Mystics, Martyrs and Rhetoricians

Soap BoxOr the Theology of the Soapbox

What follows in another one of my long expositions on the Theology of the Body.  I have to give a loud content warning at the outset.  There is some frank talk here about sexuality, or rather, my complaints that there is too much frank talk about such matters.  I would have asked Dawn Eden to publish this one, but she has very courageously retired from blogging.  I have to commend her on her decision; however, it is not without regret on my part.

I again want to let those I disagree with know that my intentions are honorable and I do not question their integrity or commitment to the faith.  I can take my lumps if I deserve them.

In a recent apologia for Christopher West, Father Thomas Loya makes grand assertions:

Christopher West is a bit of a mystic—in the best sense of the word. His work, which seems strange to some, is actually that of a pioneer. And like all pioneers, West is taking a lot of arrows for his courage. In the face of much resistance, West is courageous enough to invite all of us to do just what John Paul II invited us to do: to think and talk in spousal categories. Continue reading

Summer Encampment, August 7-9, 2009

Click on the image to view the Summer Encampment page. There you will find links to the advertising poster and to the registration and release form. Most of your questions should be answered there. The image in the side bar has also been updated to bring to the current Encampment page.
Encampment-Sum-2009

The Truth

Knight of the Immaculate

In 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe was negotiating with the occupying commanders for permission to publish an edition of his magazine, The Knight of the Immaculate.  The Nazis had taken control of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate, located outside of Warsaw, where St. Maximilian had one of the largest printing operations in the world.  The Nazis had sealed the printing presses with lead so that they could not be used.

They were well aware of the influence the saint had on the Polish populace and had endeavored to win him over to their cause.  The Nazis had even offered to register him as a Volksdeutsche, because of his German sounding surname, so eager were they to have him as a collaborator and propagandist.  St. Maximilian had boldly refused the offer, but kept on filling out applications for permission to publish his magazine, though in retaliation, the Nazis continued to reject them.

Finally, the saint’s perseverance paid off and by December 8, 1940 this only edition of the magazine published during the occupation reached the reading public.  St. Maximilian contributed an article called:  “Truth.”  (As far as I know, the article has never been published in English in its entirety, so I present here a translation from the Italian–a translation of a translation, but it’s the best I can do.)  You might say that it was St. Maximilian’s persistence to publish coupled with what he wrote that sealed his fate and ultimately led to his final arrest on February, 17, 1941.

St. Maximilian was canonized a martyr of charity because he gave his life for a man he did not even know.  He offered his life because he had the charity blessed by the Lord Himself as that no greater than which can be conceived (Jn 15:13).  It seems to me that this final act of charity was a seamless development of his true commitment to the common good, which led him, like Christ to say what needed to be said, even if it was dangerous to  do so.  Like Christ, St. Maximilian died for love and like Christ he was killed because he told people the truth, no matter what.

In his article, he makes several proposals which he explains and illustrates:  the truth is one; the truth is powerful; religious truth is also one; truth must be acknowledge, failure to acknowledge it does not change it; only truth can make us happy.

In simple terms the saint explained Catholic metaphysics and epistemology,  grounding human thought on the principle of non-contradiction, namely, on the fact that a thing cannot both exist and not exist at one and the same time, and therefore that one and the same thing cannot be both true and not true at one and the same time and under the same respect.  Common sense tells most of us that this principle is self-evidently true, but unfortunately, there are many today who had common sense brainwashed out of them.  For instance, Freemasonic mumbo jumbo, with its assertion of religious convictions and simultaneous pretense of being a non-confessional system, is a fundamental violation of the principle.  I have even had a Freemason on this blog scoff at the principle of non-contradiction.

Those who are willing to engage in dishonest propaganda have always been among us.  The pharisees used it to silence Our Lord.  Freemasons have used it to silence the Church, and the Nazis used it to silence St. Maximilian and his like; however, where their are real men who stand up and oppose the lie, it is never completely successful, because such men are not silent and even when we can no longer hear their voices with our ears, their deaths are an even louder and more eloquent testimony.

