Combating Islam and Secularism

The Catholic Church faces two formidable challenges today, from Islam and from secularism. The responses needed to these two are not unrelated.

The adherents to Islam are intensely dedicated to Mohammed, and to the book he claims to have received from God, the Quoran. Yet, several books have recently been published abut Moslems who have become Christians—Evangelicals and even Catholics: From Islam to Christ, by Derya Little; Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi; The Price to Pay, by Joseph Fadelle; and Hiding in the Light, by Rifqa Bary. All four of these, written by people from Moslem societies in different countries (Turkey, Iraq, United States and Sri Lanka), give similar pictures of the people in the societies in which they grew up.

All four report intense dedication to Mohamed and the Quoran, yet Qureshi (in another book, Answering Jihad) is insistent that very few Moslems are given to Jihadism, and we should make a careful distinction between these, and not treat peace-loving Moslems differently from other American citizens. Yet, the fanatical Moslems refuse to allow the peaceful ones to remain that way; they insist that all become jihadists, and they point to verses in the Quoran that say that Allah requires this from all Moslems.

From all four books, we detect certain elements in common:

  • The intense loyalty to Mohammed; all Moslems praise him and seek to imitate him;
  • This is not due to intellectual conviction, but rather to the pressure of a society in which they have been raised from birth, and which enters into every aspect of their lives and, gives meaning to their lives;
  • Becoming a Moslem is a simple matter of saying a short formula of words, acknowledging Allah and Mohammed, while one has internal acceptance of their meaning;
  • Their most conspicuous actions are praying five times a day, and fasting during daylight hours during the sacred lunar month of Ramadan;
  • The daily activities of Moslems are regulated by a legal code known as Sharia, some provisions of which disallow freedom of speech, allow male domination of women, and authorize amputation of limbs, whipping, or stoning, as punishment for some offenses;
  • The level of seriousness in applying these rules depends on the interpretation by the local imam (a prayer leader at the mosque) who can vary considerably by country, and for city versus rural;
  • In Iraq, a Moslem who was convinced of Catholic truth, and sought baptism, was rejected by the Church because of fear that he might be an agent sent to deceive them, and an entire congregation would face arrest;
  • Although a large percentage of Moslems claim to favor Sharia law, Qureshi states (Answering Jihad) that when they consider individual provisions, many of them change their minds;
  • Moslems fear to examine the sayings of the Quoran that forbid any questioning, since death is the penalty for violating this precept;
  • Members of one’s own family would not hesitate to be the executioners;
  • The words of the Quoran are simply taken at face value, and not considered in their implications;
  • Very few Moslems make an examination of the Quoran, and compare it with other writings, but very often those who do, become followers of Jesus Christ rather than Mohammed;
  • They do not consider any other religion unless they first come to see Mohammed as a man who lived an immoral life, who was cruel and self-serving, not at all worthy of imitation;
  • Women, especially, are repelled when they discover his attitude toward, and treatment of, women;
  • Moslems will not examine the Quoran, and compare it with the New Testament gospels unless they are led there by some dedicated Christian, who may even take enormous risk in leading them to this.

That last statement is what leads us to a consideration of the other threat to Catholicism, which is secularism; there are simply very few Catholics who have a dedication to Jesus Christ that matches the dedication that Moslems have to Mohammed. Yet, of the two challenges to Catholics today, secularism is the more dangerous. Secularism is leading us to ignore Christ and His Church, and we have an obligation to make these uppermost in our lives, regardless of whether there is an external threat like Islam.

The effort must have a strong emphasis on young people, since they are the ones most willing to respond to a challenge. First, it is necessary to gain their attention, then to win their allegiance in the face of attractions to entertainment, and to sex, pervasive in the surrounding culture, then to transform thinking into action which will solidify these gains. It will have to be accomplished by the example of those already dedicated, and carried out in the parish, the school and, especially, in the family. Young people will need a motive, a leader, and recommended actions, and the Catholic Church has all of these.

