Unfortunately, in recent times the drift from God and from the spiritual and supernatural view of life has seriously weakened this country. It is true that a rise in church membership has been reported during the past few years, but in the light of other evidence, one is forced to question how significant such mere statistics may be. One looks in vain for any corresponding increase of religion's beneficial influence upon the nation's life. Indeed, the trend in public and private morality has been downward; there is an alarming disregard in practice for God's teaching and for God's law.
Is there any need to instance the growing evils in family life, the lustful self-indulgence which leads from birth prevention and divorce, from broken homes to the broken lives of youthful delinquents? Need we adduce in evidence the appalling circulation of indecent literature, and the low moral level of so much of the public entertainment in these days?...At its best, our civilization was the fine flowering of the Christian Faith. Now that the West has fallen from its former greatness, let us recognize that it is because so many have fallen away from the Faith, or have denatured it by dilution and compromise.
We have fallen down before idols of flesh and of gold. It is not the True Faith which has failed us; it is we who have failed the Faith. A weak and vacillating Christianity, a partial, truncated Christianity, paying lip service to God and to the Spirit, but devoted in practice to man and matter, can never triumph in the battle with total, determined materialism.
— extracts from the 1954 Annual Statement of the Bishops of the United States.
While looking for something else, I came across this long-forgotten pamphlet, entitled Victory... Our Faith... 'The Battle Is Joined'... Enemy is Atheistic Materialism. The American bishops of sixty years ago had not yet been emasculated and completely befuddled by nonsense (one wishes they had not wasted so much time abroad in the years then still to come); they recognized the profound danger to souls of what is diametrically opposed to our Holy Faith: "...atheistic materialism,... Godless humanism... is [if not denial, then ignorance] of God... and His law... an excessive preoccupation with creatures... [which] reveals itself as secularism in politics and government, as avarice in business and in the professions, and as paganism in the personal lives and relations of all too many men and women."
They reëcho the words of the Didache about the Two Ways, that most ancient form of Christian catechesis:
The way of matter and of the flesh is the way of death; the way of God and of the spirit is the way of life. If we would have life, we must renew and reaffirm our Faith in God and in His Christ; we must cling again to that Christian moral code...
... In the sign of the Cross, Christ conquers the paganism which had enslaved mankind... Jesus Christ restored meaning and purpose and love to human life; He warmed and illumined our life where before it had been cold and dark. He rescued man from the wild wandering and the black despair of the atheistic materialism of that day. In this day of the new paganism, we Christians can again triumph in the sign of the same Cross of Christ.
Christ is the Prophet and the Teacher, in Whose doctrines are the truths which inspire and satisfy... Christ is the Priest, the Mediator. His is the great Atonement. By His Sacrifice, we are redeemed from our sins. ... And Christ is King, the Lord... He is the Lawgiver, laying down the code of conduct that binds the consciences of men. He is the Judge, merciful and just, Who rewards the good and punishes the evil. He is the Ruler... From Him alone do earthly magistrates receive their power of governance. ... Worship and obedience, order and discipline... - these He exacts... but in return He gives... His Father's love and His Father's home, rich largess of grace and abiding peace of soul. ...
This is why we repeat without ceasing that God and His Christ afford the answer to all our problems, and provide the solution to all our difficulties. Those who have never known the Christian religion, or who have not known it in its fulness as taught by the Catholic Church [even within the Church*], should turn to it now, and examine its credentials. It is the answer to their quest.
*If only we taught the Faith, not presented a weak, pathetic travesty of it that acts only as a vaccine against belief. If only the Church here were not so smug and unconcerned about its failures over the past two generations to pass on the Faith, pretending that all shall be well, while matters have reached the point at which the real teachings of the Church appear strange and even alien to ill-instructed Catholics. I must repeat those terrible words of self-accusation that the American bishops uttered sixty-odd years ago:
It is not the True Faith which has failed us; it is we who have failed the Faith. A weak and vacillating Christianity, a partial, truncated Christianity, paying lip service to God and to the Spirit, but devoted in practice to man and matter [i.e. obsessed with prating of social justice, while knowing too little of either to avoid falling into simplistic, materialist traps], can never triumph in the battle with total, determined materialism.
Alas, this is all too accurate a picture of the Australian Church today, which is far further down that road of indifferentism and practical apostasy, fallen asleep without even realizing it, afflicted with sloth and accidie, that revulsion at holy things which is the special curse of those who grow bored and impatient with their religion. So often the Church here brings to mind that horrifying sentence of Our Lord passed on Laodicea, one of the complacent churches of Asia Minor back in the days of the writing of the Apocalypse: I would you were either hot or cold; but since you are so tepid and lukewarm – I will vomit you out of My mouth. (Rev. iii. 15-16) Lord, have mercy!
Domine, salva nos, perimus.
Credo, Domine, adjuva incredulitatem meam.
Domine, adauge nobis fidem.
Lord, save us, we are perishing.
I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.
Lord, increase our faith.