May 2019 Print

Darkness or Light from Christ?

by Candidus

Editor’s Note: The following article originally appeared in the Italian edition of SiSiNoNo on February 16, 2018.

I have on my desk a letter that deserves an answer which can be useful to all. The reader writes: “If all you write about in several publications and in your books is true, I am discovering a Catholicism marvelously beautiful and magnificent. It is not true, then, that the Church is obscurantist, as the light that emanates from her message is so abundant that it looks as if the sun had risen in our history.”

Who is the Obscurantist One?

In the 18th century, the Illuminists—the ones who thought that with the “light” of human reason all problems could be solved—started accusing the Catholic Church of being obscurantist, that is to willingly hide the true problems from man and to keep him ignorant, then to enslave man by requiring obedience to absurdities unacceptable to human reason. The most Christian centuries, like those of the Middle Ages, in their opinion had been dark centuries, gloomy, whereas “the light” started shining only with the “Renaissance” and only with the French Revolution we entered the contemporary age with all its progress.

Catholicism then, according to them, is obscurantist, is darkness. Reason only is, then, light and progress that prevails.

But we believers do not bend and “do not submit.” Rather, we ask a question and, if you like, as we say nowadays, a challenge: Which is obscurantist?” Catholicism or Illuminism? The believer, in love with Christ, or he who refuses Him and His Church?

Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, stands out at the beginning of the last 2,000 years, ready to face the third millennium and the centuries to come, more alive than ever, present and operating in history through His Church. History is full, overflowing with Him and His works.

He is the master of humanity, a master capable of astonishing by solving, with His light, any problem of life and society. He promised it: “He that follows me, walks not in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

Which Ones are Jesus’ Works?

It will suffice to reflect a bit, even only superficially on history, to discover all that Jesus has accomplished through His Church.

  • Rome and its empire were horribly corrupted, despite their power and organization. Slavery and oppression of the weakest, the most immoderate vices involved men, women, and children. The Satyricon by Petronius is the mirror of this corruption of the society of the first century, the century of Augustus and Nero. Well, in that Rome and its empire the apostles of Jesus arrived, their weapons being only truth and love. That world, so different from the Gospel, converted: slavery collapsed, men, women and youth were so renewed in their being that they astonished their peers and became role models for every age and everywhere: the Christian martyrs and virgins.
  • Italy and all of Europe were swamped by the “barbarians.” They were people coming from the East, full of vitality, who crushed the Roman generals and legions, softened in their vices. Society was swept and put on fire by the violence...pontiffs and bishops living during these centuries announced the Gospel to the “barbarians” of this devastating march. Jesus conquered them, transformed them, made them sons of God and made them brothers to one another and to Roman society, already partially Christian. From this sprang out a civilization which was the origin of Europe.
  • The miracle of the conversion to Christ, thus, of a new civilization in His image, took shape and was repeated in every land in Europe and beyond Europe, as far as the missionaries reached: from Germany to England, and to Iceland, from Asia to the Americas. For centuries, Jesus has been light, salt, leaven, good seed that grows, takes hold, expands, transforms. Thus the time came when Church, family, society, civic power, work, joys and sorrows, the school and the public square, even though among human sins and miseries, became “one in Christ.” Marvelous cathedrals arose, and, under their shade (or rather under their light!) the universities were born. At the light of Christ the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Comedy of Dante were written; the brushes of Cimabue and of Giotto were at work, the arts, the crafts, social and political life, culture and commerce flourished in a marvelous synthesis of man become “one in Christ.” Is all this obscurantism? Is all this darkness, superstition, something to forget, or something of which to be ashamed? Europe would not have come into being with all its grandeurs, the Europe that became teacher of the world, if Jesus Christ had not been its origin. Is this obscurantism?

