Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Leo XIII's Immortale Dei: What is Caesar's? What is God's? Part 4

IN THE EYES OF THE NEW LAW, the novus ius, the Church is demoted into a private association and has as much standing, and no more, than the Red Cross or Planned Parenthood or the Kiwanis Club. "[N]o regard is paid to the laws of the Church, and she who, by the order and commission of Jesus Christ, has the duty of teaching all nations, finds herself forbidden to take any part in the instruction of the people." The Church is banished from the public square from law and by law. Where she ought to be held at least as equal to the State, and where she in fact ought to be preeminent in those matters assigned to her jurisdiction or where she shares jurisdiction, she is in fact subordinate. Her laws are superseded or ignored by the State, which claims preeminence if not de jure certainly de facto.
With reference to matters that are of twofold jurisdiction, they who administer the civil power lay down the law at their own will, and in matters that appertain to religion defiantly put aside the most sacred decrees of the Church.
ID, 27. The effect is most significantly seen in respect to marriage and family life and the civil laws that govern these institutions. In essentially ever Western nation, these, contrary to the natural law, allow for divorce and remarriage, in some cases even allow for homosexual marriages. These permit and encourage artificial contraception and even abortion. What kind of marriage and family life is promoted when the unity and indissolubility of marriage is derided in law? When the very purpose of conjugal relations is perverted or shunted? When the maternal authority allowed a mother over the child in her womb includes the power of execution of her child for no reason at all but inconvenience? The State purports to have jurisdiction over all marriages and over family life, even those of baptized Christians. It ignores the existence of any covenant that claims unity and indissolubility beause it refuses to enforce it (and though Leo XIII did not foresee it, even claims that the contract ought to be between a man and a woman).

The State is not satisfied with dabbling in marriage and family life. It wishes to stand in loco parentis, and gains a practical monopoly on the education of youth; it restricts the Church, and restricts even any mention of philosophies that speak of God.* The State also enters into health care and into scientific research (e.g., stem cell research) entirely oblivious to the moral law in certain particulars. There is virtually no area where the State is not overweening in its power, in exercising its muscle. At times, the State, particularly in Europe and in Central and South America at one time, even denied the Church the right to own property and suppresses religious orders. Though that has not been the case in the United States, any attempt which directly or even indirectly favors the Church will immediately draw forth "men," well-trained by the existing Zeitgeist, who "forthwith begin to cry out that matters affecting the Church must be separated from those of the State." ID, 27. All these efforts by the monolithic State, a state inspired by a secularist philosophy, "aim to this one end-to paralyze the action of Christian institutions, to cramp to the utmost the freedom of the Catholic Church, and to curtail her ever single prerogative." ID, 29.

This novus ius, this new law, where the constitution of things is that the State is independent from God and His Church, and the Church is fenced away as if some sort of bad neighbor, is contrary to reason:
Now, natural reason itself proves convincingly that such concepts of the government of a State are wholly at variance with the truth. Nature itself bears witness that all power, of every kind, has its origin from God, who is its chief and most august source. The sovereignty of the people, however, and this without any reference to God, is held to reside in the multitude . . . lacks all reasonable proof . . . . To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name. So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. . . . Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object. . . . Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law.
ID, 30, 31, 32. We have, by and large, chosen or at least consented to live in this manner, to suffer a constitution of state that is practically atheistic in its religious indifferentism. It is the fruit of a sinful rebellion started long ago by a German Augustinian monk whose private thoughts and privates chafed under his habit, perhaps initially engendered by our own sins, and then imitated by a host of other clerics, philosophers, statesmen, and then finally peoples. But in doing so we have painted ourselves into a moral cul-de-sac. And we have not the means to extricate ourselves from the tyranny of relativism into which we have fallen. It all stems from the "grave and fatal error," the original sin of modern politics in the West, and error of which we must repent:
To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from life, from laws, from the education of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated; and already perhaps more than is desirable is known of the nature and tendency of the so-called civil philosophy of life and morals. The Church of Christ is the true and sole teacher of virtue and guardian of morals. She it is who preserves in their purity the principles from which duties flow, and, by setting forth most urgent reasons for virtuous life, bids us not only to turn away from wicked deeds, but even to curb all movements of the mind that are opposed to reason, even though they be not carried out in action.
ID, 32.

Pope Leo XIII reflects on the teaching of his predecessors, and then recapitulates:
[I]t is evident that the origin of public power is to be sought for in God Himself, and not in the multitude, and that it is repugnant to reason to allow free scope for sedition. Again, that it is not lawful for the State, any more than for the individual, either to disregard all religious duties or to hold in equal favour different kinds of religion; that the unrestrained freedom of thinking and of openly making known one's thoughts is not inherent in the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be reckoned worthy of favour and support. In like manner it is to be understood that the Church no less than the State itself is a society perfect in its own nature and its own right, and that those who exercise sovereignty ought not so to act as to compel the Church to become subservient or subject to them, or to hamper her liberty in the management of her own affairs, or to despoil her in any way of the other privileges conferred upon her by Jesus Christ. In matters, however, of mixed jurisdiction, it is in the highest degree consonant to nature, as also to the designs of God, that so far from one of the powers separating itself from the other, or still less coming into conflict with it, complete harmony, such as is suited to the end for which each power exists, should be preserved between them. . . .

This, then, is the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the constitution and government of the State.
ID, 34-35. Between Church and State: harmony, not disharmony; communion, not separation; complementarity, not subordination. With respect to the "wall of separation" between Church and State which has brought us practical atheism in governance, we might say, were we to follow Leo XIII in the quest of true freedom and liberty instead of Thomas Jefferson who has been co-opted by secularists: "Mr. Chief Justice . . . tear down this wall."

