Working zealously for the rise of a new Christendom, in spite of all the odds
July 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope John Paul II once stated: “The Christian concept of marriage and the family is being opposed by a new secular, pragmatic, and individualistic outlook which has gained standing in the area of legislation.”
This statement implies that once upon a time, it was the natural and even the Christian concept of marriage that had authoritative standing in the area of legislation—and that it ought to regain it. This is something John Paul II consistently demanded, confident that he was asking the State to undertake a task essentially within its competence, indeed, a basic requirement for the survival and prosperity of the people.
“More than ever,” said the same pontiff, “man is seriously threatened by an anti-culture which reveals itself, among other ways, in growing violence, murderous confrontations, exploitation of instincts and selfish interests.” He continued:
The challenge of the 21st century is to humanize society and its institutions through the Gospel; to restore to the family, to cities and to villages a soul worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. . . . The Christian leaven will enrich living cultures and their values and bring them to full flower. In this way, hearts will be penetrated and cultures renewed by Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6) who “has brought complete newness by bringing Himself,” as Irenaeus of Lyons wrote (Adv. Haer., IV, 34, I).
In his own words again: “Freedom is fully exercised only through the acceptance of the truth and love which God offers to every person. For Christians this is an immense challenge to witness to the love of the one who has set us free—Jesus Christ, the source and the fulfilment of every culture.”
In all these texts and many more besides, John Paul II was repeating and elaborating on what the Fathers of Vatican II had said in Apostolicam Actuositatem: People of God, men and women of the Church, do your utmost to bring the Gospel into the world, transforming culture in all its elements, including the economic and political! There is no absolute separation of Church and State: this is a fiction from the anti-Catholic “Enlightenment.” There is a distinction of roles and functions, but there must be a harmony of ultimate purpose, based on the law of God.
If the popes, bishops, clergy and faithful of the Dark Ages had decided at one point to give up their quest for a Christian society—“It’s awfully depressing, all these plagues and barbaric tribes and crumbling buildings and seedy politicians, why don’t we just forget all about justice and peace in this world, which is a rotten place anyhow”—the Middle Ages, the Age of Faith and Chivalry, of Cathedrals and Summae, would never have been born.
Tempted by discouragement in the face of evil, we must learn the same lesson: If we truly love Christ, then we will love and long for a new Christendom, the flowering of His grace in this vale of tears. This means we will do everything we can, as individuals, to make this world more welcoming to Christ, to His Church, to His saving Gospel and to its sanctifying power. And this will be the only long-term solution to our short-term problem: the want of seriously Catholic statesmen. It is a want that only faith, hope, and love, working against all odds, can supply, and not before many grains of wheat have first fallen into the ground and died (cf. Jn. 12:24).
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth . . . For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:6, 9).