No Church in the Wild

“As a boy, I believed in God by believing in His Church. Now that my faith in communal Catholicism is so changed, my faith in God is without certain foundation. It occurs to me to ask that profound question of modern agnosticism: Is God dead?

“I would cry into the void. . . . If I should lose my faith in God, I would have no place to go to where I could feel myself a man. The Catholic Church of my youth mediated with special grace between the public and private realms of my life, such was the extent of its faith in itself. That Church is no longer mine. I cling to the new Catholic Church. Though it leaves me unsatisfied, I fear giving it up, falling through space. Even in today’s Catholic Church, it is possible for me to feel myself in the eye of God, while I kneel in the presence of others.

“If God is dead, where shall I go for such an experience? In this modern post-religious age, secular institutions flounder to imitate the gift that is uniquely found in the temple and mosque and church. Secular institutions lack the key; they have no basis for claiming access to the realm of the private. When they try to deny their limits, secular institutions only lie. They pretend that there is no difference between public and private life. The worst are the totalitarian governments. They respect no notion of privacy. They intrude into a family’s life. They ignore the individual’s right to be private. They would bulldoze the barrier separating the public from the private. They create the modern nightmare of institutional life.

“If God is dead I will cry into the void.”

– Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez.