This audio file from Father Benedict Groeschel is from the third section on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, from the Living in Christ series. This series looks at the commandments, at morality, and ethics and at what God demands of us. I have transcribed most of it below:
28. Our Call to Seek God 9430.mp3
"We live in a time that has forgotten the revelation of God. For centuries most of European civilization was based on the Bible. This was the foundation of that society.
About four hundred years ago, these foundations began to crumble. There was the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Some people like Machiavelli, etc., began to undermine purposefully in the name of humanism the religious and spiritual foundations of society. As time went on, a whole group of people called the rationalists began to throw out things they had accepted from the traditions of Europe. This is terribly important to know. Gradually by using their own mind, they began to reject scripture, the Old Testament, then the New Testament, then the Divinity of Christ, then the miracles of Christ, so Christ emerged to some very important people of democracy, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, etc.--Christ emerged as a moral philosopher. Now quite honestly if you read the New Testament, you can't see him as moral philosopher. He doesn't sound like Plato or Socrates. He works miracles. He heals the sick. Well they decided they didn't believe that the miracles had happened. He speaks about the last Judgement frequently in his parables. They decided there was no last Judgement. He promised eternal life. Well they didn't think there was any eternal life. None the less, they held on to an image of Christ.
About a hundred years ago a very very strange man, a man who ended his life in a psychiatric facility, a brilliant philosopher, told them all in Europe they were all being very very unrealistic. That if they had taken away the foundations of faith, if they had taken away the old testament, and the new testament, if they had taken away Moses and the prophets, John the Baptist and Paul, and most of all if they had taken away Jesus Christ, then Europe would change. Its civilization would be very different. This man's name--he was an enemy of religion, he was one of those enemies who told what it would be like without faith--was Friedrich Nietzsche. He was the favourite philosopher of among other people, Adolf Hitler. I don't blame Nietzsche for what Adolf Hitler did.
Nietzsche announced that God is dead. Ring the bells, light the candles, get the altar boys, we're going to have a funeral. God is dead and he warned European civilization that it had little or no idea what it would be like without God. They had given up God, but they held on to the moral system which belief in God had made possible. Monsignor Romano Guardini, a distinguished theologian in Germany, in his book, the End of the Modern World, published in the late 40's, was a great book, a brief book. He had worked on it during house arrest, during the Second World War. He said that Nietzsche alone had warned Europe, what it would be like when God was dead. When people would no longer be persons because they were not real to God, because there was no God, when people would be the chattel, the pawns of the state. When certain people would decide what was good for everybody else, and if anybody got in the way, they would kill them.
And Hitler and Stalin and Mao Tse-tung all did. They did this on the basis of a materialistic philosophy, a conviction that the human being is nothing more than chemicals, a creature like a white rat, or a pigeon and that they can be deprived of life simply at the will of the state if they are expendable. If they are not convenient. And all three of these men with their henchmen…like Khrushchev in Russia who had much blood on his hands, ran the Ukrainian holocaust of 1938 when 11 million people were starved to death, Mao Tse-Tung and his terrible purges, Hitler and his Holocaust, and all of his buddies--all of these people had a philosophy, they have a moral system. We're all going to make the perfect world, and if anybody gets in the way, or if anybody disagrees with us--we crush, we kill them. But that's not nice. Hitler used an expression, an ominous terrible expression, the final solution.
Nietzsche had warned people what a world without God, without commandments, would be like. And that's where we begin our discussion.
This network is on the air and is visible or hearable to you but it competes with a gigantic media which is absolutely anti-human. It wouldn't admit that. But it celebrates murder, death, it militantly teaches, abortion, euthanasia. It drags the most sacred parts of human existence through the mud in forms of cheap and revolting forms of entertainment. Sexuality, family life--it undercuts it all. Believe me--in most of the media of the United States, God is dead. The true God is not dead. But the image of God that the creature ought to have, that a human being ought to have, by reason of the fact that he is made in the image and likeness of God. By reason of the fact that every man, woman and child in the world is called to a destiny with God after this life, that is forgotten...
