Justice

Flowers Teach

Flowers Teach posted in Eleison Comments on June 23, 2012

If flowers speak (cf. EC 255), then they can also teach: the value of time, the justice of God, the harmony of grace and nature.

For instance, if God exists and he is not unjust by making a soul’s whole eternity depend upon its choices made during one brief life, even lasting 90 years, then it stands to reason both that every moment of that life counts, and that in every moment (even if not always with the same force) God is appealing to us to join him for eternity. That is why it makes sense that he should be talking through the flowers and through every other gift of his creation, because what soul alive can truthfully say that it has nothing and nobody to love? Even the most rabid “atheist” has, say, his dog or his cigarettes. And Who designed dogs and tobacco plants, and kept them reproducing down to our own day?

So just before he dies the “atheist” may still claim that he at least was never spoken to by God, but in the instant after he dies he will grasp in a flash that for every moment of his waking life God has been appealing to him through some creature or other around him. “Am I now unjust,” God might ask him, “if I condemn you for every remaining moment of my life, when for every moment of your life you have been refusing me? Have what you have chosen. Depart from me into . . .” (Mt. XXV, 41).

Conversely, take a soul that has profited by every moment of its life to love the great and good God behind all the good things it has enjoyed, and that has even recognized the permission of his Providence behind all the bad things it has not enjoyed. Then who needs to be recognized, or famous, who needs to appear in the media, or to fill drawers of vacation photographs, in order to give meaning to his life? Small wonder that in past ages talented souls could bury their talents in a cloister or monastery in order to devote them wholly to the loving of God. For indeed every moment of our time is of measureless value, because upon every moment hangs for good or ill a measureless eternity.

Moreover, that flowers speak can help us to make sense of another well-known problem: how can non-Catholic souls be condemned for not having the Catholic faith when Catholic missionaries never reached them? Whatever mystery is here may at least partly be solved, humanly speaking, if one recalls that it is the selfsame God who creates flowers and instituted the Catholic Church. Thus if God’s Providence never allowed for Catholic truth to reach the ears of a given soul, nevertheless that soul will not be able to plead that it knew nothing of the true God, and it can be judged on what it did know, for instance the beauty of cloudscapes, of sunrises and sunsets. Did it, beholding them, say with the pagan Job (Job XIX, 25), “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” or did it say, “Well, yes, that’s nice, but now let me visit my neighbour’s wife . . .”?

In fact a number of complaints that men have today against their Creator arise even with Catholics, because many Catholics are, like everybody else today, more or less cut off from Nature by their urban or suburban lives, and their “spirituality” becomes correspondingly artificial. “Woe to anybody who has never loved an animal,” somebody has said. Children are close to God. Watch how naturally children love animals.

Great and good God, grant us to see you where you are, deep down everything and everybody, at every moment.

Kyrie eleison.

Innocent Ignorance?

Innocent Ignorance? posted in Eleison Comments on August 13, 2011

A reader asks a vital question: « If a good Protestant has lived a good life but still firmly believes that the Catholic Faith is wrong, so that he does not even consider entering the Catholic Church, can he still be saved?” The question is vital (from “vita” in latin, meaning “life”), because it is a question of eternal life or death for countless souls.

By way of answer, the first thing to be said is that every soul appearing at death instantaneously before God’s judgment seat will be judged by him with a perfect justice and with a perfect mercy. God alone knows the depths of a man’s heart which a man can hide from himself, let alone from other men. Men may misjudge, but God never. Therefore the “good Protestant” will be damned by himself or saved by God, exactly as God knows that he has deserved.

Nevertheless it stands to reason that if God wants all of us to be saved (I Tim.II,4), and requires of us to believe on pain of damnation (Mk.XVI,16), he will have let us men know what we must believe and what we must do to save our souls. What then must the “good Protestant” believe?

At the very least any soul to be saved must believe that God exists and that he rewards the good and punishes the wicked (Heb.XI,6). If a “good Protestant” who has led “a good life” does not believe that, he cannot be saved. But many Catholic theologians go further and say that to be saved one must also believe in the Holy Trinity and in Christ as Redeemer. If these theologians are right, then there may be many more “good Protestants” who cannot save their souls.

