There was in the thirteenth century a philosopher to whom the sight of the world did not give nausea, but a joy ever new, because he saw in it only order and beauty. Man did not seem to him a Sisyphus hopelessly condemned to the liberty of the absurd, for he read in his own heart the clear law of practical reason. On all sides, within as well as without, a single and self-same light enlightens the understanding and regulates things, for the spirit which is found in them reconstructs them in the mind according to the order of the same creative intelligibility. This harmony of thought and reality which in our time Einstein describes as the most incomprehensible of mysteries, does not astonish our philosopher, for he knows its source — that same God Whose pure existence is at the origin of all reality as well as of all knowledge. And what is liberty for created man, unless it be to accept himself lovingly, even as his Creator wants and loves him? What is it to act as a free man unless it be to regulate the will according to reason, and reason itself according to the divine law?
The vastest community is the universe. God, Who created it, governs it according to the eternal law, of which the natural law, the human and the moral law are only so many particular expressions. Not a sin, not a moral fault is there which is not first of all an error made to the detriment of intelligible light, in violation of the laws of the supreme reason.
Eminently habitable, because it is Christian, is this universe of St. Thomas Aquinas still ours? I am afraid not. It is, however, the only one in which man can live without having to create himself in the permanent anguish of his own nothingness, without having eternally to push up again and again the rock of Sisyphus or to yield to the fascination of a slavery which will deliver him even from the memory of liberty. This world is that of the divine wisdom which penetrates everything with its power and orders all with sweetness. ...
Salvation is the same today. There still remains only God to protect man against man. Either we will serve Him in spirit and in truth, or we shall enslave ourselves ceaselessly, more and more, to the monstrous idol which we have made with our own hands to our own image and likeness. The cause of so many miseries is indeed the ignorance which men have of an important message: they no longer know that a Savior is born to us. This is not the message of Zarathustra, it is the promise of peace which rang out, nearly two thousand years ago, in the skies of Bethlehem.
Conference [published as Les terreurs de l'an deux mille (The terrors of the year two thousand)]
April 8, 1948
[On March 7, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Confessor, Doctor of the Church.]