RELIGION, NATION, MARRIAGE: THE LOYALTIES OF MEN
PRAY, WORK, STUDY, PROTECT: THE DUTIES OF MEN


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

SOLEMNITY OF SAINT PETER AND SAINT PAUL, APOSTLES, June 29: What is an Apostolic Church?

[first published June 29, 2014]

by Dr. David Pence

Every Sunday at Mass, Catholics stand to profess in the Creed that we believe in "the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." What does it mean to say the Church is Apostolic, and why is the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul one of the ten holy days of obligation in the Catholic Church? The feast day reminds us that the Church wants us to reflect on these men and their office as apostles, in the same way we reflect on Mary’s Immaculate Conception or Christ’s Ascension into heaven. These are central truths that organize the way we understand reality and live our common life as a Church.

                                                       
Saint Paul
                                                                                 
Both Peter and Paul had their names changed in their encounter with Christ.  Saul became Paul and Simon was re-named Peter.  Christ the new Adam re-organized humanity, not as the blood sons of Adam and Eve, but now as a sacral brotherhood that would allow entry into the life of the Trinity. “Those whom He foreknew, he predestined to share the image of His Son, that the Son might be the firstborn of many brothers.” David drew Jonathan (the blood son of Saul) away from his own kinship claims to succession, into the newly anointed Davidic Kingdom.  So Christ configured the first twelve apostles - all loyal sons of Israel - into the new priesthood that would be the twelve foundation stones of the Church. Calling Paul an apostle a decade later showed that some vital aspect of the apostolic duties and office of the original Twelve would live on in other elected men through the ages. The joining of Paul to the apostolic office and his mission to the Gentiles gives evidence that the Church built on a highly localized brotherhood of Galileans was to spread all over the earth, and yet still be fully manifested in such crucial Catholic local forms as the parish Mass and the diocesan Bishop and his presbytery.

The fraternal relationship of Christ to his chosen men forms the living sinew of the new Temple, in which the presence of God will be carried to the ends of the earth. This is the sacramental order that the Church establishes as the central organism to reorder humanity under the Father. Holy Orders is the third of the sacraments which imprint an indelible mark on the soul; and, like Confirmation, it shows again how indispensable is the communion of the bishops to the Church’s sacramental order. Peter and the apostles live on in the pope and the bishops, and the bishop and his diocesan priests. These are the patriarchal fraternities that mirror the Trinity, and provide the Catholic framework for the baptizing of nations, and the public ordering of human beings necessary to prepare for the Second Coming.

To this priestly apostolic order are given particular powers to forgive sins, cast out demons, and definitively proclaim the message that God dwells among us and invites us to dwell in Him.  This priestly authority to beseech the Father -- to send the Spirit to bring us back in the presence of the Son’s sacrifice -- is the Mass. The priests have been given the keys to a mysterious "time/space machine" which binds dispersed humanity into the one Body of Christ.

                                 
"Crucifixion of St.Peter" - Rubens
                                                                       
It was Peter’s proclamation, not that Christ was the Messiah (a big deal in itself) but that he was the Son of the living God, that evoked from Christ His ordaining of the Petrine office. Christ did not award Peter’s faith. In fact, he told him clearly that Peter was not talking on his own. The Holy Spirit allowed Peter to profess the divinity of Christ, and upon that central theological truth was the Church built. The real rock is not so much Peter, but the accurate testimony of Peter that Jesus is God-become-man.  Christ is the cornerstone, and the apostles are the twelve foundation blocks. The keys are given to Peter to unlock mysteries in teaching, and unlock jail cells in releasing men from their sins. It is no mistake that the second reading of the feast day is an angelically engineered jailbreak for Peter -- recalling an earlier prison tomb that was evacuated so that hell might be harrowed. The priestly powers  are conferred, not on every man who chooses Christ, but on certain men whom Christ chooses.  Peter was not Superman dressed like a fisherman who burst out of prison to work miracles.  He was Peter who was led out of prison by an angel, and called out of his fishing boat by Our Lord. And that Peter was given the authority to work the miracles of healing the sick and, more importantly, forgiving men their sins.

Christ asked, “Who do men say the Son of Man is?”  Whenever Christ called himself the Son of Man, he was affirming his human identity. In Hebrew, he would have called himself the Son of Adam.  Peter, by power of the Holy Spirit, answers Christ’s directed question to the apostles about his identity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was the instance the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter, speaking for the whole church with an infallible statement. We share that infallible authority every time we also comply with the Spirit, and read Scripture or profess the Creed together at Mass. It is all part of being an apostolic church with real authority given by Christ through the Spirit.

