(This is the paper written in preparation for a talk given at the 2005 St. Benedict Center Conference.)
In this talk, I am going to propose that the building blocks of tomorrow’s Christendom are Catholic Communities. Before I proceed in explaining why I believe this is the case, and before I explain the principles behind it and what it entails, it would be appropriate to give some definitions.
Christendom. “Christendom,” as I’m using the word, is “that society of sovereign nations which recognize the kingship of Jesus Christ in all that pertains to the ordering of national and international affairs.”
Christendom does not presently exist. It did at various times, most notably in the middle ages, and was partly the result of a serious effort by Catholic leaders — churchmen and statesmen — to leaven all of society with the precepts of the Gospel. One vehicle for this was St. Augustine’s The City of God, a book studied by leaders in Church and state with a view to ordering society according to its pattern.
Catholic Community. If you look up the word community, you will find several definitions, all of which contain the notion of a collectivity of individuals gathered into some kind of unity. This is what the etymology implies: com- from the Latin cum (with) meaning “together,” or “jointly” and unitas meaning “unity.” Webster’s first definition contains several sub-definitions within it:
1 : a unified body of individuals: as a : STATE, COMMONWEALTH b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself <the problems of a large community> c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society <a community of retired persons> e : a group linked by a common policy f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests <the international community> g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society <the academic community>
Collating what is useful from these definitions and adding the notions contained in the word Catholic, we can formulate this definition of a Catholic Community: “a body of Catholics living in a particular area, among whom the theological and moral virtues are the accepted standards of behavior in private, family, professional and social life.”
Advantages. Thus understood, a Catholic Community would have the advantages of sanctifying individuals and families by encouraging virtue and making more readily available the means of growth in the spiritual life. This implies, at the least, the availability of Mass, the sacraments, and sound religious instruction, as well as a concrete set of shared principles among those in the society.
What It’s Not. Of course, a Catholic Community is not a cult like Jonestown, or a Utopian society like Fruitlands. We are members of the universal Church and we are realists. Further, such a community is not necessarily rural, urban, or suburban; as it can exist in all three environments. Neither is it necessarily committed to the agrarian lifestyle. For many reasons, the existence of a multitude of rural agrarian Catholic communities would be ideal — and the popes have affirmed this — but, to be a Catholic community, it need not fit that pattern.
Questions. There are many questions which come up right away when we begin to consider this thing that we have just defined, for instance:
- Why do we need Catholic Communities?
- Where do they fit into the larger picture of tomorrow’s Christendom and of our Crusade?
- What are their limits?
- What are their advantages?
- What are we called on to do in order to make them work?
To answer these questions, we will lay down nine foundational principles. These principles can be envisioned as planks in the platform of a Catholic Community.
The Nine Planks Listed:
- There is absolutely no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Nobody is saved unless he is elevated by faith, baptism, and submission to the divinely-constituted authority, into the divine life of grace as a living member of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Catholic Church. This is a solemnly defined dogma that all must believe.
- For the proper ordering of society and for the supernatural end of man to be more readily achieved, all societies, including nations, must recognize the temporal and eternal Kingship of Jesus Christ as it is revealed through his Mystical Body, the Church. As this is decidedly not the way in which the world is presently ordered, we live in a very sick society: sick politically, sick economically. Thus it is difficult to live the life of virtue. This translates directly into the daily difficulties we experience in our homes, with our marriages, and with our children.
- Catholic Culture is essentially a by-product of the most important act that happens on earth, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is at once an un-bloody representation of the sacrifice of the Cross, and the highest act of adoration rendered to the blessed Trinity by all the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. The restoration of Catholic Culture — so essential to the rebuilding of Christendom — will require, among other things, the restoration of the authentic liturgical traditions of the Church.
- Few people believe any of these propositions and those in authority in the Church and civil society seem either indifferent to them or bent upon their suppression. Further, the forces of organized naturalism, under the headship of Satan, seek to efface them altogether, replacing them with the diabolical agenda of religious indifferentism, anti-Christian globalism, and the naturalistic worship of man in the place of God.
- The Holy Sacrament of Matrimony is indissoluble and its primary end, the begetting and education of children, is essential for the temporal good of society and for the eternal salvation of souls. The home is the domestic Church and the enemies of Christian order have long fought to undermine its stability.
- As Catholics who have no authority or influence in the Church and as citizens with no authority or influence in temporal society, solving the dilemma pointed out in proposition four is something we are powerless to do on a large scale by any direct activity of our own. We can pray and work for a positive change, but the actual achievement will be the work of God through the visible authority of the magisterium.”
- In the meantime, by working together to create an atmosphere where the difficult tasks implicit in number five will be realized, we can, in our own small way, build parts of the foundation upon which the future Christendom will be erected. This is to build “Catholic Communities” which I propose are Christendom’s “building blocks.”
- There is a multitude of little things which must be done to succeed at this task. These little things include cultivating a proper Catholic outlook on — and activity in — the following areas: home life; wives with jobs out of the home; child rearing; scholastic education; modesty; music and other entertainments; the “teenage subculture,” with its inevitable result, the generation gap; honorable courtship as opposed to casual dating; and the fostering of vocations.
- These “little things” will demand great sacrifices of us. With the aid of actual grace and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, diligently and joyfully carrying them out in these most difficult of circumstances will make us saints — as long as we are in the state of grace and maintain a purity of intention. Further, it will bring down upon us God’s choicest blessings in such as way that our prayers and work for the restoration of the Church’s teaching, the restoration of the Mass, and the restoration of Christendom will be answered.
