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.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Natural Law Limits of State: Leo XIII's Sapientiae Christianae, Part 1

CHRISTIANS ARE CITIZENS of two perfect societies as long as they are pilgrims on earth: the Church and the State. They are no different than other men, though--in contrast to their fellows--they also seek after the City of God. They also live in the City of Man. They, like their fellow citizens who may not be of the household of faith, are πολιτικά ζῷα, politika zōa, political animals, homines politici. Under the natural law--like their fellows--they have obligations to the common good. It is these obligations of the Christian citizen that Pope Leo XIII addresses in his 1890 encyclical Sapientiae Christianae. Christians had a public role when Christianity, as the informer of civil institutions and of law, was on the wane in the 19th century. Christians have a doubly-urgent public role when the universal message of Christianity and the universal natural law which reaches across all confessional boundaries are all but gone in the 21sthcentury as informers of civil institutions and law. They have both an evangelical obligation and an obligation under the natural law to speak to universal supernatural and natural truths, and to see that the laws of the State, if they do not conform to these truths, at least do not contradict them.

We are called to re-evangelize, re-convert our civil institutions. This does not mean we will be loved any more or hated any less than the early Christians were by their Roman fellows. We will, without doubt, be thrown to the maw of lions or the maw of the press, rabid liberal commentators, ridiculing night hosts, and vituperative comedians. But the line must be drawn in the sand. It is time to refuse to live etsi Deus non daretur, as if God did not exist. It is time to live veluti si Deus daretur, as if God did exist. It is time to tell our elected public officials so. And if there are organic laws and constitutions that--as a result of the tampering of zealous secularist men and women in black robes who parade under the name of "Justice" but do nothing other than mock it--have been suppressed or construed so as to prevent it (though these expressly talk of "Nature and Nature's God" or of "establishment" and not a "wall of separation"), it is time to have that changed. It's time to "throw the bastards out" and time to throw the bastard interpretations of law out. It's time for a political defenestration. Nothing less than the survival of our way of life and charity to our fellow men demands it.

As then Cardinal Ratzinger stated the day before John Paul II's death at the convent of Saint Scholastica in Subiaco:

The attempt, carried to the extreme, to manage human affairs disdaining God completely leads us increasingly to the edge of the abyss, to man's ever greater isolation from reality. We must reverse the axiom of the Enlightenment and say: Even one who does not succeed in finding the way of accepting God, should, nevertheless, seek to live and to direct his life "veluti si Deus daretur," as if God existed.*

To put it plainly, atheists should be made to live as if God exists;** it is not Christians who should be made to live as if God does not exist so as to appease the errant atheist. The reason Christians can so insist is because structuring our life, or civil institutions, as if God existed is a demand of the natural moral law, a demand that is universal and reaches across confessional divisions. The existence of God is, by the light of natural reason, sufficiently probable, sufficient real, to justify, by reason alone, structuring society "under God." On the contrary, to form governments and to fashion laws as if God did not exist is to live an unreal life, a law contrary to reason.

Pope Leo XIII states in the beginning of his encyclical Sapientiae Christianae:
To contemplate God, and to tend to Him, is the supreme law of the life of man. For we were created in the divine image and likeness, and are impelled, by our very nature, to the enjoyment of our Creator. But not by bodily motion or effort do we make advance toward God, but through acts of the soul, that is, through knowledge and love. For, indeed, God is the first and supreme truth, and the mind alone feeds on truth. God is perfect holiness and the sovereign good, to which only the will can desire and attain, when virtue is its guide.

Deum spectare, atque ad ipsum contendere, suprema lex est vitae hominum: qui ad imaginem conditi similitudinemque divinam natura ipsa ad auctorem suum potiundum vehementer incitantur. Atqui non motu aliquo cursuque corporis tenditur ad Deum, sed iis quae sunt animi, cognitione atque affectu. Est enim Deus prima ac suprema veritas, nec nisi mens veritate alitur: est idem perfecta sanctitas summumque bonorum, quo sola voluntas aspirare et accedere, duce virtute, potest.
SC, 1. The "supreme law of the life of man," is to "contemplate God," Deum spectare . . . suprema lex est vitae hominum. And this truth relates to each individual man, but it also relates to man-in-society, the ζῷον πολιτικόν (zōon politikon), the political man, the homo politicus. "What applies to individual men applies equally to society--domestic alike and civil." Quod autem de singulis hominibus, idem de societate tum domestica tum etiam civili intelligendum. SC, 2. So if the contemplation of God is the supreme law of the life of man, then what business has man building domestic and civil structures that ignore such supreme law? What business do Christians have in helping the misguided men building institutional structures that ignore such a supreme law?

