Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Secular Humanism and Catechesis

by Anne Carson Daly

Description

Much has been written in recent years about secular humanism. A good case can be made that it is an atheistic, man-worshipping religion. We see it in the media and in our educational system. Do we recognize it even in the Church? Dr. Anne Carson Daly points out how it creeps into the Church and the baneful effects it has on catechesis.

Larger Work

Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Pages

11-21

Publisher & Date

Ignatius Press, February 1984

The situation of catechesis today in America is desperate. We are a nation of, to quote James Hitchcock, "religious illiterates." Whereas once most Americans had at least a passing acquaintance with the Bible, a knowledge of the ten commandments, and a general idea of the Lord's Prayer, today there are many who do not even have such minimal knowledge. Indeed, it is not unusual to meet otherwise well-rounded teenagers who are not sure what the Bible says, who have no idea what the commandments command, and who know no set prayers whatsoever. Whereas young Catholics were once masters of at least rote memorization of prayers and catechism, their modern counterparts are apt to be totally ignorant of the Scriptures, of Church history and doctrine, of devotional exercises, of prayers, of the sacraments, and of all the other bases of the Catholic faith.

Strangely enough, instead of being distressed by this deplorable state of affairs, many catechists applaud the young people's ignorance, citing it as a defense against the guilt, scrupulosity, and inhibitions supposedly elicited by a knowledge of the faith. Still more alarming is what students are actually doing in catechism classes. They are either making creative religious projects or learning what can most charitably be called anti-Catholic propaganda. In the first case, they often spend their time making collages representing the boat people, composing songs of solidarity to be sung with migrant workers during boycotts; baking authentic Passover food, and fashioning Advent wreaths. Such activities, which could serve as worthwhile supplements to the teaching of doctrine, often constitute the students' whole religious education. Worse than the artsy-craftsy projects, which are substituted for catechesis, is the supposed religious instruction which students often receive. Frequently, this so-called catechesis not only does not teach the faith, but it actually undermines it. Many catechists teach students that much of the Bible is no longer relevant, that Christ was not necessarily divine, that the miracles in the Scripture are only stories—not accurate historical accounts, that the lives of the saints are merely exaggerated tales written by pious, but foolish authors, that the sacraments are only symbolic — having no actual substance or meaning, and that personal opinion should prevail over the Church's teaching authority and her doctrines. Perhaps worst of all, are the catechists who do not even attempt to teach a smattering of Christianity, but instead spend their time deriding and upbraiding the Church for her abuse of power in the past and for her present maintenance of positions with which they do not agree. Such catechists generally deliver tirades concerning the Church's supposedly bigoted attitude toward other religions, her so-called lack of concern for social justice, her slowness to change, her refusal of modernity, and her allegedly medieval attitude toward sexuality. These teachers of catechism are far more interested in denouncing the Church's position on women priests, celibate clergy, birth control, abortion, divorce, gay rights, and euthanasia than they are in informing their pupils what she actually teaches about any of these subjects.

More often than not, religious education under such circumstances becomes a class in which the would-be Catholic is indoctrinated with a more profoundly anti-papist prejudice than he would otherwise be likely to acquire. Such a situation places us in the peculiar position of not knowing whether it is better for our children to receive a religious education or not. Many of those who have witnessed religious educations such as those described above have cause to add to their bidding prayers, "And from the well-meaning catechists deliver us, oh Lord!"

How, one might ask, have we arrived at such a drastic situation? Doubtless, there are many answers, but one of the most obvious points in the direction of secular humanism. Before discussing the disastrous effect of this philosophy on catechetics, we should first define secular humanism and describe its evolution.

Its Demise Is Contained Within

Humanism, by itself is the belief that, to quote Alexander Pope, "The proper study of Mankind is Man," (An Essay on Man: Epistle II, 11. 2). Starting at the time of the Renaissance, western man became increasingly interested in the liberal arts, which we call the humanities. Extra impetus was added to his interest by the rediscovery and translation of many of the pagan classics. Many great Christian thinkers embraced this humanism and saw it was a way of fulfilling another of Alexander Pope's dicta: This is "The first, last purpose of the human soul/…know[s] where Faith, Law, Morals, all began,/All end, in LOVE of GOD and LOVE of MAN" (An Essay on Man, Epistle IV, II. 338-30). The Christian humanists welcomed the study of man, his talents, and arts within the context of Christian theology, believing that Christian humanism offered a unique opportunity to study the fullness of man's God-given potentiality.