The picture above is the cover of The Knight of the Immaculate for January 1922 and depicts the Immaculate Queen flanked by two swords impaling the serpents and propaganda of heresy and Masonry.  This was nearly 20 years before St. Maximilian published his last article.  His mind was fixed, his will was steeled, and his intention unbending.  He knew that the truth was the only way to real happiness:

There is no one to be found in the world that does not search for happiness; indeed, in all of our actions happiness presents itself to us, in one form or another, as the end toward which we naturally tend.  However, a happiness which is not built on the foundation of truth cannot endure, because everything else is a lie.  The truth can be and is the only the unshakable foundation of happiness, for individuals and of all humanity.

But happiness comes at a cost and sometimes men have to sacrifice their personal contentment and safety so that others might live and prosper.  But for them, this is in itself an honor and a cause of true joy.  Something to think about.

Losing Neverland

Mary Martin1

Yesterday I happened upon a YouTube video of the inimitable Danny Kaye in the role of Captain Hook, singing of pirate philosophy in the TV production of Peter Pan with Mia Farrow in the title role and score by Anthony Newley (1975).  Hook, who personifies a kind of anti-chivalry, is the nemesis of Peter Pan, the perpetual boy who refuses to become a man.  Peter Pan, though he represents an opposite extreme from Hook, cannot be considered chivalrous either.  Neither Hook nor Pan are real men.  Captain Hook has indulged his brutality and Peter Pan his puerile fantasies.

I have been reflecting a great deal lately on the virtues of prowess and courtesy.  One of the classic summaries of chivalric virtues is a fivefold division:  fidelity, honesty, courtesy, prowess and largess.  In my opinion perhaps the most common extremes to which men go in terms of masculinity runs along the line that extends between prowess and courtesy.

Prowess is not only courage, but also the magnificence by which a man invests himself into a great work without counting the cost.  Prowess makes a man truly prepared for battle; however, where it is not balanced against courtesy, men simply become brutal and are committed to win “by hook or by crook,” as the pirate says:

Hit him with a hammer when his noggin is turned.
Kick his teeth in.
This is the philosophy I have learned.
And never be concerned about how you win.
Just delight that you’re winning at all.

Always fight somebody frail and small.
At first you charm or flatter him
And gently chitter-chatter him,
Then suddenly you batter him on the chin
And simply shatter him;
It doesn’t matter how you win.

On the other hand, courtesy is a high-minded regard for the person, no matter who he or she is.  It is the unbending standard of fair play, by which we rule every engagement of love or war, and everything in between.  It is not merely manners, but includes them, for it begins in the mind and heart and flows from there into a man’s every word and deed. However, if it is not balanced against prowess it becomes misguided compassion or self-serving suavité.

And it is precisely for this reason that, while Captain Hook personifies prowess gone awry, Peter Pan does not represent a kind of misplaced compassion.  No, the intransigent boy is too narcissistic to be guilty of maternal sentimentality.  On the contrary, when Wendy wants to take the boys of Neverland to her home in London, Peter obstinately refuses to go with them and gives everyone a self-justifying lecture:

I’ve got no time for growing up.
When you’ve got time don’t waste it.
Taste it, each and any way you chose.
Use each lovely moment.
Youth is too good to lose.
Raise your voice and make your choice.
If you’ve got youth, rejoice!

Peter Pan is a cocky adolescent with a self-serving idealism.  If there is misplaced compassion here, it is directed entirely inward, where Peter lives.  Neverland is a state of mind, where one indulges the fantasy of being the center of the universe.  Neverland is ever the land of our age.

Even the presence of evil in Neverland only serves to focus Pan’s ego on himself.  One wonders if Captain Hook is a dragon of Pan’s own making, the archetypical villain devised for the adventures of Neverland, much like the villains created by college-age zealots who since the sixties have prided themselves on being radical when, in fact, their rebellion is so much a pose, like the fashions that go along with “activism,” such as perennially in-style Che T-shirt.

