If anyone should want to convert America, or even his friends or himself, he must risk the death of love. At the present hour we are in a dark night of the Church. The usual ways are lost. There is little comfort in the visible Church now. The liturgy, set upon by thieves, is lying in the ditch; contemplatives are mouthing political slogans in the streets; nuns have lost their habits along with their virtues, virgins their virginity, confessors their consciences, theologians their minds. And, if this is true, it is a “happy chance!” – because there is absolutely no reason left to be Catholic now except the only one there ever really was – that in the invisible life of the Church you will find the love of Christ. But if the Church were lost? That can never be, because, as St. Peter said, there is a soft and gentle candle flame like the vigil light that burns beside the Blessed Sacrament, “a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.” “Lead, kindly light,” Newman had written:
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on.
The night is dark and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene – one step enough for me.
“On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings – O happy chance!” said St. John of the Cross.
The greatest need in the Church today is the contemplative life of monks and nuns. The arguments and public martyrdoms are vain without the sacrifice of hearts. And what are the arguments and sacrifices for, except to bring us to the love of God? Apologetic has the mind of Thomas and the sword of Paul and the heart of them both and all the saints including, let us hope, the least of us. The spiritual life is not just for the great saints; it is the ordinary way of salvation.
– from The Death of Christian Culture
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