What has happened in American society, because it first happened in the Church, is an abandonment of the Natural Law. Natural Law is the philosophy, grounded in reality, where a thing acts according to its end, meaning its predetermined goal inherent in its nature.
So the end of the eye is to see, the end of the fish is to swim, the end of the acorn is to grow into an oak. So a thing's "nature" is determined by its end and it acts accordingly. When we take this principle and apply it to man, we can say that the end of man is God, Himself.
As for our natures, even though they are fallen and, therefore, struggle, oftentimes mightily, our end is to achieve Heaven. Natural Law answers the pressing question of every human being: What is the meaning of life? Natural Law tells us that the meaning, the end, what the Greeks called the telos, of life is Heaven.
Therefore, whenever we act in such a way that is in accord with our end, our purpose for being, we are acting correctly, according to our natures. This is all so blindingly clear that it's hard to elaborate on even further.
The old Baltimore Catechism summed it all up in the first questions: "Why did God make me?" Answer: "God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and be happy with Him in this world and forever in the next." That is Natural Law, and anything that helps with that is moral. Anything that takes us off the course of our end, our telos, is immoral.
But in the early part of the last century, a new philosophy of "personalism" came into fashion which moved the focus away from objective reality — and, therefore, objective morality — and started pressing the case for a subjective, self-determined morality based on the person, hence "personalism."
In a very broad stroke, objective morality is the side on which the Church stands. Subjective morality is the side opposed to the Church. Using abortion for an example, objective morality says the object of what you are doing — killing a child — is immoral. Subjective morality says, "It's my body and I get to decide."
The difference in approaches is extremely clear. So when the world began shifting the underpinnings of its morality from Natural Law to personalism, various churchmen should have stood up and defended the Natural Law — they did not. Instead, in a failed attempt to keep up with the spirit of the times, various churchmen tried baptizing personalism and welcoming it into the Church. This has caused no end of chaos.
Fifty years after the issuance of Pope Paul VI's landmark encyclical on birth control, Humanae Vitae, the wheels have completely come off the wagon. The Church is in massive retreat on all fronts, suffering unsustainable demographic hits which are quickly driving her to the brink of extinction in the West. Logic has been replaced by feelings, intellect replaced by emotions, and for a creature such as man, who is wired for truth — to seek it and embrace it — this is no way to run a candy store.
Many many Catholics today ask, "What's gone wrong in the Church?" The answer is the abandonment of the Natural Law. It has brought madness to every aspect of Catholic life, liturgy, sacraments, devotions — everything. And that's because bad philosophy leads to bad theology, which leads to bad morality which leads to Hell.
[Michael Voris] Edited for the bulletin