Ora et Labora
"You must feel like Gibbon sometimes," writes a sympathetic subscriber, "chronicling the decline and fall of the West!"
No doubt about it. Having spurned its Source and Inspiration, namely Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Church He delegated to teach His Commandments, the post-Christian West is on the ropes.
Spiritually, morally and intellectually exhausted, it is physically devouring itself before our very eyes (systematically murdering its most vulnerable members) while being pummelled by agents of Anti-Christ of every shape and hue.
Among the latter, the sodomites, the Green pantheists and Islam are but three whose diabolic assaults we have analysed in recent editions. Such as these certainly approximate the Barbarians who overran and brought down the Roman Empire.
In those days, however, a salt of the earth missionary Church, emerging from bloody persecutions and energised by the faith and courage of countless martyrs, was a salutary influence. As the Protestant Edward Gibbon admitted:"... the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the Barbarian proselytes of the North. If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors."
Alas, debilitated by affluence, heresy, dissent and self-serving, the dominant Social Gospel ecclesiastics and laity of our day are more interested in accommodating and appeasing contemporary Barbarians than converting them. Without salt or savour and "good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men" [Matt 5:13], the Modernists simply mirror the dissolute, incoherent Western worldlings themselves, now crippled by self-indulgence and easy prey for the new invaders.
Not that Western nations need extra help to implode. "When people are universally ignorant, and debauched in their manners," said American founding father Samuel Adams, "they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders."
For Gibbon, Rome’s decadent decline was just as "natural and inevitable": "Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long."
If the endurance of the suicidal West likewise astounds us, the reason is also "simple and obvious." It has been protected from the depradations of its amoral leaders and citizens - the first generations in history to believe in nothing - only due to the painfully accumulated Christian capital of two thousand years.
That civilizing capital, however, has been largely squandered. While the vestigial memory of its history, meaning and value is being eroded by the year. How long, then, before all the "artificial supports" shoring up the West - the secular substitutes for erstwhile Christian codes and institutions rooted in natural law - collapse under their own rootless, relativistic weight?
Such godless, politically correct "supports" are exemplified by oppressive "hate crime" legislation. Aggressively promoted by the Sodomite and Islamic Fronts, it purports to safeguard socio-religious harmony but clearly intends to stigmatise Christianity and drive it from the Public Square.
This anarchic agenda is also facilitated by a variety of less militant means. Materialistic market forces, for one, which inexorably and increasingly distance Our Lord from Western peoples. This is never more apparent than in the annual cleansing of Christ from His own festive season.
Take so-called "Christmas creep" among the major retailers. This year, with the summer holidays still in full swing, Harrods launched its huge Christmas shop on the 8th of August! A full month earlier than in 2005. Two days later, in Oxford Street, Selfridges opened its festive section - more than a week earlier than last year, 15 days ahead of the date in 2004, and 143 days before Christmas.
Moreover, concern about this development focused not on spiritual but material harm. The Family Welfare Association merely protested that "the early launch of Christmas campaigns increases the pressure on parents to spend money they do not have."
Another corrosive trend is the school "multi-faith seasonal celebration" in lieu of nativity plays, Christian hymns and carols. These are said to have further increased since the 7/7 bombings.
"There seems to be a policy of multi faith, which in practice means the Christian faith is treated as bottom of the pile, if it goes anywhere," lamented a vicar in Harrow where the local Grimsdyke First and Middle School cancelled its 2005 nativity play and carol service. Distressed Christian parents state that fewer than one in four of the pupils is from the ethnic minorities, yet Grimsdyke does not even list Easter in its calendar.
"I used to be invited into the school," said the vicar, "but they don’t seem to want me any more. They used to bring children to visit the church, but they don’t do that now."
