Lost in the Trees Once Again
Thomas A. Droleskey
A Catholic is a citizen first of Heaven by virtue of his Baptism and then of the country in which he was born or has taken up citizenship. We must, as the Church has taught us from time immemorial, seek the common good of the country in which we live, mindful, however, of pursuing the common good in light of our eternal destiny. Those who rule, the Church teaches us traditionally, must do so according to the mind of the Divine Redeemer, being careful to administer justice according to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law and to help to foster those conditions in which citizens may be better able to save their souls as Catholics. There is, as has been pointed out on this site frequently, a direct correlation between personal sanctity and social order.
The Church teaches us perennially that the state must recognize her as the true religion and favor her with the protection of the laws while seeking to suppress the propagation of false religions and beliefs in the midst of civil society. Those who adhere to false religions and beliefs may be able to practice them privately if there is no threat to the right order of the state, that is, to the common good. Adherents of false religions and beliefs do not have any civil right to propagate their beliefs by means of political campaigns, legislative proposals or judicial interventions.
We do not, as is painfully evident, live in a Catholic world. Pluralism, which is thinly disguised fascism, rules the day. Pluralism, the belief that everyone has the civil right to speak and act as one pleases as long as it is not opposed to the civil law, which may or may not be in conformity with the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law as these are entrusted to and explicated by the infallible teaching authority of the Catholic Church, has been embraced by the ethos of conciliarism, which has created a counterfeit approach to the Church-State relations that was condemned repeatedly by one pope after another in throughout the Nineteenth Century and well into the first part of the Twentieth Century. This has led, as noted a few days ago on this site, to the madness of conciliarist officials attempting to oppose various moral evils on naturalistic, humanistic terms that could be used by a sincere atheist without violating his conscience. Moral evils thus proliferate in society ad infinitum because their root cause, human sin, is not addressed by the seeking of the conversion of those outside of the Church to the Catholic Faith and by the disciplining of Catholics who have posited the false belief that they can believe one way privately and act another way publicly.
Pope Leo XIII rejected this "dual mind" approach in Immortale Dei, November 1, 1885:
Hence, lest concord be broken by rash charges, let this be understood by all, that the integrity of Catholic faith cannot be reconciled with opinions verging on naturalism or rationalism, the essence of which is utterly to do away with Christian institutions and to install in society the supremacy of man to the exclusion of God. Further, it is unlawful to follow one line of conduct in private life and another in public, respecting privately the authority of the Church, but publicly rejecting it; for this would amount to joining together good and evil, and to putting man in conflict with himself; whereas he ought always to be consistent, and never in the least point nor in any condition of life to swerve from Christian virtue.
Catholics who find themselves in the context of constitutional regimes that reject the necessity of recognizing the Catholic Church as the state religion, which most almost every country on earth, are in a very difficult position. We are called to be citizens of Heaven and of the country in which we live. Given the fact that the constitutional regime in the United States of America admits of no higher authority above the text of the words in its basic law, that is, the Constitution, there will be times when public policy is in accord with the genuine common good of society and there will be times when it is not. The latter is more frequently the case, as Pope Leo XIII noted in Immortale Dei:
So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is the fountain-head and origin of many evils. Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object. But the character of goodness and truth cannot be changed at option. These remain ever one and the same, and are no less unchangeable than nature itself. If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native fullness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of corruption. Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law. A well-spent life is the only way to heaven, whither all are bound, and on this account the State is acting against the laws and dictates of nature whenever it permits the license of opinion and of action to lead minds astray from truth and souls away from the practice of virtue. To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from the business of life, from the making of laws, from the education of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated; and already perhaps more than is desirable is known of the nature and tendency of the so-called civil philosophy of life and morals. The Church of Christ is the true and sole teacher of virtue and guardian of morals. She it is who preserves in their purity the principles from which duties flow, and, by setting forth most urgent reasons for virtuous life, bids us not only to turn away from wicked deeds, but even to curb all movements of the mind that are opposed to reason, even though they be not carried out in action.
