Posted by: fvbcdm | February 19, 2014

Commemoration of Blessed John of Fiesole (18 February 2014)

If someone were to ask you to give a definition of “culture,” could you do it? It’s important that we have a grasp of the notion, because it relates to religion in very important ways. When we speak of “culture,” we are using a sociological term, describing how a given group of people live, think, speak, work, worship, amuse themselves, cook and eat, deal with family, religion, marriage, possessions, beliefs, and death.

We speak of culture often, but many times we don’t realize that that’s what we’re doing.  For example, when we speak either seriously or jokingly about the Cajuns in the bayou country, or the Polish people in and around Chicago, or the Jews in New York City—we are using cultural concepts. A delightfully funny Irish comedian named Hal Roach jokes about the fact that many Irish males find it hard to say to a woman, “I love you. Will you marry me?” Rather, he says to her, “How would you like to be buried with my people?” That brings forth a good laugh from his audience, but there may be a grain of truth in it.

Culture has a lot to do with religion. We who are Christian and Catholic must live both in the Church and in the world. The Church has always said that the family is very important because it is the seedbed of human life, both natural and supernatural. There is no doubt that children who are reared in strong, loving, devoutly religious families are more like to create that same kind of family of their own than others. However, today’s society is telling us something quite different. In my own lifetime, I have seen American society go from a basically Christian view of marriage to occasional divorce and remarriage; then to a total setting aside of Christ’s prohibition of divorce and remarriage, so that those practices are commonplace and widely accepted. Then to cohabitation, which means the state of a man and woman living together without being married at all.  Then to the public acknowledgment of this fact and bringing children into this non-married situation. Then to the so-called same-sex marriages now that homosexuality is being acknowledged and practiced openly.

I remember how, when I was a child, it was considered a disgrace for anyone in the family to get a divorce. It was also deeply saddening to the parents if a child stopped practicing his or her religion. And homosexuality was not even heard about among the general population.  Now, all of these things are out in the open and being practiced by significant segments of the population. Thus, when young people look at reality and begin to live their own lives apart from that of the home and parents, they can choose to remain faithful to their religion with its moral teachings, or they can violate those teachings, or they can give up the practice of that religion, or they can become totally irreligious and indeed anti-religious.  We have people who use marijuana quite regularly; who get drunk as a matter of course every weekend while in college; whose idea of a fun on a date is to go to bed with the current boyfriend or girlfriend.

We Catholics must be aware that our society is drifting rapidly away from God, away from Our Lord Jesus Christ, away from the Church and its doctrinal and moral teachings. Just a couple of weeks ago, some of the riders on the floats in our carnival parades, instead of throwing the usual beads and doubloons to the crowds, threw condoms and plastic facsimiles of male genitals. And this, not in the notoriously lecherous French Quarter, but in the suburbs where families attend the parades and children vie for the trinkets thrown from the floats.

Once upon a time, culture supported religion to some degree. Now, increasingly, it attacks and negates it. This is the world we are living in. Let us be aware of this; let us consciously oppose it by living our religion as lovingly and faithfully as we can. In brief, let us love God and prove this love by keeping his commandments in an increasingly unloving, immoral world.  Thank you for allowing God to love you.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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