When did ours become a culture that worships death? When did we start thinking that it’s better to die than live with suffering (especially for other people)? Or, as we saw last week, when did we decide that other people are better off dead if it is deemed by doctors that their lives are unlikely to hold the promise of future pleasures? And when did those things turn into an obligation to die (or kill) if that determination is made for you?
In my experience, “How long has this been going on?” and “Where did this idea come from?” are possibly the two most educational questions a person can ask. When I was very young, like many people, I assumed that all The Bad had come from the wacky ‘60s. My mother had told me all about it, and, having been in the centre of it all, she never thought to ask why all that was happening either. One of the first indicators I found that The ‘60s didn’t come out of nowhere was an essay by C.S. Lewis talking about the ongoing collapse of Christian mores, published in the 1940s. This, clearly, went back further than the hippies.
Of course, most readers here will know this only too well. The scholarly among us will talk about the collapse of scholastic discipline in academic theology, others will remind us of the corruption of philosophy – the move away from Aristotelian rationality into the upsidedown Wonderland of radical Cartesian doubt. I know people who blame William of Ockham and his Nominalism. All worth looking up.
What is not so well known now is the response of certain voices in the Church at each stage of the fall, all issuing the same warnings. Some of these are worth revisiting in the current state of ever-escalating crisis.
A few days ago a friend who is a parish priest, responding to the international outpouring on behalf of Alfie Evans, included one of these voices in his parish bulletin, and has kindly passed along a copy for a wider audience.
Innocent Human Life is Not Sacred and Untouchable Anymore. Why?
When we started, when our country was young, we all agreed that to deliberately kill an innocent human being, by action, or by willful, preventable inaction, was murder. And we all believed, both as individuals and as a people, that murder was a grave injustice. And the vast majority of us were Christiians who firmly agreed that murder made the person who had deliberately caused the death of another innocent person, liable to “the second death”, “eternal death” in Hell.
Now we have reached the point where it is seen as a duty to starve some patients to death, depriving them of food and water. How did we get here?
In the following text we look at the supreme and most radical (root) reason. If it is true that we must “seek first the Kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these other good things will be given to you”, then if we renounce and abandon His Kingdom, then all other bad things will come upon us.
When the supernatural, the reality and reign of divine grace in Christ, is renounced, the natural reality is also wounded or even destroyed. So we can also answer the question from the point of view of natural, philosophical truth being corrupted. And that will be the subject of a second article.
The French Revolution was essentially a conspiracy against God and against His Christ.
For a long time the nations have been shaken in secret and there has been a mute ferment of the people. At last the war cry has sounded; impiety has collected under its banners a thousand different soldiers, who have forgotten their prejudices of birth, opinion, rank, to coalesce against the common enemy. Disunited on a thousand other points, they have here only one unanimous thought:They conspired unanimously, together against You they made alliance (Ps. 82:6).
And what is this enemy against whom I see these tight battalions marching? Ah! Let others stop to discuss the secondary passions, to deplore the shaking of the blows and the accidents of the melee. For me, rising above these common calamities, I will say that in its essence and substance the conspiracy was against God and against His Christ.(cf Ps. 2: 2).
We want to break the chains of God; we want to shake off the yoke of Christ: Break their bonds, and reject far from us their yoke (Psalm 2:3). They said to God, and especially to His Christ, Withdraw from us, we do not want the knowledge of your ways ( Job 21, 14).
And it was done as it was said.
There existed an old pact, a long alliance between religion and society, between Christianity and France; the covenant was torn, the covenant broken: And they turned away [from God] and no longer observed the covenant (Ps. 77: 57).
God was in the laws, in the institutions, in the usages; He was driven out from them, a divorce was pronounced between the constitution and the Gospel, the law was secularized, and it was decided that the spirit of the modern nation would have nothing to do with God, from which it was entirely isolated:
Ps. 77: 10b and 8b : … and they would not walk in His law … and its spirit [that of the people] would not be entrusted to God.