A civil regime not founded in a frank and confessional recognition of the Catholic Faith is bound to degenerate over the course of time, lacking a sure guide as to what is true (the Deposit of Faith the God-Man, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, entrusted to His true Church) and lacking any means (Sanctifying Grace) to provide for a virtuous citizenry. As Pope Leo XIII noted above, "If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native fullness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of corruption." This statement is a clear reiteration of basic truth on the level of natural reason. It is also, more importantly, a reiteration of the fullness of Catholic truth. Bad ideas lead to bad consequences, inevitably and inexorably. Protestantism and Talmudic Judaism and its close ally, Freemasonry, and Mohammedanism are no basis for personal order (or salvation) and hence social order. A country where all of these religions are able to propagate their false beliefs leads to triumph of irrationality and sentimentality as the basis of personal choices and of public policy decision-making.
We must, though, attempt to pursue the common good as best as we can despite the defects of a civil regime that is bound to deteriorate more and more over time. The qualifying phrase in the previous sentence is this: as best as we can. Some of us have come to the conclusion, far from infallible but based upon the use of reason and the observation of the plain degeneration of a regime founded on false principles, that most apparent efforts to pursue at least some modicum of the common good are really nothing other than shallow political tricks designed to solidify support for the voter base of career politicians of both major political parties and to generate funds for the interest groups that exist in a symbiotic relationship with those career politicians (a symbiotic relationship is one wherein two living organisms feed off of each other to the benefit of each; there is distinguished from the parasitic relationship, wherein one organism, say, career politicians, feed off another organism, say, taxpayers, to the detriment of the one being fed off of).
The Church teaches us that we must use the institutions of civil governance as fairly as we can without denying the Faith and its precepts. Pope Leo XIII made this point abundantly clear in Immortale Dei:
In these Our days it is well to revive these examples of Our forefathers. First and foremost, it is the duty of all Catholics worthy of the name and wishful to be known as most loving children of the Church, to reject without swerving whatever is inconsistent with so fair a title; to make use of popular institutions, so far as can honestly be done, for the advancement of truth and righteousness; to strive that liberty of action shall not transgress the bounds marked out by nature and the law of God; to endeavor to bring back all civil society to the pattern and form of Christianity which We have described. It is barely possible to lay down any fixed method by which such purposes are to be attained, because the means adopted must suit places and times widely differing from one another. Nevertheless, above all things, unity of aim must be preserved, and similarity must be sought after in all plans of action. Both these objects will be carried into effect without fail if all will follow the guidance of the apostolic see as their rule of life and obey the bishops whom the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God. The defense of Catholicism, indeed, necessarily demands that in the profession of doctrines taught by the Church all shall be of one mind and all steadfast in believing; and care must be taken never to connive, in any way, at false opinions, never to withstand them less strenuously than truth allows. In mere matters of opinion it is permissible to discuss things with moderation, with a desire of searching into the truth, without unjust suspicion or angry recriminations.
Moral truth is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of adherence to what exists in the nature of things ordained by God and/or positively revealed by Him in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. No Catholic is free to digress in any way from any article contained in the Deposit of Faith. No appeal to public opinion or the exigencies of legal or scientific or medical expediency can exempt one from adhering at all times to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law without any deviation whatsoever. If we lived in a Catholic world, you see, there would no "debate" about abortion or contraception or perversion or divorce or embryonic stem cell research or cloning or any other allegedly "controversial" issue. While specific punitive measures to penalize those who would dare to promote such evils would be debatable among Catholics of good will, the inherently evil nature of actions proscribed by God Himself is beyond any debate at all.
Thus it is that many well meaning people have gotten themselves all worked up about three different bills dealing with embryonic stem cell research. A bill passed by both Houses of Congress propose to lift the "limits" imposed by President George W. Bush on August 9, 2001, when he issued announced his decision to issue an Executive Order limiting the use of Federal research funds for embryonic stem cells lines created by 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on that date. In the process of making this announcement, however, Mr. Bush noted that most of these embryonic stem cells were created in the process of in vitro fertilization, which he called an important tool to help infertile couples have children.
