¶ For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. – Gal:1:10
The great temptation for a Catholic, whether layman or churchman, is to allow himself to be attracted by the world and wish to become part of it, being accepted and admired.
We are not talking about the physical world created by God, which, like everything else He created, is very good. The world here is a moral entity opposed to God: “For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1Jn:2:16)
Thus, to give in to the temptation of the world is to cave in to the triple concupiscence, to adopt worldly wisdom and flee from the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which the world sees as “foolishness.”
The Impossible Quest of Catholic Liberals
Our Lord does not pray for this world, for it refused His light. Hence “the whole world is under the power of the evil one,” under Satan, “the prince of this world.”
Now then, “what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever,” the one who “loved darkness rather than the light”?
Therefore, it is impossible, as liberal Catholics claim, to remain Catholic while being admired by the world; and to have the consolation of the Faith along with the pomp and honors of the world.
“If the World Hates You”
Our Lord himself explained the reason for this impossibility as He warned the apostles:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘The servant is not greater than his master.’”
Thus, to wish to be part of the world is to stray from the right path and drive away from the truth; for only Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” It is to fall under the domination of the one who “is a liar and the father of lies.”
The Christian is called “into the world, to testify to the truth” not only through a flawless life but by fighting error and evil.
It is to lose the peace of Christ: “my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”
Confront the World and Combat its Malice
That does not mean that a Catholic must only flee from the world without fighting its malice: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”
Instead, like his Savior, the Christian is called “into the world, to testify to the truth.”
This testimony must be given not only through a flawless life but by fighting error and evil.
That is why the Savior said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.”
” For the word of God is living and effectual and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow: and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb:4:12)
The Voice of the World and the Voice of Christ
“There is no truth” in the prince of this world. “When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
He not only employs direct lie, as when he seduced Eve, but also ambiguity and deceitful words: “But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.”
The world accepts lies and ambiguity because “the whole world is under the power of the evil one.”
But those who belong to Christ do not allow themselves to be deceived: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Since He is the Incarnate Truth, his words are clear, tender toward the good and the repentant sinners, severe and even terrible to those hardened in evil: “You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires.”
The World in its Present Form Is Passing Away
Let us therefore not allow ourselves to be carried away by this world’s deceitful appearance. Its joy is false; it is “sorrow [that] produces death.” “For the world in its present form is passing away.” Eternity is the only thing that really counts, as “our citizenship is in heaven.”
Let us raise our eyes to Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and Earth, and to her Divine Son. “I have conquered the world” He said, and He will give us the necessary strength to resist the snares and attractions of the world.
The world enslaves and takes away “the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” Only the truth liberates, whereas lie and sin enslave.
In this tragic situation we are going through, in which vice is glorified and virtue oppressed, lie and ambiguity have free rein while truth and the evangelical language of “yea, yea: no, no” are despised, let us ask the One Who said “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world,” that He give us the necessary strength to resist the snares and attractions of the world.
Let us not be as the liberal Catholics that want to serve God and the prince of this world: because “’No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” – Aldous Huxley
A remarkable portrait of our contemporary world appeared two months ago with the daunting title : “Decline, Decay, Denial, Delusion and Despair”, but the content is surely true to life. Starting from a street scene to be found no doubt all over the eastern United States, the author concludes that within 15 years an Orwellian dictatorship will descend upon his country as the unwanted effect of wanted causes. But the USA is not typical of the whole world ? The whole world is buying into the American way of life. “Let the buyer beware”!
This autumn in the streets of Wildwood, New Jersey, the author observed pavements encumbered with a host of heavily overweight men and women under 50 years of age rolling around town on government-subsidized mobility scooters to visit one fast-food joint after another in order to gorge on sugar-laden goodies which would give their latest model scooters more work than ever. His amusing name for them ? – “The weight-challenged disabled on their powered mobility enhancement vehicles.” Such is the flight from reality of “political correctness” and its language.
The author seeks causes for this tragic-comic effect : how can the American people that once saved 12% of their income have been persuaded to frighten the obesity statistics off the end of the charts with a debt-laden, sugar-sodden way of life, with no more savings for themselves and with an unbearable burden of debt being bequeathed to their children and grand-children ? Of course there is a lack of self-control on their part, he says, but there must be something more sinister, some mind behind such a mindless scene. He says the mass of citizens are being manipulated by an invisible government that has mastered the modern techniques of mass manipulation.
