Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Holy Catholic Church and Christian Culture

We must begin by laying down as a historical fact not to be removed by affection one way or the other, that the conversion of the Roman Empire was a conversion to what was called by all our ancestry and what is still called by those with any historical sense The Catholic Church.
The Empire was not ‘converted’ to what modern men mean when they used the word ‘Christianity’.

The phrase is continually used and as continually corrupts the historical judgement of those who use it and those who hear it.

In the ears of modern youth, especially in societies which have lost the Catholic Culture, the word ‘Christianity’ means vaguely, “That which is common in various sects, opinions and moods inherited in diluted form from the Reformation”.

In England today, for instance ‘Christianity’ means a general feeling of kindliness, particularly to animals.

To some more precise in mind it may mean an appreciation of and even an attempt at copying, a Character which seems to them portrayed in the four Gospels (four out of the certainly more than fifty, which four they happened to inherited from the Catholic Church, although they do not know it).

To a much smaller number, with greater powers of definition and better historical instruction, the word ‘Christianity’ may have even so precise a meaning as ‘the acceptance of the doctrine that an historical Figure appeared in Palestine about two thousand years ago, and was in some way the Incarnation of God and that the main precepts, at least, of an original society calling itself after His name should be our guide for moral conduct

But all these uses of the word ‘Christianity’ from the vaguest to the most precise, do not apply the tremendous business with which we are here concerned.

The society of the ancient world was not changed from its antique attitude to that which it finally adopted in the 4th century (and continued thenceforward to spread throughout Europe) by any mod or opinion; it was transformed by adherence to the doctrine and discipline as well as the spirit and character of a certain institution; and that institution is historically known; it is a Personality which can be tested by certain indisputable attributes, practices and definitions.

It claimed and claims Divine authority to teach, to include in its membership by specific form of initiation those who approached it and were found worthy; to exclude those who would not accept that unity and supremacy.

It performed throughout the society of the Empire and even beyond its boundaries a certain liturgical act of sacrifice, the Eucharist, it affirmed its foundation by a Divine figure who was also a man, and a manifestation of God.

It further affirmed that its officers held their authority through appointment originally by this Founder, who gathered a small group for that purpose, it affirmed that from the members of this small original group, in unbroken succession, descended the spiritual powers which could be claimed by officers and by them alone, in particular manner, over the whole body of Christians, and in general fashion over the world at large.

From The Foundation of Christendom by H. Belloc, p. 25-27

Friday, August 10, 2012

How Catholicism stands today is obviously a vital matter

How Catholicism stands today is obviously a vital matter both to the man who recognizes it for the salvation of the world, and to the man who regards it as a mortal poison in society.

But it is also a vital matter to any neutral observer who has enough history to know that religion is at the root of every culture, and that on the rise and fall of religions the great changes of society have depended.

The form of any society ultimately depends upon its philosophy, upon its way of looking at the universe, upon its judgment of moral values: that is, in the concrete, upon its religion.
For whether it calls its philosophy by the name of "religion" or no, into what is, in practice, a religion of some kind, the philosophy of any society ultimately falls. The ultimate source of social form is the attitude of the mind; and at the heart of every culture is a creed and code of morals: expressed or taken for granted. 'H. Belloc'