The Nine Planks Explained
The First Plank. “There is absolutely no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Nobody is saved unless he is elevated by faith, baptism, and submission to the divinely-constituted authority, into the divine life of grace as a living member of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Catholic Church. This is a solemnly defined dogma that all must believe.”
As the Catholic Community has as one of its assignments the restoration of Christian order, foundational points of Catholic dogma have direct bearing on the question at hand. This would explain why we insert no salvation outside the Church into our platform for a Catholic Community.
Indeed, a Catholic Community is only a means to a supernatural end and that end is only arrived at via membership in the Catholic Church. Rather than dwell at any length on this dogma, I lay it down as our first plank — the only one which has the solidity of infallibility — and quickly relate it to the second plank.
The Second Plank. “For the proper ordering of society and for the supernatural end of man to be more readily achieved, all societies, including nations, must recognize the temporal and eternal Kingship of Jesus Christ as it is revealed through his Mystical Body, the Church. As this is decidedly not the way in which the world is presently ordered, we live in a very sick society: sick politically, sick economically. Thus it is difficult to live the life of virtue. This translates directly into the daily difficulties we experience in our homes, with our marriages, and with our children.”
Christ the King. A Catholic who is at all informed will see that we are referring to the doctrine of Christ the King. It is the social teaching of the Church as articulated by the fathers and doctors, and strongly defended in the face of the Revolution by all the popes from the time of Pius IX to Pius XII. The feast of Christ the King was promulgated by Pope Pius XI in order to impress this teaching upon men’s minds by enshrining it in the liturgical cycle. In the encyclical promulgating the feast, Quas Primas, the Holy Father reminded the Catholic world that Christ’s empire is universal, and that individual souls and nations must recognize it: “Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. ‘Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.'”
Must the state recognize not only the rights of God, but also the true Church? Yes, it must. Here is Pope Leo XIII, affirming that states as “moral persons” are just as bound as human persons to render right worship to God: “It is a sin for the state not to have a care for religion, as something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit: or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with its fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will…” (Immoratle Dei)
Does Christ’s Church, then, involve itself in politics? The answer is “yes,” inasmuch as politics touches upon man’s moral life, something entirely withing the scope of the Church’s jurisdiction. With Our Lord’s mandate to teach all nations, the Church — principally, the pope — has direct authority in all spiritual matters, and indirect authority in temporal matters wherever they touch upon morals and the rights of God. Such “mixed matters,” are related to the spiritual and are mostly seen in the area of education and the effects of marriage.
Those who are scandalized that the pope should involve himself in something as “worldly” or “unholy” as politics should ponder the words of the otherworldly and holy Pope St. Pius X: “We do not conceal the fact that We shall shock some people by saying that We must necessarily concern ourselves with politics. But anyone forming an equitable judgment clearly sees that the Supreme Pontiff can in no wise violently withdraw the category of politics from subjection to the supreme control of faith and morals confided to him.” (Consistorial Allocution, November 9, 1903, quoted in Fahey, page 57.)
When one considers the first two planks of or platform together, we arrive at the following formulation: There is no salvation outside the Chruch: not for indivicuals, not for nations. We have already heard Pius XI say this in Quas Primas. In even more explicit terms, St. Pius X speaks of the Church being the salvation of society:
“Just as Christianity cannot penetrate into the soul without making it better, so it cannot enter into public life without establishing order….. If it has transformed pagan society…. so in our days, it will be able to put that world again on the true road, and bring back to order the States and peoples of modern times. But the return of Christianity will not be efficacious and complete if it does not restore the world to a sincere love of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. In the Catholic Church Christianity is incarnate. It is identified with that perfect spiritual society, sovereign in its own order, which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and which has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. … Society so sadly gone astray must re-enter the bosom of the Church, if it wishes to recover its well-being, its repose and its salvation.” (Apostolic Letter of March 19, 1902: Review of his Pontificate.)
“But” you may say, “society has no soul; men do. The nation will not go to heaven or hell.” This is true. France cannot lose its immortal soul, because it has none. The same with Spain, Russia, China Russia, and the US. However, while those nations will not be saved or damned in eternity, their citizens will be, and, while each of them will be saved or damned based on their own personal correspondence with grace, the conditions in that society were either conducive or non-conducive to their salvation. This state of affars is analogous to the small society of the family. If a Moselm is damned because, of his own free will, he failed to cooperate with God’s grace leading him to conversion, it can still be said that growing up in a Moslem family didn’t help. This is why St. Alphonsus de Ligouri could say that growing up in a Catholic Family is one of the greatest graces God gives people.
Father Fahey very well puts this objection to rest with his customary common sense: “It is quite true that nations or societies do not go to heaven. Human beings go to heaven one by one, to live in the Family-Circle of the Blessed Trinity. But the individual member of society lives under the never-ceasing influence of his environment, in which, if we may not say that he is submerged, he is, at least, deeply plunged. Social organization is required to aid the disciplining of self against the unorganized tendencies of formalism and naturalism that are in all of us. It is still more indispensable in order to combat the organized anti-supernatural forces that are imbued with opposition to Our Lord’s programme for the world. If Catholics content themselves with inculcating the private practice of religion and allow their social institutions to be moulded buy those organized naturalistic and anti-supernatural forces, then, little by little, the average member of society will succumb to the influence of his surroundings. He will gradually cease to live as a member of Christ, though he may retain the name of Christian.” (MBCRS, page 11)
So, to the extent that the political and economic ordering of a society is in conformity to the Kingship of Christ, conditions in that society will be more conducive to the salvation of its citizens. Thus the salvation of the individual is related to the “salvation” of the state.
