Catholic Political Thought, 1789-1848

Catholic Political Thought, 1789-1848

Catholic Political Thought, 1789-1848

Catholic Political Thought, 1789-1848

Excerpt

Our Faith is of the stuff of history. The Old Testament differs from all other sacred books venerated by the nations because it is history--an account of events full of mystical significance. Christian history differs from all other history because it comprises an era, because it is an account of a fundamental change in the order of the world, and the consequences of that change.

Man alone of all created beings has a history. Of all the records of human actions and events, the Old Testament is the first to be fully related to society, and to be in full relationship with the essential nature of man. Other civilisations have had their annals and chronicles, but these were never intended to reveal the essential. The names of Pharaohs have been recorded, and those of the rulers of China; their virtues were praised, and some of their actions made known and transmitted to posterity. Nearer to us in time, the historians of Greece and Rome--Herodotus, Tacitus--tell the story of events with a fuller and more personal characterisation of the actors; indeed they describe national characteristics with such penetrating observation that in the field of literature they remain unsurpassed. But what makes the Bible unique, and different in essence from all other venerated books of those distant centuries, is its focus. The biblical story moves visibly to a climax. Changes in institutions, the transition from the rule of prophets to that of kings, forced migrations, catastrophes and conquests, victories and defeats--all these occur because they have to occur. Nothing happens by mere chance. Everything has a discernible cause. Events have their context on a divine plane, the essentials of which are revealed. Reason and power were revealed in the act of Creation; love and sacrifice, as the essential relation of God to Man, were revealed on the Cross; justice and judgement are foretold for the end of the centuries.

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