The Return of Christendom | James Kalb | Catholic World Report
Christendom may be gone as a matter of public law, but it’s still here as a substantive reality
Man is a social being and doesn’t invent his own world. To orient himself and understand what his life is about he has to find his proper place, which is an order of things where he can feel at home and to which he can give undivided allegiance.
To deserve that allegiance the order of things must include ordinary human connections but also transcend them, so that it supports all things necessary for man’s well-being. Our ideal as Christians is thus a social world that encompasses everyday life but is oriented toward God and the good, beautiful, and true in all its aspects. In our time the phrases “culture of life” and “civilization of love” have been used to refer to basic aspects of such a world, but Christendom seems the best name for it overall.
The ideal is of course impossible to achieve perfectly in this world. That would be the Kingdom of God on earth, which won’t be fully with us until the Second Coming. Still, the Lord’s Prayer has to do with the present as well as a future that may be very distant, so the coming of the Kingdom and the realization of God’s will on earth are with us even today. And in any event we must find some way to live here and now. As social beings we must live with others, and as Christians we must live with God, so the question of the connections, loyalties, and obligations by which we should live always has some sort of answer.
That answer defines Christendom as it exists from time to time. It’s the system of connections, loyalties, and obligations by which Christians live, to the extent they are living as Christians, and to which they owe their highest earthly allegiance. In one form or another it has always been present in the lives of believers, in the Church, and in social arrangements generally, in so far as they orient themselves toward what is good, beautiful, and true.
Christendom may be gone as a matter of public law, and perhaps in the consciousness of most believers, but it’s still here as a substantive reality.