A few days ago the President of the United States gave a speech to the Polish people in Warsaw in which he spoke of the threats facing the West, in particular the danger of the West losing its soul. In many ways, it was remarkable to hear from the mouth of one of the most powerful men on earth that the Polish people manifested really who they are when they cried out together “We want God”.
“We want God”. Strong words indeed from a people who had everything to fear from Soviet oppression in 1979. A profession of faith it was, a refusal to succumb to an ideology that deprived man of his greatest dignity, that of being creatures of God, destined to praise, reverence and serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next.
Nearly 40 years later, we find ourselves, in the West, faced with similar oppression, only much more subtle. In the Soviet Union, God was openly attacked and denied, and this atheism was imposed forcefully upon the masses. In today’s West, no one is (yet) forcefully made to deny God, but the ambient culture is perhaps even more effective at destroying faith in God. Today the creed is not, “I believe in God who made heaven and earth”, but “I believe in myself who have the power to create my own little world and appoint my own gods”. This new creed is what is destroying the West and leading it to the same practical atheism which Communist Russia imposed by force on millions of people in their own country and in Eastern Europe.
With Mr Trump, we can say “We want God”, but we must never forget that ever since God became man, “God” is not enough. As St Pius X put it so well: there can be no moral civilisation without the true religion. Hence, much of the President’s discourse resembles the authors St Augustine read before his conversion and which left him empty, for “the name of Christ was not there”.
St Benedict, whom we honour today, is there to remind us of the primacy of God, but he also reminds us of the primacy of Christ: “Let them prefer nothing to Christ, and may He lead us all to eternal life”.
In a world abandoned to a latent and insidious form of atheism, it is not enough for us to speak of God, for there is no going to God but through Christ: “No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). Nor is there any going to Christ but through His Church: “He that hears you hears me: and he that despises you despises me: and he that despises me despises Him that sent me” (Luke 10:16).
The real salvation of the West lies not in political rhetoric about how great we are, but rather in following the example of men like St Benedict who saved the world by leaving the world, who brought light to it by accepting to go through the darkness of inner purification, who showed by their deeds that there is a God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ, who alone is the saviour of mankind.