We can easily argue that one, if not, the worst thing to happen to Christian society at large was the gradual destruction and disunity of Christendom “The Social and cultural manifestation of the Catholic Faith in public life.” This fall of Christendom had for most intensive purposes its origins in the Late Medieval era in which the first spirits of Protestantism had started. Namely the revolutionary and rebellious spirit held by many dissident theologians who thought that they knew better than Holy Mother Church. This is true in regards to many individuals such as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, William of Occam, Marsilius of Padua, and many others. This “proto-revolutionary” spirit lead up to the event most of us know as the Protestant Revolt which had inflicted a great blow to the unity of Christendom and Western Civilization.
This revolutionary spirit quickly opened up and had a great direct influence on the further disintegration of Christendom as pointed out by historians such as Christopher Dawson and Professor Plinio de Oliveira. This was true in regards to the nature of the Enlightenment and much of the anti-Catholic French Revolution. This disintegration of Christendom continued on to cause more ripple effects and had a direct consequence in the rise of Communism and the revolutionary spirit which infected Mexico, Spain, Russia, and to some extent even the United States. This disintegration due to the spirit of rebellion and revolution continues on to the present day in affecting modern society and Western Civilization. We see this very easily in the effects it has had on European and American society.
As Catholics we should always strive to restore whatever fragments of Christendom and Catholic Culture that still remain. Doing so is not impossible. But it will require heroic and supernatural virtue as well as a completely countercultural spirit which will help in restoring Christendom and Catholic Culture. In this article I propose a series of several ways that every Catholic be they clergy or lay alike of whatever social position could easily implement and do in his or her own life in order to help restore Christendom and the social and cultural manifestation of Catholicism.
1) Of One Heart and One Mind
The most fundamental and foundational thing that we as Catholics can do to restore Christendom and Catholic Culture is by first ascending our intellect in order to have Divine Faith and accept each and every article of the Catholic Faith. The reality is that Our Catholic Faith rests upon Divine Revelation. Truths which God has revealed in a direct and complete way to His Church.
Fr John Hardon defines Faith as the following:
The acceptance of the word of another, trusting that one knows what the other is saying and is honest in telling the truth. The basic motive of all faith is the authority (or right to be believed) of someone who is speaking. This authority is an adequate knowledge of what he or she is talking about, and integrity in not wanting to deceive. It is called divine faith when the one believed is God, and human faith when the persons believed are human beings. (Etym. Latin fides, belief; habit of faith; object of faith.)1
There are many ways that we can come to know truth. Some truths are so simple that we say they are “self-evident.” Namely that they do not require proofs or demonstrations. From this reality we understand for example that the whole is greater than the part. There are some truths which are more complex and which require philosophical inquiry and logical proofs and demonstrations. This includes comparing things with each other. It also includes the use of logic and sound reason. There are some truths which we come to know through the use of our senses. We can know that touching a hot object will burn us for example. However the highest truths; in the hierarchy of truths, are those which we believe based on the authority of other people. When such “faith” is based on man it is liable to either truth or error, depending on whether such individual was correct. For example if I were sick I would rely on the authority and nature of a doctor. I put faith in him because of this reputation and occupation. Such human doctor can be either right or wrong. To have Divine Faith means to hold firmly and without doubting, all that God has revealed and through His Church (The Catholic Church) proposes for our belief. The truths of revelation are known as the object of faith. God is the motive of our faith given the nature of God and the reality of his infallibility. This is what we profess in the Act of Faith when we say “I believe in these and every other thing which the Catholic Church teaches because you have revealed it O God who art Truth and Wisdom and who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”
In order to restore Christendom and Catholic Culture the most fundamental thing that we have to do is to trust in God and His Church. This means accepting each and every article of Divine Revelation and Tradition, which as Saint Paul tells Timothy “is handed on either through word of mouth (Truths revealed directly either by Jesus or the Holy Spirit to the Church) or by letter (Holy Scripture.)” (2 Tim: 2:15)
The great danger that plagues our very day is modernism and “cafeteria Catholicism” the picking and choosing of what suits us and what doesn’t. This is the most basic definition of heresy, which is nothing other than half truths based on the picking and choosing of those bits of truths that benefit us, while rejecting those which don’t. A certain Catholic once said that a sincere Christian can only be a Catholic or an atheist. This is true because once you separate yourself from the unity and catholicity of the Church “the fullness of the truth” you cease being Catholic. In order to save Christendom we first ought to work towards unity in belief and practice. We need to be of one heart and one mind.
