Now the life of Christ is the life of the Christian and life of the Church. It is absurd for a Christian who is a weak human vehicle of this world-changing force to expect a quiet life. A Christian is like a red rag to a bull- to the force of evil that seeks to be master of the world and which, in a limited sense, but in a very real sense, is, as St. John says, the Lord of this world. And not only the individual but the Church as an historic community follows the same pattern and finds its success and failure not where the politician finds them, but where Christ found them.
Thus we have no right to expect that Christian principles will work in practice in the simple way that a political system may work. The Christian order is a supernatural order. It has its own principles and its own laws which are not those of the visible world and which may often seem to contradict them. Its victories may be found in apparent defeat and its defeats in material success.
The Church lives again the life of Christ. It has its period of obscurity and growth and its period of manifestation, and this is followed by the catastrophe of the Cross and the new birth that springs from failure.
And what is most remarkable is that the enemies of the Church- the movements that rend and crucify her –are in a sense her own offspring and derive their dynamic force from her. Islam, the Protestant Reformation, the Liberal Revolution, none of them would have existed apart from Christianity- they are abortive or partial manifestations of the spiritual power which Christianity brought into history. “I have come to cast fire on the earth and what will I, but that it be kindled.”
Christopher Dawson- 1939
Follow-up comments: Although politics holds an important place in civic life, the real battle of American culture precedes political victories and defeats. Keep in mind the battle is fought in those obscure crevasses of society such as marriage, the family, parish communities, and schools. And the font which has historically given life to these institutions is the Catholic priesthood.
The more world-renouncing and Christ-loving priests populate the priesthood- those who care little about human respect -the more these other institutions will prosper. As far as civic life is concerned, if State-run education prevails, democracy, the free market and religious liberty will continue to be challenged.
Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” This, of course, includes the education of children and the governance of citizens. Indeed, Christian principles must inform all sectors of civic life. If not, something else will. By default, that "something else" is almost always adversarial towards the mission of the Catholic Church. This is what Dawson meant when he said, "And what is most remarkable is that the enemies of the Church- the movements that rend and crucify her –are in a sense her own offspring and derive their dynamic force from her."