By Wolfram Schrems
Sometimes there is discussion about what constitutes Europe and what it is based on. The discussion then comes to the "influence" of Christianity, to the "three hills" Golgotha, Acropolis and Capitol and to the "Leitkultur." But all of that is idle. We would simply not exist as peoples and as individuals without the work of the Catholic Church.
A few basic thoughts on this topic from an Austrian perspective:
During the land grabbing by so-called “refugees” in autumn 2015, I spoke to a Hungarian diplomat about the role of Christianity in the development of the peoples of Europe. I hypothesized that without Christianity the Hungarians would have remained a primitive and predatory nomadic people. The answer of my interlocutor surprised me, but in retrospect it turns out to be smarter than my only half-thought. He said: Without Christianity, there would be no Hungarians at all, they would have disappeared from history.
Obviously, the historically conscious Hungarian had recognized something that underpins the radar of today's everyday consciousness. However, nowadays there is not only a certain sluggishness in perceiving (and pronouncing) natural things but also a kind of censorship:
The question of how Christianity is the "foundation" of Austria and Europe is sometimes raised. However, the discussion is not very knowledgeable. This is also the case because even Church leaders refuse to use the expression "Christian West" and prevent any meaningful discussion, at least in the area of the Church. Therefore, if you actually come to this question among Catholics with a contemporary spirit, you will encounter mute ignorance.
The thesis of this essay is based on the diplomat's conviction: Without the motivating power of the Catholic faith, there would be no European civilization, and consequently no European peoples. There would not be "us" as individuals because our ancestors would not have been created. There would not be "us" as a nation because without faith there would not have been sufficient cohesion and self-assertion.
Because Catholics, and especially monasticism, which is a more intensive realization of the faith, created the structures on which our culture and our existence as European peoples are based, amid immense sacrifices. We still draw on what is left. Catholic Christianity is thus not only a “contribution” to European civilization among others, but also the reason for it and the actual foundation.
So to the individual points to support this thesis:
Monasteries as structure-building centers
The existence of the monasteries in this country has become so self-evident to many that they stop thinking about their origin and meaning. At most, some people come across their “wealth”. But there is no further thought here: the monasteries are "rich" because generations of monks have labored without pay and have accomplished enormous work to feed and afford modest accomodation for the poor. These range from pioneering activities such as clearing and building, to agriculture, to welfare, science, medicine, fine arts and music. The monastery school and hospital are Catholic inventions. They are an answer to Christ's judgment speech, the main sentence of which is: What you do to the least of my brothers, you did to me.
After all, the knights of the monks contained Islamic aggression for several centuries and made the development of Christian Europe possible in the first place.
Another fact is considered by many too little:
Work as a source of added value
The Benedictine Ora et Labora made the call to work culture-defining. If you don't want to work, you shouldn't eat, as the Apostle Paul says, and: The thief should no longer steal, but work and earn something with his hands so that he can give it to the needy.
This access to work has created solid and lasting economic structures, including welfare work (poor relief). This approach differs from an economy that is based on usury, begging, extortion or caravan robbery and therefore neither produces anything nor creates jobs nor cares for the needy, on the contrary, it produces them.
As is well known, Greek and Roman paganism despised physical labor and therefore kept slaves. Islam also has this attitude. But Christianity strives to sanctify work, even the “low” work, and itself through work. The Benedictine rule prescribes physical work and nobody has to be too good for it.
Under early medieval conditions, this can be understood as a social upheaval towards the positive.
There is something else associated with permanent work:
Stabilitas loci: prerequisite for stability
Benedictine monasticism usually implies (usually) lifelong ties to a particular monastery. It differs from the missionary work of the Anglo-Saxon and Irish traveling monks and from the mendicant orders founded in the 13th century. We also owe a lot to both groups in Europe. The focus here should be this: The stabilitas loci was a haven and anchoring during the time of the migration of the peoples. It was an alternative lifestyle - and of course it is also at a time that “migration” celebrates as a value in itself.
Beyond the life of the individual monk, the monasteries achieved tremendous temporal continuities. This fact is also little anchored in the collective consciousness: Even relatively short-lived monasteries, e.g. those that fell victim to the Josephine monastery storm [When Freemason Emperor, Joseph II looted the monasteries and "put everyone to work"] in this country, worked over a period of time that affected all current political continuities, far outshines the existence of the Republic, the EU, and the USA among other things. The Gaming Charterhouse may serve as an example, having only run as a monastery for over four hundred years. That is more than five times as long as the existence of the second Austrian republic.
Incidentally, in the 14th century, the building was so solid that all of the parts of the former monastery are still usable in Gaming - only to illustrate the contrast to the "modern" design. (And because we are talking about the continuities: When Gaming was founded, the Benedictine monastery Kremsmünster had already stood about six hundred years, but one normally does not think about it and it is not subject to the opinion published in the [!].. Fake news media. )
The continuity and reliability of the monasteries therefore contributed as crystallization points to the formation of cultural and political continuities.
This is related to the following:
Education: theology and tradition of ancient culture
The monasteries were and are places of education. The complete Benedictine imperative is yes: Ora et labora et lege. Any accusation of “hostility to science” against the Catholic faith is absurd given the facts. Theology also holds the building of science together as the keystone, illuminates the naturally recognizable reality with supernatural light and prevents science-drivers from misusing their knowledge, as does a Promethean, even satanic alchemy and magic.