Isn’t that the lie of so much activist pacifism?  In reality it’s just another form of fascism, where men are threatened—not with guns but with adjectives like “lowbrow” and “narrow-minded,” and are silenced—not by force but by public opinion.

The perennial teenager desires neither war nor peace.  He wants tolerance at all costs, especially of everything he believes in and desires.  He shouts down opposition in the name of tolerance as long as it is politically correct to do so.  Opponents of same-sex marriage, for instance, are said to be bigots and have to pay for answering honestly a direct question put to them.

Peter Pan adventures are controlled scenarios, where the only possible peril is a threat to the ego.  Hence, so many controversies today are conflated well beyond their concrete significance because of injured teenage sensibilities.

We live in an age of manufactured outrage. Teenage snottiness is often self-righteous anger against the curtailing of one’s narcissism in the name of personal rights, as when activists engage in civil disobedience, provoke law enforcement officers and then are outraged when they get arrested.

In our entertainment culture, where we are encouraged to indulge our puerile fantasies, danger is experienced vicariously through video game avatars and special effects enhanced movie characters.  People become dull to the real peril waiting for them at the dinner table and are incapable of addressing the threats to their families and future, and then shake their fists at the ethereal dragons of Neverland.

And this is the real difference between the misplaced compassion of a woman and the puerile self-absorption of the perpetual teenager.  A boy who refuses to become a man is neither an immature child nor a sentimental woman, but an androgynous, effete and undefined entity.  It is at least significant, then, that actresses have generally been employed to play the role of Peter Pan. The look is androgynous, but worse yet, so is the spirit.

We have even coined terms to define the new hip infantilism:  twixters and parasite singles.  They are unable to decide whether or when they want to grow up, meanwhile they return home after college to live off mommy and daddy and entertain themselves while they contemplate whether they should get a job.  Once upon a time, only one in a million, like Hugh Hefner, could afford not to grow up.  Now with the hyper-management of everything by bureaucracy, we expect someone to always be coddling us.

In this moral climate, men who have never learned to fight in ordinary human conflicts have been so numbed by the artificiality of it all that they join fight clubs just to feel alive.  Feminine and effeminate culture is suffocating them, and getting punched is one of the only solid realities they experience.  Nevertheless, they would rather get a knee to the face than reclaim the even more solid and infinitely more dangerous realities of family life.

The opposite of wanton brutality, derailed prowess, is not always misplaced compassion.  Sometimes it’s just plain old comfy narcissism, and it seems more and more the standard fare.

As winsome as Peter Pan seems, he is really a dull conformist.  His philosophy is that of the world.  The religion of tolerance and the idolization of irresponsible youth is the mantra that several generations now have been taught to repeat.  It is custom, the tradition of our most recent fathers.  Anthony Esolen marks the commandments of this now codified let-down:

Thou shalt not adore. Thou shalt not celebrate with abandon. Thou shalt not honor. Thou shalt not fight. Thou shalt not live under the law of God, but within the parameters of thy keepers.

Neverland is a cage and Peter Pan is too self-absorbed to realize it. Let’s lose it fast.

9th International Conference on Marian Coredemption

Symposium Fatima

The speakers at the symposium in Fatima:

Back Row (Left to Right):  Father Edward Ondrako, Dr. Mark Miravalle, Father Peter Damian M. Fehlner, Father Stefano Cecchin, Father Stefano M. Manelli, Father Etienne Richer, Father Alessandro M. Appolonio

Front Row:  Father Paulo M. Siano, Father Settimio M. Manelli, Father Angelo M. Geiger, Father Serafino M. Lanzetta

Not pictured here is Msgr. Arthur Calkins who wrote a paper which was read at the symposium but was unable to attend.

God bless all those who contributed and participated in this work in honor of Our Lady.

The published version of the of the  previous symposia can be obtained here under the series title Mary at the Foot of the Cross.  The papers from the latest symposium will be published, hopefully, before the beginning of the new year.

