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The World needs men and women whose gaze is directed towards God

by Fr Tomás Walsh, SMA.

We are witnessing today in western Europe a civilizational crisis reminiscent of the last days of the Roman Empire brought about by the wholesale abandonment of the practice of Christianity. The most dramatic manifestation of this crisis is the high suicide rates especially of the young and the catastrophic decline of the native populations of Europe – the ultimate manifestations of despair.

By the middle of the 21st century, 60% of Italians will have no personal experience of what it is to have a brother, sister, an aunt, uncle or cousin, Germany will lose the equivalent of the population of the former East Germany and Spain’s population will fall by one quarter.

American intellectual, George Weigel, put it in starker terms: He wrote: “Europe is depopulating itself in number greater than at any time since the Black Death of the 14th Century. When an entire continent, healthier, wealthier and more secure than any previous generation fails to create the human future in the most elemental sense – by creating the next generation – something very serious is afoot”.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger comprehended fully the enormity of the crisis – and the consequences which results when man turns his face against God. He believed that only bold Christian witness would be enough to save the world from its present madness. Shortly before becoming Pope in 2005, he said:

 “Above all, what the world needs at this moment in history are men and women who, through an enlightened and lived faith, render God credible in this world. The negative testimony of Christians who speak about God and live against him, has darkened God’s image and opened the door to disbelief. We need men and women who have their gaze directed to God, to understand true humanity. We need men and women whose intellects are enlightened by the light of God, and whose hearts God opens, so that their intellects can speak to the intellects of others, and so that their hearts are able to open up to the hearts of others… Only through men who have been touched by God, can God come near to men. We need men like Saint Benedict of Norcia, who at a time of dissipation and decadence, plunged into the most profound solitude, succeeding, after all the purifications he had to suffer, to ascend again to the light, to return and to found Monte Cassino, the city on the mountain, that, with so much in ruins, gathered together the forces from which a new world would emerge”