They do, however, entertain Hindu, Muslim and Jewish representatives. All of whom are not only blameless in this matter, of course, but doubtless sympathetic to the vicar’s plaint. A Rabbi who had addressed a Grimsdyke school assembly stated plainly that "If a school is predominantly Christian it should certainly be celebrating Christmas." [Daily Telegraph, 10/12/05]
This contrasts with the obnoxious attitude of the Hindu Labour mayor of Preston, where only 15% of the 250,000 population belong to ethnic minorities, who last year scrapped the annual Christmas carol concert in favour of "a multicultural peace and harmony event" involving Afro-Caribbean and Asian music in January. He also replaced the traditional Christian blessing at the start of each council meeting with Hindu prayers. [Daily Mail, 28/11/05]
Yet for every such offensive individual, there are 100 non-Christians as exasperated and concerned as the Christian majority by the anti-Christmas/anti-Christian animus of white liberals.
In a letter to the Daily Mail last December, Mr Wai Lai, a non-Christian Chinese studying in England, protested: "Why are they banning the word ‘Christmas’? Do they think non-Christians are so intolerant that the word ‘Christmas’ will offend us? The word ‘Christmas’ does not offend me. But those politically correct decisions do offend me. I feel insulted by these bans. Let’s all enjoy Christmas."
Another correspondent, Mr Kuldip Singh, wrote:
Alienated from their own culture and history, British functionaries high and low exploit their vice-like grip on the levers of political, judicial and administrative power to pursue this relentless policy of ‘Christian cleansing’: Birmingham Council notoriously renaming the Christmas season "Winterval"; crosses removed from crematorium and hospital chapels; the Department of Culture and the Scottish parliament banning cards with Christmas images or messages; Waveney District Council in Suffolk, where only 0.5% practice a non-Christian religion, stating that funding Christmas lights does not "fit with the council’s core values of equality and diversity"; a museum curator replacing BC with BP ("Before Present"); Inland Revenue managers banning staff from helping a Christian charity; the Home Office threatening to remove funding from a Christmas service for murder victims for being "too Christian"; Christian clergymen in Wigan being banned from blessing a new doctors’ surgery in case it upset ethnic minorities (who constitute less than 3% of the town’s 300,000 residents and couldn’t care less); BBC staff confirming their anti-Christian animus at an "impartiality seminar", declaring that they would allow the Bible to be sacrilegiously treated in a comedy sketch, but not the Koran; all graves in a new cemetery in Nottingham to be aligned north-east with Mecca in accordance with Islamic law (despite Muslims constituting less than 5% of the 500,000 population); the BBC agonising over whether a newsreader should be allowed to wear a tiny cross around her neck in case it might cause offence; the government’s Commission for Cohesion and Integration containing no Christian representative (even though the Minister overseeing it is a Catholic and member of Opus Dei!).
Non-government sectors follow this lead. The Red Cross has banned the sale of religious cards from its charity shops, while British Airways requires a Christian employee to conceal a cross while allowing turbans, hijabs and Hindu bangles.
All this in a country 75% of whose citizens still described themselves as Christian in the last national census (2001)!
Readers could add their own examples by the dozens. Every Western country is experiencing the same onslaught. In New Zealand grace has been banned from official luncheons, yet most state occasions include celebrations of Maori spirituality. In America, the annual showdown over public displays of Christianity includes public debates about whether a Christmas tree can be called a "Christmas tree" instead of a "holiday tree", while "holiday parades" and "holiday parties" are also vigorously promoted. Last year, even the message on the 1.4 million White House cards mailed from the fervently Christian Bushes read: "With the best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness 2005." Nary a "Christmas" in sight.
How far the West has descended down the memory hole of its shared Christian heritage: the redemptive, unifying light of the Christ Child recedes; the discordant abyss of Anti-Christ beckons.
Thus, as our correspondent suggested, CO is indeed chronicling "the decline and fall of the West." Yet not for its own sake. Only as the inevitable corollary of our primary tasks: to wit, addressing the Catholic crisis while keeping the flame of the one true Faith alive and burning in the hearts of the faithful remnant. [Rom. 11:5]
Of course, any Catholic journal worth its salt - desirous of being salt, as Christ demanded - should be doing the same. Yet the fact that 99% of them are not doing so - preferring to undermine the Faith with false optimism, lukewarmness or open dissent - is all the more reason to make good use of the CO "Christmas Gift Subscription" slip inserted in this edition.
