Pray as you read this Catholic Manifesto for the 21 century. It shows the only solution for peace for your family and the world.
“What, then, is the solution? At the very least it will demand of us, each in his own vocation and sphere of influence, a consecration to Truth as the final arbiter of reality in all situations that confront us.
It will necessarily lead us to abandoning artificial constructs of interaction with the world—especially those strategies that would seek a good at the cost of hiding or equivocating the truth. It will demand courage of us, especially the willingness to lose everything for the sake of truth.
Moreover, it will demand that in our very being we become presences of incarnated truth, bringing Christ into the so-called “naked public square” not only in our words but with our whole lives.
It must be done with love, but it must also be done firmly, clearly, and with moral authority. Mankind does not need more rhetoric. It needs living words dynamically present in the agoras of the world. It needs steadfast men, it needs witnesses, it needs martyrs.”
Sign of Contradiction and the new world order
by Michael D. O’Brien
If the warning of the Mother of God at Fatima is understood in its broader sense, (“Russia will spread her errors throughout the world and many nations will cease to exist.”), what is now occurring globally is a new wave of the original forces that launched the tide of the French Revolution, followed by successive revolutions that increasingly secularized the human community. Then came the great waves of the Communist revolution, Fascism, and so forth, wave after wave that reshaped human societies and institutions—indeed the very perceptions of life itself. We are presently in the midst of the worst and most dangerous wave of all, the tsunami of worldwide Materialism.
A tsunami out in mid-ocean is barely noticeable, just a swell on the surface that seems harmless, hardly rocking the boat. But when the wave meets the shore it reveals its nature and the horrendous damage begins. That is why Catholic peoples, if they are faithful to their identity and stand firm in their respective nations, becoming fully who and what they are, will be “signs of contradiction.” I think of Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Malta, Ireland, and others—few in number but not lacking in courage. God-willing, such signs will stick in the throat of the Beast and inhibit, perhaps even stop, its plans to devour mankind. Given enough time and perseverance, they may even succeed in turning the European Union back toward the original vision of its founders, which was Christian in its principles and was intended for the building of a community of nations, not the creation of a godless European super-state.
Resistance will cost much in terms of sacrifice, for it asks men of good will and good conscience to stand firm in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. As Pope Benedict said in his concluding remarks on March 24:
… be present in an active way in the public debate on the European level, aware that this is now an integral part of the national debate, and accompany this effort with effective cultural action. Do not bow to the logic of power as an end in itself! May you draw constant motivation and support from the admonition of Christ: if salt loses its flavor, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
The manifestations of the struggle vary from continent to continent, but are the same in essence: mankind is presently involved in a worldwide war against the eternal value of the human person. We cannot retreat from these conflicts, cannot abandon the field to the opposition. Neither should we presume that we can preserve a little space for morality by making a “separate peace” with evil. In this regard, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has much to teach us about governments, wars, and the personalities that shape our future: The passages where Saruman, a political realist, makes his compelling arguments for submission to the Dark Lord are significant, his brilliant malice obvious enough. But we should also keep in mind brave Boromir, a benevolent and idealistic political realist, who was a hair away from handing the whole world over to the Dark Lord without realizing he was doing so. And he would have done so, had not a small and humble person named Frodo run from Boromir’s ever-so-reasonable arguments. In his flight from deception, Frodo did not abandon his mission but rather preserved its integrity and in the end, against all odds, brought it to fulfillment. Fiction, myth, fantasy? Yes, in a sense, but ultimately more real than much of what we consume through the information media.
How easily we grasp at reductionist “realist” solutions. How swiftly we fall into fractures between the interior and exterior life, forgetting (or never having learned) that individuals and nations alike cannot long sustain two contradictory modes of interaction with the world: for example, one set of rules about human life for domestic policy, and a different set of rules for foreign policy. The interior and the exterior should be one, as well as positive and morally true, otherwise disintegration follows. Power and wealth may extend for a time a false equilibrium, but it cannot last. Moreover, its latter condition will be worse than its former.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127)
What, really, is the psychological cosmos in which we now live? The larger architecture seems visible enough: the declining demographics of the West, the rise of China as an economic and military threat, the apparent instability of Islamic nations and subsequent Pax Americana, fear of terrorists ever-present like a gas in the atmosphere within the borders of our homelands, while our deepest terrors are anesthetized by the “soma” drug of consumerism. And all about us we are offered false either/or solutions. For example, look carefully at the candidate “choices” in the politics of democratic Western nations and you will find utilitarianism at every turn— camouflaged by idealist or patriotic or humanitarian or “liberal”-versus-“conservative” rhetoric, as well as its most odious offshoot, religious utilitarianism.
