An Analogy from Hilaire Belloc’s “The Barbarians”

After recently re-reading after some years Hilaire Belloc’s 1912 essay, entitled “The Barbarians,” I have thought to apply a few of his keen insights about both ancient and modern civilisation to the current Catholic Church and her own “cultural immune system,” as it were. This limited analogy may also thereby allow us to consider the additional phenomenon of “auto-immune diseases,” whereby an immune system comes to sabotage itself — sometimes swiftly, sometimes slowly.

Belloc begins his own searching essay with an aptly cautionary sentence: “The use of analogy, which is so wise and necessary a thing in historical judgment, has a knack of slipping into the falsest forms.” (273) We must therefore be careful with our application of compressed metaphors and likewise preserve a just sense of proportion. For, analogy itself means proportion (analogia).

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  • Halina

    Attila, the barbarian was called by a monk ‘the Scourge of God!’

    When Rome, and the Christendom becomes cold, lukewarm, and blind, in every
    age God raises up other Attila’s, whom He uses as an instrument of Divine

    St. Augustine, addressing the people of Hippo
    during the brutal Vandal siege, said:
    “Enough of your weeping and wailing! Are
    you not yourselves responsible for this fate which is overwhelming you? These
    are difficult and dreadful times,’ people are saying. But these times are part
    of us, are they not? The times are what we have made them!”

    Pope Saint Leo, pray for the Church,
    especially, for the ‘sacred hierarchy!’

  • Just finished reading your essay on Belloc’s The Barbarians.and the Analogy of a Self-Sabotaging Cultural Immune System. Our “enfeebled” immune system that, as Livy wrote, “can neither tolerate our vices nor their remedies.” The warning of Dr. Fritz Kraemer was right on spot. It is a “provocative weakness.” As you put it so well, our descent into despair “What is the difference?” to “What’s the use?

    Belloc says that our loss of our cultural immune system is a symptom that “must be watched and resisted.” It all makes sense. The barbarian is “unmanly,” manipulated by “causes much vaster . . . furnishing him with substance and forming for him a congenial soil.” As your own analyses grow the essay becomes more relevant to me. Your personal experiences are very important to what Belloc was writing about. As regards the infiltration of the Church by the liberals who were determined to wreak havoc, the destroyers needed the barbarians to contaminate the fields with zizania. I appreciated the observation of the West Point chaplains “They have now asked the Blessed Mother to leave the Wedding Feast of Cana.” And the Abbe Berto “They have no wine.” I was stunned by the experience of Father Bradley at Vatican II. Mary was an embarrassment to diabolic ecumenism. So, the wretches “hissed” like serpents at the Mater Ecclesiae. No Mother, then no Son.

    I have read about the betrayal of Mary at Metz but was unaware of the secret cabal in Strasbourg, giving us Nostra Aetatae, and the “elder brother” syndrome, a co-covenant, for them and for us gentiles. How successful these facilitators were in the wasteland of the provocatively weak. And these meetings undermining Fatima and the Mission of Evangelization of all men were held in the dark; the periti knew, but only a chosen [by whom] few of 510 bishops were on the in. Most of the other shepherds were clueless. I must have missed this from Madiran in Approaches as I used to devour every issue. You would have loved Hamish Fraser. As you loved his son.

    And you end with the great Arnauld de Lassus and his unforgettable summation of the barbarians “the attenuation of sacrificium, sacramentum, et sacerdotium” and the temptation not to undermine the principle of authority when fighting the abuse thereof.

    Great work, Robert. I learn so much from you as always.

  • MSApis

    Thank you, Dr Hickson, for this article. In continuing to bring attention to truths that are unpopular – and in which not too many in the Church seem to be interested for now – you are following in the footsteps of those you mention in your narration: Belloc, Mgr Moore, Fr McCormick, L’Abbé Berto, Fr Bradley, Madiran, de Lassus, the two Frasers.

    It is puzzling that so little is said about the disgraceful way Our Lady was treated at Vatican II, especially by those who promote devotion to her and to the Rosary. You’d think that that one fact, if nothing else, would be sufficient to question the ‘goodness’ of the Council. Where are the theologians and prelates defending her honour? Such a contrast to the burning love for the Mother of God that so many saints in the past were not ashamed to profess openly.

    It is also puzzling how oblivious those in the Church seem to be to the intentions of those who do not love her. The document linked to below is found on the CCJR website which claims to be “dedicated to
    interreligious dialogue that respects the religious integrity and
    self-understanding of the various strands of the Jewish and Christian
    traditions.” Quite understated and non-controversial, one would think. And yet the document, dating from 1961, and therefore before the Council, should be considered highly inflammatory by anyone who truly loves the Church.