The New Age of Moral Darkness
The western world has entered a new age of moral darkness (see Evangelium Vitae, Building a Civilization of Love). Under the guise of “enlightenment” and modernity, human dignity and freedom are being increasingly suppressed by a secular totalitarian state. Assaults against the dignity of human life are pervasive through legalized abortion, euthanasia and embryo destruction/genetic manipulation. Culture elites, the media and liberal activists are promoting sexual “freedom”, including the “hook up” culture and the homosexual micro-culture through mass media and the Internet. Government, academic, cultural activists are seeking to both denigrate and restrict religious liberty by enacting laws and regulations to force the acceptance of contraception, abortion and homosexual “marriages” against religious conscience. There is a grave assault occurring on the Body of Christ.
The majority of people are being engulfed by the growing moral darkness. Millions of children are being aborted and many millions are being born to single women. Large and growing numbers of adults are forgoing marriage or choosing to divorce, gravely injuring themselves and their children. Depression and suicide rates, especially among young people, are growing. Worse, growing numbers are losing sight of their eternal salvation, living their earthly lives without the light of Christ.
The Faltering Courage of Modern Men
Many men are confused and afraid to respond to the darkening culture. Some mistakenly attempt to “man-up” by engaging in thrill-seeking behavior (X-treme sports, flash mobs, etc.), sexual conquest, wild partying or in “manly” activities (hunting, fishing, sports, etc.). Others retreat into perpetual adolescence, fade into feminization or succumb to homosexualization. In the face of mass moral confusion and the relentless cultural pounding of “political correctness”, rather then standing and defending the moral high ground, men are being cowed into timidity or distracted displays of false courage. Sadly, many Catholic men falter in courage and fall into cowardice.
En-courage-ment from the Courage of Jesus Christ
Christ perfectly demonstrates the virtue of courage to en-courage men. The word “virtue” is defined as a “manly moral strength” and comes from the Latin, vir, meaning “man.” Courage, or fortitude, is one of cardinal virtues (CCC 1805), is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1831), is defined as “to make strong, to hearten” and comes from the Latin, cor (heart).
Jesus Christ, fortified by the Father and the Holy Spirit, comes to encourage (to make strong, to hearten) man, through His perfect demonstration of heroic courage:
Learns courage from the Virgin Mary and Joseph – Jesus Christ begins life as a refugee, His earthly father Joseph and the Virgin Mother escape Herod’s slaughter of the Innocents (Matt 2:13, 16). Jesus is raised, knowing the great courage of Mary’s fiat and Joseph’s chaste heroism and their total commitment to serve God in the face of persecution.
Stands up against Satan – Jesus stands up to and defeats Satan (1 John 3:8) when tempted in the Wilderness (Matt 4:10), by repeatedly casting out demons (cf. Matt 8:28-34) and by using the Satan-inspired evil of Judas (Luke 22:3) for the Glory of the Cross and Resurrection (CCC 2853). He defeats Satan on his home turf (Hell) when Jesus descends to offer His “redemptive works to all men of all times and all places…” (CCC 634). Christ’s courage against absolute and powerful evil is unflinching.
Evangelizes despite the ongoing plots to kill Him – After John the Baptist is imprisoned and eventually murdered, Jesus returns to Galilee to pick up where John left off (Mark 1:14). On many occasions, various groups plan and attempt to kill Him (John 5:16; Mark 7:5; John 7:30; John 8:59; John 10:20; Luke 13:31; John 11:53; Luke 19:47). Jesus courageously persists despite the murderous plots.
Stands up to false teachings of the Jewish elites – Repeatedly, He confronts the Pharisees and the Sadducees and provocatively corrects their falsehoods. He heals the paralytic (Mark 2:7) and the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Matt 12:10) to demonstrate His authority (Mark 2:7). Jesus pronounces the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit of the teachers of the law (Mark 3:22). He pronounces woe on the Pharisees and the experts of the law for their hypocrisy (Luke 11:53-54). Despite constant death threats, Jesus authoritatively teaches in the temple during Passion Week (Mark 11:27-28).
Stands up against corrupt economic powers – Jesus confronts the merchants and moneychangers and single-handedly clears the massive (35 acres) temple area (John 2:2:18; Matt 11:18).
Stands up against bloodthirsty mobs – Jesus braves the Nazareth mob that tries to cast Him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-29). He stands up to the bloodthirsty mob that is going to stone the adulterous woman (John 7:53-8:11). He protects the disciples from the violent legion when He is taken in the Garden (John 18:8). Jesus Christ alone is unafraid and courageous against any and all ruthless mobs.
Overcomes His anguish in Gethsemane – Jesus Christ, knowing full well the physical torture He will endure, sweats blood in His anguish but courageously accepts the Father’s will (Mark 14:32-42).
Stands up against the Romans – Despite the well-known horrific tactics of the Romans, Jesus Christ does not falter when questioned by Pilate, knowing that Pilate could spare Him (Matt 27:1-26).
Endures persecution and torture courageously – Though Jesus has many chances to recant or to finesse His Gospel, He does not yield, enduring beating, scourging, being forced to carry His Cross and being crucified (Matt 27:27-50).
Accepts death on the Cross with courage – Jesus makes an infinite sacrifice, for His life is of infinite value and he gives it for the sins of all mankind. He chooses a horrible death freely (John 10:18), saying, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In this, Jesus teaches to face the “hour of death” with courage (CCC 1014), promises to send the Holy Spirit to provide courage in old age and illness (CCC 1520) and gives men the strength to be martyrs for Christ (CCC 2473).
