Pope Francis, in his much publicized and popular visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day this summer, said the Church needs to go out into the streets and “make a mess.”
Isn’t post modern society already in a “mess”?
I think yes and no. On the yes end, our world is obviously in pretty bad shape philosophically and practically. Values- and I mean the kind that hearken to and are accountable to a full natural law perspective, have been turned on their head. Life itself is under assault and subject to the worse scrutiny ever. The most helpless among us- an embryo and a very elderly person, are given relative worth. If they are wanted they are valuable. We want real people who make us happy and who affect society in productive ways on our terms. And oh by the way, do not demand sacrifice. The culture evolves around subjective, dehumanizing practicalities and productive outcomes- pragmatism.
In the encyclical Light of Faith, Pope Francis says, “Nietzsche… [As in his Genealogy of Morals]… developed a critique of Christianity which diminish[ed] the full meaning of human existence and stripp[ed] life of novelty and adventure. Faith would thus be the illusion of light, an illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.” In our post modern society, the Faith that was once delivered to the saints is now an enemy to human enlightenment, an obstacle to man’s vision for a genuine understanding of Truth and the meaning of life. Pope Francis describes this as “massive amnesia in our contemporary world.”
On the no end, I think we do already have a mess but it needs to be purified and ratcheted up. Due to faith now residing in the closet, we have perhaps not seen a real mess, for when faith comes fully out there will be real hell to pay, excuse my language. Talk about persecutions, banishments, prejudice, violations of conscience and the like. Of course we have already- mandates against religious freedom forced by the government, prayers prohibited in public school, being removed from the bench for posting the Ten Commandments in a courtroom, fired for talking about Jesus at work, ousted for singing Christmas carols in a post office. Illegal nativity scenes. Pressure to say Happy Holidays. Pressure to accept unnatural unions, and on and on. Simply for daring to walk to your car dressed up on a Sunday morning can bring unkind, judgmental stares. It’s like people of faith live on another planet. In a way, we do.
The solution? Make a mess. Our world should look and feel like God’s planet. Turn up the heat. Leap. Take even more faith risks in the public square. Look squarely in the eye, step in and get dirty in the world’s hopeless, Faithless air. Our neighbor is starving and suffocating. Make a world where “Faith is thus shown to be universal, catholic, because its light expands in order to illumine the entire cosmos and all of history.” The teleos, or end, is a palpable sense of the love for God and neighbor in the world’s air. Talk about making a blessed mess.