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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Helping Europe Find Europe

One of the hard lessons of the past few days here in France is that Europe must rediscover her spirituality, her true religion, the Catholic Faith. He wrote that famous sentence, "Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe."
Many people have disagreed with this statement, but not I, as I taught Belloc and most of his books for years. 
 The point of this statement is that the Church created not merely the culture of Europe, but the civilization of Europe and Europe protected the Church until the Protestant Revolt, which destroyed both the unity of the Faith and Christendom.
One cannot be see that the identity of Europe may be beyond recognition. Can we help Europe be Europe, by spreading the Gospel, or it is too late?
Many people I have spoken with in the past few days believe it is too late to save Europe, that the preoccupation with materialism and consumerism, secularism and cynicism, has created generations of those who no longer understand the religious yearnings of men and women.
Many people still deny that a "religion" is behind the recent murders. Some deny that religion can be a positive force in creating civilization.
Europe is at a crossroads. One cannot have witnessed all the carnage of the past few days and not admit that this is so.
It is sad that the EU no longer wants missionaries, either from Africa or from America. The draconian immigration laws of some nations allow in terrorists, while denying the need for Catholic missionaries, lay, clerical, religious.
One more Belloc quotation seems timely today:
The story must not be neglected by any modern, who may think in error that the East has finally fallen before the West, that Islam is now enslaved—to our political and economic power at any rate if not to our philosophy. It is not so. Islam essentially survives, and Islam would not have survived had the Crusade made good its hold upon the essential point of Damascus. Islam survives. Its religion is intact; therefore its material strength may return. Our religion is in peril, and who can be confident in the continued skill, let alone the continued obedience, of those who make and work our machines? ... There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine.... We worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice.... Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the contrast between [our religious chaos and Islam's] religious certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world lies our peril. Hilaire Belloc, The Crusades, 1937