The following is a small laundry list of the social ills the existence of which proves that we do not live in a Christian society:
- The decriminalizing of abortion, divorce, birth control
- Unnatural unions parading as marriages
- An economic system which enshrines usury, and which has turned humans into means of production for material goods, and material goods into means of production for money, thus making financiers the overlords of real wealth and the humans who produce it (Money, or “coin wealth” is supposed to be a mere instrument for the exchange of real wealth, which, in turn, is to help man in achieving his supernatural end. St. Thomas argues that to live the live of virtue, wealth — real wealth: food, clothing, land, shelter — is necessary.)
- A ubiquitous government which, through over-taxation, bureaucratic paper work, draconian controls of land-use, firearms ownership, education, travel, and privacy, shows itself to have no respect for the God-given liberties of its citizens, which liberties exist for the purpose of helping man to achieve his salvation.
- The doctrine of Christ the King is not some abstract ideal, and neither is society’s rejection of it a purely speculative evil. Its rejection touches upon our daily life in countless ways, in minute matters as well as matters of great import. In short, the crippling effects of this diseased condition of society are what make it so difficult for you to raise your families.
Third Plank. “Catholic Culture is essentially a by-product of the most important act that happens on earth, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is at once an un-bloody representation of the sacrifice of the Cross, and the highest act of adoration rendered to the blessed Trinity by all the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. The restoration of Catholic Culture — so essential to the rebuilding of Christendom — will require, among other things, the restoration of the authentic liturgical traditions of the Church.”
Dr. John Senior, a man of letters and philosophy, summed it up this way: “Cult is the basis of culture. An authentic Christian culture, therefore, must be centered on an authentic Christian cult.” The cult of devotion to The Blessed Trinity which we exercise in the Holy Mass is the worthy and just rendering to God what is His due. It is the most sublime act we can perform as members of the Mystical Body. This act, when seen in its true light, will be attended with the best that man has to offer in union with the God-Man’s Sacrifice. This will include, chiefly, the homage of his intellect and will; but, as we are not angels, our bodies, with their senses, movements, sounds, images and smells will also enter in. When man focuses the attention of art and science upon this sublime action of divine worship, art and science become elevated and transformed. Here, again, is Dr. Senior explaining this most eloquently:
“What is Christian Culture? It is essentially the Mass. That is not my or anyone’s opinion or theory or wish but the central fact of two thousand years of history. Christendom, what secularists call Western Civilization, is the Mass and the paraphernalia which protect and facilitate it. All architecture, art, political and social forms, economics, the way people live and feel, and think, music, literature — all these things when they are right, are ways of fostering and protecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To enact a sacrifice, there must be an altar, an altar has to have a roof over it in case it rains; to reserve the Blessed Sacrament, we build a little House of Gold and over it a Tower of Ivory with a bell and a garden round about it with roses and lilies of purity, emblems of the Virgin Mary — Rosa Mystica, Turris Davidica, Turris Eburnea, Domus Aurea, who carried his Body and his Blood in her womb, Body of her body, Blood of her blood. And around the church and garden, where we bury the faithful dead, the caretakers live, the priests and religious whose work is prayer, who keep the Mystery of Faith in its tabernacle of music and words in the Office of the Church; and around them, the faithful who gather to worship and divide the other work that must be done in order to make the perpetuation of the Sacrifice possible — to raise the food and make the clothes and build and keep the peace so that generations to come may live for Him, so that the Sacrifice goes on even until the consummation of the world.” — page 15-16.
The destruction that we have seen in the Novus Ordo — and I do not hold that it is an invalid rite — is a destruction of Christian culture. Not only did the liturgical revolution cause untold doctrinal confusion to the faithful, it also helped speed up the disintegration of culture in arts and letters. Witness the sentiments expressed in a letter to Paul VI by 57 Catholic and non-Catholic artists and literary persons including Agatha Christie, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Graham Greene, Yehudi Menuhin, and Malcolm Muggeridge.1 That letter read, in part: “The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts — not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians. In the materialistic and technocratic civilisation that is increasingly threatening the life of mind and spirit in its original creative expression — the word — it seems particularly inhuman to deprive man of word-forms in one of their most grandiose manifestations.”
Of course, the worst result of the new liturgy is that it diminished the extrinsic glory which we are called upon to give to the Blessed Trinity. That, in an of itself, is sufficiently condemnatory of the revolution. More than that, though, as man’s salvation and the glory he renders to God are not divorced from man as a social and cultural being — as was affirmed above — all these bad effects are related. In other words, the “cultural” question cannot be reduced to a mere question of higher aesthetic sense: it is related to dogma; it is related to salvation.
Forth Plank. “Few people believe any of these propositions and those in authority in the Church and civil society seem either indifferent to them or bent upon their suppression. Further, the forces of organized naturalism, under the headship of Satan, seek to efface them altogether, replacing them with the diabolical agenda of religious indifferentism, anti-Christian globalism, and the naturalistic worship of man in the place of God.”
