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Novalis, "Christendom or Europe" [Die Christenheit oder Europa] (1799)
page 11 of 12


Do nations have about them everything of the human being – except his heart? – except his holy organ? Will they not become friends, as men do, beside the coffins of their loves? Will they not forget all that is hostile when heavenly compassion speaks to them? – and one misfortune, one sorrow, one emotion has filled their eyes with tears? Will sacrifice and surrender not seize them with irresistible force? And will they not yearn to be friends and allies?

Where is that old, dear faith, which alone can render blessed, in God’s government on earth? Where is that heavenly trust of humans in one another, that sweet piety amid the outpouring of a God-inspired heart, that all-embracing spirit of Christendom?

Christianity is of a threefold form. One is the creative element of religion, the joy in all religion. One is intercession in and of itself, faith in the universal capacity of all earthly things to be the bread and wine of eternal life. One is faith in Christ, His Mother, and the Saints. Choose which one you will. Choose all three, it makes no difference. You will thereby become Christians and members of a single, eternal, ineffable community.

Applied, vitalized Christianity was the old Catholic faith, the last of these forms. Its omnipresence in life, its love of art, its profound humanity, the inviolability of its marriages, its communicativeness benevolent to man, its joy in poverty, obedience, and loyalty, render it unmistakable as genuine religion and comprise the basic features of its system.

It had been purified in the river of eras. In intimate and indissoluble combination with the other two forms of Christianity it will ever make fortunate this earth. Its accidental form is as good as annihilated.

The old Papacy lies in its grave and Rome for the second time has become a ruin. Shall Protestantism not cease at last and make way for a new, enduring Church? The other continents await Europe’s reconciliation and resurrection in order to join with it and become fellow-citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Should there not be presently once again in Europe a host of truly holy spirits? Should not all those truly related in religion become full of yearning to behold heaven on earth? And should they not gladly join together and begin songs of holy choirs?

Christendom must come alive again and be effective, and, without regard to national boundaries, again form a visible Church which will take into its bosom all souls athirst for the supernatural, and willingly become the mediatrix between the old world and the new.

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