2) Holiness and a life of grace
Once we bring ourselves to be of “one heart and one mind” we must then work on living lives of holiness and of sanctifying grace. This includes above all things avoiding sin. Jesus was quite clear about the reality of sin and the horrors of its consequences. Jesus not only tells us about the reality of Hell but also about the dangers and consequences of causing scandals by the way that we live our lives. “It is impossible that scandals should not come: but woe to him through whom they come. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)
Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Francis of Assisi often remind us of the necessity of living by good example. Not that preaching is not necessary. It is perhaps more necessary in our times. However in order to truly bring back Christendom and Catholic Culture we ought to live exemplary and extraordinary lives of heroic virtue and sanctifying grace. How can we possibly have the intention of inspiring others to be Catholic and thus to create a Catholic Culture if others are seeing us commit the most vile sins and living lives of hypocrisy and debauchery?
3) Christian Charity
One of the most effective ways in which we could live extraordinary lives and of bringing about the restoration of Christendom and Catholic Culture is by living lives of extraordinary Charity. Charity is something that has properly been called by professor Thomas E Woods something “new under the sun” and which is a direct product of Christianity. Father John Hardon defines Charity as the following:
The infused supernatural virtue by which a person loves God above all things for his own sake, and loves others for God’s sake. It is a virtue based on divine faith or in belief in God’s revealed truth, and is not acquired by mere human effort. It can be conferred only by divine grace. Because it is infused along with sanctifying grace, it is frequently identified with the state of grace. Therefore, a person who has lost the supernatural virtue of charity has lost the state of grace, although he may still possess the virtues of hope and faith.2
Jesus Christ founded the New Law of Charity in order to accomplish and fulfill the Old Law which was imperfect in of itself and was only a precursor and foreshadowing of the New Law. Jesus established the New Law of Charity when he said: “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus also reaffirms later on: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 13:15)
If we are to truly bring about Christendom and Catholic Culture it can only be the result of Christian Charity. This involves taking the examples of those saints who have practiced heroic aspects of Charity. This includes Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. This can also be seen in the many hospices and hospitals that were created and run by the Church from the medieval ages to our present time. Or the great generosity of The Sovereign Military Order of Saint John (also known as the “Hospitallers”) which took care of the various pilgrims who flocked to the Holy Land. Or in the generosity towards the sick and unfortunate by “The Poor Clares” or Blessed Mother Teresa’s “Missionaries of Charity”. There is also the great educational system provided for and founded by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first canonized native-born U.S. citizen. This also includes the protection of the common individual against usury, the protection of the common artist, worker, the development of various guild systems, and the assistance of those in dire poverty through various mutual associations of voluntary aid.
This Christian Charity has been so profound that it has even moved those with little to no compassion and sympathy for the Church. This is true in regards even to individuals like Julian the Apostate, Martin Luther and even Voltaire.
Julian the Apostate for example, who profoundly detested Christianity, complained that Christian kindness and Charity was simply too much. Julian stated: “These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them to their agape, they attract them, as children attracted with cakes.”3
Julian the Apostate goes on to say
Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans (the Christians) devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods.”4
Martin Luther perhaps one of the most vicious anti-Catholic and the main founder of the Protestant Revolution; and one of the chief causes of the disruption and disintegration of Christendom had the following to say in regards to Christian Charity:
Under the papacy the people were at least charitable, and force was not required to obtain alms. Today, under the reign of the Gospel (by which is meant Protestantism), in place of giving they rob each other, and it might be said that no one thinks he has anything till he gets possession of the property of his neighbor.5
Even Voltaire another equally and perhaps even more viciously anti-Catholic and one of the biggest leaders of the Enlightenment had this to say about Christian Charity:
Perhaps there is nothing greater on earth, than the sacrifice of youth and beauty, often of high birth, made by the gentle sex (women) in order to work in hospitals for the relief of human misery, the sight of which is so revolting to our delicacy. Peoples separated from the Roman religion have imitated but imperfectly so generous a charity.6
It is then once again vital that Catholics engage in profound acts of Charity in order to bring about the reunion and restoration of Christendom. It is one of the main reasons that has inspired millions of conversions to the faith and even the great admiration shown to it by the hated enemies of the Church.