For the sake of illustration, imagine this scenario: You are presented with a choice. Threatened by a foreign leader with a Koran in one hand and in his other a nuclear weapon, you can choose to elect as your own national leader a figure with a Bible in one hand and in his other a nuclear weapon. Which of the two would you want to determine the future of the world? Oh, and as a supplementary detail, both of them are willing to drop the bomb on the other.
Recoiling in horror, you might then turn to an alternative set of candidates, thinking you must now elect a leader who, like you, abhors nuclear weapons. He may or may not have a Bible in one hand, but it is more likely he will have The Humanist Manifesto (a sacred text of Materialism) in one hand and a suction tube in the other.
Are these our only choices? If so, this is no choice at all. It is a piece of deadly theater.
Is there no third way? Why is so much public discussion about the current world situation lacking in creative imagination? Why is there so little serious examination of alternative paths through the maze of our current troubles? Has the entire world become gripped in a fierce lock-step fatalism that masquerades as realism? Has virtually everyone in governments lost faith in anything other than raw power and the instruments of death?
In his encyclical The Splendor of Truth, John Paul II wrote that “the morality of acts is defined by the relationship of man’s freedom with authentic good. This good is established, as the eternal law, by Divine Wisdom, which orders every being toward its end … Acting is morally good when the choices of freedom are in conformity with man’s true good…” (Veritatis Splendor, n.72, see also 71-83). Quoting Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, he goes on to warn that “while it is true that sometimes a lesser moral evil may be tolerated in order to avoid a greater evil, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (cf Romans 3:8)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order…” (VS, n.80).
Webster’s dictionary and the Oxford University dictionary provide excellent definitions of the term utilitarianism. Strictly speaking, it proposes that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome—in other words, the end justifies the means; one may do evil in order to bring about a perceived good. In a broader sense, utilitarianism can be defined as a philosophy (and I include here conscious and subconscious philosophies) that reduces the eternal value of the human person to a utility. He is a number; he is a mechanism; he is a component in an agenda. He is as valuable as what he can produce or to the degree that he can be used for production. He is disposable to the degree that his life impedes or has ceased to be useful for a perceived end, usually described as the “common good.”
Let us pause a moment here and recall two sayings about this very attitude:
“It is better that one man should die than the entire nation be destroyed.” (Caiaphas)
“The fruit of abortion is nuclear war.” (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
Caiaphas is a master strategist, the arbiter of “lesser evils” for the sake of an apparent national religious good. In sharp contrast, Mother Teresa points to the real configuration of the world: individuals and nations cannot do evil without consequences; even the most “private” or personal acts affect the human community; internal moral evils will express themselves eventually in external moral evils, because the moral order has been broken at the foundational level; “lesser evils” on the national and international scale can unleash evils of catastrophic proportions.
When pondering the proliferating “isms” of our era, it is easy to get lost in the terminology. But for the sake of simplicity, it may be helpful to consider the two distinct moral philosophies of Materialism and Utilitarianism as alternate faces of the same phenomenon. Or put another way, they are incestuously united, producing in turn one deformed offspring after another. Put still another way, we could see practical utilitarianism as the working arm of theoretical Materialism; and by extension, religious utilitarianism as the working arm of religious materialism.
Religious materialism? How is that possible? Indeed, it is not only possible, it is abundantly evident all around us, and is manifest no more obviously than in nations that profess themselves to be religious while pursuing policies that wage aggressive war—militarily, economically, demographically, and culturally—racking up vast numbers of innocent victims while they invoke the national deities. Pious rhetoric notwithstanding, we should look at what they do. Utilitarians in practice (though not always in their lip-service) deny the truth that each and every person is a good in himself, of equal and eternal value. Utilitarians do not consider that “common goods” purchased by the destruction or exploitation of human life are not good. In fact, the evils they bring about are more insidious and corruptive when masquerading as virtue. Listen to their words, if you must, but observe more carefully their actions.
Such philosophy is possible only in minds that have succumbed to moral compartmentalization. Their fractures in perception and thinking lead to evil acts justified as “necessary evils” or “lesser evils” for the preservation of the apparent good. Some utilitarians reject even these categories, for they cannot conceive of their actions as “evil” in any way whatsoever. Thus, the abstraction of catastrophe—countless unique human lives are eradicated violently in the name of the “good”, and reduced to statistics. Domestic collateral damage and foreign collateral damage, all tabulated, interpreted, and presented to us as data, which supposedly we are to sagely weigh in a state of dissociation. That is the rhetoric of hell.