In these recent weeks of the Church liturgical year, we meditated on the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Trinitarian nature of God on Trinity Sunday, and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist on Corpus Christi. Today let us give thanks and praise for the Apostolic priesthood that bridges  those spiritual realities and our lives in the practice of our sacramental life. The rule of the Father and filiation of the Beloved Son passed down through the Scriptures find in the Eucharistic Apostolic fraternity that restoration of brotherhood under the Father meant from the beginning as the destiny of man.  

                                                       

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, JUNE 25

by A. Joseph Lynch

I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

THE END OF ROE: Roe has fallen - and not just during the month of the Sacred Heart, but on the very Feast of the Sacred Heart itself! While the sexual libertines celebrate gay "love" and "pride month" Catholics the world over rejoice at love's true victory. Indeed, when asked about his appointment of three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, Trump uncharacteristically took little credit for the decision, instead saying, "God made the decision." 

FRANCIS ON UKRAINE: Although Pope Francis has been far too critical of Russia in regards to Ukraine, we're glad to see he has recently stated that Russia was provoked into fighting and that the war cannot be reduced to "good guys" versus "bad guys".

SCOTUS PROTECTS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: The US Supreme Court has struck down a Maine law that banned any federal funds from making their way to religious schools. The ruling is yet another win for religious liberty.


II. AMERICAN POLITICS

BREAKING UP RUSSIA: The US government’s Helsinki Commission suggests breaking up Russia in the supposed name of "decolonization". The idea isn't a new one. Zbigniew Brzezinski pushed the idea all the way back in the 1990s. Destroying Russia is the dream of the neocons and neoliberals - doing so would mean Russia would be too weak to stop the US and its allies from pillaging the nation of all its natural resources while denying China a pivotal ally in Eurasia. The last several months have proved, however, that this neocon dream will never become a reality.

BIDEN GOING SOFT ON SAUDIS: With the cost of gasoline on the rise and environmentalists keeping Democrat leadership from opening up US lands to more oil development, Biden is desperately in need of Saudi oil - which is why he's doing a 180 in regards to the MbS assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But Biden is not the only Democrat hypocrite concerning Khashoggi. Kamala Harris posted this tweet about Trump's handling of the murder: “It’s been 1 year since the horrific, premeditated murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia. And Trump has yet to hold Saudi officials accountable." I wonder what she's tweeting now?

US-MEXICO STRAINED RELATIONSHIP: Mexico's president is standing up to Biden's cynical support for war in Ukraine, calling it an immoral proxy war that sacrifices the lives of Ukrainians in the hope of hurting Russia. In order to further express his displeasure, he shocked the Biden administration by boycotting Biden's Summit of the Americas. Clearly be it US-Mexico relations or Russian sanctions, Biden's foreign policy is turning out to be an utter disaster.


III. THE NATIONS

BLOCADING KALININGRAD: Lithuania is edging towards war with Russia over the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Lithuania and Poland but isn't physically connected to the rest of Russia proper. Lithuania, in the name of sanctions, is using the sanctions to justify its violation of treaties with Russia, and with it international law, to partially blockade the Russian exclave. Russia has demanded Lithuania lift the partial blockade - which is denying the transport of some 50% of Russian goods to Kaliningrad - or else face consequences.

UKRAINE'S LIES EXPOSED: Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Ukraine is now learning this truth as day-by-day its defeat becomes ever clearer. Now outlets from The American Conservative to The Daily Beast are writing of Ukraine's pending doom. Axios now reports news from Ukrainian officials that the nation is suffering 1,000 casualties per day in Donbas - a number far higher than previously said (and likely still far below the real numbers). When will Ukrainian leaders and their allies in the US, EU, and UK come to their senses and make peace with Russia?

RUSSIA'S INDUSTRIAL WARFARE: Russia is not only winning in Ukraine, but it is also proving to be a superior power to the US and its NATO allies in terms of war-making capabilities. According to the anti-Russian establishment Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) - the world’s oldest and the UK’s leading defense and security think tank - Russia's industry is far better equipped to fight a war than the US or its allies. According to its recent report, the US is decreasing its production of artillery shells and missiles - and were it to fight in parity with the Russians in this regard, the US would run out of shells and missiles in just ten days to three weeks. What's worse for Ukraine, a Ukrainian intel official has stated that it cannot win the war without more weapons systems and armaments from the US and its allies. Given the analysis of the world's oldest defense think tank - that the US simply cannot keep pace with Russia's industrial warfare - Ukraine's days are numbered. 

