Our world has changed, to be quite honest. The push of society and a constant march towards secularism have become evident, if not so more evident, in the past year. What are we, as Catholics, to do? This is a burning question on many people’s minds right now. Scott Hahn and co-author Brandon McGinley have written a book that attempts to answer that question. “It Is Right and Just: Why the Future of Civilization Depends on True Religion” provides insight into today’s culture and our roles within it.
The book delves into an area that most people feel should be kept as two separate matters: politics and religion. We are often told that politics and religion do not – or rather, should not – mix. This thought process finds its roots in the separation of church and state; however, there’s much more to it than that. Indeed, we should be active within our society. It’s our role to live out our faith within our communities. This includes when it comes to the political area.
Politics can and often does, unfortunately, become “dirty.” There is a certain level of “icky-ness” to it, but that’s because it’s allowed to happen. Why? Because we allow the players into the arena that allow it to be that way. Passiveness towards the political realm has led to what we are witnessing today. Our society as a whole has become dysfunctional and chaotic. In their book, Hahn and McGinley remind us that our religion, our faith, is something we choose to follow or ignore. If we choose to follow it wholeheartedly, then there are some obligations that come along with it. The prime one is being the light upon a hill that shines brightly for all to see.
“We speak of religion as if it were a hobby or, if we’re really taking it seriously, a personality quirk: something that you spend time on, something that is meaningful to you and gives you meaning, something that’s just a weird part of your life that makes no claim on the rest of your life—or on that of others,” they say.
Religion is something we live. It is something that spills out into everything we do if we allow it to. Religion is something society desperately needs to lift itself out of the muck. This doesn’t mean each of us should be standing on the street corner professing the Gospel. We would be quickly run out of street corners! What it means is, we live our lives within our local communities while daily reflecting the Gospel message. We do that by becoming actively involved, by leading our society to greatness; a greatness that one day may reflect our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That means we must get involved. We can no longer be passively sitting on the sidelines praying for an answer to come. We must become that answer in our local community, in our state, and in our nation.
Religion has always played a key role in society. Through the centuries, attempts to suppress the faith on a large scale have generally failed. However, that doesn’t stop people from trying! Our role here and now is not to allow suppression of the faith to occur. Our role is to change the trajectory that we see our society is headed in. If we do not act in this generation, then generations after us will wax poetically on the freedoms their grandparents once had and how society seemed more normal. “It Is Right and Just” does an excellent job of outlining that need and explaining how each of us can make it happen in some small way. If we each contribute, even in the smallest way, collectively we will do great things.
Pete Socks: Scott, let’s go back to the Pew Research study and the 70% that don’t believe in the Real Presence, yet the Satanist that breaks into a church to steal the Eucharist knows exactly what he’s after.
Scott Hahn: That’s right. You know, we have to recognize they can be altogether wrong. But be wrong for the right reasons and we can be altogether right and congratulate ourselves for being Orthodox and faithful and conservative and all of that. But we can be right for the wrong reasons, because there is a certain comfort zone. There’s a certain convenience for us as Catholics, for which we ought to be grateful. We also ought to be mindful of the limitations of that.
And why it is that our Lord so often allows his people to get to be squeezed out, to be pushed out of this comfort zone? We have to face the fact that we have not always been faithful, precisely because we don’t want to face the consequences of faithfulness. I’m always reminded of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade,” which might have been the first poem I memorized when I was a kid, and it goes about this. They all end up dying, which we’re going to do anyway. But the Light Brigade is basically being told what to do and that is to fight against all odds. You know “ours is not the reason why ours is but to do or die.”
Since death is inevitable, as I pointed out in [my previous book] Hope to Die, we see what God can do with death, and it’s more than what we can do in life and success. And so once again, that kind of boldness that enables us as citizens of heaven to be fearless on earth, we can put up with persecution.
We can also put up with the kind of distortion of our faith, but in the meantime, we recognize that God continually does more with less. His strength is made perfect in our weakness and we as Catholic Americans, we are Catholics first, but we don’t love our country any less than the people who are nothing but American citizens. We love it more. We love it better by living out our Catholic faith.
Even if Americans who aren’t believers don’t appreciate it, the fact is we will do our land more good by living out our faith more truly, and even if they fight us, we know that our Lord will eventually bring about good fruit from the seed of his word.
We’re in a land for so long that we love rightly but we don’t love properly, and so we end up becoming more American than Catholic, recognizing that all the countless goods of America are temporal, they’re human, they’re finite. Whereas what we have in addition to that is so much more, and so much more important for our country as well. And so, if we recognize that Christ’s Lordship in our life is not just private but public, we’re going to see how the Church’s teaching lines up.
(Full interview link: https://catholicstand.com/it-is-right-and-just-off-the-shelf-203-with-scott-hahn/)
By Pete Socks, Special to The Witness