Thursday, December 30, 2004

Consolation That The World Knows Not

This is from this morning's breakfast reading, the "From The Mail" column in the latest number of The Wanderer:

"As From the Mail was thinking about what kind of Christmas column to prepare in a time of war, it naturally turned to Pope Pius XII's famous Christmas addresses. While flipping through the pages of The Major Addresses of Pius XII, this passage from 50 years ago (Christmas 1954, "Coexistence: Its Meaning and Future") jumped out:

"It seems that in the field of concrete politics reliance is no longer placed on either rational or moral principles, for these, after so many delusions, have been swept away by an extreme collapse into skepticism.

"The most obvious absurdity of the situation resultant from such a wretched state of affairs is this: Current political practice, while dreading war as the greatest of catastrophes, at the same time puts all its trust in war, as if it were the only expedient for subsistence and the only means of regulating international relations. This is, in a certain sense, placing trust in that which is loathed above all other things....

"[T]here again clearly appears the absurdity of that doctrine which held sway in the political schools of the last few decades: Namely, that war is one of many admissible forms of political action, the necessary, and as it were the natural, outcome of irreconcilable disputes between two countries; and that war, therefore, is a fact bearing no relation to any kind of moral responsibility. It is likewise apparent how absurd and inadmissible is the principle — also so long accepted — according to which a ruler who declares war would only be guilty of having made a political error should the war be lost. But he could in no case be accused of moral guilt and of crime for not having preserved peace, when he was able to do so."

"Over a decade earlier, in his 1943 Christmas address, Pope Pius lamented the fact that an ever-growing technological progress [in warfare] is accompanied by an ever-greater decline in the realm of the soul and of morality.

It is a form of war which proceeds without intermission on its horrible way and piles up slaughter of such a kind that the most bloodstained and horrible pages of past history pale in comparison with it. The peoples have had to witness a new and incalculable perfection of the means and arts of destruction, while at the same time they see an interior decadence which, starting from the weakening and deviation of the moral sense, is hurtling ever downward toward the state where every human sentiment is being crushed and the light of reason eclipsed....

But in this dark night the faithful see the light from the Star of Bethlehem shine out, to indicate and illuminate the road to Him ... the road to our Redeemer. . . .

A Christian who is nourished and lives by faith in Christ, in the conviction that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, carries his share of the sufferings and sorrow of the world to the crib of the Son of God and finds in the presence of the newly born Child a consolation and support such as the world knows not.

This column isn't on-line. But the website at the link has subscription information.