It is a thoroughly Christian impulse to combat suffering and injustice in the world. But to imagine that men can construct a world without them by means of social reform, and the desire to do so here and now, is an error, a deep misunderstanding of human nature. For suffering does not come into the world solely because of the inequality of possessions and power. Nor is it just a burden from which men should free themselves.
Anyone who wishes to do that must escape into the distorted world of narcotics in order thus to destroy himself and to find himself in conflict with reality. It is only by enduring himself, by freeing himself through suffering from the tyranny of egoism, that man finds himself, that he finds his truth, his joy, his happiness. He wil be all the happier the more ready he is to take upon himself the abysses of existence with all their misery. The measure of one’s capacity for happiness depends on the measure of the premiums one has paid, on the measure of one’s readiness to accept the full passion of being human.
The crisis of our age is made very real by the fact that we would like to flee from it; that people mislead us into thinking that one can be human without overcoming oneself, without the suffering of renunciation and the hardship of self-control; that people mislead us by claiming that there is no need for the difficulty of remaining true to what one has undertaken and the patient endurance of the tension between what one ought to be and what one actually is.
An individual who has been freed from all effort and led into the fool’s paradise of his dreams loses what is most essential, himself. There is, in fact, no other way in which one can be saved than by the Cross. All offers that promise a less costly way will founder, will prove to be false. The hope of Christianity, the outlook of faith, ultimately rest quite simply on the fact that faith tells the truth. The outlook of faith is the outlook of the truth that may be obscured and trampled upon, but can never perish.
From: Die Situation der Kirche heute, pp. 37-38