Religion: Signs of the Times

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That strange force called Christianity, despite all its marble monuments and pursed lips, demonstrates again 85 again that it is still a living thing. This week, U.S. Christians heard renewed proof of it — from a Scottish Presbyterian baronet and a Roman Catholic priest.

Burning-eyed Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen this week began his 17th series of radio talks for NBC's Catholic Hour. His voice, as usual, was as rich and sweet as zabaglione, but in his words rang a message to all who call themselves Christians. Excerpts:*

"The signs of our times point to two inescapable truths, the first of which is that we have come to the end of the post-Renaissance chapter of history which made man the measure of all things. . . . We are witnessing the death of Historical Liberalism . . . which, like a sundial, is unable to tell the time in the dark, and which can function only in a society whose basis is moral. . . .

"The second great truth to which the signs of the times portend is that we are definitely at the end of a non-religious era of civilization, which regarded religion as an addendum to life, a pious extra, a morale-builder for the individual, but of no social relevance. . . ."

God-Man v. Man-God. "The new era into which we are entering is what might be called the religious phase of human history. But do not misunderstand; by religious we do not mean that men will turn to God, but rather that the indifference to the absolute which characterized the liberal phase of civilization will be succeeded by a passion for an absolute. From now on the struggle will be not for colonies and national rights, but for the souls of men. . . . From now on men will divide themselves into two religions—understood again as surrender to an absolute. The conflict of the future is between the absolute who is the God-man and the absolute which is the man-God; the God Who became man and the man who makes himself God; between brothers in Christ and comrades in antiChrist.

"The anti-Christ will not be so called, otherwise he would have no followers. He will wear no red tights, nor vomit sulphur, nor carry a spear nor wave an arrowed tail as the Mephistopheles in Faust. This masquerade has helped the devil convince men that he does not exist, for he knows that he is never so strong as when men believe that he does not exist.

"Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find warrant for the popular myth of the devil as a buffoon who is dressed like the first 'red.' Rather is he described as an angel fallen from heaven, and as 'the Prince of this world' whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world. His logic is simple: if there is no heaven, there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge; and if there is no judgment, then evil is good and good is evil." The Great Humanitarian. "But above all these descriptions, Our Lord tells us that he will be so much like Himself, that he would deceive even the elect—and certainly no devil we have ever seen in picture books could deceive even the elect. How will he come in this new age to win followers to his religion? He will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty, not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves.

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