Tag: Anglicanism

Liberals Innocent?

Liberals Innocent? posted in Eleison Comments on February 23, 2013

Four weeks ago “Eleison Comments” answered the question whether liberalism is as horrible as it is supposed to be in the affirmative: implicitly, liberalism is war on God. There remained the question whether the many liberals who deny they are liberals are right to deny it. The answer is surely that all of us today are so soaked in liberalism that few of us realize how liberal we are.

Liberalism in its broadest sense is man’s liberating himself from the law of God, which a man does with every sin that he commits. Therefore in its broadest sense every sinner is a liberal, and so whoever admits he is a sinner must admit he is a liberal in this broad sense. However, it is one thing to break God’s law while still admitting that God is God and his law is his law. Such a sinner is merely a practical liberal. It is quite another to break God’s law while denying that God is God or that his law is his law. Such a liberal in principle is the liberalism of modern times.

It burst upon the scene with the French Revolution of 1789. The charter of that Revolution, the Declaration of Human Rights, was in effect a declaration of man’s independence from God. From now on, if any man obeyed God’s law, he was doing so purely by his own choice, and not as under any command or commandment of God. In that apparent obedience he would not be behaving like a liberal in practice, but underneath, in everything he did, he would be a liberal in principle. This is the modern liberalism of which Catholics today often accuse their adversaries. Are these adversaries right, almost as often to deny it? Subjectively, yes. Objectively, no.

Subjectively, yes, because ever since 1789 men have drunk more and more deeply of the false principles of the Revolution, so that if they are accused of liberating themselves from the law of God, they can sincerely reply, “What law? What God? What are you talking about?” To such an extent have God and his law been apparently wiped out. But objectively, no, because God and his law have most certainly not ceased to exist, and deep down inside themselves even modern men know it. It is “inexcusable” to say that he does not exist (Rom. I, 20), and his law is written on all men’s hearts (Rom. II, 15), whatever they may say with their mouths. The “sincerely” just mentioned needs inverted commas – it is worth only what it is worth before God’s judgment seat.

Then may those authorities of the Society of St Pius X presently seeking to blend the Society into the Conciliar Church deny that they are liberals? Subjectively they are no doubt persuaded that they are doing their best for the Church, but objectively they are unrepentedly seeking to put Archbishop Lefebvre’s anti-Revolutionary work under the control of Church officials intent upon making the liberal Revolution triumph once and for all. They say we must rejoin the visible Church because that is the Catholic Church. But the Anglican “church” is still visible, all over England. Does that make it Catholic? And the present SSPX leaders cannot be unaware of how they distort and suppress words of the Archbishop to make him fit their vision of the Church.

The sad truth is that these liberals never really understood what the Archbishop was all about. While he was alive they were spellbound, like so many of us, by his Catholic charisma, but they never grasped that faith. which was to his charisma as root is to fruit. They loved the fruit – all credit to them for that – but not long after he was gone, the fruit without the root began to wilt and die. It was inevitable that unless they understood his faith, they would change his Society into their own. That is what we have seen and are seeing. Heaven help us!

Kyrie eleison.

Angelism – II

Angelism – II posted in Eleison Comments on February 18, 2012

Alert readers of these “Comments” may have picked up on an apparent contradiction. On the one hand the “Comments” have repeatedly condemned anything modern in the arts (e.g. EC 114, 120, 144, 157, etc.). On the other hand last week the Anglo-American poet T.S.Eliot was called an “arch-modernist,” and praised for launching a new style of poetry more true to modern times, certainly chaotic.

As the “Comments” have often said, modernity in the arts is characterized by disharmony and ugliness, because modern man chooses more and more to live without or against the God who has planted order and beauty throughout his creation. This beauty and order are now so buried beneath the pomps and works of godless man that it is easy for artists to believe they are no longer there. If then their art is to be true to what they perceive of their surroundings and society, only an exceptional modern artist will convey anything of the divine order underlying the disordered surface of modern life. Most modern artists have given up on order and, like their customers, wallow in the disorder.

But Eliot was born and reared in the late 19th century when society was still relatively ordered, and he received in the USA a good classical education when only a few secret villains yet dreamt of replacing education with training in inhuman subjects. So Eliot may have had little or no access in his youth to true religion, but he was well introduced to its by-products since the Middle Ages, the classics of Western music and literature. Sensing and seeking in them an order missing around him, Eliot was thus able to grasp the deep-down disorder of the rising 20th century, a disorder which merely burst out in the first World War (1914–1918). Hence the “Waste Land” of 1922.

