Friday, September 19, 2008

Back from Germany

Inflation 1923-24: A German woman feeding a stove with currency notes, which burn longer than the amount of firewood they can buy.


It was strange coming back from Cologne, yes I went there, and reading about financial crisis. What had happened in Germany in the 1920s with all that followed, is, one would hope, never going to happen again.
The effects of economic meltdown are always catastrophic. There seem to be more shops that are standing empty, more "for sale" signs outside houses, more of my parishioners seem to be unable to live the lifestyle they had a few years ago. I am worried about how to heat the Church this year, many of my parishioners are worried how to keep themselves warm.
Those on fixed incomes, the elderly especially, are really worried about how they will cope, food has become more expensive, even travelling to work has become more expensive.

I saw a mother of one of the children in our school a few weeks ago picking up cigarrette ends in the street, it seemed to illustrate where we might be heading.

What worries me is that in any economic decline we search for strong leadership, which is always terrifying: Put not your trust in princes, as the Psalmist says.

7 comments:

David said...

An American friend told me that in the US Catholic families often club together to buy groceries wholesale (including whole cows to be butchered) in order to keep their outgoings down. I wonder if something like that might work in a parish here in Britain? I wonder whether in the future, as Catholic families find it harder and harder to cope with the financial strains of an increasing anti-family society, that we shall need to club together in this way to simply keep our heads above the water.

What worries me is that in any economic decline we search for strong leadership, which is always terrifying: Put not your trust in princes, as the Psalmist says

I think it is true that there seems to be a pattern in history where a period of heresy, or abandonment of religious belief, is followed inevitably by a decline in morals and then societal and finacial chaos. Amidst this chaos people start looking for a strong leader to help them and who eventually starts seeking scapegoats and persecuting those who do not share his messianic worldview, particularly those who hold to the orthodox Catholic faith. It’s the pattern of the Antichrist which John Henry Newman spoke about in his 4 advent sermons on the “The Patristical Idea of Antichrist “:

…the coming of Christ will be immediately preceded by a very awful and unparalleled outbreak of evil, called by St. Paul an Apostasy, a falling away, in the midst of which a certain terrible Man of sin and Child of perdition, the special and singular enemy of Christ, or Antichrist, will appear; that this will be when revolutions prevail, and the present framework of society breaks to pieces; and that at present the spirit which he will embody and represent is kept under by "the powers that be," but that on their dissolution, he will rise out of their bosom and knit them together again in his own evil way, under his own rule, to the exclusion of the Church.

It may be that this is another of those periods of history like the 1920’s in Europe or the time of Nero that will merely prefigure the final end. But we cannot presume to know how this will end and so we need to keep our eyes open and ask for the grace to persevere in the faith until the end.

alban said...

Welcome back Fr. Ray. Cologne is a magnificent cathedral.

A few weeks ago we had a brief exchange regarding the Zairian Rite. Today I came across an interview with an Afrian priest who mentions that the Rite was celebrated at St Peter's Basilica in 1994. Here's the link.

Mention of the Rite, with a description of certain elements, is half way through the interview. I'm pleased that my recollection of the celebration was rather accurate.

george the greater said...

Fr. Ray,

Time to buy a mountain cabin in Idaho and wait out the coming Troubles.

But that's probably not you. You'll be on the streets of Brighton preaching the Gospel and adminstering the Sacraments during the wars, fires, floods, and riots to come..

nickbris said...

Mr Brown is a strong enough leader that we could trust but he is surrounded by doomed people that he trusted to support him.

The British Gutter Press only prints rubbish.

All our troubles have been brought about by GREED.

I expect "Uncle Joe" would have known what to do.

Henry said...

Nick, it is not greed. In the realm of economics, it is axiomatic that people seek to achieve the maximum return for the minimum effort. You do not take the long way round to got to the shops unless you want to enjoy the view. If the economic system contains perverse incentives, whether put there deliberately or through stupidity, then people will act perversely. The tax and benefit system rewards idleness, crime and land speculation and penalises honest work. People with a reckless and greedy mentality are rewarded, but it is not greed but stupidity that has brought on this disaster. The blame lies with all of us for electing politicians without asking enough questions, and for failing to try to understand how the econonomic system works (it is not difficult - every street busker and Big Issue Seller knows the basics).

It should not come as a surprise that Catholic Social Teaching has something, though not enough, to say on the subject. But in my experience, my Catholic friends seem strangely reluctant to get their heads round CST. I suspect this is widespread, but it means that Catholics are not making the contribution that the laity should be doing, and to that extent we are to blame for standing by and letting this disaster develop. But to put it down to greed is an over simplification.

Henry said...

Isn't all this trouble due to usury? And isn't usury forbidden by the bible? And what about the Papal encyclic on the subject, issued in 1745.

There is no necessity to charge interest on loans or demand security. It is necessary only to charge for the service provided, plus something in the nature of an insurance policy against the possibility of loss. And credit should only be given for the creation of physical capital for example, to pay for a farmer to plant seeds and provide funds until the crop has been harvested and sold, at which time the loan is extinguished. Money should not be lent or borrowed for holidays, cars used for non-work activities, or for land purchase.

nickbris said...

You are right Henry ,greed is an oversimplification but we are being manipulated by users only thinking of themselves.Some of the worst hypocrites are the Greens & so-called Environment Activists.People of my generation have always been brought up never to waste anything and salvage everything,then we are told by our Grandchildren about "sell by"dates & "use by" dates,and getting told off for not flushing the toilet every time.

There was an old man on TV a while ago,Mr Trebus,he salvaged everything and the London Council where he lived came down hard on him,basically because they wanted to STEAL his house.