President Bush thus demonstrated his support for an inherently evil act, in vitro fertilization, accepting the fact that up to twenty or more embryonic human beings must be created to be implanted in a woman to be brought to birth. Bush did not, it should be noted, state that private and/or state government funding for embryonic stem cell research on lines created after August 9, 2001, should be prohibited. He has never opposed private or state government funding for the killing of embryonic human beings for the purposes of research worthy of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. To say that President George W. Bush, who vetoed the bill that proposed to expand Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, is acting as a "pro-life" leader in this matter is absurd. Someone who was truly "pro-life" would oppose all funding for embryonic stem-cell research and seek to make all funding illegal everywhere. Ah, the games we play to convince ourselves that that career politicians who have no understanding of simple logic, no less of Catholic truth, are our friends.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, formerly a speech writer in the administration of President George Herbert Walker Bush before his career on the Fox News Channel, said that President Bush vetoed the bill because he is opposed to murder. Really, Mr. Snow? Really? Here's the reality: George W. Bush supports the murder of preborn babies in the cases of rape, incest and instances where it is alleged that a mother's life is endangered. George W. Bush supports the murder of preborn babies by means of abortifacient contraceptives, which his administration is funding to a greater extent than that of the administration of William Jefferson Clinton and Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. The administration of George W. Bush and Richard N. Cheney supports the funding of abortifacient contraceptives by means of Title X "Family Planning" programs in this country and by means of international "family programs" abroad. As has been demonstrated on a number of occasions in the past five years, Bush's reimposition of the "Mexico City" policy in 2001, which bans the use of international family planning funding to organizations that perform or promote surgical abortions abroad, permits workers for such programs to counsel women for surgical programs after hours and off of the premises of the "international family planning" organization for which they work. In other words, the whole policy is a sham. It is a charade. George W. Bush supports the surgical assassination of preborn children in their mothers' wombs in certain circumstances. He supports the chemical assassination of preborn children at all times in all circumstances. After all, women have the "right to choose" to use contraceptives in his uninformed, ignorant view of the world.
No, they do not, Mr. Bush. No one has a right to do anything contrary to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law, thus injuring himself, body and soul, and the common good of society in the process. The civil government has a duty to stop the manufacture and marketing of any product that prevents the conception of a child or kills a child shortly after fertilization. No civil government, therefore, has any right to fund any program that dispenses these poisonous pills and devices to women in this country and around the world. Although some may think me daft for asserting the following: that it is no accident, I believe, that the cycle of violence in Iraq has been as bad as it has been since our invasion in March of 2003 at least in part because we have made it more possible for the women of Iraq to be at war with God's laws by the introduction of contraceptives, including abortifacient contraceptives, as one of our first "gifts" of American "liberty" to the Iraqi people. Every assault against the moral law has consequences, both direct and indirect, that are used by the devil to stir up people, especially those still captive to him by means of Original Sin, to greater violence and destruction than ever before. Far from being a "liberator" in Iraq, the United States has helped to enslave the Iraqi people to the blind dictates of the American bias in favor of pills and devices that kill preborn children and deny the Sovereignty of God over the sanctity and fecundity of marital relations. Such a bias is no foundation for personal virtue or social order.
President George W. Bush's veto of the bill expanding Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is thus an exercise in shoring up his political base during an election year. That is all it is. Bush knew before he vetoed the bill that the Senate was four votes short of the necessary two-thirds margin to override his veto and that the House was about fifty votes short of that margin. The veto provides him with an opportunity to be seen as opposed to "murder" when he supports the surgical and chemical assassination of babies as a matter of principle. How long will pro-life Catholics permit themselves to be conned by phony pro-life politicians who support the murder of preborn children and who support most actively the careers of public officials who support all abortions in all circumstances without any limitations whatsoever?
