ON JESUS CHRIST THE REDEEMER
TAMETSI FUTURA PROSPICIENTIBUS
EXERPTS: ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII
NOVEMBER 1, 1900
“As with individuals, so with nations…All elements of the national life must be made to drink in the Life which proceeds from Him- legislation, political institutions, education, marriage and family life, capital and labors.”
-Pope Leo XIII
Foreseeing Alarm and Consolation:
The outlook on the future is by no means free from anxiety; on the contrary, there are many serious reasons for alarm, on account of numerous and long-standing causes of evil, of both a public and a private nature. Nevertheless, the close of the century really seems in God's mercy to afford us some degree of consolation and hope. For no one will deny that renewed interest in spiritual matters and a revival of Christian faith and piety are influences of great moment for the common good…
What Christ Means to Us:
The greatest of all misfortunes is never to have known Jesus Christ: yet such a state is free from the sin of obstinacy and ingratitude. But first to have known Him, and afterwards to deny or forget Him, is a crime so foul and so insane that it seems impossible for any man to be guilty of it. For Christ is the fountain-head of all good. Mankind can no more be saved without His power, than it could be redeemed without His mercy…
When Jesus Christ had blotted out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, fastening it to the cross, at once God's wrath was appeased, the primeval fetters of slavery were struck off from unhappy and erring man, God's favor was won back, grace restored, the gates of Heaven opened, the right to enter them revived, and the means afforded of doing so. Then man, as though awakening from a long-continued and deadly lethargy, beheld at length the light of the truth, for long ages desired, yet sought in vain. First of all, he realized that he was born to much higher and more glorious things than the frail and inconstant objects of sense which had hitherto formed the end of his thoughts and cares. He learnt that the meaning of human life, the supreme law, the end of all things was this: that we come from God and must return to Him. From this first principle the consciousness of human dignity was revived: men's hearts realized the universal brotherhood: as a consequence, human rights and duties were either perfected or even newly created, whilst on all sides were evoked virtues undreamt of in pagan philosophy. Thus men's aims, life, habits and customs received a new direction. As the knowledge of the Redeemer spread far and wide and His power, which destroyed ignorance and former vices, penetrated into the very life-blood of the nations, such a change came about that the face of the world was entirely altered by the creation of a Christian civilization. The remembrance of these events, Venerable Brethren, is full of infinite joy, but it also teaches us the lesson that we must both feel and render with our whole hearts gratitude to our Divine Savior.
Individuals and Nations:
As with individuals, so with nations. These, too, must necessarily tend to ruin if they go astray from "The Way." The Son of God, the Creator and Redeemer of mankind, is King and Lord of the earth, and holds supreme dominion over men, both individually and collectively…Therefore the law of Christ ought to prevail in human society and be the guide and teacher of public as well as of private life. Since this is so by divine decree, and no man may with impunity contravene it, it is an evil thing for the common weal wherever Christianity does not hold the place that belongs to it. When Jesus Christ is absent, human reason fails, being bereft of its chief protection and light, and the very end is lost sight of, for which, under God's providence, human society has been built up.
All Things Subject to Christians:
Our intellect must bow humbly and reverently "unto the obedience of Christ," so that it be held captive by His divinity and authority...He does not suffer himself to be forced by the theories of any human teacher, but by the eternal and unchangeable truth. Hence he attains at one and the same time the natural good of the intellect and his own liberty. For the truth which proceeds from the teaching of Christ clearly demonstrates the real nature and value of every being; and man, being endowed with this knowledge, if he but obey the truth as perceived, will make all things subject to himself, not himself to them; his appetites to his reason, not his reason to his appetites. Thus the slavery of sin and falsehood will be shaken off, and the most perfect liberty attained: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" john viii., 32)…
Having shaken off God's authority, they are by no means freer, for they will fall beneath some human sway. They are sure to choose someone whom they will listen to, obey, and follow as their guide. Moreover, they withdraw their intellect from the communication of divine truths, and thus limit it within a narrower circle of knowledge, so that they are less fitted to succeed in the pursuit even of natural science. For there are in nature very many things whose apprehension or explanation is greatly aided by the light of divine truth. Not infrequently, too, God, in order to chastise their pride, does not permit men to see the truth, and thus they are punished in the things wherein they sin. This is why we often see men of great intellectual power and erudition making the grossest blunders even in natural science…
Once the idea of the authority of God as the Judge of right and wrong is forgotten, law must necessarily lose its primary authority and justice must perish: and these are the two most powerful and most necessary bonds of society. Similarly, once the hope and expectation of eternal happiness is taken away, temporal goods will be greedily sought after…
Happy Results: Only Without Hinderance
Wherever Christianity rules over all without let or hindrance there the order established by Divine Providence is preserved, and both security and prosperity are the happy result. The common welfare, then, urgently demands a return to Him from whom we should never have gone astray; to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,-and this on the part not only of individuals but of society as a whole. We must restore Christ to this His own rightful possession. All elements of the national life must be made to drink in the Life which proceeds from Him- legislation, political institutions, education, marriage and family life, capital and labors.