In February 2013 Raymond Arroyo asked me to join him, Robert Royal, and Fr. Roger Landry to provide on-air commentary during EWTN’s coverage of the papal conclave that would end up choosing the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, to be pope. This “Conclave Crew” (without, sadly, Fr. Landry, who was called to work as an attaché at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, and who became a resident priest at my parish near the U.N. complex in New York) would soon morph into the “Papal Posse,” which continues to make regular appearances on The World Over with Raymond Arroyo.
Our TV collaboration led to Robert Royal’s asking me to write a monthly column for The Catholic Thing. I am grateful for his confidence in asking me to join the stable of excellent writers whose essays appear here day after day.
My observations on the life of the Church, previously confined to conversations with my circle of priest and lay friends, and to occasional appearances on Fox News and then on EWTN, are now written down and shared with you, the loyal readers of this website. It has been my delight to engage in what is very much an ongoing dialogue about the life and mission of the Church with so many interested Catholics and others who follow news in the Church. Now that conversation continues in a new form.
About two years ago Professor Scott Hahn of the Franciscan University of Steubenville asked me and Diane Montagna to consider producing an interview book to be published by Hahn’s St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology under their Emmaus Road Publishing imprint. He asked us to discuss the difficulties that the Church is experiencing both from external forces and from forces within the Church herself.
In particular, Professor Hahn wanted us to discuss how the faithful in the pews can make sense of what is happening, and not lose confidence in God’s loving Providence, which guides the Church in the stormy waters of this world. Diane had previously interviewed Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan for the book Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph over the Darkness of the Age. We happily agreed, and the result of our yearlong extensive conversation, Calming the Storm-Navigating the Crises Facing the Catholic Church and Society, has now (at long last) been published – washing away the anxiety produced by COVID-19-related supply chain delays at the printers!
I am also grateful to The Catholic Thing’s Editor-in-Chief for asking me to host an online four-session course on the book. My plan is to go through each of the book’s seven chapters, which are framed around St. Matthew’s account of Our Lord rebuking the winds and the waves on the Sea of Galilee after being awoken by the terrified disciples, who feared that their boat would be swamped and that they would drown. (Mt 8:23-27) Many of us at times feel as the disciples felt when we are faced with the present upheavals in the life of the Church, which would have been unimaginable for those who grew up, Catholic or not, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
Here is a sample of what we will discuss in the online sessions – which will begin this Wednesday evening – taken from Chapter Two in which Diane and I discuss the roots of the crisis we are now experiencing:
In The City of God, St. Augustine calls Babylon, the City of the World – the eternal enemy of the Church – the “city of confusion.” Today confusion seems to reign in the world and the Church, too. Fr. Murray, why is this an age of confusion?
The essential problem we face in the Western world is the loss of reality. We have entered into a nihilistic view of the world in which nothing is what it is, where there is no such thing as “what something is.” According to this view, something only becomes what it is when we determine it. It is called the “plasticity of reality.” Everything is subject to man’s reshaping or designating of value.
We have adopted a philosophical outlook that rejects metaphysical realism, which is the foundation of Western civilization. Metaphysical realism is an essentially Aristotelian view of the world, which, when combined with the Roman legal mind, produced Western civilization in the pre-Christian period. Christianity then added the supernatural understanding that correctly guides sense perception. Understanding accurately the nature of things is complemented by the supernatural understanding of the divine purpose of creation.
The storms that afflict the Church are nothing new, but they are new for us who experience them. We need to understand what we are going through, where all of this came from and how we can calmly and with faith resist the temptation to throw our hands up and say that there is nothing we can do but mourn our fate of living in these troubled times.
The book and the four-session discussion are meant to help us consider all that the Church is going through in a supernatural perspective, seeing with the eyes of faith that the action of divine providence guiding and protecting the Church may at times be hidden, but is never absent. The sleeping Lord awoke so as to awaken our faith in God’s presence and goodness.
We’d love to have you with us on this exploration of the faith. If you’d like to join us, just click on the advertisement in the column on the right or click here. We think you’ll be very glad you did.
You may also enjoy:
Fr. Murray’s Whither the Synod on Synods?
Robert Royal’s Can Church Divisions Be Healed?