FRENCH ELECTION UPSET: The conservatives are on the rise in France, jumping from a mere two seats in French legislature a decade ago to nearly one hundred today. While we remain strongly suspect of the National Rally party, we see the rise of any conservatism in France as something to celebrate. More from Dr. Steve Turley.


IV. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION

2ND AMMENDMENT RULING: The Supreme Court has struck down a law that all but took away a citizen's ability to carry a concealed gun outside the home. The ruling is seen as a win for private gun rights, yet the communal-protective-duty aspect of the second amendment has been overlooked once again. As is the case with the "right to life" crowd, the gun rights activists must turn away from seeing the gun as the right of a private individual for mere self-defense and instead understand it as a means of carrying out a man's duty to protect his community. A man has a duty to protect, therefore the he has the right to bear arms. That's how we should think of the second amendment. 

JAPAN REJECTS GAY MARRIAGE: In another surprising victory for life, Japan has rejected gay marriage - and if Justice Thomas has his way, yesterday's abortion ruling might soon pave the same way for the US. More from Dr. Steve Turley.

THE LAW AND WOMEN'S CLOTHING: A French court has overturned a local decision to allow Muslim women the ability to practice their faith by wearing the chaste "burkini" to local swimming venues. What hasn't been challenged - much less overturned - is the same locale's decision to allow topless women swimmers. Meanwhile in the US, a federal court has ruled against a school dress code that mandated girls wear skirts. The tide may be turning against abortion, but the fight for women's dignity continues.

FOXNEWS PRO-TRANS: FoxNews is not a social conservative platform. It's first and foremost a neocon platform - and neocons are more often than not anything but social conservatives. Case in point: FoxNews shocked its views in support of a "trans" teenager and family

Friday, June 24, 2022

From Personal Piety to the Social Kingship of Christ: The Ordered Loves of the Sacred Heart

Originally posted June 8, 2018 by David Pence

2019 Update: June is not "Pride" month but the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated liturgically on the Friday following the second Sunday after Pentecost with the Immaculate Heart of Mary honored the Saturday after. We invite you to keep Catholic time with us today as we reflect on this solemnity - the highest and holiest liturgical celebrations - with the words of the late Dr. David Pence. -A.J.L. 

- - -

"There are others who reckon this same devotion burdensome and of little or no use to men who are fighting in the army of the divine King... [they] see it rather a type of piety nourished not by the soul and mind but by the senses and consequently more suited to the use of women, since it seems to them something not quite suitable for educated men."
(Leo XIII 1899 encyclical Consecrating the Whole Human Race to the Most Sacred Heart)


Pope Francis says to trust the practices of the faithful people. "Reality is more important than ideas." But Really! All these bleeding hearts and pierced sides, talking angels and burning souls and then the secrets of a beautiful lady sealed by the miracle of the Sun. The Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the white and red lights of Divine Mercy from the wounded side of Christ, "entering the wounds to reach the heart," the promise of Fatima, the conversion of Russia, and the Kingship of Christ. Do we really have to treat this mish-mash of peasant practices and apparitions as  reality?  Could these disparate peasant devotions instruct an army which awaits the general orders for the day?  Men should not run away... a convergence is appearing from the ruins of the bloody 20th century.  The messages come from children and virginal young women. Old ladies have long heeded them. Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.
                                                                      

Kaki Katsuhiko (1872-1961), in preaching the Shinto nationalism that would propel Japan against the western imperialists colonizing Asia, gave speeches to the military called "One Heart, One Body." He was a law professor and a scholar of Shinto classics as well as a professor at the Japanese Naval  Academy for the 25 years before Pearl Harbor. He was the major intellectual/spiritual force who  welded law, statecraft, religion and military identity together to forge the Japanese people into that incredible social organism that defeated China and then Russia before expelling the British from Hong Kong and Singapore.  "One Heart, One Body, One Head." That is exactly the language he had taught. American soldiers learned to respect the resolve of that one heart as a fighting force, while Chinese civilians grew to hate the "Japanese devils" for their unspeakable barbarism. But no man can look at the history of the 20th century and fail to see there was some fundamental spiritual difference between the "Mystical Body of Japan" and those other bloody 20th-century forces of Soviet scientific socialism and the armed Darwinism of the German Reich. No man should hear the language of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart and One Body and dismiss these categories as the sentimentality of old ladies. There lurks a Serpent much more devious and horrible than any of the armies of the world wars. A great Heart beats and a Mystical Body is stirring to expel that monster.