In fact, we believe it is so important that your family and friends and fellow parishioners be introduced to Christian Order that we have decided to offer these Gift Subscriptions for only £15 or US$30 (please ignore the standard £25/$50 noted on the yellow slip)!
The urgency is not simply down to our need for hundreds of additional readers, although without continually topping up our subscription list with your help we will slowly but surely go the way of other publications that have folded over the course of our 47 years of existence. No, it is not just about survival but the fact that with its uncompromising Catholic "savour," CO is among those alternative sources of information the faithful simply must seek out for themselves or be apprised of by others. Without exposure to such orthodox and traditional fare, they will be unduly influenced and swayed by the party line offerings of our Modernist press and the secular media: both controlled by small circles of self-interested Liberals with a pliable regard for truth, depending on changing tastes and fashions .
For our part, we will never tailor our message for "the market," in order to attract new readers. We shall continue to give Catholics what they need to hear, which is not always what they want to hear: not least the Jeremiah-like truth about the Modernist Barbarians within the gate and the unholy shepherds upon whose collective conversion so much depends (since a healthy Church precedes a healthy State). With a 2005 census indicating that active English Catholics are now disappearing at an even faster rate than the hapless Anglicans (the remnant weekly Mass attendance having plummeted a further 30 per cent in only seven years to barely 800,000!) there is nothing to be gained by pussyfooting around the harsh realities that have brought our local Church to the brink.
Moreover, our predicament is even worse than the frightening figures suggest. After decades of institutionalised dissent and dumbing down, even those Catholics still in touch with their parish have lost touch with their ancestors; with the obligations and demands of their Militant place within the Communion of Saints. It is one thing for the irreligious to forget their Christian roots. For supposedly committed Catholics to suffer from the same religious amnesia is a crisis of another order.
At such epochal junctures, when all seems lost, it is necessary, at the very least, to help keep that memory of the true Faith alive, and with it the idea that what has existed before (however imperfectly) might exist again. If we achieve little else, it is no small thing.
"The Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians," says Gibbon. True enough. All was destruction, chaos, despair ... darkness. Yet St. Benedict kept the light of faith, hope and charity flickering in his monasteries, where men were to try and live the life presented in the Gospel and return to God through "the labour of obedience, from whom they had departed by the idleness of disobedience." His Rule regulating this Catholic life laid the foundations for Western civilisation itself, finally influencing everything from ecclesiastical and civil government to our orderly Western notions of time and punctuality.
That was the historic effect of the Benedictines living the Faith amidst the cataclysm. As the Roman roof caved in and its foundations crumbled underfoot, prayer and work in community sustained the pure essence of Catholicism, evoking the possibility that re-Christianised souls might rejuvenate the Church and so rebuild society in the mould of Augustine’s City of God.
Today, on the eve of Christmas 2006, as new kinds of barbarism threaten to overwhelm us, Pope Leo’s prayerful lament opposite strikes a powerful chord. Its sense of foreboding and pressing appeal to the Holy Child expresses at once our deep anxiety and abiding hope. And we find again traditionalist enclaves everywhere - monasteries, convents, fraternities, societies, associations, families and individuals - each working prayerfully in their own Benedictine way to keep alive the truth and beauty which once prevailed, so that they might triumph again for the salvation of souls, the common good and restoration of all things in Christ.
Indeed, a heavenly vindication of their collective efforts over forty years is now in sight, with Our Holy Father Pope Benedict set to issue a universal permission for priests to say the Old Mass without episcopal veto. The Modernists, of course, led by condom-advocate Cardinal Daneels and a pride of French bishops, are fighting the proclamation of this indult to the death. It is, after all, their raison d’être. That’s what Barbarians do: wreck and destroy.
Well, so be it. In the end, the weight of history - of Catholic resistance and resilience - is against them. For just as obedient perseverence in the Faith saw off their pagan forebears, so, too, fidelity to the Truth and tradition will see off the new Barbarians.
Ora et labora - prayer and work. There is simply no other way.
St. Benedict, pray for us!