Monday, July 31, 2023

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola -- 'Militia est vita hominis in terra' (Man's life on earth is a warfare)

[first published July 31, 2014]

"Everything that Jesus did, from His crying as a Babe in the cradle to His getting tired and falling asleep, to His agony in the Garden, all of that is a pattern for us to imitate."

Father John Hardon, the Jesuit who died in 2000, explains that the Person of Christ is the first attribute of the spirituality of Saint Ignatius: "Man's virtues are God's attributes."


The founder of the Jesuits -- unlike his Protestant contemporaries -- understood the true dignity of human freedom. Take a look at Father Hardon's fine essay.
"Take Lord and receive all my liberty... To Thee, Oh Lord, I return it. All is Thine... Give me Thy Love and Thy Grace for this is sufficient for me."         (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)
The First Jesuit Pope is Pope Francis. Many modern day Jesuits have betrayed the masculine personality of Ignatius and ignored the Evil One who Ignatius was always careful to discern and oppose. This has confused many conservative Catholics about Pope Francis. Pope Francis is not James Martin. The Pope  is not playing to the spirit of this age. Quite the contrary, Pope Francis is bringing a much needed dimension to the papal office which has been sorely lacking for over half a century. If John Paul gave priests the words of a Prophet and Benedict XVI taught the clergy to reverence the liturgy as a  priest, we believe Pope Francis will bring the king's ruling function to the priesthood and episcopacy. We believe the Pope has been misunderstood by his intellectual critics of the global North. A series of our defenses of the first Jesuit Pope.    

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The Memorial of Saint Benedict: Christian fraternity and male socialization

by David Pence

Saint Benedict (480-543) left the comfortable life of a university student to discipline himself as a hermit. He left the life of solitude to become  an abbot of several monasteries. He survived several poisoning attempts of monks not as dedicated to moral reform as he was. In one of those episodes, a raven clutched the poisoned bread he was about to eat and saved his life. The raven is often prominent  in the name of Benedictine institutions and pictures of the saint. He introduced an order of life (Rule of St Benedict) which regulated the prayer, study, and manual labor of men who lived together in community. He is considered the Father of Europe. Benedictine monasteries are highly independent from one another and democratic in their selection of an abbot. To this day, they number some of the holiest (and some of the most corrupt) communities in Christendom. Benedict’s Christian fraternities of work, study, and prayer were the spiritual forerunners of corporations, universities, and cities which invigorated European civilization. Benedict taught men how to live together under Christ in love. He shaped Christian masculine character in monasteries that served as the fraternal template of public life. He united men in a transcendent spiritual purpose in a specific local community under a patriarch. An excerpt of the Rule of Benedict from the Church readings for his feast day:
"Just as there exists an evil fervor, a bitter spirit which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervor which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. Monks should put this fervor into practice with an overflowing love... No one should follow what is good for himself but rather what seems good for another. They should display brotherly love in a chaste manner; fear God in a spirit of love, revere their abbot with a genuine and submissive affection. Let them put Christ above all else; and may He lead us all to everlasting life."



A contemporary "Benedict Option" would be an all-male communal group which shaped men in Christian brotherhood. These all-male communities of prayer and work would be a model for interracial brotherhood and male socialization in towns or cities. The goal of the fraternity would be to teach and socialize young males as American men regardless of color. The perfection of some men leads to the maturation of many men. Men in the spirit of Benedict pray together regularly and do physically productive work. They would introduce the Christian culture of brotherhood as active protectors and workers for the young men of a local community. This is just the kind of male maturation and sex roles needed in our cities to bring cooperation between young black men and police officers. Both policemen and black male citizens SHARE a common identity as male protectors and fellow Americans. The police officers are the officer corps of the citizen protective bond. The feminist culture of the Democratic party which dominates America's inner cities is clueless about socializing and integrating young men into our protective role as men. They seek a lesbian police chief here, and many more female officers there, but the public peace of fraternity and male protective sex roles is an enemy to them. The enmity between black men and urban police is one of the bitterest fruits of the sexual revolution. Sabotaging the ability of young males to show they are men by acting out a public protector role in manners, dress, and actions pierces the masculine heart of Christian civic culture.

The Benedict Option is masculine and fraternal. Patriarchal fraternity is the fundamental form of Christian accord which shapes public life just as the marital spousality of the male-female couple shapes domestic life. Benedictine fraternity combines physical work with prayer; otherwise it is not of Benedict. The black men of our inner cities have lost the pathway to fatherhood and maturation which industrial jobs once provided. They need a Benedict. He is the father of Europe because the ordered masculine fraternity of his monks eventually flowered into the male communal forms of work, worship, and protection called nations. Benedict built masculine religiously-ordered publics. His men were patriots of whatever land they worked. They were manufacturers (manus facto -- to make by hand). Let us honor his feast day by remembering what he did long ago, and pray that men in our country will once again imitate his fraternities of ora et labora.  


