On life & death

Archbishop Chaput’s recent punch-in-the-nose speech, at Notre Dame (text here), has been widely reported but little read. I link it because it is worth reading through. A dozen major themes in contemporary Catholic and Christian life are thoughtfully woven together. Chaput, among my favourite Roman bishops, overflies the territory staked by Rod Dreher and others as the “Benedict Option” — named for Benedict of Nursia, founder of Western monasticism and symbol, East and West, of a certain aloofness. All these gentlemen remind that as Christians we must keep some distance from any worldly power that tries to legislate “above its pay grade” — to arrogate the divine jurisdiction. (With results we now see all around.)

By the nature of Christ’s claims — and they are not modest — we cannot “fit in” to a non-Christian, or “post-Christian” society. At most we can hope to be tolerated. If we are not tolerated, so be it. The hardships will then have to be endured, as they have been endured, in many times and places.

We are not, were not, and can never become some sort of ethnic group, adding flavour to the stew or witches’ brew of “democracy.” (No one is a Catholic by birth.) This is not some discovery, made under the pressure of current events; it was part of the teaching from the beginning. Our loyalty, which necessarily exceeds our political affiliation, is to a Kingdom not of this world. Our voting, if we vote, is done in that context. We may have opinions on the best way to proceed, but to ends that are not negotiable. There is no possible compromise between a view of history as Salvific, and a view that is “liberal” or “progressive” in denial of Our Lord.

This needs to be said again and again, in current circumstances, when Christian ideas that formed Europe and the West are pointedly disowned. It is more than the disavowal of “a past,” for we are still living, and thus ourselves disowned. We cannot pretend to be part of any “inclusivity” that the State may offer, after it has rejected the premiss of our being.

Our Lady was pregnant with the Christ, we believe. She was not “half pregnant,” or “symbolically” pregnant, and the consequences of Christian faith are similarly not half there. Though Very God of Very God, in us, that Child lives or dies; and we live or die in Him. This is how things are. On what can we compromise? Which corners can we cut?

In his composition of the phrases “Culture of Life” and “Culture of Death,” Saint John Paul laid out the alternatives. We cannot choose both. It would be well to state clearly that a Catholic who advocates for abortion, or votes for someone who does, excommunicates himself. For that is an issue of life or death. The same extends throughout the “life issues” on which Christians have been comprehensively defeated. We are pariahs not only in the eyes of a Clinton, but those of Podesta, Biden, Pelosi, Kaine, Anthony Kennedy, Justin Trudeau — apostate Catholics, collecting “ethnic” Catholic votes, as Chichikov collects “dead souls” in Gogol.

Nothing changes. The Christians of the first centuries had to decide whether they would bow to the divinity of Caesar. They would pay taxes, but those with courage would not bow. The same choice confronts us today, when we are asked to bow before the State’s new ideological and “gender” gods, in rejection of Christian teaching. This is not a small matter, and we must show it is not small, by refusing to do it.

Let the Church shrink; let her become more “exclusive” to those who profess a genuine Christian faith. We are not in a contest for numbers. Our strength is rather in the living Christ; and him crucified.