I’m no sociologist. Statistics are not at my fingertips to show how many putative Catholics refuse to believe no salvation outside the Church, reject the Church’s traditional social teaching, or think that the New Mass is better what what it attempted to replace. However, we can all look around us and see the state of affairs. We are a decided minority and we have very little support from our hierarchy, although, with our new Holy Father, things are getting better by way of an increased latitude being given to tradition. But this progress, which we are happy to have, is not sufficient to change things the way they ought to be changed. What we really need is a radical undoing of the Revolution in theology, morals, and liturgy.
When I say that the forces of Organized Naturalism are seeking to efface Catholic dogma, liturgy, and social order, some may conclude that I am proposing a “wacko” conspiracy theory. While many conspiracy theories are strange, comical, or offensive to common sense and the known facts, that there are conspiracies against the faith is something we should take for granted from our Lord’s words in the Gospel about the world hating us. Many popes have spoken of the machinations of secret societies against the Church, and the evidence of history is there for all to review. What I would like to say about conspiracies is that the best students of the Revolution against Christian Order — men like Father Fahey and Msgr. Jouin — explain it in its true context. It is Satan’s war against God — or, alternately, the serpent striking at Our Lady’s heel. Everyone else involved in any conspiracy, be he a Zionist, a Freemason, or a Cabbalist — is a useful idiot. This is why non-Catholics are unable to explain these facts of history properly. Lacking the supernatural faith required to see the true nature of Organized Naturalism, they are doomed to get the big picture wrong, even if they do see many of its parts. This “big picture” was summarized by Father Fahey as Satan’s program for order as opposed to Our Lord’s program for order.
Father Fahey documents the anti-supernaturalism of the Jewish Nation and of Masonry. But he also makes sure to say that none of these forces of Organized Naturalism are ultimately in control of the real battle against Catholic social order. No humans are so organized, so united in purpose, and so intelligent as to mastermind the de-Christianization of the world which has happened from the time Boniface VIII was slapped at Anagni until now. The most highly-placed conspiratorial operative is simply a pawn in Satan’s game.
What they have given us is the opposite of God’s order of things. God wants many nations and one religion. By destroying national sovereignty through such organs as the UN and the World Court, Satan is pushing us toward one nation with many religions.
Fifth Plank. “The Holy Sacrament of Matrimony is indissoluble and its primary end, the begetting and education of children, is essential for the temporal good of society and for the eternal salvation of souls. The home is the domestic Church and the enemies of Christian order have long fought to undermine its stability.”
It may seem as if we have gone from the very global to the very local rather quickly. So far, everything we have discussed concerns the universal Church, the lives of nations, and international movements. We have suddenly narrowed our focus to your living room and your marriage bed. But it’s all connected, and for this reason: the progress or regress of any society, natural or supernatural, begins in the home.
This is a piece of wisdom preserved in a Nigerian proverb, presumably of pagan origin: “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.”
Father Mary Eugene Boylan added a supernatural layer to this when he wrote the following in his This Tremendous Lover: “It is urgent, at the moment, that Catholics should sanctify the family and the life of the family, for the influence of Christianity upon society depends upon its influence upon the family. Insofar as the family ceases to be Christian, Christian civilization will approach its end.” (M. Eugene Boylan, O. Cist. R., This Tremendous Lover, The Newman Press, Westminster, MD, 1957, pg. 233.) It may surprise some to find out that this alarm was sounded by Father Boylan in a book first published in 1947! The degeneration of the Catholic home and the necessary impact that would have on society was something in plain view for those paying attention.
We can go back even further to Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI, whose encyclicals on marriage were making similar warnings. We cannot recommended Pius XI’s Casti Conubii enough as a manifesto for the Catholic couple.
What deserves to be said is that the primary end of matrimony — the begetting and education of children — is a big part of “where the rubber meets the road” in this matter of rebuilding Christendom. We sometimes hear it said by enthusiastic non-contracepting parents that it is their goal to “out-populate the enemy.” There is something to be said for this, but Catholic parents can produce all the children they want and will fail in out-populating the enemy if they fail in their job of “education.” In fact, it’s worse than that; they very well may end up handing over their children to the enemy.
“Education” as it is used here is not simply reading, writing, and ‘rithmitic. The education spoken of as the primary end of matrimony includes everything it takes to raise a child: food, clothing, shelter, religious instruction, other forms of instruction, discipline in behavior, good mental and physical habits — everything.
The enemies of Christian order have long been fighting against family stability. We need hardly mention the obvious fruits of their labors: abortion and contraception. To be complete, the list would have to be extended to divorce, feminism — including having mothers work outside the home, a tax structure that encourages couples to contracept, schools which encourage promiscuous behavior, and an economy which has transformed the father from a provider for his family into a means of production to enrich financiers.
To get a true, supernatural picture of home and family life, we should consider the words of Pope Pius XI:
“Christian parents should understand, moreover, that their duty is not only to propagate and maintain the human race on earth; it is not even merely to rear worshipers of the true God. They are called to give children to the Church, to beget fellow-citizens of the Saints and members of the household of God, in order that the worshipers of our God and Savior may increase from day to day. … for it is their function to offer their children to the church so that she, the fruitful Mother of the sons of God, may beget them anew to supernatural righteousness in the waters of baptism, make them living members of Christ, sharers of immortal life, and heirs, finally, of that eternal glory to which we all fervently aspire.”
Sixth Plank. “As Catholics who have no authority or influence in the Church and as citizens with no authority or influence in temporal society, solving the dilemma pointed out in proposition four is something we are powerless to do on a large scale by any direct activity of our own. We can pray and work for a positive change, but the actual achievement will be the work of God through the visible authority of the magisterium.”
