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.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Furiae Conscientiae: Expiatio

THE THIRD FURY IN BUDZISZEWSKI'S list of five furies is atonement. The proper response to breach of the moral law is remorse, followed by confession, and then atonement. Someone who breaches the natural moral law is aware that they sit uneasy in a state of injustice, that there is a debt which must be paid, a wrong which in some way must be righted. If wrong is denied, if the wrong is not confessed, the knowledge of the debt persists: it cannot not be recognized in some manner. We can ignore the calls of the debt collector, but we cannot ignore the debt, and it persists with the insistence of loan shark. And if the principal is not paid, the debt seems to exact usurious interest out of us so that "we pay pain after pain, price after price, in a cycle which has no end." Budziszewski (2003), 148.

Someone sensitive to the divine reality behind the cosmos will recognize that breach of the moral law is a breach against the eternal order, the ratio ordinis, the very Eternal Law. And so he will recognize that amends have to be made to God. He will recognize his very inadequacy at paying the debt. He will pray like the Psalmist in one of the Seven Penitential Psalms. He will pray like the faithful did in the traditional form of the Tridentine Mass:
Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor,
Lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.

You will sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop and I shall be cleansed
You will wash me, and I shall be washed whiter than snow.
Pity me, O God, according to Your great mercy.

The penitent may not have the benefit of revelation, but he will nevertheless invoke mercy from God or the gods, even if it shows itself in such a corrupt guise as human sacrifice. He will have the spirit if not the knowledge of Yom Kippur. Again, those with benefit of revelation, and others perhaps more attuned to the nature of God, will realize that the blood of bullocks and rams, or the blood of virgins, or the sacrifice of gold and gems are of no benefit to God. "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise," says David in the Miserere(Psalm 51 (50): 16-18). Or with the prophet Micah he will recognize the vanity of burnt offerings, even of offering his first-born. "Shall I give . . . the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul"? Micah 6:8. The moral fault is not cured by material offerings. There is a disparity of orders. Moral fault requires a moral offering. And infinite fault requires an infinite offering. Man is simply unable to atone to God for an offense against the infinite majesty of God. Man is in need of an Agnus Dei.

Agnus Dei by Francisco de Zurburán (1598-1664)

Christianity, of course, offers the solution: the infinite, impassible God assumes passible human nature--
In his helm and in his haubergeon - humana natura.
That Crist be noȝt here for consummatus Deus*
--and suffers and ignominious death on the altar of the Cross, making atonement for all men, an act repeated daily in an unbloody way on all Catholic altars:

A broken ALTAR, Lord thy servant rears,
Made of a heart, and cemented with teares:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch'd the same
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow'r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name:
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctifie this ALTAR to be thine.**

This is the Agnus Dei, qui tollis pecatta mundi. This is he who answers to man's prayer dona nobis pacem!

But the modern, secularized de-Christianized and neo-Pagan West has rejected the insights of Israel and of Christianity. The Agnus Dei is a persona non grata. We do not sing the Jubilate Agno which is our only way out of Bedlam.

And so we return to Bedlam, to insanity. Like a dog returning to its own vomit, the world has returned to a time where it sees not the atonement of God. And so the Fury of Atonement works overtime, as man vainly attempts to work out his own salvation, his own atonement, which, invariably means the offering of his own blood or the innocent blood of his children. Moloch is alive and well, and has recaptured the lands once occupied by the Church. The West is now in partibius infidelium.

So, in a horrible, tragic irony, the Nazi who rejects the atonement of the Jewish man-God Christ, must find his scapegoat in Christ's kinsmen, the Jews, the holocausts of innocents, who were like the Aryans in all things but the German's nationalistic and racial sin. Stalin, a cobbler's son and follower of the pseudo-prophet Marx, must needs put to death millions of Orthodox kulaks in his genocidic dekulakization, an offering to the materialism and determinism he worshiped, the gods of atheism are more bloody than Allah. Indeed, in perhaps an unconscious way, the bloody practice of abortion is precisely an effort to atone for the sins of the sexual revolution: and vain effort to offer the fruit of our bodies for the sins of our soul, a perverse lapse into human sacrifice offered unto the altar of an unknown, false god of sexual license.
Ginette Paris writes, Our culture needs new rituals, which is both terrible and necessary." She considers abortion "a sacrifice to Artemis," "a sacrament for the gift of life to remain pure."
Budziszewski (2003), 150(quoting from Ginette Paris, Sacrament of Abortion). Budziszewski couples the practice of "cutting" by sexually-active girls as a symptom of both the breach of the natural law and the inability to make an authentic atonement. Everywhere, human blood:

يحاصر روحي ولساني
ويلف الأفق
يلطّخ خبزَ الناس
ويسّاقط فوق الأطباق
وفوق فناجين القهوة
فوق عيون الأطفال

Blood, blood, [and more] blood

It shrouds my soul, my tongue
it envelopes the horizon
and stains the people’s bread,
falling on plates,
coffee cups,
and the eyes of children.***
Time and time again, our failure to recognize the breach of the moral law and our worship of false gods has resulted in a corrupted sense of atonement, and the felt urge to sacrifice of human blood: from Moloch and Quetzalcoatl to the modern Holocausts of the Shoa and Abortion, to the violence of Jihad. But the voice of the Fury of Atonement is heard even here, and even here, in a place where there is an almost total privity of good, there is a squeak, a vestige of knowledge, a confession of the need, of the God who made atonement in the sacrifice on the Cross, a bloody sacrifice once and for all. (Heb. 10:10). We have fallen, but even our fall witnesses to the place from whence we came.

But false atonement, though it have a vestige, a whiff, a scintilla of true atonement, is and will always be a false atonement. It is not God's holocaust, but a corruption thereof. It is an effort to pay back a debt in false coin.

False atonement may indeed "help" with the feelings of remorse; the problem is that it cannot actually atone, and so the need to atone comes screaming back--with the remorse or without it. One cannot repent something in the very act of doing it; suffering is not a fee which makes the deed all right.

Budziszewski (2003), 151.

It would do us all good to repent and believe in the Gospel, and shun efforts at self-atonement.

*Piers Ploughman, XVIII, 23-24.
***George Herbert, "The Altar".
***Abd al-Aziz al-Maqaleh, "The Betrayal".

No comments:

Post a Comment