Even after almost thirty years in the Faith, I am continually startled by how often while living amidst the turmoil of our modern world the simple act of going to Mass provides a necessary solace of beauty that reassures the soul. Indeed, so often does this happen, I’ve more and more come to believe the primary message of the new evangelization should actually be a relatively simple one. We should repeatedly and firmly tell our culture, “Look, folks, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can do better.”
Consider the case of the Mass readings for Sunday, Nov. 19th, 2017.
The reader may recall that particular Sunday ended a week in which the growing, multitudinous—one might almost say, Legion—number of scandals involving sexual harassment and abuse committed by men against women among our secular progressive elites in Hollywood and Washington reached something of a crescendo with the publication of a photo of Sen. Al Frankin (D. Mn.) groping a woman while she slept. Now recall the first Mass reading from Proverbs 31 for that Sunday which reads in part:
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
Notice the difference between the innate dignity of men and women assumed in a Judeo-Christian conception of the relationship possible between men and women and the degrading and deformed relations which obtain from those operating under the secular progressives’ ideology.
Of course, none of this should be surprising since it was predicted. As some of the more prophetic words written in the last century foresaw:
the man’ will lose respect for ‘the woman’ and ‘no longer (care) for her physical and psychological equilibrium’ and will come to ‘the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.
These words came from the pen of Pope Paul VI in Humane Vitae, a document much derided (if not simply ignored) by our pseudo-intellectual, secular elites; it is one of his “four prophecies” predicting the results of a wholesale cultural adoption of what the faithful call a ‘Contraceptive Mentality.’
The Left for a number of years now have been classifying our modern culture as a “rape culture,” blithely unaware it is the culture they’ve created. Having severed the procreative effect from the act of conjugal love, they have—as explained by the Church through the words of Pope Paul VI—destroyed the unitive effect. And they’ve done this for a reason which would be laughable were the effects not so tragic, because they believe (must believe, really, since their overriding quest for a strict “equality” demands it must be so) that there are no essential differences between men and women. A new Pew Research poll, released ironically in the days just before that same Sunday of November 19th, 2017, found that fully 77% of Democrats with four-year degrees—the subset from which our secular progressive elites are drawn—believe that gender is not determined at birth.
Against all reason, against all evidence of the senses, against all the scientific evidence of biology, physiology, anthropology, against all the testimony of the best humanity has produced in art and literature and music, which constitutes the accomplishments of that we term, “Civilization.” They hold to the proposition that men and women are really just the same and that any differences which seem to exist only seem to exist as a result of some sort of “artificial construct” craftily foisted on us by evil men of previous generations to create some exploitive patriarchy. They are not just in complete rebellion against the Creator who reveals to us that “male and female” He created them (Gen 1:27), they are in rebellion against the Nature thus created.
Again, this would all be laughable were it not so tragic. By divorcing human intimacy (what we now refer to in the vulgar as just ‘sex’) from the context for which it was created (marriage, procreation, and family) our secular progressives have reduced it to simply pleasure, or what use to be called the sin of lust. And lost amidst all this is not just the loss of the status of lust as a sin, but even the meaning of what sin itself is. Thus the tragedy of the whole thing.
For our secular progressives, the very concept of “sin” is itself another of those “artificial constructs” (just like the difference between men and women) created by the wicked in previous generations to ‘exploit and oppress’ the masses or some such nonsense. So successful has their domination of the cultural conversation been in recent decades that even ‘normal’ people—that is, those who can still tell there’s a difference between boys and girls—have also lost the gist of the word. At a rudimentary level many of these ‘normals’ have come to perceive “sin” as little more than a set of ultimate “don’ts,” a set of rules constructed by God simply to test us and/or keep us from having a good time. They’ve essentially forgotten, if they ever actually knew, that the word “sin” comes to us from the Greek language. It’s a term from the sport of archery and it means, “to miss the mark.” Dimly grasped, almost completely lost in our culture, is the central truth that these rules, these commandments, these testimonies, are actually a call for us to rise above our broken human nature. They are a promise which tells us, ‘Look, you can do better.’
