Mark Shea has a blunt and important post on Inside Catholic on what is wrong with today's western democracies. We are so busy following and maintaining our pleasures at any cost, that we are becoming ripe for a tyranical form of government. As democracies become complacent and stop the honest self-critcism that is so crucial, any political huckster can easily sway us into giving up the rights and forms of self-governance we have fought for 200 plus years to preserve. This factual historic observation also parallels a personal and spiritual one.
A culture like ours, Shea says, that increasingly denigrates the notion of sin and repentance as a "Christian guilt trip" while exalting self-affirmation to the sky is a nation well-positioned to be...ignorant suckers for every flattery and threat some advertiser, prosperity gospel huckster, or politician...wants to sell us. Only a people capable of self-criticism in the harsh light of revelation can hope to survive.
We spend our time chasing after endless affirmation of our self worth and running in horror from anything as banal and old fashioned as honest examination of the ways in which we may be contributing to our own pain.
Mr. Shea points out that the Catholic tradition, ever countercultural, has preserved this tradition of self-examination and frank assessment of sin. It does this by elevating something as fear-producing and counter-intuitive as the confessing of our sins, in person, to another human being, to the level of a religious sacrament--recognizing and imparting the task of rooting out sin in our lives with a special, supernatural blessing.
It also preserves the Tradition, Shea continues, by giving us not one but two seasons each year, Advent and Lent, where we focus on the fact that we are not a great people admired by a God who hopes to be worthy of us, but are instead sinners who come from a race of sinners. (Emphasis, mine.)
This, my friends, is the only way our society is going to survive. Indeed, it is the only way we as individuals will survive. We must stop hiding the truth from ourselves. We must stop chasing the fantasy that we are immune from the need to change--every minute of every day.