The Civilisation of Love

'This message of Good News, and the civilisation of love it occasions, we Catholics must now communicate imaginatively, with confidence and clarity, together with our fellow Christians, and all people of faith and good will, to the people of England, this wonderful land, Mary's Dowry.

We must offer this salvific message to a people, sorely in need of new hope and direction, disenfranchised by the desert of modern British politics, wearied by the cycle of work, shopping, entertainment, and betrayed by educational, legal, medical and social policy-makers who, in the relativistic world they're creating, however well-intentioned, are sowing the seeds of a strangling counterculture of death.' 

There is so much in this small passage of Bishop Egan's homily at his installment at Portsmouth for us to ruminate upon.

First, we see the phrase 'civilisation of love' applied by Blessed Pope John Paul II to the Catholic vision of human society. Then we have Mary, the Blessed and ever Virgin Mother of God, as key to the conversion of the English to this vision. Recall that we English have been converted to it before and there is no reason why it should not occur again. We have the 'salvific message' - we have a message of Salvation. How wonderful it is to hear a Bishop mention it!

Then the Bishop closes in on those in power and influence - the politicians and the architects of a inauthentic kind of society and lifestyle presented to us in the media - all materialism and artifice - the sad and despairing vision of society perpetuated by those in education, law, medicine and 'social policy' to create a 'counter-culture of death'.

As a Catholic, I sometimes find writing a blog depressing because what we read in the newspapers is so depressing. It's so depressing and all encompassing on human society - this 'counterculture of death' - that it is easy to forget to present the salvific message - the new and wonderful vision of man and his relationship with God that is at the heart of the Catholic Faith.

Those scars on society that we blog about a great deal - such as abortion, assisted suicide proposals, gay marriage proposals and the rest have a single thread in common that runs through them all. It is not just the 'culture of death' but the cult of self.

We hear it so much - "If you don't like abortion, don't have one", "If you don't like assisted suicide, don't have one", "If you don't like gay marriage, don't have one". It is as if we are inhabiting a society that really believes that if one person, or two persons, refuses another person's right to be born, we should not be alarmed, even though one of the human family is being destroyed. It is as if we inhabit a society in which if one person commits suicide, nobody should be alarmed even though one of the human family - a member of society - is being destroyed by himself or another.

We are, we are told, to enter into a new society in which if one man or woman 'marries' another of the same sex and builds a family with that person, nobody should be alarmed because this is a valid 'lifestyle'. We are told we should keep out of this state of affairs because this is a private matter between loving persons of the same-sex. This is despite the fact that such a state of affairs has widespread implications for the health of marriage as an institution, widespread consequences for the children involved in these relationships and for the moral education of all children taught by the State. We are told not to worry about IVF and embryology despite that little human beings are being turned into commodities and destroyed if they are not needed or found to be imperfect!

What links all of this is the idea that there is no such thing as the human family. There is no such thing as society. Society is just made up, in this fantasy world, of individuals whose decisions, lifestyles and choices have absolutely no impact upon others inhabiting that society, so 'deal with it'. Yet this is patently absurd. If people behave selfishly and think of only their own happiness and that of their 'partner' and to hell with the common good of society then of course it has implications for everyone. In such a society, of course there will be many, many victims!

Despite what people say of the Church, we care about the victims (and the perpetrators) since we too are wounded by sin and selfishness. We know that it is Christ who is alone able to set us free and bring us true liberation from the tyranny of self. This He achieves through His One, Holy, Catholic Church - the instrument of His forgiveness, mercy, redemption, salvation, healing and love. He does it through the Sacraments. He is able to offer us an intimacy greater than any merely human relationship because He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need and knows that we need Him, far far more, in fact, than He needs us!

Despite the fact that the wisdom of all ages and all religions suggests that man cannot be happy when thinking of his own happiness and contentment in isolation from his brothers and sisters, this is exactly the agenda advanced by so many today.

The 'culture of death' advanced by so many in influence in society is marked by this terrible deceit that doing what is best for yourself is doing what is best, despite the fact that selfishness brings misery and disenchantment upon the selfish individual. Living for the pleasure principle does not bring man or woman happiness. Taking loads of drugs do not make happy people. Hedonism does not make people happy. Divorce does not make people happy. Abortion does not make women happy. Homosexual acts do not make homosexuals happy. Even sex does not bring about a deep and lasting satisfaction to individuals because serves a particular two-fold purpose of bonding and procreation. Time and again it is shown to us that money does not make us happy. The truth is that an inordinate love for anything either not rooted in God or not of God Himself cannot make man happy. Only Jesus Christ can make people happy. Everything else that is presented to us as bringing happiness is either fleeting, transitory happiness or a deceit from the father of lies himself!

That is why society, and indeed we Catholics, too, since we, too, are wounded in our nature by our own sins, can never find happiness in this life outside of God. For as St Augustine said, we are made for Him, by Him and can find no rest until we are in Him. He is our destiny and our end! How could we be truly happy in exile!? For, as long as we are not perfect and in Heaven we are not wholly happy. What we do have is the spiritual joy of knowing our Creator and Redeemer, of being forgiven by Him and of sharing in the life of the Blessed Trinity.

It is evident - truly evident! - that those who deny that we inhabit a 'desert' created by politicians and social policy makers to be a 'counterculture of death', are not living in the real world to a degree that far outstrips the 'sky-fairy myth' of which we are so often accused. People are miserable because their worlds are cold and bleak while society fragments into a billion pieces.

There is a way to happiness and to salvation for all mankind that the Church puts forward as the great antidote to the desperation of our age. It is nothing other than Jesus Christ. It is the way of Jesus Christ for He is The Way. It has nothing to do with selfish desires being fulfilled. It has everything to do with seeking and desiring the good and benefit of everyone but yourself. We may not or may never achieve this vision of self-sacrificial love in our lives to the extent that we should, but even we, mediocre lovers as we can be can point to others the way, for we point to Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life! This is the love that builds the 'civilisation of love'. It is the love that comes from God!

We can say boldly that same-sex marriage will not make children happy. It will not make society happy. It will not make teachers happy, nor the Church, nor even the politicians who craft the legislation happy. It will not make the Queen happy and it will not even make the homosexuals who 'marry' happy because it is false marriage. It is, of its nature, a lie, a deceit, and as the homosexual community always are at pains to point out, living a lie makes nobody happy! They say if you really love someone set them free. We must convince the English that nobody loves us like Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ can set us free!


umblepie said…
An excellent post, thank you.
Phil said…
Very sound post