Very quickly, however, many intellectuals grew more and more fascinated with man and the liberal arts than with their Christian context. With the increasing political and economic importance of Western Europe, came a greater self-confidence and a decreased interest in the divine. With the advent of the so-called Enlightenment, science, industry, and mechanical inventions became the new gods. To many in the eighteenth century, man himself seemed invincible; indeed, many eighteenth-century Christians were actually Pelagians—believing that man could and did work out his own salvation as a result of his own reason, faith, and intellect—without divine aid.

The resounding success of science brought with it a belief in the scientific way of looking at the world. Since science only accepted as real what could be proved empirically by sight, smell, touch, sound, or taste, many people rejected religion and its doctrines as unreal or untrue. When in the nineteenth century the findings of science conflicted with many of the statements in the Bible, those who adopted a scientific approach felt that the Bible and Christianity in general were quite simply wrong. Starting in the nineteenth century and continuing up to the present time, humanism has enshrined man as a god, progress as religion, and economics, politics, and psychology as the doctrinal creeds of the Western world.

In our own century, the veil has been rudely ripped away from secular humanism and it no longer masquerades as a liberal kind of Christianity as it did among the more genteel Victorians. Indeed, in 1933, The American Humanist Association issued a Humanist Manifesto with thirty-four signees, among whom was the famous educator John Dewey. The Manifesto describes humanism as "religious," but utterly rejects the idea that religion has anything to do with doctrines which, according to the humanists, "have lost their significance and which are powerless to solve the problem of living in the Twentieth Century." Two points concerning the Manifesto are immediately obvious: first, that secular humanism intends itself to be a religion; and, second, that it intends to deny this title to any other traditional or competing set of beliefs. In addition, in asserting that traditional doctrines are "powerless to solve the problem of living in the Twentieth Century," the Manifesto implies that only what solves problems is admissible as a credal belief and that only what is specifically tailored to the modern, particularly twentieth-century situation, is worthwhile. These last two points are particularly wrong-headed. In implicitly assuming that anything that involves suffering or problems is objectionable, the Manifesto actually tries to deprive man of some of the very obstacles that impel him to greater deeds and to develop finer character—thereby reflecting glory on men — even from a solely humanist perspective. In making its criterion for applicability, the ability to solve the woes of the twentieth century, the Manifesto inadvertently signs its own death warrant, because, if secular humanism tailors its program to our age, that insures that it will be obsolete for any other.

Beyond these particular absurdities, the Humanist Manifesto dictates the following beliefs:

1) Even for religious humanists, the universe was not created but simply is self-existing;

2) As a result of the nature of the universe demonstrated by science, any belief in supernatural bases for human values is unfounded;

3) Humanism believes that the "complete realization of the human personality" is the proper end of man's life. All progress or personal development must occur, insofar as it occurs at all, in the here and now.

4) Traditional religious notions are now passe; the humanist finds his highest goal in his own intense sense of personal life and in cooperating with others to promote social well-being.

The final belief is:

5) That man is at last becoming aware that he alone is responsible for the fulfillment of his dreams and that he himself has the power to achieve them.

Although the first Humanist Manifesto did not actually deny belief in God, it suggests that he is, at best, irrelevant.

By 1977, when the second Humanist Manifesto was issued, traditional religion took even more of a beating. This document was signed by such people as the historian Sidney Hook; the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov; the famous scientist Crick; the well-known Soviet Dissident Andrei Sakharov; Betty Friedan, the founder of the National Organization of Women; Allen F. Guttmacher, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and the behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner. This document asserted that:

1) Traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human need or experience do a disservice to the human species.

2) We can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.

3) We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction. In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized.

