Do you ever feel numb or helpless because of all the problems the world faces each day?
One only has to watch the news or follow the events of the day online to feel completely overwhelmed. Some of the challenges facing the world include ever-increasing threats to our Catholic faith. The Church is accosted on all sides. The culture wars are raging. Christians are being persecuted and even murdered around the world. Statues of the Blessed Mother and our saints are being desecrated, and churches are being burned. The Church is dealing with a global and ongoing clergy abuse crisis and vocations to the priesthood are dangerously low. These are real issues which demand a response.
What can we do? How do we engage? Unfortunately, many of us succumb to feelings of indifference and apathy rather than get involved. We may think to ourselves that somebody else will take care of these problems. Maybe we think we have enough to handle already. Perhaps we believe the issues don’t really affect us.
At times, it feels to me like we are living in an isolated little town of our own making called Apathy-ville.
How did we get here?
If we take a candid look around us, it is obvious that we live in a consumer-driven, materialistic society. Advertisers bombard us with messages about how our lives can be so much better if we only had the latest gadget or toy. Additionally, over the last few years, we have seen unparalleled growth in the federal government and its ever-growing influence over the economy, healthcare and education, as well as moral issues such as abortion and marriage.
It seems that so many of us have wrongly placed our faith in material things, the government and ourselves, instead of in Christ and His Church. Political correctness has seeped into our collective consciousness like a disease and made us fearful of saying and doing what is necessary to defend our faith and stand up for what is right and true. If we tolerate everything, it leads one to think that we likely stand for nothing. “I don’t want to offend” often translates into “I am not willing to defend.”
As G.K. Chesterton once said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”
They said it best
To stimulate more self-awareness and reflection on how we may have arrived in Apathy-ville, I have listed below some quotes which I hope will challenge all of us, make us question our actions and serve as a catalyst for different behaviors. Let’s be honest as we ask ourselves if any of these quotes apply to us.
- “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
- “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)
- “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
- “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
- “You cannot please both God and the world at the same time. They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.” (St. John Vianney)
- “Faced with today’s problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility. Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes. I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
- “Really, most of us live below the level of our energy. And in order to be happy, we have to do more. Now, we can do more, spiritually and every other way. . . so you see how important it is to have in the mind to do all that you can. To work to the limit of your ability. Our world is really suffering from indifference. Indifference is apathy, not caring. I wonder maybe if our Lord does not suffer more from our indifference, than he did from the Crucifixion.” (Venerable Fulton Sheen)
How do we respond? What can we do?
First of all, we can’t stand on the sidelines and watch. We also must believe that one person can make a difference! At times it seems we have lost our way and forgotten or ignored the teachings of the Church. Archbishop Charles Chaput offers this insight which cuts to the heart of the matter: “What needs to be done by Catholics today for their country? The answer is: Don’t lie. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to prove it. America’s public life needs people willing to stand alone, without apologies, for the truth of the Catholic faith and the common human values it defends. One person can make a difference – if that individual has a faith he or she is willing to suffer for.” (Render Unto Caesar, 197)
Are we willing to suffer for our faith? What sacrifices are we willing to make to follow the teachings of the Church?
The good news is we have many examples to emulate, ranging from the numerous prolife groups who pray outside abortion clinics to the bishops who are challenging government leaders over religious freedom, same-sex marriage and reforming our immigration laws. Some of the greatest examples may be our friends and neighbors who pray constantly for the Church in the quiet of their homes, who write letters to their government representatives and devote time before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer for the blessing of the Church, priests and religious. In addition, there are also those who offer financial and personal support to those in critical need. Also, remember our priests and the incredible job they do in serving their parishes. We clearly have examples to follow, but far too many of us have only been watching, tolerating and…turning away.
Want to join me in getting out of Apathy-ville? Next week, we will look at five ways to escape.
Photo by Sam Solomon on Unsplash