One of the fastest growing ‘religious’ groups in the West are the ‘nones’, and I put that in scare quotes, since these are those who espouse no religion, with an indifference to any form of organized worship, who may confess to a vague spirituality, but one of this world, a seeking after self-fulfillment, one that is also vague and ill-defined. For if we know not – or will not accept – who or what we are, how can we possibly know what we must become?
And, as Augustine confessed, we are by nature restless. Man can never become a simple animal, content with chewing his own cud, but always strives for something – and all depends on what that ‘something’ is.
I just came across this article on Les poètes maudits, Verlaine, Baudelaire and Rimbaud, the bad boys of French literature, who railed against their Catholic faith with an intensity that our modern disaffected poets and literati can no longer muster. And to our youth, especially those who have rejected and scorned the Faith that was given to them: Read not just their verse, but their lives. If ideas have consequences, so does poetry, and living out evil principles and our passions gives away the lies embedded therein. Rejection of the moral law inevitably leads to that self-exclusion from the company of the blessed that our tradition calls ‘hell’. This is not so much from what God does, but what we do to ourselves. For sin always corrupts our nature, while virtue fulfils it. If ye love me – said the Lord – keep my commandments. Only so may we hope to enter eternal life. It’s really quite that simple. God will take care of the rest.
Some may have found redemption – Baudelaire, after a tragic life railing against God, Christ, the Church and any and all moral boundaries, died after a protracted illness, with the Last Rites, in his mother’s arms.
Perhaps, in those final moments, he saw that the Truth that sets us free.
Best to live that, to the full, from the first, to the last.