Posted by: frroberts | December 30, 2017

Repost: Why do people leave the Church

In 18th century France atheism was beginning to become very popular, especially among the intellectual elite.  One of the most prominent, if not the most prominent, French intellectuals at that time was Voltaire, a rabid atheist who hated the Church.  Voltaire had a disciple who was a raised in a devout Catholic home who wanted to leave his childhood faith behind and become a free thinker like his teacher.  The problem was that no matter how hard he tried, he could not shake his childhood faith in the real presence of Jesus, body, blood soul and divinity in the Eucharist.

Voltaire’s response to the letter was simple.  He advised the young man to receive the Eucharist as often as possible.  But rather than going to confession before receiving communion, as he had been taught, he should go out and commit as many mortal sins as possible.  If the young man did these things, Voltaire explained, he would soon curse God, despise the Church and renounce his faith.   The young man took Voltaire’s advice and within four months he had become a convinced atheist and hated everything to do with religion.

Rather than offer arguments claiming that the Catholic belief in the real presence was false or superstitious, Voltaire suggested sacrilegious reception of the Sacrament because he knew that sacrilege is a much shorter and more sure road to unbelief than argument.

And isn’t this precisely the way it happens in the lives of so many who fall away from the faith?  Very often those who leave the Church do not do so because they are convinced by arguments to switch religions or to stop believing in organized religion or in God; they so do because they have fallen into the habit of receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, without going to confession and unrepentant.


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