He quotes a pioneer of these masters from the 1920’s, Edward Bernays: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the masses is an important element in democratic society… Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society… Whether in politics, business, social conduct or ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons… who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses.” They are “the true ruling power of the country,” and they “pull the wires which control the public mind.” For what purpose ? For their own wealth and power.
It is they who have organized today’s financial and economic crisis for their own benefit. They have “wrecked the world economy… shifted their worthless debt onto the backs of taxpayers and unborn generations, thrown senior citizens and savers under the bus by stealing $400 billion per year of interest from them, and enriched themselves with bubble-level profits and bonus payments.” And when the plug has to be pulled on this unsustainable way of life, then our invisible masters have prepared for us a 1984 “dictatorship of tears” with militarized police with millions of bullets, surveillance cameras and drones everywhere, imprisonment without charges and so on and so on. Yet, says the author, it is the citizens’ own fault who have preferred ignorance to truth, sickness to health, media lies to critical thinking, security to liberty.
There is only one thing lacking to this admirable analysis: could our governing elite have run so wild, or our masses have turned so dumb, if either had retained the least sense of a God who judges us all at death, according to Ten Commandments ? Of course not. Catholics, wake up !
Kyrie eleison. Bishop Richard Williamson
Well the Season of Greed and Avarice is upon us.
Why has the celebration of the birth of Christ been adulterated to such an extent that we act as if we are deserving of so much more on His Birthday than he had?
Christ “so loved poverty that He chose for His mother not a rich and powerful queen, but a poor and humble Virgin. He willed to be born, not in a palace, but in a bleak stable, the manger of which, covered with a little straw, was His only couch.” – The Sinner’s Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.
Where did it all go wrong? The West’s wealth and love of money is unprecedented historically. We are told that capitalism is the best economic system but what happens when capitalism is devoid of morality and a sense of responsibility to our children and our future?
Personal greed and corporate greed have transformed capitalism. Corporate America panders to our base nature. It seeks out the latest, coolest, hippest and ultimately the lowest elements of our culture, repackages them, and seduces our senses, our children, and our pocketbooks.
The “hipsters” behind the scenes of what’s cool push the envelope on every front. They turn their decadent, sex-obsessed minds on our children and assume them to be of like ilk. They assume the average male is a vulgar, adolescent, frat-boy, who delights in toilet-humor, sex jokes and freaky stunts. They imagine the average female to be a shop-a-holic, vain, sex-kitten, who longs to throw off the confining chains of parents, husband and or children. The imagined male and female become reality when they are fed constant rebellion, entertainment, and not only sex, but “taboo” sex.
We exalt in arising at 4:30 a.m. on the biggest shopping day of the year to acquire, accumulate and acquiesce to this culture. The corporations that exploit Christmas also exploit our thirst for human respect. After all, if we opt out of the spending and gift-giving mania, we are uncharitable scrooges and our friends and family may think we have become religious fanatics. When we could use the season to counter the culture’s notion of Christ, we instead capitulate.
Why this obsession with the temporal? Where has our sense of the holy and eternal gone? Hillaire Belloc said of John Calvin and Calvinism, “In denying the efficacy of good deeds and of the human will, and abnegations, in leaving on one side as useless all the doctrine and tradition of Holy Poverty, Calvin opened the door to the domination of the mind by money. St Thomas had said it centuries before–that if men abandoned the idea of God as the supreme good they would tend to replace Him…[with]…material wealth” as the supreme good.” -Hillaire Belloc, The Crisis of Civilization.
If Calvin was right and our good deeds have no effect on our salvation, and, furthermore that we are predestined by the Divine Will to such an extent that man’s free will is nullified, then one can see how man could easily be consumed by temporal matters, and conversely ignore matters of the eternal. Why be so foolish as to forego the world’s glitter and glamour if there is no eternal consequence to partaking in it?
“Man cannot freely rise to God and the contemplation of His beauty while he is breathless in pursuit of riches. A heart filled with material and earthly pleasures can never know spiritual and divine joys. No it is impossible to unite what is false with what is true; what is spiritual with what is carnal; what is temporal with what is eternal; they can never dwell together in one heart.” -The Sinner’s Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.