This is the road not taken to racial reconciliation. Street violence is overwhelmingly a male problem. It can only be solved by building a civic culture which can sanctify and socialize the males. There are many paths to social deviancy when men are not integrated into public protection and meaningful labor. One is seeking social recognition in the false "communities" of drugs and sexual promiscuity. Our large cities have fatally made peace with this errant path. Another errant path is chosen by much tougher males than those at the pot parties and dance clubs. They seek public recognition in violent dissent. That path wakes society up enough to start looking for solutions. Let us consider the strategy of that Italian saint who 1,500 years ago countered the dissipating cities of Europe with prayer, learning, and manual labor forged in local fraternities under God. As part of the Church’s morning prayer memorial of Benedict, she employs a 19th-century hymn:

             "Rise up O men of God!
              His kingdom tarries long
              Bring in the day of brotherhood
              And end the night of wrong."

St. Benedict was one of the four holy men we featured on All Saints Day as  "A man in full."


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

JULY 4 - The American Covenant: Brotherhood under God

[first published 4 July 2014]

David Pence writes:

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought by local militias on April 19, 1775. American militiamen were protecting a large cache of military supplies in Concord from British seizure. (If you had asked a man from Massachusetts in that glorious era what a male civil union was, he would have answered: "The local militia!")

The militias would not be enough to defeat the mighty British Army, so the Continental Army was formed by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. A few days later, the Congress commissioned George Washington as its Commander-in-Chief.
Gen. Henry Knox: self-educated artilleryman
The British evacuated Boston – on March 17, 1776 – after militia and Continental forces besieged the city for 11 months. The stalemate was turned when the Knox Expedition to the newly captured Fort Ticonderoga brought 60 tons of captured heavy artillery over difficult terrain in mid-winter to bear on the encircled British. (This is now celebrated as “Evacuation Day” in Massachusetts along with another feast of national identity: Saint Patrick’s Day.)

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.
It was, indeed, a declaration of inalienable rights:
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'

But if all men are born free and equal, why everywhere are men enslaved?
Because their fathers did not secure these rights by forming a well-ordered armed covenant with other men by which rights could be protected against tyrants, criminals, and unfettered passions. Our founding fathers made and enforced such a covenant. They protected their armaments at Concord and captured the cannons of Ticonderoga, one year before they declared on paper their Independence. As my daddy used to say: "You want to change the world? Bring large groups of armed men into agreement." That’s why we are grilling hot dogs and waving flags on July 4th.

We rejoice because men loved each other with the sacrificial love of fellow citizens under God. They broke one form of blood kinship and hereditary rule with the English to assert the more powerful and democratic bloodshed-brotherhood of republican military duty. They formed a nation for all on a brotherhood for adult males only. Their brotherly love spoke in the language of honor codes and Providence.
'That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.'
If the oft-quoted second paragraph of the Declaration is about the rights of every person in principle, then the seldom-quoted last line is about the sacred masculine blood oath which won those rights in practice. The words declaring the rights of men were sealed authoritatively one year earlier by the sacrificial fraternal acts at Lexington and Concord.

While the nation as a single organism embraces all men, women, and children, the fundamental bond which makes the nation possible through time is a trans-generational masculine fraternity of sacrifice. No authoritative covenant by men in arms – no rights of man. No communal authority – no individual liberty.

We are not the founders of our nation. The adult men of this generation are challenged to receive and transmit a patrimony already established. Some men find themselves in a time and place which demand a founding. This is not our situation in the America of today. The fireworks of the Fourth celebrate our good fortune. We are not called to found a city, but to be the watchmen of her walls already built by the sweat and bought by the blood of men who went before us. 

America is the sweetest fruit of the Protestant Reformation. Laymen had to separate themselves into the communal fellowship of nations, to free themselves from the temporal rule of the Catholic Church. (This freed the Church to clarify her spiritual mission.)

The American continents provided a vast and separate land where the dynamic interplay of the nations of Noah and the seed of Abraham might bring forth the will of Providence. Adam and his sons, Noah and his sons, Abraham and his seed, Jacob and his sons – these communal forms of patriarchal fraternity are now found in the apostolic Church and the national brotherhoods. In America they were made incarnate  by the biblical leadership structures of Protestant congregations, and the military structures of local and state militias. These sacred bonds of civic and ecclesial masculine duty settled the wilderness and – in God’s appointed time – will cast out the Father of Lies and restore all things in Christ.  

BACKGROUND: Monsieur Renan on the spiritual nature of the nation.

Dr. Pence on America as a Christian nation: part 1 and part 2.

Take some time to listen to this long interview with Harry Jaffa conducted by radio host Hugh Hewitt. The good professor explains why the meeting of our Founding Fathers (1776 Philadelphia) was one of the two or three most important events in all of human history!

Bishop Fulton Sheen on American Patriotism.

Archbishop John Ireland on Religion and Patriotism. "Next to God is country and next to religion is patriotism." This remarkable poetic work was written in the midst of the 19th century, during an era known as The Spring of Nations.   

