January 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — My family and I had the blessed opportunity to spend the twelve days of Christmas this year at Silverstream Priory, a Benedictine monastery just outside Dublin, where the monks praise God in chanted psalms seven times a day and once in the night and celebrate the traditional Latin Mass with great beauty and reverence.
Although we spent most of our time at the monastery, we made a few trips farther afield. One day I took my daughter in to Dublin to see the National Gallery of Ireland, which boasts an exquisite collection of great paintings, including masterpieces by Vermeer, Caravaggio, Velázquez, Rembrandt, and Turner. We also visited Trinity College for an informative exhibit on the Book of Kells and related Gospel books. In the late afternoon we enjoyed tea with Pat Kenny, who has done much to promote the heroic example and spiritual doctrine of Fr. Willie Doyle (1873–1917), especially through a dedicated website.
As we started our day walking from the Pearse train station to the Gallery, I beheld a large billboard, provocatively stationed over a café at which several gallons of milk must surely be gone through each day. I really could not believe my eyes and had to take a picture of it. The billboard stated: “DAIRY TAKES BABIES FROM THEIR MOTHERS.” The mother cow, with bovine pride, licks her cute calf, from which she is soon to be parted so evil humans can drink the surplus milk.
I subsequently learned that this billboard started going up around Ireland just a few months after the abortion referendum legalized abortion by a landslide majority. Apparently, abortion — the ultimate example of taking babies away from their mothers — should be legal, while presumably dairy farms should be illegal. Such is the twisted logic that obtains when faith and reason alike are abandoned in favor of the postmodern delirium of “me, myself, and I.” As G.K. Chesterton once almost quipped (but didn’t quite): “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything.”
The billboard informs us that we can obtain a “free vegan guide” from www.goveganworld.com. A glance at that website brought up a title-page video that proclaims: “We all have the right not to be used or killed regardless of species.” Alas, this “right” seems to obtain only with subhuman species.
I am reminded of something Chesterton writes in his masterpiece Orthodoxy:
Darwinism can be used to back up two mad moralities, but it cannot be used to back up a single sane one. The kinship and competition of all living creatures can be used as a reason for being insanely cruel or insanely sentimental; but not for a healthy love of animals. On the evolutionary basis you may be inhumane, or you may be absurdly humane; but you cannot be human.
Chesterton’s “two mad moralities” are writ large in modern Western societies: insane sentimentality toward brute animals and insane cruelty toward the most vulnerable and innocent members of the human race. Humane to the point of inventing rights where they do not exist; inhumane to the point of undermining the most fundamental right that does exist, and without which all other rights are meaningless. If we cannot even treat one another humanely, what does that suggest about our conception of the universe we inhabit?
We see fulfilled before our eyes this wise statement from the Second Vatican Council: “Without the Creator, the creature would disappear. … When God is forgotten, the creature itself grows unintelligible” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 36). Take away God, in whose image and likeness man is created, uniquely among material beings, and you take away awareness of his very distinctiveness and dignity. Instead of seeing vices as the true cause of human misery and the rape of nature, with virtues (above all, the virtue of religion) as the only cure for these diseases of fallen humanity, you begin to see human beings themselves not as blessings to be welcomed, but as evils to be thwarted. This is what it means for the creature to “disappear” and “grow unintelligible.” Male and female are confused…the ranks and relations of animal species are confused…all is confused, in a false exaltation of “mother nature” and a false denigration of the noblest being on the face of the Earth.
A friend sardonically put it to me this way: “1500 B.C.: worship animals, sacrifice babies; 2020 A.D.: worship animals, sacrifice babies.” The Bible says nihil novi sub sole: there’s nothing new under the sun. That includes the moral and metaphysical darkness from which Christianity rescued mankind, and to which mankind is doomed to return when Christ, true man and true God, is rejected.
Come to think of it, the Bible’s statement has one exception: Christ Himself, the truly new thing under the sun, the New Adam, the New Song, Bridegroom of the New Jerusalem. He alone can say: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). May He, in His mercy, by the prayers of Our Lady of Knock, restore Ireland to renewed faith in the only one who can save us from the oldness of sin.