4) Big Families and the Culture of Life
There is absolutely no way that we can truly bring back Christendom and even a general Catholic Culture without doing away with the prominent culture of death that plagues modern society. This culture of death has manifested in many ways, chief amongst that which is known as the “contraceptive mentality.” This contraceptive mentality is due to many factors including mere selfishness, as well as materialism, careerism, and to a large extent a complete lack of trust in Divine Providence. The contraceptive mentality is the belief that children and conception are a curse or at least a burden on humanity. It is what has led to anti-humanism.
Even abortion which in of itself is a great evil; which has caused the murder of over 5 million unborn lives solely in the United States has its ultimate roots in the contraceptive mentality and the culture of death which sees life at large (God’s creation) as a curse and a burden.
As I pointed out in another article Be Fruitful and Multiply the contraceptive mentality and the culture of death not only destroy Christendom but causes the downfall of civilization itself:
This culture of death has had a disastrous consequence on Western Civilization and even on Catholic Culture. There are many effects that the contraceptive mentality and the culture of death has had in society as a whole. Many studies and articles both form the left and the right show how many places in the world are becoming “underpopulated” given this reality. This is most definitely true in areas such as Europe, as well as modern day Japan and which is also greatly affecting the United States. In regards to Europe, Germany and France, are amongst the worst affected based on the consequences of the culture of death. An article published by the Population Research Institute written in 2013 shows how The Europe which we know is dying. This has been true decades since the culture of death was allowed to reign in European society. Europe is experiencing a dying population and a dying workforce; and no young workers or babies are replacing these generations.
There is however a more saddening reality facing Europe’s dying population. In order to make up for Europe’s dying population many European countries have turned to another remedy in order to try and scale down this reality. This includes the laxity in allowing massive immigration to many of the European countries. This is most definitely true in regards to massive Muslim immigration from countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and various other countries. Similarly it has been shown that while most Westerners including Catholics average about 1-2 children at most, Muslims average about 5-6 children. Given this combination; it has been shown that: “As a result of this potent mix of immigration and procreation, the number of Muslims will continue to grow. Europe as a whole, some demographers suggest, will have a majority Muslim population by 2100.”7
The solution? Bring back a culture of life. A culture which based on the teachings of the Church and the examples of Christ are completely open and accepting of life. A culture which sees children and especially large families not as a curse nor a burden but as a blessing and even a source of temporal happiness which God gives to those who openly accept his creation. What better way to defeat the culture of death than by being truly countercultural Christians in the modern world. What better way to do this than by offering the alternative of the culture of life. A culture which openly accepts any and all children whom God affords to us. A culture which is furthermore open to having a large family and which sees children as a blessing rather than a curse. I am often amazed by the countless families whom have generously allowed themselves to have as large of a family as God has afforded them. What blessing would it be to have 13 children! That family so long as it frequents the Sacraments frequently will never be bored nor will it ever be in want. Never will vice lurk at the door for virtue will always be practiced on a daily basis. The older children taking care of the younger. Never will the parents themselves ever be alone or in want. For they will always have children to help take care of them. How blessed must have been the family of Saint Catherine of Sienna with 24 siblings. Or the family of St Louis King of France with 9 brothers and sisters. The family of St. Robert Bellarmine whom came of a family of twelve. Or the family of Saint Pope Pius X who came from a family of ten.
5) The Domestic Church
In addition to creating a culture of life and promoting the large Catholic family, it is also very important that we emphasize the parental duty of raising children in the Catholic Faith. This reality begins in the micro-church “the domestic Church” which resides in the home. Many parents error in believing that teaching their children the faith is left to the parish confirmation or catechism class. This cannot be further from the truth. The parish formation classes for children ought to help in guiding and giving parents a hand in teaching children the Faith. But the primary responsibility is given to the parents. This could not be any more true especially when in our own days most parish formations classes are sadly even very liberal and in many cases even heretical. It is the parent’s chief responsibility in regards to the formation and salvation of their children’s’ souls that parents take an active role in being their primary teachers. It is also important to note that while parents should as much as possible bring their children to Mass and their local parish; the reality is that the Church begins at home. Parents ought to raise their children in developing many private devotions and a prayer life starting in the home. This includes for example, praying the Rosary, frequently using Sacramentals, consecrating the home to the Immaculate and Sacred Hearts of Jesus, and even developing a prayer altar at home.
