‘And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient. Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy’ (vv. 28-31).
The Book of Wisdom, the background text to St. Paul’s account of Apostasy, furnishes us with a similar list of evils, deriving them from the same source: ‘And all things are mingled together, blood, murder, theft and dissimulation, corruption and unfaithfulness, tumults and perjury, disquieting of the good, forgetfulness of God, defiling of souls, changing of nature, disorder in marriage, and the irregularity of adultery and uncleanness. For the worship of abominable idols is the cause, and the beginning and end, of all evil’ (Wisdom 14 vv. 25-7).
In the previous section St. Paul, referring to unnatural impurity, spoke of the ‘recompense due to their error’ which we may readily apply to the ‘a.i.d.s.’ epidemic. Leaving the reader to reflect on how the two following passages may relate to our present age, we now turn briefly to consider the consequences of this apostasy for contemporary man, first in regard to his soul, then in regard to the destruction to which it tends.
1. The Soul of Man
At the root of the apostasy that we have described above is pride. Pride has seduced man’s will, which in its turn has detached itself from his reason. Detaching itself from reason it has detached itself from Faith and from God. The apostasy has been so violent that it has shaken man to his deepest being: it has clouded his intellect, weakened his will, detached his emotions, at least in part, from their dominion, and has intensified them.
The impurity in which this apostasy partly consists has exercised a particular force in the process of destruction. As St. Thomas shows in his treatment of the ‘Daughters of Lust’ (Summa II II 153 a. 5): ‘the effect of this vice is that the lower appetite, namely the concupiscible, is most forcibly intent upon its object, that is the object of pleasure, on account of the vehemence of the pleasure. Consequently, the higher powers, namely the reason and the will are most grievously disordered…’
In all these aspects, the apostasy of to-day imitates Original Sin itself, it has strengthened the hold of this Sin on fallen nature and brought this same nature to its finest and final flowering.
We shall proceed to look more closely at the intellect and will of modern man.
a) The Intellect
i) Professor Plinio Correia de Oliviera in his book ‘Revolution and Counter-Revolution’ explains how in the course of time man grows increasingly audacious in his rebellion against God. First he denies the Faith, then the existence of God, and subsequently the Natural Law. We have seen how this process culminates in the denial of essences. The rebellion has taken on national dimensions with the imposition of atheism, of one-child families, of the ‘Gender ideology’ on entire nations.
And yet this whole process is already contained in germ in man’s initial rejection of God. For God as the proper object of the intellect is Truth and Objective Reality, so that in rejecting God, he has not only rejected Truth, as we noted above, but also Objective Reality itself. As a result he has become blind to God’s Will as manifest in the natural law, and even to the very nature and essences of things. Instead, he has embraced subjective reality, which is nothing other than madness. We shall give an example in the following section.
ii) By not acting according to reason, he has descended to the level of the animals, or rather he has descended lower, because animals follow the Natural Law by their very being; whereas man has defied it, and so is acting like a perverted animal;
iii) His will, by rejecting reason, has risen up against it. He has become divided in himself: divided and schizophrenic;
iv) By becoming divided in himself he has entered into his definitive decline. Our Blessed Lord Himself said: ‘A Kingdom divided amongst itself cannot stand’. He is in a state of self-destruction: moral in his relation with others, physical in relation to his aborted children, and spiritual in relation to his immortal soul.
b) The Will
i) Man has rejected the proper object of his will which is God. In so doing he has refused to love Him, he has rendered himself incapable of fulfilling this the sole purpose of his existence;
ii) His rejection of God has led him into impurity, drawing him away from marriage, from the most intimate and lasting of all human loves. He has thus shown himself incapable of those two forms of love which make the greatest demands on man, which demand self-sacrifice to the highest degree: Divine love and spousal love. To this extent he has become like his father, the devil, ‘the one who cannot love’ in the words of St. Theresa of Avila.
iii) Instead, he has fallen into impurity: not true love: love as a virtue, but love as a passion, a surrogate object called ‘love’ only by analogy with true love. We have spoken about these two types of love above, indicating how the Church Herself has shifted Her interest from the virtue of love to the passion of love. To understand the heinousness of impurity in its present-day form, let us compare it briefly with marriage.
The latter exists between a man and a woman for the purpose of the procreation and education of children; the former exists between two persons regardless of sex or age for the purpose of pleasure. Procreation is avoided where possible by contraception or abortion. The children who, despite all these dangers, succeed in being born, are sent to school, no longer to be educated but to be perverted. Man has been enveloped by a world devised by the Devil, the imitator of God, a grotesque distortion and perversion of the real world. It is not the objective world, it is a subjective world, subjective reality. How can we not describe living in this world as madness?
The sin of the Sodomites cries out to Heaven for vengeance, as does the plight of the orphan. Who is more an orphan than the being created and dying in a test-tube, or, if surviving, put in a rented womb, and consigned at birth to two people of the same sex living out some miserable parody of marriage? The cries of the sins of the Sodomites and of the orphans mingle with the cries of the billions of unborn children murdered daily by (abortifacient) ‘contraceptives’ or other methods, their ‘silent screams’ witnessed in all their desperate pathos on ultrasound film. The cries, inaudible to the majority, split the air of the spirit at every moment of the day ‘and the cry of them has entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth’ (St. James 5.4).
‘And if they should enter the stream of life and pass out of it,’ says the apostate, ‘if all around us should perish, what is that to us? We alone exist, we are from ourselves: as we decree, so shall it be done.’
And the dead reply: ‘How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?’ (Apoc. 6.10). But the cup of the wrath of God is overflowing, the troops of the enemy are amassing against the Church, and the blood-shed has already begun.
Why, we might ask ourselves, does moral evil tend to destruction? To answer this question it will help us to consider it in relation to moral good. Moral good, and the virtue of love which effects it, tends to the increase and perfection of being: to the external glory of God, and the good of the neighbour and of the self. Moral evil, by contrast, tends to the diminution of being. This is evident when we recall that evil is essentially a privation of being, so that to promote evil is to promote the privation, the diminution of being.
By Faith we know that God’s purpose (or finis operis) in creation is that creation should glorify Him by its likeness to Him. Man glorifies Him, man promotes His external glory and at the same time his own good, by his sanctity and holiness. To this end it is necessary that man be united to God by Grace: by Baptism, Faith, and by Charity which increases with each of a man’s good works performed in the state of Grace.
The Devil, by contrast, has no purpose (finis operis) in a positive sense, which is why his machinations are essentially without sense or meaning. He only has a purpose in a negative sense. This purpose is defined by its negation of God’s purpose, that is as the frustration of God’s glory: the diminution of that being which consists in God’s glory and the sanctity of man, ideally by its utter annihilation. To this end he employs all his efforts to prevent man’s access to Grace: to Baptism and Faith, and then to prevent his growth in Grace, that is his perfection in Charity, by acts of virtue. This he does by obstructing man and by tempting him into sin.
Guided by God, men live their earthly life to the full in peace and happiness; guided by the Devil their life is empty, meaningless, chaotic, harmful and destructive: ‘their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and unhappiness in their ways’ (Ps.13). Our words about impurity above may serve as an illustration of this truth; those who engage in it are like the heretics whom St. Jude (vv.12-3) compares to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah: ‘…clouds without water, which are carried about by winds, trees of the autumn, unfruitful, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion; wandering stars, to whom the storm of darkness is reserved forever.’
At life’s end in Heaven man attains to perfection of being, to fullness of life, and the happiness which flows from it, in the vision of God; in Hell, by contrast, there is only the negation of being and life: living annihilation and living death.
What we have said about individual men clearly applies equally to the family and to society itself, of which, as we noted above, the family is the constitutive cell. This we can see with particular clarity in relation to the destruction inflicted by abortion: What future can a society have that destroys its own children?
But are we witnessing the destruction not only of individual societies, but of society and of civilisation as a whole? Is the sun really ‘setting on mankind’ as Benedict XVI has stated?
There are reasons for thinking so. We refer to the words of Monsignor Gaume in the Traité du Saint-Esprit (Vol.I ch.18) about three deluges: that of Noah, by water; that of the pagan world, by blood; and that of modern society by fire: ‘… the ruin of the apostate world of Christendom by the deluge of fire which will bring to an end the existence of the human race on the globe. Trampling underfoot the merits of Calvary and the benefits of the Cenacle, the world of the last days will set itself up in full revolt against the Spirit of Good. More than ever enslaved to the Spirit of Evil, it will consign itself with a hitherto unknown cynicism to all form of iniquities. Such will be the number of deserters that the City of Good will be almost entirely abandoned and the city of Evil will assume colossal proportions…’
The learned and enlightened prelate notes that all three deluges are deluges where ‘man becomes flesh’. He quotes Genesis (6.3): ‘My spirit shall not remain in man for ever, because he is flesh’ together with the comment of St. Ambrose: ‘Diluvium carnis peperit diluvium aquae’. The same is clearly true of the second deluge as also of our present society. We add that amongst the various sins of the flesh, unnatural impurity plays a significant part in all three cases: with Sodom and Gomorrah in the first case; in the last days of Rome in the account of the City of God by St. Augustine in the second case; and of course in the present world in the third case.