Post by Admin on Jun 5, 2018 11:45:18 GMT
The Christian Context
We must first of all see the meaning of history. Time unrolls. It begins at the creation of the world out of nothing. Then there is the beginning of man, the fall, the selection of the Jews as the chosen race, and their history in preparation for the coming of Christ. The Incarnation and the Redemption are the center of history, not the middle point in years, but the focal point in meaning. After them comes the application of the fruits of the Redemption to successive generations and to all nations until the number of the elect is filled. Then time comes to an end. We do not know, and have no way of knowing, whether we are midway, just beginning or nearly finishing it. We do know from revelation that at some point in this period Satan will apparently triumph over the earth, in the brief but terrible reign of the Antichrist.
Note several things about the above outline of history. First of all, it is an entirely supernatural framework. Within it men do not proceed from a state of crude cavemen of little intelligence to being intellectual and cultural giants. […] There just is no direct or necessary connection between scientific achievement and the “fulfilling of the number of the elect.” Superficially it looks as though there might be a connection between say, television and the conversion of the Chinese. The only thing one can say for certain, though, is that we have to preach the Gospel and therefore we have to have some means of reaching all peoples, not saying what means.
We can also say on the basis of the above that absolutely speaking the years 1-33 were the best time of history because then God walked the earth, and that the worst time absolutely will be the reign of the Antichrist, when even the elect would be deceived except for God's special help. Of other times we can say that each has its chronological position and its special work, which is at least partly bound up in mystery. Civilizations rise and fall, but history is not cyclical for all that. The twentieth century is not the thirteenth century anymore than the man is still a boy.
Let us go back to the theory that there is good and bad in every age, ours included. There is a sense in which this is true, but I think that sense is not what is ordinarily meant. My impression is that these people are thinking on a natural, even a material level. They want to pick and choose from a jumble of things, sorting out the washing machine in the “good” pile and the H-bomb in the “bad” pile. They want to lift out the selected “good” articles from current magazines, while disregarding the pornography and trash. Now the “badness” of our age (to my mind) is not of that sort. It is more like a rotten egg beaten up with cake batter and making the whole thing inedible. Or like a stink bomb put in the ventilation system.
Our badness consists of huge driving forces going in wrong directions (Freudianism, saturating everything with sex; or industrialism, turning us all into robots, for example), a pervasive false sense of values …, a general lowering of all standards (naturalism, mediocrity), with naked evil showing through more and more clearly, rising out of the east and out of the west and even filtering up through the floorboards under our feet.
Where then can the good be found? … The good is Christ-with-us, and practically nothing else. It is the Blessed Sacrament, hidden and silent and ubiquitous [this was originally published in the 1940's], and more powerful by far than the atom bomb. It is the inestimable privilege of daily Communion, which makes us strong to see the spiritual truths written in in daily events. It is the charity of Christ, more beautiful than the sunsets and the landscapes and the flowers and the homes which our sins have destroyed – the charity of Christ in the people, little ones and unexpected ones and previously unloved ones, almost all of them ignored by the councils of great men.
The goodness is also opportunity, in that little time and freedom which remains before the darkness descends. The opportunity is useful for only one thing, for making Christ known, converting hearts, trying to form some Christian institutions; for penance and the apostolate. For this reason alone we can thank God, as Pius XI did, that He makes us live among present problems. But only on the condition that we believe the second part of his statement, “It is no longer permitted anyone to be mediocre.”
…When the darkness finally closes in on us, as it has already closed in on much of the rest of the world, there will be only one good left, the goodness of Good Friday.
Carol Robinson, My Life with Thomas Aquinas, Angelus Press, 1995, pp. 228-231