. I thought we were at a political rally, giving thanks and tribute to our best contributors. Perhaps that was another sign.
How about the myriad of priests who make it sound like it is easy to get to heaven: we just need to be good to one another and keep doing what we are doing and all will be fine. It’s a very positive message and very uplifting to the crowds. However, that just doesn’t square with the teachings of the Church or the Bible. So where is the teachings and condemnation of sin that was a staple of Church teaching some 60 years ago? When was the last time they confronted people with the hard sins to speak of: contraception, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion and the like? Has a pastor ever condemned governments that enslave people through socialism, Marxism or communism and given the teachings of our Popes that refuted them? Silence from the pulpit, our diocesan bishops and the USCCB are almost deafening. As humorous as are the old ads in Oxford Review that spoke of Father Flapdoodle and his silly antics, we see these priests all over the place and they are, in my opinion, a sign of the times.
When was the last time the priest spoke to the congregation concerning our belief in transubstantiation? It is unfortunate that since the Second Vatican Council, which never mentions the word in any of the documents, only makes reference to Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in terms of the Real Presence. Now that doesn’t sound that bad does it? Unfortunately, in our ecumenical talks with other faiths we see that others, who do not believe in transubstantiation, also speak of belief in the Real Presence as well. Is this a point of agreement? Those who believe in trans-finalization, consubstantiation, trans-signification and the nebulous, “we think God is somehow present with us when we receive communion” also call it the Real Presence: but is it the same Real Presence we speak of? Are we clear when speaking to these people or are we only trying to make things look as if we have agreement when what we truly have is a disagreement on a defined doctrine of the faith? This might qualify as a sign as well.
How about the following:
- Homosexual Marriage
- Pre-marital Sex
- Extra-marital Sex
- Homosexual Adoptions
These are just a few of the ‘accepted norms’ or issues that will soon be accepted by a plurality of society. I think these are definitely a sign that society has already gone over the moral bankruptcy cliff.
There is not, I think much difference, to moral and fiscal bankruptcy: they each have very similar traits.
In fiscal bankruptcy, through greed and excesses in spending, we find ourselves in bankruptcy court and forced to abide by their advice and amend our spending habits. Often we must make an effort to repay our debts. So there is a way forward.
Now see how similar that is to our own moral bankruptcy. You first have to recognize that you are morally bankrupt though this is hard for anyone to believe of themselves. Their sins blind their eyes to right and wrong. Once recognized, we have ‘bankruptcy court’ called the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can express our sorrow, receive forgiveness and seek a way to repay those whom we have wronged. We also have a way forward – thanks to God and the Sacraments of His Church.
Though we may be smug at the moment with our versions of Esau’s pottage, one may awake as did Esau to see that our entire inheritance has been squandered and that there is nothing left for us or our heritage. We have fiddled away while Rome was burning and are left bereft of our worldly goods. Sadly for those whose eyes were fixated upon the goods of this world, they stand a good chance, living in the midst of moral bankruptcy, of losing their eternal inheritance and birthright as well; the only gift that does not corrode over time. In my opinion, not such a good trade afterall.