Why Suffering?

Why Suffering? posted in Eleison Comments on March 19, 2011

The latest dramatic shifting of tectonic plates off the east coast of Japan, causing both inland the biggest earthquake Japan has known for many years and along its eastern coast an absolutely devastating tidal wave, must be raising in many minds the classic question: if God exists, if he is all-powerful and all-good, how can he possibly allow so much human suffering? The classic answer is not too difficult in theory, at any rate when one is not suffering oneself! –

Firstly, suffering is often a punishment for sin. God does exist, sin does offend him. Sin takes souls to Hell whereas God created them for Heaven. If suffering on earth will put a brake on sin and help souls to choose Heaven, then God, who is certainly in command of the tectonic plates, can without difficulty use them to punish sin. Then were the Japanese people especially sinful? Our Lord himself tells us not to ask that question, but rather to think of our own sins and to do penance, otherwise “you will all likewise perish” (Lk. XIII, 4). Would it not be astonishing if there were no Japanese people now wondering whether Western-style materialism and comfort are really what life is all about?

Secondly, human suffering can well be a warning, to turn men away from evil and keep them from pride. Right now the whole godless West should be questioning its own materialism and prosperity. By the steadily increasing rate of earthquakes and other natural disasters all over the world over the last several years, the Lord God is certainly trying to get the attention of all of us, maybe in the hope that he will not have to inflict on us the worldwide “rain of fire” of which his Mother warned us at Akita (in Japan) in 1973. But right now, is there not every likelihood that because they are doing the suffering, the Japanese are profiting more from their disaster than is the distant West? Those countries may in fact be lucky which are getting now a foretaste of the Chastisement threatening to come.

Thirdly, God may use human suffering to highlight the virtue of his servants. That was the case with Job, and with Christian martyrs down all the ages. Few Japanese people may today have supernatural faith, but if the Japanese now humble themselves beneath what they sense to be the mighty hand of God, they will earn natural merit and at least on the natural level give him glory.

Finally, there is God’s own answer to Job, who by Chapter 36 of his Book is still not satisfied with any explanation for his suffering that he or any of his family or friends have been able to come up with. I paraphrase: “Where were you, Job, when I laid down the foundations of the earth? Did you design the tectonic plates? Who do you think keeps the sea normally within its bounds, and stops it from flooding dry land? Can you really think I did not have my own good reasons to let it just now wash over the north-east coast of Japan?” See the Book of Job, Chapters 38 and 39. And Job at last submits. He is satisfied with the answer, and confesses that he was wrong to be calling in question the wisdom and goodness of God (Job 42, 1–7).

Let us ourselves do penance, be warned by Japan’s disaster, hope to give glory to God in our own trials to come, and recognize above all that God alone is God!

Kyrie eleison.

Sixpenny Art

Sixpenny Art posted in Eleison Comments on December 4, 2010

The French painter Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) repudiates modern society for the sake of art, yet the art he made himself free to create does not seem to have brought him peace (EC 175). The English novelist Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) writes a version of Gauguin’s life a few years later which seems to confirm both the repudiation and the lack of peace (EC 176). But why is the modern artist at odds with the society that he reflects, and that supports him? And why is the modern art he produces normally so ugly? And why do people persist in supporting ugly art?

The artist as rebel goes back to the Romantics. Romanticism flourished alongside the French Revolution, which merely broke out in 1789, but has been pulling down throne and altar ever since. Modern artists, reflecting the society in which they live, as artists cannot help doing, steadily more repudiate God. Now if God does not exist, then surely the arts should have flourished serenely in their new-found liberty from that illusion of God that has dominated men’s minds from time immemorial. Yet is modern art serene? Or is it not rather suicidal?

On the other hand, if God exists, and if the artist’s talent is a gift from God to be used for his glory, as countless artists from the past used to proclaim, then the godless artist will be at war with his own gift, and his gift will be at war with his society, and society will be at war with his gift. Is this not rather what we observe all around us, for instance the deep scorn of modern materialists for all the arts, beneath a pretence of respect?

