Part 2: A Poet's Expression of His Religion
E Pluribus Unam
"Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences.
The supreme question about a work of art
is out of how deep a life does it spring?”
— James Joyce
For the Sake of Christendom
On the occasions corresponding to the profound and particular protests of various priests, kings, and people in the 16th century, all thoughts were anxiously directed toward the preservation of Christendom. Many dreaded division, many sought to avert it. While councils were planned, devoted to preserving the Church from heresy, insurgent agents were seeking to destroy Christendom by assailing her long-held traditions — seeking to assail the Church and divide Christ’s body. Both parties — Catholics and Protestants — professed to hate division and falsehood, while the Catholic church would rather fight for and defend divine truth as one body, Protestant parties would rather mutilate the body and purify portions than reform from within the body, which is the bride of Christ, the new Jerusalem. And so the Catholic-Protestant divide came. Christendom suffered. The world too.
Western Europe was the battleground this time. Sacred scripture, the writings of God written about the word of God, constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that holy scripture is inspired by God. Catholics knew sacred tradition birthed holy scripture, Protestants desired to use sacred scripture to create and justify new man-made traditions. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend the knowledge of the gospel and holy scripture was the professed reason for which Protestant insurgents would rend Christendom, even by division and separation; while the Catholic church claimed no right to do more than to preserve and pass along the fullness of divinely revealed truth, whether by sacred scripture or by sacred tradition, whether oral or written.
Neither party expected the sufferings of Christendom to impact the world to such a magnitude or duration which it has done. Neither anticipated that the homeland of Western Europe, which was the main battlefield of this war, would one day be called “post-Christian”. Neither foresaw the impact upon the Americas — a brave new world discovered by Europeans though long before inhabited by Natives. Each, both Protestant and Catholic alike, looked for their version of Christian religion to triumph in their communities and in the world. Both read similar bibles and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid in furthering Christ’s kingdom. It may seem strange that Protestants would steal Catholic scriptures to build their own man-made traditions while attempting to further Christ’s kingdom; but let us judge not, lest we be judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh”.
If we shall suppose that the split in Christendom is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove it, and that He has given both Catholics and Protestants the savior who has borne our sins by his wounds on the cross, should we not attempt to heal the cause of our division? Should we not attempt to cross the great divide between Catholics and Protestants on a foundation of truth? Should we not cross the Tiber? Should we not attempt to end the division within Christendom?
Let us use our similar and sacred scriptures to heal and mend, for would not the savior who said “Love your enemy and pray for your persecutors” desire us to pray for separated brethren and walk with each other into the fullness of divine truth and full communion with God? Our God is the one who conquers repentant enemies by adopting them as family, not by making them slaves or reminding each other of our errors and sins. Let us confess our errors and receive and give forgiveness. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”. But woe be to him who attempts to divide the one, holy, Catholic church or attempts to mar her beauty. That is a war against God bound to fail for Christ himself promised, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it”. Shall we discern in Christ any departure from the living God who is faithful to his promises? Is God so weak as to not keep this great promise to Peter and his church? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of division in Christendom — the kingdom of heaven — may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until the second coming of Christ, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said today “the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether”.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up Christendom’s wounds, to save souls, to forgive sins, to heal the world, to renew the earth and restore the children of God to their heavenly father, to prepare the people of God as the bride of Christ, to guide the people of God to live in the new and eternal covenant, and to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations, peoples, tribes, tongues, and religions.
O Christians, O Catholics, we are the stewards of the mysteries of Shakespeare and Sacred Scripture. More so, we are the stewards of the mysteries and riddles of the world. Let us be faithful stewards. Let us be faithful to our shepherd, faithful to our holy father, faithful to our heavenly father. Let us be faithful. Truly, truly, amen.