Build later, always – France Catholique
I’m writing on November 9, a day after “the most important election in American history”, as some called it, and I don’t dispute it, except that I note that every major election since 1992 has been “the ‘most important election in American history’, and we have since slipped and sunk further into moral confusion and madness.
In the days of Bill Clinton, that fatherless non-entity with a taste for young women and, somewhere in his confused soul, for America, it was a scandal that he took advantage of a young assistant as he did, although one reporter said, with an almost greedy physical description, that she would have performed oral sex on him just to keep the abortion “legal and safe”.
Nowadays, fourth graders are being instructed on the same subject, and the only outrage is that some think it’s still a bit young for that. As for abortion, I have heard many women insist that men have no say in it. And so they unwittingly provide testimony to their own ineptitude to belong to a civil society where people, as rational, social creatures and not millions of islands of desire, come together to discuss the common good. and how to guarantee it.
Yesterday I told a small group of conservative and devout Catholics in Canada that my country, the United States, was a “banana republic without bananas”, and that it would always be so on November 9, even if a A tide was rolling in a few dozen new Republican congressmen in power.
This does not happen. It happened in 1994, and we are still where we are, dragged down by the force of false premises, disordered desires and an electoral system designed to ensure that no intelligent, passionately passionate and impersonal conversation about an important feature of moral, political or economic life will never happen again.
The lowest passions sell: sex, fear, anger, hatred. They sell the farm and all the livestock before the farmer gets up. And the political arena, especially at a time when every potentially rational person and every feature of human life has been politicized and brought before the nation as a whole, is an exchange of passion, for sex, for fear, for anger and hate.
What do we have in the Church to sell that can compete?
Nothing. And all. What did the Christians of Nero’s time have to rival gladiators and wild beasts? A special Christian net and a trident for better retiary? Less bloodshed, but a lot more drama and action? This would conform the Church to Nero.
It’s a version of what many churches have done. Not that they got drama and action out of it; only stupidity and insignificance. They are not martyrs. They are yes-men. You can, so to speak, attend a Christian amphitheater on a Sunday, with many empty seats, and watch a plump, wobbly minister pretend to go after an old sow, poking her with a stick, and shouting victory when she waddles, bored, rolling in fresh mud.
If it’s hedonism you want, you get a much more potent brew almost anywhere else.
The Christian martyrs of Nero’s time won by remaining faithful to Christ, knowing that they would be condemned by the world, mocked, taken for fools. Yet there was beauty in what they were doing. Their life was like everyone else’s, they worked at the same tasks, and yet their life was not at all like the life of their pagan neighbors.
Emperor Julian the Apostate, 300 years later, complained that Christians took better care of sick and needy pagans than the pagans themselves. Why? Faith imposed the moral duty on them, but yet they would not have done it, I think, if they had not been in love with Christ.
We cannot dispense with judgments against bad customs and actions. They are poisonous for the people who indulge in them and for the society that tolerates them. Our Lord did not hesitate to make such judgments. Saint Paul was not shy. Charity demands judgments as a guard against temptation, as a protection for the weak, and as a sharp and corrective sting against those who succumb to it.
But it’s not pretty. Ours is a world particularly hungry for beauty. We must be vessels of beauty, that is to say beauty which does not come from us, but which inspires and transforms us, better when we ourselves are not aware of it. We must recite the prayer of this old eucharistic hymn:
Sweet sacrament, we adore you!
O make us love you more and more,
O make us love You more and more.
We must love Christ more, looking always to the man on the Cross, that eternally resonant answer to the questions of the world and the evil of the world, an answer of love which the hedonist, the servant of time and the lukewarm find all absolutely crazy. But look at what men accomplish with beauty, inspired by Christ!
May our hearts shine with quiet joy and charity. Are you a sinner? Welcome to the club. But that the Christian hospital is not like the cold secular institution on the other side of town. May the Christian school be a place of good humor and joyful cries of children who still revel in innocence. May the Christian family be like a great motionless hill, green with grass and adorned with flowers and fruit trees.
We live among the rubble? Build then, build always, boldly, cheerfully; bringing people back to their own native songs and poetry, to their own native customs that once built families, neighborhoods and schools, all to the sound of church bells.
Is it the year 2022? Well, it could have been 1922, or 1522, and the inescapable human problems would be the same, albeit in different forms, and the love of our lives should be the same too – the love of Him who says: “Come, follow me. .”
*Image: Nero’s torches by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1876 [National Museum, Kraków, Poland]. Also known as Christianity candlesticksSiemiradzki’s painting depicts Christians about to be burned alive, slandered by the Emperor as the alleged perpetrators of the Great Fire of Rome.
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