“Things worth dying for”: What those words demand from us now

If American Catholics no longer treasure their faith, or their privilege of discipleship, or their call to mission – then we priests and bishops, and parents and teachers, have no one to blame but ourselves.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia elevates the Eucharist as U.S. bishops from New Jersey and Pennsylvania concelebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome Nov. 27, 2019. (CNS photo/Robert Duncan)

Editor’s note: The following address was given at St. Francis De Sales Seminary, Milwaukee, on April 4, 2022. 

Our theme tonight is “things worth dying for,” and I want to talk about what those words mean for us, here and now. But I hope you’ll bear with me for a few preliminary thoughts. I think they’ll make sense in the end.

A month before I retired in 2020 I had a conversation with a friend. I told him how I was looking forward to retiring but that I also had mixed feelings about stepping down from active ministry. I was, and I am, very grateful to Pope Francis for his choice of my successor in Philadelphia: Archbishop Perez is an excellent priest and bishop, a man of personal warmth and great skill as a pastor.  But I spent more than 40 years in leadership roles in the Church; first as a provincial minister in the Capuchins, and then as a bishop in three different dioceses.  I loved the work.  The burdens never outweighed the joys.  So the idea of having nothing to do each day, of having a blank agenda, struck me as a new kind of adventure I would have to learn to live with.

Three weeks after I retired, COVID hit. And for the next 15 months I really did have nothing to do each day but pray, and think, and Zoom with a few friends. Which I did. Quite a lot. And here’s what I learned.

Retiring forces a man to focus on his most pressing personal duty: preparing for death and accepting the promise of eternal life. It returns a bishop to his most basic identity: being a baptized child of God. It teaches us that none of us is very important, although the work we do is. But even then, it’s God who really does the work. We’re his instruments and cooperators. Retiring is an act of trust in God’s providential care for the Church. And the Church is finally ecclesia sua; his Church, God’s Church. She’s our mother, but she’s his bride. We don’t own the Church, and we have no right to treat her as a lab for theological experiments, or a fortress against changing pastoral needs.

All of us have a limit to what we can see and understand, and the energy we can bring to a task. Letting go of authority to another person opens the way to new and more creative ideas from younger and sharper minds. And there’s still vital work to do in retirement: praying for the Church and the world, and sharing the wisdom we learned so that others don’t make the same stupid mistakes.

Now why am I telling you this? February 28 marked the ninth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement. Joseph Ratzinger is one of the greatest minds the Christian faith has produced in the last 100 years. I remember admiring him for resigning the papacy.  At the same time I feared that his retirement could lead to a lot of unhealthy confusion in the Church, and in some ways it has.  But I understand why Benedict did it. You come to a point in your ministry where age weakens your ability to do what needs to be done, even if you refuse to acknowledge your weakness; even if you have an iron will.

Old age has enormous value for its experience and prudent counsel — but not for command. The final years of the John Paul II pontificate were painful to watch. There’s no reason why even the papacy should be a life sentence. And likewise in the secular world — quite apart from all of their other deficiencies — the very last thing we need as a nation is another four years of Joe Biden or Donald Trump. They’re simply too old. And that’s dangerous.

The world has always been a dangerous place. But it’s especially so now. We’re living through a kind of global, cultural re-formation that hasn’t been seen, at least here in the civilization we call “the West,” since Luther and moveable type, the Wars of Religion, and the Enlightenment. We can’t afford sclerotic leaders — and that applies to every form of public leadership, both political and religious. Age diminishes the willingness to sacrifice, to risk, to see things clearly, and to face conflict. And in a time of unavoidable conflict, ambiguity and feebleness are toxic.

Because there are, in fact, “things worth dying for.”

Here’s an example. There’s a reason that military service has always fallen most heavily on young people, and especially on young men. They have the strength, the passion, and the willingness to risk their lives for something greater than themselves. In the real world, the world where bad ideas and grand ideologies can have lethal consequences, very few things are actually worth dying for. The list is short: our families, the friends we love, our personal honor and integrity, and most obviously our faith in Jesus Christ.

But we also need to add one more entry to the list: the nation.