To engage in a lot of “tough talk” about how we are going to change things would be ridiculous. We must realize our smallness and be humble about it. We can work and pray for positive changes; we can try to effect one conversion at a time; slowly, we can try to influence others to embrace all of Catholic Tradition and an integral adherence to Church teaching, but we are powerless to work on a grand scale because we have no authority. Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe undertook bold ventures, but with a certain realism. He spoke to his Franciscan brethren about the vision he had for using the media in terms of their smallness:
“We, too must make use of the press and other means of communication — let us be clear, even in the best of circumstances this will always be little in contrast with what the atheistic and anti-religious wold press disposes — and place these in the service of the Immaculate to combat error and impiety, for the glory of God, so that every man might know he has been redeemed by Jesus Christ and called to immortal glory. Our human frailty, limited resources or any other worldly difficulty must not restrain us; let us confide in the Immaculate, let us place ourselves truly in Her hands and She will continue to win the battles of God, as at Lepanto, as at Vienna. We must place Our Lady in every soul so that from every soul sin be expelled and Jesus introduced. Who finds the Immaculate, finds Jesus.”
Mindful that things have gone down hill since he uttered those words, we should still imitate his realism and also his confidence in Our Lady’s intercession. The reason we should be completely cognizant of our smallness is not so that we can become discouraged, but so that we will know how the victory will come about. No matter how much we fight, the ultimate victory will be that of the Blessed Trinity working through our Lady and the Church.
It is the magisterium, principally the Holy Father, who must effect the changes. This is what we pray for; this is what we are trying to prepare people for by upholding and defending his authority. To remain confident that this will happen requires a supernatural outlook enlightened by Faith and animated by the gifts of knowledge and understanding.
Think in terms of Fatima. Our blessed Lady promised that in the end Her Immaculate Heart would triumph. But how? The Holy Father will consecrate Russia and Russia will be converted to the Catholic Faith. This should impress us with the thought that Our Lady wants the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, which is God’s triumph, to be effected by the pope acting in conjunction with all the bishops of the world. The result will be the conversion of an entire nation.
Regarding our smallness, we should realize that humility is a necessary virtue in this battle. Certainly, our status quo gives us many reasons to practice humility. But we should also recall the words of St. Paul: “But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong.” (I Cor. 1:27)
Seventh Plank. “In the meantime, by working together to create an atmosphere where the difficult tasks implicit in number five will be realized, we can, in our own small way, build parts of the foundation upon which the future Christendom will be erected. This is to build ‘Catholic Communities,’ which I propose are Christendom’s ‘building blocks.'”
Picking up with what we’ve just said about our “smallness,” we have to realize the limits of a Catholic community as far as what it can achieve. There are two societies on earth that are called a “perfect societies,” the one natural, the other, supernatural. They are the Church and the state. By “perfect society” we do not mean a morally perfect one. This is a technical term denoting a society which has at its disposal all the means necessary to achieve its purpose. The state, whose primary end is temporal, can achieve its end — to preserve the common good of its populace — because it has the resources necessary to do this. With sufficient land to grow food, mineral wealth, the authority to regulate trade and commerce, to levy just taxes, to promulgate and enforce laws, with a large enough populace that the necessary arts, sciences, and trades will be at the disposal of the common good, the state is able to provide for its end. The Church, which is supernatural, has those means endowed by Our Lord to achieve its end, which is heavenly: the deposit of faith, an infallible magisterium to teach it, sacraments, priests, a hierarchy to govern as well as teach, etc. The full endowment of gifts that Jesus bestowed on His Church are at her disposal so that she can achieve her end, namely, saving souls.
The family is not a perfect society, even in the best of circumstances. It is dependent on outside help to achieve its ends. (Those rugged individualists who would try to disprove this fact are invited to consider how they will marry off their children without outside help!)
A Catholic community such as what we are proposing is not a perfect society either. We can try to be as self-sufficient as necessary: having our own chapel for Mass and the sacraments, our own school, our own social life and entertainment. We can even have farmers to provide some of our own food, but we can’t have our own police, army, hospitals; we cannot maintain our own infrastructure of roads, regulate commerce, promulgate laws, etc. If we tried these things we would all end up in jail or worse. We would also end up outside the Church, as we are dependent upon that perfect society for our supernatural end. No, we aren’t a perfect society, so we are dependent on outside help. Therefore, there are limits to what we can do.
That said, we can try to build a neighborhood where committed counter-cultural Catholics share the same outlook. Remember what we said earlier about how man is a social creature and that his salvation is effected by his environment. A Catholic atmosphere where people are trying to “bear one another’s burdens” as St. Paul commanded us to do is an advantage to the salvation of those living in it. We have complained that the forces of organized naturalism have created a destructive atmosphere in the world, we propose as a solution that we come together to help each other fight the forces of what Fr. Fahey called the forces of unorganized naturalism, that is, the concupiscence of each one of us, our own tendency to sin. If we strive to live the theological and moral virtues together, then we will be doing what we can to piece together the wreckage of Christendom one block at a time. Families working to reacquire the common-sense wisdom of the past will have other families interested in the same things as neighbors. We will all realize that we aren’t crazy: everybody else is.
Most importantly, this community of values, this common treasure, will be passed on to the next generation in the family and the support network that the family has in this small society. Parents, teachers, clergy, neighbors, fellow-workers, will all be in essential agreement with one another so that Johnny doesn’t think mom and dad are odd balls. The whole society supports their view.