Likewise man cannot truly appreciate the gravity of Christ’s birth when we engage in the world’s notion of Christmas which amounts to idolatry and worship of the golden calf. God requires good deeds of His people and our actions will have consequences. We must not partake in the corruption of Christ’s birthday.
“Riches are acquired only at the expense of pain and labor; they are preserved only by care and anxiety; and they are never lost without bitter vexation and grief. But worse than this, they are rarely accumulated without offence against God…”. -The Sinner’s Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.
There has been much discussion about the contribution of unethical behavior to our present economic circumstances. Whether it was borrowers’ lying on mortgage-applications or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s politically-driven lending policies, there seems to be some consciousness that non-economic factors played a role in facilitating what we already call the Great Recession.
Unfortunately evidence is emerging that some people have learned nothing. A recent report, for example, commissioned by the Wall Street Journal illustrates that “losses from mortgage fraud—ranging from falsified credit reports to identity theft—rose 17% last year after declining 57% in the two years after its 2006 peak.”
Of course wider adherence to ethical norms against lying and stealing won’t solve every economic problem. There are heavy technical dimensions to many economic dilemmas which require technical solutions. Nor does every policy-error constitute a moral failure.
Nevertheless those making economic decisions are human beings, and our virtues and vices do shape our purchasing, selling and policy choices. Many such virtues could be highlighted, but one needing extra-attention today is humility.
The word “humility” derives from the Latin humilitas. This in turn comes from humus which means earth or soil, but is also related to homō, meaning man. For the Greeks and Romans, the word underscored the idea that humans are not God or gods. Likewise for the Jews and early Christians, humility was about remembering that humans are fallible creatures who come from and return to the earth: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Some first millennium Christian writers, such as St. John Chrysostom, even described humility as the mother of the virtues, as it prevented vanity from corrupting every other virtue.
So how might a renewed embrace of humility help us to rethink our approach to contemporary economic life?
In the case of consumers, a good dose of humility might well encourage some acceptance that the meaning of life is not simple and is certainly not to be found in how many material things we possess, as important as wealth can be in helping us to live dignified lives. To this extent, greater humility might temper the “I-want-it-all-right-now” mentality that helped generate such high household-debt levels in America and Europe.
Likewise, businesses could benefit from a renewed appreciation of humility. The financial wizard the late Sir John Templeton once wrote that humility was crucial if business was to maintain the open-mindedness that is essential to successful entrepreneurship rather than rest upon their past glories. To this we might add the insight of another prominent entrepreneur, François Michelin, that humility helps business leaders in a market economy remember that the customers are the real masters. More humble business-leaders would also be less-inclined to succumb to the “Masters-of-the-Universe” hubris that helped destroy any number of banks in 2008.
Speaking of hubris, humility also has a role to play in encouraging mainstream economists to accept economics’ limits as a science and acknowledge that not everything about markets can be explained by mathematical models that were supposed to fail only once in a million years. As George Mason University professor of economics Russ Roberts has wisely observed, while “facts and evidence still matter”, economists “should face the evidence that we are no better today at predicting tomorrow than we were yesterday.”
But perhaps those who could do with the biggest bout of humility during recessions are politicians and governments. If the Great Recession has taught us anything, it is that governments should admit many economic problems are beyond their control, and that any claim by politicians to be able to “manage” trillion-dollar economies is arrogant nonsense.
Instead politicians should be modest enough to concede that (1) the seemingly disorderly process of market exchange resolves many challenges that governments cannot; and (2) government overreach invariably causes new problems. Here they would do well to read Adam Smith’s famous warning concerning the “man of system” who “is apt to be very wise in his own conceit, and is so often enamored with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it.”
The fear of the Lord, the Bible says, is the beginning of wisdom. Contrary to received opinion, this verse has nothing to do with frightening people into religious belief. Instead it reminds each of us that we are not the center of the universe and that the sooner we grasp this, the wiser our choices will be. All of us—consumers, business-leaders, and politicians—need to be sufficiently humble to reassess our actions in a time of recession, acknowledge our errors, and then live out the necessary correctives.