Within this framework, science was able to develop in the service of human needs. Just think of the life-saving monastic medicine.
For our question about the foundation of European culture, it is also important to see that the best of ancient wisdom about the monasteries has come to us. According to the Catholic faith, everything true, good and beautiful has a part in the eternal Logos and comes from it. The Gospel of John says that "in the beginning", in principio , ie "in principle", was the Logos, the word, the meaning, the understanding, not the absurd.
References to logos can be found in ancient thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. Based on its own traders, ancient philosophy, which de facto hardly shaped the political life and culture of their contemporaries, would have disappeared without a trace. One must not believe that a Plato has met with great interest on a social scale. The circle of the academy was too small. Plato was unsuccessful politically. His dialogues would have been lost. But it was the monks who copied the testimonies of ancient wisdom and therefore preserved them and made them fruitful for Christian philosophy and theology, and thus for the development of culture.
It is therefore obvious that Athens and Rome, i.e. the Acropolis and the Capitol, the two “hills” next to Golgotha (after a dictum by the German Federal President Theodor Heuss), have shaped Europe only because the Church has the best of them, Philosophy and jurisprudence. The three hills are not "equal", if you want to put it that way, because they are not equally effective in history.
Ancient thinkers, state theorists and lawyers then found their place within the framework of the revealed faith. Of course, this does not reach that of the bearer of the express revelation, so it is not a scripture, but it must not be despised either.
The motivation of the monk, like any other Catholic, is not to provide cultural achievements as an end in itself, but to give glory to God and to attain eternal life. This can only be reached via a steep and narrow path. The above-mentioned tangible and intangible assets were then created through indirect profitability. The instruction of the Sermon on the Mount came true on a large scale: First look for the Kingdom of God, everything else will be added to you. This allowed a true “culture” to emerge from colere : cultivate, maintain, refine, cultivate and worship the true God. The villages and towns grew around the churches and monasteries. What held the communities together was the common belief.
At the same time, the peoples gained their profile. As is well known in the missio of Christ, he says: Make all nations my disciples. Not only the individuals, but the peoples as a whole should implement the teaching of Christ. This practically made the Church the inventor of “ethnopluralism”, if you put it that way. Obviously, the uniform Latin liturgical and scientific language was no obstacle to the development of the national peculiarities within Christianity. Thus, Germans, French, English, Poles, Croats, Hungarians and all others were united to Christian peoples, in the Church under the Roman Pope and through the Latin language in an uncomplicated understanding.
The content of the Catholic faith proved to be plausible in its action, the moral regulations as beneficial, the central imperative of love for God and neighbor as liberating. Faith opened meaning and peace of conscience and let its confessors come to terms with it. The horror of paganism with its idols and human sacrifices disappeared.
Paradisiacal conditions were neither attained nor sought because the Church faith precludes any conception of such conditions on earth. The alleged “consolation” to the hereafter has proven to be a real consolation for the people of the Migration Period and the “Middle Ages” and has led to the aforementioned cultural achievements.
It is therefore irrelevant whether the present thoughts may be perceived as "romantic" or "idealizing": we are there as individuals and as a nation only because of this and can only look back on 1500 years of Catholic culture in our homeland because our ancestors were creators of life-promoting and community-building structures. We are there because countless of our ancestors have received medical help in Catholic hospitals and orphanages and have therefore been able to stay alive longer and start a family. Circumstances, as they were, led to the generation of our ancestors, from whom we descended.
We should always be aware of this.
If the Church had not gained a foothold in Europe, Europe would have remained a meaningless Eurasian peninsula. No peoples would have developed that were worthy of historiography. A conglomerate of descendants from ever-invading and massacre pagan hordes could not have enabled national continuity, cultural and human development.
So the Hungarian diplomat was right.
At a time when churches and monasteries are often little more than empty shells due to the apostasy of hierarchies and devotees, the destruction of faith will also entail the destruction of the cultures and peoples that have arisen from it. In Fatima it was said that peoples who do not convert will disappear from the face of the earth. Well, as you can see, it doesn't require atomic bombs.
Text: MMag. Wolfram Schrems, Vienna
- (This essay is the revised version of an article that first appeared in the Attersee Report , the publication of the Attersee Circle within the Freedom Party of Austria , No. 21, 2019, p. 14. It is a pleasant surprise that it appears in the FPÖ gives those responsible who are at least interested in Catholic positions and who always offer a platform to an articulating author of this kind. WS)
Saint Benedict is the Father of Europe and when one visits Europe it helps to mentally attach the names of great saints to mountains of the Alps
As to the "nazi's" comment.
Doe Tito know that God, at least passively, willed the rule of Hitler?
"permissively" and "allowed".
btw T (or fake T, as the case may be)...
My grandfather was Austrian and his wife, my grandmother, was German. My ancestors were traced to Hungary. I asked a Hungarian immigrant priest from the 1956 revolution about it. He told me that in the Middle Ages, there was attrition from the wars of Islam.---- The ruling Hungarian powers then moved in German immigrants to fill the void. What happened is what happened to my ancestors. There was a lot of intermarriage and even though Christian, I carry a Muslim surname.
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