Eighth Plank. “There is a multitude of little things which must be done to succeed at this task. These little things include cultivating a proper Catholic outlook on — and activity in — the following areas: home life; wives with jobs out of the home; child rearing; scholastic education; modesty; music and other entertainments; the ‘teenage subculture,’ with its inevitable result, the generation gap; honorable courtship as opposed to casual dating; and the fostering of vocations. ”
Most of these issues are directly related to family life. Without Catholic family life, there is no Catholic community.
In a certain sense, little should have to be said of this, because what is really needed in this area is simply the living of the common-sense customs of better days. However those customs have been all but lost due to the sexual revolution of the sixties, Dr. Spock’s strange notions of child-rearing, John Dewey’s transformation of schools into vehicles for social reform, the explosion of a multitude of schools of behavioral psychology with their more or less pernicious attacks against Christian morality, an anti-Christian entertainment industry whose invasion has been welcomed into nearly every living room, a judicial system which, following Oliver Wendell Holmes has determined that morality cannot be legislated. All of these factors, combined with the concupiscence present in each one of us, have contributed to the loss of common sense in good old-fashioned family life. As a result, common sense isn’t common and must be learned from scratch.
Too many traditional Catholics think that, as long as you teach Johnny his catechism, bring him to the right Mass, keep him away from the more obvious abuses of the modern culture, things will be alright. For the rest, they imbibe what their often lax conscience can accept of the garbage emanating from Hollywood, the television industry, and other entertainments, as long as its not the “hard stuff.” They fail by not taking into account two things:
First, those things I’ve just enumerated are, by and large, products of an anti-Christian culture and, even when the bad language, nudity, and obvious impure references are edited out, the message is still the same.
Second, to make a Christian home something worthy of the name, a real effort must be undergone to make it something radically different from the dominant culture around us. This something is not merely a list of negations (no TV, movies, Rock and Roll, video games, etc.). Nature abhorrs a vacuum, and the human person needs leisure. What we do with our leisure, however, must be different from what the world does.
One more theoretical point, before passing to the practical. A very important thing to keep in mind here is the classical axiom of scholastic theology, “grace builds on nature.” If our nature is formed by the dominant culture around us, even if we try to purge it of its most offensive elements, we still have a nature upon which grace can but barely take root. If the pagan Roman world the Apostles worked to convert had perverse ideas about things, they at least had some notion of virtue which the Apostles could build upon. Our present post-Christian culture, however, is that “new paganism” which Belloc said would be worse than the old stuff.
Regarding the practical, there is much to say on how to return to normalcy. About child rearing, we can say this much of an almost lost art: discipline must begin in earliest infancy. When we say that the begetting and education of children is the primary end of matrimony, this is what we mean: the parent “educates” the child in life, not mearly reading, writing, and rithmitic. These things can be taught by the school, but manners, and other things related to good behavior must be taught in the home or the school will have little to work with. There are good books on the subject. Specially recommended is How to Train up a Child by ???. It was not written by a Catholic, so there is very little notion of grace in the book, but the natural wisdom is there.
Children need to be taught manners. Dr. Senior makes the point that manners are the custodian of the moral life as the moral life is the custodian of the spiritual life. Those who habitually sin will not develop a close intimacy with Our Lord, and those who have not the hedges that good manners provide will fall prey to bad morals. It’s a fixed law of human nature. While it may sound almost fanatical to emphasize the point, it needs to be done: Those who don’t bother to control their bodily motions, their speech, their looks, and everything else which constitutes basic good manners, will have a very hard time keeping good morals. Allow a little boy to interrupt when he wants, to keep his room sloppy, to stand, sit, and run around as he pleases, and to eat what he wants, when he wants, with or without utensils, and that little boy — guaranteed — will be a monster of impurity when adolescence happens. The point really cannot be overemphasized. He will be a barbarian. Stick a Rosary in his hand and he will be a Barbarian with a Rosary. Similar rules apply to little girls. If her vanity is flattered in youth, God help you when she hits twelve or thirteen. If she’s not taught to be silent when she should be as a child, her mouth could bring down nations in adulthood, or at least drive a poor husband up the wall.
Scripture tells us “he that breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him” (Eccles. 10:8) Society has broken hedges and we have serpents all over the place. We need to build the old hedges back up again, and simple manners are the most basic natural hedges we build in children. I’m not talking Emily Post here; what I’m insisting on is the basics that almost everyone seems to neglect nowadays: keeping still at the table, not answering back, treating all adults with respect and courtesy, saying please, thank you, yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir no sir, being silent when adults are speaking, saying excuse me, cleaning up after themselves, not dumping all the toys from the box to the floor only to walk away in five minutes because they are bored with what’s there, not running in front of any adult, especially old people. Those who think I’m stressing the obvious, please look about you. We are becoming a society of barbarians. Teenagers with ever aperture and extremity of their bodies pierced, riveted, or chained were not taught manners. They are now barbaric.
More practical tips for home life beyond the subject of manners would involve how the family entertains itself, how it spends its very important — even sacred — leisure time. First, for God’s sake — I mean that literally — for God’s sake, eat supper together! Father Payton was famous for his expression “the family that prays together stays together.” Do we really have to remind people to eat together? Apparently, we do. Mothers staying at home and preparing supper at the same time every evening, while everyone sits in their proper places at the table, saying grace together and having a family conversation at the meal — this is the way people should eat.
