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Is it proper to view the Church in terms of "golden ages", or high vs. low points?  What I mean is that, it seems to me that we can point to some periods in Christianity that were great, with clergy and laity alike living like they should.  I could point to the age of the apostles, for example, in which I (hopefully not naively) see the Apostles and the lay people living as holy as possible.  But then later during the persecutions it gets hairy, with apostates and heretics and such.  And then we rebound.  I'd say the time during the Borgia popes, etc., was a time where clergy and laity maybe were a little bit more wild.  Then overall maybe the 1800s weren't so bad.

My question in sum, I suppose, are times in the Church like a pendulum?  If so, could we look at our time as a time of unholiness that hopefully will be righted in 100 years or so?

I had conversations with family tonight (I am a new father) about children.  After being discouraged to have more than two, I was told two sets of stories of relatives of some at table that said in the 60s priests told them that they could start contracepting after five or six kids.  "You've done enough, you've done your service to the Church."  It blew my mind.  I hope that these relatives are not judged harshly according to the wolves in sheep's clothing.
I wonder if it's even that simple. A Church founded by St. Paul lapsed almost immediately into incest and other porneia. Priests have been violating the promise of continence/celibacy as long as it has existed. There's always been chaff with the wheat.

Even the times of great saints are usually hardly golden periods. The state of the Church around the time of St. Francis and St. Dominic was hardly cheery; more than one commentator has termed it worse than the chaos after Vatican II (though it's hard to imagine anything worse, except perhaps the 16th century schisms).

Raptor is correct - each period of history holds its particular challenges for the Church.  Belloc (or Chesterton  -  I forget which)  observed that with a certain strength comes a corresponding vice.  Catholics of the middle ages were braver than now, but more cruel.  Others may have had more zeal, but they were less tolerant.  We are more merciful and tolerant, but weaker and less precise. 
Historically, yes. A historian can take the historical data and draw conclusions of periods of the Church. But for each person, their time is the best for them.
(06-10-2013, 08:13 AM)Scriptorium Wrote: [ -> ]Historically, yes. A historian can take the historical data and draw conclusions of periods of the Church. But for each person, their time is the best for them.

Best or not, it's all we get. 
Yes. But I say best because God created us in our time. It is optimal for our salvation. It's not just an accident.
You know what would be really neat ? A History as exhaustive as Will and Ariel Durant but written like the Discoverers by Boorstin. Boorstin showed how discoveries in a chain led to other discoveries and thus changed western societies.  There are some stuff I've read and you guys probably know more, but the Monks not only kept the books, but helped to return society to some semblence of civilization through these Books after Rome fell. The Roman Legions made "factories" driven by water power and fully automated to process wheat to flour. They did this wherever the went to war. This was lost. I suspect the Monks were the real force which re-built
Civilization as they brought Christianity to the Europeans. How Christianity and technology went hand in hand would be fabulous to me.