Life is a precious gift. It’s not meant to be wasted on foolish and idolatrous things. But the nation, expressed in its best ideals, does have a right to our service — including, when necessary, the risk of our lives. That right is not absolute. Some terrible things have been done over time in the name of national prestige. As Chesterton said, “My country right or wrong” makes as much sense as “My mother, drunk or sober.” We love our mother even if she has a drinking problem, but that doesn’t license us to ignore or enable or join in her drinking — quite the opposite.

And yet our duty to the nation is nonetheless very real, and it informs the Christian understanding of patriotism. John Paul II stressed that “the family and the nation are both natural societies, not the product of mere convention. Therefore in human history, they cannot be replaced by anything else.” The reason is simple. The nation is, in a tangible sense, our home, our grounding in the world. We don’t live in a globalist fairyland. We’re creatures of place — beginning with the place and the people that give us life and nourish us into adulthood. That’s what the word “nation” means. It comes from the Latin words natus, meaning “born,” and natio, meaning “race of people, or tribe.” Again, to quote John Paul:

Patriotism is a love for everything to do with our native land: its history, its traditions, its language, its natural features. It is a love that extends also to the works of our compatriots and the fruits of their genius. Every danger that threatens the overall good of our native land becomes an occasion to demonstrate this love…

And thus, rightly understood and lived, patriotism “leads to properly ordered social love.”

Here’s why I mention it: For the past century, the people of Ukraine have undergone an extraordinary series of crucifixions: a Soviet invasion in 1917 followed by a civil war; a genocidal starvation campaign by Josef Stalin; ferocious repression of their churches; mass deportations; a German invasion during World War II; more repression by the Soviets; a bitter guerrilla war against the Soviets that stretched into the 1950s; the 2014 seizure of the Crimea by Russia; and now another a full-scale and unprovoked Russian invasion.

What we’ve been witnessing in Ukraine over the past six weeks is a people defending their heritage and homeland who are willing to die in the process; a people with a long record of dispossession and suffering on a scale never experienced by our own country. No war is ever entirely pure or good in its execution. But a people fighting for their national survival; dying if necessary for the things they love about the land they call home — those people are worthy of our admiration and support.

They also offer us the kind of witness that forces us to examine our own nation, and ourselves. And in some ways, the comparison isn’t a happy one.

We Americans take great pride in the framework of our founding. And rightly so. The Founders created a culture of law, liberty, and hope for a better future, unique in history, grounded in personal responsibility, and shaped by the marriage of biblical morality and Enlightenment thought. The Founding was far from perfect. Tolerance for slavery was its worst stain. And the treatment of Native peoples — people like my Potawatomi ancestors, originally from here in Wisconsin — was anything but kind. But on the balance, the success of the American experiment speaks to the basic goodness of its origins.

That’s our national creation myth. But it’s a true myth; a myth made real by the work and sacrifices of generations of Americans. The question is whether we can sustain it; whether the myth can remain true. And that leads to two other questions: If human lives are precious — and of course, they are — is it worth risking them for a nation increasingly defined by sexual dysfunction, compulsive consumerism, indifference or hostility to religious faith, and corporations that interfere with a people’s legitimate public discourse? When, if ever, is a cancel culture worth dying for? At what point does it deserve a prompt and ill-attended funeral?

One of the things wrong with our country right now is the hollowing out and retooling of all the key words in our country’s public lexicon; words like democracy, representative government, freedom, justice, due process, religious liberty and constitutional protections. The language of our politics sounds familiar. But the content of the words is different. Voting still matters. Public protest and letters to members of Congress can still have an effect. But more and more of our nation’s life is governed by executive order, judicial overreach, media and corporate interference, and administrative agencies with little accountability to Congress.

People are angry. They’re angry because they feel powerless. And they feel powerless because in many ways they are. America’s cultural and political elites talk a lot about equality, opportunity and justice. But they behave like a privileged class with an authority based on their connections and skills. And then they’re shocked when frustrated citizens support the bombast of a man like Donald Trump.

