equality

Benedict’s Thinking – I

Benedict’s Thinking – I posted in Eleison Comments on July 9, 2011

The “Eleison Comments” of June 18 promised a series of four numbers which would show how “disoriented” is Pope Benedict XVI’s “way of believing.” They present in fact a summary of the precious tract on his thinking written a few years ago by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, one of the four bishops of the Society of St Pius X. The Bishop’s tract, The Faith Imperilled by Reason, he calls “unpretentious,” but it does lay bare the Pope’s fundamental problem – how to believe in the Catholic Faith in such a way as not to exclude the values of the modern world. The tract shows that such a way of believing is necessarily disoriented, even if the Pope does still in some way believe.

It divides into four parts. After an important Introduction to Benedict XVI’s “Hermeneutic of Continuity,” Bishop Tissier looks briefly at the philosophical and theological roots of the Pope’s thinking. Thirdly he lays out its fruits for the Gospel, for dogma, for the Church and society, for the Kingship of Christ and for the Last Things. He concludes with a measured judgment upon the Pope’s Newfaith, highly critical but wholly respectful. Let us start with an overview of the Introduction:—

The basic problem for Benedict XVI, as for all of us, is the clash between the Catholic Faith and the modern world. For instance he sees that modern science is amoral, that modern society is secular and modern culture is multi-religious. He specifies the clash as being between Faith and Reason, between the Faith of the Church, and Reason as worked out by the 18th century Enlightenment. However, he is convinced that they can and must both be interpreted in such a way as to bring them into harmony with one another. Hence his close participation in Vatican II, a Council which attempted to reconcile the Faith with today’s world. But Traditionalists say that the Council failed, because its very principles are irreconcilable with the Faith. Hence Pope Benedict’s “Hermeneutic of Continuity,” or system of interpretation to show that there is no rupture between Catholic Tradition and Vatican II.

The principles for Benedict’s “hermeneutic” go back to a German historian of the 19th century, Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911). Dilthey maintained that as truths arise in history, so they can only be understood in their history, and human truths cannot be understood without the involvement of the human subject in that history. So to continue the core of past truths into the present, one needs to subtract all elements belonging to the past, now irrelevant, and replace them with elements important for the living present. Benedict applies to the Church this double process of purification and enrichment. On the one hand Reason must purify the Faith of its errors from the past, e.g. its absolutism, while on the other hand the Faith must get Reason to moderate its attacks on religion and to remember that its humanist values, liberty, equality and fraternity, all originated in the Church.

The great error here of the Pope is that the truths of the Catholic Faith on which Christian civilization was built and on which its feeble remains still rest, have their origin by no means in human history, but in the eternal bosom of the unchanging God. They are eternal truths, from eternity, for eternity. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” says Our Lord, (MtXXIV,35). Neither Dilthey nor, apparently, Benedict XVI can conceive of truths far above human history and above all its conditioning. If the Pope thinks that by making such concessions to faithless Reason, he will draw its adherents towards the Faith, let him think again. They merely despise Faith the more!

Next, the philosophical and theological roots of Benedict’s thinking.

Kyrie eleison.

Wasteland Remedies – II

Wasteland Remedies – II posted in Eleison Comments on August 14, 2010

Why are modern ‘universities’ veritable dustbins or trash-cans of ‘democracy’? Because in a ‘democracy’ everybody must be equal, nobody may appear to be superior. But having a Degree makes someone superior. So everybody must have a Degree. But by no means all boys have the brains or bookishness to obtain a Degree. Therefore ‘universities’ will have to be dumbed down, and ‘Degrees’ extended to all kinds of dumb subjects, until every boy can get a ‘Degree,’ even if it will hardly be worth the paper it is written on. Today’s ‘university’ system is “totally bogus,” says an American friend and Professor, who knows it from the inside.

What is at the root of this modern stupidity? Once again, godlessness. All souls are absolutely equal before God, for eternity, before his judgment seat at death, which is all that matters, but they are in all respects unequal before men, for this short life, in human society. This is because God gives out his gifts very unequally, so that all men will be interdependent and have to look after one another. Accordingly a merely human ‘Degree’ as such makes anybody superior not before God, but only before foolish men who leave God out of account. Parents who take God into account will therefore discount ‘democracy,’ ‘equality,’ ‘universities’ and ‘Degrees’.