Beyond that, parents should stay at home as much as possible and recreate together with their children. Don’t buy a TV or have video games in your house: it’s all trash. There’s nothing good to watch on the tube and video games will turn your sons into rude, fat, violent effeminates who can’t pay attention. Learn to play your own music, have family games, and read together — out loud for the little ones, and in silent groups together in later years. Learn the lost art of telling stories. Think how much money you can save on video games and idiotic battery operated things that will break if you tell your little ones stories of your own making that will make them laugh at the same time it makes them love you and not the silly plastic thing that will break.
Fathers, teach your boys manly things. Mothers, teach your girls womanly things. If boys keep their hands occupied with wholesome and constructive projects, e.g., building things, it will help them to remain pure in later years by keeping them from becoming couch potatoes. It will also make them useful. If girls learn to make modest clothing in their youth, they will never be slaves to the latest low-cut spandex piece of “fashion” being hawked at the mall when they enter their teens. And yes, they should also know how to cook real food. They will be more marriageable then and will be able to pass on this wisdom to another generation.
Regarding home life and entertainments, Dr. Senior has some remarkable insights:
“Our Lord explains in the Parable of the Sower that the seed of his love will only grow in a certain soil — and that is the soil of Christian Culture… [which includes music], art, literature, games, architecture. … It is an obvious fact that here in the United States now, the Devil has seized these instruments to play a danse macabre, a dance of death, especially through what we call the “media,” the television, radio, record, book, magazine and newspaper industries. The restoration of culture, spiritually, morally, physically, demands the cultivation of the soil in which the love of Christ can grow, and that means we must, as they say, rethink priorities.
“What I suggest, not as the answer to all our problems, but as the condition of the answer, is something at once simple and difficult: to put “the touches of sweet harmony” [he had, a few pages earlier quoted a passage from Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice containing this expression.] back into the home, so that boys and girls will grow up better than we did, with songs in their hearts…
[He gives practical suggestions how we may do this] “First, negatively, smash the television set. The Catholic Church is not opposed to violence; only to unjust violence, so smash the television set. And, positively, put the time and money you now spend on such entertainment into a piano so that music is restored to your home, common ordinary Christian music, much of which is very simple to play. Anybody can learn the songs of Stephen Foster, Robert Burns, the Irish and Italian airs, after even a few hours’ instruction and practice. And then families will be together at home of an evening and love will grow again without thinking about it, because they are moving in harmony together. There is nothing more disintegrating of love than artificial attempts to foster it at encounter groups and the like: Love only grows; it cannot be manufactured or forced; and it only grows in the sweet sounds of music.” (pgs. 23-25)
Here, Dr. Senior inveighs against one of the banes of family life, the working mother: “If women stayed home where they belong, someone would know where the children are and where the old folks are; food would taste like meat and vegetables again because it would be cooked, not just defrosted; life would be wholesome, good and full of love again because she would be home; pianos would shake old music from the scores; children, parents and grandparents would sing together of an evening and tell stories by the fire. Someone would even be home to love and care for the crippled, sick and dying. Women must be liberated from their modern ’emancipation’, which is really slavish compliance to a Calvinistic and masculine ideal, so they can return to their proper work — greater than medicine, engineering, business and politics — participating with God in the creation and nurture of human life, which cannot be done by men or angels. (pg. 78)
And here he makes the point about manners. Keep in mind as you hear this that he perceived the effects of these things in the college students he taught. He was not speculating out of thin air: “It it ridiculous but nonetheless true that that a generation which has given up the distinction between fingers and forks will find it difficult to keep the distinction between affection and sex or between a right to one’s body and the murder of one’s child. If you eat ketchup-smeared French fries with your fingers day after day, you are well on your way to the Cyclops [he had earlier made the point that the mythological Cyclops were uncivilized because they lived without walls, which was poetical expression of their living without any restraint]. The semiconscious, ordinary actions which come under the category of manners are the cultural seed-bed of morals, as morals in their turn are of the spiritual life. We are creatures of habit, as the nuns used to say. In the moral and spiritual order, we become what we wear as much as what we wear ‘becomes’ us — and it is the same with how we eat and what we do.”
Ninth Plank. “These ‘little things’ will demand great sacrifices of us. With the aid of actual grace and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, diligently and joyfully carrying them out in these most difficult of circumstances will make us saints — as long as we are in the state of grace and maintain a purity of intention. Further, it will bring down upon us God’s choicest blessings in such as way that our prayers and work for the restoration of the Church’s teaching, the restoration of the Mass, and the restoration of Christendom will be answered.”
Many sacrifices will have to be made simply to return to being normal, ordinary people at home, work, school, church, and in the neighborhood. It is a battle that will require great energy. I am reminded of St. Louis de Montfort’s prophesy that the True devotees of Our Lady in the latter times will build with one hand and fight with the other. While I make no special claim to be one of those he prophesied, it certainly looks as if that’s what we’re being called upon to do. Because of what the forces of organized naturalism have done in their war against Christian order, we live in an atmosphere that is not only barren, but positively noxious. Further, the support we should be getting from churchmen is wanting because of the rampant liberalism in the clergy. God certainly understands this state of affairs and has given us the remarkable example of simple sanctity in form of St. Therese’s “Little Way.” He has also taught us through Our Lady’s revelations at Fatima that the conscientious carrying out of our daily duty is a recipe for sanctity in the modern world.