"Tear Down this Wall!"

It is apparent, however, how far our culture is from ever practically doing this. "Our eyes are not closed to the spirit of the times." ID, 40. "All this, though so reasonable and full of counsel," rued Leo XIII, "finds little favour nowadays when States not only refuse to conform to the rules of Christian wisdom, but seem even anxious to recede from them further and further on each successive day." ID, 40. The people do not want yet want it, though there are signs that they are tired of liberalism being poured down their throats, and the New Evangelization has not yet borne its fruit in overcoming the neo-paganism under which we labor. We are unquestionably in that area more than ever before where "for the sake of securing some great good or of hindering some great evil," we must "allow patiently custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of religion," including liberalism, "having its place in the State." ID, 36. And to be sure, matters could be worse:
If there really exist anywhere, or if we in imagination conceive, a State, waging wanton and tyrannical war against Christianity, and if we compare with it the modern form of government just described, this latter may seem the more endurable of the two. Yet, undoubtedly, the principles on which such a government is grounded are, as We have said, of a nature which no one can approve.
ID, 42. But while we must be tolerant, we must not be passive and sit idly by. We must take care of our own household, and then "swarm and crowd" and pray.

In private and in domestic life, we must do all we can to counter this secularizing tendency, to conform our life and conduct to the precepts of the Gospel, and to be obedient children to the Church our Mother, solicitous for her welfare and rights.

In public affairs, Catholics with public responsibility have a significant burden to discharge:
[T]hey assume not nor should they assume the responsibility of approving what is blameworthy in the actual methods of government, but seek to turn these very methods, so far as is possible, to the genuine and true public good, and to use their best endeavours at the same time to infuse, as it were, into all the veins of the State the healthy sap and blood of Christian wisdom and virtue. The morals and ambitions of the heathens differed widely from those of the Gospel, yet Christians were to be seen living undefiled everywhere in the midst of pagan superstition, and, while always true to themselves, coming to the front boldly wherever an opening was presented. Models of loyalty to their rulers, submissive, so far as was permitted, to the sovereign power, they shed around them on every side a halo of sanctity; they strove to be helpful to their brethren, and to attract others to the wisdom of Jesus Christ, yet were bravely ready to withdraw from public life, nay, even to lay down their life, if they could not without loss of virtue retain honours, dignities, and offices.
ID, 45. This is the duty of all Catholics holding public office, though few seem to recognize it:
First and foremost, it is the duty of all Catholics worthy of the name and wishful to be known as most loving children of the Church, to reject without swerving whatever is inconsistent with so fair a title; to make use of popular institutions, so far as can honestly be done, for the advancement of truth and righteousness; to strive that liberty of action shall not transgress the bounds marked out by nature and the law of God; to endeavour to bring back all civil society to the pattern and form of Christianity which We have described. It is barely possible to lay down any fixed method by which such purposes are to be attained, because the means adopted must suit places and times widely differing from one another.
ID, 46. The New Evangelization, which is nothing less than the Real Conservatism, is "but of yesterday," but to the liberal, relativist, secularist, we must hope to one day say with Tertullian, "yet we swarm in all your institutions, we crowd your cities, islands, villages, towns, assemblies, the army itself, your wards and corporations, the palace, the senate, and the law courts." ID, 45.** The temples of the secularists, we leave to them; in them their idols, which are really disguised phalluses or sweetened Mammon, we shall not worship. There is a vacuum in public life, and someone needs to fill it. If we don't swarm and crowd, someone else will. Muslims swarm and crowd their governments; it's time that Christians swarm and crowd theirs.

"[T]he integrity of Catholic faith cannot be reconciled with opinions verging on naturalism or rationalism, the essence of which is utterly to do away with Christian institutions and to install in society the supremacy of man to the exclusion of God." ID, 47. A compartmentalization is to be rejected: "[I]t is unlawful to follow one line of conduct in private life and another in public, respecting privately the authority of the Church, but publicly rejecting it; for this would amount to joining together good and evil, and to putting man in conflict with himself; whereas he ought always to be consistent, and never in the least point nor in any condition of life to swerve from Christian virtue." ID, 47.

Tolerance of error and the exercise of great charity while we "swarm and crowd" is the best we can hope for while we strive for a renewal of hearts and a public will to reject past, deep-seated errors of political philosophy, practical politics, and customary nostrums. We must remember and hope that, "since truth when brought to light is wont, of its own nature, to spread itself far and wide, and gradually take possession of the minds of men," there may be a time when matters shall be different, when we will accept the Gospel truth in all its fullness, and reach that perfect freedom that is given to the children of God.

Until then, tolerance of error, charity, suffering, swarming and crowding, and prayer.

Indeed, a Veni Sancte Spiritus may be appropriate:
VENI, Sancte Spiritus,
reple tuorum corda fidelium,
et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V. Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur;
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae et Civitatium Foederatarum Americae.

COME, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of Thy faithful
and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth and of the United States of America.

Let us work towards repealing the "new law," the novum ius.
*I know this from experience. My daughter's public school would not allow any philosophical teachings of Plato or Aristotle because they referred to God as first cause.
**Leo XIII quotes Tertullian's Apologeticum, 37 (in the Vatican English translation mistakenly stated as Chapter 27): "Hesterni sumus, et vestra omnia implevimus, urbes, insulas, castella, municipia, conciliabula, castra ipsa, tribus, decurias, palatium, senatum, forum . . . ."

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