We Catholics helped to create this moment. Catholics came to this country to build a new life. We did exceptionally well here. We’ve done so well that, by now, Catholics are largely swallowed and digested by a culture that bleaches out strong religious convictions in the name of tolerance, and dulls our longings for the supernatural with a river of consumer goods.

To put it another way, we were meant to be leaven. That’s our purpose in the world. Instead, quite a few of us American Catholics worked our way into that same leadership class that the rest of the country both envies and resents. And the price of our entry has been the transfer of our real loyalties and convictions from the Church of our baptism to the new “Church” of our ambitions and appetites. People like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are not anomalies. They’re part of a very large crowd that cuts across all professions and both major political parties.

During his years as bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI had a talent for being very frank about naming sin and calling people back to fidelity.  Yet, at the same time, he modeled that fidelity with a personal warmth that revealed its beauty, and disarmed the people who heard him.  He spoke several times about the “silent apostasy” of so many Catholic laypeople today and even many priests. And his words have stayed with me over the years because he said them in a spirit of compassion and love, not rebuke.

Apostasy is an interesting word.  It comes from the Greek verb apostanai – which means to revolt or desert; literally “to stand away from.”  For Benedict, laypeople and priests don’t need to publicly renounce their baptism to be apostates.  They simply need to be silent when their Catholic faith demands that they speak out; to be cowards when Jesus asks them to have courage; to “stand away” from the truth when they really need to live for it, work for it, and if necessary, die for it.

I’ve always been a fan of the late Jesuit scholar, John Courtney Murray. Murray is sometimes seen today as being too high on America; too naïve about its flaws; too grand about its possibilities. And he truly did love the best ideals of our country, because those ideals are worthy of honor and deserve our loyalty. But he also said this:

American culture, as it exists, is actually the quintessence of all that is decadent in the culture of the Western Christian world. It would seem to be erected on the triple denial that has corrupted Christian culture at its roots: the denial of metaphysical reality; [of] the primacy of the spiritual over the material; [and] of the social over the individual . . . Its most striking characteristic is its profound materialism . . . It has given citizens everything to live for and nothing to die for. And its achievement may be summed up thus: It has gained a continent and lost its own soul.

For Murray, there is no real “humanism” without the cross of Jesus Christ. And the work of rebuilding, and building a better American culture begins not with violence but with the conversion of our own hearts. This is the only kind of revolution that lasts; the only kind with the power to change everything.

So where am I going with all this?

Data from the Catholic Ieadership Institute suggest that more than 70 percent of U.S. Catholic bishops fall into the “conflict averse” category. That might seem high, but it shouldn’t surprise. Bishops don’t like conflict. And from experience, I understand why. Bishops have the duty to pastor their people in a spirit of charity; and that means all of their people, including the most misguided, annoying, and difficult ones. It requires patience. It demands prudence. And in the public square, bishops also have a biblical duty to honor the emperor, even a bad emperor; in other words, to respect and obey secular authority short of violating the core beliefs of the Christian faith.

But not all conflict is bad. Sometimes it’s the only course open to an honest heart. And sometimes an appeal to patience or prudence is really an excuse for a lack of courage. To the degree we try to fit into a culture that’s more and more hostile to what Catholics have always believed – which is what we’ve been doing for decades now – we repudiate by our actions what we claim to hold sacred with our words. No person, and no Church, can survive for long with divided loyalties. But that’s exactly where we find ourselves. If American Catholics no longer treasure their faith, or their privilege of discipleship, or their call to mission – then we priests and bishops, and parents and teachers, have no one to blame but ourselves. We can’t control changes in technology or demography or the tides of our economy, or the new challenges they create. But we can control where we put the passion and energy of our hearts.

We serve the truth by telling the truth as joyfully and persuasively as we can. We have the proof of a precedent. Christian faith in the Risen Jesus converted the Roman empire. And whatever our nation once was, today it risks becoming more and more obviously a New Rome with all of the inhuman flaws that implies. The Gospel changed the course of history and gave meaning to an entire civilization. God is now calling us, right now, starting with all of us here tonight, to do the same.

Which brings me back, finally, to where we started with these remarks. And I want to close with some thoughts especially for the seminarians present.

