Reflections on a Grotesque Society

If you are on our website, you are likely one of the many Catholic men who have noticed that our world is becoming increasingly grotesque and derelict.  Why is that?  Hopefully, by reflecting on the wise words of a great twentieth century author, Frank Sheen’s found in his book, Society and Sanity, we can get closer to the answer.

“Throughout most of the Western world, the State is regarded as the normal educator.  …This situation, I say, is taken as normal, whereas in fact it is grotesque.  There are hundreds of definitions of education.  But one may take as a minimum… that education is to fit men for living.  Suppose you were to write to the education department of your State something to the effect: “I note that you are in the business of fitting men for living.  Would you mind telling me what a man is?”  The only possible answer would be that we live in a liberal democracy: every man is entitled to accept any religion or philosophy he pleases, and according to its teaching hold his own view – that man is matter, or spirit, or both, or neither: the state does not decide among them, it is wholly neutral, it does not know what a man is.  If you were then to write further and say: “I note that as the state, you do not know what a man is.  Do you know what living is for?”  The answer could only be the same – that it is a matter for each citizen to decide for himself, the state is neutral, the state does not know.”  I have called this grotesque, and that is to flatter it.  To be fitting men for living, not only without knowing what man is or what life is for, but without even thinking the questions relevant – is odd beyond all words.  Yet it does not strike people as odd.  And the depth of their unawareness of its oddness is the measure of the decay of thinking about the fundamentals (Sheed, Society and Sanity, 1953, pgs. 3-4).”

Reflect on the silliness of it all.  Our education ministry and indeed our very educators are hired to prepare a young person to live a fulfilling life; yet these very people, if even partially immersed in the ideology of liberalism, do not know what a person is or what makes for a fulfilling life.  If ever our society looks back in wonder at where it all went wrong, Mr. Sheed’s above words would be a good place to begin.

Perhaps in order to demonstrate the depth or our society’s “decay of thinking” we should couple Mr. Sheed’s observations with a quote from American Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy’s in his 1992 ruling in favour of allowing for the continuation of abortion:

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” 

In other words, in Sheed’s 1950s, a secular liberal democracy could justify the fitting men for life with neither a clue as to the meaning of men nor life.  Today, by following the same relativist logic our liberalist governments can justify the murder of innocents because the state does not decide the definition “of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.”  As Father George Rutler writes in A Crisis of Saints, “Any lie can be arrived at logically if you begin with a lie”.   Where will this logic lead to next?  Or, perhaps more importantly, we should be asking: how do we stop it?

The Catholic Church has the answer.  If we are to rescue society from total decay, we must rediscover who we are, what exactly it means to be man.  Mr. Sheed summarizes it nicely:

“Our civilization, the one that used to be called Christian and is now called Western, is based upon the idea our ancestors had of what a man is.  That idea was clear, strong, universally accepted.  They arrived at it, not by looking at man, but by listening to God. 

“Summarized, it was this:

“Man is a creature of God, living in a universe created by God.  But he differs from every other being in the world because God made him in His own image.

“This special likeness to God is not in the man’s body, by which he is akin to the animals, but in his soul, which is spiritual, immortal, and meant for union with God.

“By setting his will against God’s, man damaged himself and lost oneness with God.  God became man and died to save all men from this derelict condition.”

That’s good news.  That’s the news we must go forth and teach to all nations.  That’s a promise.

Please join the Father Lacombe Guild in Calgary for a monthly Catholic Men’s Night.  Each evening begins with Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Confession and Mass.  (The location of Holy Mass changes depending on which priest will be speaking at the night’s event.)  Afterwards we meet at the Old Town and Country Inn for beer, ribs and a presentation given by an orthodox Catholic priest or layman.  It is an opportunity to increase in holiness, learn the Faith and meet other Catholic men.  Currently we have 110 men on our email list and have averaged 30 attendees at our first two events.

Our Events tab will lead you to our next event (likely September 24, 2015).  You can add your name to our email list by contacting us at FatherLacombeGuild [at] gmail.com.

– Brent W.

P.S. If you are interested in our state’s response to Mr. Sheed’s proposed questions, our current Alberta Minister of Education is David Eggen at edmonton.calder@assembly.ab.ca.