Friday, November 25, 2011

Jansenism: the gift of grace requires no human assent

"Jansenism doesn't seem to breed so much a love of God as a love of asceticism."
                                                     (Flannery O'Connor)

Pius XI in the 1920s mentioned one of the ways the Church countered the heresy that is often termed 'Catholic Calvinism':

"... the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was instituted at a time when men were oppressed by the sad and gloomy severity of Jansenism, which had made their hearts grow cold, and shut them out from the love of God and the hope of salvation."

The Jansenists -- unlike their Jesuit opponents -- discouraged frequent Communion.  Their main base was the Port-Royal Abbey in Paris.

Blaise Pascal is often cited as one of their most renowned followers.  But Peter Kreeft insists that Pascal was neither a Jansenist nor a Protestant.  (He says the 17th-century Frenchman -- along with Saint Augustine and C.S. Lewis -- is among the most powerful ecumenical bridges between Catholicism and Protestantism.)

"Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God, or of ourselves."   (Pascal)

The Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski (d. 2009) on the bitter polemics between the Jesuits and the Jansenists:
"Good arguments may be advanced to show that both sides were right in their accusations.  Jansenists were on firm ground in saying that they were faithful to the Augustinian teaching, and quite justified in scenting Pelagian errors in the Jesuit theology. The Jesuits were no less right in demonstrating the fundamental conformity of Jansenist tenets with Calvin’s theory of predestination."
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, on the highest point in Paris, was consecrated in 1919.
The following year in the month of May, Margaret Mary
(who had done so much to advance devotion to the Sacred Heart)
 was canonized -- a few days before Joan of Arc.

UPDATE -- Pence sent this regarding the good of sharing masculine protective duty:
BENEDICT XV (1914-1922) …"inaugurated a reconciliation with France. Ironically he was helped here by the war he hated so much. The abrogation of the Concordat had meant the French clergy and seminarians lost their immunity from military service. Twenty-five thousand French priests, seminarians and religious were called up and went to the trenches, and their participation in the national suffering -- in sharp contrast to the non-combatant status of chaplains in the British army -- did a great deal to dissolve inherited antagonisms between Church and nation. The Pope signaled the new spirit of reconciliation by canonizing Joan of Arc in 1920, a highly imaginative symbolic gesture: 80 French deputies attended and the French government sent official representatives.” (from SAINTS AND SINNERS: A HISTORY OF THE PAPACY by Eamon Duffey)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't throw the sin of Lucifer into the teeth of Adam

Pence writes:

Animals and plants have souls (which is a characteristic of living things) but the souls of the non-human die with the being. Humans were not meant to die, but animals and plants were.

It is the devil who introduced death to the world. The created order is a physical sign of a great battle, so there is contest and death in the order BEFORE Adam was born and before Adam sinned.

Let us quit accusing man of the consequences of Satan's sin. Man joined the forces of death by his sin. Creation became disordered with his sin, because the being meant to bring order to the primordial chaos now joined forces with the instigator of the chaos.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Instant forgiveness, instant potatoes -- it's all one big mash

The journalist Rod Dreher writes:
A few years ago, when I was still a Catholic, I was at mass in a parish of the Baton Rouge diocese on the first Sunday after the diocese issued a statement saying that a previous bishop, now deceased, had molested a teenager for four years. That parish had a substitute priest for the mass I attended. He read a statement from the then-bishop, as instructed. Then that priest ordered everyone in the parish not to think about this or to talk about it.

I remember very well exactly where I was sitting when I heard that disgusting instruction from the pulpit. I was so furious I nearly stood up and walked out. I thought for a split-second, “I need to say something! This is outrageous!” But of course I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to stand out. Nor did I say anything after Mass, when I ought to have confronted that priest. I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to cause a scene. I’m still ashamed of myself. I could have changed exactly nothing, but I’m ashamed that I didn’t at least say, and say out loud, "You’re wrong, Father. Shame on you.”
Reminds me of the Minneapolis parish I attended for a year, which helped fund an area parochial school -- that is, until the principal embezzled enough funds to force its closure. When the pastor announced this to the congregation, he strongly cautioned us against any ANGER, JUDGEMENT, BITTERNESS (or any other natural human reaction that might possibly delay our immediate descent into a warm bath of compassion).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Concluding segment: Pence on the Christian Nation

This essay by Pence is the second of two parts:

While the nation as a form of masculine military agreement is as old as the biblical Israelites, the worldwide organization of men into nation states -- including present day Israel -- is a development of the last several centuries. This is not so with the other sacred institution which the Christian nation is sworn to protect. Monogamous and consensual marriage is written in the natural law of human nature and predates all known political communities. However, precisely because it is such a deep radiating source of Light illuminating the spiritual character of human nature, marriage has always been a sacred bond attacked and in need of defense. It is the usual triad that attacks: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Satan triumphed in desecrating the matrimonial bond of Adam and Eve as they lost the purity of their sacral union by turning against the Will of God. For men today, the flesh and world did most of the damage quite handily. The attempt to sacralize homosexuality, however, betrays an author beyond the weakness of the flesh and the workings of this fallen world.