A man my age — unless he’s been asleep most of his life — gets very good at naming and explaining problems, and why certain things won’t work in fixing them. But the same experiences that make him good at analysis, can blind him to new ideas and solutions. The Church always needs reform and renewal, pursued with fidelity and trust instead of fear. This is why your vocations are so important. We need to be very careful not to hypnotize ourselves with our worries and anxieties. The “new evangelization” is fundamentally not so different from the “old evangelization.” It begins with the joy of personal conversion, then with witness and action, and nourished by sincere friendships among committed Catholics — not with bureaucratic programs or elegant sounding plans. These latter things can be important. But they’re never the heart of the matter.

When I was ordained a bishop, a wise old friend told me that every bishop must be part radical and part museum curator – a radical in preaching and living the Gospel, but a protector of the Christian memory, faith, heritage and story that weave us into one believing people over the centuries. I try to remember that every day. Americans have never liked history. The reason is simple. The past comes with obligations on the present, and the most cherished illusion of American life is that we can make and remake ourselves at will. But we Christians are different. We’re first and foremost a communion of persons on mission through time – and our meaning as individuals comes from the part we play in that larger communion and story.

If we want to reclaim who we are as a Church, if we want to renew the Catholic imagination and be leaven in the world, we need to begin by unplugging our hearts from the assumptions of a culture that still seems familiar but is no longer really “ours.” It’s a moment for courage and candor, but it’s hardly the first of its kind.

This isn’t a dark time unless we make it so. We’re simply back again in the night before the Resurrection. The night passes. And we already know how the story ends; we just need to imprint it on our hearts. Gratitude is the beginning of joy. This is a moment of privilege and opportunity, not defeat. Reverence for the past is a good thing, but clinging to structures and assumptions that no longer have life is not. We’ve been given the gift of being part of God’s work to rebuild — and build better — the witness of his Church in the world. So let’s pray for each other, and thank God for each other; and lift up our hearts to pursue the mission, and create the future, that God intends.

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About Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. 7 Articles
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. is the archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia and author of Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living (Henry Holt), as well as Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics and Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life.


  1. What is TRUTH? Dishonest Politicians stop there. The media stops there. COWARDS stop there. Archbishop Chaput does not. If I’ve ever read a truer talk on the current state of affairs I can’t remember it. Apart from missing the woke government of Ukraine, this article bears witness to the TRUTH as few ever will. John 18:37 (ESV) 37 Then Pilate said to Him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE TRUTH. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilates response to him, “What is truth?” He wasn’t listening and he left a scandalous legacy because of it….are we?

  2. Yes, His Excellency put his finger on the underlying problem: people in today’s world feel powerless. This is particularly the case in our day and age when under the influence of the “New Things” sovereignty and dignity have shifted from human persons created by God, to abstractions created by man, such as the socialist collective and the capitalist elite. As Fulton Sheen explained, “God” has become a “divinized society”; we have changed from God-created to God creators.

    Worship of the State or of “the People” in order to secure an earthly material paradise is not the answer. As G.K. Chesterton noted in his final debate with George Bernard Shaw, the answer is to empower people, and empowerment normally requires access to the means of acquiring and possessing private property in capital. Shaw, of course, insisted that only income matters, as that was in his opinion the only means to achieve a decent material life, the socialist Kingdom of God on Earth.

    That is why for well over a century both capitalists and socialists have insisted that Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum is “the living wage encyclical.” The wage system leaves power in the hands of a capitalist or socialist elite, with ordinary people cut off from the normal means of acquiring and developing virtue: exercising their natural rights of life, liberty, and private property.

    That is why Leo XIII insisted in § 46 of Rerum Novarum that widespread ownership is key: “We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.” As he continued in § 47,

    “Many excellent results will follow from this; and, first of all, property will certainly become more equitably divided. For, the result of civil change and revolution has been to divide cities into two classes separated by a wide chasm. On the one side there is the party which holds power because it holds wealth; which has in its grasp the whole of labor and trade; which manipulates for its own benefit and its own purposes all the sources of supply, and which is not without influence even in the administration of the commonwealth. On the other side there is the needy and powerless multitude, sick and sore in spirit and ever ready for disturbance. If working people can be encouraged to look forward to obtaining a share in the land, the consequence will be that the gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged over, and the respective classes will be brought nearer to one another.”

