Prevalent is Liberalism in Our Timse(8th April 2017)
My dear Brethren,
I am reading a book from G.K. Chesterton. Though he wrote it about 90 years ago, it addresses so well today’s problems that I would like to give you some gems from it. He is denouncing the liberalism of his days. And liberalism has only gone worse in our days.
Some people think that liberalism is merely a defence of human liberty – it is not so. Liberalism is the worship of human liberty: it consists in setting human liberty as an absolute, so absolute as to be independent from God, independent from truth, independent from all laws. Thus, it makes of human liberty a supreme being, i.e. a god – a false God, an idol. This is the false god of the modern world. This idol is not new: indeed, the complete refusal of all subjection is the very shout of rebellion of the Devil: “I will not serve” (Jer. 2:20). What Chesterton said of the English reformation perfectly applies to this “modern culture”: “it was the result of the impatient and imperious appetites of humanity, hating … most of all to be restrained by invisible bonds.” The Thing, p. 130.
A recent issue of the Times magazine was entitled: “Is Truth dead?”, in red letters over a black background. It echoed an issue 50 years ago of the same magazine entitled “Is God dead?” with the same red letters over the same black background. Both issues are signs of the same idolatry of man and rejection of God. That rejection of God includes the rejection of everything that comes from God. All authority comes from God (see Rom. 13:1), hence modern man rejects all authority. Truth comes from God, Who is the First and supreme Truth, hence modern man rejects truth. Modern man claims the right to believe whatever he wants, or rather to believe nothing at all. Marriage is a divine institution, hence modern man rejects marriage by promoting divorces, and all kinds of “free unions” and sinful lives and even unions against nature. Our very human nature, with the natural distinction of male and female, comes from God, hence modern man rejects this and pretends that each one can choose his own gender, which is the most absurd claim. And the list of what modern man rejects goes on and on: rejection of true art and ugliness invades music, painting, sculpture, etc. Rejection of family, to the greater damage of the children. Rejection of the Kingship of Christ, rejection of His Church and a pretended right to all religions even Satanist sects.
In doing so, modern man destroys his own self. This is evident in two modern evils, that are now claimed to be “rights of men”: abortion and euthanasia, together with the multiplication of suicide. Truly “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Sin is death in the soul and leads to death in the body. And as if the facts of abortion and euthanasia were not bad enough, modern man claims a “right” to such abominable sins, a right to disobey God! There is no right against God; God is the supreme Rule of all goodness.
Even without going so far, these modern errors lead to the destruction of the most important human faculty: the mind. Indeed, what makes the superiority of the human race over all other animals is that it is endowed with a spiritual mind, with intelligence and free-will, capable to know and love God. Now the very object of the intelligence is the truth: if there is no truth, there is no intelligence! Man is no longer ruled by his intelligence, by his reason, but by his passions: he becomes the slave of his blind passions, as can be seen so often today.
The destruction of intelligence is visible is the scepticism of many: they think man’s intelligence is – by principle – incapable to find the objective truth about God, and also about man. That scepticism is a grave disease of the mind, it is a despair of the intelligence, which gives up all hope of finding God. By claiming that any religious is fine, each one should have the freedom to choose his own religion as he pleases, this is implicitly the rejection of any ability to know the objective truth about God. Such religious freedom is intrinsically sceptical, and is quite common today.
One characteristic of modern society is the development of modern technology in the service of the body, comfort, leisure and pleasures: now this is to put the mind in the service of the flesh. This is upside down, the complete overturn of proper order within man. Our body should be in the service of the soul, and not the contrary. The soul should rule over the body – which does include providing for the needs of the body in a measured way, with reasonable measure. But it is not right, not reasonable to make of the body the goal of the soul.
Modern liberalism is mostly visible in the moral domain: it is the complete rejection of any moral norm that would come from God. It claims as a human right the ability to do whatever one wants – with no other restriction than a certain vague respect for other humans. I say “vague” because they do not hesitate even to kill those that they get in their way, such as by abortion. And if one can kill an innocent baby, there is no limit to which crime he will not go.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ came to save us from sin. And in a very simple way, in this Passion time when we contemplate the Passion of our Lord, we see precisely that our Lord SACRIFICES HIS BODY in order to save our souls! He could not more vividly be the remedy to our modern evils. To make reparation for our refusal of submission to God, He completely renounced Himself, “He emptied Himself” as St Paul says (Phil. 2:7), and he continues: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). This is the opposite of modern sins, it is the remedy for our modern man.