Action must come early in the process because that’s what’s needed in order to gain attention, something that arouses notice, and that people can then do themselves. In this case, the first required action is attendance at Sunday Mass. Parents must, themselves, return to Mass, and bring their children with them. Besides being the perfect form of worship of God the Father, it is also the action which brings to us the Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ to strengthen our spiritual life. Scott Hahn’s book, The Lamb’s Supper, can help communicate an understanding of what the Mass truly is, and the meaning of the words and actions during Mass.

The homilies delivered at the Mass must communicate the motivations—reverence for Jesus Christ as Son of God; the purpose of our life; and the realization that Mass is the re-presentation of Christ’s voluntary sacrifice on the cross, that won for us the opportunity for salvation. Homilies must also communicate our responsibility for evangelizing others, and inspire us to work and pray for our own salvation, and for the conversion of others. And they must make very clear that God is offended by our sins, and what actions are actually sinful, including the ones that secularism attracts us to, such as contraception, which has led our culture to accept same-sex marriage and transgenderism.

Our main objective here must be that of promoting the person Jesus Christ as truly the Son of God. We have the evidence—His claims to be God; the proof provided by His miracles; the testimony of His chosen witnesses, the Apostles; and the copies we have today of their writings from a few decades after Christ’s death. Modern miracles at Lourdes and Fatima are strong confirmation of God’s approval of this.

Especially, we must call attention to the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. It was a huge surprise to the world of the first century, and is just as much of a surprise to the secularist world of today. But, again the evidence is there—the consistent teaching of the twelve men who had seen Him alive after His resurrection, and their proclamation of this in the face of persecution, torture, and death. Add to this the negative items of evidence—the empty tomb; the failure of Christ’s opponents to find His body; the obviously false statement that the Apostles stole the body while the guards were asleep; the charge that the Apostles were gullible, when in actuality they were reluctant to believe; the claim that a myth had developed about Christ, although myths take much longer to develop than the seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost.

All of this can convey a strong sense of Christ’s power, leading to faith in Him as God. But it is also necessary to communicate a sense of His goodness, the fact that He cares about us. The evidence for this is twofold—the fact that the majority of His miracles were for healing the sick and the disabled; and His voluntarily suffering a torturous death to gain salvation for all members of the human race. The essence of that salvation is eternal happiness, in itself a very strong motivation for courage and right action on our part.

Faith in Christ must be strengthened by daily communication with Him, actually conversing with Him in a two-way conversation, which is prayer, and this is the second of three actions that must be taken. It is helpful to follow the suggestions in Romano Guardini’s book, The Art of Praying, which presents practical methods of prayer, so that we may develop a facility in how to converse with Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

All this should prompt us to the third action, which is to make necessary, and even some voluntary, sacrifices to gain eternal life for ourselves, and to show gratitude to Christ for giving us that opportunity. An important element of that sacrifice can be fasting from the amount of food we eat, or the types of food we eat. Young people want a challenge, The Church gave up the forty-day Lenten fast in the middle of the twentieth century, and it would be difficult to return to that immediately. But we could introduce a lesser schedule of fasting by bringing back the ember days, three days of fast and abstinence—Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the same week—four times a year—during Advent, during Lent, following Pentecost, and near the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September fifteenth. And we should also reintroduce and make mandatory Friday abstinence.

A regular practice of fasting would certainly strengthen the character, the resolve, of all Catholics who participate. It would give each of us a sense of standing out, of solidarity, of willingness to be recognized as Catholics, and convey to the world around us an awareness of Catholic dedication. It would do this by making use of an action that one cannot avoid—the act of eating several times a day.

Such actions require explicit motivation which should be centered on Jesus Christ, the God of power and of goodness, whose willingness to suffer in order to redeem us, should be presented in such a way as to arouse a generous response from us, to strive earnestly to achieve the salvation He wants to give us, to make sacrifices that can be associated with His, and to lead other people to make the same response.