The disciplines of the First Fridays and First Saturdays are deeply Eucharistic. We should remember that in 1673 (St Margaret Mary Alacoque) and 1879 (Sister Mary of the Divine Heart), frequent and early reception of Holy Communion was not common. A profound culture of love has been formed by the monthly devotions to what Pope John Paul II called "the alliance of the hearts." Buttressed by the liturgical reforms and sensibilities of the early twentieth century, these devotions set a rhythmic metronome for the practice of Catholic parish life: daily Mass and Communion, monthly confession, and daily meditation on the life of Christ through the Rosary. The Catholic week is centered on Sunday when the Father created the heavens and the earth, the Son rose from the dead and the Spirit inflamed the hearts of the faithful. Catholics devote Friday to acts of Penance and the Passion. Thursdays recall the institution of the Eucharist and that pivotal struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Saturdays are Marian -- a day of faithful anticipation that the Tomb will become a womb bringing forth the first-born of creation. The renewal of the liturgical year in the last century was preceded by the renewal of the Catholic week by the devotions of the hearts. Those disciplines started out as monthly prayer practices, but they led to the daily and weekly keeping of Catholic time that would mark strong parish life. The centrality of the bishop and the Eucharist in the local Church emphasized at Vatican II was prepared for by setting hearts aflame for the Heart of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is hard to convey the Real Presence in words; it is hard to miss His Presence in a church, quiet and full, during Thursday Holy Hour. The binding of the peoples' hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary draws our thoughts to think with the mind of the Church and our wills to carry out the Will of the Father. This Christocentric culture consolidates and renews a worldwide community of shared attention and memory in the synchronous practices of local parish life.

These devotions linking the heart of the believer with the heart of Christ were meant to draw all of humanity into the human heart of Jesus. This targeting of humanity and not just particular souls as the recipient of grace was not always the emphasis of the Church. It was considered noteworthy that the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Encyclical of Pope John XXIII in 1963 as well as  the opening statement of the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council were addressed not only to bishops and Catholics, but to all men of good will. Indeed, Pacem in Terris was much more about the harmony and order that is at the root of reality than a plea for "no more war." It opened: "That a marvelous order predominates in the world of living Beings and in the forces of nature is the plain lesson of modern research." Against the ontological conflict and violence inherent in the western ideologies of Marxism and Social Darwinism, the Catholics threw their lot in with the great philosophies and cultures of primordial order and harmony. Love made the Universe. Love called forth man in creation. And in thousands of chapels across the world, mostly women pondered the love of God in the loving hearts of Mary and Jesus. Countering the shadowy ether of practical atheism, the daily and weekly practices of Catholics held up the Body of Christ offered to the Father. Amidst the rubble of the great wars, the sanctuary lamps in parishes across the globe lit up the faces of the faithful reciting  more prayers, kneeling for more confessions, attending more Masses and receiving more Holy Communions. Attention and Piety were centered not upon a thousand different village saints but focused through the Mass and the Rosary on the central reality of Christ in nature and history.  The physical sinews for the theology of Communio were being drawn taut. When the young virgin asked the Supreme Pontiff (the Holy Father) to consecrate all of humanity to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, there were years of pause. Popes had spoken often to fellow bishop-apostles and other times to the whole Catholic faithful. The pope and his priests were used to speaking definitively with effect to a specific target. They repeated the words of Christ in special sacramental settings --"This is my Body", "Go, your sins are forgiven." The pope was careful with his words. Generally the Church invited people as individuals to enter her sacramental life and be consecrated. The Church was one kind of society; the world was another. What should be said to humanity? What could be said to all of mankind? The pope balked at the consecration of humanity. But the realization grew deeper as the Church reflected on her identity as Church. The sons of Adam and the descendants of Noah needed to hear a call from the Ark. Humanity is the Church in potential. In the Vatican Council's reflection on the Church (Lumen Gentium), the term "People of God" was used  at different times to describe three different corporate realities: the Jews, the whole Church, and mankind from the beginning.
                                                                       

Pope Leo XIII did consecrate mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899. Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942, one year before his encyclical on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. Henri de Lubac and the Communio theologians would remind us that the Church could not be fully the Body of Christ without embracing her mission as fulfilling the destiny of mankind. The nations apart from the Church were parts of the Body not yet awakened to their identity as members. Uniting ourselves with the Heart of Jesus shapes the whole human race into the eusocial species that we were meant to be from the beginning. This clarity about the Church's message to humanity as a whole emerged in the century that humanity organized a level of technological murder through ideologies and racial empires and nation states which dwarfed the acts of Cain through the previous millennia.

