It is not an easy matter to understand the meaning of "the secularization of the world". Almost every intelligent person today feels that "secularization" touches not only all things outside us _ education, art, society, governments - but it also affects us, or, as it has become customary to say "our existence".
We are also aware that "secularization" is not just a theory that conceives the entire extent of our lives from a different point of view. Rather, it is also a praxis (practical application) that realizes this different understanding in every area of the social sphere, and transforms even our own inner selves.
"Secularism" is the direct result of an apostasy from truth by abdicating man's ability to know objective truth. In its present crass form, "secularism" is abject subjectivism which only deluded agnostics and mental patients can indulge without recrimination.
It is essentially a denial of God. Modernism that leaves everything an open question is the religious expression of secularism.
The depths of secularism can only be properly understood in relation to the existence of Christians in society.
But, we must necessarily ask what does it mean to "be" Christian? To be a "Christian" simply means "to put on" Christ. Of course, this is only a figurative expression come down to us from ancient mystery cults. Nevertheless, it contains profound meaning.
Greek and Roman idolaters usually put on the appearances of animals when celebrating their mysteries. They did this with the idea that they were taking upon themselves a higher being, which they believed abided in certain natural creatures.
This was only a weak reflection of that deep human longing to go beyond oneself; that longing which already was manifest in Paradise, but which entangled humanity in sin and in the future historical false directions following upon the original error.
And for all that, St. Paul was not afraid to use this reflection of humanity's desire to show the Romans that the external putting on of the masks of fish, crocodiles or tigers did not elevate them to a higher level of existence, but their internal transformation according to Jesus Christ. St. Paul says: "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 13,14). He certainly did not mean by these words that Christians should put on a kind of mask of the Stranger from Nazareth in place of the mask of the crocodile, but that man must renounce the works of darkness: "Let us walk becomingly as in the day; not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy"(Ibid. 13,13).
The masks of animals or gods were signs. They only pointed to something other. They did not transform anyone.
On the other hand, Christ is reality itself. To put on Christ is not the same as putting on a mask representing Him, but to take upon oneself His state _ His condition _ without covering our faces as with the skins of animals and masks of gods. Putting on Christ means being transformed in our hearts, minds and wills.
Putting on Christ for St. Paul was not only considered as a spiritual experience, but also as an historical necessity. "And this do, understanding the time, for it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we came to believe" _ says St. Paul (Rom.13,11).
History before Christ is not the same as history after Christ. St. Paul says: "The night is far advanced; the day is at hand" (Ibid.13,12). The time before Christ was a time of darkness, when people groped _ sensing that God exists, but not knowing Who He is, or how He is. Having been created in the image of God, man feels that he is His relative: "For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17,28) and, therefore, seeks to realize this relationship in his existence. This tendency is alike in all men _ Christian and heathen alike. It is for this reason that Christianity seeks to use this base common to all mankind in order to lead those outside the Church to Christ. There is some truth in even false religions. Every religion holds out some kind of doctrine, moral rules, and sacred rites. It is not the truth or good that these religions profess that is condemned, but the error which they lead their followers to embrace. Yet, it would be incorrect to ignore the poison of error that destroys even the truth and good that these false religions obstinately promote.
There are those who would have us believe that the Roman Catholic Church takes to Herself the religious values of idolatry and, apparently, makes them Her own. They even would point to history to confirm this idea. However, may it not be said that just the opposite is the true version of history, namely, that anything of truth and good that these false religions imitate have been taken from the one, true, holy and apostolic Church?
Adam and Eve lost supernatural grace through disobedience, not through apostasy from the true religion. They carried their true religion with them out of Paradise. They regained grace and pardon from God through their repentance just as any sinner today is reinstated in supernatural grace through the Sacrament of Penance, or the desire of it.
There could be no `longing' for the Redeemer had the original faith been totally destroyed by disobedience. Consequently, the true religion had to continue through all those long centuries of longing and waiting. The Patriarchs and Prophets led the faithful despite the many apostasies.
