“Although owing to Adam’s fall, human nature is tainted with original sin, yet it has in itself something that is naturally Christian; and this, if illumined by divine delight and nourished by God’s grace, can eventually be changed into true and supernatural virtue.
This is the reason why the Catholic Church has neither scorned nor rejected the pagan philosophies. Instead, after freeing them from error and all contamination she has perfected and completed them by Christian revelation. So likewise the Church has graciously made her own the native art and culture which in some countries is so highly developed. She has carefully encouraged them and has brought them to a point of aesthetic perfection that of themselves they probably would never have attained. By no means has she repressed native customs and traditions but has given them a certain religious significance; she has even transformed their feast days and made them serve to commemorate the martyrs and to celebrate mysteries of the faith. In this connection, St. Basil says very well: “Just as dyers prepare the material to be dyed by certain processes beforehand and only when this has been done do they color it with purple or some other color: likewise if the unfading glory of the just is to be ours for all time we shall first be prepared by these external rites and then we shall master the teachings and mysteries of Faith. When we become accustomed to looking at the reflection of the sun in the water, we shall turn to gaze upon the sun itself. . . Certainly the essential function of a tree is to produce fruit in season; still the foliage that its branches also bear serves to adorn it. In the same way the primary fruit of the soul is truth itself; but the garb of natural culture is a welcome addition, just as leaves provide shade for the fruit and add to its beauty. Thus Moses, a man of the greatest renown for his wisdom, is said to have come to the contemplation of Him, Who is, only after being trained in Egyptian lore. So later the wise Daniel is said to have been first schooled in Babylon in the wisdom of the Chaldeans, and only then to have come to know Divine Revelation.”
The herald of the Gospel and messenger of Christ is an apostle. His office does not demand that he transplant European civilization and culture, and no other, to foreign soil, there to take root and propagate itself. “
Venerable Pope Pius XII
Evangelii Praecones, 57-58, 60
Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.