    In general, a financially feasible and morally sound means by which ordinary people can become capital owners — and thus gain control over their own lives — is essential to the restructuring of the social order to create a society in which virtue is once again the optimal choice. This requires certain financial and monetary reforms (that should be implemented anyway) as a means to enable people to become owners without redistribution or redefining natural law or human nature. As Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler explained in their two books, “The Capitalist Manifesto” (1958) and “The New Capitalists” (1961), it is possible to make everyone an owner without redistribution by enabling them to purchase self-liquidating newly formed capital, i.e., capital that pays for itself with future profits and then yields consumption income.

    Applying this to the specific situation in Ukraine, there will be a massive need for financing the rebuilding of the country once the Russians have been driven back to their own country. This will not come from reparations from Russia, even if we hadn’t already learned the lesson of what happened after World War I in Germany and Austria-Hungary. Nor will it come from a global community whose credit has already been stretched to the limit and beyond. It will only come from the “future savings” generated by the rebuilding itself, IF done in a way that makes every Ukrainian a direct owner of the new capital being formed.

    Financing future capital without existing savings was the reason commercial/mercantile and central banks were invented. Replacing traditional collateral requirements with capital credit insurance and reinsurance completely removes the need to accumulated savings before financing new capital — something that President Zelenskyy, who has a degree in law and economics, is well able to appreciate.

    This is the proposal outlined in a new book from TAN Books, “The Greater Reset”, and which also addresses the roots of the problems of socialism, modernism, and the New Age, and the way the influence of these “New Things” has undermined the moral basis of the modern world:


  3. Chaput: “This isn’t a dark time unless we make it so.”

    Prologue (1-3)

    This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon come to pass. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John, who testifies to everything he saw. This is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear and obey what is written in it, because the time is near.

    Rev. 6:15-17
    Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the commanders, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and free man hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?”

    • Nicely put, Meiron. Even if the mighty would rather be buried alive than to face the “One seated on the throne”, we of faith must be grateful that God has shown us the times for what they are, then in joy be witnesses. If “mankind is at a crossroads”(i), let our holy choices and readiness, even to give our lives or reputations, be the sign post our brothers read. May God give us each the strength we need.
      (i) Alleged message from Our Lady to Marija in Medjugorje, Mar 25, 2022.

  4. A wise counsel from a wizened bishop retiree. “This isn’t a dark time unless we make it so” (Archbishop Chaput). That he offers the solution admits we are in a dark time. Followed by as near to end times without saying so, knowing how it is predicted to end.
    Bishops are in a hard place especially a faithful OFM committed to Saint Francis as well as Pope Francis. He gave hints during his tenure regarding this pontificate, for such as Chaput and many other theologically solid bishops a difficult tightrope to balance faithful witness and humble obedience. But isn’t that what all suffer. Laity are less constrained evident on Catholic websites.
    Then there’s Fr Thomas Weinandy OFM Cap and his Javelin letter to Pope Francis, his jettison by the dutiful USCCB [would that it had similar voice] his excellent articulation of the moral doctrinal issues and their source of ambiguity, seeming outright denial. Then there’s Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and his challenge to His Holiness’s knowledge of the McCarrick scandal.
    For many morally heroic Viganò became an enigma espousing conspiracy theory followed by more conspiracy theory announcing scientific knowledge of the efficacy of the Vax. Then, is he gone the Way of the Fairies [a Scottish allusion to light mindedness] or is he on to something. Example, recently overwhelmingly reelected Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán acknowledges a conspiracy to secularize the West engineered and financed by George Soros [Bill and Melinda Gates and others]. Media vilifies Orbán, who fiercely protects the traditional family and his nation’s borders. In our world, the US particularly, that’s considered undemocratic for some a treasonous.
    So then, where are the prophetic Apostolic voices? Is it the wisdom of the venerable to continue to feed us pablum, that all will be okay because Christ said so? Or do we stand tall like men and tell what a living faith compels us? Personally, I doubt Archbishop Chaput would object if we did, within the bounds of justice and propriety.

