By Charles A. Coulombe
The Catholic Church is THE great fact of our entire civilization. Art, architecture, music, literature, theatre, law - even cuisine and sports - at their best, all bear her mark. However much she and her teachings may be despised by media and government, however many of her children may abandon her, this is a reality that cannot be shaken. For over two millennia, it has been so. Yet at the same time, the Church has perhaps never faced so great a combination of challenges as she does today. Most secular governments oppose her to greater or lesser degrees; the Mass, her most solemn rite, has in many places been turned into a collection of strange ceremonies where irreverence vies with sheer banality to conceal the awe-filled reality of what is actually happening - the descent of Jesus Christ Himself into the bread and wine on the altar. Nevertheless, there is a new wind blowing through the Church as Catholics - following the lead of their current Pope - attempt to regain ground lost in the past five decades. Benedict XVI has launched efforts - in the liturgical, evangelistic, and social spheres - which, while still in their infancy, appear well on their way to restoring something of the confidence and certainty Catholics once had in their Faith. Even so, there remains an enormous question which few are anxious to tackle: why bother with the Church at all? Why is she here? In Desire and Deception, Charles A. Coulombe makes the case that the role Christ first envisaged for her - that of the sole means of Salvation for mankind - has been completely obscured in the minds of the vast majority of Catholics today. He gives the history of how this came about, explains that this obscurity is at the root of the Church's current internal dilemmas, and shows that Catholics must regain their sense of mission if they are to fulfill Christ's mandate.
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