Monday, August 10, 2009

Our only hope is in supernatural love...

When the economy of the West collapses and we find ourselves amidst the ruins of a once-great society (and make no mistake about it, that day is coming), we will all be forced to face a reality which so many of us have chosen to ignore. And it is just this: that our only hope is in supernatural love. At the moment, there are still many across the length and breadth of this nation who seek solutions to economic problems and disparities from society. But socialism simply does not work. It was Archbishop Fulton John Sheen, in an essay entitled "Brotherhood," who made the following profound observation:

"It should be evident that the sharing of economic wealth will not make us brothers, but becoming brothers will make us share our economic wealth. The early Christians were not one because they pooled their wealth; they pooled their wealth because they were Christians. The rich young man went to Our Lord asking: 'What shall I do?' The Socialist asks: 'What will society do?' It is man who makes society and not society that makes man. That is why all the economic schemes from Marx's communism to the latest form of democratic collectivism will never unite men until they have first learned to burn, purge, and cut away their own selfishness.

The 'one world' will not come at the end of an ascending line of progress, but as the Resurrection from a tomb of a thousand crucified egotisms. The reason Christianity lives and Socialist theories perish is that Socialism makes no provision for getting rid of selfishness, but Our Lord did: 'Sell all whatever thou hast and give to the poor' (Luke 18: 22).

The only place in the world where communism works is in a convent, for there the basis of having everything in common is that no one wants anything. Communism has not worked in Moscow, but it does work in a monastery.

All that economic and political revolutions do is to shift booty and loot from one party's pocket to another. For that reason, none of them is really revolutionary; they all leave greed in the heart of man. The true inspiration for fellowship is not law but love. Law is negative: 'thou shalt not.' Love is positive: 'Love God and love neighbor.' Law is concerned with the minimum: 'Speed limit, 55 miles.' Love is concerned with the maximum: 'Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.'

Law is for moderation; love is generous: 'And if a man will contend with thee in judgment and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him. And whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him another two' (Matthew 5: 40-41).

Natural generosity is limited by circumstances and relations within our own circle and, outside of these, is often vindictive. Love ignores all limits, by forgiveness. 'Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?....I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times' (Matthew 18: 21-22). By moving from a little metaphor to a big one, Our Lord implies that precision in forgiveness is impossible. Leave it to love, and it is not likely to err on the lower side.

The love of which we speak is not natural, but supernatural. By faith and good works under God's grace, nourished by prayer and the Sacraments, we are led into intimate union with Christ - but this love we have toward Him must redound to all His creatures."

And so we can now understand why Pope John Paul II called Maximilian Kolbe a prophet pointing toward the Civilization of Love. The saintly friar, his body racked with pain brought on by tuberculosis, saw to all the spiritual needs of those who were, like him, dying a slow death in the death camp. He knew hunger as few ever will. But would give his small ration to others and would do without. In the end, he offered to take the place of a young man who had a wife and two children and who had been sentenced to death by starvation.

I'll say it again. When the economy of the West collapses, we will be forced to make a choice between supernatural love and a generosity which knows no limits and the greed and egotism which brought on the crisis to begin with.

The photograph above was taken during The Great Depression. It brings to mind the words which Cain spoke to God after he murdered his brother: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Related meditation here.


Ted Loiseau said...

What a tremendous post Paul. I agree with you. Christ or chaos. Brotherhood or egotism. We will not find solace or salvation in politics or any of the morally bankrupt ideologies we have been subjected to. Only Christ shows us the way out of selfishness; He who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ranson for many.

Amanda said...

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth became illumined by his splendor. He cried out in a mighty voice: "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great. She has become a haunt for demons. She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, (a cage for every unclean) and disgusting (beast). For all the nations have drunk the wine of her licentious passion. The kings of the earth had intercourse with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her drive for luxury." Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Depart from her, my people, so as not to take part in her sins and receive a share in her plagues, for her sins are piled up to the sky, and God remembers her crimes. Pay her back as she has paid others. Pay her back double for her deeds. Into her cup pour double what she poured. To the measure of her boasting and wantonness repay her in torment and grief; for she said to herself, 'I sit enthroned as queen; I am no widow, and I will never know grief.' Therefore, her plagues will come in one day, pestilence, grief, and famine; she will be consumed by fire. For mighty is the Lord God who judges her." The kings of the earth who had intercourse with her in their wantonness will weep and mourn over her when they see the smoke of her pyre. They will keep their distance for fear of the torment inflicted on her, and they will say: "Alas, alas, great city, Babylon, mighty city. In one hour your judgment has come." (Revelation 18: 1-10).

This prophecy will be fulfilled pefectly. In one hour the world's economy will collapse. Those who worshiped material things will lament. Those who place their faith, hope and trust in God will not be disappointed.

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