Rorate Caeli

"The Modern World Degrades Everything"

Charles Péguy
Cahiers de la Quinzaine (IX)
October 6, 1907

We often forget that the modern world, under a different look, is the bourgeois world, the capitalist world. It is quite an amusing display to see the way our Socialists, anti-Christian, and particularly anti-Catholic, oblivious to the contradiction, praise the same world under the name of 'modern', and demean it, the same one, under the name of 'bourgeois'.

With the advent of the modern age, a great quantity of powers based on force have fallen, but their fall was not at all useful to the powers of the spirit, by granting them an uncontested space -- on the contrary, the end of the other powers of force profited only to that power of force that is money.

When we say 'modern'...we are naming a very specific age...whose end the world will surely see, even if we do not, or shall not, have this happiness, we ourselves, which we have not perhaps yet merited, which we have not undoubtedly obtained. 

Twenty, thirty (yearly) generations of Frenchmen, without considering the future ones, and those coming before them, believe truly that things are like this. That it's like this. That all people, without a single exception since the beginning of the world (which had not yet been created), up to December 31st, 1789, after the birth of Christ, at midnight, were wild beasts...and that on January 1st, 1789, at zero minute, zero second, one tenth of a second (and yet the greatest of the wise do not stop at the tenth of a second), the whole world was created in splendor -- the whole world, except, of course, the reactionaries.

The modern world degrades. It degrades society, it degrades man. It degrades love; it degrades woman. It degrades the people; it degrades the child. It degrades the nation; it degrades the family. It even degrades, it has succeeded in degrading, that which is perhaps the hardest thing to degrade in the world: it degrades death.

[Rorate translation. | Image: The Coffeepot-Maker's ashes burial ceremony in a coffeepot.]