Faithful Catholics are a New Counter Culture Offering a Way Forward to the West
My return to the Catholic Church as a young man was propelled by my search for truth
It is time to build a "new society within the shell of the old with the philosophy of the new, which is not a new philosophy but a very old philosophy, a philosophy so old that it looks new." (Peter Maurin)
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - My return to the Catholic Church as a young man was propelled by my search for truth. It was also fueled by a desire to build a counter culture which embraced values different than the inhuman materialism, nihilism, lack of solidarity, violence and idolatry I saw all around me. I was a teenage hippie - I admit it.
However, I began to see that the alternative offered by that movement was illusory. I came to believe that it would replace the social order it decried with something worse. I also came to see that the problems I rejected in the society and culture around me were also within me. I embraced the Christian claim that I needed a Savior and found Him in His fullness in the Church which He founded.
I bring this up to make a point. I was not launched out of the womb a "conservative". That is one of the reasons I have never liked the label applied to my politics or theology. If anything, I saw myself as a radical in the truest meaning of the term, one trying to get back to the root.
The root I discovered led me to what early Christian writers called the Second Tree, the One planted on Calvary's Hill where the New Man, Jesus Christ, stretched out His arms to embrace the world in redemptive love and begin a New Creation. On that Cross, the Living Word, through whom the Universe was created, re-created it anew.
Theodore the Studite, an eighth century Abbot, once wrote: "How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return."
"This was the tree on which Christ, like a King on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature."
"A tree once caused our death but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality- that shame should become glory!"
A fourth century Deacon named Ephrem proclaimed: "He who was also the carpenters glorious son set up his cross above deaths' all consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life."
"Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist. We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death, like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living.
"We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead. Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all embracing sacrifice of our love and our lives"
As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - not humanism itself. I came to see that the true humanism is Christianity. That conviction led me back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church, because she is rooted in the theological anthropology and world view of the early fathers of the Church.
The existential questions I asked as a young man such as "Who Am I" and "Who are we", are still asked by men and women who hunger for more. They led me to the at the Crèche, the Cross, the empty Tomb and the Catholic Church. As the Fathers of the last Council of the Church reminded us "The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light."
It is time to acknowledge that the collapse of Western civilization will not be remedied by political movements alone. They are inadequate for the task. Crippled by the culture of death and indoctrinated by what Pope Benedict XVI called a "Dictatorship of Relativism", the West has been seduced by the siren song of evil.
What we need is a Christian revolution and, to shake things up even further, I quote from Peter Maurin's insightful book of prose entitled Easy Essays. I do so NOT because I agree with the left wing politics which ...
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