6) Motion Pictures and the Arts
In order to bring back Christendom and a truly Catholic Culture it is also vitally necessary that we as Catholics do our best to avoid any type of “art” of whatever type that goes contrary to Catholic morality. I cannot stress how much of the problem this is especially when it comes to modern forms of entertainment. This includes the reading of bad literature, as well as listening to bad music, and last but not least watching bad movies and shows. In an article titled Catholics and Motion Pictures I point out the morality of movies:
It should first be noted that every movie and show and motion picture in general should always be held in moral scrutiny. There are many types of goods in general. For example there are what in philosophy are called “ontological goods,” which simply means that it is good for something to exist. This is a very fundamental aspect of goodness because the essential definition of evil is the lack or absence of a good that should naturally be there. For example there are what are known as physical goods such as a person who has both arms and legs. We could say that a person who is missing either an arm or leg to be suffering from a physical evil, because something that should naturally be there (an arm or leg) is not there. Similarly Pseudo Dionysus a Greek convert to Catholicism stated that if something is to be considered good it needs to be good in every respect. A lack of goodness where goodness should naturally be there is really not good in general.
When we talk about shows and movies or simply about motion pictures as a whole in general, we say that these things need to be morally good. Now a moral evil is the absence of a moral good that should naturally be there. Similarly a moral evil is an act that is willfully committed by an individual, despite the person knowing it to be morally bad. It should be noted that a movie could be artistically good, but morally bad and corrupt at the same time. For example many individuals talk about how good a movie was when in reality it was very immoral and corrupt. What they meant and thought as good was artistic goodness and not moral goodness. If the movie has even just one sin or immorality in it then the movie is naturally morally bad and evil.8
As Catholics we need to practice extraordinary virtue when it comes to seeing movies, shows, listening to music, or simply reading literature. It forces us to see whether any of these types of things, whether they be a show, a movie, a song, or a book passes a strict line of scrutiny. Does any of these things mentioned blaspheme God, Christ, His Church, Mary? Do any of these things promote vice and bad morals? These things make us question most of the art and forms of entertainment that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis.
7) Living Sacramentally based lives
Another great advice that I offer to those seeking to restore Christendom on a daily basis is to live each day sacramentally. This means that we ought to strive to frequent the Sacraments as much as possible. This means striving to go to Daily Mass and frequent Confession. There are many great examples of Saints throughout the life of the Church who frequented the Sacraments on a frequent basis. This includes the heroic example of Saint Louie the ninth king of France who had such a devotion to the liturgical life of the Church that he attended three Masses each day as a devotion. This also includes the examples of Saints such as Elizabeth of Hungary and Pope John Paul II whom were known for going to frequent Confession. These two specific Saints when on a daily basis!
Living lives sacramentally is perhaps one of the most countercultural and effective ways to bring about the restoration of Christendom for one simple reason. It makes each one of our lives theo-centric (God centered) instead of anthropocentric (human centered). This is the complete opposite of a world which preaches the Unholy Trinity of “Me, Myself and I.” The Mass and the Sacraments is after all the focal points of our faith, which have the effect of orientating the rest of our day and furthermore our life towards God and doing His will.
8) Catholics and the public sphere
The last main piece of advice that I give in regards to bringing about Christendom and a Catholic Culture is by encouraging the engagement of Catholicism in the public sphere. There is perhaps no worse mentality that has been adopted by modern Western Civilization than the false notion of the separation of Church and state. At least in the way that it is properly understood and practiced; and which has been accepted in places such as the United States and Europe. The separation of Church and State is at odds with what the Church teaches in regards to the relation and nature of Church and State. The Church teaches that the Church and the State are indeed distinct from one another and have for that very reason distinct ends. Namely the Civil authority (The State) is primarily in charge with the temporal well being of its citizens and the promotion of the Common Good. The Church on the other hand is primarily concerned with the salvation of souls. However with that being said it has always been Catholic Teaching that the State has a strict obligation to conform itself to the moral precepts of the Catholic Church. Similarly the Catholic Faith teaches and professes above all things that first and foremost all authority comes from God (Romans 13) and teaches that the Catholic religion, which is the one true religion, as directly revealed by God, should be given full liberality and sole profession by civil society. Lastly the Church teaches in a similar manner the doctrine of Christ the King. The Church teaches that given the fact that all authority comes from God, that Christ is both a temporal and spiritual king and that he has for that very nature authority over both the temporal and spiritual.
