In my last essay, I detailed how we in the West have taken a wrong road both philosophically and historically away from the True Faith. This happened even though the witness of Scripture, the Tradition enshrined in the Magisterium (teaching authority of the Church), and the constant guidance of the great saints of our Church are still available to us and offer us real assistance in keeping us on the road of orthodoxy (right thinking theologically) in the modern world.
However, we have to see that given the great knowledge that we in the West have, as well as the scientific and technological advances that have come about in our midst, we are not the world, i.e. the world is bigger than the West. An incipient parochialism can affect us even though we have made so much progress in the technological advances. There is a big world out there! In fact, we are in the minority. A privileged minority but a minority none the less.
That mass of humanity keeps trying to break into the fortress of privilege that we have built around us and we try to stem the tide of hopelessness that keeps threatening to become an invasion of last hopes. Everyone seeks to enter the West. It has been insufficiently demonstrated by the intellectuals of our world (corrupted as they are by nihilism and the hopelessness of their atheistic foundations) that the bases of the advantages of the West are the Medieval Universities and the learning thereof that were founded by the Church and peopled with Christian believers. The West is a direct product of the Christian faith.
From these centers the great missionary work of the Christian Churches spread the faith to every continent and every country, however poor. It has met with much persecutions from other Religious adherents and also from the Godless movements like Marxism which also began by a misunderstanding of the Judeo-Christian Revelation. Amazingly, Christianity is abounding in these places.
I remember talking with a priest who was from one of these ‘developing’ countries. He had worked in our Diocese for a few years and then after getting a degree from one of our universities went back to minister in his home country.
He returned to the United States for a visit. In conversation I asked him how things were going with his parish in Africa. He said that they had a wonderful Holy Week and that the Easter Vigil was very long. I asked him why. He said that they had many adult converts. I asked him the number. He said 950. Thinking he misunderstood my question, I clarified that I was not interested in the number that were converted in the Diocese but just in his parish. He smiled and said that he did not misunderstand the question. There were 950 adult converts in his parish alone! The same was true for the many other parishes in his Diocese.
So, when we try to assess what is happening in the Church today, we must have a global perspective. Things are not going so well here in the Northeast but in other parts of the country and the rest of the Catholic world, great things are happening. This is the perspective that our Holy Father Francis has. Every five years each diocese sends their bishops to the Pope for their ‘ad limina’ (meaning to the doorstep of the Pope) visits. So, the Pope gets firsthand reporting of what is happening on the ground all over the world.
Often, we might say: Why doesn’t the Pope do such and such. But we have to always admit that we see things only from our own limited perspective.
Once we understand the complexity of what is happening in the Church all over the world, we must also elevate our thinking to try to imagine (since this cannot be demonstrated) what it is that God sees in the Church. For He sees into the heart of each person. He knows the personal history of every person who exists and has named, as it were, every molecule of everyone. His piercing glance into each person reveals what is really going on. So, in simultaneous fashion, seeing the minute reality of what is happening in every being walking the earth, including every baptized member of the Church, only God knows the true state of the world and its future direction.
So, in judging what is going on in the Church, we must confess the dire poverty of our knowledge. Making an act of humility we need to mind what is happening in our own heart and leave the rest to Almighty God.
Every nation, including our own, thinks that it is the center of what is going on. But it is not. Only the Holy Spirit of God plumbs the depths of reality and the individual destinies of the 6 billion persons made in the image of God that walk the earth at this moment of time.