Centering our motivation on Jesus Christ, requires getting to know Him better, which one can do by studying His life as proclaimed in the four gospels, thinking carefully just how each incident has an application for us in our own lives. We can talk with Him about what He wants us to do, and this two-way communication is the essence of prayer, which we should do several times a day, morning and evening, and as we move from one task to another. Praying the rosary, thinking about the incidents mentioned in each mystery, and the motives of the people acting there, is also an assist to understanding the life of Christ. While we need to concentrate on the life of Christ presented in the four gospels, we should also become familiar with the Old Testament, starting with the historical books, so that one might gain an appreciation of how Christ’s coming is the long-awaited fulfillment of a divine promise that was slowly revealed. A helpful work is Every Catholic’s Guide to the Sacred Scriptures, from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Growth in understanding Christ,, and His teaching can be advanced by training in apologetics, which present the reasons behind Catholic teaching. Patrick Madrid has written several books that can be helpful for this, including How to Do Apologetics. A recent book by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., Saved—A Bible Study Guide for Catholics, takes an apologetics approach to Bible study, mostly from the gospels and epistles, but with some Old Testament indicators.

Prayer and apologetics can work together to develop the motivation for our own spiritual life, and to give us the reasons we need to present the Faith to others.

All of this should be augmented by encouragement to become familiar with the lives of saints and of our contemporaries who make sacrifices to follow Christ, to follow through on this by watching EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) and by listening to Catholic radio.

Of the three initial action items—frequent and regular participation in the Mass, prayer and fasting—two are practices also observed by Moslems, and both of these were very likely adopted by Mohammed from Catholics and Jews in seventh-century Arabia. The Mass, of course, is uniquely Catholic, and it is the highest form of prayer to God the Father.

This entire program is directed at awakening an enthusiasm for Christ, and His Church, that will motivate everyday Catholics to bring the Faith to others, including Moslems. More importantly, it can inspire us to grow in our own spiritual life as the means to our salvation. This return-to-basics approach to Catholic living is needed to help us stand firm against Islam when it tries to force others to accept it and to join it, while also regaining our culture from the inroads of secularism that has deceived us into living the secularist way of life, while thinking erroneously that it is really Catholic.

Don Murray About Don Murray

After earning a degree in English literature at Fordham University, Mr. Don Murray served as a photo interpreter with the U.S. Air Force, and as a part-time reporter and editor for a Catholic club newspaper. His major career occupation consisted of providing the technical assistance for IBM's computer marketing. For the past dozen years, he has been a speaker with the Catholic Evidence Guild in New York, giving street talks, leading classes in apologetics, writing apologetic tracts, magazine articles and letters to newspaper editors regarding Catholic issues. His voice has been heard on Radio Maria, Answers Radio and the Sirius radio channel of the New York Archdiocese. He lives in Manhattan. His most recent article, "Attacking the Roots of Abortion" appeared in HPR in 2013; his previous article in HPR appeared in February 2008.

Comments

  1. Tom McGuire says:

    Don Murray, the title of your post, Combating Islam and Secularism, contrasts with the title, In Cairo, Pope Francis calls on Christians and Muslims to build “a new civilization of peace.”, an article in America, Ap 28, 2017. I wonder what is the motivation for each article about Muslims? As a follower of the Way of Jesus Christ, I hope the motivation is respect for the experience of the other and mutual discovery of the way to peace and harmony among Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters.
    I asked a friend and scholar of Islam, Dr. Gerry Grudzen to comment on what you wrote about Islam. Here is his response:
    “Adherents to Islam naturally are dedicated to the teachings and example of the Prophet Mohammad just as Christians are dedicated to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
    We know that some Christians and some Muslims have misinterpreted the teachings of their founders and twisted them for ideological or political purposes. The test of any religion should be the lives of those who have been models of holiness within these traditions. Mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi and Rumi are examples for this kind of holiness. You can always find a quote in the Bible or the Qur’an that can be taken out of context and many of the assertions made in the article reflect this approach. Every religion also must be seen in its historical context at the time it was formed and the various changes that have occurred over the centuries.
    Fundamentalism in Christianity and Islam attempts to put these religions into a closed box and pretend that only a chosen few are in control of the keys to open the box.
    Christianity and Islam have lived together successfully for many centuries in which there were no Crusades or Inquisitions. We know that they can be compatible with each other provided that they embrace mutual respect and dialogue with each other rather than debate and apologetics.”
    I was moved today, Pentecost, by the words of Pope Francis in his homily:
    “The Spirit grants intimacy with God, the inner strength to keep going. Yet, at the same time, he is a centrifugal force, that is, one pushing outward. The one who centres us is also the one who drives us to the peripheries, to every human periphery. The one who reveals God also opens our hearts to our brothers and sisters. He sends us, he makes us witnesses, and so he pours out on us – again in the words of Paul – love, kindness, generosity and gentleness. Only in the Consoler Spirit do we speak words of life and truly encourage others. Those who live by the Spirit live in this constant spiritual tension: they find themselves pulled both towards God and towards the world.”
    Is this not the Way of Jesus Christ? Can the Spirit lead us to find ways of building respect, peace and harmony among all people of good will?

