The promise of the Catholic vision

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky (bio - articles - email) | Apr 08, 2019

Humans desire happiness. So it is normal to seek a place or state of things in which everything is perfect. But what can we realistically expect?

Let’s consider two utopias: the Catholic vision or “Catholic utopia” and the secular vision, the Godless utopia.

In Catholic utopia, we are born, live a life of virtue with God’s grace, we die in the state of grace, and we enter heavenly glory. God defines good and evil and his voice directs a good conscience. Decency brings a clear conscience and peace of soul even under the duress of suffering. Families are the foundation of society, and we learn from our morally noble traditions.

We love God. We resolve to grow in virtue with His grace. We strive to love our neighbors because we believe every man is created in the image of God. Every offense against our neighbor denies this sacred image. We combat our venial sins. We quickly seek forgiveness when we fall into mortal sin.

By practicing our faith, we protect ourselves and our families against the invasion of mortal sin. We attend Mass on Sundays because we owe it to our Creator. We also promote order and protect ourselves by seeking to enact just societal laws. There are political coalitions, often in disagreement, but we engage in charitable debate because we strive to be one nation under God. We have our “special interests,” but our political concerns and differences are always under the umbrella of God’s unchanging laws.

Accidents, illness, suffering, and death are inescapable elements of Catholic utopia. Indeed, all reality is inescapable. But if possible, we avoid misery by using reasonable and just means, always recognizing God as the Author of life. We are the ministers of life, not the masters of life, in works of Christian compassion.

Reality in our Catholic utopia is expansive. It includes the natural and the supernatural, faith and reason, religion and science. Ultimately the truth of our existence is revealed to us through faithful families, cultural traditions, and authentic Catholic teaching. We revere the meaning of words because Jesus is the Word made Flesh and truth incarnate. Centuries of normal usage endow words with meaning. Hence laws use words with reliable definitions directing us to virtuous living. When faced with the many obstacles to happiness in this life, we don’t despair. In obedience to Jesus, we take up our cross and follow Him.

The dogmas of the contrasting secular Godless utopia dismiss pursuit of heavenly glory as a distraction from human progress. We are born, we strive to live a life of pleasure, we avoid pain, we die, and we return to the earth. The pinnacle of human experience is pleasure. There are no moral violations, only obstacles to living comfortably.

The secular utopian stands supreme as he defines his need for physical, emotional, or intellectual pleasures. The individual and his demand for comfort form the foundation of society. Hence most Godless utopians demand bottomless government funding to eliminate the risk of accidents, illness, and death.

God does not exist, so others do not reflect the image of God. They are “diverse.” So they “celebrate diversity” without moral judgment. But “celebrating diversity” is only necessary because of conflicting special interests (usually funded by taxpayers). When the secular utopian denies the one God, he allows his fixations to become his gods: the environment, the climate, whales, sexuality, and so on. His commitment to special interests makes him feel good about himself.

Coalitions of pleasure-seekers are not formed around truth or freedom or the dignity of man. The secular utopian resorts to power politics to protect himself and to maintain a “fair share” of government funds. Words and laws need constant redefinition according to the wishes of those in power, the elites. Hence the elites manage the meaning of words, the perception of good and evil. And the secular utopian fervently hopes to find a niche in ever-changing politically-correct schemes.

Individual power and coalitions of power form another cornerstone of society. A secular utopian does not fear God, he fears offending the sensibilities of current power coalitions that can humiliate, bankrupt or imprison offenders. Character and integrity mean compliance with the perpetually changing demands of political correctness. But it’s an impossible task, leading to endless conflict. Deft secular utopians are never wrong; their views merely “evolve.”

The Godless utopian outlook is narrow and eccentric. It claims to embrace reason and science. But the door is opened to an array of modern superstitions fueled by special interests. An unborn baby, for example, is not a person until it is born. This view is not scientific. It is delusional and is sustained by manipulating the meaning of words.

In a display of futility, the secular utopian tries to define his own reality. But his illusions can only be sustained when well-funded by the taxpayers. He soon learns the highest good is not his personal pleasure. There are gods, but not the gods he hoped. The elites are his gods, and they demand his servile worship to keep him well-funded and “relevant.” So a Godless utopian stands alone as a mere cog in their political machines.

Living the Godless pleasure principle is illusory. Suffering is unavoidable in this life, and all of us will die. In despair, suicide—increasingly sanctioned by governments—becomes his last desperate claim of personal divinity. The search for utopia without God has only bitter results.

Catholic utopia is based on Christian realism, the marriage of faith and reason. The struggle to live a morally upright life forms the character of individuals and families. Good character is possible for us despite injustice and persecution. We never stand alone, even when our cultural and religious institutions fail, because we stand with God. We are mere pilgrims on this earth. We know our citizenship is in heaven. The only utopia is peace of soul in union with Jesus through the sacraments.

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines.
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