Democracy of the Dead – Fr. Bernard Basset, S.J.

G.K. Chesterton once said that “Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead…Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”  

To honor that sentiment and to stave off an easy chronological snobbery, today’s post comes straight from the mouths (or pens) of men and women who have died in the faith.


It takes the humility … to accept one’s weaknesses and to believe that God loves us as we are…Neurotics in particular will find that the bulk of their unconscious worries stem from a wrong approach to God…neurosis is a certain symptom of self-centredness.  The more neurotic, the more self-centred though, perhaps, I should put it the other way round…

Cross by George Wharton JamesThere is always unhappiness where men and women lead double lives.  Our Lord Jesus Christ said that we cannot serve two masters at once, yet so many attempt it and neurosis in one form or another is the result.  The centre of our hearts is double and the conflict is painful indeed

Why do we look further than the Passion of Christ for a picture of ourselves?  Here the story of our daily life is admirably described.  We see no impatience, no impure thoughts, no using of swear words but that self-centredness which led to so terrible an end.  I note that all those who played a key part in the crucifixion were, on the surface, good men.  Pilate had a sense of justice, Peter was devoted, Judas had enough virtue to be picked out of hundreds to be one of the twelve.  Even the Pharisees were churchgoers on a big scale.  Next, they all loved and admired Christ, they knew that His cause was a noble one and they admitted that He was innocent.  But they were double through self-centredness.  They wanted two things at once; they wanted Christ to be successful but, in their hearts, they wanted their own interests more.  Pilate wanted his job, Peter wanted his skin, Judas wanted his money, Herod wanted to show off before his friends.  Even the Pharisees only wanted to remain top men.  None of them would have minded going to confession to accuse themselves of a little impatience, “a little greedy, my mind wandered during my prayers”.  What they should have said was, “Dear Lord, I am very devoted to you but I love myself far more.”…

True contrition wipes away all fear.



One thought on “Democracy of the Dead – Fr. Bernard Basset, S.J.

  1. andrea says:

    so true!!
    Dear Lord,
    Remove the sin and fog from our hearts. Make me a genuine follower of yours. We can be so pretensious.

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