“Scattering a thousand graces,
He passed through these groves in haste,
and looking upon them as He went,
left them, by His grace alone,
clothed in beauty.”
St. John of the Cross
Catholic culture is sacramental culture, a culture of beauty; a culture in which the sacred infuses the mundane and is revealed in it. Catholic culture creates a world in which anything is possible: God descends daily to be eaten in the Holiest of Sacraments, proving by His Presence that nothing can be called impossible. Catholic culture is a necessary outgrowth of Catholic faith; the faith which demands to be incorporated into daily life. Catholics who seek to stifle the daily expressions of their faith, the devotions which divide the day, the month, the year, stifle their own faith until it dies out within them and leaves only dry dusty remains.
How has Catholic culture been lost? Our culture in general, and individual Catholics in particular, have lost the true Catholic culture, or more honestly, have abandoned it for the churned up sentimentality originally marketed as “spirituality” and now distributed with reckless abandon as “modern Catholic spirituality”. It is a culture in which emotions carry the day, a culture to glorify the self, a culture in which the promises of Christ to those who would walk in His way fall on deaf ears, “for what can promises mean in an age in which every wish fulfills itself each day?” In this age man has been trained to wish for very many little things, but not for greatness. To console himself, modern man has re-invented his faith. God remains Father, but He is no longer Judge; He is Love without also being Wisdom; He is merciful, but not just. The modern man, knowing Christ only as his Brother, and not his King, feels no need to submit to Him. The fasts and rituals that once sustained him are abandoned, and having done so, he wonders why he is so empty. Catholic culture is not lost, it has been abandoned for something much easier to reach, and much less satisfying. Through disuse the leaves have grown up around it, modern man must work a bit to part the leaves, but when he does, he will discover that what he has abandoned has not grown moldy nor rotten since he left it, but is in fact, as beautiful, as satisfying as ever it was, and just within reach.
To reclaim Catholic culture, it is necessary to learn to truly live. Every Catholic knows that “not dying is not the same as being alive, and that not sleeping is still a long way from being awake. To be awake and to be alive are deeds not states;” it is necessary to do them. This is largely accomplished by choosing to live purposefully, outwardly, and passionately. Purposeful living demands that man know his purpose – Why am I here? He finds his answer in the Church. Each individual is created to know God, serve God, and to spend eternity in happy union with God; a simple answer which has a myriad of meanings, each one unique to each individual life. God is most fully known in His Church, but each man serves God in a unique way. In living purposefully, man strives throughout each day to live out his salvation in the way God has intended for him. He does this by living outwardly, “it is not good for man to be alone,” each individual is in communion with his fellow men by virtue of their shared humanity. He cannot live as an island, and by living outwardly, he does not attempt to. Every Catholic must recognize that his life is a witness for or against his faith. So many cultures have tales of toothless beggars, leapers, and weary travelers taken in, or turned away, who later were discovered to have been Christ in disguise, to remind each Catholic of his duty to see Christ in everyone. The modern as much as any other man, must be reminded that to a person, “the only proper and adequate way to relate is love,” and that this applies whether the person is in the womb, in the government, or elsewhere. In living outwardly, and living purposefully, man must also allow himself to live passionately. To live passionately means an outright rejection of the modern malaise of indifference and relativism. When one lives passionately he lives for something greater than himself.