The steady march toward our moral decline

By David M. Carollo –

“Freedom from Want”, 1943 painting by Norman Rockwell – Wikimedia Commons

I turned on the television the other day and got caught up in a movie from about 40 years ago. Although it was no cinematic masterpiece, it was set in a time that stirred up nostalgia for me. I vaguely remember it, but more importantly, I related to the time in which it was set. The plot was simple; having a sports element, it kept my interest, but the ending was apparent in the first five minutes. Boy meets girl; they do not necessarily like each other in the beginning, but working together for a common goal, they fall in love, and in the end live happily ever after. The purpose of entertainment is to stir emotions and generally make people happy. By that standard it accomplished what it was intended to do. It brought me back to not only the styles of the time, but also how I envisioned the future then, which is the present day.

Many things have changed in these years, particularly what no longer has shock value. I grew up hearing adults say such things as, “In those days, these things were unheard of.”  I now understand what they meant. I do not consider myself old, but the numbers are what they are. Time moves along. Accumulated knowledge, which makes one wiser, hopefully brings us to an understanding that we have phases in life. One reality is that we become our parents. I remember my father and mother referring to the past as better times. I could never understand how the years of the Great Depression and World War II were better times, but I can see that there were absolutes to attach to then, and that those absolutes have steadily declined in my days. In retrospect, those “better times” seem to have been safer overall. 

I entered high school in 1969, the end of a decade known for its upheaval and change, followed by college and early working years in the ‘70s. Looking back, I realize the depth of the redefinition of morality that was taking place then. They say that slow and steady wins the race. The enemy remains steady in the march to secularization and the Marxist dream of a utilitarian world with standards not set by idealistic Christians. I have a much better understanding today of the analogy of the frog put into a pot of cold water and slowly increasing the temperature until the pot comes to a boil and he can no longer escape his demise. Nothing happens overnight.  I have seen many changes in my lifetime. The technical advances that make our lives “simpler” have allowed us convenience, but perhaps have also blinded us to the precipitous decline in basic morality and decorum. Being constantly inundated with images and opinions that promote a diminished morality, those who are not vigilant, especially young people, begin to accept as normal a lower virtue.

The change in styles and how we portray them is one example. I was at a trade show a couple of years ago and conversed through most of the banquet with a young woman in her 30s sitting next me. She told me about her family, her husband, who is a military officer, and her four children and showed me a picture of them.  I commented that it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. She was puzzled and said that she did not understand. I suddenly felt old, but told her to look up The Saturday Evening Post. She did, and a smile immediately appeared on her face. Her family was iconic Americana. The wholesome portrayals of life depicted in Rockwell’s work have sadly given way to graphic obscenity.

The moral code by which we are bound to live cannot be compromised. Decorum in church has become scandalous in many places. It mirrors the reality that many do not truly believe the basic truths taught by the Church. A sense of sacredness compels one to enter respectfully into a place of sacred worship. With an outdoor shrine, we constantly deal with the “picnic mentality” and often get strong responses from our modesty signs, both positive and negative.

Societal currents run strong. The flow away from God has been slow and steady. For the better part of a century, we have been drawn in by the anti-gravity of a culture gone astray; allowing us to drift further and further from the core of our existence. But morality is ageless. No matter the societal shift, the standards of God are static. It is the standards of man that are on a rolling scale, one that moves us away from the perfection of heaven. 

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is not a mere suggestion, but a requirement. We cannot bring God down to our level. He draws us all to the perfection needed to be with Him eternally. The Fatima message says just that. If we wish to live “happily ever after,” as in the movies, we must live lives consistent with the standards set for us, not flowing with the tide of secularism. While St. Jacinta Marto lay dying in a hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1920, Our Lady came to her and said, “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Divine Lord very much.” She also revealed to Jacinta that “the sins that lead most souls to hell are the sins of the flesh.” If we demand a high moral standard from all around us, we will lessen the occasions of sin that lead to perdition. Those directing the moral havoc that we are witnessing in the world have chosen a definite course away from godliness. They cannot understand, however, that natural law will eventually prevail and undo the damage wreaked on humanity during this time of disruption. We look forward to the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Let us hasten it by our prayers and actions.

We are happy to hear that His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke is out of ICU and is stable. This is great news and our prayers for him continue. Please take a moment and offer a prayer to Our Lady for him. His Eminence has been a long-time friend of this apostolate, since his days in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, and later in St. Louis and Rome. He has honored us with his presence here at the Blue Army Shrine each of these past four years during his annual summer visit to the United States. He was the celebrant last month at our July 13, 2021 Fatima celebration. Here is the link to his inspiring homily on that day

As a secular society closes in on us, His Eminence has always said that we are to “stay faithful” during these difficult times. I cannot add to that wisdom.

David Carollo is the Executive Director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA/Blue Army Shrine. He wrote this for his Voice of Fatima message.

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