Similarly, Congressional efforts to be made in the next few days to pass legislation concerning "parental consent" or "parental notification" bills are exercises in pure political self-interest. No parent has any right found in the Divine positive law or the natural law to give his "consent" to the murder of his grandchild. And parental notification bills must include a "judicial bypass" provision in their texts, thereby permitting minor girls the "right" to claim that they would be harassed by their parents to get "permission" from a judge to kill their child. Pure political posturing.
To be sure, those who sought to lift the "limits" imposed by President Bush on embryonic stem cell research in 2001 were playing their own political games, trying to cater with the huge reservoir of public support for such research. They were trying to make an election year point to their political base just as Mr. Bush was. They knew that they did not have the votes to override the President's threatened veto. The supporters of unlimited embryonic stem cell research want a political issue they can use in the Fall and to help their own symbiotically-related interest groups and political action committees raise funds to help them win more seats in both Houses of Congress.
Once again, consider the words of Pope Pius XI in Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, December 23, 1922:
To these evils we must add the contests between political parties, many of which struggles do not originate in a real difference of opinion concerning the public good or in a laudable and disinterested search for what would best promote the common welfare, but in the desire for power and for the protection of some private interest which inevitably result in injury to the citizens as a whole. From this course there often arise robberies of what belongs rightly to the people, and even conspiracies against and attacks on the supreme authority of the state, as well as on its representatives. These political struggles also beget threats of popular action and, at times, eventuate in open rebellion and other disorders which are all the more deplorable and harmful since they come from a public to whom it has been given, in our modern democratic states, to participate in very large measure in public life and in the affairs of government. Now, these different forms of government are not of themselves contrary to the principles of the Catholic Faith, which can easily be reconciled with any reasonable and just system of government. Such governments, however, are the most exposed to the danger of being overthrown by one faction or another.
Our political system has revealed itself over the course of time to be unreasonable and unjust in that it is founded in the belief that men persevere in virtue on their own powers without recourse to Sanctifying Grace and that men can pursue the common good without submitting themselves in every aspect of their lives, both personal and social, to the Deposit of Faith that Our Lord has entrusted solely to the Catholic Church. Yes, the Church can adapt herself to any specific institutional arrangement that men may consider appropriate for a given country. Granted. Such institutional arrangements must be premised upon an acceptance of the true Faith as the foundation of personal and social order. The Modern State, worshiping at the altar of religious indifferentism and cultural pluralism, has shown itself to be incapable of retarding evils. Indeed, it is the propagator of one the worst evils imaginable: that the state can be without the true God. And this Modern State is the one regarded so highly by Benedict XVI and his fellow conciliarists.
It is thus important to realize that specific policy proposals, especially those offered in election years, are designed to do one thing: raise money and win votes. Do not get lost in the "trees" of these proposals. While we must seek the good of our country as best we can, we must understand that the best way we can seek the good of the United States of America is to plant the seeds, one day at a time, for its Catholicization. We can do this by devotion to assisting exclusively at the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, by our prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, by our Total Consecration to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and offering her as many Rosaries as we can as our states-in-life permit, by our frequent use of the Sacred Tribunal of Penance, by our learning more about the lives of the saints (and reading about the saints to our children; children need to hear about the lives of the saints, not to be immersed in fairy tales or comics or such things; saints, my friends, saints, their stories are more fascinating than any work of fiction), by our fleeing from this culture of eternal death and seeking to Catholicize every aspect of our own lives. In brief, by our pursuit of sanctity.
The forest of Modernity will be ended when Our Lady's Fatima Message is fulfilled. The Modern State, a product of the errors of Russia, will be a thing of the past, the shallow, craven career politicians but a small footnote in history. Tradition will be restored in the Church and Christendom in the world. Let us continue to trust in Our Lady without fail!
Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of Good Success, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Simon Stock, pray for us.
Saint Jerome Emiliani, pray for us.
Saint Camillus de Lellis, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Symphorosa and her seven sons, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Blessed Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Blessed Francisco, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.
Sister Lucia, pray for us.
The Longer Version of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII, 1888
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Verse: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
Response: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
Verse: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
Response: As we have hoped in Thee.
Verse: O Lord hear my prayer.
Response: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Verse: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls.