This is the eve of All Saints’ known affectionately in our era as ‘Halloween’, even if many may not knows the derivative of this now-mostly-pagan holiday, with ghouls and ghosts and bloodied zombies. The solemnity of All Saints goes back to its official institution by Pope Gregory III (731 – 741), during what we know ironically as the ‘dark ages’, for during which many things of light occurred, such as this glorious feast, in an oratory in Saint Peter’s (not the glorious structure we now stands on that spot, constructed during the renaissance). Since then we have celebrated with great joy all the saints, known and especially those unknown, our own ancestors, grandparents, parents, relatives and friends, now enjoying heavenly bliss.
This is also, less felicitously, the 503rd anniversary of the restless Augustinian monk Martin Luther posting of his ’95 theses’ to the church door in Wittenburg. Its contents, about the nature of indulgences and such, would read rather picayune to our ears accustomed to far more vivid scandals. But that sheaf of paper set off the still-continuing conflagration and fragmentation known as the Protestant reformation. Small events may mean a lot more than their size may at first indicate. The butterfly effect and all that.
On that note, this October day is also the anniversary of the accession of Romulus Augustulus in 475, the last official Emperor of Rome, named after one of the two brothers who founded Rome in their legends. His real name was Augustus (a title first adopted by Caesar’s nephew, under whom Christ was born), but the lad was so pathetic and powerless that the moniker Augustulus, ‘little Augustus’, stuck. His deposition the next year in 476 by the barbarian general Odoacer on September 4th, is seen by some as the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire, even if others see this as more of an alteration, shall we say, from rule by descendants of nobility to rule by a more barbaric code – hence, the ‘dark ages’.
We are in our own dark ages, ruled now by different, and more sinister, kind of barbarian, as Chesterton was wont to point out and prophesy. Most of our political leaders are milquetoast mannikins, pale imitations of leaders, like Augustulus, who will fade from history. Witness the recent vote Bill C-8, which bans ‘conversion therapy’, severely punishing parents – or anyone – who dares try to convince a boy or girl that they really are a boy or girl, and that same-sex attraction is not a good thing, and that mutilating one’s body, lopping off this or that, is a grave and irreversible sin.
As Justice Minister David Lametti put it: Conversion therapy is premised on a lie, that being homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or trans is wrong and in need of fixing
But who is the liar, Mr. Minister?
Only eight members of the defunct, dead and deader ‘Conservative’ party voted against this evil, draconian, intrusive measure, which would undermine the family in a most fundamental way, with new-leader Erin O’Toole all for this devilish law, and where was Andrew Scheer and a number of other touted members, not even bothering to show up – which is in many ways worse than voting for it. Oh, that you would breath hot or cold!
As an aside, even the usually conservative George Weigel still apparently holds to his principle that innocents may be incinerated for a cause that is just and proportionate enough, with almost no opposition, and there he is, still writing as though nothing were wrong, nothing to see; just a little disagreement amongst Catholics and conservatives.
But is it? And what of being ‘conservative’? What are we conserving, and should we not all be united on that, in the truth? If ‘social conservatism’ still means anything, it must imply any belief in objective morality, that certain actions are wrong semper et pro semper, to use Pope Saint John Paul’s words. We are so far from that in Canada, allowing our children to be indoctrinated in a Godless school system now for more than two generations, that we call evil, good, and good, evil, to paraphrase Christ, and the transvaluation of all values, as the prophet of the death of God, Nietzsche, so aptly put it.
A significant number of Canadians now see Hallowe’en as their favorite holiday, and not in the sense of the vigil of All Saints, but all the glorification of horror, evil, blood and mayhem in which we are all too steeped in reality.
As a cultural artefact, here are some lyrics to a popular song by the band One Republic, one I have heard, but never caught the lyrics. Then again, does one have to ‘catch’ the lyrics to have them seep into our brains in some insidious way?
I feel something so right by doing the wrong thing
And I feel something so wrong by doing the right thing
I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie
Every thing that kills me makes me feel alive
A fitting memento to our generation in love with Thanatos, with death itself. It bodes not well to consort with the goats. They -and we all – could use some real conversion therapy, that metanoia for which Christ calls, to turn our minds, hearts and souls fully to God the Father, without which all is lost, in ways that we cannot imagine.
We, as Catholics, are hopefully frolicking joyfully with the safely grazing sheep, celebrating life in all its fullness offered by Christ. Rome might have fallen, and even our own Holy Father seems to be wobbling and waffling, but the Church, the pillar and bulwark of truth, continues, and will do so unto the end of time. To return to Pope John Paul on this holy evening:
Life will triumph: this is a sure hope for us. Yes, life will triumph because truth, goodness, joy and true progress are on the side of life. God, who loves life and gives it generously, is on the side of life
Amen to that, and keep those blessed candles burning.