  5. I like Archbishop Chaput but he wins no points with me by taking swipes at president Trump and his supporters (which includes me). Bishops (including the one currently occupying the See of Peter) do best when they stay out of politics and focus their attention on matters of moral theology and ecclesial governance. There’s more than enough rot in the Catholic Church to occupy all their attention. By the way, what’s the status of McCarrick’s criminal case in the State of Massachusetts?

    • You have wrongly absorbed clericalism yourself by using your title as Deacon and yet you disrespectfully and disloyally cannot properly address Pope Francis by title and name.

      • Deacon Peitler speaks the truth fearlessly, both here and elsewhere. Part of that truth is that there are significant, objective, verifiable doubts as to whether Benedict XVI validly abdicated the papacy and whether Jorge Mario Bergoglio was validly elected and, if so, whether he validly retained the office after his many heterodox statements and acts. It would behoove you to ponder what he says rather than reflexively rejecting it.

      • #1. It is no clericalism to use the title ascribed to my clerical order.
        #2. I stated what is fact: the Pope is bishop of Rome aka the See of Peter.
        #3. What you really object to is my opinion that bishops should not get involved in politics. There is much work for them in addressing the moral rot in society and its seepage into the Church.

    • Deacon I agree with you. Why the demeaning of Trump? As a veteran of decades of prolife work, I apreciate Trump for keeping his promises to protect children in the womb, promotimg religious freedom, etc. etc. I just read ‘The Laptop From Hell’. It is a catalogue of corruption. The Church has failed the Biden Family by letting Joe pass himself off as a devoute Catholic. Protecting Catholic Moral Truth is worth dying for.

    • Whoa, Edward, you couldn’t be more wrong. Archbishop Chaput outlines the need for Catholics to speak truth in the public square. He has advocated for this over the years (Render Unto Caesar and Living the Catholic Faith) in his writings and homilies. Speak the truth of Jesus Christ in the public square. If you don’t, who will? Jesus called us to a cultural revolution to change the world. We do that by the witness of how we live our lives each day and by calling out the immorality in our society. These are the roles we assumed in our Baptism: priest, prophet and king. Challenge the status quo and live like you’re headed for your home in heaven.

  6. If people–Bishops, preiest, layfolk, monks, nuns–wanterd something to die for, they had their chance starting around March 2020, when a certain respiratory/endothelial bug showed up on on shores–you know, the one with a 99% survival rate for those not nursing home bound (or having significant co-morbidities).
    As I recall, parishes the world over were closed for weeks, if not months. No Eucharist. Priests fled the hospitals (some by choice, others by gov’t dictate, others by Diocesan dictate.) No Last Rites for the dying.
    And then of course, folks embraced a vaccine for the same bug, a vaccine which does not stop the spread and has wanning efficacy over time (needs constant boosters) and whose production depends on the cells of an aborted baby (two, I believe)–killed so very long ago, never named. The vax is largely mandated at Catholic HQ: the Vatican.
    The optics here are not good.

    • The optics here are in fact objective apostasy. After reading Chaput’s article, the thought that recurred to me was the ancient Roman proverb: “Acta, non verba” (“Deeds, not words”). It is strange to read about “things worth dying for” from an archbishop whose deeds, apart from his words, demonstrated that, as far as I know, there was nothing for which he would die. How many pro-abortion politicians did he excommunicate in the three dioceses he headed? How many times did he publicly confront Presidents Clinton, Obama, and Biden on abortion? What did he do to expose and denounce McCarrick and those legions of homosexual cardinals, bishops, and priests who infest the clergy today? What efforts did he make during the Covid pandemic to demand that Catholic sacraments and the Mass were “essential activities” that no government could suppress?

    • The closing of the churches and the denial of the sacraments along with people dying alone in ‘care’ facilities and hospitals rankles. Parishes that closed in time of dire need gave a very clear message about the optional nature of practice, and by implication reduced the Eucharist itself to a tradition rather than ‘the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.’ The crisis regarding the Real Presence may well be a crisis in the ordained. I don’t recognize the Church of the past two years. Is there a plan for the next crisis or will we again be without our Church?