The second Humanist Manifesto makes it very clear that traditional religion hurts man, but it never occurs to the secular humanist that religions may actually perform a service for man in giving him something to value above and beyond his own limited physical needs and experience; moreover, secular humanism fails to show that man has not demonstrated a need for religion. Despite the well-documented historical evidence that man seems to need religion, rituals, and revelation, secular humanism denies this need, asserting that man is responsible for his own secular salvation. In rejecting any absolute values or theological principles, secular humanism clears the way for its own undisputed authority. In dictating that all ethical questions be decided on a personal, experiential, and circumstantial basis, it essentially makes the individual his own god and gives him the right to formulate his own ethical system. In matters of sexuality, the secular humanist is convinced that religion exerts an unhealthy influence over believers. As corrective measure, he advocates that birth control, abortion, and divorce be bestowed as rights. The secular humanist does not explain, however, how he will protect man from the pain that these so-called "rights" can and do cause.

Now that we have rehearsed the main beliefs of the secular humanists, we might well ask why, if almost no one ever sees these documents, hears about them, or reads them, they have had such an effect on society. The answer seems to be that secular humanism appeals to the most educated segment of the society and to those in strategic locations for disseminating these views. For example, those in academia and in the prestige media are almost always prejudiced in the direction of secular humanism. As the new Lichter-Rothman study of television's elite indicated, "the 104 network vice-presidents, writers, producers, executive producers, and presidents of independent production companies have" political beliefs [that] are more liberal than those of the average American. Although 93 percent of the television elite had a religious upbringing, more than half of those now claim no religious affiliation. More disturbing is the statistic that 97 percent are pro-abortion and 96 percent seldom or never attend religious services. These statistics are especially peculiar when we compare them with the findings of a recent Gallup poll, which discovered that 81 percent of the population considers itself Christian, and 78 percent considers Christ divine in one way or another. It is clear, despite the fact that the secular humanists are not in the majority in America, they are disproportionately prominent in the intellectual elite and in the prestige media--making it difficult for the person with traditional religious beliefs to espouse them in any of the public forums. Another deterrent to the traditionalist's defense of his principles is the fact that the secular humanists have been so successful in getting the courts to strike down virtually any public talk about religion and religious principles as a violation of the separation of Church and State.

These, and many other facts create an extremely inauspicious environment for traditional religious beliefs and a very fertile climate for the spread of secular humanism. There are several other factors, which enhance the attractiveness of secular humanism—especially for the young, the impressionable and the ignorant—in other words, for the chief candidates for catechesis.

Selfishness Is Enshrined

First of all, secular humanism appeals to the oldest vice in the world—the human desire to be, as Satan so cleverly put it, "as gods." If we embrace this philosophy, we are promised total freedom to make our own decisions, to form our own moral code, to violate rules concerning manners, ethics, and morals with impunity. Better still, we need feel no guilt because guilt, the secular humanists say, is merely a neurotic symptom of an antiquated ethical code. The chief attraction of secular humanism then is that it enshrines selfishness and makes it into a virtue. Indeed, the only religious obligations with which one must comply are quite enjoyable: one must indulge and fulfill oneself. Since one's chief duty is to oneself and to one's own desires and needs, one can treat others cavalierly, dispensing with whatever does not gratify one's own ego. Thus, one can think, speak, and act as one pleases, absolutely impervious to criticism and totally free from guilt. Since any kind of deprivation, sorrow, suffering or self-sacrifice is seen as bogus, one has a carte blanche to indulge in absolute hedonism. Although masked under the guise of being "open" to others, tolerant concerning other "lifestyles," and non-judgmental of others' beliefs, the secular humanists are actually extremely closed, intolerant of, and judgmental concerning any traditional religious belief whatsoever.

Inconsistency Rules

Thus, we are left in a very difficult situation in which the Supreme Court has actually called "Secular Humanism a religion qualifying young men for" the status of conscientious objector, but has (Torcase v. Watkins, 1964) refused to rule that the training most children get in public schools in secular humanism is actually religious instruction. The effect of this inconsistency is that taxpayers are actually funding the teaching of secular humanism, although most of them do not support its tenets. More disturbing still, is the fact that the taxpayer is powerless to stop paying for this because the court will not consistently define secular humanism as a religion. Under the guise of separation of Church and State, the courts are actually encouraging, and in fact, funding the teaching of secular humanism, while discriminating against traditional religions.