In 1925, Pius XI said that the annual consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart would be done each year on the Feast of Christ the King which he established in that encyclical. The empires of the Romanovs, Hapsburgs, and Ottomans had fallen in WWI. The Papal States had been taken 50 years before that. In Catholic Mexico and Catholic Spain the forces of Communism which had butchered the Orthodox clergy in Russia were now killing the Catholic priests. The war against clerics and the priestly Eucharistic authority of Christ had taken a bloody turn. Yet it was just then the pope established a Sunday every year to reassert the one monarchy that would never fall. The empires deposed their rulers, the mobs killed their priests, and just then the pope reminded us that mankind still had a monarch. The pope crowned the liturgical year with the Kingship of Christ, not simply to announce his regal return in the end times but to reassert the Church's life is meant to build His Kingdom on this earth.  Five decades later,  a new decade of the rosary was dedicated to that truth of building the kingdom of God. Catholics began to hear for the first time that same charge in the Pater Noster- an old prayer they had said all their lives. The Holy Father said every faculty of man -- intellect, will, and body -- owed allegiance to the King. There was no square inch of social life or earthly territory that wasn't His.

A century later our allegiance abides in Christ the King. Christ as the Head of a Body with a beating Heart makes a King's claim on our hearts. The loss of Papal States and the passing of Christian monarchs has actually cleared our field of vision to see how we might better institute Christ's Social Kingship. The Soviet Union is no more but Holy Russia reappears. The Roman Empire has disappeared but Israel is a nation. The Church was torn asunder but Christian nations are on every continent. The world of politics, of war and peace, of poverty and development is not immune to His rule. We dare not say, "the business of the Church is souls; we leave the life of nations in the bloody fangs of Social Darwinists".  How then shall we bring public life in concordance with the rules of love?

Political men must love the Father and love mankind as the Heart of Jesus does. This filial love for the Father invigorates and disciplines our special ardor for our countrymen and nation. Brotherhood under a Father is the public love of priests and bishops forming the living foundation stones for the Church. That is the Apostolic template that Christ loved into existence. Public brotherhoods of protective duty in defined territories under legitimate authorities constitute the form of love that makes the nations. Christ ordered his apostles not to reject the nations but to baptize them. He had been incorporated and instructed about his male duties in the Jewish nation by his father Joseph who came from the House of David (ed:2/2019)
    Losing this Christian fraternal sense of patriotism has been disastrous for American social life. The rejection of color-blind Christian brotherhood as the means and goal of civic life has destroyed our urban black communities. Ignoring the tough purity and work codes of Christian manhood has turned our white working-class neighborhoods into drug ridden spiritual wastelands. Renewing a public Christian code of manhood and brotherhood cuts across the debilitating battle lines of color and class. Forging the Christian alliance of hearts can reverse our cultural disintegration and we can reverse it quickly. We are commanded as men to participate in the public brotherhood of protection and work. This is one of the ordered loves of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His brotherhood of protection and work was the Apostolic Church-a holy nation of priests.  Civic publics are spiritual communal bodies. To build the Kingship of Christ there must be authoritative male bodies in specific cities and countries living out this Christian natural pattern of love. Christ's heart wept for Jerusalem not Damascus. He ordained a band of Galilean working men (not an audience of ladies and gentlemen) into a public corporate body. Kingdoms require knights and they are established in homelands. The feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that "all you need is love," but it is the structured love of religion, nation, and brotherhood that makes peace on earth.

Ordered masculine love is the way to peace. It is the antidote to murder and war. It is not to be trifled with. Masculine love is not erotic -- that is fake news. Incest destroys the family unit. Homosexuality destroys the public nature of civic and ecclesial brotherhoods. Its kiss is no more innocent than the kiss of Judas. Masculine love is a public brotherhood of fathers defined by laws and lands. It is high and noble. It allows us to meet the Russians and Chinese and Iranians as brothers in their own neighboring communities with their own customs and rules of law and leadership.

When a Cain picks up his weapon, the brotherhood moves to stop him. But when an Esau sets up his separate territory, Jacob respects his brother's border. Pope Francis says the high calling of politics is to establish fraternity. Civic fraternity is meant to rule, to exercise authority. The Sixties are over. The centuries of revolution are over. It is time to accept the duties of adulthood, the exercise of authority, and the public ordered love of territorial fraternity.

The Sacred Heart gives a physical form to the greatest of all loves -- the love of Christ for the Father and the love of Christ for humanity through his particular loves for His mother and His apostolic brothers.  The Church enters into this love through a very definite form: the Eucharistic Liturgy. All of the devotions of the Hearts, Fatima, and Divine Mercy have led to a deeper Eucharistic sensibility. Masculine brotherhood and male-female love also have defined physical forms within which they are expressed. The nation and marriage are these forms of covenant love. The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Kingship of Our Lord are deeply entwined. All of humanity is being drawn into a kind of force-field defined by the Trinitarian template of ordered love. Public territorial boundaries of nations for men are foreshadowed by the territorial divisions of the diocesan Church. The paired love of man and woman in the unity of marriage is a sacrament of Christ and His Church. The wide encompassing waters of mercy that wash all of mankind come by way of a narrow wound in his side. The widest of loves are possible only if we conform to the limiting liberation of the fundamental resonating communal forms of ordered love.