Satanspel – The Devil’s Story
At Eden, Satan seduces Man with the false story (from the Old English “spel”) that humans can have “all knowledge” and “become like gods” (Gen 3:5). The turning away from God and His Truth to the devil’s false story, the Satanspel, is the fall of Man into Original Sin.
The Satanspel of today promises that a “modern” secular society (humans can be gods) and information technology (knowledge) will lead to the salvation of humans. Secularists seek to neutralize God in the public square and promote an individualist order where all humans can fulfill their personal cravings for material goods and sexual perversion. The “knowledge” of Eden is the “information” of today with Man submerged in a swamp of information through ever-more intrusive media devices. In the “information overload”, the trivial, obscene and morbid seduce Man into greater and greater distraction from God, with Man falling into ever-greater darkness of sin.
Gospel of Jesus Christ the Divine Evangelist
In Divine contrast to the dark lies of the Satanspel, the Gospel (literally, “Good news” or “God’s story”) is the Truth of Jesus Christ. Jesus, whose name means “God saves”, brings the Divine good news that God Is and Man can be saved by God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, He, Himself, is the Good News, for He is God who comes into the world through the Incarnation to save Man from the dark spell cast by Satan. The Good News is the Story of Salvation for mankind. The Good News is that, rather than the randomness of deconstruction and cold evolutionary forces without a plot or storyline, there is the Truth of the Salvation Story in Jesus Christ.
What Jesus Teaches as Divine Evangelist
The Gospel Himself, Jesus Christ the Divine Evangelist teaches that:
There is a Kingdom of God – Rather then the confusion and waywardness of Israel or the deception of the human tendency to want to become gods, Jesus Christ brings the Good News that God exists and rules eternity in His Kingdom (CCC 544).
Salvation is the Story – Rather then a long string of meaningless events, human history has a trajectory in God. Even in the treason of Eden, God describes the victory over Satan in the protoevangelium (Gen 3:15; CCC 410), in which Mary, the New Eve, through her seed Jesus Christ, will conquer evil. The Gospel is the Good News of the God Story, that Man can be saved from Original Sin and death, that Satan has been defeated (CCC 1086) and that there is a way of life and a way of death (CCC 1696). Jesus Christ is the turning point in Salvation History, fulfilling all the promises by God in the Old Testament (CCC 1964-70). Men are given a real history, a family history, in the Bible and the Traditions of the Church.
Jesus, Himself, is the Good News of the New Covenant – In the Incarnation, Jesus gives definitive proof of God’s existence. Jesus pays a high price and works tirelessly to bring the Good News, walking thousands of miles, healing the multitudes, living without a home, accepting the Will of the Father to submit to the injustice of puny men unto death. In the Incarnation, Jesus gives God a human face and man preserves this idea of Christ’s Good News in the blessings of Icons (CCC 1160).
Man must repent and accept the Good News – Jesus comes to set the record straight. Man is in deep trouble because of Original Sin, which is the opposite of the Gospel (CCC 389). Man must reject the false idols of human gods and scientific rationalism. Man has a choice and is accountable (1 Pt 4:17) for conversion (CCC 1427). Man will either be in the kingdom or outside with “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 22:13). Man must not be ashamed of the Gospel (Rom 1:15), “live a life worthy of the Gospel” (CCC 1692) and be prepared to give up all for the Gospel (CCC 2544).
There is Salvation in Christ – Jesus Christ ushers in a New Covenant, paying the price for human sin through His Crucifixion and offering all men the new life of the Resurrection (CCC 571). Christ teaches that there is no salvation for man without self-sacrificing love.
Man must embrace the Gospel through lifelong catechesis– Jesus Christ, Himself, is the Word, which is the Gospel. The Gospel is promulgated in writing and speaking (CCC 76). Man must continually be catechized and pass along the faith to the next generation through education/catechesis (CCC 2226).
Man must embrace the Church – Jesus Christ establishes His Church so that men can know the Truth be given Grace through the Sacraments. The Apostles pass along the authority for Christ’s Church on earth to bishops so that “the full and living Gospel might be preserved in the Church” (CCC 77) as their first and primary task (CCC 888). The Gospel is preached at every mass (CCC 1160). Christ establishes communio in the Church and the fraternity of brotherhood (CCC 2636).
Men are commanded to evangelize – Jesus preaches the Gospel with His own lips (CCC 75) and commands the Apostles to understand and preach the Gospel to all nations (Matt 26:13; Mark 13:10) for it is good news for all nations (CCC 528). Today, Man is called to be obedient evangelists (CCC 3; CCC 673), for the preaching of the Gospel has the power through the Holy Spirit to renew culture in Christ (CCC 2527). Man must take the Gospel seriously for it has been passed down for 2000 years with great hardship and sacrifice.
Responding to the Gospel has requirements – To fully respond to the Gospel, Man must embrace renewal in prayer (CCC 821) and be drawn into the sacraments (CCC 977). Jesus leaves a perpetual evangelization of man through the Sacraments (CCC 1247). To bear witness and promulgate the Gospel, Man must live a life faithful to the Gospel (CCC 2044: CCC 2226; CCC 2472).
Men must persevere to preach the Gospel – Christ teaches that there is great resistance to His Gospel, and despite apparent defeats and setbacks, Man must never cease to preach the Gospel (CCC 854).
He will send the Holy Spirit – Key to the Gospel is the promise that Christ makes to send the Holy Spirit to give the power to transmit the Gospel (CCC 2600, 2640).