And God may require of them to believe in more than just these absolute basics, depending upon how much opportunity they have had in life to learn of the Truth that comes from him. If they are ignorant of all the rest of the Catholic Faith, have they never come across it? Possibly not. But possibly they have. I can remember my mother telling with admiration how a Catholic priest once answered all the serious questions of her “good Protestant” father, but there was no follow-up that I know of. If then “good Protestants” have even only once come across Catholic truth, why exactly did they not follow up? Unless it was badly presented, they were in effect rejecting truth. Can they have rejected it without some fault? Then did they reject it innocently or wilfully? “Good Protestants” easily consider themselves to be innocent, as do we all, but God is deceived by none of us.

However, there is also what a “good Protestant” must do to be saved. He may not know all that the Catholic Church infallibly requires of us in morals, but he does have at least the natural light of his in-born conscience. Now it may be truly difficult with original sin and with no help from the Catholic sacraments to follow that natural light of one’s conscience, but if one does seriously violate it or twist it out of true, it is easy to live and to die in mortal sin, a state in which no soul can be saved. Again, the “good Protestant” may plead ignorance of the fullness of God’s law as Catholics can know it, but is his ignorance truly “invincible,” i.e. innocent? For instance, did he really not know, or did he actually want not to know, that artificial means of birth control are seriously displeasing to God?

God knows. God judges. May he have mercy upon all “good Protestants,” and upon all of us.

Kyrie eleison.

Men’s Authority

Men’s Authority posted in Eleison Comments on May 28, 2011

Two young men, uncertain of getting married, begged me the other day to write a manual on how men should be men. Theirs was a real cry of distress: “When should we be nice with women, and when should we be firm? We just don’t know any longer!” Yesteryear the answer to that question was common sense for many a man, but authority today has been so widely undermined by liberal propaganda that the problem of exercising it in marriage may be one reason why now numbers of young folk prefer simply to live together rather than get married. What follows is not a manual, but it may at least point our two musketeers in the right direction.

St. Paul says: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. III, 14,15). In other words all fatherhood or authority amongst God’s creatures is modelled upon and derives from the fatherhood and authority of God himself. As Dostoevsky has one of his characters say, “If God does not exist, then I have no business being an army officer.” So it stands to reason that if men chase God out of their society, as he is being chased today out of the whole wide world, then all authority is radically undermined. In the individual, reason will be unable to govern the passions, in the family the father will be unable to control his household, and in the State democracy will come to seem the only legitimate form of government.

Now within the family, who, observing daily life, can deny that men are stronger than women in the use of reason, while women are stronger than men in intuition and emotion? Watch any sitcom if you doubt it. Now feelings have their rightful place in life and they are scorned, like one’s wife, at one’s peril, but they come and go, they are unstable and as such they are a guide, but not a reliable guide, to action. On the contrary if reason discerns what is objectively true and just, it is stabilized by the fact that objective truth and justice are above any individual or his feelings. Therefore reason may listen to feelings, but it must rule them. That is why men have, as men, a natural authority possessed only exceptionally by women, who have as a rule other qualities. That is why the man is naturally the head of the family and home, while the woman is naturally its heart.

But the liberalism which rules the modern world dissolves all sense of objective truth or justice. By so doing it deprives the reason of its object, and of its objective anchor in a reality above and independent of the reasoning subject. Reason being the prerogative of men, liberalism hits the men before it hits the women, whose feminine instincts are not dependent on reason. By the same token liberalism undercuts the authority of men which comes down from conforming to what is above them, ultimately divine Truth and Justice, and it makes all use of authority become arbitrary.

Therefore, young men, in all your dealings with men or women, seek to be true and just, and turn to God for the help necessary to discern truth and justice amidst so much untruth and injustice and arbitrary misuse of authority all around us today. Then act upon what you discern, and you will re-build your manly authority from above, in a world undercutting it from below. In brief, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. VI, 33).

Kyrie eleison.

Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart posted in Eleison Comments on June 20, 2009

Yesterday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Before I became a Catholic the mere expression “Sacred Heart of Jesus” would have made my blood curdle, because it sounded too sweet and sticky for words. This impression would have been confirmed by a number of pictures representing the Sacred Heart, which are so melting that one is surprised not to find, in place of the picture on the wall, a pictorial puddle at the foot of the wall!

