“No way! The Catholic Church? You gotta be kiddin’ me.”
There is a restlessness that drives people to seek relief through pleasure and distraction, but ultimately results in frustration.
It was this frustration that led a significant number of well-known and well-educated converts in this past century to cross over to Rome from atheism, agnosticism, Protestantism, and even Judaism.
As Karl Adams attests in The Spirit of Catholicism, back in the 1920’s there was considerable interest in Catholicism and a flow of converts into the church, especially in Germany and England.
But why? Why was there such an interest in the Catholic Church from the Protestant and secular world? Hadn’t the Catholic Church long since fallen from favor?
But there was another more personal reason, and a reason that is still relevant when we try to communicate the Faith to our own world.
Since the time of the reformation and Enlightenment, Christian and Catholic culture had gradually eroded among the educated classes only to be replaced by new belief systems which rejected tradition and sought to allow human beings to determine their own moral codes, free from the constraints of religion.
Man had decided that there was no longer a true place for God and wanted to be his own master, free of the obligations or responsibilities that traditional morality had imposed.
In the process, however, society had become torn from its roots and orphaned from the natural law. Disappointment and desperation set in as man lost his grounding and sense of real purpose.
Life has lost its great meaning, its vital strength and high purpose, its strong, pervading love, that can be enkindled only by the divine. Instead of the man who is rooted in the Absolute, hidden in God, strong and rich, we have the man who rests upon himself, the autonomous man.
As the culture was busy tearing apart traditions and replacing them with incomplete or toxic substitutes, a few people began to question whether something precious had been lost.
People began to see that the most comprehensive and realistic way to understand life and man’s place in the world was already part of the Catholic tradition, and only in Catholicism was it left intact and undistorted.
The history of Catholicism is the history of a bold, consistent, comprehensive affirmation of the WHOLE reality of revelation . . . It is the absolute, unconditional and comprehensive affirmation of the WHOLE FULL life of man.
Catholicism affirms that man is happiest when he is rooted in God. But it is extremely important that all of our understandings of God be taken together, and not diluted. Catholic teaching insists on the:
- WHOLE GOD (BOTH FATHER and JUDGE, creator of science but still capable of miracles)
- WHOLE CHRIST (BOTH natures, fully DIVINE and fully HUMAN)
- WHOLE PERSONALITY (capable of FEELING, but also RATIONAL)
- WHOLE MAN (Both PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL, whose life has meaning in the context of relationship with God and other humans).
This comprehensive, logical, and holistic view of both God and Man was just intriguing enough to lead a wave of converts to the Catholic church in the twentieth century.
This same truth is just as relevant today. It’s up to us to communicate it to the present culture so much in need of healing.