There is a belief that circulates in certain circles that the earth is due for a real chastisement. Among many very faithful Catholics this chastisement is known as the “Three Days of Darkness”. According to this belief, the earth will be engulfed in complete impenetrable darkness for three days and nights. No light will penetrate the darkness, either from the sun, or from electric lights. Many wicked people will die from pestilence during these three days. Lightning, earthquakes, and other calamities will claim many.

   The purpose of these three days is to turn people from sin, and restore righteousness to the earth. The idea has its merits. The world is truly in need of severe chastisement. It would take a spectacular supernatural event to shake up some non-believers. Additionally, the Almighty may chastise, or do anything else He pleases with, the world. We are, after all, His creation.

   There is however, an alternative to the “Three Days of Darkness.” In his new book The Death of the West, Pat Buchanan offers a far more plausible end to the decadence of the world. Mr. Buchanan opines that the decadent civilization we live in will end, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

   In The Death of the West, Mr. Buchanan starts with raw empirical data from census figures and UN population trends. He points out that the data indicates that people of European descent are dying out. He then asks why, and looks for an answer. The answer, which is easy for even the casual observer to see, is that the contraception and abortion mentality have stricken western nations until we have almost no children left.

   He then asks why again, and leads us through the civil and social upheavals of the past hundred years that have bought us to this point. At each step he pauses to ask why, then exposes the logical previous step as if pealing away the layers of an onion. It is a depressing trip, but he makes a good point: we are dying out as a civilization.

   At one level Mr. Buchanan’s book is mostly political and therefore not completely relevant to moral theology. The underlying theme however is that the decadence of our society, however it was caused, will be the seed of its destruction. This fact cannot be denied and is as true today as when Jonah preached to the citizens of Nineveh. Those who reject God are doomed to destruction.

   Devout and Christian souls see the repulsive wickedness in our society and want it to change. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Almighty would punish the whole earth with three days of darkness and make everyone return to righteousness? Yes that would be our due, but don’t count on it. A far more likely scenario is that our civilization will just die out and be forgotten as Mr. Buchanan suggests.

   Previous societies have been just as depraved and got their comeuppance in less than supernatural ways. The ancient Roman empire turned so corrupt that it is now a cliché. It was not wiped out, it just died out. By the time the Gauls looted the city of Rome in 410, the Roman empire was already an empty shell.

   In the 1st century, the apostle Paul reminded the Romans what had already happened to individuals who had abandoned the worship of the one true God: “God delivered them up in their lusts to unclean practices...”(ROM1:24). God allowed them to go on a downward spiral if that is what they wanted. In the same way God will allow any individual, any group, any family, any society, or any civilization to do the same thing. Western civilization can jump right into that sucking vortex of evil if that is what it wants. God will not stand in the way and save it.

   Will civilization as we know it die out? As sad as the death of our civilization would be, ultimately it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the Church survives. That is where we come in. Jesus has no hands on earth but ours. It is up to us to pray, struggle, advise, protest, read, learn, instruct, admonish, assist, and pray some more until our dying day. We must never give up and wait for some divine intervention to save us. We must learn the eternal truths that God has revealed through the Church and pass them on to the next generation. It doesn’t matter if that next generation is composed of our descendants or not. Learning the faith and passing it on to others are what Catholics are supposed to do. Learning the faith and passing it on to others is what CUF is all about.



Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, April 2002.