Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Echoes of Christendom

I spoke to a young lady a few days ago who described herself as a "housewife."

How nice, I thought. Not enough people deem the term usable anymore.

Then she went on to refer to her relationship with her boyfriend.

So, she ain't married, but she's a housewife?

Christendom is best defined as "the Christian world." Christian values - such as marriage - have shaped Western culture in nearly every aspect of its current incarnation. Christianity has inspired forays into science, exploration, technology, literature, art... you can name almost any topic, and the fingerprints of the Church can be found on it.

Yet it's no secret that Christendom is less and less a factor in the world of today. The Christian world is dying, and this is to our detriment as a species. What will replace it? Either barbarism, or fanaticism: those three have long been locked in battle. But barbarism and fanaticism aren't each other's enemies, at least not when the Church is alive and kicking. They are our dual enemy, and they are allies.

Of course, we know the Church isn't going anywhere. The promise of God assures us of that. Yet when God is despised instead of clung to, all the consequences are bad. It is Christianity that has given us the notion of peace, that world leaders cling to today. Christianity has given us true charity, true hope, true virtue, and the modern world still resounds with the concepts of these divine truths. Yet the echo is somewhat empty, robbed of a power and richness and spirit which cannot be breathed back in by mortal man, no matter how many U.N. Resolutions are made in the effort.

In Upon This Rock G. K. Chesterton noted, regarding the Protestant reformers who got rid of the Sacrament of Confession:

...the people who abolished it a few centuries ago found that they had to invent a new imitation of it a few years ago. They told the people to go to a new priest, often without credentials, and make confession generally without absolution, and they called it psychoanalysis.

This is one more example of a fact divorced from the truth. Chesterton defined a sacrament by stating [ibid], "certain material acts are mystical acts; are events in the spiritual world." Yet when the spiritual world is denied, and when its connection to the material world is ignored, we end up with these empty echoes of Christendom, reminding us of our past; of the Truth we have shut out.

The world is full of other examples - I see this especially when studying the Theology of the Body, which explains how human identity and sexuality are wrapped in sacramental symbolism, reflecting the nature of God. Yet sex is more violently profaned than anything in our society. This is the work of the enemy, no doubt.

The Church will survive. The Culture of Death will, not ironically, die. That's one reason I love large Catholic families - we will be around to fill the void with the Gospel of Life.

But what a tragic way to get there. Lord, help us win back this dying world.

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