However, as one grows older, one may hope one grows a little wiser as well as sadder. Soon after I entered the Church, the Lord God put in my hands a marvellous book on the Sacred Heart, one could say written by the Sacred Heart: “The Way of Divine Love” by Sister Josefa Menendez (1890–1923). She was a little Spanish nun buried away from all publicity in a convent of the Sacred Heart Sisters in Poitiers, France, who during the last three years of her short life acted as messenger for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to deliver one more urgent message of God’s love to modern souls in ever more danger of falling away from Him.

“I am God” (page 377 of the first edition in English), “but a God of love! I am a Father, but a Father full of compassion and never harsh. My Heart is infinitely holy but also infinitely wise, and knowing human frailty and infirmity stoops to poor sinners with infinite mercy.” This book gave me to understand that just as the special revelations of the Sacred Heart had begun in the 17th century which was growing cold with rationalism and Jansenism, so those revelations became progressively warmer as the world grew colder and colder, until the pictures indeed almost melted off the wall! As though Our Lord were saying to us, it no longer matters if we understand His Justice, or appreciate the fine arts, just so long as we understand His true Mercy.

“I love those who after a first fall come to me for pardon . . . I love them still more when they beg pardon for their second sin, and should this happen again, I do not say a million times but a million million times, I still love them and pardon them, and I will wash in My Blood their last as fully as their first sin. Never shall I weary of repentant sinners, nor cease from hoping for their return, and the greater their distress, the greater My welcome . . .This is what I wish all to know. I will teach sinners that the mercy of my Heart is inexhaustible . . . It is so easy to trust completely in My Heart!”

It is so easy to trust in His Heart. But we modern men are distracted, and we are proud. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Kyrie eleison.

Just Claims

Just Claims posted in Eleison Comments on May 30, 2009

On the assumption that the Second Vatican Council established within the Catholic Church a serious split between Catholic Truth and Catholic Authority, “Eleison Comments” three weeks ago (“Flat Contradiction”) divided today’s Catholics between those who cling to Truth and have problems with Catholic Authority, and those who cling to Catholic Authority and have problems with Catholic Truth or doctrine, for instance on religious liberty.

Setting up such a parallel between “Conciliarists” following Vatican II and “Traditionalists” following the age-old doctrine and liturgy, may well shock numbers of both, for the reasons evoked above, but let us appeal to the realities in the Church around us. Do we not observe that as Traditionalists who wholly reject present Church authorities risk losing their Catholic sense, so too Conciliarists who wholly scorn present Traditionalists (as do most German bishops) risk ceasing to be Catholics for lack of any sense of doctrinal truth?

However, the parallel only goes so far. For while outright “sedevacantism” and outright Neo-modernism are in this logical respect comparable, they are by no means equivalent, because Truth is higher than Authority, which only exists to serve Truth. If all Authority disappeared, Truth would still be there (“My words will not pass away,” says Our Lord – Mk.XXV, 35). But if all Truth were smothered in lies, as is happening today, we would see, as we are seeing, all Authority discredited with it, and being replaced by brute force. Truth and its ensuing Justice are the life-blood of Authority. Authority is merely the servant and protector of Truth and Justice.

This is why Traditionalists clinging to Truth are, as such, repeat, as such, better Catholics than Conciliarists clinging to Authority – judge by the fruits! And while Truth, by its nature of corresponding to the object and not to the subject, cannot bend to Authority, on the contrary the Church authorities, Popes and Cardinals and Bishops, must one day bend back to the Truth, and the sooner the better. Nor is saying so remotely an arrogant claim on the part of Traditionalists, as Cardinal Ratzinger once opined, because Traditionalists never invented Tradition, Tradition was a given, from being merely faithful to which they got their name. Archbishop Lefebvre had engraved on his tombstone St. Paul’s “Tradidi quod et accepi” (I Cor.XI, 23), because he was the very first to maintain that he had done no more than hand on what had been handed down to him.

This fundamental primacy of Truth over Authority applies inside and outside the Catholic Church, inside and outside any part of the Church. But modern souls have lost almost all grip on Truth. Here is the drama.

Kyrie eleison.