Monday, July 3, 2023

John Ireland - the Patriotism of a Patriarch

IRELAND (L) with Mrs. Mary Hill and Alexander Ramsey 
[Mary Hill was the Catholic wife of railroad tycoon James J. Hill. The mother of ten children was able to convince her husband to make large donations to the Archbishop's building projects.

Alexander Ramsey was governor of Minnesota when the Civil War broke out; and a decade later served as Secretary of War.]

Excerpts from a speech by John Ireland (d. 1918), posted at 'The American Catholic' website:
Pagan nations were wrong when they made gods of their noblest patriots. But the error was the excess of a great truth, that heaven unites with earth in approving and blessing patriotism; that patriotism is one of earth’s highest virtues, worthy to have come down from the atmosphere of the skies. 
The exalted patriotism of the exiled Hebrew exhaled itself in a canticle of religion which Jehovah inspired, and which has been transmitted, as the inheritance of God’s people to the Christian Church:
"Upon the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, when we remembered Sion.—If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue cleave to my jaws, if I do not remember thee, if I do not make Jerusalem the beginning of my joy."
Patriotism is the vital spark of national honor; it is the fount of the nation’s prosperity, the shield of the nation’s safety. Take patriotism away, the nation’s soul has fled, bloom and beauty have vanished from the nation’s countenance. 
Patriotism is innate in all men; the absence of it betokens a perversion of human nature; but it grows its full growth only where thoughts are elevated and heart-beatings are generous. 
Next to God is country, and next to religion is patriotism. No praise goes beyond its deserts. It is sublime in its heroic oblation upon the field of battle. "Oh glorious is he," exclaims in Homer the Trojan warrior, "who for his country falls!" It is sublime in the oft-repeated toil of dutiful citizenship. "Of all human doings," writes Cicero, "none is more honorable and more estimable than to merit well of the commonwealth." 
Countries are of divine appointment. The Most High "divided the nations, separated the sons of Adam, and appointed the bounds of peoples." The physical and moral necessities of God’s creatures are revelations of his will and laws. Man is born a social being. A condition of his existence and of his growth of mature age is the family. Nor does the family suffice to itself. A larger social organism is needed, into which families gather, so as to obtain from one another security to life and property and aid in the development of the faculties and powers with which nature has endowed the children of men.
The whole human race is too extensive and too diversified in interests to serve those ends: hence its subdivisions into countries or peoples. Countries have their providential limits—the waters of a sea, a mountain range, the lines of similarity of requirements or of methods of living. The limits widen in space according to the measure of the destinies which the great Ruler allots to peoples, and the importance of their parts in the mighty work of the cycles of years, the ever-advancing tide of humanity’s evolution. 
The Lord is the God of nations because he is the God of men. No nation is born into life or vanishes back into nothingness without his bidding. I believe in the providence of God over countries as I believe in his wisdom and his love, and my patriotism to my country rises within my soul invested with the halo of my religion to my God.

Archbishop Ireland thought America had a special claim on him for its foundation in Christian brotherhood under God. Here is how he explained the country we call our own:
America born into the family of nations in these latter times is the highest billow in humanity’s evolution, the crowning effort of ages in the aggrandizement of man. Unless we take her in this altitude, we do not comprehend her; we belittle her towering stature and conceal the singular design of Providence in her creation. 
When the fathers of the republic declared "that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," a cardinal principle was enunciated which in its truth was as old as the race, but in practical realization almost unknown. 
Slowly, amid sufferings and revolutions, humanity had been reaching out toward a reign of the rights of man. Ante-Christian paganism had utterly denied such rights. It allowed nothing to man as man; he was what wealth, place, or power made him. Even the wise Aristotle taught that some men were intended by nature to be slaves and chattels. The sweet religion of Christ proclaimed aloud the doctrine of the common fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of men. 
Eighteen hundred years, however, went by, and the civilized world had not yet put its civil and political institutions in accord with its spiritual faith. The Christian Church was all this time leavening human society and patiently awaiting the promised fermentation. This came at last, and it came in America. It came in a first manifestation through the Declaration of Independence; it came in a second and final manifestation through President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Emancipation. 
In America all men are civilly and politically equal; all have the same rights; all wield the same arm of defense and of conquest, the suffrage; and the sole condition of rights and of power is simple manhood.

Born in County Kilkenny in 1838 (September 11th), John Ireland was ordained a priest in Minnesota in 1861 -- and went off to serve as a chaplain in the Civil War. In 1888 he was named the first archbishop of Saint Paul. One of his strengths was building seminaries, churches, and schools. (A review of Marvin O' Connell's excellent biography )
U of St. Thomas raised a statue to its founder

"A person may be faithful; he may have the power to utter hidden mysteries; he may be discriminating in the evaluation of what is said and pure in his actions. But the greater he seems to be, the more humbly he ought to act, and the more zealous he should be for the common good rather than his own interest."
                                      (Pope St. Clement, martyred about 99 AD)