Their prime concern will be to form their boys in reality, so that they can get to the real Heaven of the real God, paying little attention to the unreality of a world falling in ruins all around them. First question for parents: what gifts did God give to this boy of ours, quite different even from our other boys? What does he incline to? God’s gifts to him will point to God’s will for him. Obviously more boys are gifted for hands-on work than for books. Moreover G.K.Chesterton once interestingly said that to seek mastery in any material domain, e.g. wood or metal, is an apprenticeship in reality. Then by all means let a boy go to a technical college and learn a real skill to become, for instance, a good carpenter or plumber or electrician or mechanic. Or has the boy an uncle with a farm? Send him there. Handling animals is a major school in reality!

To learn that reality let him shun a ‘Degree’. Today’s employers may still be requiring a ‘Degree,’ but tomorrow’s will soon be saying, “You spent three years wasting your parents’ money or running up a heavy debt, just to learn how to drink and throw frisbees and fool around with the girls? You don’t interest me!” On the contrary, if in addition to a practical skill a boy has learned at home honesty and hard work, he will be able to make more than just an honest living. His services will be much in demand in a world collapsing in the ruin of unreal values.

As for girls, let them learn the home realities of all time, like sewing, cooking, canning, music, the arts, in brief everything that lends delight to home life, but especially cooking. The world may fall in ruins, it may do whatever it likes, but the way to a man’s heart will still be going through his stomach. It is a man speaking!

Kyrie eleison.

Wasteland Remedies – I

Wasteland Remedies – I posted in Eleison Comments on August 7, 2010

“Alright, your Excellency,” I can hear parents saying, “so the ‘universities’ are a wasteland. But on that reckoning of yours you must admit that just about everywhere else is a wasteland as well. Then what are we to do with our children? God’s law forbids us to use unlawful means to prevent their arriving. They arrive. And then?”

The swift answer is that in a world worse than ever, souls that want to get to Heaven will have to be more heroic than ever, but their reward will be correspondingly greater than ever.

Pius XII said that the world was worse in his day than in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he died in 1958! What would he say today? Facing the same problem, the Popes who followed him “moved the goal-posts” at Vatican II in order not to have to go on condemning, condemning, condemning. But that was the easy way out. To switch off the alarms is not the same thing as to extinguish the fire. Church and world are blazing merrily, and the first thing parents must do is to face the problem: extreme danger for their children’s eternal salvation.

If once they grasp that danger, their Catholic Faith will tell them that they cannot take the Conciliar low road, nor any other low road, they must take the heroic high road. “We will not get to Heaven on feather-beds,” said St Thomas More. Our Lord said, “He who would be my disciple, let him take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt.XVI, 24), and “He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved” (Mt. XXIV, 13). Parents must make up their minds that if to save their children’s souls they need to be heroes, then heroes they will be. At that point, as the proverb says, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” so once parental love has the will, it will find a way, inside and outside the home.

For outside the home, see next week’s “Eleison Comments” for alternatives to the ‘university’ For inside the home, any priest worth his salt will tell them to start by firmly establishing the family Rosary in the home, and to continue by throwing out that television set which is a tabernacle of the world, the flesh and the Devil. From the youngest age, let children’s hearts and minds be filled in the home with live interchange and lively discussion of everything under the sun. This is because by the time children are of an age to go to ‘university,’ the die is usually cast, for good or ill, so that if a boy has grown up in a real live home, lifted towards Heaven by prayer, the worst of ‘universities’ may not do him too much harm, whereas if he has been raised as a televidiot, the best university may not help him too much towards Heaven.

Notice that EC 158 did not tell parents never to pay for a boy of theirs to go to ‘university’. It said to think hard before doing so. If parents think hard while their boy is still young, their Faith should tell them how life at home needs to be changed, without too much delay. As St. Paul says (I Cor. II, 9), quoting Isaiah (LXIV, 4), Heaven is infinitely well worth every effort, infinitely surpassing even the wildest human imagination.

Kyrie eleison.