Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Change, fast change without thought for the implications of the change are not new, they are part of human nature.
A crowd one day cries, "Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord", within a week it is replaced by another crowd shouting "Crucify him, crucify him".
A school friend of mine told me about how his grandfather, a much decorated Austrian war hero, a respected lawyer, living well in middleclass Vienna within a year ended up being starved and worked to death in a concentration camp. Human nature is fickle, a happy gathering can easily turn into a violent fist fight. A struggle for democracy and freedom can so easily turn into a fascist rout.
We have witnessed this in the Church, I remember my first encounter with the Traditional Mass, offered on the plinth of Nelson' Column in Trafalgar Square, during an anti-abortion rally in 1974. That which had sustained the Church for a millennium and a half, was suddenly regarded as profane, even dangerous, I remember being told by a good, holy priest not have anything to do with it, he seemed to think of it as more dangerous than the women who screamed, "Women should decide their fate, not the Church and not the State".
On Sunday I offered Mass for a sick old lady in her 90s, who under Stalin had risked imprisonment daily, she had run a secret catechetical school for children in the the Ukraine. The place of Christianity in the former Soviet bloc has changed dramatically. A friend who worked until recently as a priest in Albania, tells of older priests still working in his former diocese who were imprisoned and tortured for years, who worked secretly giving the sacraments to people who could have their children taken away for making the sign of the Cross or being absent from school on Christmas day.
We live in a fickle changing world, what was 'good' yesterday becomes 'bad' today, there is an interesting article: Gay Marriage: the fastest orthodoxy ever? Society changes and has always changed, there is something about 'prevailing orthodoxies', coercion through fear and perceived public opinion. A German I knew, now dead, said, "before the First World War we were all convinced Monarchist/Imperialists, during the War we were convinced Militarists, after the War we were depressed, then we became convinced Communists, then Nationalists, then Fascists, we knew Hitler was our saviour, then in East Germany we were absolutely convinced Soviet Communists, we were proud to be workers, then all of a sudden we became Capitalists". At each stage this man was strongly convinced by each ideology that was in power, without demur put in the uniform or waived the flag of whoever was in power, persecuted whoever was supposed to be persecuted,
It is human nature - at least fallen human nature. It is a Christian duty to question these new 'orthodoxies' both within and outside the Church, we do so from the certain knowledge that Christ, not Satan, has triumphed.
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