(continued from previous post) … European civilization had already been well formed by the Catholic religion for, at the most, 1,200 years in some regions to, at the least, 400 years in others….
A significant fact, as Hilaire Belloc points out in “Essays of a Catholic”, is that THE PEOPLE WHO HAD BECOME PROTESTANT DID NOT ABANDON THEIR CATHOLIC MORAL CUSTOMS. They continued to live by the truths and moral customs which their Catholic forefathers had lived by for centuries. The only problem was that they no longer believed as true the religious-philosophical truths taught by the the Catholic Church, which had wholly created their customary and traditional ethic, and they had set themselves up as the sole arbiters of truth and right values. They had in effect declared themselves demi-gods. Not quite full gods yet, but the rest of the story was more or less inevitable given man’s natural proclivities.
This rift between varying professed faiths of the various peoples, and the unremarked but continued practice of the traditional Catholic moral customs, has come down by lesser and lesser degrees into our own time. During the many centuries since Luther’s revolt in 1517, Western society has been able to function fairly well, despite the various false religious-philosophical ideas in the minds of people in the same nation—simply because, practically speaking, they were by and large living by the old inherited Catholic truths and practices, and this was what enabled our society to function more or less harmoniously, despite a diversity of belief among its members.
Let us name some of the Catholic social teachings and moral customs that are based on the revealed word of God: to worship God on Sunday, not to work on Sunday, to give honest work for your pay, not to steal, to keep monogamous marriage relations, not to practice polygamy, to avoid adultery and fornication, to shun homosexuality, to have children and not to practice birth control, to raise and nurture them within the family they were born in, to respect and care for the elderly, to nurse the sick, to bury the dead (in anticipation of the resurrection of the body), etc., etc.
Now, the average person might say, “Most of that we have always taken for granted!” and in that they reveal their utter lack of knowledge of their own history and that of their civilization. The bald truth is that in 2015 most of these traditional customs have been simply abandoned by most people, as if there were no objective truth, and definitely as if there were no divine retribution for sin left unforgiven and unexpiated and no temporal results of bad behavior. These customs and traditions, now abandoned in the name of “freedom to do your own thing” are the very bedrock of our culture. They are everything that has made our society workable for 20 centuries. This rejection of traditional moral values and customs is the direct result of the loss of the Catholic faith as the integral creed of our society as a whole. This inevitably resulted in the abandonment of traditional Catholic moral customs that enabled men to live in conformity with God’s laws and enable society to function harmoniously.
Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (original Latin: Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum) as written by Martin Luther in 1517 are widely regarded as the initial catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. The disputation protests against clerical abuses, especially nepotism, simony, usury, pluralism, and the sale of indulgences. No doubt everything he protested was true and is recorded historically in the same sources which teach us about Rome and Constantine the Great. Regardless of the truth of his protest, given the reality of “progress” since Luther’s time, it is not a stretch to contend that this revolt constituted the first and deadliest nail in the coffin of western civilization. Screwtape must be laughing all the way home, ” I will not serve!”, indeed! I think of Al Pacino’s last line in “Devil’s Advocate” : …”AAAH! Pride is my favorite sin!”.
(to be continued)