This is one of those times when everything that is going on in one’s life conspire to deliver a single idea to one’s mind. The archer shooting those arrows is God and the real objective is one’s soul. “Objective” is an English word with more than one important meaning. We ended up the previous post with: “If everything seems to be lost for the Christian cause, do not fret. God has guaranteed our victory and He won’t fail.” I will try to continue here and close the reasoning somehow but it won’t be easy.
“Against this view the modern mind has two lines of defense. The first claims that traditional morality is different in different times and places – in fact, that there is not one morality but a thousand. The second exclaims that to tie ourselves to an immutable moral code is to cut off all progress and acquiesce in stagnation. Both are unsound.” — C. S. Lewis, The Poison of Subjectivism.
One of my favorite songs of all times is Charles Trenet’s Que reste-t-il (literally “What does remain?”) The song tells the story of a man reminiscing the romantic liaisons of his care free youth. The scene is set at night in a house that is growing cold.
Tonight the wind is knocking on my door
Talk to me about dead loves
As the fire wanes to embers
Tonight I sing an autumn song
As the house is getting cold
And I think of distant days
The song continues predictably describing the sunny days of young love, a well crafted marriage of melody and lyrics. It ends on a sad, melancholy note.
What does remain of our love
What is it left of those beautiful days
A photo. An old photo of my youth.
Many of us own a photo like that. At this point you may wonder where I’m going and why I quoted C. S. Lewis and followed it with the lyrics of a French song from the 1940’s. Of course, there is a reason.
The man in the song has been tricked. That man could have easily been putting children or grandchildren to sleep. He could have been easily embracing the wife of his youth and reminiscing with her the early days of a life well lived. Instead, he is alone, and all he has of that happy youth is a photo. That photo is all that remains of his deconstructed youth. By pushing aside the context in which true love is meant to be lived, our man selfishly destroyed the long-lasting essence of that love. All that he has left is the memories and a photo reminding him of a happy but empty past.
Keep that in mind while you read the counsel of Jesus to the Church in Ephesus.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus […] “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance […] I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” — Revelation 2:1-4.
As the Modernist gradually convinced more and more Catholics to accept the poison of Subjectivism, many leaders and faithful began to pick the sweet fruits of the Christian life while leaving its harder teachings behind. In doing so, the essence of the Christian practice began to rot into a form of Catholicism without fire. The same happened to the poor man in Trenet’s song. He failed to see he was wasting his youth by dislodging the joy of erotic love from its home: a marriage where it can grow and live forever.
Quite recently, I tried to explain that to someone. I completely failed to deliver the point. Perhaps I can succeed here. Some may remember the old English liturgy of marriage where the groom, placing the wedding ring in the bride’s finger, says:
“With this ring I thee wedde: with my body I thee worship: and with al my worldly goodes I thee endow.”
The “wedde” word has the same root as the word “weld” used to describe the joining of metal by applying heat. The “worship” part is the surrendering of the groom’s body to that other entity that will be formed when marriage is consummated. That new person formed by the union of the groom and bride is needed to complete the Sacrament of Marriage. That is the means for groom and bride to worship God and have access to a more complete, fruitful, lasting joy. A joy that will change and mature from the initial enjoyment of their bodies to the higher enjoyment of each other’s souls. The “endow” part closes the circle like a ring: nothing is reserved, “all I am, all I do, all I own is now yours without reservation.” The groom is responsible to trust and give first.
It seems to me that Modernism has deconstructed our Catholic faith rendering it into a meaningless collection of emotional trifles, turning it inward into the feelings of the individual. All Modernism has left us is the image of a community that once was the Church. The Sacraments still subsist but those hideous forces are now going for the kill and will try to cut off that last connection between the Triumphant Church in Heaven and the Militant Church on earth. Christ’s promise is clear: they won’t prevail in effecting that divorce.
We have to bear this winter of the Church knowing that a better season will eventually come. If we remain in the love of Christ, and if we hold on fast to what he taught us, the Church will survive on us like our first love. Because love is stronger even than death.
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, passion is as fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the raging fire of the Lord. — Song of Songs 8:6
This is just the beginning of our beautiful friendship with Christ. It is up to you to choose between living a true love story or die holding on to an image of something that never was.