Nowhere has this conflict been more obvious than in the dispute over sex education. Although most public schools require a course in sexual education, they refuse to teach any so-called "values" with it, arguing that such instruction would violate the separation of Church and State. Ironically, by refusing to give any moral instructions with the courses, the instructors are actually supporting the secular humanist gospel, which seeks to eliminate any of the traditional strictures against birth control, pre-marital sex, abortion, divorce and perversions.

It is not surprising when secular humanism is rampant in the newspapers, on the radio, on television, in literature, and in public classrooms, that catechism classes should have been invaded as well. What is disturbing, however, is that most of those who are teaching the secular humanist gospel do not realize that it is not that of the Church. In fact, many of these would-be do-gooders think that they are actually advancing the cause of Christianity by preaching secular humanism.

The Secular Catechist Responds …

I would like briefly to sketch out how catechesis via secular humanism works and then suggest some possible corrective measures against it.

First of all, the secular humanist performs an operation in which the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is transformed into that of each individual in the classroom. The God of the Bible disappears and most biblical history with it. When history is included, it is derided and ridiculed in order to show modern superiority to the past and to point out that the rules made by such an ignorant, benighted people could not possibly pertain to contemporary man. The next step is to pervert the idea that God loves us to mean that he wants us to do whatever we want and that whatever feels good is therefore a divine mandate.

The secular humanist then points out that if God wants us to be happy, we owe it to ourselves and to others to change whatever makes us unhappy. This means that we should try to eliminate anything that stands in the way of our self-gratification and that we should deny ourselves nothing. Using "compassion" as a code word, secular humanists of this stripe argue for women priests, married clergy, artificial birth control, abortion, gay marriages, divorce, genetic engineering and euthanasia. Anything that would make life less convenient or that might call for personal sacrifice poses a threat, which must be eliminated.

Since the catechist who is really a secular humanist in sheep's clothing really believes that this world is the only one that there is, he believes that religious movements consist mainly of social reform. He does not preach individual reform via prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and reparation for one's sins but governmental legislation and funding to correct all ills. His demons are not sin and personal vice but capitalism, corporate America, the military establishment, and the traditional moralists.

How would the catechist who has been influenced by secular humanism respond to Cardinal Ratzinger's recent suggestions concerning catechesis? According to the Cardinal, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the four bases of catechesis are the Apostles' Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments and the Our Father.

Of the Creed, the catechist who has been affected by secular humanism, would say that no one can rigidly tell anyone else what to believe. Moreover, for him, man is the creator; Jesus is divine only insofar as all men are divine; the Holy Ghost is a figment of the human imagination; Mary's virginity is a legend. He would probably consider Pontius Pilate and the crucifixion historical, but would suspect that they too may have been co-opted into the tale of the Christian fanatics about a risen Christ. The Resurrection, of course, the harrowing of Hell, the Ascension are all regarded as the most fantastic of fairy tales. The judgment is an intolerable concept to these most tolerant and open of all people because they cannot tolerate its explicitly judgmental aspect; the Holy Catholic Church, they see, as the ogress of history regularly staging trials for heresy and burnings for schismatics. The secularists necessarily reject the forgiveness of sins because they do not believe in sin; abjure the resurrection of the body because they do not believe in the immortality of the soul (or the soul for that matter); and reject life everlasting unless that would mean suspended animation.

There Is No Supernatural

The catechist under secular humanist influence is apt to fall into the same dismal kinds of error with regard to the sacraments. Baptism becomes an embarrassment because how can one be cleansed of Original Sin, which can only be said to be a primeval boogieman? Moreover, how can there by any sin or any imperfection involved in being man —the glory and pride of the universe? Necessarily, Baptism has to be regarded as a quaint, but ridiculous holdover from the days when people believed in demonic possession and other such old-fashioned inanity. Confession, even when dressed up and called reconciliation, is also an acute embarrassment to the forward-thinking catechist. How can man have to be forgiven when he does not commit sins; besides even if he committed them, how can we blame him when these only grow out of his socio-economic outlook and the psychological circumstances of his childhood? Furthermore, if man makes mistakes on his way to self-fulfillment, he should not have to abase himself by apologizing to God or to anyone else. Indeed, the universe should apologize to him.

