“Repent and believe the good news!”” (Mark 1:15)
The term used by Jesus here is μετανοεῖτε (metanoeite) from metanoia, a word familiar to those who listen to the homilies during Lent season. According to the Catholic Dictionary: “Literally repentance or penance. The term is regularly used in the Greek New Testament, especially in the Gospels and the preaching of the Apostles. Repentance is shown by faith, baptism, confession of sins, and producing worthy fruits of penance. It means a change of heart from sin to the practice of virtue. As conversion, it is fundamental to the teaching of Christ, was the first thing demanded by Peter on Pentecost, and is considered essential to the pursuit of Christian perfection. (Etym. Greek metanoein, to change one’s mind, repent, be converted, from meta + noein, to perceive, thing, akin to Greek noos, nous, mind.)” What Christ demands of us is a spiritual u-turn, a 180 degree change in the direction of our mind is moving. Christ usually begins with a phrase like: “the Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near”. One more time the image the words of Jesus suggest is important to fully understand him. The time appointed by God has been fulfilled and the Kingdom is approaching but those whom Jesus is addressing are moving in the opposite direction, their minds are focused away from the inevitable arrival of the Kingdom of God.
But … aren’t we moving towards the future? Aren’t we progressing to an ever more wonderful and perfect world? Stop and ask yourself those questions seriously. I have quoted often the words of a much maligned Argentine priest (Fr. Julio Meinvielle) but now I must repeat them.
“The error of the Progressives resides in rejecting the necessity of working for the implantation of a Christian social order. In doing so they are obliged to accept the lay city, Liberal, Socialist, Communist. The root of their error and their deviation from Christian progress lies in seeking the alliance of the Church with modernity.” – Fr. Julio Meinvielle (1905-1973) From the Kabala to Progressivism.
If the Kingdom of Heaven had drawn near in 30 A.D. it is even more near today. If the fullness of time had reached the people of Jesus’ time, we are twenty centuries closer to that completion today. God does not measure time like we do. Think of his nearness to those who were hearing him back then. Now think of how near is God to us when we receive the Holy Eucharist. There’s the rub. God is approaching both in time and in another dimension we cannot quite measure. Christ approached mankind in the Incarnation, then got closer in his Passion, and now he is even closer in the Eucharist. The time will come one day for the parousia, his presence in the world that will transform all things making this world turn 180 degrees. Then it will be too late for metanoia for it will be time for σύγκρουση, synkrousi: collision. It will be — to borrow the words of the visionaries of Garabandal — “like the clash of two planets.”
Let me repeat one more of my favorite quotes:
“The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.” – T. S. Eliot, Thoughts After Lambeth, 1931.
I think that failure T. S. Eliot is talking about will not be sudden and catastrophic. The world is slowly dying of Liberalism. What is Liberalism suppose to liberate us from? In the old days of Illuminism (that was its philosophical name) one its founders, John Locke, proposed to end the preoccupation with Christian theology and concentrate mainly in the building of a perfect society. That is how the modern impulse was born. Since Luther’s rebellion, the European intellectuals found room to lose the boundaries imposed by divine revelation. There they began their quest for their “own truth” — a truth free of any Christian influence. In time, the arrival of Marxism presented the world with a complete materialistic philosophy that instead left no room for God and is in perfect opposition to the Christian ideals. The Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar explains the deficiencies of Marxist ideas that seek to create heaven in this world:
What good are the Marxist plans for the future of humanity if the countless past generations remain unredeemed? Christian works are valuable because they are oriented to change the world in the hope of the return of Christ and are affirmed in the hope of the coming Kingdom of God, which will transform everything and integrate in itself all the efforts made for good without anything lost. What good are the ecstasies and meditations practiced with Oriental techniques if they do not find the heart of the living God, the absolute love that proved itself in the Cross of Christ Christ, a love—to which we can never answer in an identical way— a love that allows us to participate in his Holy Spirit? Man, then, remains tensed between heaven and earth without ever being able to gather, by his own power, the two dimensions of his existence in a final harmony. Does not this prove that since his creation, man has been designed by the Crucified-Risen in Whom finally the restless human heart finds repose? The same point can be expressed even more simply with the Gospel; the two commandments of man, love of God and love of neighbor are united only in Him who is at the same time God and man. This incomparable fact is the permanent center of Christian apologetics. – Quoted from Kleine Fibel für verunsicherte Laien by Hans Urs Von Balthasar, published by Johannes Verlag, Einsiedeln, 1980. My best attempt at translation.
C. S. Lewis presented the problem in a more alarmed tone. Again, this is becoming a collection of my favorite quotes:
“Perhaps I am asking impossibilities. Perhaps, in the nature of things, analytical understanding must always be a basilisk which kills what it sees and only sees by killing. But if the scientists themselves cannot arrest this process before it reaches the common Reason and kills that too, then someone else must arrest it.”– C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, 1945.
What we have seen yesterday at Parkland can break the most hardened heart. I was moved by the photograph of a woman, a mother marked with the sign of Ash Wednesday, crying and calling for her child. This is one of the stations of Progressivism. We are seeing over and over again the same signs of utter failure. Behind that poor mother there is a man checking his telephone messages, holding in his hand a device with several million times the computing power of the machines that put man on the Moon less than half a century ago. All that power is not enough to prevent tragedies like these. All the empty musings of Dialectic Materialism cannot bring anyone from the past to enjoy the lonely comforts of this age. Man runs from the Cross like the disciples on the road to Emmaus but in this case, man is too busy to converse with Christ, to invite him to the inn and partake of the mysterious bread of his presence. All we have is this collision in slow motion: children screaming, running, bleeding, dying before an impotent, cold world.
It is useless to repeat that this new global society needs to take a u-turn urgently. That is the meaning and message of Lent. No matter how many laws are passed, these awful scenes will continue to repeat until we become a true family of nations under God. It is painfully obvious that we need God’s help to get there. We need a great sign the size of Fatima or Guadalupe, something that forces everyone to hit the break pedal. If that change does not come, we remain in a collision course. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. It is in the nature of a culture of death to die.
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
– Job 42:2-6
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