This past weekend I preached on what I believe to be a primary force which has infected our Church in the years following the Council of Vatican II. I referred to this as the “Cult of the Casual.”
So, what do I mean by this?
I believe the forces of evil are formidable, and are not to be taken lightly. St. Peter cautions us to … “Be sober and vigilant. For your adversary, the devil, is like a roaring lion, traveling around and seeking those whom he might devour. Resist him by being strong in faith, being aware that the same passions afflict those who are your brothers in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). The lion is looking to strike the weakest in the herd … those who mistakenly take their predators for granted and are, therefore, left vulnerable for attack. In other words, they do not take things too seriously.
The word “sober” actually means “to be serious.” You see, I believe this is THE problem in our Church today … how many are truly taking their faith seriously today?
Our ancestors were used to taking their faith – their relationship with God – very seriously. Therefore, they were diligent in all aspects of the interior life. They were, in this deeply loving relationship with God, seeking to perfect themselves, as an offering unto God. They sought heroic virtue and had a profound commitment to follow the will of God, as it was revealed to them through sacred scripture and the teaching authority of Holy Mother, the Church.
This was an army of saints – the Church Militant – that let the contagious spirit of their “seriousness” lay hold of the hearts and minds of millions of people across this planet who were seeking the meaning of life, and they found it through the inspiration of the “dedicated” followers of Jesus Christ.
As individuals, they were evolving into the perfect man – our Omega – Jesus Christ, the Lord. As a human race, they were leaving aside a self-serving barbarism as they were building a civilization of love. All this, I believe, because they took our faith “seriously.”
This momentum of evolution made a 180 degree shift into devolution as our world culture, seemingly overnight (beginning in the 1960s), went from striving for excellence in character to lusting after every primal appetite possible, in the name of freedom.
The pervasive youth movement (baby boomers) of the time managed to normalize this personality disorder of narcissism. This childish condition, that is much like an infant crying out for her mother’s milk, needs to have every pleasure of the flesh satisfied, and it must be done at once (immediate gratification).
In order for this disorder to thrive, an atmosphere of carelessness must be fostered at all times. Thus, the “Cult of the Casual” is fostered and nurtured in our culture. Self-seeking gratification of the flesh is considered unacceptable in any environment proposing any degree of seriousness in the art of living. Therefore, to the childish narcissist, “dedication” is a form of unacceptable constraint.
The “Cult of the Casual” is all about living on the surface … living superficially. If their participants are ever made to live and think more deeply, to honestly face life’s questions, their whole narcissistic pleasure-fest will come to a screeching halt and, deep down, they know it.
After preaching on this topic last weekend, I also received an email from a friend which included a short video clip of the funeral of a strong Catholic man who was a Marine (1st video below). As I watched the “seriousness” by which these valiant Marines honored a fallen comrade, I asked myself how we ever allowed the Cult of the Casual to infest our Church, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Also, while I was contemplating the battle ready “seriousness” of our Marines, I started thinking back to an old sitcom from the 1960s: “F-Troop” (2nd video below). I thought to myself how true it is that we have, as the Church Militant today, allowed ourselves to go from being akin to the greatest fighting force in the world – the US Marines – to a bungling, unkempt and undisciplined F-Troop, vulnerable to any level of attack at all. And haven’t we, as this ineffective F-Troop, allowed disgrace, sacrilege and an entire culture of death thrive under our watch?
The time has come to get off our duffs and into the boot camp of developing our interior life, and turn from being an F-Troop and back to being the Marines we once were!
Finally, let the contrast of two approaches to the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass speak for themselves in the last two videos.
Was Our Church Militant Once Like the Marines?
Has the “Cult of the Casual” Turned Us Into F-Troop?
Forgive Us, O Lord, for our Profanity.
Be Not Afraid … This Is the Mass of Our Newly Ordained: The New Church Militant! Seriously!