Nowhere has the secular humanist influence been more baneful than on the catechesis of the Eucharist. The secular humanists have simply redefined the meaning of the sacrament totally. They ignore its historical institution, its sacrificial aspect, and the supernatural grace, which derives from it. Most of all, they steer clear of the idea of transubstantiation and of any "unnatural," "peculiar" idea that the bread and wine might actually be the Body and Blood of Christ. Instead, they emphasize the Last Supper as a meal rich in ethnic, cultural and human values; they insist that any kind of communion among men is roughly equivalent to the sacrifice of the Eucharist. Consequently, they are cavalier in embroidering the rubric of the consecration, in substituting home-baked bread for the hosts, and even in introducing invalid sacramental matter like Pop Tarts and Kool-Aid in order to make the liturgy more "relevant."

Confirmation has fared so badly among catechists of a secular humanist persuasion that it has virtually disappeared from the consciousness of the faithful. It is unthinkable to almost everyone that someone confirmed in his faith is actually supposed to be willing to die for it. Sir Thomas More's statement that "I die the King's good servant, but God's first" has distinctly gone out of style. At best, it is seen as a chivalrous gesture much like Sir Walter Raleigh's laying down his cape for Queen Elizabeth to walk over—colorful, but kind of dotty.

The Dying Pose A Threat

The typically benighted catechist who is afflicted with secularist principles is prevented from misinterpreting the actual sacrament of Holy Orders because he is distracted by too many other peripheral questions and hence, never actually gets to deal with the idea of priesthood itself. As we all know, the sacrament of Holy Orders is irrelevant; what really counts is the hegemony of men in the Church, why women are not allowed to be priests, why priests are not allowed to marry, and why the laity are not given all the priestly privileges. Priesthood and its nature are absolutely shunted aside as the misguided catechist mulls over why priests are not lay and the lay are not priests; why women are not men and men not women; why one is not usually celibate and married simultaneously—in other words, why the principle of noncontradiction should get in our way when we want what we want. Curiously enough, the same people who consider the Blessed Mother's status as virgin and mother an affront to their intellects, find it utterly rational that there should be female priests, priestly lay people, lay priests, and married celibates.

Of marriage, we can say that the secular humanist catechist believes that it is not a sacrament. He thinks that it is unreasonable to chain two people together for life; he feels that divorce is a right and even hints, a necessity. Besides, living at such close quarters with another human being is sure to infringe on one's rights, privileges and "need" for self-fulfillment.

Extreme Unction, now re-christened the sacrament of the sick and dying, is more or less dismissed by the catechist of the secular humanist persuasion because death by its very nature is terrifying to the secularist. Besides, the dying pose a threat to his belief that men are little gods in and of themselves. The party-line on such foolishness would probably be that if, in the interest of compassion, some weak, old people choose to derive comfort from religious fables and antiquated rites like anointing, that there is no harm in it, but it is nonetheless an embarrassment that a rational creature should sink so low.

What Is The Great Corrective?

The true secular humanist does not believe in the Ten Commandments of course, and the catechist is likely to follow suit with a few reservations. The first point he would want to make is that these are old rules and therefore not modern, Jewish and therefore not American, patriarchal and therefore not universal. In other words, these rules do not apply to us. The prohibition against false gods goes against the spirit of secular modernism — since really one has one false god—oneself, but also many subsidiary deities which one worships—like liberal politics, etc.

The prohibition against blasphemy is meaningless for the secular humanist, and most catechists are so worried about stepping on students' toes that they would not dream of telling them blasphemy, profanity, disrespectful language, and obscene speech are off-limits for the Christian.

The old-fashioned Catholic notion that missing Mass is a mortal sin—even when attending Mass means missing the Superbowl—is incomprehensible to virtually everyone. Obedience to parents is not to be expected because of the natural conflict of interests. Murder is still considered to be taboo unless, of course, the victim is an unborn baby, genetically defective, disabled, or in extreme pain.

The Sixth Commandment cannot help being an embarrassment to the catechist who has been influenced by secular humanism. He cannot help feeling that the Church's prohibition of fornication and adultery are really holdovers from ancient Judaic days before birth control and abortion. Even those who would be willing to condemn premarital and extra-marital sex, find it hard to argue against vulgar or suggestive language, dirty jokes, obscene magazines, salacious movies, immodest dress and impure thoughts.

