One of the best hidden yet most dangerous obstacles to the living of a fully Christian life is the half pagan atmosphere in which we live. Often we treat God much as we treat an ex-President: with the respect due to a once powerful  figure who no longer really counts for much. We listen to his views with interest but without feeling any compulsion to act upon what he says. God seldom is denied outright, rather is He simply ignored in the political, the economical and the social life.

This attitude towards God is what we call the spirit of secularism. Religion is good, says  secularism; it is good to go to church on Sunday; it is good to pray. But when it comes to the business of living we have to be practical. When policies are to be formed and decisions made, the only question that matters is: What will best work for me? Secularism would laugh at the idea of trying to look at things from God's viewpoint; that sort of thinking is strictly for visionaries. Keep religion in the church where it belongs.

Day after day we live and breathe in this atmosphere of expediency. It is not surprising then if our souls become infected. It is not surprising if we encounter individuals who go on thinking of themselves as "practical Catholics" when actually  their Catholicity has been downgraded long since to Sunday mornings only.

Here for example is a woman who regularly receives Holy Communion. "Of course," she confides to a friend, "I don't tell in confession that I use contraceptives. I figure that is my business, no matter what the Church says." The poor soul does not even realize that her faith is all but dead and that her religious practices are a hollow shell without substance. Because, if she does not believe that the Church speaks for God interpreting His law, then she does not really believe in the Church at all. She is also totally illogical in believing in confession and Holy Communion, since it is the same Church which, in Christ's name, vouches for the reality of these sacraments. Secularism ("Keep religion in its place") has claimed another victim.

There are many examples of this secularistic contamination, this kind of twisted thinking. There are Catholic parents who will dismiss the Church's teaching on co-habitation. "I can't see the harm in it. Anyway, all other kids are doing it." There are the Catholics in business (or politics or professionals) who will shrug of certain practices: "I know the Church says it is wrong, but I have to face facts if I want to make a living. Everyone else does it."

None of these people would dare to come out and flatly say, "I believe in doing right as long as it is easy, but not when it starts to hurt." If the Church is not Christ's mouthpiece, why believe anything? Christ will not allow us to drive a wedge between Him and His Bride. We cannot bypass the Church and expect to find Christ on the other side. Blessed indeed are we if we have taught ourselves to think with Christ and His Church, if we have trained ourselves to live by principle in little things as well as big.

This means that we live in God's presence every day wherever we are, not just in church on Sundays. It will mean that "what God would want me to do" is the basic ingredient of all our decisions. It will mean that we have recognized that Christ and His Mystical Body are indivisible and that it is His voice which speaks through His Church. With God's grace we can live in a secularistic world without being infected, but it is a grace to be prayed for.

Source: Fr. L. J. Trese

The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can accept.  (Catechism #779)