Let me discuss an observation I have been making whilst contemplating on the decay of faith not only outside the boundaries of the Church, but moreso within her very own walls.
We all know that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church of Christ: the holy Catholic Church. And so, the enemies from outside the Church have all failed in all centuries past. But what happens when the enemy is no longer outside, but within? What if there is a group within the Church - akin to the Trojan Horse - that has opened the doors of the Church from within to allow the forces of darkness to enter into her - to allow the smoke of hell to enter the sanctuary?
The Church is the universal sacrament of salvation and as such has the mission to lead people to God. That is her purpose on this earth. What happens when the Church reverses this principle? What happens when the Church stops teaching man to adjust to God and instead allows for a thinking in which God factually has to adapt to man's whims?
The crisis of faith does not seem to *only* be a problem of disastrously false implementation, but also one of principle. The "nouvelle theologie" which has shifted the focus from primarily being on God to man.
Where can we see this happening?
the Traditional Latin Mass (the Gregorian Mass of the Roman Rite) "had" to be "dumbed" down for the sake of man. The most common argument for the Liturgical Reform I have heard is that it was to make easier the entrance of protestants into the Catholic Church. To that I say: Protestants who had come to sanity returned to the Holy Mother Church even before the Liturgical Reform. And the Liturgical Reform made the return of Eastern Schismatics to the Church much more difficult. And what is to think of someone who would only convert when the Liturgy - which has organically developed over the centuries - is dumbed down in order not to be "all too Catholic"???
And some say that "people could not understand" the Latin. So factually abolishing the Latin is the answer? Why can the studying of Latin not be considered as yet another practice of humility and obedience? What is the attitude behind that? One of convenience! But the Christian is never about convenience: he knows he is fallen and that he must allow Himself to be formed by God through His Church unto eternal life.
If anyone has read the book "Why Jews Become Catholics", one will not be able to hold back one's tears reading the marvellous and touching conversion testimonies of Our Lord's own people! And there was one thing that seemed to magically attract converts to the holy religion: the splendour of the Gregorian Mass! Holiness, Beauty, Reverence: these are the ingredients to true conversion.
We also see a change in terms of architecture. In the past the church was easily recognizable as one: it was different from profane architecture. The way it was built was especially for the Holy Mass: it was indeed a house of worship. One would get the impression that every single stone was itself a prayer. The form was shaped by liturgical piety!
And what do we have now? UGLY bunker-like or market-hall-like buildings! "Abstracts". I've seen churches that are far uglier than the bunkers built during World War I. And why did this happen? Since the Liturgy has been adapted to man, the traditional church architecture especially made for the Gregorian Mass no longer made sense: so too, architecture has been adapted to the modern man: it became a field of experimentation and expression of one's "abilities in the abstract". Church architecture no longer is a visible testimony to faith, it has turned to something bunker-like; but even a bunker would look better than many modern churches. Instead of leading man to God, portraying the splendour of truth, modern churches are hideously ugly: cold, empty. Why? Because it is no longer focused on God.
In the past we had a very distinct type of music: chant along with the organ - both being set aside primarily for the worship of God according to the principle of holiness. Music was sung worship, sung prayer, sung communication with God: with God being the one to be pleased.
What now? Now we have new songs: profane in their sound, wishy washy in their lyrics. Profane instruments like guitars, tambourines, drums and the like somehow found their way into the churches. The effect is not the "sanctification" of what is profane, the effect is quite different: the sanctuary is becoming more and more profane. The aspect of holiness is being banished by a purely human and immanent element. Music is now there to "please the people of God" instead of God. How often do we hear people complain that "young people do not like chants. That's so out-dated!". But it is holy! And that's what liturgical music is supposed to be: clearly set apart from all profane music. But then again, this is the effect of another adjustment towards man instead of God.
Yes this too expresses the change in principle: in the past all priests and religious were meant to wear either a cassock or the respective religious habit: it was not only a symbol of mortification, but also a silent means of evangelization and giving testimony to the truth - akin to the church being a symbol of the faith despite the building not talking to anyone. Religious/clerical clothing directly points anyone confronted with it to God: everyone knows automatically that the person wearing it is a servant of God's - thus, such specific clothing leads man's mind straight up to God!
And what about today? Apart from some few exceptions, we see many clerics and religious no longer wearing the cassock or their religious habits. They have abandoned a means to evangelization and testimony-giving when in the world. And anyone seeing them would not be lead to think about God: no, they would simply see the person in his/her fancy modern clothing! Instead of being lead to God, you arrive at a dead-end with the person you behold with your eyes! Instead of the cleric or religious being "transparent" to man, he/she is now having man behold himself/herself. Is this the attitude of true humility? Is this the attitude of mortification? Is this not rather the attitude of pride and vanity?
These are just a couple of aspects that seem to show a certain connection with each other in terms of principles: the connecting dot between these various expressions of the decay of truly Catholic piety is the shift of focus from God to man. Man seems to have put himself up high on a pedestal which in reality is the place of God alone. Man cannot serve two masters at the same time, we cannot have two primary focuses at the same time. The more we focus on our sinfull selves, the more we move away from God.
The solution is to be found in a re-ordering of principles. God above all else: this must be the case not only in theory, but also in all fields of practice.