|Is Europe about to be humbled?|
Politicians and markets are in panic across the continent leading one Telegraph columnist to ask "Who will save us now?" with a picture of Cameron, Obama and Angela Merkel among other World leaders. I don't know what kind of a Saviour the columnist is looking for, but I couldn't see Our Lord in that picture and, besides, He saves souls, not financial markets. All the politicians in the photo appear to be quite happy, so perhaps it wasn't that wise a choice of image given the great shake down that the markets are experiencing.
It has to be said, however, that the gloom descending over the 'Eurozone', which sounds rather unfortunately like a pay-per-view pornographic TV channel, is more than economic. The 'good times' were never going to last forever, no matter where and to whom you choose to attribute blame for the financial crisis now threatening the economic and political stability of an all but nominally Christian continent. I don't know too much about economics, but apparently it has something to do with 'confidence' and investors. The idea, at its most basic, is that investors lose 'confidence' in a particular market, or indeed, markets.
Sad as that is, it all sounds quite apt for our age. The Church, certainly in the United Kingdom and perhaps in large swathes of Europe has become peripheral to society, a community living on the edge. Few have 'confidence' in Her, but those who do not are guilty of 'over-confidence' in themselves. Economic prosperity seems to occur in times of 'confidence' and when it appears people are 'over-confident' the bubble bursts and splats all over Europe.
The majority in Europe regard the Church as some kind of a lunatic fringe, no matter how polite, intelligible and appeasing are many Bishops and Clergy, some of whom are so appeasing that they wonder aloud, on matters concerning Church teaching on human sexuality, "Who knows what is down the road?". Why, one wonders, would anybody 'invest' their faith in the Catholic Church when members of the hierarchy cannot give investors cast-iron guarantees on Church teaching? Sounds like some kind of theological hedge fund to me.
|The folly of atheism will be Europe's real calamity|
This, after all, is the age of technology, progress, enlightened thought, reason, rationality, science, new theory, modernism, post-modernism, feminism, socialism, unbridled capitalism and the rest. The proclamation of Divine Revelation is just old and out-moded piece of 'sky-fairy myth-making by a man dressed in white robes who, anyway, is probably the leader of an international paedophile syndicate that professes a belief in a God who probably doesn't exist so don't worry'. Our Holy Faith may be 100% true, but it isn't new, even if the Beauty that handed it down to the Apostles and through them to the Successors of those Apostles, to the Church today, is both 'ancient and new'. 'Itching ears' call for new scratches and there are no shortage of those in the modern age. Just ask Tina Beattie, for she seems to believe in most of them.
|Intellectual powerhouse: St Thomas Aquinas|
The problem is that we really do think we have moved on. We believe that our age is better than any other age, for this is the age of 'progress', 'technology' and 'reason'. As a society, we believe, like Dawkins claims, that we are or can be 'good without God'. We don't need God, because, basically we're clever and we've liberated ourselves from the bonds of religion. We believe, as a society at any rate, that God is for dumb people and not for intelligent people. The problem is that we think we can move on and sever our ties with the past, even our very link to God Himself, His Church, in a new and more 'enlightened' age. Once God has become Man, however, and 'dwelt among us', we cannot just move on and herein lies the crux of Europe's perhaps imminent downfall because, whether the markets recover or not, we will eventually pay a price for our rejection of the One who became Man for our sakes and for our sakes, died.
Like a lover who pierces our heart with their beauty in a tempestuous affair, and then leaves in the dead of night, we are left bereaved when they do leave and we long for them to come back even if we could just but see their face one last time, or smell their perfume. We can try and forget them, but deep down we long for them. We cover our pain with new theories, new modes of thought, new ideologies, new loves, new ways of life, new technologies, new, more sophisticated, so we believe, avenues, but nothing, nothing, not even mansions, gold, 24-hour cocaine parties and endless sexual amusement can replace that lover, for their beauty pierced us like a stigmata and left us wounded with love. Any continent, country or indeed person who has known, even for a century or even a day, Jesus Christ, will never be able to forget Him totally, no matter how much we try to obscure Him. Never again, would our lives be the same, if a continent has been given the great supernatural gift of Faith. Nothing can replace Jesus Christ and when we try to replace Jesus Christ with anything, it does not compare. Nothing can, because He is the Light of this World and these, these are the dark ages.
And if there can be such a thing as a 'structural' or even 'collective' sin, then our sin is the sin of over-confidence and complacency. We think that the dark ages and middle ages were bad because there was plague and people were unlettered and there was no decent sewerage systems, but in those days, when the proverbial was hitting the fan in whatever way, people believed quite rightly that everything depended upon God and His mercy and protection and His Providence. Even if it looked like the moon had gone a funny colour, people shat themselves because they thought it was an omen of Divine Judgement and started praying the Rosary. We don't do that now because we've 'moved on'. Well, maybe they were onto something, even if back then they were more simple and less educated in the sciences.
|IVF: The wilful destruction of nascent human life|
Now, we have a more 'enlightened' society, in an age of 'reason' but if a poor man comes to a block of flats for a chat with a Catholic layman, it is likely that layman will be hounded out of his home because he is bringing down the reputation of the flats down because, just like the dark ages and medieval times, there are still beggars and itinerants roaming the streets with no protection or due regard from the local authorities. I suppose in those days a monastery might have taken the man under their wings, but those days are long gone because this is the age of technology, progress, reason and enlightenment and monasteries are no longer, in the World's eyes at least, places of prayer and sanctification, but hiding holes for the mentally feeble who can't cope with 'the real world'.
These are dark ages, indeed, and it is not just an economic issue. We miss Jesus Christ and His Church. How could we not when we are made for Him!? We're still consoling ourselves with sin and unsatisfying new creeds, hoping against all hope, that sin and error will make us happy. We're still consoling ourselves with money, as if money could ever make us happy. We're still consoling ourselves with sex for pleasure alone, with copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, imagining there will be no consequences to our actions, consoling ourselves with our vices. Nothing has changed, but that we have abandoned our Faith as a continent, abandoned Christ, His Church and Our Blessed Lady.
All the progress we think we have made, and it is reflected in the life of the Church as well in many ways, is nought because we have forgotten our total and utter dependence on God. The sorrowful fact is that if the Sun emitted a whopper of a solar flare that knocked out the world's electric grids, international markets would go down, we'd have no sanitation, we'd be eating nettles and getting water from nearby springs, if we had any springs and just to cap it all off, there would be no internet, telephones or mobile phones. It may never happen, and I hope it doesn't, but if it did, we'd be screwed and royally so!
The 'progress' we believe we have made is but a coat of veneer glossing over our true human condition as sinners dependent on God. The problem is that we, foolishly, believe that we are better, more educated and sophisticated sinners than those who proceeded us. Perhaps we no longer even believe we are sinners. This complacency and over-confidence has dominated even the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church for over half a century. We all need to wake up to reality and that painful reality is our true human condition and our need for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A gloom is indeed descending over Europe, but the dark ages has nothing, absolutely nothing on us. These are the real dark ages. Deep down, in the depths of its soul, Europe knows that and Europe needs, above all else, the Light of Christ. Only then, will what was once called Christendom, start to recover from its real meltdown.