Every religious error which led to a false religion has its roots in man's need for a visible God. Paganism is not the same as atheism. The tragic error of every `pagan' _ regardless of time and place _ is to worship the creature instead of the Creator. And the reason for this is because the creature is here, while the Creator abides in a seemingly insurmountable darkness. But, were these peoples as blameless and helpless as the Modernists would have us believe?
The answer to this question is to be found in St.Paul's epistle to the Romans.He writes:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those men who in their wickedness hold back the truth of God, seeing that what may be known about God is manifest to them. For God has manifested it to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen _ His everlasting power also and divinity _ being understood through the things that are made. And so they are without excuse, seeing that, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks, but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless minds have been darkened. For while professing to be wise, they have become fools, and they have changed the glory of the incorruptible God for an image made like to corruptible man and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things"(Romans 1,18-23).
Are all those who ignore the evidence of their senses and nature excused for their rejection of God? Let us set aside the whining and pious prattle of the basely ignorant and turn to the inspired word of God. What does God say?
The inspired word of God speaks the following truth:
"Therefore God has given them up in the lustful desires of their heart to uncleanness, so that they dishonor their own bodies among themselves _ they who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this cause God has given them up to shameful lusts; for their women have exchanged the natural use for that which is against nature (lesbianism) and in like manner the men also, having abandoned the natural use of the woman, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men doing shameless things and receiving in themselves the fitting recompense of their perversity .And not only do they do these things, but they applaud others doing them" (Ibid. 1, 18-27; 32).
All the perversions mentioned by St. Paul were very common before the coming of Christ.
It is this great gift of God to mankind that we celebrate on Christmas Day. Christ overcame this tragic situation for all time and for all nations. For, Who is Christ? Christ is God abiding among us: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1,14). Christ is true man, and He is more than just man: "He is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5,20). Jesus is the Man-God.
Jesus is God speaking to man. Christ's humanity is the bearer of His divinity: through this humanity shines forth Almighty God, that Truth that enlightens all men coming into this world, that Power that continues to hold and enliven all that exists.
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God: "He is the image of the invisible God" (Col.1,15). How important is Jesus to the world? The Holy Ghost teaches us through the pen of St. Paul: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world; who, being the brightness of his glory and the image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, has effected man's purgation from sin and taken his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much superior to the angels as he has inherited a more excellent name than they" (Hebrews 1, 1-4).
If mankind has been searching for the image of God within its own vision, then it has found Him in Christ. If mankind has gone astray for centuries by seeing the divine image in visible creation, then now Christ has freed it from this error, showing Himself it what the true picture of God is.
When the Apostle Philip approached Jesus and asked Him: "Lord, show us the Father" (John 14,8), Christ answered him: "Philip, he who sees me, sees the Father" (Ibid. 1,9).
This astounding event, when mankind's desire and yearning not only to be freed from the shackles of moral slavery, but to `see God', took place in the small town of Bethlehem.
There in a stable _ a place for animals _ the visible image of God, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Savior, Son of David in His humanity and Son of God in His divinity _ was born the long-awaited Creator!
And now, all those who call themselves "Christians," ought to ask themselves how important is Jesus Christ to them and to the world.
There is no place for excuses; there is no room for mediocrity: either we are with Christ, or we are against Him.
Clearly, the world that is ruled by Satan is against Jesus Christ. And this same world in all its forms will be against those who have "put on" Christ and are living according to His commands.
All human history hinges on this one great event in the history of creation: The mystery of the Incarnation. What an awesome reality! We are "Christian" only insofar as we are transformed through grace and virtue into faithful images of Jesus Christ.
As spiritual darkness has descended upon the world through the sins of so many, it is time that the true followers of Jesus Christ show themselves to the world.
Secularism is necessarily `anti-Christ.' It is, therefore, atheistic for the simple reason that by denying Jesus Christ one essentially denies God. Whatever else may be said of all those false religions from whatever pious pretext, it still remains true: Outside the Roman Catholic Church no one can encounter the true God: No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.
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