John Eudes (1601-1680) a saint priest of France fostered devotion to the Sacred Hearts but never emphasized that above all "Jesus loves you." Fr. Eudes knew that above all ( and this cannot be repeated too often) Jesus loves His Father. Putting on Christ means putting on His loves and while that includes each of us, only the moderns think it starts there.  Eudes emphasized that putting on the heart of Jesus is "considering that the Lord Jesus  Christ is your true head and that you are a member of His body...He desires that whatever is in Him may live and rule in you, as the head lives and rules in the body...(let) these words be fulfilled in you: Glorify God and bear him in your body, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in you.. He earnestly desires that you serve and glorify the Father by using all your faculties as if they were His." The good priest also grounded this devotion in the sacramental life of the church and 300 years before the present Catechism, he explained the sacraments of initiation: "These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from Baptism. They are increased and strengthened through Confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the Holy Eucharist, they are brought to perfection."

The forms of Christ's love are not restricted to the sacraments but are most manifest in them. Every man does not have to be baptized and confirmed as a Catholic for the Christian template of love to order the bonds of mankind. Christ has established forms of order. Conforming the "holy things" of matter and person in the sacraments exerts a field effect in cultures shaped by Christianity. The Catholic plan for politics is not a Catholic monarch in every country, though we have a special fondness for a good Catholic king. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council asked the leaders of the world to see them as a template. Their interracial brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God was a sign of how the nations could be. The Council Fathers established a sacral formation within which the great Spirit movement of Pentecostalism could be made incarnate.  The Marxists were wrong that class conflict was the driving force of human history. The capitalists and Darwinists were wrong that the nations, races, and men must be in perpetual conflict. Nations can be fraternities and live in fraternity. Man is meant for community. Men are meant to be brothers, as surely as man and woman are meant to be spouses. National flags are not above the altar, but they are found in churches, because the flags of nations are as fundamental signs of love and loyalty as the wedding bands of spouses.

Large groups of men in armed agreement should not evoke an image of Nazis. Large groups of men in armed agreement describes the form of love and loyalty that defeated the Nazis. It was religious men in arms and the nations at war which ended the brutal rule of scientific socialists. It was Catholic movements like the Cristeros and Catholic leaders like Franco, de Gaulle, Kennedy, and Diem who played their roles as armed Catholic nation-men in the fight against the atheist ideologies of their century. May a hundred such men and a hundred such nations emerge in this century to work in harmony with the Church in pursuit of peace. The nations are not meant to war with one another, but sometimes only a just war will bring a true peace. We must make peace with one another. Our only permanent enemy is the Devil.
     
The devotions to the Sacred Heart deepen our sensibility of being one with humanity in the Body of Christ. In the soul, in the parish, and in the the celebration of the Mass, the acts of personal piety link us in our common humanity united in the Heart and Body of Christ. (ed:2019 When we love in the same order that Christ loved we carry out the anthropological imperative of mimetic desire which Rene Girard discusses. We desire what Christ desires--He is a good man to mimic).   The Eucharist sends us out to incorporate the rest of humanity into this deep bond which is our common ultimate destiny. On the way to that perfection of the Mystical Body, we form the other fundamental societies and love covenants that radiate out from the core love. They are shaped by a field effect from the electromagnetic bonds of Trinitarian and sacramental life. Civic and marital bonds feed back by providing a culture for the present age that allows the ecclesial culture of eternity to be expressed in worship. The loves we live out in the rhythms of daily, weekly, and yearly Catholic Eucharistic culture are stronger, more truthful, and more full of joy than the disintegrating self-absorption of the modern west and the hateful violence of the jihadists. From our simple parish cultures of prayer and praise let us build the Kingdom of God. Let our hearts burn with the love of the Father and the bond of brotherhood in the priesthood. Let our love for the interiority of the Virgin and the practical kindness of the Mother lead us to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  Let our love of God be made manifest in the unified hearts of our marriages and domestic life. Let our love of God be manifest in our love of countrymen and reverence for our flag. Let our nation seek fraternity with the other nations reflecting the Heart of Christ for all mankind. Let our loves be His loves. He taught us His loves on the cross. Above all,  He loved His Father and obeyed His Will unto death. He loved His Blessed Mother and His priestly brotherhood. He looked down from the Cross and bequeathed them to each other. He loved the poor and outcast of humanity at the periphery. He looked to His side and promised Paradise to the repentant thief. He loved his country, telling the women of Jerusalem to save their tears for the beloved city of his countrymen. He too had wept for the city to be leveled a few decades after  the King of the Jews (as Pilate authoritatively inscribed) was lifted up.  Let us unite ourselves in the loves of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as we build the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

