I’ve always felt there was something…off about modern Catholicism. Something that made it seem timid and limp-wristed compared to how it had been in past ages. I’d read a lot of people who had agreed with me on that, and suggested various explanations, but none seemed quite to fit.
Then I read this article by Patrick Archibald and it all became clear. He hit the nail right on the head. I highly recommend you read the whole thing, but I’ll quote the passage where he lays it out most succinctly:
This simple, but pernicious change is at the heart of NuChurch. Any Catholic from a century ago would understand that the love of God comes first and that love of neighbor, which derives from the first, is secondary. But now man is first and the love of God is a secondary to loving man, instead of the other way around. This is the grand inversion that is at the heart of NuChurch.
The grand inversion he refers to is of Christ’s first and second commandments:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” -Matt. 22:36-40
The Church today, on the other hand, puts love of neighbor before love of God. She focuses so much on dialogue and getting along and ‘meeting people where they are’ that things like truth and God tend to get rather neglected. When love of neighbor is placed before love of God, it causes us to lack the courage of our convictions and are content to be just another religion. Because after all, the important thing is that we love our neighbor, which all too often (absent the absolute devotion to God) becomes simply getting along with our neighbor.
Once you see this inversion, you start to understand the infuriatingly bone-headed things Church leaders say about, oh, for instance, divorce or Islam or the death penalty or war or homosexuality. The Church is trying to get along with the world, to ‘show love’ to everyone, but in the process she losses sight of the truth and of her duty to God because she’s put the concerns of men before God.
Just consider the fact that, in the pre-Vatican II liturgy, the Priest faced Jesus in the Eucharist. In the modern liturgy, the Priest faces the congregation. You see? The focus has become on the people rather than on Christ.
Does all this mean I think the Church is apostate? No, of course not. It just means that I think she’s currently not doing her job very well. That happens. The thing is, though, she’ll never get back on track unless we realize what’s gone wrong and try to fix it. Most of us can’t fix it in the Church hierarchy, so our job is to fix it in our own lives. We have to put God first and man second. As the Council of Trent noted (quoted in Mr. Archibald’s article), love of neighbor has its limits: we love our neighbor as ourselves. Love of God has no limits because we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
So, now we see the problem, let us seek to go forth pleasing God rather than men.