But one would say: was it necessary to suffer, especially so far as to suffer the Cross, in order to save us? In a certain way, it is true that one can serve God without sufferings: this is what happened to all the Holy Angels. They never sinned and they never suffered; they offered themselves wholeheartedly to God from the very beginning of their creation; as St Paul says, when God announced to them that the Son of God would become man, He commanded all the angels to adore Him (Heb. 1:6) and all the good angels willingly, with a wonderful devotion and promptitude, offered themselves in the service of Christ, and for such perfect devotion they were immediately rewarded and went to Heaven, without passing through sufferings. The bad angels on the contrary rebelled with so complete wickedness and stubbornness that they deserved to be immediately condemned to Hell fire for ever.
But man had sinned; from the beginning of mankind there has been a revolt of mankind against God. And because of sin, there is need of reparation, there is need of Sacrifice. Only someone who would have no sin at all could claim that he should not suffer. But there is only one who is absolutely sinless, our Lord Jesus Christ: and He came precisely to make reparation for our sins; His Holy Mother was given the privilege of the Immaculate Conception and by the grace of God she perfectly cooperated with that initial grace and thus she also has no sin. But she too understood that she, as the New Eve, should be a helper to the New Adam (see Gen. 2:18) in the very mystery of Redemption and thus shared in the Cross of Christ. But none of us is perfectly innocent: hence we have to bear our cross to make reparation for our sins.
Moreover, if the Saviour Himself carried the Cross and died on it for us, how could we be so heartless and not want to participate in His Sacrifice? We should say to Him: “I should be the one to carry that cross, because it is for my sins that You took it; I should be nailed to that cross in your stead, because I am the sinner”. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk. 9:23). This is the Royal Way of the Cross, that leads to Heaven as St Paul says: “we are sons of God, and if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17).
Now the Passion provides the true remedy for our modern ills. Modern man wanted to be free, and became the slave of sin: “Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto justice” (Rom. 6:16). On the contrary, it is by obedience to God, by submission to His Law, that we become truly free, free from sin, free to do good – not free from God and free to do evil.
A simple comparison will help to understand that. Look at the planes: they are free to fly wherever the pilot wants because they obey the laws of aerodynamics; if they were not obeying the laws of aerodynamics, they would simply crash! It is obedience to the laws that God has set to nature that gives that freedom to the planes. Similarly a computer programmer is free to program somehow what he wants so long as he obeys the laws of programming, which are ultimately the laws of electricity set by God; if he does not obey them, then there are bugs and his program crashes. Obedience to the Laws of God give true freedom; disobedience leads to crashes!
St Augustine tells us: we should not fool ourselves. It is impossible to escape from the Laws of God. Either we do what the Law commands and we shall be rewarded in accordance with the Law of God, or we do not what the Law commands and we shall be punished, still in accordance with the Law of God. We cannot escape! We cannot escape because God is the Almighty Creator and we are little creatures. We cannot escape because God is good and He will not let evil have the last word.
We need to be convinced that it is good for us to be obedient to God; God does not command something for His own aggrandisement: He is already supreme and there is nothing we could give Him that He would not already have. God commands us that which is good for us: it is good for us to live for the Glory of God; it is in God alone that we can find our eternal happiness. St Augustine beautifully says: “Thou hast made us for Thee, o Lord, and our heart is restless until it can rest in Thee!” He is the Supreme Truth, the contemplation of which shall fully delight our intelligence; He is the Supreme Love, the fire of which shall fully delight our Will, as St Paul says: “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29, see Deut. 4:24). So, it is really good for us to be obedient to God, and it is a drama – really evil – for us to depart from God. We return to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“In the beginning was the Word… in Him was life and the life was the light of men… I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (Jn. 1:1,4 8:12) As St Augustine explains, our Lord Jesus Christ is not physical light, but rather spiritual light, i.e. the truth illuminating our intelligence. “In His light we shall see the Light” (Ps. 35:10): our mind will be filled with the light of God, and we shall see God face to face as St John says (1 Jn. 3:2) Thus our Lord Jesus Christ is the remedy to all scepticism; He gives us the true knowledge of the God the Father, with certitude: “All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him” (Mt. 11:27).
In this world, our Lord Jesus Christ is the light put on the candlestick of the Cross: “no man lighting a candle covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it upon a candlestick, that they who come in may see the light” (Lk. 8:16). There, we see the evil of sin, which cost so much to the Son of God; there, we see the holiness of God, who was so offended by sin that there was need of such deep reparation; there, we see the mercy of God, who delivered the Son to redeem the slave; there, we see the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for us, who took upon Himself the penalty of our sins; there, we are healed from the love of pleasures, riches and self-will; there, we are freed from the slavery of sin and become children of God.
There is indeed a mystery in all this; we do not understand it. The Cross seems a folly to us. Yet, as St Paul says: “For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness. But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:22-25).
My dear brethren, in this Holy Week, let us ask the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be truly the light of our mind, of our whole life, so that we may walk in His path, the Way of the Cross, which is the Royal Way to Heaven, together with our Lady and all the Saints! Amen.
Father François Laisney