Telling Truth by the Clock

You can’t tell truth by the clock. C. S. Lewis called the attitude that one’s own era is self-evidently “more advanced” than all preceding ages chronological snobbery. Some people accuse those trying to recover the sanity of authentic Church teaching of trying to “turn back the clock.”

Philosopher Peter Kreeft says that if a clock is keeping bad time you have to turn it back. But actually, it is not a question of turning back the clock now, but rather waiting for the world to catch up with the Church. As Pope John Paul II pointed out on Boston Common in 1979, “The Church is the vanguard.”

Can you imagine what would happen if people would only try to live as Christ calls us to through the Church?

Imagine if all people attempted to live the Beatitudes. Imagine if the Church’s teachings on sexual morality were even taken seriously, much less obeyed, instead of mocked as they are. There would be no AIDS crisis, no abortion wars in our streets. Divorce and abuse would be nowhere near the epidemic proportions we see today.

Being what we are, we humans would still sin, of course. But imagine if we didn’t attempt to delude ourselves that there was nothing wrong with it. Imagine if we all had love and humility enough to repent from the heart, ask and grant forgiveness, and go to confession at least monthly. The world would be unrecognizable.

Having just seen It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time, I marveled anew at Jimmy Stewart’s guardian angel showing him what his town would look like if he’d never been born. Sometimes when I survey the scene in our great country I get to thinking that perhaps someone like George got his wish and was never born. Perhaps he was aborted, perhaps contracepted, but look where it’s left us. Pottersville everywhere. Whoever thought downtown America would be like this? Butcher, baker, candlestick maker — and the abortion mill. One butcher is enough, I think.

Jesus left us everything we need to get through this jungle. He gave us His Word, His Holy Spirit, His Church, His own Flesh and Blood in the Eucharist, a shepherd called the Pope and a teaching body called the Magisterium, along with a promise that the Holy Spirit would guide and lead us in the way of all truth.

Do we “sophisticated” turn-of-the-millennium types really think we “know better” or have “outgrown” this guidance? Or that we have the wisdom to fashionably “disagree” with the system Jesus Himself left us? If so, it’s no wonder we’re in the shape we’re in. Those who have given sin a good honest try, and, by grace, remained honest with themselves, have discovered that it doesn’t work.

Millions of people who have shipwrecked their lives by rejecting the Church’s teachings have learned this lesson the hard way, and are finding their way back home to the bosom of the Church. They not only accept, but feast on the Church’s authentic, life giving doctrine.

Pope John Paul II speaks continually and almost mystically about the new millennium. It is toward this vision that the Church is heading on Her way to Heaven. No, the Church does not need to “get with the times.” The times need to get with the Church. The Church that transcends time, one soul at a time.

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