Tower of Babel by the Meister der Weltenchronik (ca. 1370)
(Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich)

Are we to build a Tower of Babel? No. The common good does not require us to build Tower of Babels. Rather, the common good requires us to spurn such projects. Pope Leo XIII makes this clear:
Nature did not form society in order that man should seek in it his last end, but in order that in it and through it he should find suitable aids whereby to attain to his own perfection. If, then, a political government strives after external advantages only, and the achievement of a cultured and prosperous life; if, in administering public affairs, it is wont to put God aside, and show no solicitude for the upholding of moral law, it deflects woefully from its right course and from the injunctions of nature; nor should it be accounted as a society or a community of men, but only as the deceitful imitation or appearance of a society.

Non enim ob hanc caussam genuit natura societatem ut ipsam homo sequeretur tamquam finem, sed ut in ea et per eam adjumenta ad perfectionem sui apta reperiret. Si qua igitur civitas nihil praeter commoditates externas vitaeque cultum cum elegantia et copia persequatur, si Deum in administranda republica negligere, nec leges curare morales consueverit, deterrime aberrat ab instituto suo at praescriptione naturae, neque tam est ea societas hominum et communitas putanda, quam fallax imitatio simulatioque societatis.
SC, 2. A society whose project is to form institutions of government and promulgate law that neglects God or the nature God established, and which shows no solicitude in conserving the moral law, is a society or a community of men in name only; nay, not even in name only. Rather, such a society is a "deceitful imitation or appearance of a society." It is an anti-Society, an ape of society.

When living within a State that ignores the natural moral law, the Christian is placed in a quandary in which he ought not to be. The Christian, like all men, ought to walk in conformity with the natural law which "enjoins us to love devotedly and to defend the country in which we had birth, and in which we were brought up." SC, 5. (Similarly, a Catholic will have a love, both natural and supernatural, for his Church, who has been the custodian of his soul and his soul's second birth.) In addition, the Catholic will have a natural and supernatural love for God. Since the ordered natural love of one's country and the natural and supernatural love of God and His Church stem from the same principle, they--like reason and faith--ought to complement each other, not detract from each other:
Moreover, if we would judge aright, the supernatural love for the Church and the natural love of our own country proceed from the same eternal principle, since God Himself is their Author and originating Cause. Consequently, it follows that between the duties they respectively enjoin, neither can come into collision with the other.
SC, 6. For that reason:
Wherefore, to love both countries, that of earth below and that of heaven above, yet in such mode that the love of our heavenly surpass the love of our earthly home, and that human laws be never set above the divine law, is the essential duty of Christians, and the fountainhead, so to say, from which all other duties spring.

Ambas itaque patrias unumquemque diligere, alteram naturae, alteram civitatis caelestis, ita tamen ut huius, quam illius habeatur caritas antiquior, nec unquam Dei iuribus iura humana anteponantur, maximum est christianorum officium, itemque velut fons quidam, unde alia officia nascuntur.
SC, 11.

Conflicts, if they arise, arise because the State assumes powers that are not its powers to assume or deprecates and ignores those realities which it ought not. By the very nature of things, however, devotion to God and His Church ought to precede--and inform--the love of one's country. "As to which should be preferred no one ought to balance for an instant." Uter vero sit anteponendus, dubitare nemo debet. SC, 7. Patriotism is not a virtue that rises above Faith, Hope, and Charity, but is a virtue that flourishes beneath them. The flag of patriotism should be beneath the flag of faith, just like a state flag should be placed beneath the U.S. flag in accordance with flag protocol. "It is a high crime (scelus est) indeed to withdraw allegiance from God in order to please men, an act of consummate wickedness (nefas) to break the laws of Jesus Christ, in order to yield obedience to earthly rulers, or, under pretext of keeping the civil law, to ignore the rights of the Church." SC, 7.

The State must recognize the proper definition of law and act within its confines:
Law is of its very essence a mandate of right reason, proclaimed by a properly constituted authority, for the common good. But true and legitimate authority is void of sanction, unless it proceed from God, the supreme Ruler and Lord of all. The Almighty alone can commit power to a man over his fellow men;*** nor may that be accounted as right reason which is in disaccord with truth and with divine reason; nor that held to be true good which is repugnant to the supreme and unchangeable good, or that wrests aside and draws away the wills of men from the charity of God.

Non est lex, nisi iussio rectae rationis a potestate legitima in bonum commune perlata. Sed vera ac legitima potestas nulla est, nisi a Deo summo principe dominoque omnium proficiscatur, qui mandare homini in homines imperium solus ipse potest: neque est recta ratio putanda, quae cum veritate dissentiat et ratione divina: neque verum bonum, quod summo atque incommutabili bono repugnet, vel a caritate Dei torqueat hominum atque abducat voluntates.
SC, 8.

