Chapter II: Renewal of Mankind, no. 19
This number is a continuation of no. 18. It restates part of the arguments of no. 18 and enlarges on them. It is based on the distinction between the outer Church and the inner Church, between big numbers and inner conversion of the individual. The Church wants to be catholic, or universal, in all senses. She wants, of course, to spread out all over the world so that every person can hear the message of the Gospel, but she also wants to transform every person completely by transforming the society he lives in.
The facets of culture that the Church wants to transform and bring in line with “God’s word and his plan of salvation” are “all the standards of judgment, the reigning values, the interests, the patterns of thinking, [and] the motives and ideals of mankind which are now in disaccord with God’s word and his plan of salvation.”
Applying these categories to the work of the Church in the United States today, we can easily see that there is much to do. Transforming “the standards of judgment” would include changing many people’s opinion about the permission and practice of abortion in our country. It is not the right of a woman now to have an abortion because the law permits it. Nor would our Supreme Court pretend to find permission for it in our Constitution, if our standards of judgment were in accord “with God’s word and plan of salvation.”
One of the “reigning values” of our country that needs to be Christianized is the desire for wealth. Many Americans are generous with their money for the poor, but much more could be collected for good purposes if everyone understood wealth to be a stewardship, for which one will have to give an account (cf. Lk 16:9-15). The idea of freedom too has to be Christianized. It has come to mean the ability to do whatever one wants, while the real meaning is the ability to do the good.
Transforming “the interests” of America would include weaning people off pornography, which is contrary to the sixth commandment and is the express words of Jesus (Mt 5:27f). A huge number of the websites on the Internet are dedicated to it. Transforming the interests of America would also include lessening the time people devote to television and the Internet. The average American spends twenty-five hours a week watching television, but many do not find enough time to go to church on Sunday.
One of the “patterns of thinking” that needs transformation is the way we think of race. There still seems to be a big reservoir of racial prejudice on both sides of the racial divide between black and white in our country. Only genuine Christian love of neighbor can overcome it.
Lastly, happiness is one of the “motives and ideals” of Americans that needs to be transformed. Complete happiness cannot be found in this life. We can attain it only in life after death.
Mary, help us to seek our happiness in your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.