This return to normalcy in the home will be aided by a community where those in other homes are striving for the same thing. However, it will still occasion great suffering. It is an uphill battle that we simply cannot win. Only God can win it for us. However, in His mysterious economy of salvation, our sacrifice — if united to His sacrifice on the Cross and its renewal in the Mass — can merit the graces we need to achieve the restoration of Catholic faith and morals, Catholic Liturgy, and Catholic social order. In a word, tomorrow’s Christendom can be supernaturally built by the patient labor of building Catholic Communities.
(This list is by no means complete. It is simply a good starting place.)
Catholic Social Order and the Kingship of Christ:
The works of Father Denis Fahey, C.Ss.P.
- The Mystical Body of Christ and the reorganization of Society
- Secret Societies and the Kingship of Christ
- The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation
- Duties of the Catholic State in Regard to Religion (by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, translated with introduction by Father Fahey)
- The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World
- Money Manipulation and Social Order
- The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism
- The Kingship of Christ According to the Principles of St. Thomas
- The Rulers of Russia and the Russian Farmers
- The Church and Farming
On Marriage in General:
- Casti Connubii. by Pope Pius XI
- Cana is Forever by Father Charles Hugo Doyle
- This Tremendous Lover, by Father Mary Eugene Boylan, an eminently practical book on the spiritual life which is at the same time very doctrinal. It has a sublime chapter called “Marriage and Holiness” which I recommend all couples to read together.
- Chastity, a Guide for Teens and Young Adults by Father Gerald. Kelley, S.J. (Discusses choosing a partner. Highly recommended for older teens and up — of both sexes, and also parents. It will help them to explain the right use of marriage to their children, when that time comes.)
- Handbook For Parents, by Father Paul Wickens
- Sins of Parents by Father Charles Hugo Doyle
For Men / Boys:
- Young Man’s Guide by Father Lascance.
- Living Temples (a book of meditations for boys) by Father Bede Jarrett, O.P.
- Clean of Heart: Overcoming Habitual Sins against Purity by Rosemarie Scott. The title is self-explanatory. Don’t let the fact that it was written by a lay woman prejudice you. She writes about the topic with lucidity and with copious references to Catholic spiritual masters. It is an excellent, throughly Catholic treatment of the subject. (The book is available exclusively at Lulu.com)
For Women / Girls:
- Counsels of Perfection for Catholic Mothers by Monsignor Lejune.
- Catholic Girl’s Guide, by Father Lascance.
- The Wife Desired by Leo J. Kinsella
1 Here is the text: “If some senseless decree were to order the total or partial destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated — whatever their personal beliefs — who would rise up in horror to oppose such a possibility. Now the fact is that basilicas and cathedrals were built so as to celebrate a rite which, until a few months ago, constituted a living tradition. We are referring to the Roman Catholic Mass. Yet, according to the latest information in Rome, there is a plan to obliterate that Mass by the end of the current year. One of the axioms of contemporary publicity, religious as well as secular, is that modern man in general, and intellectuals in particular, have become intolerant of all forms of tradition and are anxious to suppress them and put something else in their place. But, like many other affirmations of our publicity machines, this axiom is false. Today, as in times gone by, educated people are in the vanguard where recognition of the value of tradition in concerned, and are the first to raise the alarm when it is threatened. We are not at this moment considering the religious or spiritual experience of millions of individuals. The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts — not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians. In the materialistic and technocratic civilisation that is increasingly threatening the life of mind and spirit in its original creative expression — the word — it seems particularly inhuman to deprive man of word-forms in one of their most grandiose manifestations. The signatories of this appeal, which is entirely ecumenical and non-political, have been drawn from every branch of modern culture in Europe and elsewhere. They wish to call to the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive, even though this survival took place side by side with other liturgical reforms.”
Signed: 1. Harold Acton, 2. Vladimir Ashkenazy, 3. John Bayler, 4. Lennox Berkeley, 5. Maurice Bowra, 6. Agatha Christie, 7. Kenneth Clark, 8. Nevill Coghill, 9. Cyril Connolly, 10. Colin Davis, 11. Hugh Delargy, 12.+ Robert Exeter, 13. Miles Fitzalan-Howard, 14. Constantine Fitzgibbon, 15. William Glock, 16. Magdalen Gofflin, 17. Robert Graves, 18. Graham Greene, 19. Ian Greenless, 20. Joseph Grimond, 21. Harman Grisewood, 22. Colin Hardie, 23. Rupert Hart-Davis, 24. Barbara Hepworth, 25. Auberon Herbert, 26. John Jolliffe, 27. David Jones, 28. Osbert Lancaster, 29. F.R. Leavis, 30. Cecil Day Lewis, 31. Compton Mackenzie, 32. George Malcolm, 33. Max Mallowan, 34. Alfred Marnau, 35. Yehudi Menuhin, 36. Nancy Mitford, 37. Raymond Mortimer, 38. Malcolm Muggeridge, 39. Iris Murdoch, 40. John Murray, 41. Sean O’Faolain, 42. E.J. Oliver, 43. Oxford and Asquith, 44. William Plomer, 45. Kathleen Raine, 46. William Rees-Mogg, 47. Ralph Richardson, 48.+ John Ripon, 49. Charles Russell, 50. Rivers Scott, 51. Joan Sutherland, 52. Philip Toynbee, 53. Martin Turnell, 54. Bernard Wall, 55. Patrick Wall, 56. E.I Watkin, 57. R.C. Zaehner.