    • Don Murray Don Murray says:

      The writer of this first comment has made no attempt to address the main point of the article, which is to motivate Catholics, especially young Catholics, to come closer to Christ and to make use of the means to do it — frequent participation in the Mass; observance of the moral law; awareness of Christ’s divinity, especially through His resurrection from the dead; getting to know Christ as a person by familiarity with the four gospels; showing proper reverence for Him; learning the reasons behind Catholic teaching by a study of apologetics; developing meaningful communication with Christ in prayer; and practicing sacrifice to gain the necessary self-control.
      Secondly, by leading readers into a discussion of Catholic relations with Moslems, he has introduced a distraction from the main point just mentioned, which causes me to wonder whether he simply does not care about that main point or whether he introduced this distraction deliberately in order to get people to ignore it.
      Thirdly, his remarks about Islam are also misleading. I know, and many of us know, truly good, peace-loving, people who are Moslems. The vast majority are probably of this type and we should relate to them as we do to other peace-loving people.
      Nevertheless, all Moslems, and non-Moslems as well, should be made aware that there is no foundation for Islam’s claim to be a revealed religion. Any claim to having received revelation from God involves action beyond the natural and it must be accompanied by verifiable natural activity in the form of witnesses and miracles. Judaism and Christianity have both of these but Islam does not; all its teachings depend solely on the word of Mohammed, and many of those teachings, including the right to have four wives, are for the personal benefit of Mohammed himself.
      This lack of evidence is compounded by the fact that Moslem believers are forbidden under pain of death to investigate and make comparisons with other religions. It’s a situation that no rational person would accept in any other area of their life, but here they are required to do so in the most important area of life, their religion.
      Yet Islam, in spite of its lack of solid foundation, has been waging war for fourteen hundred years to convert others to it by force of arms. Many countries in the world today are experiencing wars and other forms of violence bough on by Moslems who claim that the Quoran is the justification for their action.
      Moslems must be encouraged to conduct an impartial investigation of the life and works of Mohammed and to make an impartial comparison of Islam with other religions.
      Our task as Catholics is to overcome our lukewarm self-centeredness and to base our lives on Christ, who will give us the inspiration and the strength to overcome both secularism and Islam.

      • Tom McGuire says:

        The emphasis in your discussion of evangelization among young people puts great emphasis on the teachings of the Church (Didache) and little on the proclamation of the Good News (Kerygma). The liturgical and para-liturgical practices of Catholic faithful are not the first way most young people will be open to the conversion of heart (Metanoia). Learning to proclaim the Good News in a way that speaks to the heart of young people is a great need. A good start is to find those aspects of secular culture that point to the Good News.

        As for being in Dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters, the Kerygma is not served well by stating with denying basic Islamic beliefs. I remember being in a retreat with Catholics and Muslims. One of our exercises was to share an important spiritual element of our faith. I shared with my Muslim partner the experience of a farmer contributing to the economy of the material world but also seeing farming as a participation with God in creation. We both experienced awe in the similarity of our spiritual experience. Would you consider this kind of dialogue a proclamation of Good News (Kerygma)?