Theft is not considered serious at all unless, of course, it is the secular humanist's tape deck, which disappears. Indeed, they usually justify it on the basis of socio-economic deprivation or adolescent frustration. The argument essentially asserts that everyone has a right to everything and if he cannot earn it, then he should appropriate it. This point of view is particularly prevalent at all levels. On a global level, this idea encourages a system in which underdeveloped countries borrow millions with no intention of ever repaying these loans, while on a federal level, college students default on their student loans feeling that the government owes them an education.

There is a general feeling among secular humanists that lying and deceit are wrong, but only for certain groups. It is wrong, for example, for Catholics to "lie" and to say that having abortions hurts women's bodies and minds, whereas it is fine for secular humanists to lie and say that abortions usually have no physical or mental effects on those who have them. The secular catechist is apt to countenance selective lying along the following lines: if the hierarchy says it, it is deceitful; if the poor or discriminated against say it, it is true; if men tell it to women, it is a lie; if women tell it to men, it is true, etc.

Coveting one's neighbor's wife and goods is certainly not a bad thing in the secular catechist's books. As far as he is concerned, sins of the mind don't count at all—except insofar as they frustrate the thinker. Then it is the society, which frustrates the coveter that is to blame. If anyone were to argue that coveting is a sin, the secularist catechist would reply that jealousy and envy are natural, normal human impulses and he would probably suggest that to eliminate them would be to diminish man's humanity.

The treatment accorded the Lord's Prayer at the hands of the catechists influenced by secular humanism is much the same as that accorded the commandments and the sacraments.

The important question, which faces us is what can be done to correct this disgraceful state of affairs? One obvious answer is to teach what Cardinal Ratzinger advocates: the Apostles' Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, and the Our Father. Another answer is that we can point out to catechists who espouse the secular humanist gospel that man's whole dignity is derived from his position as a child of God and from his medial position in creation — below the angels but above the beasts. If we redefine the human condition so that man is only above the beasts, we have lost immeasurably in depriving him of his rightful position directly under the angels.

We also need to emphasize doggedly that Christ promises self-fulfillment, but with two very important conditions. The first is that one put God and one's neighbor first, and the other is that one be willing to suffer—even as Paul says in Philippians, to suffer death on a cross — in following Christ.

Another point that we need to repeat loudly to the power-hungry economico-politico-socio-psycho-biologically-conditioned secular catechists is that he who would be master must be servant. The twin keys to the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven are charity and humility. Both necessitate our positioning ourselves near the door of the synagogue, beating our breast and proclaiming "Lord, I am a sinful man," not running to the front, levelling a quelling gaze at the Deity and informing him "Thank you, God, that I am not like other men."

Finally, the great corrective to secular humanist catechesis lies in an absolute adherence to what the Church teaches about the Eucharist. We must believe, and believe with all our hearts, that the ultimate reality in this world is the Blessed Sacrament. We must believe that God actually comes to us in the Host and that his grace dwells within and transfigures us. We must remember that, as C. S. Lewis says:

Our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feelings for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ…the glorifier and the glorified. Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

We should notice that Lewis says that next to the Blessed Sacrament our neighbor is the most blessed object with which we can come into contact. We should also notice that all the holiness and dignity of our neighbor derives from the fact that he is made in the image and likeness of God —by himself man has no glory. In confronting the false catechetical teaching on the Eucharist, we could do no better than to follow J. R. R. Tolkien's injunction to his son Michael, "Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament… There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that."

Indeed, we must cling to the Blessed Sacrament and to the ultimate mystery, which it figures forth. We must realize against all the unkindnesses of life, the crimes, the sordidness, the betrayals, and the superciliousness of the secular humanists that man was meant to be divine, but it is a divinity that he can grasp only if he is willing to humble himself. Like the woman in the Gospels who had hemorrhaged for years—only if we are willing to grasp the hem of Christ's garment, will we be cured and transformed to be like him. Indeed, the secular humanists are right, men will be gods, but not as they have thought. We will one day be divine, not because of our bodies or minds, or souls, but because of the infinite gift of our brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly as Saint Irenaeus said, "If God became man, it was so that men could become gods." This is our nature; this is our destiny; this is the deepest longing of our hearts and it is one against which not all the humanists, or false catechists of history can prevail.

© The Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Ignatius Press, 2515 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94118, 1-800-651-1531.

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