Hat tip to Winston for the photo.

The Knights of Christ

My last full day in Fatima, Father Peter, Father Andre, Fra Solanus and a local Fatima friend of the friars, Leo Madigan had an opportunity to visit the Convento de Cristo, a very imposing Knights Templar Castle less than an hour away from Fatima.  In 1319, few years after the papal suppression of the Templars, the knights were re-founded in Portugal as the Knights of Christ, and retained possession of the monastery fortress.

The Templar Church architecture is very notable.  The original construction of the Church was round to which a later rectangular nave was added.  This pattern is seen also in the Church of the Temple in London and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Cambrige, and all of these examples are based on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the focus of the whole crusading spirit.

Newman’s Note on the Hermeneutic of Continuity

On Friday morning Father Edward Ondrako, Ofm. Conv. delivered a paper at the symposium entitled:  “Mary and the Church in Newman with and Eye to Coredemption.”  He was very insightful in bring to the fore the way in which John Henry Newman’s seven notes on the development of doctrine help us to understand the position the doctrine of Coredemption enjoys in the tradition of the Church.

I particularly latched onto the sixth note:  “The Conservative Action Upon It’s Past,” because of what I had said in the previous post about Vatican II triumphalism.  Here is Newman quoted by Father Ondrako:

A true development, then, may be described as one which is conservative of the course of antecedent developments being really those antecedents and something besides them: it is an addition which illustrates, not obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it proceeds; and this is its characteristic as contrasted with corruption.

This is consistent with what Pope Benedict says about the hermeneutic of continuity, and what St. Thomas Aquinas said about using the Fathers in such a way as to interpret them favorably and to find ways to reconcile newer insights with the authority of the past.  Our age has much to learn from this.

It seems to be that this is all the more reason to continue defending the doctrine of Our Lady’s Coredemption and to be concerned about any interpetation of the Theology of the Body that holds the Church’s previous approach concerning chastity to be misguided.

All Is Not Fair in Love and War

Some time ago, I posted a poll about whether the proverb All is fair in love and war is true or not. At the time, I did not say that I was posting on the subject because it was part of my discussion in the paper I had been working on. In any case, most of you agreed with me.

That being said, I post below the introduction to the paper that I will be giving in about 20 minutes in Fatima.  I will be reading an abbreviated version due to time constraints.  More excerpts to follow.

*****

All is fair in love and war.

Traced back to the 16th century work, Euphues written by the Englishman John Lyly, this proverb expresses the rejection of the standard of fair play where matters of the greatest importance are concerned.  It also conveys the paradox, or coincidence of opposites, concerning love and war, viz. that while the one connotes a state of peace and the other conflict, the two are never really far apart.  In fact, the very Prince of Peace came not to bring peace, but to bring the sword.  In other words, the unity of love is never attained by man after the Fall without conflict.  On the cross, Christ is both Warrior and Bridegroom.

But the question is whether or not “all” is really fair in love and war.  It seems to me, in this respect Lyly’s proverb is more or less in accord with the present zeitgeist.  At least there is no universally accepted standard by which to determine what, in the main, the common good actually is, so we bump around in the dark until we arrive at some measure of tolerance for one another—a very utilitarian standard of fair play, indeed.  The very same feminists, for example, who in the 1960’s and 70’s wished to deliver themselves from the disparity of subjugation to men as sex objects and insisted on birth-control and abortion in order to accomplish this, now affirm their right to be sex objects as long as they are in control and have something to gain.  Birth-control and abortion have assured that everyone gets what they want, everyone, that is, except the victims of the silent holocaust.  In this way, without an objective measure of fair play, the battle of the sexes has reached a sort of precarious détente, which some of us might argue is more like the threat of “mutually assured destruction.”