        Don, this is the response from my friend Dr Gerry Grudzen to your June 1st response.

        “Muslims believe that the Qur’an itself is the Word of God or a revelation of God just as they also accept the Hebrew and Christian Bible as revealed by God. Millions of Muslims have been inspired to lead holy lives by its proper observance and correct interpretation.  Educated Muslims take extensive training in the correct interpretation of the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet just as Jews and Christians, who are well educated, take training in the hermeneutics for interpreting the Bible.

        For several centuries the Sufi inspired interpretation of the Qur’an dominated in many parts of the Sunni world of Islam which represents about 80% of all Muslims. A form of Sufism is practiced today by millions of Muslims particularly those who follow the teachings of Fethullah Gulen. He has led an interfaith movement which is now worldwide and contributes to a hoped-for world of peace and understanding. I see many similarities between the message of peace preached by Pope Francis and that of Muslim spiritual leaders such as Fethulah Gulen.

        Vatican II taught us that we should acknowledge that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all rooted in the monotheistic revelation which all three religions acknowledge and from which they draw a common moral foundation for a godly life.  This common foundation includes prayer, fasting, almsgiving, social justice  and a common belief that all creation is governed by the Holy One to which must be given honor and worship.”

  2. Ted Heywood says:

    Mutual respect and Dialogue is the preferred manner of interaction between all peoples of good will.
    Good will on the part of both parties is required. To ignore the split in Islam between fervent ‘jihadis’ and non-jihadis is a fatal flaw in any effort at peaceful accompaniment on the journey. Death or forced compliance is the coin of the jihadi. No where in the Quran or Hadiths is God presented as a god of love that created all people in His image and likeness.

  3. Tom McGuire says:

    Ted, have you had a respectful dialogue with Muslims of good will? I am sure in such dialogues there was agreement that religious violence is not acceptable. Our religious traditions develop and change. I think it is always good to remember our Christian failures when we reflect on those of others.

    I thought about your comment today as I heard the Gospel of Mark proclaimed: “Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” Mark 29-30

    What did Jesus mean by persecutions? What did he expect our response to be? He did not encourage an ethic of revenge. He did not encourage followers to take up arms? What did he mean “love your enemy”, “do good to those who persecute you”?

    • Don Murray Don Murray says:

