When the Philosophy of the Gospel Governed the States
There was once a time when States were governed by the philosophy of the Gospel. Then it was that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom had diffused itself throughout the laws, institutions, and morals of the people, permeating all ranks and relations of civil society. Then, too, the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, established firmly in befitting dignity, flourished everywhere, by the favour of princes and the legitimate protection of magistrates; and Church and State were happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices. The State, constituted in this wise, bore fruits important beyond all expectation, whose remembrance is still, and always will be, in renown, witnessed to as they are by countless proofs which can never be blotted out or ever obscured by the craft of any enemies.
A Mysterious Enemy of Christian Civilization Emerges
It is to be found everywhere and among everyone; it can be both violent and astute. In these last centuries, it has attempted to bring about the intellectual, moral, and social disintegration of the unity in the mysterious organism of Christ. It strove for nature without grace, reason without faith, freedom without authority, and, at times, authority without freedom. It is an “enemy” that has become increasingly apparent with an absence of scruples that still surprises: Christ yes; the Church no! Afterwards: God yes; Christ no! Finally, the impious cry: God is dead and, even, God never existed! And here now, is the attempt to build the structure of the world on foundations which we do not hesitate to indicate as the main causes of the threat that weighs upon humanity: an economy without God, law without God, politics without God.
From Protestantism to French Revolution
That harmful and deplorable passion for innovation which was aroused in the sixteenth century threw first of all into confusion the Christian religion, and next, by natural sequence, invaded the precincts of philosophy, whence it spread amongst all classes of society. From this source, as from a fountainhead, burst forth all those later tenets of unbridled license which, in the midst of the terrible upheavals of the last century, were wildly conceived and boldly proclaimed as the principles and foundation of that new conception of law which was not merely previously unknown, but was at variance on many points with not only the Christian but even the natural law.
From the Bourgeois to the Proletarian Revolution
After the bourgeois revolution of 1789, the time had come for a new, proletarian revolution: progress could not simply continue in small, linear steps. A revolutionary leap was needed. Karl Marx took up the rallying call, and applied his incisive language and intellect to the task of launching this major new and, as he thought, definitive step in history towards salvation – towards what Kant had described as the “kingdom of God”. […]
With great precision, albeit with a certain one-sided bias, Marx described the situation of his time, and with great analytical skill he spelled out the paths leading to revolution – and not only theoretically: by means of the Communist Party that came into being from the Communist Manifesto of 1848, he set it in motion. His promise, owing to the acuteness of his analysis and his clear indication of the means for radical change, was and still remains an endless source of fascination. Real revolution followed, in the most radical way in Russia. Together with the victory of the revolution, though, Marx’s fundamental error also became evident.
From Communism to Libertinism: “No” to God, “no” to Morality, “no” to Laws
Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. This is the direction taken by doctrines which have lost the sense of the transcendent or which are explicitly atheist.
The individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgement which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil. To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgement is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience. But in this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and “being at peace with oneself,” so much so that some have come to adopt a radically subjectivistic conception of moral judgement.
At the End of the Process, the Triumph of Our Lady and the Church
This persecution [the Church] knows, because she has suffered it in all times and places. Many centuries she spent in bloodshed thus give her the right to proclaim with holy pride that she does not fear it, and will know how to confront it whenever necessary.
We do not want the picture of the present painful situation to shake the courage of the faithful in their belief in divine help, for God will provide the final victory in due course and by mysterious means. […] In spite of the forces that conspire against her, the Church continues, deprived of all human help and support, to extend her action to the most diverse ambiences. No, the former prince of this world will no longer be able to dominate as before, for he has been expelled by Jesus Christ, and Satan’s attempts, although they cause much evil, will never obtain the supreme triumph.
Taken from the Heralds of the Gospel magazine, #195.