To this extent, the virtue of humility may well be a key to understanding our pre-recessionary past and a way of illuminating our path to a better and more economically-prosperous future.
The story of the Tower of Babel can be found in the Bible in the Old Testament in Genesis 11.
1 ¶ And the earth was of one tongue, and of the same speech.
2 And when they removed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar, and dwelt in it.
3 And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar:
4 And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of Adam were building.
6 And he said: Behold, it is one people, and all have one tongue: and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs, till they accomplish them in deed.
7 Come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city.
9 And therefore the name thereof was called Babel, because there the language of the whole earth was confounded: and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all countries.
My first impression of the story is that the people got together to build a tower to take themselves to heaven and God was mad at them for trying to do something so arrogant- so God mixed up their language and scattered the people.
Well, that is the story sort of, but like most stories in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, there is a great deal of symbolism associated with the story.
According to Bible scholars the city of Babel and the Tower of Babel were built by a man named Nimrod. Nimrod’s idea was to build a city and a tower. Before he built the tower, however, he had the people make bricks. (By the way, Babel refers to Babylon which, in the Bible, is symbolic for the wickedness of the world.)
22 ¶ And the Lord said to Moses: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: You have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven.
23 You shall not make gods of silver, nor shall you make to yourselves gods of gold.
24 You shall make an altar of earth unto me, and you shall offer upon it your holocausts and peace offerings, your sheep and oxen, in every place where the memory of my name shall be: I will come to thee, and will bless thee.
25 And if thou make an altar of stone unto me, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if thou lift up a tool upon it, it shall be defiled.
26 Thou shalt not go up by steps unto my altar, lest thy nakedness be discovered.
When Moses was commanded to make an alter to offer sacrifice to God, he was told to make the alter with stone that had not been cut or shaped in any way by a tool. Why? God wanted the Children of Israel to understand that uncut stone was made by God while brick or cut stone was crafted by man- all stones are unique while bricks are uniform. It is clear that we should not worship men or what men can accomplish but should always remember and worship only God. We should always understand the uniqueness of God greatest creation which is MAN. Man is a stone, not a brick. No two men are exactly the same. It is a good thing we are different and something that should be appreciated not condemned.
The word for mortar in Hebrew, I am told, means materialism. Mortar is the cement that holds bricks together. Materialism or the worship of temporal things of the world is the act of turning our attention from God and replacing God with the things of this world. So the symbolism of a tower, built with man made bricks that are held together by man made mortar is, a tower that attempts to replace God and what only God can do. This is a tower that is constructed by men and held together by the corruptible things of this world.
So why did God condemn the tower, confound the language and scatter the people? First, the tower was an attempt by Nimrod to replace God in the eyes of his people. Second, the tower was to be built with bricks that were all the same rather than with stones. The symbolism of bricks instead of stones is that people didn’t matter. They were not unique, they were all the same and the importance of the individual was lost. To God, the single lost sheep is unique and important; to leaders like Nimrod, people are interchangeable. Finally, the mortar of our society should be a faith in God. Nimrod wanted to replace that faith with a faith in man and what man could produce; he aspired to a secular society rather than one based on allegiance to God.
It is interesting that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In our time, Secular- progressives or Marxists, Fascists, Liberals or Socialists if you prefer those labels, are trying to destroy the foundation of God and faith in our society. They want us to be bound together by our economic ties rather than our ties of faith. They want us to look to Washington (or worse, a one world government) instead of to God when we are faced with problems. Moreover, to the secular- progressive, people are not as important as the society or the state.
We are supposed to all get on board the state social health care bandwagon. We are supposed to use mass transit rather than drive a car that harms the planet. It is okay to destroy an unborn infant, but wrong to leave a carbon footprint. We are supposed to live cookie cutter lives with their morality of rules and regulations. As a matter of fairness, we will punish the rich, productive and talented and reward those who are not, so that no one stands above the crowd. We are supposed to be interchangeable manmade bricks rather than unique stones that were created by God.
Secular-progressivism is nothing new. It is the opposite of God’s plan of freedom and choice and individualism. It is the works of Satan. This is not just a matter of political differences of opinion; this is a case of good vs. evil.
Men of faith, stand up and defeat the evil of the modern day Tower of Babel. We can never allow evil to overcome righteousness.