CORPUS CHRISTI: Lessons from Nature and History

First published Thursday June 19, 2014


Dr. Pence writes on this feast day, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (a holy day of obligation in the universal Church; and a national holiday in countries such as Brazil, Portugal, and Poland) --


The feast of Corpus Christi seldom inspires dialogue with Protestants. This is unfortunate, for much more than theological formulations of justification and faith, it is the sacral priesthood’s irreplaceable role in forgiving sins and bringing the Eucharist to the faithful that divides Catholic and Protestant.  The consecrated Apostolic Priesthood and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist are indivisible truths. The faithful Protestant with a Bible in his hand, a heart for his Savior, and the name of Jesus on his lips cannot fathom that liturgical actions of the sacramental priesthood are an indispensable means to proximity with Christ. The personal faith of the Reformers has trumped the priestly works of the Papists.

In the same way as Andrew did with Peter, Catholics run to our brothers saying: “We see the Messiah. Come and be with Him; come and be with us.” We know that believing Protestants want to hear us, but it is a hard saying. They want to be close to Christ. They say He is their personal friend and Savior, and they mean it. But especially during Corpus Christi processions and Eucharistic Adoration hours, the Catholics seem so radically different.

Catholics kneel and say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God” – expressing the awe and veneration owed to the God who made heaven and earth. We join the centurion in saying that we are not worthy that Christ should enter under our roof. In the Holy Communion that immediately follows, He enters under our roof and our souls are healed in an act of incorporation beyond any act of friendship.
                       
   from "Last Communion of Saint Jerome" by Botticelli

Why don’t Catholics display the continued unrelieved intensity of a “personal relationship with Christ”?  Because we live in a different sort of emotional universe.  At times we do not dare the familiarity of friendship, as we take off our sandals with Joshua and “fall down and worship.” Other times we know the communion of theosis for which friendship is too sparse a term.  We admire the intensity of our Evangelical friends, but we should neither envy nor imitate the one-dimensional emphasis on friendship that compensates for centuries apart from the Eucharistic presence. Receiving the Lord in the Eucharist introduces a kind of interpersonal consummation, which generates an abiding peace.  This rhythmic liturgical experience of Presence is less excitable than the enthusiasm of college friends; but like marriage, it is a deeper communion.

Corpus Christi invokes an irresistible lesson from the Book of Nature as well.  Bacteria were the first forms of physical life created 3.8 billion years ago. Bacteria live as single cells or in colonies. They consist of prokaryotic cells, which have no nuclei and multiple coverings – a membrane, a cell wall, and a capsule. Around 2 billion years ago, one of the great transformations in life-forms occurred as certain bacteria lost some of their external coverings (the capsules) and merged with other bacteria to form something new: eukaryotic cells. This type of cell was larger and had a nucleus. Most importantly, the new cells had fewer coverings, and the membranes of their cells were capable of much more complex social interaction with other cells. These cells would develop over time with a capacity to “incorporate” into multi-cellular organisms.

These new eukaryotic cells would become the multi-cellular organisms of the protist, fungal, plant and animal kingdoms. [The protist kingdom is that of amoeba and algae; the ‘silly putty’ of the biological world, or the living goo from which emerges the more defined forms of plants and animals].

                                       


I have always pictured this event as the best biological analogy to the capacity of persons with spiritual souls to be incorporated in the Body of Christ. There is something about shedding an outer self to allow a deeper bonding in a new multidimensional organism that resonates. The sacraments of Initiation and Holy Orders seal our souls with indelible characters that configure us in a radically transformed mode of living. The feast of Corpus Christi calls us to consider this truth: that Christ is fully present in the Eucharist and being incorporated in Him (and participating in His Sonship) is the way members of our species are going to live forever in the Father’s household. 



UPDATE:  From a letter of J.R.R. Tolkien to his son (November 1, 1963) --
"But for me, that Church of which the Pope is its acknowledged head on earth has as its chief claim that it is the one which has (and still does) ever defended the Blessed Sacrament and given it most honor and put it as Christ clearly intended in prime place.  'Feed my sheep' was His last charge to St. Peter… It was against this that the West European revolt (or the Reformation) was really launched – 'the monstrous fable of the Mass' – and faith/works a mere red herring."



