Preaching to the Spirits in the Iron Cage of Modernity
Let us help our brothers and sisters out of the
Christian charity must go to the poor, but it must also be dispensed to the ignorant. To instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners are spiritual works of mercy informed by charity. By their lives and by their words, Christians must draw those out from the "iron cage" into the freedom of the sons of God. "The Church, 'like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolation of God,' announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor. 11:26)." Porta fidei, 6.
In this last article, we will look at the last step necessary once we escape the "iron cage" once we have recommitted to the faith. This last step is preaching those spirits imprisoned in the "iron cage" of a secularist, Godless modernity, witnessing to them by our acts of faith and charity, and so drawing them and all society out of the "iron cage," the cause of so many of our social ills.
"The Church as a whole"--and this includes the laity--"like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance." Porta fidei, 1. Indeed, "by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us." Porta fidei, 6.
After his death and burial, and before his resurrection, Christ went and harrowed hell, preaching to the souls in prison. (1 Pet. 3:19-20) After renewing our faith, we must harrow the "iron cage" of modernity to release the prisoners there.
Faith--if alive--will burn with a Pentecostal fire. The Holy Spirit makes us "fit for mission and strengthens our witness, making it frank and courageous." Not to be hid under a bushel, the faith will be proclaimed "fearlessly to every person." Porta fidei, 10. "[F]aith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world." Porta fidei, 15.
It is an error of first proportion--one that has landed us in the "iron cage" of liberal secularism and its vicious moral relativism--to give greater concern to "social, cultural, and political consequences," and to "think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society" that may be safely ignored or relegated to second place. Porta fidei, 2.
First things first. Faith is first. "We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7) What good it is for a man--or a whole society--to gain the whole world (if that were even possible without faith), yet lose his--or its--soul? Seek first the Kingdom of God--a Kingdom the entry into which is gained by faith--"and all these things shall be added unto you," as the train of his robe follows behind the Christ the King. (Matt. 6:33; cf. Isa. 6:1)
"Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power: 'Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life' (Jn 6:27). The question posed by his listeners is the same that we ask today: 'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?' (Jn. 6:28). We know Jesus' reply: 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent" (Jn 6:29). Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitely at salvation." Porta fidei, 3.
This is the particular temptation of the "social justice" crowd: to give greater concern to the social, cultural, and political world, but to put faith in God and His Christ in the background. It is also the temptation of neo-conservatives who act as if the "culture war" can be won through politics.
However, if we cooperate with the secular liberals on secular liberalism grounds--in other words, if we "think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition" and concern ourselves only about "social, cultural, and political consequences"--we will all be secular liberals.
Don the black-and-white striped uniform of the political liberal philosopher John Rawls, use his prison argot, and you will think like John Rawls, you will reach the same conclusions as John Rawls, and so be forced to eat the bland and salt-less prison gruel with him. John Rawls (a man without faith in God and His Christ, and whose whole mission in life was to make sure that the Lord was absent from the public square) is the philosopher par excellence of the "iron cage."
The problem confronting modern society is one of faith. In the ...
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