by Thomas A. Droleskey

October 2. 2001

     This space [in CHRIST OR CHAOS] was going to be 
reserved for the continuation of my analysis of the 
General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). However, 
I have decided to devote the remaining space in this 
issue to yet another commentary on the aftermath of the 
terrorist attacks upon the United States on September 11, 
2001. My analysis of GIRM will resume in the December 
issue of CHRIST OR CHAOS, as well my commentary on Pope 

     One of the warning signs for a nation which is in 
jeopardy of being overrun by the determination of foreign 
invaders and terrorists is its collective belief in its 
own invincibility. "We're Americans. Nobody beats us," is 
an oft-heard refrain uttered by people in "man-in-the-
street" interviews. This sense of invincibility 
demonstrates a sense of national superiority and national 
destiny which is nothing other than the idolatry of this 
nation. While we are called to love our country, true 
patriotism involves willing the good of our native land, 
as Saint Thomas Aquinas noted in his SUMMA THEOLOGICA. 
And the ultimate good of one's nation is to seek her 
Catholicization, the triumph of the Social Kingship of 
Jesus Christ as it is exercised by the Church He founded 
upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. Such a triumph is no 
more a guarantee that a particular nation will last 
forever or that its social institutions will always 
recognize the right ordering of things ordained by Christ 
the King than being in a state of grace at a particular 
time in one's life is a guarantee of that one will die in 
such a state.

     However, just as being in a state of grace is the 
necessary precondition for growth in the interior life as 
a preparation for the moment of one's death, so is a 
nation's recognition of the Social Reign of Christ the 
King, and the authority of His true Church is the 
necessary precondition for the right ordering of civil 
institutions and the pursuit of fundamental justice 
founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate. We are 
citizens of the Church by means of our baptism before we 
are citizens of any particular nation, and it is our 
Heavenly citizenship which informs us how to attempt to 
subordinate our national life in light of First and Last 

     Pope Leo XIII put it this way in SAPIENTIAE 
CHRISTIANAE in 1890: "Now, if the natural law enjoins us 
to love devotedly and to defend the country in which we 
had birth, and in which we were brought up, so every good 
citizen hesitates not to face death for his native land, 
very much more is it the urgent duty of Christians to be 
ever quickened by like feelings towards the Church. For 
the Church is the holy city of the living God, born of 
God Himself, and by Him built up and established. Upon 
this earth indeed she accomplishes her pilgrimage, but by 
instructing and guiding men, she summons them to eternal 
happiness. We are bound, then, to love dearly the country 
whence we have received the means of enjoyment this 
mortal life affords, but we have a much more urgent 
obligation to love, with ardent love, the Church to which 
we owe the life of the soul, a life that will endure for 
ever. For fitting it is to prefer the good of the soul to 
the well-being of the body, inasmuch as duties towards 
God are of a far more hallowed character than those 
toward men."

     Thus, it is a mistake to engage in jingoistic 
nationalism. A nation has the natural-law right to defend 
itself against those who threaten her, being careful to 
use moral methods to do so, however. But there is no 
guarantee that any particular nation, no matter how many 
material and technological accomplishments it has 
manifested over the centuries, will conquer every foe or 
will last until the end of time.

     Nations and empires can come and go just as quickly 
as the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan 
came tumbling down. Many of us have been saying for years 
that the moral life of the United States and much of the 
rest of the developed world mirror those of the Roman 
Empire in the centuries before its collapse. Yes, it is 
possible that the seemingly invincible United States of 
America might go the way of the Roman Empire. And those 
who do not believe such a thing is possible ought to 
consider the words of Saint Paul in his Epistle to the 

     "Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their 
heart, unto uncleanness; to dishonor their own bodies 
among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie 
and worshipped and served the creature rather than the 
Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause, 
God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their 
women have changed the natural use into that use which is 
against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, 
leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in 
their lusts, one towards another; men with men, working 
that which is filthy and receiving in themselves the 
recompenses which was due to their error. And, as they 
liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered 
them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which 
are not convenient. Being filled with all iniquity, 
malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness; full of envy, 
murder, contention, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 
detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, 
inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 
foolish, dissolute; without affection, without fidelity, 
without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did 
not understand that they, who do such things, are worthy 
of death; and not only they that do them, but they also 
that consent to them that do them" (Rm. 1:24-32).

     Saint Paul's description of ancient Rome could just 
as well be applied to many of our own cities, including 
New York and San Francisco, among many others. Sure, 
there is much good in our people, as has been 
demonstrated in the acts of heroism and self-sacrifice 
during the rescue and recovery effort in New York and at 
the Pentagon in Virginia across the Potomac River from 
Washington, D.C. However, a society which promotes evil 
under cover of law makes itself susceptible to decay from 
within and attacks from without. A society which is 
rudderless as a result of its rejection of the Social 
Kingship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the 
authority of His true Church decays over the course of 
time regardless of the "good intentions" who believe that 
men can live on the natural level alone without 
referencing the King and Kings and His true Church.

