Culture and the Sacred

This evening, I’ve been reading some sections from Cardinal Sarah’s latest book The Day is Now Far Spent in which he addresses many contemporary issues.

In a chapter on “Europe’s Crisis”, Cardinal Sarah discusses how a multicultural society can only flourish if there actually is a culture. And, as Josef Pieper explains so well in Leisure the Basis of Culture, culture is always connected to worship, to the sacred. If nothing is sacred within a society, then Cardinal Sarah says, “Relativism feeds on the negation of values in order to establish its deleterious influence” and this negation of values always poses threats to human life.

Cardinal Sarah writes:

Europe claims to fight against all forms of discrimination based on race and religious affiliation. In this area, real progress has been made. But some have taken advantage of it in order to impose a utopian spirit. The disappearance of fatherlands and the colonization of cultures could not be a form of progress. The European multiculturalist enterprise exploits an ideal of universal charity that is misunderstood. Charity is not a denial of self. It consists in offering to the other the best that one has and what one is. Now the best thing that Europe has to offer to the world is its identity, its civilization, which is profoundly imbued with Christianity.

[…] I believe that if migrants who arrive in Europe end up having contempt for it, this is basically because they find nothing sacred in it. In Africa and Asia, nothing is profane. Everything is sacred. Everything is connected to God and depends on him. Everything reaches its fullness in God. The smallest reality is connected to God. It is inseparable from its origin. A profane culture is an unexplored, contemptible country.

Later, Cardinal Sarah is asked what he considers the foremost utopia of our era. To this he says, “The consumerist utopia is the strongest and most dangerous. Is man made for God or to spend his life consuming? […] Christ always tries to remind people who were seeking the Kingdom of God that it is already in their own hearts. […] The benefits we can derive from material goods depend on the richness of our moral life.”

And so, reading this book and thinking about current affairs reminds me of this point from St. Josemaria Escriva from The Way:

A secret, an open secret: these world crises are crises of saints

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