Sunday, July 31, 2011

When the imperial eagles fell, it was from a pinnacle of heightened entanglement. War had been unthinkable to the royals at that time, because it would have literally been fratricide. Western humanity, in general, thought it had achieved a period of enlightenment that had outgrown the conflicts of the past. Modern man thought he had evolved, but he was about to be reminded that he was, first and foremost, fallen. Pelagius's most burning refutation was coming, and the dominoes began falling rapidly on 31 July, the date of the Russian general mobilization.

As we look back on history through our Epimethean eyes, we often sigh at our backward fathers and perhaps with a magnanimous gesture say, 'O, it was all inevitable!' flattering ourselves that we are enlightened as Tolstoy was; we understand that all things are predetermined. Like Aesop's scorpion, we must sting, even if it means our death. As Dawkins would say, we are all selfish, cocked guns, desiring naught but our own survival, and anything might set us off. The 'natural' Russian wrote that Moscow had burned, because it was made of wood. Europe had exploded, because it was a powder keg.

If reality is really such as this, despair is all that is left to us, and we truly shall 'live without hope.' How can the materialist intelligentsia dominating this world, Dawkins for one, propose whatever kind of morality they would advocate when they are not even 'interested in free will'? How can governments benefit people when their only interests are invested in parties? How can we fight for the good, when the only 'good' we have is the confused definition of a passing generation, and tradition's input is held nil? Whatever the spokesmen of our geopolitical system may say, man has in effect abandoned the humanist optimism of the Renaissance and Enlightenment and plunged into the postmodern gloom of predestination.

Is man right to do so? After all, was not Pelagianism a heresy even in the eyes of a Church devoted to hope? If there is wisdom in accumulation, should not the present generation, living while earth is at her oldest, be wiser than its forebearers? I remember pondering this question in elementary school. The image of a bearded man with the quill did seem impressive to a young girl, but so did the man in the white labcoat with the receding hairline. Which one was wiser?

I asked my father: 'Daddy? Who's smarter? The people from old times or the people right now?' Looking back, I bless God so much for the parents he gave me. They did not subscribe to the Freudian nonsense of not teaching one's children what was right, nor did they stuff my mind with their personal opinions. My father was and remains a liberal-minded man, and he took his time in answering my question. However young I was, he always took my queries seriously. His reply was fair and measured, neither yes nor no, i.e. Scholastic.

'They were smarter in some ways, and we are smarter in others. We may have more records of experience than they did, but I don't know that we make as good a use of them as men of the past did. We know more about the natural world and the sciences, but that does not mean we know more about what is right.' I was satisfied with that, but another question was later provoked.

Is it possible for one generation to be formed by the preceding one? Can remembering the past save us from repeating it? Frank Herbert's well nigh classic saga, Dune, of which at least the first three volumes were masterpieces, explores this notion in the most extreme terms through the descendants of the ancient House of Atreus as they attempt to purge humanity of all its ovine qualities. They do so first by igniting a jihad claiming billions of lives, then crushing mankind with a stiflingly oppressive reign which lasts 3,500 years. The idea is to force man to thirst for freedom and yearn for no more messiahs. This is the 'Golden Path' that would '
teach humanity a lesson that they will remember in their bones
.' Through pain, force human beings from man to the overman. Surely though, such a plan is rather optimistic about the influence of history over man's acts.

Though it would be naïve to disregard the influence the past wields over the present (especially as the mind of man is composed of moment and memory) it is impossible for a later generation to imbibe the lessons of life just as the previous one did simply by word of mouth. One's experience cannot be transmitted after the fashion of one's genes. Thus, tales of struggles and hardships may be sobering for one's children, but tedious to one's grandchildren.

There are trends; there are institutions, and there are necessities. These things mold, influence, and precipitate the actions of man, but ultimately a man's acts are his own. Even on the grand scale displayed in the video above, it was possible for individuals to stand against the deluge. They chose not to do so.

Our Lady of Fatima told us that peace depends not only on individuals, but specifically on the sanctity of their personal lives. It is our willingness in our own souls to mortify our appetites and love our fellow man that makes the progress of mankind possible. Pope Benedict XVI writes of this in his magestic encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

The second truth is that authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension. Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space. Enclosed within history, it runs the risk of being reduced to the mere accumulation of wealth; humanity thus loses the courage to the service of the great and disinterested initiatives called forth by universal charity.
(Chapter I, § 11)

Yet, the hanging blade has already swung towards the extreme determinism. Should one adopt the Pope's view, would it be in danger of swinging again into folly of man-worship? This is where philosophers part company, either to the camps of faith or the plains of agnosticism. For what can hope to guide man, who is remade in every newborn child, through infinitely varying epochs? The answer must be a vault made in trust:

Man does not develop through his own powers, nor can development simply be handed to him. In the course of history, it was often maintained that the creation of institutions was sufficient to guarantee the fulfilment of humanity's right to development. Unfortunately, too much confidence was placed in those institutions, as if they were able to deliver the desired objective automatically. In reality, institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone
. Moreover, such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God: without him, development is either denied, or entrusted exclusively to man, who falls into the trap of thinking he can bring about his own salvation, and ends up promoting a dehumanized form of development.(ibid.)

Until the day when the words above are greeted with shouts of joy and a blare of trumpets, we shall wander in the ruins of what has been and send up our sighs in this vale of tears. Paradise cannot be regained, but we still pray that the Kingdom come.

In gratitude for all the souls who protested the 'suicide of Europe', thanking them that gave their blood as martyrs--not conquerors--and in atonement for those that wrought such destruction, let us offer our Holy Communions, our prayers, our trials, and our sufferings today.

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart) .

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.

So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.
Joyce Kilmer


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Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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