31 January 2012

Commentary on Religion


A surprisingly large number of people believe religion is merely a crutch to help them make it through life. Secularists use this belief to turn from religion and encourage others to do the same, instead trusting merely in themselves and the institutions of this world. The obvious fallacy of this is great and perhaps explains in part why there are so many people suffering from emotional and psychological problems and a lack of real happiness today. 

While Karl Marx proclaimed religion to be the opiate of the masses, Archbishop Fulton Sheen offered a far better viewpoint. He said that "[religion] is actually not a crutch; it is a cross. It is not an escape, it is a burden; not a flight, but a response. We speak here of a religion with teeth in it, the wind that demands self-sacrifice and surrender. One leans on a crutch, but a cross rests on us. A coward can use a crutch, but it takes a hero to embrace a cross." This beautifully and accurately captures what it means to be a true Christian.

Now, there are certainly many for whom religion is warped into being a crutch. Some modern Christian communities even thrive on this, providing and promoting feel-good emotional highs rather than authentic, self-sacrificing worship. Nothing is expected, except perhaps financial contribution and volunteered time. No sacrifice is expected, no real conversion is expected, and no spiritual warfare is expected. The lines between right and wrong become blurred as relativism takes over. The purpose of modernist religion is merely to soothe and placate like an Alka-Seltzer tablet or an aspirin. This type of religion is a crutch.

Also, the modern trend of individualistic religion, in which an individual professes belief in Jesus Christ, but eschews the Church and devises his own way is another extension of this. For those who do not simply take the Faith as it is, but rather individualize it to suit their own beliefs, desires, and needs, religion is a crutch. To do this is to be cheated of experiencing an authentic expression of the Christian Faith. It is the easy way out.

It has been said that Catholicism is not easy, and that is true. But what is true Catholicism other than the true and original Christian Faith given to the Apostles and handed down through the generations to the present time? It is Christianity, pure, simple, and uncomplicated with extraneous innovations. True Christianity, therefore, is not easy. Authentic Christianity requires a conversion of heart, a strong sense of self-sacrifice, and a complete surrender. It can be a burden at times, with many difficulties and failures. It is more courageous, though, to remain true to the ways of the Faith rather than taking the easy way out. It takes courage to pick up your own cross and follow the Lord. It is easy and ultimately of little or no benefit to take the path of the feel-good panacea. To reap the benefits that God has set out for us, one must lay down the crutch and embrace a cross.