Monday, 11 November 2013
The Importance of a Catholic Culture and on the Spirit of Spain
Doctor Fray Francisco Barbado Viejo O.P entering Salamanca, Spain as he takes possession of his new diocese. Taken in 1942 in the Plaza Mayor.
Pax Christi in Regno Christi.
The preservation of an authentic Catholic culture is vital for the faithful handing on of the doctrine of the Church. The culture is the environment in which a soul is taught, nourished and grows. It is the sensible vehicle of the transmission of the Faith until our days, handed on once to the saints. It will not do for us to simply consider the Faith as a personal matter, reserved to the inner consciences of a group of believers. It may seem pious to claim that the believer should only shut himself up in his room and pray alone but we must be wary of such deceptive thinking. Our Lord taught us to do that it is true, but the motives of these people are to deny the public acknowledgement of God and His holiness. So the culture, so the soul. I have seen Catholic souls who were zealous for the Faith become polluted by our pagan culture and its allurements. I have waned so often in any devotion as our culture is enticing and it presents an easy façade to each unfortunate soul who pays too much attention to it. It is not surprising that a soul who is bombarded with these false values will end up ignoring the eternal. One is unable to evade one´s environment and how it teaches us. Often I do feel rather alone in adhering to the Faith. I do not see fidelity or purity on the television, on the radio or music channels, in the street, or in the lecture hall. Hardly even in the home. Etsi Deus non daretur. We live with the basic assumption that God does not exist. If for sentimental reasons we recall Him, it goes no further than that. You may consider the flourishing of the martyrs in the nascent Church when men and women, young and old (I am particularly struck the virgin martyrs who also seem an insult to our age) preferred nothing to Christ and His glory. The Faith was transmitted throughout the 300 years of persecution, hostility and paganistic allurements. These souls had to be brave and be confident in the hope that was promised to them through the preaching of the apostles. The faithful are much more numerous nowadays but the fire of divine charity is merely a flicker. Christianity in this post-Christian world is like failed experiment to our common man. Adherence to its doctrines is considered an outrageous assault on Enlightenment principles and the greater 'achievements' that man takes pride in.
I was only born in 1990 and although the culture was well on its way to death, so many of today's assumptions and demands must have seemed bizarre. How blessed must the faithful of Doctor Fray Francisco Barbado Viejo have felt to see their learned and pious prelate process throughout the streets of that venerable city where God was once worshipped. This was during the days of the beginning of Franco's dictatorship in Spain. Salamanca was then a fiercely nationalistic city, now the bookshops are filled with tomes recounting how terrible El Generalísimo was. Without a doubt, El Caudillo was a deeply unpleasant fellow but I firmly believe his cause for the preservation of a Catholic Spain was entirely just. To be frank, I would have needed to support him as I am sure the Republicans would have happily shot me. Those years, a triumph of the Faith but one in which daily life was particularly difficult, in fact to this day, they are known as los años de hambre (the years of hunger). Spain now has lost the spirit of Catholicism and in turn has lost herself. It is easy to be fooled by the visible manifestations of the Church in Spain. Her churches are glorious, processions during Holy Week are well attended where a great deal of time and money is spent by the brotherhoods that organise them, and the populace are generally baptised into the Catholic Faith. Morally speaking, the nation is bankrupt. Licentiousness, abortion, fornication and drunkenness among the youth abound. The Spaniards are a deeply passionate people, strongly regional, distrustful of certain groups, and often this spirit can be unleashed rather violently, as was seen in the run up to the Civil War and during it.
Spain was created by Catholicism. It was the Faith that united the disparate groups of the Christian incipient kingdoms that emerged after the Muslim invasion by Tariq in 711. The scandal of the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula, to recover the ´´unity´´´achieved by the Visigoths, was that it took so long. 700 or so years! With much infighting between the Christian monarchs and often stern warnings from the Roman Pontiffs to sort themselves out for the sake of Christendom. To us today, the fight to restore the Faith seems too radical, obscurantist, intolerant and not worth the effort. Surely, our knowledge of the truth has fled from us. The love of that truth has died in our breast.
The assumptions and the world view that we posses are completely shaky and devoid of the knowledge of God. Man forms moral judgements about what must be done on the basis of what he believes to be important. With an entirely secular understanding of morality and man´s place in the universe, it is nigh impossible to present a defence of traditional values. It appears absurd to the average person, even to the so-called 'good'. I understand how men have the moral law in them and therefore are without excuse on the day of judgement, yet that foundation has been splintered through sinful living and a new edifice of ´progress´and ´reason´ has been erected. Our axioms, world view and end are infused with error and fallacy.
Will we return to an authentic Catholic culture? I honestly do not believe so, unless the world reaches its ultimate depravity and ends up destroying itself. It may then look back fondly on the sweet certainty of the Catholic Faith.
Until He come again, ¡Viva Cristo Rey!