God had on earth majestic temples surmounted by the sign of the Redeemer of men; the temples are destroyed or closed; nothing can be heard. Instead of sacred songs, there is the the sound of the ax or the screech of the saw; the Savior’s Cross is overthrown and replaced by vulgar signs: They have planted their banners in great numbers … with the ax and the double-edged ax, they have overthrown them, they have burned with fififire Your sanctuary ( Ps 73: 4b, 6b and 7a).
God had on the earth days that belonged to Him, days that He had reserved for Himself and that all ages and all peoples had respected unanimously; and the whole family of the ungodly exclaimed, Let the days consecrated to God be removed from the earth:They said in their heart, they and all their allies together: let us make cease from the earth every feast day of God (Ps. 73:8).
God had representatives and ministers on the earth, who spoke of Him and reminded the people about Him; prisons, exile, the scaffold, the sea and the rivers have devoured them all.
Finally, they said, there is no more a prophet, and God will not find anymore any mouth to make His word heard: there are no more prophets and God will not know us anymore (Ps. 73: 9b).
O all of you who carry on your forehead the holy anointing of your Confirmation, the Sacred Chrism which makes bishops and priests, kings and prophets: No matter why and how you are criticized and violently opposed, rest assured: it is because of the Name of Jesus Christ that you are an object of hatred; and the Lord, who knows how to discern between the unruly desires and the main struggle to be good, tells you, like Samuel: It is not you that they rejected, but it is Me, lest I reign over them. (I Kings 7:7).
It is done: all the rights of God are annihilated; only human rights remain standing. Or rather, man is God, his reason is Christ, and the nation is the Church.
Cardinal Pie of Poitiers
“It is done: all the rights of God are annihilated; only human rights remain standing. Or rather, man is God, his reason is Christ, and the nation is the Church,” writes Cardinal Pie. But that is an unstable situation, and a very unjust one. It can go only two ways: restore respect for the rights of God OR all true human rights will be destroyed. And that is what has happened. The most basic human right, without which no other rights can be exercised, is done away with: the absolute right to life of an innocent human being. And this corresponds to the DUTY: You shall not commit murder. It is always and everywhere wrong, it is always gravely wrong. But without the knowledge of, belief in and recognition of the Just Judge, there is no one to enforce this. Whoever has power, especially military and police power, will trample on the right to life when it is “needed” to do so.
The men of the Church, even at the very highest level, also have a responsibility for this. They lost their nerve, and have spoken a lot of human rights, and very little or nothing of what is owed to God, and to His Christ.
Let our prayer always be, but also our ultimate plan of action be: “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is Heaven.”
After absorbing this, I think I can recommend a book, for those who want to look into how things got to the Alfie Evans stage. It’s something I read in the late 90s, as I was exploring the way modern philosophy led to the outrages against human life that we all know so well in the 20th century.
Henry Friedlander, unfortunately, died shortly after producing this book. It’s sad because it was clear there was a lot more along this path to be explored by a mind so capable and thorough. “Origins of Nazi Genocide” investigates in detail the period before the War in which the Nazi-led government of Germany tried out their ethnic sanitation project on their own disabled citizens. The infamous-but-not-famous-enough Aktion T-4, in which anyone deemed “lebensunwertesleben” – life unworthy of life, was shipped to an institution designated as a death-hospital, where the only “merciful” “treatment” available was slow starvation – what we now refer to blandly as “withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration” – or the quick mercy of the lethal injection. It was also in this period that the doctors and engineers collaborated to develop gas chamber technology.
Lest we forget, Henry Friedlander will remind us that our current situation did not develop on its own, did not come out of nowhere. That, in fact, it is all of a piece. How did we get the Alfie Evans case? The same way we got Aktion T-4.
You can read the full text of this extremely important book online here.
One of the things the Alfie Evans horror has taught us is that we are not out of the utilitarian soup. We’ve just improved PR. It also teaches us that as a civilisation we have a hard choice before us. Either that, or this: the choice is laid before us, as it has been for all our history; life or death. We’ve seen where the bad choice goes. But do we know what we need to know about the good one? Let’s start asking our good priests to preach it; we need the Social Reign of Christ the King.