The Lexicon of Decadence

By Peter Darcy | On Jul 8, 2016 | No Comments | In Culture

By Thomas McKenna

In today’s society it is not hard to imagine the following casual conversations over a mocha chai latte at Starbucks:

What is your particular gender expression or presentation at this time?

Do you self-identify as transgender or cisgender?

Are you transitioning to another gender?

Are you a victim of transphobia?

If the terms and phrases above seem like so much meaningless jargon, you may be in for a rude awakening the next time you step into a public bathroom. In fact, the whole cultural malaise swarming about the “transgender bathroom” issue has brought our society to the very brink of insanity.

Those of us who grew up in traditional families often stand aghast at what our society has become. It’s almost as if our culture has “transitioned” into a society that – in the name of tolerance – intolerantly castigates and penalizes those whose notions of human sexuality, marriage, and family are based on nature and God’s moral law. It reminds me of the words of Aristotle that “tolerance is the last virtue of a dying society.”

Death truly knocks at the door of Western civilization due, primarily, to our society’s unrepentant sins against God’s gift of sexuality, and against His institutions of marriage and family that are the very foundations of culture. I can say with utter candor that God is deeply offended by these sins.

But what the above lexicon of decadence really signifies is the extent to which sin has separated us both from God and from each other. One hundred years ago, little Lucia Dos Santos, one of the seers of Fatima, faithfully repeated Our Lady’s message that sin would cause the Second World War – and it did. But sin continues to be the source of incessant warfare. Even the casual observer can see that something is not right among us, that we exist as a deeply divided populace and are engaged in a pervasive war of values. How are we to avoid deep cultural and political conflicts when we not only distance ourselves from God but blaspheme and revile Him in the process?

In his masterful work, The City of God, written at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, St. Augustine noted that God’s “punishment” of a sinful society will often look like the natural consequences of the disordered behaviors themselves. Societies, he says, do not have eternal souls. Whereas a repentant sinner can atone for sin in Purgatory, all that a nation can expect is to endure the temporal consequences of its collective sins. How many times in recent years have we heard the saying that “we get the politicians we deserve”? It’s frighteningly true, but it is also an example of the natural consequences of sin that are visited upon a morally corrupt polis.

Augustine also notes that sin brings a moral blindness that immerses the sinner in darkness, which, over time, has a cascading effect on behavior. Without light, the sinner sees no need to repent but simply perpetuates and increases his life of sin. The same is true of a society. Both the practice and the tolerance of such serious offenses against God gradually extinguishes the light of reason in the body politic, and society becomes overwhelmed by darkness. The problems caused by sin then spiral out of control. That is the point at which people begin saying that a man can wake up one day and “self-identify” as a woman, that genetic males can compete as women in the Olympics, that homosexual unions can be called “marriages” – and worse – that those who refuse to normalize all this perversity are criminals who must be punished.

Judging from the behaviors of many of our public officials, we have arrived at that moral tipping point. It is the fulcrum at which depravity comes home to roost, where souls darkened by sin turn against people of conscience who will not justify or give in to the decadence.

The love of darkness is displayed in the many absurdities of our day. For example, both in New York City and in our nation’s capital, Washington DC, businesses now can be fined hefty penalties for failing to address transgender people with the pronouns “ze” or “zir” instead of the traditional “him” or “her”. In New York, public institutions and businesses are legally obliged to recognize thirty-one gender identities in order to conduct business. Violation of this law carries with it an outrageous $250,000 fine. If this isn’t cultural and spiritual darkness, what is?

The list of such absurdities could be multiplied, of course, because the darkness deepens each day and there is always some bizarre twist in the culture wars. We’re living in a time of unprecedented decadence that future generations will read about and shake their heads, asking, “How was that even possible?” The theatre of absurdity that is our culture will haunt us down the halls of history, and I’m afraid that things are only going to get worse.

But the real core of the issue is not the culture war. Our real concern should be the spiritual war that is perpetually fought between light and darkness. We possess the tools of light – prayer, repentance, sacraments, Scripture, sacrifice – to conquer evil. The poor sinners who are caught up in the darkness and engage in mentally deranged behavior need our compassion and our prayers more than our condemnation, which in any case is a waste of breath to those immersed in darkness. Our prayer will do more to bring light into their hearts than anything else we could do.

A century ago, Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray in reparation for sin and to atone for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference that offend God.

It is time to get on our knees.

Thomas McKenna is the founder and Executive Director of Catholic Action for Faith and Family. He currently leads the Rosary campaign “Operation Storm Heaven” and is the author of an upcoming book on the Fatima Pilgrim Virgin Statue in preparation for the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima; please see his website at

Written by Peter Darcy

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