     Bad ideas lead to bad consequences. Always. 

     The Roman Empire embraced almost every single one of 
the evils which have been promoted under cover of law in 
the United States and popularized in our culture. 
Contraception, abortion, sodomy, pornography, statism, 
divorce, euthanasia, suicide, pedophilia, and other forms 
of licentiousness were commonplace in Rome as it was 
decaying. The government grew in power and expended more 
and more revenue as the family unit disintegrated. The 
average person was diverted from the reality of all of 
this by bread and circuses, the modern equivalent of 
which is sporting events and television and motion 
pictures. Why live in the real world when one can be 
diverted by fantasy and spectacles?

     The collapse of the Roman Empire in the West at the 
beginning of the fifth century was considered unthinkable 
at the time our Lord walked the face of this earth. Rome 
had conquered much of the known world. Its engineering 
and architectural feats are still marvels to behold, 
although those feats are in various states of decay 
(symbolic of the empire's own decay). Only a handful of 
people understood that human empires come and go. And the 
Roman Empire was the most powerful empire in the history 
of the world, even more powerful than that of the Soviet 

     The calamity of the collapse of the Roman Empire was 
blamed by many of its apologists on Christians, a fable 
perpetuated by Edward Gibbons in his famous DECLINE AND 
FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. It was to dispel this lie that 
Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote ON THE CITY OF GOD. As 
Pope Leo XIII commented in IMMORTALE DEI in 1885 on the 
resurrection of this lie by the apologists of modernity:

     "And yet a hackneyed reproach of old date is leveled 
against her, that the Church is opposed to the rightful 
aims of the civil government, and is wholly unable to 
afford help in spreading that welfare and progress which 
justly and naturally are sought after by every well-
regulated State. From the very beginning Christians were 
harassed by slanderous accusations of this nature, and on 
that account were held up to hatred and execration, for 
being (so they were called) enemies of the empire. The 
Christian religion was moreover commonly charged with 
being the cause of the calamities that so frequently 
befell the State, whereas, in very truth, just punishment 
was being awarded to guilty nations by an avenging God. 
This odious calumny, with most valid reason, nerved the 
genius and sharpened the pen of St. Augustine, who, 
notably in his treatise ON THE CITY OF GOD, set forth in 
so bright a light the worth of Christian wisdom in its 
relation to the public weal, that he seems not merely to 
have pleaded the cause of Christians of his day, but to 
have refuted for all future times impeachments so grossly 
contrary to truth. The wicked proneness, however, to levy 
the like charges and accusations has not been lulled to 
rest. Many, indeed, are they who have tried to work out a 
plan of civil society based on doctrines other than those 
approved by the Catholic Church. Nay, in these latter 
days a novel scheme of law has begun here and there to 
gain increase and influence, the outcome, as it is 
maintained, of an age arrived at full stature, and the 
result of liberty in evolution. But though endeavors of 
various kinds have been ventured on, it is clear that no 
better mode has been devised for the building up and 
ruling the State than that which is the necessary growth 
of the teachings of the Gospel. We deem it, therefore, of 
the highest moment, and a strict duty of Our Apostolic 
office, to contrast with the lessons taught by Christ the 
novel theories now advanced touching the State. By this 
means We cherish hope that the bright shining of the 
truth may scatter the mists of error and doubt, so that 
one and all may see clearly the imperious law of life 
which they are bound to follow and obey."

     The United States of America is not exempt from the 
currents of history. Terrorists from abroad are taking 
advantage of the decadence that is within our very midst. 
As my wife, Sharon, noted quite perceptively a few days 
after the terrorist attacks, "Could it be that we are 
seeing the revenge of the stem cells?" Her comment was 
made sardonically. However, she had a point. A nation led 
by men who believe they have the authority to craft 
decisions in defiance of the Divine positive law and 
natural law is going to pay a very heavy price, as we are 
doing in so many ways. The want of order which Saint 
Augustine discussed of ancient Rome is very much a 
phenomenon of our own society today.

     Thus, citizens of our country should not be 
convinced of our invincibility, nor should they believe 
that ours is a "holy" cause to spread democracy and 
pluralism around the world. God does not want us to 
spread democracy and pluralism. He wants us to build up 
the life of the true Faith in our souls and in our nation 
so that we can defend ourselves against the terror of the 
demons who seek the destruction of souls and thus the 
sowing of chaos in our national life.

     Empires come and go, including ours. May we pray to 
our Lady the only empire which lasts forever, that of 
Christ the King, comes of age here in the United States 
of America. God forbid that we have to wait until our 
vanquishing as a nation to learn anew what was learned 
after the vanquishing of the Roman Empire in the West: 
that both men and their nations must recognize Christ the 
King and submit humbly to the authority of His true 
Church in every aspect of their individual and social 

Dr. Thomas Droleskey, speaker and lecturer, is a 
professor of political science, the author of CHRIST IN 
CONDITION (www.hopeofstmonica.com), and editor of the 
CHRIST OR CHAOS newsletter.

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