Friday, August 6, 2010

Robert Moynihan on Chesterton's Reflection on Jesus the Lord, His Salvific Death, And the End of Human History

"On the third day, the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night".

Chesterton, in The Everlasting Man, says about Jesus and his death and the fate of his body:

"All the great groups that stood about the Cross represent in one way or another the great historical truth of the time; that the world could not save itself. Man could do no more. Rome and Jerusalem and Athens and everything else were going down like a sea turned into a slow cataract. Externally indeed the ancient world was still at its strongest; it is always at that moment that the inmost weakness begins."

It reminds me of our world today, with all the greatness of our technological prowess, as our computers compute ever more speedily, and our communications traverse the world instantaneously. Externally, we (mankind) seem at our strongest. But there are also simmering wars, and stockpiled weapons, and rumors of imminent attacks, and the growing fear of a loss of individual freedom to an omnipresent surveillance apparatus. More and more of us sense a vague foreboding. Has our own "moment of inmost weakness" begun to descend upon us?

Chesterton then turns to discuss the moment of Christ's condemnation to death:

"The mob went along with the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the philosophers and the moralists. It went along with the imperial magistrates and the sacred priests, the scribes and the soldiers, that the one universal human spirit might suffer a universal condemnation; that there might be one deep, unanimous chorus of approval and harmony when Man was rejected of men."

I am reminded that democracy cuts both ways: when the crowd is right, its will can bring about good, certainly; but when it is wrong, it can bring about great evil. Thus, we have to be ready, sometimes, to oppose a majority, because what is good and true cannot be settled by a vote. As Chesterton reminds us here, the "vote" of this majority, misled by its leaders, this "democratic" vote, was to crucify Christ.

Chesterton writes of Christ's death on the cross:

"There were solitudes beyond where none shall follow. There were secrets in the inmost and invisible part of that drama that have no symbol in speech... And if there can be any sound that can produce a silence, we may surely be silent about the end and the extremity; when a cry was driven out of that darkness in words dreadfully distinct and dreadfully unintelligible, which man shall never understand in all the eternity they have purchased for him; and for one annihilating instant an abyss that is not for our thoughts had opened even in the unity of the absolute; and God had been forsaken of God."

Chesterton then speaks of the burial of Christ's body, and what it meant:

"They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden; the Romans setting a military guard lest there be some riot and attempt to recover the body.

"There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient sepulture and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern, the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried.

"The History that Was Merely Human"

"It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead.

"On the third day, the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night.

"What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in the semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but of the dawn."

“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God's providence to lead him aright.” —Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)

Robert Moynihan is editor of Inside the Vatican magazine

--->The turmoil after Vatican II didn't help, but it is the decadent monopolistic media and culture of the Anti-Word which takes the lion's share of the blame... Still, the Truth always prevails and decadence collapses of its own weight in time:
There are adherents to single factors, but more people think a combination of such factors as Christianity, decadence, lead, monetary trouble, and military problems caused the Fall of Rome. Imperial incompetence and chance could be added to the list. Even the rise of Islam is proposed as the reason for Rome's fall---Ask.com

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