Cervantes took up the proverb and put it on the lips of Don Quixote who finds himself breaking up a brawl caused by an absurd romantic trick.  The maiden Quiteria has consented to marry the rich Camacho solely for his wealth and in so doing jilts her true love Basilio.  At the wedding before the vows have been exchanged, Basilio shows up and throws himself upon his own rapier in front of the wedding couple.  As he lay dying, Basilio refuses to confess to the priest unless Quiteria agrees to marry him.  As soon as he has obtained her consent Basilio jumps to his feet and reveals his “suicide” to be a trick, and in spite of the deceit Quiteria remains firm in her intention to have him.  A brawl between the parties of Camacho and Basilio ensue and Quixote intervenes, crying:

“Hold, sirs, hold! . . . we have no right to take vengeance for wrongs that love may do to us: remember love and war are the same thing, and as in war it is allowable and common to make use of wiles and stratagems to overcome the enemy, so in the contests and rivalries of love the tricks and devices employed to attain the desired end are justifiable, provided they be not to the discredit or dishonour of the loved object.

Cervantes never tires in poking fun at the literature of chivalry, which often promulgated a code of ethics for love and war that mandated contradictory behavior; Don Quixote speaks of rights but in the same breath denies rules of fair play.  In fact, foolish, romantic sentimentalism by definition discredits and dishonors the loved object.

But it is not only the fictional literature of chivalry that reveals the contradiction.  The 12th century work In The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus, written at the request of the Marie de Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and followed by many of the courtiers of Europe, we are given an adulterous mandate as the first rule of love:  “Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.”  Then, having said this, Capellanus absurdly exhorts his readers that they should “be mindful to completely avoid falsehood.” So much for the Lancelots and Guineveres of the world.

But love and war have always been pretty much the same thing, at least since the Fall.  God created Man, male and female.  Marriage is the first sacrament established by God.  Theologians call it a sacrament of nature.  In America, where the battle over same-sex marriage rages (more love and war), the proponents of sodomy assert that it is solely the State, not the Church, that creates and has the right to define and regulate marriage.  In fact, marriage arises from neither the Church nor the State.  Marriage exists because man is male and female; it is a sacrament of nature.  Both the Church and the State take in interest in marriage because it is a fundamental good for both, but it pre-exists both the Church and the State.  (Relative to the Church, of course, the solemnization of the union is also Sacrament of the New Testament established by Christ, but that does not change the fact that neither the Church nor the State has created marriage).

Again, without universal standards we bump around in the dark unable to perceive any objective definition of our fundamental institutions and settle on dogmatizing a standard of tolerance which is intolerant of everything but tolerance.  Nothing has really changed since the garden of paradise.  Fallen man is still a usurper.  He reaches out for love, but by denying the source of love the result is war.

The temptation of the serpent is an act of consummate violence.  The sin of our first parents is an arrogant and petty assault on heaven.  The subsequent history of mankind is a family feud, whose body-count is virtually numberless.  The primordial prophecy and promise of our redemption reveals that human history will be the recounting of a nearly endless war, in which finally victory will only come at the end of the world, when the Immaculate foot of the Woman will have stamped out the last efforts of the serpent to win over souls to his lie.  The Father of Lies knows of no code of ethics in regard to either love or war.  And from his point of view, love and war are the same because lust and hatred are espoused in the darkling rites of the netherworld.  But, in some sense, they are the same also from God’s point of view because both courtesy and courage will be forever united by the bond of a brotherhood in arms against all that is godless.

Our first and fallen parents are types of the new man and woman, by which the rest of us are recreated—not only in the image of God, but also in the image of the new and true Adam and Eve.  Christ and Our Lady are the new couple, the heads of the new family that is the Church.  Their story is an adventure of the most epic proportions and it concerns entirely the working out of ultimate love and ultimate war.  If we are honest we will have to admit that our salvation is all about love, but it is also all about war.  There is no use in living in denial, by pretending that some fuzzy and warm concept of the universal brotherhood of man will save us, but neither will we get away with fighting our way out of the mess we are in without a code of warfare.  Love and war are close allies, but all is not fair in love and war.