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.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Magisterial Invocation of Natural Law: Leo XIII and Diuturnum Illud, Part 3

COMPLETING OUR REVIEW of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Diuturnum illud in this posting, we turn to Leo XIII's solutions. The rise of false theories of the State and revolutionary movements spawned by such false theories provide the State with serious threat, threats it has a certain extent the right to counter. But power alone will not remedy the problem giving rise to or stemming forth from such erroneous theories of the State. "[N]o power of punishment can be so great that it alone can preserve the State." DI, 24. Fear of punishment is simply too weak a reed upon which to build a civil society and upon which to found a governing organ. To base order on fear of punishment, in fact, tends to brew discontent and incite rebellion. "It is therefore necessary," says St. Leo:
to seek a higher and more reliable reason for obedience, and to say explicitly that legal severity cannot be efficacious unless men are led on by duty, and moved by the salutary fear of God.

obediendi altiorem et efficaciorem causam adhibere necesse est, atque omnino statuere, nec legum esse posse fructuosam severitatem, nisi homines impellantur officio, salutarique metu Dei permoveantur.
DI, 24. The desire for obedience must be internalized, and the only way to do this is through an understanding of the religious foundation of the State, as this "enters into the souls and bends the very wills of men causing then not only to render [external] obedience to their rulers, but also show their affection and good will." DI, 24. It would do good, therefore, for the State to "defend religion, and to consult the interest of their Lord to defend religion, and to consult the interest of their States by giving that liberty to the Church which cannot be taken away without injury and ruing to the commonwealth." DI, 25.

Portrait of Leo XIII

The State ought not see the Church as a competitor for civil power, for the "things that are of a civil nature," are "under the power and authority of the the ruler," and those areas which belong "both to the sacred and to the civil power," such as marriage and its civil emoluments, should be exercised in harmonious manner. "Never opposed to honest liberty, the Church has always detested a tyrant's rule," atque honestae libertati nuspiam inimica tyrannicum dominatum semper detestari consuevit. DI, 26.

Leo XIII then ends his encyclical Diuturnum illus with a short litany of duties that a properly-ordered State would have:
  1. Strive with all possible care to make men understand and show forth in their lives what the Catholic Church teaches on government and the duty of obedience;
  2. Let the people be frequently urged by the State's authority and teaching to fly from the forbidden sects, abhor all conspiracy, have nothing to do with sedition, and understand that they who for God's sake obey their rulers render a reasonable service and a generous obedience.
God is the source of authority and power, and supplies both the reasons for and limits on the exercise of its power by the State, and the reasons for and limits to obedience by the people. This belief thus ennobles, without divinizing, the authority of the State, and gives reason other than fear of punishment for obeying the State.
And as it is God "who gives safety to kings," [Ps. 152:11] and grants to the people "to rest in the beauty of peace and in the tabernacles of confidence and in wealthy repose," [Isa. 37:18] it is to Him that we must pray, beseeching Him to incline all minds to uprightness and truth, to calm angry passions, to restore the long-wished-for tranquility to the world.

Quoniam vero Deus est, qui dat salutem regibus, et concedit populis conquiescere in pulchritudine pacis et in tabernaculis fiduciae et in requie opulenta. Ipsum necesse est orare atque obsecrare, ut omnium mentes ad honestatem veritatemque flectat, iras compescat, optatam diu pacem tranquillitatemque orbi terrarum restituat.
DI, 27.

Our states have gone a different way than what Leo XIII prayed for, have turned him a deaf ear, and the secular rulers and secular state have turned less and less to religion and more and more to process and to the thin veneer of "human rights," which, without God, also have little foundation. In the West, the theory of the modern State is built on sand, on the sands of social contractism, on the sands of moral relativism, on the sands of the will of man as if the will of the majority, which is so easily manipulated, is the cure for all ills. It is a recipe for either revolution or tyranny, not for peace or tranquillitas ordinis.

Our prayer may now be:
Usquequo Deus inproperabit inimicus inritat adversarius nomen tuum in finem?

How long, O God, shall the enemy reproach: is the adversary to provoke thy name for ever?
(Ps. 73:10)

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