Millennial meltdown and the future of Catholic education

It’s difficult to believe that the Society of Jesus—which gave us heroic martyrs such as saints Edmund Campion and Robert Southwell, the latter of whom inspired the Muse of William Shakespeare, and heroic missionaries such as St. Francis Xavier—could have stooped to the banal modernism which drips from the pages of America, the Jesuit Order’s North American journal.

Take, for instance, this headline which (dis)graced its pages on Oct. 19: “Half of U.S. Catholics say Belief in God is Not Necessary to be a Good Person.” It’s not that the poll findings are irrelevant, though they’re not as relevant as many people might believe, it’s that the article made no comment about what such findings might actually signify. The article’s author, Michael J. O’Loughlin, simply regurgitates the poll’s findings, with no comment whatsoever. One wonders why one would report such a story without some sort of comment.

O’Loughlin’s other articles offer telling clues. He seems preoccupied with the need for the Church to embrace and accept the LGBT agenda, with all that such an agenda demands in terms of the destruction and desecration of the traditional understanding of the family and all that it demands in terms of abandoning orthodoxy. The sort of modernist pseudo-Catholicism which embraces such lifestyle choices already believes that we can ignore the teaching of Christ’s Mystical Body and make up our own minds about what is good or bad. We don’t need Christ or His Church telling us what to do. We can be good without God. It’s about us, not Him. How dare He give us Commandments? How dare He tell us what to do? Who is God to judge? Who does God really think that He is? If God disapproves of me and my choices, God can go to hell.

As for the findings of the poll itself, they are to be expected. It’s simply the relativist mantra of “self-esteem” playing itself out. If it’s about me and feeling good about myself, it follows that I can feel good and be good without the need for any “god” except myself. The tragedy is that those who speak loudest about “self-esteem” have the lowest genuine self-esteem, and those who put most emphasis on feeling good feel far less good about themselves than their less presumptuous neighbors.

Making ourselves the god of our own pathetic self-enclosed microcosmos makes us more miserable than those who worship gods other than themselves. This is the paradox and the pathetic irony of relativism. Such a “religion” is unsustainable psychologically and has disastrous consequences socially. The former leads to madness or despair in the individual (hence the dramatic rise in suicides), and the latter leads to the collective madness of anarchy in society. If we exorcise God from our lives, we suffocate in the vacuum in which we’ve placed ourselves.

What we are actually witnessing, and what these poll findings illustrate, is the beginning of the millennial meltdown. It’s the slow but inexorable suicide of the anti-culture of death. It’s the self-crucifixion of the unhealthy and unholy trinity of me-myself-and-I. It’s a new Dark Ages.

In such times, Catholic education becomes more important and more necessary than ever. Catholic schools and Catholic homeschooling families are nothing less than the oases of sanity and sanctity in the midst of a decadent and decaying uncivilization. They are like those Benedictine monasteries which preserved the wealth and the legacy of learning and civilization in the previous Dark Ages.

For those of us who remain true to the Faith of our fathers, the restoration and resurrection of authentic Catholic education and the culture of civilization it serves is merely answering the call of God. As for those so-called Catholics who believe that they can make their own lifestyle choices in defiance of Our Lord’s teaching and commandments, believing that they can be “good” in His absence, we can only hope that they will repent and believe in the Gospel.

In the interim, while these lost and wandering souls flounder in the wasteland and the desert, seeking in vain for living water, we will respond with the words of Joshua: “If it is displeasing to you to serve the Lord, choose today whom you will serve…. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).

JOSEPH PEARCE is a senior fellow at The Cardinal Newman Society and editor of its journal. He is a senior contributor at The Imaginative Conservative and senior editor at the Augustine Institute. His books include biographical works on C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn and Belloc.