Marriage has shaped the structure of domestic life, familial loyalty, and the private property of homestead. Traditional legal strictures against sexual activity have been drawn to fence in the sacral and reproductive nature of sexual intimacy reserved for the matrimonial bond. Tearing down those fences in thought, word, image, and legal deed now threatens the temple of intimacy itself.

This bond is necessary for the maturation and education of the extended dependency of human offspring. It is the basis of trans-generational work, capital accumulation, and wealth creation (Economy = ”oikos nomos” = "ordering the household"). Marriage is fitted to natural necessity, but its real origin and purpose as taught by Christ reveals the spiritual dimension of our human nature, which was “present from the beginning.” There is a unique human capacity for an intimate form of love in which a man and woman become one flesh. This sexual union reflects the spiritual capacity of man for unity, and the context in which God creates the human soul. It portends our final communal destination incorporated in the Body of Christ. No matter how diluted the civic or cultural definitions, that generative oneness of physical and spiritual being known by man and woman in the married covenant of love cannot be counterfeited in the eyes of God or men of faith. It is a sacral covenant worth fighting for in 1860 -- and worth fighting for today.

A Christian Nation to Defend the Sacred

We are a Christian nation because our loves are Christian and our protective customs are Christian. If we relinquish these forms of protection or substitute abortion and homosexuality as the “sacred” goods we promote to the world, then our Christian character will be fundamentally compromised. We fight for God, the liberty of our worship communities, the flag of our nation, the homesteads of married love, and the lives of all our children. Our worship of God is our most sacred duty, our marriages are sacred covenants, and human life is a gift from God. All these sacred goods must be protected.

We are engaged in a battle against Princes, Powers, and Principalities. The structure of our public and private bonds reflect this continual state of war. We are not clamoring for more rights. We are assuming our stations for duty. Our mothers love and protect their babies, and we men bind as one man to defend the nation. Christian personalities accept the gender-determined protective duties which are the received customs of a Christian nation. Not all Americans are Christians, but the forms of our agreements emit from the Light of the World: Jesus Christ. Like our Blessed Lord, Christian nations allow men the freedom to follow Him, and thus our national union requires no profession of faith. But the nation does entail a kind of religious oath—the adult men are bound in protective union to sacrifice our lives for the goods we hold sacred. Our sacred goods of marriage, public worship, and God’s Name are being desecrated. The protective bonds of our male groups are being polluted by a very different kind of agreement. But the fog of war is clearing and the lines of contest are made more clear. Shall we be worthy of our tradition and accept our duties as God-fearing men and women? Or shall we sing the atheist anthem of autonomy and become a genderless people deserving a different fate?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tell me Christian! Where was your God?

[Published 12/18/12]

Pence writes:

The slaughter of innocents is not a new event in Christian history.  It is a recurring reality set in contrast to the rule of the Father, the protection of just men and the embrace of mothers.  The death of innocents like the desecration of beauty is always a triumph of Babylon over Jerusalem.  It motivates our petition that “Thy kingdom come… on earth as it is in Heaven.”  For now the earth is a place contested, and no serious Christian confuses the purchased veneer of the alienated rich for the tranquility of God’s rule on earth.

We know that long ago before there were humans, long ago before there was a material universe, a deep and tranquil peace was burst asunder by a powerful self-absorbed Liar and Murderer. Since that primal act of evil – the origin of sin before original sin – God has bided His time in delivering the final judgment of separation. It is man’s fate (Adam’s original mission) that our species was created to play some central role in the final disposition of justice for that Angelic Demon and his followers.  We were born on a battlefield. Sometimes we have stripped large parts of that battlefield and the souls of men from the grip of Satan.  Too often, he has set us back, even retaking lands and cultures we once held for Christ.

We remember at our beginning when a woman tried to confront him on her own. We asked: where was her husband? Adam was missing from his protective station between the Serpent and his wife.  At Bethlehem, at another slaughter, Joseph the silent workingman was at his post. The patriarch obeyed his order, showed his mettle and for one baby boy… Herod and the devil did not get their way.

In Connecticut at the sound of armed men, the one who had been entered by evil turned his weapon on himself. We remember the greatest betrayal of innocent blood on that Good Friday morn. We remember that “Satan entered into Judas” before he did his evil deed.  Judas, too, turned coward after confronting a just man. He, too, showed the contempt that suicide adds to murder.

Every second that those brave school mothers bought for their children in their planning preparations during a quiet time and their personal courage in a violent moment, saved a life. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God and praise those valiant women.

Everywhere the rule of the Father is broken, the Evil One slithers up to prowl about for the ruin of souls.  We have ceded him too many broken homes and twisted minds and naked public squares where he displays his tyranny.

God was there in the beautiful and brave women who protected their children.  He was there in the armed men who quickly stopped the slaughter. We know too well what foul things emerge where His rule has been abandoned. Let us extend His rule.