"Oculi omnium in te spirant, Domine:
 et tu das illis escam in tempore opportune."

(The eyes of all look towards you in hope, O Lord:
 and you give them their food in due season.)


"Ecce Panis Angelorum, factus cibus viatorum."

(Behold this bread of Angels
Which hath become food for us on our pilgrimage.)

Sunday, June 12, 2022

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

Originally published June 15, 2014; additive edits June 11, 2017 by Dr. David Pence


"When we speak of the Trinity, we must do so with caution and modesty, for, as St. Augustine saith, nowhere else are more dangerous errors made, or is research more difficult, or discovery more fruitful."    
                    (Saint Thomas Aquinas)

The coming of Jesus announced a Messiah for the Jews, proclaimed a new Kingdom amidst the nations, dethroned the Enemy Prince, and revealed the mystery we contemplate on this day -- that the God-made-man is one Person in a Trinity.

"Even our God is a community," said G.K. Chesterton. Humans will overcome death only by entering into this triune God as sons of the Father, incorporated into the Body of the Son. The Spirit will bind us properly if we humbly let Him act… and He acts through the sacramental Church. He indelibly conforms our souls into Christ's Body through Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. The Trinity, marriage and the family, Holy Orders and the Church – these are the communions we know as Catholics.

Our proposal here at Anthropology of Accord is that the Communio theology which takes its origin from the metaphysical reality we celebrate today must be further developed as the theological and anthropological principle of the public life of the Church and nations. The three persons of the Trinity are revealed to us in the masculine forms of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A serious theology will ponder and learn from the masculine apostolic priesthood and the male covenantal nature of the prototype nation: Israel. The Communio nature of the Eucharistic church and marriage are enriching themes of the last century. They have their champions and journals and institutes. Masculine public communio is a bit underdeveloped. Ubiquitous, fundamental, and yet (for fear of embarrassment) unmentioned.

The communal bond of men in nations is the natural polity which ensures the freedom of those more sacred bonds of Church and marriage. In different places and times in history the masculine public polity might have been fellow tribesmen and a warrior chief, or the Emperor and his subjects, or the 'polis' and its citizens. But, today, from Singapore to Germany, from Canada to China, from Brazil to Poland, and from Egypt to the Philippines, the natural bond of men in public communal work and protection has developed in the form of territorial nations. The Scriptural template of this masculine national form is the ritual of circumcision and the forging of one nation under a Law from the twelve tribes of Israel. The nation was built on a forgiving act of brotherly reconciliation. It is deeply tied to the possession of a common land. It is ordered by a common law. Leaders rise as prophets, priests or rulers to keep the communal body in concordance with God. It is our hope that Catholic theologians and philosophers would spend some fraction of their attention on history and the relationships of the natural armed authorities, which constitute public life and the legitimate State.

Possibly the next three graduate students who request to study the Theology of the Body might be reassigned to a project studying how Singapore got to be the polity it is today. We could call it the "theology of the corporate body" if that would make this ancient study of the natural polity more palatable. It was such men making civic agreement and the peace of 'Tranquillitas Ordinis' whom Christ had in mind when He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Marriage is an important but not all-embracing covenant. Neither the Church nor the nations are families writ large. Christ did not found His church on a sacral marriage, nor was the bond of sacred honor which forged America the union between George and Martha Washington! Both the Catholic Church  and the American nation are founded on sacral covenanted brotherhoods of adult men.  Religious and political public life are both defined by public communal and masculine loves which include the apostolic priesthood and the particular territorial loves of men for their fatherland. Christ wept over Jerusalem, not Antioch. More than 2000 years have passed and Jerusalem once again is guarded by a nation called Israel. Christ never ordered the apostolic Church to move beyond the nation. He said, "Baptize the nations." Those of us who believe the Trinity is the fundamental form of love and life can no longer ignore in our religious discourse the public form of communion -- the life of nations -- that God promised Abraham 4000 years ago.

The 20th-century Catholic thinker who best navigated in the waters of Christianity and the formation of political cultures in history was Christopher Dawson:
                                               

The most articulate explanation of the dilemma of present-day Catholic political thought, scissored between the sacral relations of marriage and the Church, has been presented by Russell Hittinger.

On Trinity Sunday let us pay heed to the nature of our communal bonds – all of which in their proper order give glory to that greatest of bonds – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.




UPDATE: Here is an earlier review of Christopher Dawson’s Judgment of the Nations.

And a fascinating address given by Professor Hittinger on the troubled interaction of nations and theology.