If God exists, at any rate the questions asked above are easy to answer. Firstly, the artist is at odds with modern society because the breath of God within him that is his talent knows that his society is despicable insofar as it is godless. The fact that society supports him despite his scorn makes it merely more despicable. As Wagner once said when his increased orchestra meant eliminating a row of seats in the theatre, “Fewer listeners? So much the better!” Secondly, how can a gift from God that is turned against him produce anything harmonious or beautiful? For anyone to find modern art beautiful he must reverse the meaning of words: “Fair is foul and foul is fair” (Macbeth) – yet when did even a modern artist mistake ugliness for beauty in a woman? And thirdly, modern people will persist in their reversing the meaning of words because they are making war on God, and have no intention of letting up. “Rather the Turk than the tiara,” said the Greeks just before the catastrophic fall of Constantinople in 1453. “Rather Communism than Catholicism,” said American Senators after World War II, and they had their wish.

In brief, Wagner, Gauguin and Maugham and thousands of modern artists of all kinds are right to scorn our sixpenny Christendom, but the answer is not to make even more war on God with modern art. The answer is to stop making war on God, to give him again the glory due to him and to put Christ back into Christendom. How much more ugliness will it take for men to turn back to the tiara and to choose once more Catholicism? Will even World War III be enough?

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.

Jeremiah’s Politics

Jeremiah’s Politics posted in Eleison Comments on March 27, 2010

As Jeremiah is the Old Testament prophet for Passiontide, so he is also the prophet for modern times. His being the prophet for Passiontide is apparent from the Holy Week liturgy where, to express her grief for the Passion and Death of Our Lord, Mother Church draws heavily on Jeremiah’s “Lamentations” for the destruction of Jerusalem in 588 B.C. Jeremiah’s being the prophet for our own times was the view of Cardinal Mindszenty, no doubt because the Cardinal saw the sins of his own world calling even more for the denunciations of Jeremiah than did those of Judah, and leading just as surely to the destruction of our present sinful way of life.

Now in the domain of politics and economics, a number of commentators today (accessible on the Internet) clearly see that destruction coming, but they do not connect it with religion, because either they, or the bulk of their readers, starting from below, do not think upwards. Jeremiah on the contrary, starting from above with his dramatic call from God (Chapter I), sees politics, economics, everything, in the floodlight of the Lord God of Hosts. Thus after denouncing at length the horrifying perfidy of Judah and its sins against God and after announcing Judah’s punishment in general (Ch. II-XIX), he makes political prophecies in particular: the Judeans will be taken captive to Babylon (XX), with their King Sedecias (XXI), and Kings Joachaz, Joakim and Joachin will all be punished (XXII).

Such prophecies do not make Jeremiah popular. The priests of Jerusalem arrest him (XXVI), a false prophet defies him (XXVII), King Joakim himself seeks to destroy the prophet’s writings (XXXVI), and finally the princes of Judah throw him down a muddy well to die, from which he is only rescued by an Ethiopian (XXXVIII). Immediately Jeremiah ventures back into politics, by urging – in vain – King Sedecias to surrender to the Babylonians, which would have spared the King great suffering.

Obviously the secular and religious authorities of decadent Jerusalem did not like what the man of God was telling them, but at least they had enough sense of religion to take him seriously. Would not today both Church and State dismiss him as a “religious nutcase” and tell him to “stay out of politics”? Have not Church and State alike today so cut politics loose from religion that they are blind to how profoundly their godless politics are branded by their very godlessness? In other words, men’s relation to their God impregnates and governs everything they do, even when that relation is on men’s part one of utter indifference towards God.

So if any of us follow this year an Office of “Tenebrae” (“darkness”), let Jeremiah’s grief for Jerusalem laid waste evoke for us not only Mother Church’s sorrow for the Passion and Death of Our Divine Lord, but also the Sacred Heart’s own measureless grief for an entire world sinking into sins which will bring down its utter destruction, unless we heed the plaintive cry of “Tenebrae”: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord thy God.”