We can see this by the almost universal embarrassment and shame expressed by the men from Weinstein to Franken, from Lauer to Rose, when caught in such nasty, bestial behavior. They sense they have somehow ‘missed the mark,’ have fallen short of that which they were meant to be. Granted, many of these men, maybe even most, may not truly feel such shame. But the point is, they know that they should. And we know they should.
Less understood, though, is the damage which has accrued to what Pope Paul VI called the “psychological equilibrium” of women operating in what we Catholics recognize as a Contraceptive Culture and what our progressives call a ‘rape culture.’ Notice how the women levelling the charges all express a sense of humiliation and violation, yet they felt compelled to remain silent, sometimes out of fear and sometimes out of a sense that they were unsure as to whether they may have been at fault.
An excellent example of this disturbance of the “psychological equilibrium” of women can be seen in the following excerpt from an article representative of the secular left’s ‘rape culture’ argument published in 2015 by Jordan Bosiljevic in the student newspaper for Claremont-McKenna College:
we coined the term “raped by rape culture” to describe what it was like to say yes, coerced by the culture that had raised us and the systems of power that worked on us, and to still want ‘no.’ Sometimes, for me, there was obligation from already having gone back to someone’s room, not wanting to ruin a good friendship, loneliness,…,and an understanding that hookups are “supposed” to be fun.
This is a micro-level testimony to the very real pain and anguish of a young woman raised in what she considers a ‘rape culture’ and what we would call a Contraceptive Culture as predicted by Paul VI and the Church.
Unfortunately, Ms. Bosiljevic misidentifies the culprits, those who created this culture. She’s so embedded in leftist thought she can’t see it is the practitioners of that same thought who have controlled the culture she claims has ‘worked on us.’ In identifying the ‘power structures’ she believes need to be ‘disrupted’ in order to right the situation, she holds that “(C)onsent is a privilege, and it was built for wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculinity.”
She’s undoubtedly right. It was seven wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied males who decided Roe v. Wade. It was undoubtedly similarly situated males in the pharmaceutical industry which gave us the Pill and who have controlled Hollywood, journalism, the educational institutions, and the other various means of cultural suasion which created the culture she professes to abhor. But it’s not their ‘wealth,’ their ‘heterosexuality,’ nor any of the other attributes she lists which defines their actions but, rather, yet another characteristic curiously absent from her otherwise exhaustive list: their secular progressivism.
What she is looking for is for sex to be something more than ‘fun.’ She wants something truly consensual, truly compassionate, something directed toward the other—a source of life, a source of grace. She doesn’t know it, but what she is looking for is a man who will “entrust his heart” to her as that First Mass Reading from Proverbs cited above would have it.
What she’s looking for is ‘love’—and ‘love’ properly understood from the perspective of the Cross. In her entire piece, which is dedicated to examining the most intimate of actions between persons, she hardly even considers or mentions love, except to say, “When society has taught some of us to take up as little space as possible, to take all attention as flattery, and to be truly grateful that anyone at all could want our bodies or love, it isn’t always our choice to say yes.” Hence, she’s far from recognizing that what she is truly looking for are the graces to be found in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, something she’s been taught to disparage by the same secular elites cited above who have created the ‘rape culture’ which so afflicts her.
Yet, there is hope. Her soul, like St. Augustine’s when lost in the depths of another ‘ism’—Manicheanism—is restless and will not be satisfied until it rests in Him. The false freedom, which is actually enslavement—promised by ancient gnosticism and the secular progressivism of the 1960’s Sexual Revolution, ultimately fails to fill the human soul’s thirst for God. Our hope should be that she and others like her, stirred by that thirst and repelled by the actions of our secular elites, might rebel and rebel right into that ‘ism’ which their secular education has taught them to least expect to find their true worth and happiness; the only ‘ism’ which can truly satisfy that thirst since it comes not from Man, as all the other ‘isms’ do, but from the same God who instilled that thirst in their soul in the first instance: Catholicism.
Proverbs 31 promises we can do better. It is possible for men to act honorably toward women, to seek that one woman to whom he entrusts his heart. And it is possible for women to be cherished by such a man. This is our Faith, and it stands in beautiful contrast to the world our secular elites have created.