By Fr. RICCARDO LOMBARDI, S.J.
T HAVE seen these things before writing them. I have thought them because I have seen them.
A new world is in the mak ing—an order that is new and better. God's plan is under way; and if we put ourselves in the picture in the manner God wills, we of to-day can accomplish something stupendous for the good of humanity. It is the hour of the Gospel.
People arc to an extraordinary degree ready to accept the words of Jesus; and Jesus wants to meet this need in souls by filling them. * * * 0UR generation is among the unhappiest of any. Horrible tragedies have left men empty and torn; we breathe an air of bankruptcy and doom. We have put at the service of sorrow what was made for the increase of joy. Progress, which has made us masters of the sea and air, and connoisseurs of matter in its most intimate constitution, has but multiplied human suffering.
Two giant blocks of nations are spying and waiting on each other with destructive intent, checked only by the fear of being destroyed. We poor individuals, like ants whose nest has been trodden on, but with less alacrity than ants, are endeavouring to build anew, while suspecting that all our efforts may meet with is destruction over again.
Even love is put out. So many young people are waiting rather than kindle the fires of the hearth they so much desire. Nor is it uncommon for such newly lit hearths as there are to await in vain the romping of children in their glow.
Philosophy has dwindled to analysis of " anguish." Science has grown more timid the nearer it has drawn to the source of things. Art, with strained and artificial capers. is trying to elude the drama of
reality. Sociology sees its efforts end in the laceration of the social fabrics, Politics evidence the .discomfort of yesterday's victors in a mutual war of nerves and an inability to construct a peace.
And vet Our humiliated generation inspires more hope for the future than the preceding one and many others that were self-satisfied and triumphant.
GOD works upon humiliation; and upon our collective humiliation He is preparing to work —will work, and even now is working—with a depth and a vastness of plan hardly imaginable. Whilst one historic cycle is ending. another is beginning—greater than the one that is dying, as the divine is greater than the human or God than man: the cycle of God's reconquest of humanity.
Perhaps no other age has made it so urgent for the Church to let fall from her hands all useless riches, the readier to succour and raise, untrammelled, fallen men.
God. Who is Lord of history, is using Communism a's a rod to rouse His too indolent sons.
God is returning to the world.
Not that He ever left it. but that humanity, whose liberty He reverentially respects, is officially opening the door to Him in order to start history again—with Him.
THE most crying need of our time is the restoration and rebuilding of love.
This is the incredible discovery I have made. Love—the most beautiful word in the world—yes, love it is that nobody teaches. The philosophers arc teaching philosophy, the scientists science, the politicians politics, the artists art. But Love?
One moment—the theatres and cinemas are resounding with the word love, they are schools of love. . . .
No! What they teach is selfish passion by which men seek their own satisfaction. The love Is+ need is totally different. It is the love that seeks the satisfaction of another and is willing to help even unto sacrifice. That is the love which the war destroyed.
There is to-day a need as never before to take our inspiration wholly from the Gospel. There has always been this need, But now this is a sort of prime necessity. The two lines of Heaven and earth seem about to be meeting. Jesus, Who has ever been the heavenly Saviour, is going to appear to the masses of humanity as the Saviour also of earth.
So that this may come about, the Catholic field must adopt a change of rhythm. And nothing could be more efficacious than a general renovation of us priests. Of the many means given us by God for our transformation in Jesus. we must tirelessly recommend the simplest and rapidest: filial devotion to Mary.
Entire renewal may indeed be a possibility in proportion to our efforts to put our own house In order; but from that to the influencing of the whole human race, for the recreation of history, may seem a mortal step.
But let us persuade ourselves that it is not impossible! . •
THE most drastic of the revisions to be faced in many nations is that of the family, bleeding under the blow that has dared to declare the ties binding husband and wife to be dissoluble. The press, the cinema, radio and television are constantly presenting scene upon scene utterly detrimental to the stability of married life.
With its central government and authorities in every nation, militant Catholicism is an imposing army. Yet it is a little one, taking into account the actual Body of the Church, its many sick members, and members dead in mortal sin. And it might seem as nothing compared with the teeming numbers of non-Catholics. In Russia. and in many satellite States, hundreds of millions of human beings are being educated to an intransigent atheism, fighting Jesus, and not only Jesus but also the very idea of God, by all imaginable means, from pseudoculture to imprisonment; from' obscene caricature to torture and death.
THE first move in the preparation of the new world would seem to be spreading wide the conviction—Ihe certain intuition—that contemporary history is really advancing, with fatal step, towards a great Christian experiment. There are signs that the gigantic event May be nearer than we know.
The problem is one of mental formation—of making people realise that the only one who can solve the world's burning question is Jesus.
From the beginning of his pontificate, this concept of a " new world " was often found in the utterances of Pope Pius X11. On February 10, 1952, the concept became a command of mobilisation. In words more compelling than perhaps any Pope has used before, the Holy Father launched a stirring appeal to the Roman people and the world, " in order that for our eyes it may be given to see, returning to Christ, not only the cities but the nations, the continents, humanity entire. . . . The world must be remade from the foundations. starting with the diocese of Rome."
Thus the " Movement for a Better World " was born. Already 184 Archbishops and Bishops. 5.000 priests, hundreds of religious superiors. 24 men of politics. and over 2.000 lay people have taken the course of practical exercises for a " Better World " which arc held, one after the other, at Villa Mondragone, Frascati, in enclosed retreat. and day and night at the Palazzo Altieri, Rome.
The Movement is " the ardent aspiration of the heart of the
Supreme Pontiff." It is not an organisation. Rather is it a warmer climate, an intenser rhythm, a more coherent step on the part of individuals and societies for the transformation into-sons of God of the greatest number of people and in the highest possible degree.
We want to.change the world.
He who understands. responds and makes it his whole life is none other than a voice crying and calling on those responsible for the colossal enterprise, re-echoing the proclamation of Peter.