By not being lived enough…

One has to wonder how such a thing was possible, a walk out during a graduation at a university that is espoused Catholic and over such subjects (not Christian), when a mass was performed before the Commencement?  As  Chesterton would (and did) ask: What’s wrong with the world?

I maintain, therefore, that the common sociological method is quite useless: that of first dissecting abject poverty or cataloguing prostitution. We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty. We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity. The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book “What Is Wrong with the World?” and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right

Well, what is right is truth revealed by God and it is He who is right. So by that ideal, what is right with the world?  And who is evidencing it?  Perhaps the crux of the matter, the impasse at which we, as Christians, now stand in the public square and those we allow to represent us publicly, necessitates an honest scrutiny in the way that God has asked us to see ourselves and how we are to be the world.  That is the point that Chesterton here gets at with his famous quote about Christianity being found difficult and not tried.

“Of course, I mean that Catholicism was not tried; plenty of Catholics were tried, and found guilty. My point is that the world did not tire of the church’s ideal, but of its reality. Monasteries were impugned not for the chastity of monks, but for the unchastity of monks. Christianity was unpopular not because of the humility, but of the arrogance of Christians. Certainly, if the church failed it was largely through the churchmen. But at the same time hostile elements had certainly begun to end it long before it could have done its work. In the nature of things it needed a common scheme of life and thought in Europe. Yet the mediaeval system began to be broken to pieces intellectually, long before it showed the slightest hint of falling to pieces morally. The huge early heresies, like the Albigenses, had not the faintest excuse in moral superiority. And it is actually true that the Reformation began to tear Europe apart before the Catholic Church had had time to pull it together. The Prussians, for instance, were not converted to Christianity at all until quite close to the Reformation. The poor creatures hardly had time to become Catholics before they were told to become Protestants. This explains a great deal of their subsequent conduct. But I have only taken this as the first and most evident case of the general truth: that the great ideals of the past failed not by being outlived (which must mean over-lived), but by not being lived enough. Mankind has not passed through the Middle Ages. Rather mankind has retreated from the Middle Ages in reaction and rout. The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” 

-G. K.Chesterton, The Unfinished Temple, The Homelessness of Man, What’s Wrong With the World?, 1910

Catholic Colleges Behaving Badly: Notre Dame Walkout the Latest Example



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