It is interesting to see how the various arts and sciences which make up the total human endeavor intertwine with one another, so that one will have a profound influence upon another and all of them impact the whole world in one way or other. Yesterday, I watched the history channel on television as I ate my lunch, and again enjoyed the program called “Modern Marvels.” I would recommend it very highly; it’s a very well-done series from which we can learn a great deal.
Yesterday, for example, the “modern marvel” that was being featured was the resurgence of cotton manufacture in the past half-century. Cotton was being cultivated by the Egyptians three thousand years ago. It, plus linen and wool, were the three main fabrics from which clothing was made for centuries. The industrial revolution turned the production of cotton textiles from a cottage industry to an industrial one, and made it possible to multiply the production of cotton cloth enormously. That, in turn, required more and more cotton, and pretty soon the entire south of the United States was given over largely to the cultivation of cotton. This in turn led to the need for labor in the cotton fields, and thus gave a great impetus to the slave trade in our country, and to the slavish conditions in the cotton mills of England where most of the fiber went for the production of cloth.
In the United States, the slave trade brought about the Civil War; in England, the terrible conditions of the laborers in the mills caused Charles Dickens to write his depressing novels about their plight, and also caused Karl Marx, who lived there, to begin to think seriously about industrialization. He wrote his infamous “Das Kapital” and his “Communist Manifesto,” the two books which gave birth to communism as an economic theory first, and then a political system, when in 1917, Russia threw off the Tsarist government and espoused communism as an economic, political, and even religious way of life. I had never been aware of the connection between the cotton of our Louisiana plantations with the horrors of atheistic communism that plagued the world for seventy years.
And speaking of communism, [tomorrow] the Church commemorates Saint Anthony Maria Claret, a Spanish priest and bishop who for a time was the archbishop of the city of Santiago in Cuba, just a few miles off our own shores. Cuba has now been communist for over fifty years, bringing misery to the many Cubans who fled their homeland with the rise of Fidel Castro, and the many others who are still living there in poverty and a lack of the necessities and comforts of modern life. The Church has been persecuted and oppressed; many have lost their faith because of the inability of the Church to minister to their spiritual and intellectual needs. I think that we are seeing the end of the Castro regime but that does not mean that the communist overlords are going to release their stranglehold upon the country which brings power and money into their lives.
Let us pray for Cuba today. Let us pray for our entire world which is in such turmoil. And let us pray for our Pope, who must look down upon the world from his vantage point in Rome and see how many human beings are suffering because the principles of the Gospel are not being implemented, since they alone can bring peace and justice to humankind. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.