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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Florencio Lagura SVD (Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City)

Thursday 1st Week of Advent

Photo: Kinshasa, Congo

“The glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome” was the slogan mouthed with much pride. After all, these two nations mercilessly and methodically vanquished lesser peoples, even demolished empires with their powerful and highly disciplined legions.

Yet, Greece, later on Rome, fell. Sadly many enemies of Christianity pointed to the Church as the culprit, among the most bitter was the English historian, Edward Gibbons. In his work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbons ruthlessly attacked the Church for mainly causing the downfall of the once mighty Roman empire.

In his book, City of God, St. Augustine vigorously defended Christianity arguing that the Roman people, once noble in their ideals and virtues, forgot their traditional values of hard work, piety, respect, sanctity of marriage and innocent life, by indulging in too much leisure (watching violent gladiatorial games in the coliseum), dependence on the state for “bread and circus,” divorce on childish reasons, slavery and infanticide (imitating the Spartans who killed babies deemed weak).

On the contrary and correctly, St. Augustine argued that the Christian teachings set Rome on a solid foundation, saved the people and perfected the traditional Roman values.

While the Roman Empire, sadly built on immoral and inhuman practices, tottered and crumbled, the Church as the visible sign of God’s kingdom of peace and love, remains, just as the Lord said “the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” How the mighty has fallen, but the humble has been exalted.

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