In the face of all this, religion in general, the Judeo Christian religion, founded on Sacred Scripture, the Christian denominations, and the Catholic church which is the largest of all of them, should be in awe to some degree, endeavouring to remind human beings that we are not badly behaved apes...Brother Felix said an animal cannot do wrong...but we can do much wrong. On the other side is something marvellous. There is the hope of everlasting life. This hope is in the human race. Some people will say that's some Christian thing. Cut it out. That's full of baloney. That it's only a Christian idea that the Christians invented life after death. The oldest ruins on the face of the Earth are tombs. They are 15 thousand years old. and you can see then in Burren in County Clare Ireland. They are made with prodigious expenditure of energy without any machinery, great stone lifted into primitive arches, to give a home for the dead. The largest and intact buildings on the face of the Earth are magnificent tributes to the human hope and expectation that this life is not the end. Those buildings of course are called the pyramids in Egypt. Incredible monuments soaring into the sky, the hope of human beings that they pass from this world to a better world where their real hopes and expectations will be fulfilled by the God who made them.
I've had people tell me that in the old testament there is no witness of eternal life. What do they mean when they say "and he was gathered to his father"--the Father of Abraham, Isaac and, Jacob they were dead. As Jesus said to the Sadducees "It's not the God of the dead it's the God of the living."
(Father Groeschel then goes through some examples of eternal life:Daniel Chapter 12, Maccabees 7, and John 14 1:4 "Let not your heart be troubled or be afraid")
If you're listening to this program and you don't know what's coming, if you don't know what life is all about, keep this in mind because everyone hopes that by obeying the commandments of God, they may have eternal life.
Unfortunately we live in a sad and sorrowful time when our public leaders, the leaders of the 20th century, politicians, they do not ask the question, what is right or wrong, but what is expedient. Or what will sell. Sometimes they refuse to see the most obvious fact in the world.
The commandment says: Thou shalt not kill. I am going to get around to all the commandments, of the natural law of revealed religions of the bible, the commandments of Christ. But just this one commandment, thou shalt not kill--have religious people killed? Of course they have. Have religious people betrayed God? Certainly.
The fact is, it is objectively wrong to kill. There may be an excuse to stop someone whose trying to kill you or an innocent person but otherwise the commandment is there: Thou shalt not kill. The commandment of justice. Unfortunately the leaders of nations in the 20th century, even the better ones, have been very expedient, about killing people. We like to think that our side, the allies, in the war didn't kill people unnecessarily but we most certainly did. Those commandments were broken. And what about those who did hideous things? What about Albert Speer, the devil's architect, Hitler's architect? He pleaded at Nuremberg when he was tried on the natural law of philosophy and theology. And he pleaded, "I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know we had slave labourers, I didn't know we were killing people arbitrarily." He got away with it. He got 20 years. When Speer was dying in a recent biography, Speer said, "I chose to be blind". What terrible terrifying words. I'm sorry to tell you this brothers and sisters, but as we begin to discuss in these 13 segments, the Law of God, I'm sorry to tell you, that religion in the United States is nothing to write home to St. Paul about.
I tell you this very sadly. But recently we had a hideous thing in public life. A partial birth abortion. A partial birth abortion! That's not abortion, that's murder. And I am horrified to tell you, that a professor at George Town University, and a member of an organization that vows to defend the teachings of the Church, a Jesuit, in the New York Times, supported the veto of the Legislation outlawing that horrible procedure.
Brothers and Sisters don't be part of the confusion of this time. Don't be part of it. In the new Catechism we have a wonderful teaching, a marvellous teaching on morality. The Catechism calls it a Catechisis. That's a religious teaching. The Holy Spirit who is the interior master of our lives according to Jesus, and the teaching about grace and how you and I can get the help, that despite our weakness, to do God's will and I can tell you in this series of people who have overcome incredible weakness. People in the 12 step program. The teaching on the Beatitudes. of blessed peace in this life. Of the Catechis of sin and forgiveness. Of virtue. Of human virtue and the great virtues that come from God alone: Faith Hope and Charity. The Catechisis of the Commandments. That prepares us to live the way Christ taught in Mathew 25. "I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me."
Don't let anybody tell you that that is not about judgement. That is Christ's description of the Last Judgement. St Augustine tells us, "If they came to you with open hands, hungry and naked and in need and you responded you gave to Christ. And if you didn't, you call upon yourself a judgement."
This series may not be what a lot of people would like to call the Good News. It's about the moral teaching of the natural law of Sacred Scripture, of Jesus Christ, and the teacher that he left to the world, when he said to the Apostles, "he who hears you, hears me". The teaching of the Church. It may not be pleasant for a lot of people to hear it. But it is absolutely necessary if we are going to make something beautiful out of our lives. Our lives are a transition to a fuller more perfect life. Jesus says, if you love me, keep my commandments."