District Superior's Letter: July 2009
One point on which we can never place enough emphasis, is that the world—especially the Western world—is more and more falling into atheism, materialism, and hedonism. The atheism of the modern world is not exactly the same as that of 20th century Communism...
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
One point on which we can never place enough emphasis, is that the world—especially the Western world—is more and more falling into atheism, materialism, and hedonism.
The atheism of the modern world is not exactly the same as that of 20th century Communism. The new atheism does not require a formal denial of the existence of God, an official statement that God does not exist; it is more treacherous, more dangerous and evil. It is an atheism in which the existence of God has no importance. Whether one believes God exists or not, who He is and what He wants of us has no importance. It is an atheism or agnosticism in which, even if God exists, He does not interfere with the world. In other words, He does not care.
This is a denial of the Revelation that God does love us and has revealed Himself to us; that He has sent His only Son to tell us the Truth about Himself and to give us the means of Salvation.
The modern world rejects the possibility of God revealing Himself—telling all men, all nations, Who He is, what He wants of us, His plans to save us. The denial of the possibility itself of reaching the truth about God is the worst atheism—or more exactly, agnosticism—because it can leave people with the illusion of a “good conscience.” Everyone is free to make up his own god, a god that does not bother him, a false god that lets him do whatever he wishes. When man starts making idols to his liking, he rejects the True God, and replaces Him with himself. Man becomes God.
The world we live in also promotes and praises materialism and hedonism, “a thirst for the goods and pleasures of the earth,” as Pope Pius XI defines it in his encyclical Divini Redemptoris (1937). The world teaches that we must look for the goods of the earth, and work for a materialistic happiness on earth. “The more I have, the more blessed I am” mentality is infiltrating even the most Catholic families—a contradiction of the words of Our Lord: “Blessed are the poor….”
We, indeed, should always remain “poor in spirit.” This means not placing our happiness in the things of earth, not even spending our best efforts to acquire them, but considering ourselves only as stewards of earthly goods, and using them only for what is really necessary; while also, and most importantly, giving to the poor and to the Church.
“All Christians, rich and poor, must keep their eye fixed on Heaven, remembering that, ‘we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come’ (Hebrews 13, 14),” as Pope Pius XI wrote.
We easily become infected with a materialistic spirit. The modern world makes us no longer care about the poor. Perhaps this is because we are not often in direct contact with them, or because poverty is not that visible. Yet many around us struggle, and we should try to help them. Think, for example, of the large families who struggle to pay their children’s tuition. Sponsoring a child from such a family is a great way of fighting a materialistic spirit.
On the other hand, we hear occasionally—although thanks be to God, not very often—that sometimes parents would chose to buy unnecessary things, or take expensive holidays, while not meeting their financial obligations, such as tuition payments. This too, is an effect of the materialistic spirit of this modern world, and an injustice.
In fact, the only answer to the modern materialism is detachment from worldly goods, and Christian charity. These only will protect us and keep us real followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ—Catholics by faith and by good works.
To conclude this letter, dear faithful, friends and benefactors, I would like to remind you that these observations about the modern world—as dramatic as they are—should not affect or disturb our Catholic hope. It is important and necessary to see and understand clearly the errors, the dangers around us. If we make it a point to comment on these errors, it is to be aware of them, in order to be protected from them and to keep a deep Catholic spirit in everything that we do. At the same time, however, we must keep a strong and unfailing confidence in God, in our Lord and in His Blessed Mother. We must never be discouraged or overcome by pessimism because we have God on our side.
In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Fr. Arnaud Rostand