''As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be." The world, as well as Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever. There is a Society in the world in which Jesus Christ dwells perpetually; and this Society, like Jesus Christ, is at once Divine and human. This Society, then, the Catholic Church, is ceaselessly engaged in both Divine and human works; and, like Jesus Christ Himself (and like every activity for good), meets with amazing ingratitude. Once more in our own day — as in England three centuries ago, in Rome sixteen centuries ago — this Society is in the act of being crucified by those whose relief and salvation it is her one desire to bring about. It is, in fact, a condition of things which must be perpetual so long as the world remains what it is; though this period or that may exhibit the fact more startlingly.
It is impossible to say that men do not know, at least in part, what it is that they do. They know that the whole of European civilization rests upon Catholic foundations — that the Church fed the hungry, taught the ignorant, befriended the outcast, and made life tolerable to the sufferers, centuries before the State dreamed of doing so, before, indeed, there was anything that could be called a State, to do so. They know that she has been the mother of ideals, of the noblest art and the purest beauty. They use to-day, in every country of Europe, for secular or semi-sacred purposes, buildings which she raised for her own worship of her God. They know that the morals of men find their only ultimate sanction in her teaching — that where dogma goes down, crime goes up. And here, again, the only charge against her is that she is no friend to Caesar — no friend, that is, to any system that seeks to organize society apart from God.
But, thank God! Divine Charity can still plead for men that they do not know the full horror of what they do, that they still think that to cripple and torture the Church of God is to do God service. For they do not know that she is His Darling, and the Bride of His Son; that she is the Eternal City coming down from God out of heaven; that, further, in these very sufferings of hers, she is accomplishing and applying Divine Atonement for the sins of those who crucify her.
They know that they are outraging human justice, that they are dealing with a world-wide community in a manner in which they dare not deal with any nation; that they are severing the branch which supports themselves. But they do not know that in this instance human justice is a Divine Right; that in this instance a Society is a Body which incorporates, not the lives of men, but the Incarnate Life of God; that they are slaying, not a Prophet or a Servant, but an Only-Begotten Son.
This prayer, then, is one which we can take upon our own lips... We have abused the French Republic and the Portuguese revolutionists, and the Italian Freemasons, and the Spanish anarchists, and the Irish Orangemen long enough. In the very point of our agony we must learn to pray. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. (R.H. Benson, The Friendship of Christ)
zondag 8 september 2013
There is a Society in the world...