Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Europe and the Faith


Every year or so I read Europe and the Faith, written in 1920 by Hilaire Belloc. In it, Belloc sketches the history of the late Western Roman Empire, explaining its evolution under the aegis of the Church, into what, for him, was the high watermark of European civilization, the Middle Ages of the 13th Century. He then describes the Reformation and its aftermath, the dislocated culture of the past four centuries, in which the human soul and her endeavor has become increasingly alienated, fragmented and miserable. 

As an aside, the author believes that the Reformation only succeeded through the defection of a civilized Roman Province, England, to the various forces in mutiny against the Church and her culture. An interesting theory and one which, I think, originates with Belloc alone.

Whether you agree with him or not, Belloc's unconventional, clear-sighted and always sharp reading of history is certainly provocative, sometimes aggressively so, and, for me at least, always entertaining. I find his conclusion prescient:

So things have gone. We have reached at last, as the final result of that catastrophe three hundred years ago, a state of society which cannot endure and a dissolution of standards, a melting of the spiritual framework, such that the body politic fails. Men everywhere feel that an attempt to continue down this endless and ever darkening road is like the piling up of debt. We go further and further from a settlement. Our various forms of knowledge diverge more and more. Authority, the very principle of life, loses its meaning, and this awful edifice of civilization which we have inherited, and which is still our trust, trembles and threatens to crash down. It is clearly insecure. It may fall in any moment. We who still live may see the ruin. But ruin when it comes is not only a sudden, it is also a final, thing.

In such a crux there remains the historical truth: that this our European structure, built upon the noble foundations of classical antiquity, was formed through, exists by, is consonant to, and will stand only in the mold of, the Catholic Church.
Europe will return to the Faith, or she will perish.
The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.

Orthodox catholics will love this book, others perhaps less so. I count myself amongst the former, albeit from an Anglican perspective.

Stockpile ammo, go to Mass.



G. Tingey said...

Eos omnes, Deus sueos agnoscet


Albigensian Crusade


Edict of Fontainbleau, October 1685 (That one's PERSONAL)


Concordat with the Nazis?


Somehow, I don't awallow it, I wonder why?

LSP said...

I somehow get the feeling, GT, that you're in sympathy with the cathars, perhaps even a huguenot....

Deus Vult.

Silverfiddle said...

Belloc was an interesting man and an excellent writer.

The Great Heresies is my favorite, while the kids' favorite is his epic poem, Matilda who told lies and was burnt to death.

LSP said...

great Heresies is excellent -- I like his bios of Cromwell and Charles Ist; don't see them very often, but great reads.

G. Tingey said...

Tingey is a Huguenot name - and a Viking one!
OTOH some of my other ancestors came from other interesting places ... Gascony / the swamps of Fenland & Denmark / the great nobilty (wrong side of blanket, natch) / some French upper-class house of pleasure (?) etc .....

LSP said...

Interesting ancestry GT -- I should imagine there's fairly fierce blood in those veins...