      Tom McGuire, in his second and third comments on this article, still fails to recognize that secularism is a greater challenge to the Church today than Islam. This is so because secularism advances moral practices that are at variance with Church teaching and that many Catholics are accepting these without realizing the seriousness of the problem. A Gallup poll from 2017 reports the percentages of Americans finding various moral practices acceptable— birth control (91%), divorce (no mention of remarriage, 73%), sex between unmarried adults (69%), gay or lesbian relations (63%), human embryonic stem cell research (61%), doctor-assisted suicide (57%). The percentages are so high that many baptized Catholics are bound to be among those in favor.
      We are now at the point where our national government and many state governments actively promote abortion and set stiff penalties for people who refuse to cooperate with sodomy.
      Tom claims that “liturgical and para-liturgical practices” are not helpful. However, participation in the Mass is far more than a liturgical practice; it’s the Church’s principal means of worshiping God and also the means of His coming to us through the Holy Eucharist.
      He says we should put more emphasis on the “Good News”, but we suggested coming closer to Christ by becoming familiar with His words and actions reported in the four gospels and by engaging in meaningful conversation with Him through prayer.
      He especially recommends finding “those aspects of secular culture that point to the Good News”. Here I refer again to the Gallup poll on today’s secular culture. The four gospels are a far better source for information on the Good News.
      The article also mentioned the need for homilies to proclaim moral precepts because it has been our experience that disagreement with Church teaching usually has its roots in avoidance of the moral law, especially in the erroneous view that the purpose of sexuality is recreation, leading to pornography and contraception. This must be mentioned in homilies for the benefit of young people not hearing it in Catholic schools and for Catholic adults.
      In these last two comments on the article Tom McGuire spends more than eighty percent of his writing on the issue of relations with Muslims and their beliefs. He is opposed to “denying basic Islamic beliefs”. But Catholics must put forth our own teachings even when they disagree with those of other religions. He tells us that “Muslims believe that the Qur’an itself is the Word of God or a revelation of God.” But we again point out that Islam has no foundation for any claim to divine revelation because it lacks the necessary evidence of witnesses and miracles while Judaism and Christianity have both.
      The entire Jewish nation witnessed the plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea and the giving of the Ten commandments at Mount Sinai. Elijah and Elisha both raised someone from the dead; Elijah brought down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice on Mount Carmel; and Elisha cured the leprosy of Naaman, the Syrian. Two of the four gospel writers, Matthew and John, were eyewitnesses of Christ’s entire public life and the other two, Mark and Luke, were companions of eyewitnesses. The gospels recount almost three dozen incidents when Christ worked miracles and frequently cured all the sick and disabled in a town.
      For the reported revelations to Mohammed, however, there are no witnesses; it all depends on his word alone, and frequently the reported teaching is for the benefit of Mohammed himself. And there are no events that could be classified as supernatural and therefore miraculous.
      The claim to correct interpretation of the Qur’an is not really meaningful if the Qur’an itself is not divinely inspired. Also, there are many passages in the Qur’an that can only be interpreted as requiring faithful Moslems to destroy nonbelievers by force, as in Sura (Chapter) 4:89, ”Seize them and kill them wherever you find them” and Sura 5:33, “The punishment of those who make war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned.” (From The Qur’an Translation, translated by M.H Shakir)
      Tom McGuire, in his continued recommendation that we seek friendly relations with Muslims is assuming that all Muslims will give the world a similar response. But a 2017 study by the U.S. State Department on religious discrimination around the world found that, of fifteen Muslim nations in the Middle East, eleven were intolerant of other religions and, of five Muslim nations in central and southern Asia, four were intolerant of other religions. The authors cited in my original article were all former Muslims and knew it from the inside, but all give evidence of a culture that would force everyone to become a believer and practice Islam.
      They mention that Muslims are forbidden under penalty of death to study another religion but perhaps they would be free to study the life of Mohammed and we are told that those who do, especially the women, find him to be a very immoral person, not at all worthy of imitation.
      Tom McGuire tell us that we should not “encourage an ethic of revenge”, but the article never suggests that. The vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving persons and should be accepted as any other such persons. Recommending that they examine the background of their religion and be free to compare with other religions does not constitute revenge. We must, however, defend ourselves and our nation from their attacks.
      Tom McGuire must get his priorities straight. Secularism is our biggest problem and the way to defeat it is to come closer to Christ by the means the article suggests. We will not overcome secularism by fostering friendly relations with Muslims.

      • Tom McGuire says:

        Don,

        You and I see things differently, but I wonder if we are not united in our experience of sharing in the divinity of Christ, just as Christ humbled himself to share in our humanity?

        You make some good points in your response. However, I find your approach to be transactional rather than transformative. We can interpret some parts of the Gospels as transactional as well. However, the way Jesus lives and teaches indicates a transformative way of being with tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, doctors of the law, and even Roman Officials.

        What we pray for in the Our Father is “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” How can this become a reality? In my view that takes place in dialogue and encounter with the other. Always with the hope, the other encounters Christ, our Savior. This encounter also includes those who consider me their enemy, “love your enemy, do good to those who persecute you”. Certainly not easy to do, as it might get you killed. We have many examples of Christian martyrs who gave up their life on earth rather than attack and kill their enemies.

        Taking incarnation seriously means to take the secular as good. One good way to be in dialogue with someone who has no specific religious practice is not to begin with an attack on their ethical standards, but to find where we can agree. As the dialogue continues, no question there needs to be statement and explanation of differences, but this comes with the development of the human encounter.

