Tuesday, September 3, 2013

There will be Blood!

Defending Constantine: 
The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom
Peter J. Leithart.
Kindle Edition. 

It's a great book! It's a fun book! I can think of all kinds of reasons why you should read it, but I particularly relish what Peter has to say about the sad lot of us moderns because of our anti-Constantinianism. His points are principally two:

"All modern states, totalitarian and democratic, renounce the Constantinian system; that is what makes them modern states. There are differences, and important ones. Totalitarian states attack the sacrificial city of the church, seeking to turn it into Diocletian's sacrifice of Christians. Democratic states more or less peacefully marginalize the church, and the Christians of democratic states too often cheer them on. For all their differences, totalitarian and democratic systems are secretly united in their anti-Constantinianism." (Kindle Locations 3712-3715).

"Second, because the modern state refuses to welcome the church as city, as model city, as teacher and judge, the modern state reasserts its status as the restored sacrificial state. This means that there must be blood. Medieval life was rough and brutish in plenty of ways and had its share of blood. But believing that the Eucharistic blood of Jesus founded the true city provided a brake on bloodshed. Bishops imposed the peace and truce of God, and monks and others continuously modeled Christ before kings. Modern states have no brakes." (Kindle Locations 3715-3718). 

Leithart ends his book defending Constantine with a kicker phrase which deserves debate, deserves to be pondered and fought over:

"An apocalypse can be averted only if modern civilization, like Rome, humbles itself and is willing to come forward to be baptized." (Kindle Location 3738). 

This coming Saturday, 7 September, Pope Francis has invited the whole Church to fast and pray with him for peace, for an end to the bloodshed. In his invitation he certainly mentions Syria and the rest of the Middle East, but he does not stop there. His invitation to prayer for peace extends to the whole world. Will there be an end to the bloodshed in Syria? Will there be an end to the bloodshed in many totalitarian states that kill without batting an eye? Will there be an end to the flow of rivers of blood by abortion? Will the unbloody Sacrifice of the Eucharist, Christ's Sacrifice for the Salvation of the World be once again renewed? Will Constantine, that enlightened ruler or leader again be found, who lays aside the trappings of empire to don the white garments of Baptism?

I would not risk writing the novel which describes the triumph of grace in our day and time, but I surely would invite you to pray with me that it be so... not the novel but the triumph!



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