But in that poem he is far from wallowing in the disorder. On the contrary he clearly hates it, showing how empty it is of human warmth and value. So the “Waste Land” may bear little trace of Western religion, but it does finish on scraps of Eastern religion, and as Scruton says, Eliot was certainly tracking the religious depths of the problem. In fact a few years later Eliot nearly became a Catholic, but he was scared off by Pius XI’s condemnation in 1926 of the “Action française,” a condemnation in which he recognized more of the problem and not its solution. So out of gratitude to England for all it had given him of traditional order, he settled for a solution less than complete, combining Anglicanism with high culture, and a Rosary always in his pocket. However God does write straight with crooked lines. How many souls in search of order would have stayed away from Shakespeare or Eliot if they thought that either of them, by being fully Catholic, had answers only pre-fabricated, not true to life.

That is sad, but it is so. Now souls may well be deceiving themselves in one way or another if they shy away from Catholic authors or artists on the grounds that these are untrue to real life, but it is up to Catholics to give them no such excuse. Let us Catholics show by our example that we do not have minds made cosy by artificial solutions necessarily false to the depths of the modern problem. We are not angels, but earthy creatures invited to Heaven if we will pick up our modern cross and follow Our Lord Jesus Christ. Such followers can alone remake the Church, and the world!

Kyrie eleison.

Deadly Angelism

Deadly Angelism posted in Eleison Comments on February 11, 2012

Discerning what made T.S.Eliot (1888–1965) “indisputably the greatest poet writing in English in the 20th century,” a conservative English writer of our own day, Roger Scruton, has some interesting things to suggest to Catholics hanging on to their Faith by their fingertips in these early years of the 21st century – briefly, in the pain is the solution! If we are being crucified by the world around us, that is the Cross we are meant to be carrying.

Eliot was in poetry an arch-modernist. As Scruton says, “He overthrew the 19th century in literature and inaugurated the age of free verse, alienation and experiment.” One may well question whether Eliot’s final combination of high culture and Anglicanism is a sufficient solution to the problems he was tackling, but who can deny that with his famous poem, the “Waste Land” of 1922, he blazed the trail for contemporary English poetry? The enormous influence of his poems demonstrated at least that Eliot had his finger on the pulse of the times. He is a modern man, and he tackled head on the problem of modern times, summed up by Scruton as “fragmentation, heresy and unbelief.”

However, the “Waste Land” could not be the masterpiece that it is if it did not make some sense out of the chaos. It is in fact a brilliant portrait in a mere 434 lines of the shattered European “civilisation” that emerged from the ruins of World War I (1914 -1918). And how did Eliot manage to do that? Because as Scruton says, Eliot the arch-modernist was also an arch-conservative. Eliot had soaked himself in the great poets of the past, notably Dante and Shakespeare, but also in more modern masters such as Baudelaire and Wagner, and it is clear from the “Waste Land” that it is Eliot’s grasp of the order of the past that enabled him to get a handle on the disorder of the present.

Scruton comments that if then Eliot blew away the great romantic tradition of 19th century English poetry, it is because that romanticism no longer corresponded to the reality of his age. “He believed that his contemporaries’ use of worn-out poetic diction and lilting rhythms betrayed a serious moral weakness: a failure to observe life as it really is, a failure to feel what must be felt towards the experience that is inescapably ours. And this failure is not confined, Eliot believed, to literature, but runs through the whole of modern life.” The search for a new literary idiom on Eliot’s part was therefore part of a larger search – “for the reality of modern experience.”

Now have we not seen, and do we not see, the same “serious moral weakness” inside the Church? One may call “Fiftiesism” that weakness of the Church of the 1950’s which was the direct father of the disaster of Vatican II in the 1960’s. What was it if not a refusal to look squarely at the modern world for what it is? A pretence that everything was nice, and everybody was nice? A pretence that if I just wrap myself up in an angelist sentimentality, then the problems of the Church in the Revolutionary world will just float away? And what is now the pretence that Rome really wants Catholic Tradition if not the same essential refusal of modern reality? As Eliot taught us that sentimentality is the death of true poetry, so Archbishop Lefebvre showed us that it is the death of true Catholicism. The arch-conservative Archbishop was the truest of modern Catholics.

Catholics, today’s reality may be crucifying us in any one of its many corrupt ways, but rejoice, again, says St Paul, rejoice, because in our own acceptance of our modern Cross today is our only salvation, and the only future for Catholicism

Kyrie eleison.