There is a deeper problem with all this, namely, that once utilitarianism, in theory, is defined and exposed, every Catholic would say, “Oh, yes, that’s evil.” Yet, all too often there is a disconnect between theory and practice, as if we feel that such evils are regrettable but unavoidable; and that it is impossible for us personally to bridge the great chasm between what we conceive as a Christian “ideal” and practical reality, what we feel are our sad but necessary compromises with evil. To the degree that we think this way, that is the measure of how badly we have become infected by utilitarianism. The objective reality here is that other human beings, who are as beloved by God as we are, will pay for our disconnect with their suffering and/or their deaths. We will continue to vote for the utilitarian who seems less evil to us or who offers us an apparent good, such as security or economic stability (which we have, consciously or subconsciously, decided is a higher good than the sacredness of human life). A problem deeper still is the inability to even see the disjunct. What is the cause of this? Is it utilitarianism alone, even the worst kind, religious, or is there something else that needs pondering here?
Perhaps it bears considering that the most terrifying form of utilitarianism might be the kind that is not only religious, but is spiritual as well. To become a “spiritual utilitarian” would mean that one enters a deeper realm of evil, where other souls are manipulated, exploited, and discarded for a spiritual end—in other words a Satanic level of evil. It is beyond the scope of this article to examine that dimension, but it begs a question: What prevents religious utilitarianism from becoming spiritual utilitarianism?
What, precisely, is the security wall that keeps us from slipping that far down? Is it our sense that we are the good guys? Is it a medicine bag of democratic nostrums and notions, an ethos, a vague sense of right and wrong, a line drawn in the sand over which we are sure we would never cross. Where is this line? What stops us from stepping over it, or from being pushed over it by perceived historical necessities? We are more than familiar with what bad guys do, the Hitlers and Stalins and Maos and suicide bombers of diverse persuasions, and all their lesser imitators. But what about us? Where, exactly, are our outermost limits of the permissible?
“If God is dead, then everything is permissible,” says one of the characters in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. But what if a person still believes in God and goes to church, perhaps even devotedly, yet his instinctive feelings and his choices remain those of a practical materialist? For such a person, “everything” is still permissible, but it is considered an unfortunate unavoidable necessity. Thus, he will need to find a self-justifying political philosophy, without which he could not live with himself. His philosophy may be brilliantly articulated or hardly articulate at all, but in its various degrees of sophistication it will do a common thing: It will deny that moral absolutes are authoritative in every sphere of human endeavor. He may bow to those absolutes when practiced in private life, but will negotiate them away in the realm of public life. The negotiations may be argued in sublime language, the moral questions sliced to molecular thinness, the compromises justified by impressive reasoning, but the end effect will be the same. The “liberal” and “neo-liberal,” the “conservative” and “neo-conservative” alike, will enclose the moral order of the universe in a ghetto, and he will do it in the name of freedom.
What, then, is the solution? At the very least it will demand of us, each in his own vocation and sphere of influence, a consecration to Truth as the final arbiter of reality in all situations that confront us. It will necessarily lead us to abandoning artificial constructs of interaction with the world—especially those strategies that would seek a good at the cost of hiding or equivocating the truth. It will demand courage of us, especially the willingness to lose everything for the sake of truth. Moreover, it will demand that in our very being we become presences of incarnated truth, bringing Christ into the so-called “naked public square” not only in our words but with our whole lives. It must be done with love, but it must also be done firmly, clearly, and with moral authority. Mankind does not need more rhetoric. It needs living words dynamically present in the agoras of the world. It needs steadfast men, it needs witnesses, it needs martyrs.
A generation ago, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in an interview that the two most compelling evangelical gifts of the Church are its martyrs and its arts. The role of martyrdom in an apostate age remains what it always has been, though its forms are now many. But what can our cultural works do to resist the decline and fall of a civilization? For one thing, they can be signs of contradiction against the tyrannical character of the surrounding psychological cosmos, the anti-human, which is the overwhelming ethos of our times. For another, they can point to a coming dawn, the civilization of love that is still possible for mankind.
“We are not asked to have shining armor to overcome Goliath, but simply to know how to choose a few stones, the right ones, with the wisdom and courage of David.” (John Paul II)
Impossible in human terms, by human strengths? Yes, of course it is. But it is precisely the impossible to which we are called. The Gospels first revolutionized the world and gave us civilization because a small group of people dared to believe in the impossible. They knew that Jesus is the Master of the Impossible. His birth, death, and resurrection were the “impossible” surprise in history. And there are more surprises to come.
posted by Fred Martinez