[From HRH Jonathan]
What is the greatest scourge that has struck the Church and all other bastions of traditional thought in the last half-millenium? Of all the immoral, false philosophies to count their birth in that time, which has done the most damage to our thought? Some would say progressivism, and point to all the people who have been lured away from the truth by its honeyed face; others would point to capitalism, and all the lives it has wrecked; many would say communism, even though it has little affected the Church herself; some would say socialism, and others objectivism, and there would always be a happy few who would point angrily at nationalism, liberalism, and statism, and bask in the fact that they are far more right than all the others. In truth, however, none of these are the philosophy that I am looking for. They have all done their damage, and they all have their deadly flaws, but there is one that stands above them all as the crowning achievement of the heretics of the last 5 centuries. There is one philosophy which has wormed its hold in so tightly around every philosophy, even every thought, of modern times that there are very many within the Church that do not realize that they too have fallen prey to it. This horrid philosophy, this pernicious outlook, this great thought that has attacked and absorbed so many others; is Materialism.
Materialism; the view of life that places the greatest emphasis upon the physical, the worldly, the material. The great destroyer of virtue; perhaps the most stolid and ferocious enemy of Christian thought. Materialism is an outlook that directs all our thought and energy to the matter of the world: how we dress, how we eat, how much we earn, how much we have, how we measure our success in the wide world of the Mundus Mundanus.
From my (admittedly limited) studies of the matter, I believe that the predominance of Materialism has more to do with coincidence and the machinations of the Adversary than any human agenda. Calvin and the tyrannical Henry VIII, with their prosperity theology and worldly base, began a trend of focusing upon the material that was exacerbated and amplified a hundredfold by generation upon generation of protestant theologian, rationally-inclined merchant, and atheist philosopher. It was carried throughout the lands and cultures of Europe until it became almost unspoken, and then it was used as the basis of the Enlightenment and associated revolutions, and then it was too late.
When you look around at the modern world surrounding us with a Catholic perspective, you will see this horrific doctrine applied everywhere. Turn your television onto any channel for 10 minutes, take a good look at the place where you buy your food, pick a library book at random and read it for a few pages, or study even a single article of modern political dialogue; do any of these things with a clear head, and you are likely to be horrified.
And that does not even begin to take into account the things that the devout materialists of the atheist world around you do. Plastic surgery, lewd clothing, brutal business practices, redefinition of marriage in politics; and these are just the nicer things. It goes from there to abortion and transgenderism, for after all, what are we but material?
“But,” you say helpfully, “those are things that atheists and protestants do, the Church still stands same as ever.”. Well, you are mostly correct; the Church still preaches against, and has carefully worked against, all these things. The problem, however, is that Materialism has wormed its way into the face of the era so totally that it cannot be avoided.
It is a struggle that we must put our backs into daily to live our lives by a compass of God, and not the world; and like all such struggles, our mortal fabrication makes even the greatest of us fail on occasion. The teachings of the Church may still stand the same, but her followers must fight against the rest of the world to follow them.
How often have you measured something by the material above the spiritual? How many times have you used cost, pleasure, or appearance to judge the worth of a thing that should have been measured by merit, positive effect, or religion? There is no avoiding it. Often we must choose between acting Materialistically or Christianly, and the former is always easier and always more encouraged.
Ending this paradigm is not something that can be done partway; a compromising position between Materialism and Catholicism will inevitably swing in favor of one or the other. We must do our best to defeat Materialism, not just avoid it. Since the world goes against us, let us go against the world.