  • When men in the 15th and 16th centuries forgot about God or started to put only themselves at the center of attention, paganism came back with all its vices, its orgies, and its corruption which had rotted Europe. So it is, that when man, instead of contemplating Heaven with God in it, looks at himself, he starts quickly to roll in the mud, like a well-known animal…who would deny it?
  • Here again is the marvel. The Church, torn by Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, even if all its members were tempted by the miseries of this world, but always in the care of Jesus Christ and always holy like Him, found a new vitality, an overflowing vitality. There bloomed saints, an endless number of saints: Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri, Aloysius Gonzaga, Pius V, Charles Borromeo, Joseph Calasanz, Francis de Sales, Vincent de Paul, John de La Salle, and the list could go on endlessly; saints who repaired the fiber of the wounded society by the strength of truth and love. This is another wonder from Christ. Is all this, then, obscurantism?

    Man is Fulfilled in Christ

    “Crush the infamous one” proclaimed Voltaire in the mid-1700s. “The infamous one” to be crushed was meant to be the Catholic Church. Then came Marx saying that “religion is the opium of the people” and proposed a unified proletariat against States, property owners, and the Church. Next came Nietszche who said that “God is dead” and that man must be, by will of power, a superman. Kant in the 1700s had already tried to lay the foundations of a morality for the godless man, where man is law to himself.

    In a few words: man is the only protagonist of society, man builds on his own, because “Either God is not there, or does not belong there.” This is the secular culture dominating today’s world, but it does not hold, does not stand.

    Immediately, right after these people spoke, flashes of fire and death appeared. Were they the Illuminati or “Lucifer’s followers?”

    It is man who is dying—because his Christ has been denied—in the French Revolution (think about the “terror” and the genocide of the Catholic Vendée) and in the legislation of the 1800s.

    It is man who dies in the world wars of the last century, in communist Russia and in its “satellite” countries, in the China of Mao, in the extermination camps of Stalin and Hitler.

    It is man who dies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it is still man who dies in the poor and miserable vision of life of our own days “with no love and no Christ,” as the secular poet Salvatore Quasimodo (who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1959) also admitted.

    It is man who dies, stuffed in affluence, desperate and suicidal in these terrible years of ours. It is man who dies of drugs, of sex, of AIDS. It is man who dies in the “trips” of the discos and in the massacres of Saturday night, in the families disintegrated by passing fancies, by “free love,” by divorce, in the millions of aborted children, killed before seeing the light.

    It is man who dies in the nausea and boredom which lead to inconsiderate actions, done “just to do something” as in a game, to experience new emotions.

    Unfortunately—and this is the gravest thing—it is God who dies and by consequence it is man who dies in a “theology without Christ,” which is taught also by the higher ranks, by those who, like priests, theologians and bishops, should be only a beacon of light, of the light of Jesus Christ in this darkened world. This is the world without Christ, turned into an enemy of man, which has penetrated also among churchmen.

    Well, then, ladies and gentlemen, who is the obscurantist?

    One who denies God and rejects Jesus Christ and His Church, what can such a man boast about? Maybe that he is happier and worthier than others? Maybe he can brag about the state of ruin of our days? Please, let us stop kidding ourselves! Such people need to ask forgiveness: “Lord, have pity on me!” and then go back to the truth of all times, that 2,000 years of holy Catholic Tradition have transmitted, despite all, up to our time.

    The work is massive. But in the third millennium Jesus is the only one left who guarantees the value of human reason, the dignity of the person, the sanctity of human life, who points the way to real civilization, who announces the eternal destiny of man. Whoever has authority, but does not speak according to His authority, may tremble and shake, but Jesus Christ does not tremble, nor waver: He is the invincible, the eternal.

    We must start over with vigor and courage from Him, because man is fulfilled, is saved only in Christ, as Ernest Hello (19th-century French writer of theology, philosophy, and literature) wrote: “We need Christianity as it is: fiery! Jesus is passion, fervor, fire and conquest. To convert is to turn to Jesus who is the devouring fire and the impetus of joy.”