Monday, November 5, 2007

Catholic Church & The West - Knox

Monsignor Ronald Knox, 1888-1957, has been a near constant source of inspiration for me before and since my entering full communion with the Catholic Church. Home sick, I picked up Milton Walsh's fine book, Ronald Knox As Apologist, and, turning to Knox's conference entitled, "The Brute Fact of Christianity," I read terms that are hotly bandied, discussed and debated today. Knox:
“I want it to be understood, then, that I am thinking particularly of that body of Christians which is in visible communion with the Holy See. Much of what I say will be true of other denominations, but not all of it; no matter. Catholicism is Christianity at its most challenging, Christianity in the raw...
“(T)he Christian religion is not, what most religions are, the reflection, the off-print, of one particular civilization or one particular part of the world’s surface. That, of course, is at first sight a controversial statement. Years ago, Mr Belloc produced a rather misleading slogan, ‘Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe.’ People are coming to talk nowadays as if that were true; as if Christianity were only a statement in spiritual terms of the values cherished by what we vaguely call ‘The West.’ But if that is, at the moment, geographically true, it is not historically true. Until the rise of Mohammedanism, itself a kind of Christian heresy, cut off the east from the west, was that process suspended. Meanwhile, you would have supposed that Christian religion expressed the values cherished by the Roman-Greek empire of the first centuries. Yet it survived the death of that empire, and set its seal upon the new order which emerged after the barbarian invasions. The attempt to capture Christianity and make it run in harness with the ideals of one particular empire, one particular form of culture, is constantly being made, but always it breaks the bonds in which we seek to imprison it.” [my emphases]
Msgr Knox was an Oxford graduate and acquaintance of C. S. Lewis, who admire Knox's fine mind and wit. He knew what it meant to be a Catholic in an England that equated Catholicism with treason, betrayal, and the Gunpowder Plot. In America, we are only beginning to squirm under the increasing pressure of the twin pagan tyrannies of postmodern nihilism and Islam.

May we not lose heart in our love of country. May our zeal never wane in the practice of vigilent practice of the virtues. For, in the words of Knox, "The Blessed Sacrament, the Jerusalem of our souls, stands apart from and above all the ebb and flow of world-politics, its citizenship a common fellowship between us and those who are estranged from us, those who at the moment are our enemies. Our friends yesterday, our friends tomorrow -- in the timeless existence to which that altar introduces us, they are our friends today."

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