  7. There is much to praise in this article, but I can’t help focusing on the first sentence of the last paragraph – “This isn’t a dark time unless we make it so.”
    What exactly would make it a dark time? We have almost a million unborn babies murdered each year. Even if Roe is overturned, and we have some states passing pro-life laws, we have many states passing extreme pro-abortion laws. People will travel to these states (if they can afford the gas). LGBTQ and transgenderism is running rampant. Disney, the “family” company, has announced that their programs will have certain percentage of LGBTQ and transgender characters in them. Many prominent people (including our president) are castigating Florida for passing a law that prohibits teaching these aberrant sexual acts in Kindergarten to third grade! There are Catholic schools fighting to retain teachers in so called same sex marriages (in one case waiting three years for a resolution from the Vatican). At last count, 21 percent of Catholics attend mass regularly every Sunday. A few years ago, Boston, one of the largest diocese, self reported 16 percent weekly mass attendance. Etc. Etc. Etc.
    The statement that It isn’t a dark time unless we make it so, reminds me of so many homilies that can be summed up as “God loves you, have nice day.”

    • I know that this is a bit silly to say, but I must comment on your mentioning disney.

      What disney has become is beyond tragic, and so I urge everyone here to find a copy of ‘The Aristocats’ and watch it. It is one of the last Disney movies (circa 1966) made around the time of his death, and to me it is a Masterpiece. Watch it and if there be tears, let them be ones of laughter. (Pay special attention to the two English spinster aunts on vacation in France – BEYOND funny.)

      Tears over what disney has become will surely follow.

  8. A lament may best describe my response to the conditions detailed by Archbishop Chaput. His essay suggests spiritual fire, at least for what really is worth dying for. Christ’s love. All else is secondary, and regards our faith, which should be fuel for that fire most of us seem displaced, distant, absorbed with liturgy, theories for reinvigorating worship that occupy our efforts.
    There’s an air of complacent satisfaction with ideas rather than those acts of good, compassion that manifest spiritual fire. Many of us have a sense within ourselves of a flame that seeks expression, yet there’s ambivalence on how to express it when tradition says one thing, changes to the Catechism, prospective changes, a wider scope of inclusion, so many options that inertia appears the better venue. We’ve become disarmed.
    Let’s look at this from the words of the Apostle James, that the prayer of a holy man is powerful indeed. Saint John of the Cross in the Living Flame of Love describes what I wish to say simply by the title of his treatise on silent prayer. Anyone who believes contemplation necessarily means an eremitical existence is mistaken, John was both eremitical and quite active, even tumultuously so imprisoned and beaten by his own Carmelite friars for seeking reform. Temporarily excommunicated. Spiritual chaplain to the Discalced Carmelite Nuns, preacher, writer.
    If there were a concerted movement within the Mystical Body to focus on one thing alone, to give oneself to live and manifest the breadth and depth of Christ’s love we could reverse the course of events toward that living flame of love who is God.

  9. We read from John Courtney Murray: “It [American culture] has given citizens everything to live for and nothing to die for. And its achievement may be summed up thus: It has gained a continent [!] and lost its own soul [!].”

    What kind of SOUL, ecclesiastically speaking, is to be found through national “synodality,” as “facilitator” bishops synthesize (“aggregate, compile”!) flip-chart bullet points as input to “continental” compendia, with “minority reports” also curiously enabled and folded in? (Nothing in the Vademecum about “families,” except in Appendix D which winks first at “married couples”—-as including gay marriage?).

    The CONTINENTAL syntheses (a fledgling federation of churches?) then to be synthesized further by relator-general Cardinal Hollerich, who will purport (?) to harmonize all points of view, even including undeniable contradictions?. Inclusiveness! The cardinal already supports—-publicly—-invalid female ordinations and the zeitgeist redefinition of human sexual morality, etc. etc.

  10. “So the idea of having nothing to do each day, of having a blank agenda, struck me as a new kind of adventure I would have to learn to live with.”
    Quoted from retired Archbishop Chaput.

