Nowadays, any Catholic aware of our surrounding society and culture knows that things are awry. When 37 percent of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown University, 2008), the source and summit of our faith, we have real problems. When 51 percent believe that abortion is OK (Pew Research Center) we have serious challenges. These are the big-ticket items.
Al Kresta, Catholic radio personality, suggests that dangers to our faith are even bigger than these things. His new book, “Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st Century Opponents,” shines light into all the nooks and crannies where the dangerous things lurk and sets us thinking about our own ambivalence and lack of action toward them.
Interestingly, he begins with Oprah Winfrey. Kresta points out that Winfrey has been very receptive toward Catholic things and has even done a couple of shows on the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, under the guise of “alternative marriage.” The real danger, Kresta says, is that Winfrey is equally receptive to every wind that blows from New Age thinking. We Catholics generally look at New Age thinking as a fad, but its roots lay in a deliberate rejection of Christian orthodoxy. We read of Christ as a guru, a good fellow, the “Buddy Jesus” of the movie “Dogma.” These images belie Christ as the true Son of God sent to Earth to deliver good news, die for our sins and then triumph in the resurrection.
These New Age ideas are hallmarks of the postmodern era with its two main operatives: relativism and secularism. Relativism holds that all values are relative to time and culture but, as a consequence, there are no true universal truths — like God. Secularism means removing all evidence of religious expression from the public arena. We see monuments of the Ten Commandments removed from courthouses, prayer removed from schools, the personal Christian beliefs of business owners hauled into the courts, monuments to atheism erected in public parks, and now there is a proposed monument to Satan himself, a horned devil with two little innocent children standing aside waiting for his good word.
Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st Century Opponents
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor
Author: Al Kresta
Release date: Summer 2013
Length: 208 Pages, Paperback
Order: www.osv.com or 1-800-348-2440
The “Me” generation and its culture is another of those great dangers, a kind of humanism on steroids. We know that to love others as ourselves (Mark 12:31) is good because all others are created in the image of God but to love ourselves because we are, well, us, tends to ignore God. Who needs God when we have our supreme selves?
And then there is Eastern mysticism and reincarnation. What good, self-loving human being wouldn’t want chance after chance to get it right? No judgment, no hell. Sounds great but it keeps that same human being from working to get it right now as God commands us.
Kresta is clear, and he should be, that science is not an opponent of the faith, that too many Catholics have contributed to science without losing a moment of their belief. Science, to Catholics, is revelation of the glory of God. Even the Big Bang Theory was first set forth by a Catholic priest, Msgr. Georges Lemaître.
Scientism, on the other hand, is an opponent. This is the notion that science is the only basis of knowledge. The aforementioned opponents comprise about half of those Kresta claims our faith faces each day. Their common denominators are that they feel good, that they sound good and that we ignore them.
While we may not indulge in these things, our children will hear about them their whole lives. Without strong faith, they could be taken in and seduced. Jesus said He would be with us to the end of the age but He didn’t say anything about giving away the store. This is a book to buy, and quickly.