Modernly, man suffers from hubris, a hubris spawned from his scientific prowess. "From the fact that it has been vouchsafed to human reason to snatch from nature, through the investigations of science, many of her treasured secrets and to apply them befittingly to the divers requirements of life, men have become possessed with so arrogant a sense of their own powers." SC, 12. This arrogance has led men to think that such scientific, empirical principles can be applied to social life; therefore, through their materialism and empiricism, they elbow God out from the public square. "Led away by this delusion, they make over to human nature the dominion of which they think God has been despoiled." Wed to the world of nature alone, to the the physical here-and-now, and refusing to entertain the thought that there may be a supernatural world, a metaphysical world of above-here-and-beyond now, the structure their entire political and social philosophies as if nature was all there was, and as if the author of nature did not exist:
[T]hey maintain, we must seek the principle and rule of all truth; from nature, they aver, alone spring, and to it should be referred, all the duties that religious feeling prompts. Hence, they deny all revelation from on high, and all fealty due to the Christian teaching of morals as well as all obedience to the Church, and they go so far as to deny her power of making laws and exercising every other kind of right, even disallowing the Church any place among the civil institutions of the commonweal.
SC, 12.

With such underlying philosophical principles, these men "lay hands on the rudder of the State, in order that the legislation may the more easily be adapted to these principles, and the morals of the people influenced in accordance with them." SC, 12.

Disorder thus injected into the system through the hands of unscrupulous, grasping men that are heedless of God and the supernatural verities, what is the Christian to do?


*For a text of Cardinal Ratzinger's speech, see Cardinal Ratzinger On Europe's Crisis of Culture at
**This, of course, does not mean the atheist must be forcibly converted, something altogether impossible anyway. We are talking about public and civil structures,
external fora, not matters relating to the internal forum of conscience.
***In the English translation of the encyclical there is a footnote, not contained in the Latin text, which states: "Note the extreme importance of this principle; it justifies the doctrine according to which the only conceivable foundation of political authority must be divine in origin."


  1. I shouldn't be that hard on the Catholic Church. In my reading and research of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment---the Church was blindsided by an insidious mixture of the Trimegestes and Kabbalah teachings, especially the Jewish paradigm of "The Unity of God" which undermined Christian Trinitarianness. The Church had no way of fighting this really when the Renaissance Italians snookered by the Kabbalah, that rejected Plato and Aristotle and jumped upon the Stoics who "created the natural law".

    This was all just bogus. The Doric Greeks who did create, or found, the laws of nature, did not write them down, or systematically catelogue and pass them down. This led to confusion and the Renaissance taking the neo-platonic/gnostic kabbalah Hermes Trimegestus as a "prisca theologia". And for hundred of years, the Roman Catholic Church was stymied by this historical error. Even though the laws of nature are embedded in the texts of Plato and Aristotle and Xenophon, nobody drew them out as well.

    Roman Catholicism had no clue to what it was up against, the big picture. No right histography on the real original laws of nature from the Doric Greeks and so had no real ammunition to fight off this "Unity of God" that the Jews proselytized with. The Trinity was a matter of theology ONLY and not a teaching of the laws of nature. It was for the Doric Greeks and that connection was lost because they wrote nothing down. So all the intellectuals of Europe took Hermes Trimesgestes/kabbalah, the prisca theologia, as the truth and Roman Catholicism as a lie. This is the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in a nutshell.

    With my articles on "The Spartan Republic", "Doric Crete and Sparta, the home of Greek philosophy", and "Macrocosm/Microcosm in Doric Thought", and the attending forum thread in the "Back Article/Volume" section, I hope this all changes. The laws of nature do back up every teaching of Roman Catholicism; the Trinity, One God, God separate from nature, the efficacy of clergy, the dual nature of Christ, the importance of the Golden Mean. This is not so with Stoicism, Epicureanism, Democritism, all the materialistic ideology that accompanied the teaching of the prisca theologia.

    It is time to roll back the Enlightenment, roll back the errors of the Renaissance and destroy this so-called "prisca theologia".

  2. Many of the speeches and writings of Catholics after the Renaissance are suspect. Because (a) they did NOT have the real original natural law. Their enemies elevated the Stoics with a materialist Laws of Nature. The Church even with Plato and Aristotle, did not pull the original from Plato and Aristotle and could not effectively fight this.

    (b) None of the clergy ever had any training in nature. All training of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment consisted of "classroom" and book learning. There was no "Boy Scout program" unlike the Spartans and Cretans that involved taking the boys out of the home and putting them IN nature. (The Boy Scout program must be mandatory for all those seeking to be clergy!) There was absolutely tooooo much book learning and that skewered conclusions. One must work with animals. No clergy has ever worked with animal husbandry. How do you know the real natural law, the laws of nature without working in animal husbandry.

    (c) No Aesop. Aesop is forgotten. Aesop is central to the Laws of Nature and understanding them. Jesus in a sense with his parables is following Aesop! Without Aesop, the forgotten philosopher, there is no philosophy, no wisdom, no natural law.

    The attack of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the Church had no ready rational defense! Many took up Masonry, the prisca theologia. Many accepted Stoic teaching. They did not have the full revelation of God since they didn't have the real original Laws of Nature.

    I feel very sorry for Roman Catholics of this period. They were fighting a rear guard action against something monstrous that they had no real conception of and no equal defense against. Many succumbed to the onslaught. The whole Church didn't stand a chance. Its been a losing battle ever since.