    Amen! Archbishop Chaput,
    I came into retirement hot; on fire from work load burn out, with reverse thrusters blasting and parachutes deployed! I started my busy work career at 8 years old on the farm. I ended my career at 59, as a pickup and delivery Semi driver in the Seattle Metro area; big trucks, small streets, heavy traffic; like fourth worst traffic in the nation, bad. 15 hour days, work plus commute. Single dad, (kids at home) till the day I retired. BAM!, No work, no kids (at home)!

    My first year of retirement was a complete disaster. I could not sleep; stressed out, headaches, worries when I now had no worries. Then I started to go to Daily Mass. Through Daily Mass, and much quality time spent with our Lord Praying the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet (once I taught myself how to pray the Rosary); retired life transformed into a spiritual utopia.

    As some others here have indicated, I too see our Catholic Church as almost fully focused on, off the cuff, self-righteous judgements upon the secular world, almost to the point of total abandonment to the duties of shepherding the Flock. So now I use my retirement years to write on-line to discuss all things Catholic with my fellow Catholics.

    This is what upsets me most. I worked hard all my life to support the poor, my Church, and my country. Catholic leaders now notice that the world’s poor are suffering. Why, yes they are! Catholic leaders decided that it is all the evil secular world, me and my fellow world taxpayers’, fault. They decide that they must be seen as the heroes to rescue the poor by condemning the world’s taxpayers for not being socialist enough. What!

    The American taxpayer donates one trillion dollars a year to our domestic poor and 48 billion a year to foreign aid. I figure Pope Francis and our 2 billion Christians donate about 20 or 30 billion dollars a year to help the poor. A tithe on our 2 billion Christians would be over a trillion dollars a year to help the poor. I think a trillion dollars a year, donated from Christ’s Church, out of love to Jesus, through the least of Jesus’ brothers, would eliminate poverty in the world today.

    So what has caused Jesus’ socialist Catholic Church, in charge of our King Jesus Christ’s great wealth of 1 trillion dollars per year income, to be such an atrocious failure to the poor, as compared to 332 million, Good Samaritan Capitalist American Taxpayers?

    Let’s discuss (possibly in another article) Pope Francis enacting a worldwide, binding on all people of the earth, Catholic auto-anathema, on those not tithing, to rescue the millions of poor Lazerouses who suffer and die every year, due to lack of proper Christian tithing. Having an IRS, in the secular world, to care for the poor, is what makes secular Good Samaritan America Great! Jesus is not King and Ruler of the world, until His Subjects, Catholic Apostolic Successors/Combat Angels of the Apocalypse, put His Laws into enforcement on earth.

    “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”― Margaret Thatcher

    LUKE 10:29 The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
    But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim? He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

  11. Wonderful article and commentary which together reflects the deep “frustration” referenced by Archbishop Chaput. I have been on both sides of this dilemma, enormously concerned about the state of the Church–though I know all is in God’s Will–and the call to be authentically compassionate and pray for even those who most egregiously reject God’s authority and natural law, yet seemingly without Church “tough love.”
    One of the comments struck me though as particularly illuminating and may dispel “dark times.” Today’s Catholic needs that Divine Physician and His remedies: Holy Mass, Adoration, the Rosary, Devotions. (The Pandemic dictatorially denied that real medicine and weakened many faithful Catholics–another matter of discontent around Church response.)
    Yet, we must still confront death to self, and as Holy Week approaches, the daily readings also point to our eternal home.
    What are things worth dying for?: Standing for life, the family, the moral underpinning of our Republic which grants individual pursuit of the good, true, and beautiful. How? Without growing weary or begrudging, living the Gospel to individuals (along with subsidiary assistance), but…cutting no slack to the demonic political powers that loom over the Church. So, we must also persevere in raising our voices, and, peacefully, our arms against government (politicians) who deny and attempt to reverse the States’ subservient role to Truth. It is not either, but both, and it is never easy or without fault and sin. (Keeps me in regular Confession, in fact.)

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. “Things worth dying for”: What those words demand from us now – Via Nova Media
  2. Worth dying for - California Catholic Daily

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