Virile Distress

Virile Distress posted in Eleison Comments on March 20, 2010

Let me make no apology for coming back on a profound disorder of our wretched times: the dominance in public of women over men. That woman – the mother – should be queen in the home over things of the home – nothing more normal. But when she queens it in public, then there is something seriously wrong with the menfolk: they are giving to the women no lead or direction towards God, and the womenfolk are reacting, as is their nature, instinctively.

It is an intelligent young man from a distant land who reminds me of the problem. He observes around him that there are many more publications for women than for men; that in schools which are co-educational all the way to university, the girls, being more docile and diligent, regularly get better marks than the boys, who are in general disordered and do not apply themselves. My young friend asks, is co-education such a good idea?

He observes that it results in the girls succeeding better in school and coming out on top as the new “stronger sex,” manipulating the new “weaker sex” now at the mercy of their beauty. In all domains of the emerging “civilization of woman,” women are taking over the positions of leadership. Even to have children, a laboratory will now enable them to do without men, who no longer mean anything. Men are a failure. My young friend concludes with the agonizing questions: “What are the rules for being a true man? What is the meaning of virility? How should the strength of men differ from the strength of women? What is the truly “strong woman”? And the strong man?”

My dear young friend, you were born into a Revolutionary world which is defying God, and therefore seeking to overthrow the nature and natural order of things as God created them. God’s basic design is as follows: he created man and woman with profoundly complementary natures to marry and so populate the earth, in order to populate Heaven. To woman he gave superior feelings to be the heart of the home by having and looking after the children. To man he gave a superior reason to be the head of the home, and to lead all the family to Heaven. She is designed for domestic life, in the family. He is designed for public life, in society.

Therefore as much as the woman and mother should be listened to and heeded in affairs of the family for which she was gifted (see Proverbs XXXI for the Word of God’s own portrait of the truly “strong woman”), so little should she normally be seen or heard in public affairs, for which she was not made. The problem today is that godless and gutless men leave a leadership vacuum into which women almost have to flow, good women reluctantly. My dear young friend, pray 15 Mysteries a day of the Holy Rosary of the Mother of God, maker of true men. Fill yourself with God, with God, with God, and then you will be able to give to women the three l’s which they absolutely need: to be listened to, to be loved, to be led. Without God, you will have them walking all over you.

I am absolutely serious about 15 Mysteries a day. No less is needed.

Kyrie eleison.

Youth Pleads

Youth Pleads posted in Eleison Comments on October 4, 2008

A 26-year old Buenos Aires student wrote to me one month ago with an earnest plea. Here it is:—

“ . . . I consider that your appreciation of the present situation in all areas is correct, and I agree. I have listened to conferences and read articles of yours, and I understand your pessimism and share it in part. It can hardly be avoided if one takes an overall view of the world in which we live. I have also heard from young folk of the SSPX what you think and say. In all humility, I earnestly beg of you, especially when you are addressing young people, male or female, please give your criticisms a positive slant. Please add to what you say some words of encouragement, hope and perseverance. Yours . . . . Patricio.”

Dear Patrick, I have much sympathy with your entreaty. You belong to a generation that has been gravely misled by a world that has for several centuries been going wrong, and is now on the brink of catastrophe, humanly speaking. With your head you recognize that the situation is as grave as I say it is, but your heart is nevertheless troubled. Here is Our Lord’s own answer:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid” (Jn XIV, 27). And several verses earlier: “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me” (Jn XIV, 1).

In other words, in the agitation and distress being felt by the Apostles after the Last Supper as the wicked world is closing in on their Divine Master – just like today! – they are not to pretend that the world is not as wicked as they know it is, instead they are to activate their Catholic Faith!

Patrick, with your Faith you know, amongst other things, firstly that the Lord God has everything perfectly under control, and all the devils of Hell (and earth) cannot lift a finger without His permission. Secondly, that He has a master plan to bring an even greater good out of today’s rampant evil. Thirdly, that if today’s godlessness were not producing chaos, that would be a far greater catastrophe than its imminent crash will be, because the tranquil success of godlessness would mean that we human beings were meant to be no more than beasts.

Patrick, believe in God, believe also in Our Lord! And pray His Mother’s Holy Rosary.

Kyrie eleison.