For this reason there is no such thing as the separation of Church and State. At least not in the common understanding that faith ought to be principally a private matter and ought to be kept out of politics and the public sphere at large. Nothing could be more dangerous to Christendom and Catholic Culture than this erroneous mentality. A mentality that believes that faith is fine so long as it does not influence society and promote good morality!
Catholics should then not be afraid to make the practice of the Faith merely a private but a public matter. What greater way to influence the world at large than for the world to see the example of public prayer! This includes above all things attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It also means promoting public processions which to a large extent have gone out of frequent use. Public processions are a great manifestation of our Catholic Faith by showing the world at large the mysteries of the Catholic religion. This is true in regards to the frequent Marian, as well as Eucharistic processions that were once a big aspect of Christendom and Catholic Culture.
Catholics should also not be afraid to get involved in a public level. What I mean by that is to publicly influence society through the Catholic Faith that they have been blessed to possess. This includes both in regards to a political level as well as in bringing back the long neglected Christian movement known as Catholic Action which I write about in The Catholic Solution to a Social and Political Problem. Society and Western Civilization needs the Catholic Faith more than ever if it is to survive a total destruction.
The first thing that is necessary is that Catholics live out the doctrine of the kingship of Christ by first putting Christ in their own heart and by doing so influence the public at large. As I wrote on a recent article:
The belief that Christ is king, both temporal and spiritual, in our private and public lives, it also affirms that only Christ can be a “Saviour”—not only politically, but spiritually—and that the saving power of Christ first begins within ourselves, in relation to Christ, as he must first be messiah of our own hearts. Once this is done and Christ is allowed to reign within us we take him everywhere we go: to our work, school, the voting booth, the political and public arena, the parish, and nearly everywhere else.
Catholic Action then becomes what it was once meant to be; not merely an individual endeavor, but a social thing. By its very nature it will go about transforming society in a truly Christian way, for example, by promoting the long neglected natural virtue of justice, by which is meant “the obligation to give all according to their due,” or go further and promote the theological and supernatural virtue of Charity, a supernatural love based on the virtue of faith, by which we love our neighbor in relation to our love of God and His love for us.
Catholic Action is the apolitical solution to a political problem. It is the Catholic faith put into social practice.9
It is then not impossible to work towards the restoration and unity of Christendom and in establishing a truly Catholic Culture. It will however take much heroic and supernatural effort on the part of all faithful Catholics in a variety of ways. Above all it means prayer and a trust in Divine providence; as everything is possible only through God. It also involves living completely countercultural Christian lives, which goes against the spirit of the world. This involves first and foremost a unity and oneness in belief and practice, the promotion of Christian Charity, living a culture of life by promoting big Catholic families, living the sacraments on a daily basis, and above all also making the faith not only a private but a public affair.
Long Live Christ the King! Viva Cristo Rey! Vive Christus Rex!
- Catholic Culture.com: Faith (Fr John Hardon “Catholic Dictionary: An Abridged and Updated Edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary”)
- Catholic Culture.com: Charity (Fr John Hardon “Catholic Dictionary: An Abridged and Updated Edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary”)
- Alvin J. Schmidt, The Social Results of Early Christianity (Longdon: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1907), 328
- (Cajetan Baluffi, The Charity of the Churhc, trans. Denis Gargan (Dublin: M.H Gill and Son, 1885), 16
- (Michael Davies, For Altar and Throne: The Rising in the Vendee (St. Paul, Minn; Remnant Press, 1997), 13
- Arturo Ortiz: Be Fruitful and Multiply (Walkinginthedesert.com)
- Arturo Ortiz: Catholics and Motion Pictures (Walkinginthedesert.com)
- Arturo Ortiz: The Catholic Solution to a Social and Political Problem (The Distributist Review)