The motto of the St. Catherine Catholic Culture Center is “Restoring Christian Culture through the Domestic Church.” Really a mission, not a motto, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how big a project restoring Christian culture is, and how many people need to be actively involved, whatever they happen to do for a living. From where I stand, in the United States of the 21st Century, it looks to me like this is the most important thing Westerners need to focus on. Because a Christian culture would impact and influence everything done in it, everything would be better in our daily lives than it is now.
- Christian Culture would restore the arts. At the same time that our culture was losing Christian morality and faith at the beginning of the last century, it lost the ideals of beauty and goodness for its art. Now what we have left is novelty and “self-expression” as the only standards for art. People really believe, “Who is anyone to judge quality in art? Art is like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. If you like it, and you say that it is art, then it is art.” This is false, and recovery of our Christian culture would recover a Christian ethos in art, which would give back to our culture standards of truth, goodness, and beauty to evaluate new works. In some parts of the world, this is already starting to happen. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to call real art “art,” and call banal, careless forms of self-expression “trash,” like it really is?
- While the arts would have a Christian ethos, the sciences would have Christian ethics. It would no longer be a case of scientists operating at the level of, “Can we do it? Let’s try!” on genetic modification of plants, animals, and humans, etc. The guiding principle would be, “Should we do it?” and if not, then research would not go that way. I dream of a world like this, where I don’t have to be shocked by what those terrifying monsters in lab coats are going to dream up next to exploit the embryos of my fellow human beings. With Christian ethics to guide and to shape the dimensions and direction of scientific research, scientists would more quickly discover ethical treatments that actually help (such as adult stem-cells, for example).
- The media would not be so full of vile things. Adultery and other sins that hurl our souls into wretchedness would not be glorified as normal and (Heaven forbid!) glamorous. For all of us trying to live a Christian life, daily life would be easier. Think of those temptations that would be removed. Think of the encouragement to strive for better things that would be in our culture. Our youth would grow up able to focus on important things, like the purpose of life, and their own vocations and missions in this short time they have to live. Children are so corrupted in our times, because of the evil things they see on television, and hear their parents talk about. We need a revival of Christian culture so that children have a fighting chance at growing up Christian—at even having a Christian childhood!
- In the academic world, the focus would go back to learning and teaching and spreading the truth. I realize that all research begins with a question, and each academic paper has a thesis which the research is used to prove: but the schools of today take an answer that they want, transform it into a parameter to fit certain points from their research into, and then they present all this as scholarship. There is no question—there is no search for truth. There is an urge to prove—to validate—to justify, certainly not to search with an open mind. The truth will not be found if you are not looking for it. When academics flourish in a Christian culture, the search for truth will be paramount, and then the truth can be found once more.
- Ritual, a necessary human need, will come back to our lives. In our times, conscious, soul-nourishing ritual has been stripped away from our day-to-day lives in a way unprecedented to other cultures and other times. Part of our psychoses and depressions must have to do with this lack of ritual, lack of sacred time, and lack of feasting and fasting with our culture. Since we are social animals, as scientists remind us that we are, what is the number one thing that we should be doing together? Worshipping God. We need ritual in our own personal lives and for our cultural life, such as daily prayer, fasts and feasts, joyful and penitential seasons, and corporate worship with those that live around us. With Christian rituals throughout the culture, I believe there would be peace within homes, help from neighbors, and a pervading happiness within communities.
- Morality would come back—the basic standards of decency in dress, conversation, and social gossip would be assumed and lived by. Everyone would understand the simple, root ideas: the importance of married parents for bringing up children, the legal right that children should have to be born, the utter inappropriateness of some themes and images to be printed/televised… Most people are basically good, but most people would make better choices and live much better lives within a culture with higher standards.
May God raise up saints, as He always does in times of trouble, to combat these errors and evils of our time. We are to be some of those saints. Pray with me every day that we will accept our mission and use the strength of grace to fight for the Truth as we should. Restoring Christian Culture is the vocation of every Catholic in our times.