Now to my last point of focus from the Inspirations of the Easter Season -- the Church.
Before I truly begin in earnest, I must define clearly what I mean by the Church. By my standards, the Church is what some would call the Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church. Others, ignorant of agenda, would call it the Roman Catholic Church. I, for the purposes of being historically accurate (and for all posts in this blog) will define "The Church" in this manner. As Maurice Baring once wrote, you have only two true options in regards to your religious view -- you can either be a Catholic or an atheist. All other beliefs are really one form of one or the other.
"Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe."
- Hillaire Belloc
I don't think there is a quote that better quantifies the focus of this post more than this quote from an intellectual giant -- and a member of the Church. In the Middle Ages, those qualities went hand in hand. But since the Reformation, the Church has been systemically attacked by all sides. The accusations and innuendos spread throughout the histories as the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution spread as history and fact from one town and pamphlet to another. Soon, by the 19th century, it became fact that to be Catholic, even in Europe, was seen as a mark of disgrace.
But I think Belloc's words best amplify the crossroads that Europe faces at this moment. All attempts to develop the EU beyond its current point without expressing a sincere and deep respect for the Church and the Faith that it protects signals the final groans of the old man that is Europe. During WWI, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro/Hungarian Empire were seen as the old men of Europe. Now the whole continent can be characterized as such. Culture ceases to emanate from it; respect and pride in western civilization is no longer admired in it; and the vast majority of its peoples born of native European roots have ventured into the Wasteland of Atheism. What hope is there? Perhaps the Faith?
Pope John Paul II was a great man and an intellectual giant like Belloc, GK Chesterton, and his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. He brought the Faith back into the limelight and showed what faith could encourage. The faith of the Polish people to be delivered from the monstrosity of Marxism is one prime example. He also sought the establishment of the rights of man at all times and places. And most obviously, he inspired by traveling around the world and sharing his faith with the faithful. He died over two years ago, but in that short period of time his presence is already being downplayed by the media and the intelligentsia who apparently see some issues between the dogma of the Church and the realities of a science-based civilization. And now we have his successor -- Benedict.
I don't believe it's hyperbole to state the he has one of the most brilliant minds in the world today. And these two years have given us an indication of where he wants the Church to return to -- the glories of the past unsullied by the lies of others. His determination to resurrect the Latin Mass is the clearest example of his efforts. But other things are needed for the Church to affect the world as Christ intended.
1. Massive effort toward proper catechesis -- Most Catholics don't truly know their Faith. And went it comes time to defend it and their faith, they can't. This is incredibly unfortunate given the mind-blowing intellectual history of the Church. Only when we can properly explain our faith will souls return to the Faith.
2. A return to prayer -- John Paul the Great sought this with tremendous effort. Unfortunately, it didn't filter down to the diocesan level. Simply put, it must. Many Hispanic Catholics are leaving the Faith because they want "a more personal relationship with God." Clearly, they were never taught what prayer truly is and how to go about it. Plus, the prayers of the faithful are incredibly powerful to changing the world.
3. A return to piety -- This is not meant in the typical sense. I believe that a return to understanding the feast days of the Church and understand the calender as the Medievals did -- Saint's days, Feast Days, etc. and explore and celebrate them continually will insulate the faithful from the temptation of a overly worldly focus.
4. A passionate defense -- This cannot be downplayed. We must return to the arena of public media and awareness and defend our faith and its place in history and in current events. We must go to England and explain that the formation of the Anglican Church was led by a select few against the humble piety of the masses. We must go to Germany and explain that Luther's interpretations of the Bible were false and misleading. We must go to Spain and Poland and Ireland and Italy and demand that the Faith of their fathers must not be forgotten. And we must call out to the world that our faith makes us stronger and we will defend it against all threats, from either one heresy or another.
The Faith is Europe and Europe is the Faith.
Finally, Europe must realize the Truth of this statement. If it doesn't accept the fact that Western Civilization is built upon the foundation of the Church then Western Civilization will fall. It will be overrun by other civilizations more confident in their roots and with no qualms about replacing an older civilization with theirs. Europe, more so now than ever, is looking down upon the precipice. The heritage of its civilization, its foundation of the Church (which is greatly supported by the Greek intellectual tradition) combined with the archetypal majesty of just monarchy and a noble aristocracy is what it must return to. The rights of all men come from God. If Europe wants to destroy God, who then is ultimate source of our human rights? And it must reject the the virus of multiculturalism, which is simply cultural Marxism.
Let today be the day that we ask for mercy for our past actions and accept the penance that we must perform to return to the Grace of our Creator. Let us accept the poor decisions of the past, understand why we were wrong, and walk confidently back into the Sun.
Regardless of the decision of Europe, The Church will never die. There will always be at least two who will believe somewhere on this Earth. And where there are at least two gathered in His name, He is there.
Next post -- A review of 300.