        Peace in Christ,
        Tom McGuire

      • Don Murray Don Murray says:

        Tom McGuire, your silence on the principal issue, Secularism and how to overcome it, is deafening. It prompts me once again to ask whether your comments on the secondary issue are intended as a distraction to keep readers’ minds off the primary issue.

        Our initial task is to bring back to Christ the Catholics who have become wishy-washy and the approach we recommend is directed to that purpose, bringing them closer to Holy Mass and the Scriptures and pointing out the road through prayer and sacrifice. The dialogue needed is with Christ.

        Regarding the secondary issue, Islam, it’s easy to find Moslems who are willing to dialogue with us but it’s the smaller percentage who will not dialogue that are the problem for Catholics, for the United States and for the world. And it’s extremely dangerous to pretend or to imagine that we’re not involved in a war when the enemy is active in dozens of countries and when the Muslim Brotherhood developed a strategy in 1991 for taking over the United States from within. Your remarks make their effort easier.

  4. Tom McGuire says:

    Don,

    The secular is not the problem. Jesus came into the world, a secular world. The Roman Government was not all that open to Jesus. But the Romans were not the problem. The religious leaders found Jesus to be too lax and unwilling to support the religious power structure. When they could not discourage Jesus from his message, they turned to the Roman Government to kill Jesus.

    I share your desire to open the possibility for all people to encounter Jesus Christ. The encounter is encouraged when I live faithful to the “Way” of Jesus. This requires living without fear, loving even those who call me their enemy, doing all I can for the poor (Mt 25), seeking forgiveness for my sins, and living the joy of knowing my salvation is not mine to earn. When I am living the Way, celebrating Eucharist and living contemplatively in God’s presence will be a sign of God’s presence for those I meet.

    If there is difficulty in the countercultural aspects of the “Way”, it comes as a result of mixing the political entity on earth with the reign of God. When we as followers of Jesus turn to the use of the political power of the state to eliminate our fears, our witness to the reign of God is compromised.

    Jesus was a refugee. His experience of living in the secular world was not unlike the experience of refugees today. When we ignore the suffering of the refugees, we ignore Jesus. May God be merciful to us sinners.

    • Don Murray Don Murray says:

      The secular is not the problem but Catholics adopting secularism is. And those who remain Christian by joining evangelical churches say that one of their main reasons for leaving the Church is a desire for a closer connection to God, implying a leadership lacking in dedication.

      The article clearly states, ” . . . . of the two challenges to Catholics today, secularism is the more dangerous. Secularism is leading us to ignore Christ and His Church, and we have an obligation to make these uppermost in our lives, regardless of whether there is an external threat like Islam.”
      The fact that you did not catch on at first was probably due to my not emphasizing this strongly enough and that I discussed Islam before secularism. I bear the responsibility for this.

      You frequently suggested dialogue with others but I insist that we consider what we must have in mind before we begin to talk.

      We agree that we must bring people to Christ but you stress what we must do and I stress using the means Christ has given us — the Mass, the gospel reports about Him, then dialogue with Him in prayer, plus sacrifice and the study of apologetics.

      I have no illusions that this program would be adopted suddenly. But it is the objective. And I turned to HPR for its publication hoping that its audience (bishops and priests) would take leadership roles in bringing it about. The Soul of the Apostolate byJean-Baptiste Chautard, pages 107-109, reports that two Catholic girls schools where the graduates quickly adopted a sinful life became schools with graduates leading exemplary Catholic lives when there was a change in the chaplain for one and the superior for the other, with both changes bringing people with strong prayer lives.

  5. Donald Link says:

    I find it most interesting that, physical penalties aside, Muslims and secularists manifest an irrational antipathy toward the Church. Not sure which group that says the most insightful about but is quite apparent that neither wish us anything but ill will.

  6. Good article overall.

    Yet I disagree and would say secularism is not more dangerous. I would take a secularist any day of the week over the other. Secularists can be violent yes, and throw reason to the wind but I would rather deal with them. I think there’s a better chance of getting to them.

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