Revelation in Our Age

Moment of Truth- 2


Revelation in Our Age

Historians label every age. We can thank them for the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, the Age of Reason, and the Industrial Age. And, like the Greeks who created an altar To an Unknown God (Acts 17:23), they even labeled the age predating recorded history, the Prehistoric Age.

The Age of Disbelief

Now, think forward. Two hundred years from now, what will historians label our age? Many of our contemporaries think of it as Modern; some, as Post-Modern; and others, as the Information Age. But the title of a book written by Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) labels our age best. It assesses both our faith and our mission: Handing on the Faith in an Age of Disbelief.

In this Age of Disbelief, the currents of secularism dominate our culture and, unquestionably, damage a person’s faith. Published in May 2015, a survey by the Pew Research Center (1) measured that damage. Between 2007 and 2014, Pew found a 7.8% drop in the membership of Christian religions (Catholicism: 3.1%). Did we lose members to non-Christian religions? Yes, but minimally. Most former members simply chose…nothing. Pew recorded a gain (6.7%) in the Unaffiliated category, comprised of people with no religion (expressed as “nothing”) and of either atheists or agnostics.

Did the Nothings make a deliberate choice?

In the 1940s, Gretta Palmer, a war correspondent and editor/writer for New Yorker and Look magazines, grew disillusioned in war. She wondered, “How can we change the heart of man, so that he longs for unity and peace?” (2). Essentially an atheist, Palmer sought the answer in sociology and psychiatry, and in a swami of the Vedanta religion. She admitted in her testimonial, “I did not know it, but when I started seeking a new truth, I began my search for God.” (3).

And then, in 1947, Look magazine assigned her, providentially, to interview Archbishop Fulton Sheen. He turned down the interview, but met to discuss her faith. Within six months, she converted, explaining it this way:

I became a Catholic because I was looking for the truth, and I had found it. It is that simple. I had found the strange and very wonderful key to all the problems that had bewildered me” (4).

Palmer pursued truth and found it in God’s Revelation and in the Church. According to her, “[N]obody ever left the Church because the best in him could not find fulfillment there” (5). Her experience dispels the idea that the Nothings of the Pew study left the Church for a lack of truth. More likely, they stopped their pursuit.

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried” (6).

Although the Church encounters great challenges in transmitting the deposit of faith in this Age of Disbelief, man is always attracted to what is true, good, and beautiful. His “final and perfect happiness [is] the vision of the Divine Essence” (7). But unless we continue our pursuit, unless we try “the Christian ideal”, the thorns of secularism will choke out the seeds of God’s word (Matt 13:7). They will block out the light of truth, and our faith will wither.

Be a non-conformist!

Revelation is ever new. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). But the prevailing currents of our age require our active, engaged pursuit. St. Paul’s admonition two thousand years ago speaks to us with striking relevance:

Do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Open yourself up to God’s Revelation and “make the truth [your] own through faith”! (8).

How would you label our age, and why?

Todd Burud

1. Pew Research Center, America’s Changing Religious Landscape, May 12, 2015
2. The Road to Damascus, Ed. John O’Brien, 35
3. Ibid, 41
4. Ibid, 46
5. Ibid, 47
6. As I Was Saying: A Chesterton Reader, Ed. Robert Knille, 271
7. Summa of the Summa, Kreeft, 381
8. Prayer in Practice, Romano Guardini, 137

Revelation in Our Age
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2 thoughts on “Revelation in Our Age

  • June 27, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Everyone believes in something or someone to help explain life. It seems we are now living through an age not of disbelief but of fear. Fear to dare to believe. Many people respond to the “whatever makes you happy” philosophy as an acceptable religion/belief system. It is a belief, sadly of one who dares not to delve into self-knowledge, perhaps out of laziness, perhaps out of fear of recognizing oneself and be disappointed. What lacks in this “philosophy” is love, and everybody is searching for love in one way or another because we are made to love and be loved. But to love, takes courage because courage demands sacrifice for another rather than the self.
    It seems we are living in the Age of Fear because much of the world/ the issues making headlines/the social disorders, etc. are lacking the courage to stand up for what is real and true, like recognizing without hesitation that to kill a baby (abortion) is absolutely and inherently wrong; to recognize this fact without doubt or hesitation has become a debate!
    Courage to recognize the truth in all aspects of man, comes only from getting to know God, Christ. It takes courage to know, love and serve God.

    • June 29, 2016 at 11:08 am

      Your assessment is spot on. And the “fear to dare to believe”, seems to overwhelm, in many, their inherent “desire” to believe. Fear hamstrings their ability to respond to God’s grace. Peter Kreeft proposed a resolution to that fear in a short article, The Benefits of Belief, appealing to skeptics to “live as if God exists, even if you hold doubts. Why not? …[Y]ou lose nothing and you have everything to gain.” He explains this appeal as Pascal’s Wager in his book, Fundamentals of the Faith, and admits that it “is certainly not a deep, mature, or adequate faith. But it is something, it is a start, it is enough to dam the tide of atheism.”

      In time, belief is confirmed by reason. Cardinal John Henry Newman reassured us, “It is legitimate to believe what one cannot wholly understand.” And Augustine taught us the relationship between faith and reason in one line: “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe” (CCC158). If our culture’s embrace of reason and science–both good and legitimate in themselves–hamstrings faith, then we need the courage you describe, in order to pursue the faith we know is true. We must cooperate with God’s grace by taking that first faltering, but trusting, step toward God.


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